Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering

Conservative - Life peer

Became Member: 6th October 2015


EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee
2nd Jul 2019 - 23rd Apr 2020
Licensing Act 2003 Committee
25th May 2016 - 4th Apr 2017
Liaison Committee (Commons)
19th Jul 2010 - 30th Mar 2015
Panel of Chairs
21st Jun 2010 - 30th Mar 2015
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee
18th Dec 2007 - 30th Mar 2015
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee
10th Jun 2010 - 30th Mar 2015
Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Jul 2007 - 6th May 2010
Shadow Minister (Children, Young People and Families)
8th Nov 2006 - 3rd Jul 2007
Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)
8th Dec 2005 - 8th Nov 2006
Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
10th May 2005 - 8th Dec 2005
Transport Committee
15th Dec 2003 - 12th Jul 2005
Shadow Minister (Transport)
1st Jul 2002 - 1st Jul 2005
Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jul 2003 - 1st Jul 2005
European Scrutiny Committee
20th Nov 2000 - 15th Sep 2003
Transport, Local Government & The Regions
16th Jul 2001 - 22nd Jul 2002
Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Jul 2001 - 1st Jul 2002
Environment, Transport & Regional Affairs
5th Jul 1999 - 1st Jun 2001


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Tuesday 6th February 2024
Automated Vehicles Bill [HL]
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 184 Conservative No votes vs 0 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 200 Noes - 204
Speeches
Thursday 22nd February 2024
Peatlands
My Lords, given the role that peatlands play in flood defences, as the noble Baroness said, will the Minister pay …
Written Answers
Friday 9th February 2024
Food: Children
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact that food consumption campaigns, such as “Drinka …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
Tuesday 20th February 2024
Road Traffic Offences (Cycling) Bill [HL] 2023-24
A Bill to amend the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 to create criminal offences …
MP Financial Interests
None available

Division Voting information

During the current Parliament, Baroness McIntosh of Pickering has voted in 294 divisions, and 38 times against the majority of their Party.

10 Mar 2021 - Domestic Abuse Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 1 Conservative Aye votes vs 213 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 310 Noes - 237
2 Feb 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 9 Conservative Aye votes vs 215 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 304 Noes - 260
2 Feb 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 1 Conservative Aye votes vs 221 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 277 Noes - 257
13 Jan 2021 - Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 5 Conservative Aye votes vs 215 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 331 Noes - 240
13 Jan 2021 - Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 13 Conservative Aye votes vs 208 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 339 Noes - 235
14 Dec 2020 - United Kingdom Internal Market Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 5 Conservative Aye votes vs 201 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 332 Noes - 229
9 Dec 2020 - United Kingdom Internal Market Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 3 Conservative Aye votes vs 196 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 320 Noes - 215
7 Dec 2020 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 6 Conservative Aye votes vs 188 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 297 Noes - 221
25 Nov 2020 - United Kingdom Internal Market Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 3 Conservative Aye votes vs 204 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 323 Noes - 241
18 Nov 2020 - United Kingdom Internal Market Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 15 Conservative Aye votes vs 190 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 367 Noes - 209
9 Nov 2020 - United Kingdom Internal Market Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted No - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 44 Conservative No votes vs 147 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 165 Noes - 433
9 Nov 2020 - United Kingdom Internal Market Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted No - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 38 Conservative No votes vs 134 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 148 Noes - 407
21 Oct 2020 - Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 9 Conservative Aye votes vs 197 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 166 Noes - 237
20 Oct 2020 - United Kingdom Internal Market Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 39 Conservative Aye votes vs 158 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 395 Noes - 169
20 Oct 2020 - Agriculture Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 11 Conservative Aye votes vs 183 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 278 Noes - 200
5 Oct 2020 - Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 8 Conservative Aye votes vs 174 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 298 Noes - 192
22 Sep 2020 - Agriculture Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 3 Conservative Aye votes vs 198 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 122 Noes - 234
22 Sep 2020 - Agriculture Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 9 Conservative Aye votes vs 145 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 266 Noes - 159
15 Jun 2020 - Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 43 Conservative Aye votes vs 125 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 112 Noes - 388
21 Apr 2021 - Domestic Abuse Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 2 Conservative Aye votes vs 219 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 298 Noes - 240
28 Apr 2021 - Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021 - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 34 Conservative Aye votes vs 144 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 70 Noes - 409
26 Oct 2021 - Environment Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 8 Conservative Aye votes vs 161 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 223 Noes - 172
26 Oct 2021 - Environment Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 7 Conservative Aye votes vs 158 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 207 Noes - 172
26 Oct 2021 - Environment Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 18 Conservative Aye votes vs 59 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 213 Noes - 60
22 Feb 2022 - Procedure and Privileges Committee - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 8 Conservative Aye votes vs 94 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 144 Noes - 133
3 Mar 2022 - Health and Care Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 3 Conservative Aye votes vs 116 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 171 Noes - 119
8 Mar 2022 - Nationality and Borders Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 1 Conservative Aye votes vs 67 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 25 Noes - 69
22 Mar 2022 - Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 3 Conservative Aye votes vs 146 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 181 Noes - 157
5 Jul 2022 - Sitting Times - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 11 Conservative No votes vs 99 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 158 Noes - 124
15 May 2023 - Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 16 Conservative Aye votes vs 147 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 245 Noes - 154
15 May 2023 - Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 11 Conservative Aye votes vs 146 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 222 Noes - 154
17 May 2023 - Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 15 Conservative Aye votes vs 155 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 231 Noes - 167
6 Jun 2023 - Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 12 Conservative Aye votes vs 167 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 257 Noes - 182
20 Jun 2023 - Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 3 Conservative Aye votes vs 166 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 241 Noes - 181
13 Jul 2023 - Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 1 Conservative Aye votes vs 145 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 169 Noes - 156
13 Sep 2023 - Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 1 Conservative Aye votes vs 131 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 177 Noes - 146
13 Sep 2023 - Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 2 Conservative Aye votes vs 135 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 189 Noes - 145
23 Oct 2023 - Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 2 Conservative Aye votes vs 180 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 208 Noes - 199
View All Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

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

Sparring Partners
Lord Benyon (Conservative)
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
(124 debate interactions)
Lord Callanan (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
(103 debate interactions)
Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Conservative)
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
(72 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Legislation Debates
Agriculture Act 2020
(28,943 words contributed)
Environment Act 2021
(22,352 words contributed)
Trade Bill 2019-21
(19,189 words contributed)
United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020
(16,466 words contributed)
View All Legislation Debates
View all Baroness McIntosh of Pickering's debates

Lords initiatives

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


5 Bills introduced by Baroness McIntosh of Pickering


A bill to make provision for the accreditation of child contact centres; and for connected purposes.

Lords - 40%

Last Event - 2nd Reading : House Of Lords
Friday 3rd February 2017
(Read Debate)

A Bill to amend the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 to create criminal offences relating to dangerous, careless or inconsiderate cycling, in particular applying to pedal cycles, electrically assisted pedal cycles and electric scooters; and to require a review of the impact of the dangerous use of electric scooters on other road users.

Lords - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading
Tuesday 20th February 2024
(Read Debate)

A Bill to amend the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 to create criminal offences relating to dangerous, careless or inconsiderate cycling, in particular applying to a pedal cycle, an electrically assisted pedal cycle, and an electric scooter

Lords - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading
Thursday 7th July 2022
(Read Debate)

A Bill Amend the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 to create criminal offences relating to dangerous, careless or inconsiderate cycling, in particular applying to a pedal cycle, an electrically assisted pedal cycle, and an electric scooter

Lords - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading
Wednesday 1st December 2021
(Read Debate)

A bill to amend the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 to create criminal offences relating to dangerous, careless or inconsiderate cycling, in particular applying to a pedal cycle, an electrically assisted pedal cycle, and an electric scooter

Commons - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading
Tuesday 14th January 2020
(Read Debate)

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


275 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
23rd Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they last undertook a review of critical infrastructure, including electricity substations and their resilience to the threat of flooding; and how frequently such reviews are undertaken.

Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) in the UK, including the energy sector, is subject to thorough scrutiny and sectors need to satisfy stringent sectoral regulatory and national security requirements. Sector Security and Resilience Plans (SSRPs) are produced annually by the 13 CNI sectors, this assurance process asks Lead Government Departments to detail the activity ongoing in their sectors to improve security and resilience to a host of risks, including those from the National Security Risk Assessment such as flooding. For the energy sector specifically, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) independently oversees and enforces the UK’s energy regulatory regime.

A large portion of the UK’s CNI is in private sector hands, and the Government works continuously with CNI owners and operators to support and ensure the security and resilience of their sites and systems. This approach ensures sectors prepare for a range of both malicious risks (threats) and non-malicious risks (hazards), including that of flooding.

The Environment Agency is working with national infrastructure providers and government departments to improve planning for current and future flood risks. This work forms one of the main themes within the Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England.

Lord True
Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal
10th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of cyber attacks there have been in each of the last three years on UK companies by a hostile state; and what is their policy to prevent such attacks.

Our new National Cyber Strategy, launched in December 2021, sets out how we will ensure that the UK continues to be a leading, responsible and democratic cyber power, able to protect and promote our interests in the rapidly evolving online world. This includes our approach to making the UK more resilient to cyber attacks and countering cyber threats. It is supported by £2.6 billion of investment over three years.

Over the past three years, the National Cyber Security Centre has dealt with a total of 2158 significant cyber incidents affecting people and organisations across the UK: 658 in 2019, 723 in 2020 and 777 in 2021. The 2021 Cyber Security Breaches Survey shows that 39% of businesses identified a cyber attack in the last 12 months, 46% in 2020 and 32% in 2019. We are not in a position to be able to identify all cyber attacks against UK companies or attribute responsibility for every attack.

The UK will do what is necessary to protect ourselves through our world leading capability in this area. We are vigilant to cyber threats, wherever they come from, and ready to defend against them. We are continuing to work to make the UK more resilient to cyber threats and raise the cost for those who would do us harm.

Lord True
Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal
15th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to apply the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland; and what assessment they have made of the implications of this application for the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

The Government has invested substantial funding to implement the Northern Ireland Protocol in line with our current obligations and to support businesses adjusting to this change, including through the Trader Support Service and the Movement Assistance Scheme (MAS). We have already spent over £150m on these services. The forecast spend for the Trader Support Service is for £360m over the full two years to the end of 2022 and the forecast for MAS is that total spend could run to up to £150m.

The Northern Ireland Protocol is not part of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). Nevertheless, there have been suggestions that the EU would take retaliatory actions under the TCA should the UK invoke the Article 16 safeguards. This would aggravate the problems in Northern Ireland rather than reduce them. Article 16 is a legitimate safeguard within the Protocol and we would urge the European Commission to consider the impact of such disproportionate actions.

27th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made on the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and the commitments it contains.

The Government’s policy has been for the Protocol to be operated in a pragmatic and proportionate way, protecting the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimension and minimising its impact on everyday lives in Northern Ireland.

In doing so, the Government has developed significant measures to support businesses, such as the Trader Support Service, Movement Assistance Scheme and UK Trader Scheme.

Nevertheless, there have been significant difficulties in the Protocol’s operation, and solutions must be found rapidly. We are working through the structures of the Withdrawal Agreement to find pragmatic ways forward in a range of problem areas. We look to the EU to show a common sense, risk-based, approach.

14th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of (1) technology failures, (2) issues with the infrastructure at ports of exit from Great Britain, and (3) the number of veterinarians available, on the timeliness of goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

As outlined in my answer on 14 January, the UK will continue to work with supermarkets and retailers. We have a dedicated group of officials working on this. We are seeking new end-to-end digital systems that will enable goods to be moved in accordance with the protocol in the most streamlined way, and this will be backed by a major injection of UK government funding as part of a broader support package.

Lord True
Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal
19th Dec 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what is the current status of the Dashboard of Retained EU Law, with particular reference to those instruments (1) to be revoked, or (2) subject to sunset, by 31 December 2023.

There are currently 5020 pieces of Retained EU Law (REUL) on the dashboard. This will be updated in January.

At the end of the year around 700 pieces of REUL will be revoked via schedule 1 of the Act (“the revocation schedule”) and subsequent secondary legislation.

Unless it is actively revoked, no REUL will sunset. The Government changed approach from a sunset to the revocation schedule, to provide clarity for business and allow the Government to focus on reform.

Further REUL will be revoked throughout 2024, delivering on our ambition to reduce burdens for business and cut red tape.

Lord Offord of Garvel
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
27th Apr 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what services are currently offered by mobile service Post Offices in rural areas; and whether they will ensure that all services offered by Post Offices, such as such as the ability to deposit cash by small businesses, are replicated.

Government protects the branch network by setting minimum access criteria and protects services, including cash and banking services, by setting minimum services to be provided at post offices across the country. This ensures that 99% of the UK population lives within three miles of a post office.

Outreach Post Offices are used in communities or when it is not possible to open a full-time branch due to lack of premises or retailers in the local area. Outreaches provide a full range of services including cash and banking services.

Earl of Minto
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
14th Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of how many actions have been brought by small-scale growers of fruit and vegetables against alleged unfair practices pursued by supermarkets following the recent interruptions to the supply chain; and how many of these actions have culminated in fines where growers were found to have been disadvantaged by the supermarkets.

The Government does not hold such information. The Groceries Code Adjudicator enforces the Groceries Supply Code of Practice which ensures the 14 largest grocery retailers treat their direct suppliers, including suppliers of fruit and vegetables, lawfully and fairly. Any direct supplier to a regulated retailer that is experiencing issues should contact the GCA whose details are available on the GOV.UK website.

Earl of Minto
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
27th Feb 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what is the role of the Grocery Code Adjudicator in investigating unfair practices of supermarkets in relation to small growers of UK fruit and vegetables.

The Groceries Code Adjudicator Small enforces the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (the Code) which ensures large grocery retailers treat their direct suppliers, including small growers of fruit and vegetables, lawfully and fairly. The Adjudicator’s functions include the investigation of suspected breaches of the Code.

Lord Johnson of Lainston
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
22nd May 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the increase in standing charges on household electricity bills on households; and the extent to which this may be impacting on inflation.

Standing charges are capped under the price cap, set by Ofgem, and ensure millions of households pay a fair price for their energy. The setting of the standing charge is a commercial matter for individual suppliers. The standing charge reflects the on-going costs that fall on a supplier to provide and maintain a live supply to a customer.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
20th Apr 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what action they are taking to review and limit the increase to the standing charge on energy household bills.

The energy price cap sets a limit on unit rates and standing charges, ensuring that millions of households pay a fair price for their energy. The standing charge reflects the on-going costs that fall on a supplier to provide and maintain a live supply to a customer’s premises.

Ofgem is responsible for setting the price cap and remain the sole decision-maker over how it is calculated.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
31st Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have (1) to reduce the standing charge on domestic household bills, and (2) to charge this to the recent profits announced by electricity distribution companies.

The setting of the standing charge is a commercial matter for individual suppliers. Under the Price Cap, a supplier’s default and standard variable tariffs unit rate and standing charge together must not exceed the level of the cap set by Ofgem.

The profits made by distribution network companies are regulated by Ofgem through the price control to ensure sufficient incentives for networks to deliver for consumers, whilst protecting consumers from high costs. The next price control begins in April, where returns for these companies will be set lower than previous price controls.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
16th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the impact of the severe cold weather on vulnerable households, and (2) the ability of those residents on pre-payment meters to pay their energy bills.

Suppliers are required to offer vulnerable households with prepayment meters short-term support through emergency and friendly-hours credit and additional support credit if needed. The Government has put in place support worth over £37bn to assist consumers, including those with prepayment meters, with recent rises in the cost of living. The household support fund, assisting those most in need, has also been extended to March of this year. Support for eligible households is also available through the Warm Home Discount, the Winter Fuel Payment and the Cold Weather Payment.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
13th Dec 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the severe cold weather on (1) vulnerable households, and (2) the ability of those residents on pre-payment meters to access Government help with household bills; and what steps they will take to facilitate access to support for the most vulnerable households.

The Government is delivering the Energy Bills Support Scheme, a £400 non-repayable grant to support all families with their energy bills. Additionally, the Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) will save a typical household in Great Britain £900 this Winter.

The Government is currently reviewing the EPG. This consultation will ensure that vulnerable high energy users, such as those with medical requirements, are not put at risk of having to pay more.

Customers with smart prepayment meters have the credit applied to their meter automatically, and those with traditional prepayment meters should have received discount vouchers sent via SMS text, email, post or a Special Action Message. Electricity suppliers have reported that, as of 1 December, they had issued 4,044,554 vouchers to customers with traditional prepayment meters.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
5th Dec 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure the continuation of the independent Groceries Code Adjudicator; and whether they plan to extend the role to allow the adjudicator to open an investigation on their own initiative.

The Government is currently undertaking the third statutory review of the effectiveness of the Groceries Code Adjudicator in enforcing the Groceries Supply Code of Practice and is considering the results of the public consultation that ended on 11 October. The consultation sought views on a range of issues including abolishing the GCA, transferring the GCA functions to another public body and whether the GCA has sufficient powers. The Government will carefully consider the views and evidence received and our conclusions will be published and a report laid before Parliament in due course.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
10th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to extend the price cap to fuels such as (1) Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG), (2) Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), (3) heating oil, and (4) solid fuels such as coal.

The Government has no plans to introduce a price cap on alternative fuels.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
9th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the possibility of retrofitting homes to enable them to use energy created from waste.

Biomethane is produced from organic waste such as food waste, manures and slurries, and sewage. The Government supports biomethane production and injection from anaerobic digestors into the gas grid through the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, which closed to new applicants in March 2021; and through the Green Gas Support Scheme (GGSS) which launched on 30 November 2021. No specific retrofitting of homes is required.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
7th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they expect to reconcile food security and self-sufficiency with plans to install solar panels on agricultural land.

Solar is a cheap, versatile, and effective technology that will help limit household electricity bills and ensure Britain is less affected by fluctuations in volatile global gas prices.

The Government recognises the need to preserve productive arable farmland. Planning guidance prioritises the effective use of land and encourages the deployment of large- scale solar farms on previously developed and non-agricultural land. Where greenfield sites are considered, projects should be designed to avoid, mitigate and, where necessary, compensate for impacts. The government supports solar that is co-located with other functions (for example, agriculture, onshore wind generation, or storage) to maximise the efficiency of land use.

The UK has a high degree of food security built on supply from diverse sources; strong domestic production, as well as imports through stable trade routes.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
21st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the management of P&O Ferries regarding the requirement under retained EU law to hold consultations when implementing redundancy dismissals.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has written to the Insolvency Service asking them to urgently undertake a thorough review into the actions of P&O Ferries. This will include any scope to take action against the company’s directors. While I do not wish to prejudge the outcome, and it is important due process is followed, we will not hesitate to take further action if appropriate to do so.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
23rd Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to improve the resilience of overhead line transmission of electricity to storm outages; and what steps they intend to take to achieve greater resilience.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy works closely with the National Grid Electricity System Operator, energy infrastructure operators, and the regulator Ofgem to assess the appropriate level of current and future resilience to key assets and infrastructure. Overhead lines are considered as part of a range of options in infrastructure planning.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
3rd Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the increase in energy costs for those living in rural areas; and what plans they have to alleviate those additional costs.

The Government believes it is essential that consumers of liquified petroleum gas and heating oil receive a fair deal. A competitive market allows consumers of both fuels to shop around for the best price for each delivery. The Government believes this provides the best long-term guarantee of low prices.

Support is available to eligible off-grid households through the Warm Home Discount, the Winter Fuel Payment and the Cold Weather Payment.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
3rd Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the process for claiming compensation for losses from power outages caused by Storm Arwen for (1) households, and (2) businesses.

Ofgem, the independent regulator for the UK’s energy networks, sets service levels which Distribution Network Operators must meet, with rules on how and when compensation payments are issued to consumers if the standards are not met. This is set out in the Quality of Service Guaranteed Standards. Customers should contact their Electricity Distribution Network Operator to claim any compensation that they are entitled to.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has written to Ofgem and the Electricity Distribution Network Operators to set an expectation that compensation should be paid as soon as possible given the length of the disruption to power supplies.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
3rd Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the resilience of overhead power cables and the case for moving these wires underground.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has commissioned a post-incident review into Storm Arwen to identify lessons and best practice for system resilience, including physical infrastructure, as well as communications, resourcing.

As the independent regulator for energy, Ofgem has also announced a review into the impact of Storm Arwen. This will focus on the role of the network companies in maintaining resilience of the system, which includes physical infrastructure, and their emergency response.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
3rd Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect people who have lost power due to Storm Arwen to be reconnected; and whether a review has been undertaken of communication between (1) Government, (2) power distribution companies, and (3) members of the public about energy supply issues.

The impacts of Storm Arwen were very unusual. All customers that lost their electricity supply were restored by the 8th December.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has commissioned a post-incident review into Storm Arwen to identify lessons and best practice for communications, resourcing and system resilience. This will include a review of communications between Government, power distribution companies and the public.

As the independent regulator for energy, Ofgem has also announced it will undertake a review into the impact of Storm Arwen. This will focus on the role of the network companies in maintaining the resilience of the system and their emergency response, including their communications with customers.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
12th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the reduced supply of polypropylene, (2) the increased price level of polypropylene, and (3) the impact this will have on supplies for medical use.

BEIS officials are in regular contact with the British Plastics Federation (BPF) who have informed them that there are global pressures affecting the demand and supply for some plastics polymers including polypropylene. These pressures are currently shared with a number of different materials sectors.

The BPF regularly surveys its members on key issues and have passed on information outlining that these pressures are due to a variety of issues including the current pandemic and some instances of extreme weather that has affected production. Officials will continue to work with the sector and with other government departments to monitor the effects of such issues, especially if they appear to have an impact on vital supplies of products that are needed for medical use.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
21st Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to permit greater coal imports for the UK’s heritage market should the UK’s coal industry fail to meet the demands of that market.

In line with our Net Zero target, the Government is committed to phasing out unabated coal-fired power generation by 2025, and is consulting on moving this date forward to 2024. This policy applies to coal-fired power stations only – it does not apply to other coal consumers such as heritage railways, or to domestic coal mines. Companies do not require permission from the Government to import coal; the sourcing of coal for use in heritage railways and other industries is a private commercial decision for the companies involved.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the restrictions put in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic on (1) the income of businesses working in, and (2) jobs related to, the night-time economy; and what steps they are taking to address any such impact.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has worked closely with the hospitality sector, including those operating in the night-time economy, to understand and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on their businesses.

Night-time economy businesses have been able to benefit from government support, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, government-backed loans, Local Restrictions Support Grants, additional funding provided to Local Authorities to support businesses and the Cultural Relief Fund.

On 5 January, when the new national lockdown began, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a one-off top up grant for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the spring. A £594 million discretionary fund has also been made available to support other impacted businesses.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that electricity generated by waste-to-energy facilities will be used to the benefit of the local community closest to where the electricity is generated.

Local communities are already able to benefit from the sale of electricity from Energy from Waste (EfW) plants in those instances where the local authority has made a provision to retain revenue from the sale when tendering a waste processing contract.

For EfW plants that utilise combined heat and power (CHP) technologies the local area can also benefit from the supply of low carbon heat, either via a heat network to heat homes and commercial premises or by direct connection to an industrial site to help incentivise businesses.

The Government is supporting EfW-based networks through its £320m Heat Network Investment Project and from 2022 an additional £270m will be available through the Green Heat Network Fund.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what infrastructure they plan to deploy to transmit the electricity generated from renewables both onshore and offshore to the national grid; and whether they plan to exclude the use of overhead powerlines for that purpose.

Regulation of the electricity network is a matter for Ofgem as the independent regulator. It is the responsibility of network companies to provide the infrastructure required to transmit electricity generated from renewables and they do this according to the framework set out by Ofgem through the price control. A number of methods can be used to transfer energy to transmission and distribution systems, including overhead powerlines. The choice of which method to use depends on a range of factors, including technical assessments, environmental impacts and costs.

The Offshore Transmission Network Review is currently considering how best to connect offshore renewable energy in the most efficient way, with a view to finding the appropriate balance between environmental, social and economic costs.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
28th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what infrastructure is required to transfer energy from battery storage to the National Grid; and whether pylons form part of that infrastructure.

A number of methods can be used to transfer energy from battery storage facilities to transmission and distribution systems. The choice of which method to use (undergrounding or overgrounding) depends on a range of factors, including technical assessments, environmental impacts and costs.

Battery storage is often connected at the distribution network rather than national grid transmission level, and as it is often located close to existing grid supply points requirements for additional pylons are reduced. Any proposals for the use of pylons will be subject to careful consideration through the planning regime, taking account of the views of local people and other relevant stakeholders.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
28th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether energy stored in batteries for the National Grid is used to provide energy to communities located near to such batteries.

Batteries can provide a range of services to the electricity system, such as storing electricity from renewable generation during periods of low demand and releasing electricity when prices are high, as well as helping to reduce the cost of balancing the system. They can provide services at both local (community) and national levels.

Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) also operate local markets for flexibility services. These provide additional opportunities for batteries to support the decarbonisation of, and provide energy to, their local communities.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
28th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to paragraph 7.7 of the Explanatory Memorandum to the Corporate Insolvency and Governance (Coronavirus) (Extension of the Relevant Period) Regulations 2020, when will (1) the permanent procedural moratorium rules be laid before Parliament under the Corporate and Insolvency Governance Act 2020, and (2) the consultation with the Insolvency Rules Committee regarding the permanent rules covering England and Wales commence.

Work on amendments to the Insolvency (England and Wales) Rules 2016 to provide permanent procedural rules for the moratorium introduced by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 is ongoing and the relevant regulations will be laid when Parliamentary time allows. The Government is aware that the current temporary provision expires on 30 March 2021 (subject to any extensions) and will have regard to that fact for the purpose of preparing and laying the permanent rules.

The Government intends that consultation with the Insolvency Rules Committee regarding these rules, as required by law, will commence in November 2020.

Separate rules will be required for Scotland and, since this area is partially devolved, the timing of those rules will be subject to further discussions with the Scottish Government.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the jetstream on recent weather events; and what plans they have to conduct research into the role of the jetstream in extreme weather events.

Extended spells of dry sunny weather during spring are primarily a consequence of the large-scale circulation and buckling of the jet stream allowing for the development of persistent high-pressure systems close to the UK. In spring 2020 the jet stream shifted to the north-west of the UK and successive areas of high pressure dominated the country, leading to sunny, warm and dry conditions. Weather conditions in February 2020 were also due to a change in the jet stream. In this instance, a strengthening of the jet over the UK delivered multiple storms and record rainfall. In both cases, the conditions were predicted in some detail days ahead in Met Office short-range weather forecasts and also anticipated in its long-range outlooks.

The role of the jet stream in influencing UK weather is well understood. The next step is to understand what is driving the behaviour of the jet steam when there are extremes. There is strong evidence from research by the Met Office that global connections from the tropics were responsible for the behaviour of the jet stream during February 2020. Work is ongoing to examine what influenced the jet stream during spring 2020. Future research by the Met Office will examine current variability in the jet stream and the effect on UK weather.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
29th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what specific support they have identified for small and medium-size enterprises operating in (1) the tourism, (2) the hospitality, and (3) the retail sectors, (a) who are experiencing cash flow problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic, (b) who pay council tax in lieu of business rates, and (c) who have commercial mortgages and are therefore ineligible for payment holidays. [T]

The two existing business grants schemes have helped supported many thousands of small businesses.

To ensure that Local Authorities can help these businesses, the Government has allocated additional up to £617 million funding to Local Authorities in England to allow them to provide discretionary grants.

It is our intention that the following businesses should be considered as a priority for these funds:

· Businesses in a range of shared workspaces;

· Regular market traders who do not have their own business rates assessment;

· B&Bs which pay Council Tax instead of business rates; and

· Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
25th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) broadband, and (2) mobile phone, connectivity in rural areas.

Over 73% of premises in the UK can now access gigabit-capable broadband, which is a huge leap forward from January 2019, when coverage was just 6%. The competitive and pro-growth regulatory environment we have created is enabling suppliers to expand their networks to reach more homes and businesses, and we are making excellent progress with Project Gigabit, delivering fast, reliable broadband to rural and hard-to-reach parts of the UK.

We are awarding a series of contracts to suppliers to deliver gigabit-capable connectivity in areas to which the market will not go without subsidy. We have already awarded six contracts and, in total, have made almost £1 billion of funding available through our live contracts and procurements, covering up to 681,500 premises. We have also recently increased the maximum value of vouchers through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to support suppliers to connect premises in particularly hard-to-reach areas.

Mobile phone connectivity continues to improve in rural areas via the Government's £1 billion deal with mobile network operators to deliver the Shared Rural Network. The programme will see operators collectively increase the UK’s 4G geographic mobile network coverage to 95%; this will reduce rural ‘not spots’, levelling up coverage between rural and urban areas.

The operators have already deployed more than 150 new sites and have upgraded over 1,300 sites across the UK since the programme began in 2020. 4G coverage across the UK has increased to 92.2%, as the early impact from the Shared Rural Network took effect.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Jan 2023
5G
To ask His Majesty's Government what proportion of (1) rural, and (2) non-rural, areas have 5G network coverage.

Ofcom is responsible for reporting on 5G coverage in Connected Nations. Ofcom first reported on 5G coverage in 2021 and is refining its measuring and reporting of this. Ofcom does not currently report on 5G availability in rural compared to non-rural areas.

According to Ofcom, (basic) ‘non-standalone’ 5G is available with a high degree of confidence from at least one mobile network operator outside 77% of UK premises.

Our forthcoming Wireless Infrastructure Strategy will articulate a clear vision for how advanced wireless infrastructure can become an integral part of the fabric of the UK's economy and society by 2030. We aim to publish the strategy in early 2023.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the removal of public telephone boxes; and what steps they will take to retain public telephone boxes in rural areas with poor mobile phone connectivity.

The Government recognises the importance of public telephone boxes to people across the UK. The telephony Universal Service Order requires that certain providers maintain telephony services across the UK, including access to public telephone boxes.

It is for Ofcom to designate the providers subject to this Order and set rules for public telephone boxes, including the rules regarding their removal. Ofcom estimates that there are 1500 public telephone boxes in areas with poor mobile coverage, many of which will be rural.

Ofcom has recently announced a consultation designed to strengthen these rules. Ofcom’s proposals include a criterion that protects public telephone boxes where they do not have coverage from all four mobile network providers.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in expanding communications network coverage in rural areas; and what plans they have to share the resources used by the Emergency Services Network to achieve such coverage.

The Government’s £1 billion Shared Rural Network (SRN) agreement with the Mobile Network Operators, will see the operators collectively increase 4G mobile coverage to 95% by the end of the programme. While the programme is still in its early stages, we anticipate that areas of the UK will see improvements in coverage long before its completion. On 27 January 2021, the operators O2, Three and Vodafone announced a joint venture to build and share 222 new mobile masts to boost rural coverage across the United Kingdom and deliver the first stage of the SRN. This will see 124 new sites built in Scotland, 33 in Wales, 11 in Northern Ireland, and 54 in England.

Furthermore, on 24 February, EE announced it will be expanding 4G in more than 500 areas in this year to improve rural connectivity across the UK as part of the programme. This will include 333 in England, 132 in Scotland, 76 in Wales, and 38 in Northern Ireland. 110 areas have already been upgraded since the SRN deal was signed, with a further 469 to follow this year in the first phase of the programme.

The Government is committed to delivering value for money for the taxpayer by sharing infrastructure where possible for the Shared Rural Network. The Home Office will make the Extended Area Service (EAS) infrastructure, which is part of the new Emergency Services Network (ESN), available to all mobile operators for deployment as part of SRN. In some specific cases, SRN site upgrades may not be possible due to insurmountable practical or cost barriers.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Jan 2024
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord Harlech on 4 December (HL Deb col 1352), what plans they have for (1) regulating seed treatment technology, and (2) establishing a parallel trade scheme for plant protection products.

We have implemented temporary and targeted measures to ensure farmers have continued access to seed treatments authorised for that purpose in the EU, and access to parallel products through reinstatement of permits. This is not a permanent solution, rather the measures are designed to provide manufacturers sufficient time to submit applications for authorisation of both existing and new products and for industry to increase the supply of alternative products to bolster choice and competitiveness for all pesticide users.

Lord Douglas-Miller
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Nov 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the role of farmland in mitigating potential flood damage by retaining excess water on fields in times of floods, and whether they have plans to reward farmers in this regard.

Farmers and land managers can, and do, play a key role in helping to mitigate flood risks, by taking actions which encourage infiltration into the soil, transpiration, slowing the flow of water through a catchment and, in the event of a flood, temporarily storing water away from a watercourse to help protect communities, infrastructure and businesses (including agricultural businesses) downstream.

There will be measures that benefit flood risk mitigation in all three Environmental Land Management schemes: Sustainable Farming Incentive, Countryside Stewardship, and Landscape Recovery.

Some areas of land will flood naturally. Anyone farming on a natural flood plain should expect water to enter the flood plain as a result of natural processes. There is no right to compensation or other payments for natural flooding.

In some cases, the Environment Agency will create a temporary flood storage area on private land using its powers under the Water Resources Act 1991. These areas are designed in liaison with land managers and operated by the Environment Agency. Landowners are entitled to compensation to cover the losses and damages they incur when such a scheme is carried out on their land.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Nov 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether slumps in embankments in rural areas contributed to recent flooding events; and what steps they are taking to ensure embankment slumps are repaired.

The Environment Agency works closely with other Risk Management Authorities such as local authorities and Internal Drainage Boards to manage flood risk.

The Environment Agency maintains over 7,300km of embankments. In the last two years about 25% of the resource allocation from Flood Defence Grant in Aid was spent on maintaining our embankments.

The Environment Agency has been inspecting assets that may have been impacted by recent storms Babet and Ciaran. Over 2,200 inspections have been undertaken by Environment Agency inspectors and supply chain partners to date. Some assets are still not accessible due to ongoing high-water levels, and to get a full picture on the range of impacts may take a few weeks.

If the performance of an asset is reduced, then action will be taken to ensure that flood risk continues to be effectively managed until the asset meets the required condition.

The Environment Agency continues to have people on the ground supporting local communities and inspecting flood defence assets, and where required is developing plans based on the level of risk to return assets to their required condition.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Nov 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the contribution of the Environment Agency to the regular maintenance of major rivers and water courses; and what assessment they have made of whether any lack of maintenance has contributed to recent flooding.

There are around 238,000 assets registered by the Environment Agency that have a flood or coastal risk management purpose in England, including 76,000 assets owned and maintained directly by the Environment Agency, plus approximately 162,000 assets owned by other parties including Risk Management Authorities and Private owners. Of these, 64,000 are classified by the Environment Agency as high consequence system assets – meaning those which provide the greatest level of protection to people and property. Assets are used to maintain major rivers and water courses.

The Environment Agency regularly inspects over 154,000 assets that have a flood or coastal risk management purpose in England whether owned and maintained by the Environment Agency or other Risk Management Authorities or private individuals.

The Environment Agency is currently inspecting assets impacted by Storms Babet and Ciaran. The Environment Agency estimate 2,300 properties flooded during these recent storms, with 139,000 properties better protected by flood and coastal risk management schemes.

As of October 2023, (prior to the recent Storm Babet and Ciaran), the number of Environment Agency assets that were at or above the required condition in a high consequence Risk Management System was 94.5%. For assets owned or maintained by other parties this was 90%.

A high consequence system is a location where there is a high concentration of properties. Flood risk is reduced by several flood defences working together to protect an area. Where assets are below their required condition this identifies that work is required. This does not mean assets have structurally failed or that performance in a flood is compromised.

The Environment Agency publishes details of planned maintenance activities in the river and coastal maintenance programme, and further details can also be found in the Flood and coastal erosion risk management annual report (see attached).

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Oct 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what checks are carried out on animal and plant products at UK borders; and what quarantine arrangements are in place for potentially infected products.

Checks are currently carried out on products of animal origin (POAO) and plant and plant products (P&PP) arriving in GB from outside of the EU, and on live animals and high-risk P&PP imports from the EU. The Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) will deliver a new sanitary and phytosanitary regime applicable to all imports to GB with changes starting from January 2024. Under BTOM, controls will be risk-based and calibrated to the specific commodity and country of origin. Additional physical controls on certain EU imports will be conducted at Border Control Posts (BCPs) and Control Points (CPs) on a risk basis from April 2024. BCP and CP specifications vary according to the type of commodities received. BCPs and CPs contain suitable facilities for containing non-compliant consignments.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Sep 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to pause the phasing out of existing farm payments until Sustainable Farming Incentive payments are in place.

The Government has no plans to pause the phasing out of Basic Payment Scheme payments.

Our priority is to roll out Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) in a way that ensures the service works as straightforwardly as possible for all our customers and aligns with the closing date for Countryside Stewardship.

The SFI 2023 scheme has been expanded and made more flexible in response to farmers’ feedback. There are 23 actions on offer under the new and improved 2023 scheme, including on soil health, moorland, hedgerows, integrated pest management, farmland wildlife, buffer strips, and low input grassland.

The scheme will open for applications from 18 September. Before then farmers can contact the Rural Payments Agency to join the thousands of farm businesses that have already expressed their interest in applying.

Recently, we have run an extensive communications and engagement programme with farmers and farming organisations, including through webinars and our presence at agricultural shows. This has enabled us to promote the options available to farmers and feedback is of increased awareness and interest in what is on offer.

Information on the scheme is available in one handbook and on 10 August we published voluntary ‘How to Guidance’ which farmers can follow if helpful for them. We know that applicants to date have welcomed the simple, automated online application process which again will support uptake in the coming months.

We know the importance of getting agreements and payments out as quickly as possible, which is why we’ll be working to get as many people as possible on board as quickly as possible after 18 September. What is more, in recognition of the challenges faced with inflation and rising input costs, the Government has confirmed farmers will receive a payment in the first month of their SFI 2023 agreement to help with cashflow.

We remain committed to our target of 70% of farms and farmland being in schemes by 2028.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Sep 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on farmers of delays to Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) payments; and what plans they have to rectify the delay.

The Government has no plans to pause the phasing out of Basic Payment Scheme payments.

Our priority is to roll out Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) in a way that ensures the service works as straightforwardly as possible for all our customers and aligns with the closing date for Countryside Stewardship.

The SFI 2023 scheme has been expanded and made more flexible in response to farmers’ feedback. There are 23 actions on offer under the new and improved 2023 scheme, including on soil health, moorland, hedgerows, integrated pest management, farmland wildlife, buffer strips, and low input grassland.

The scheme will open for applications from 18 September. Before then farmers can contact the Rural Payments Agency to join the thousands of farm businesses that have already expressed their interest in applying.

Recently, we have run an extensive communications and engagement programme with farmers and farming organisations, including through webinars and our presence at agricultural shows. This has enabled us to promote the options available to farmers and feedback is of increased awareness and interest in what is on offer.

Information on the scheme is available in one handbook and on 10 August we published voluntary ‘How to Guidance’ which farmers can follow if helpful for them. We know that applicants to date have welcomed the simple, automated online application process which again will support uptake in the coming months.

We know the importance of getting agreements and payments out as quickly as possible, which is why we’ll be working to get as many people as possible on board as quickly as possible after 18 September. What is more, in recognition of the challenges faced with inflation and rising input costs, the Government has confirmed farmers will receive a payment in the first month of their SFI 2023 agreement to help with cashflow.

We remain committed to our target of 70% of farms and farmland being in schemes by 2028.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Sep 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the increasing number of dog attacks on (1) other animals, and (2) people; and what plans they have to (a) review, and (b) amend, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to add new breeds in view of these increasing attacks.

We recognise dog attacks can have horrific consequences and we take this issue very seriously. The Government is taking urgent action to bring forward a ban on XL Bully dog types following a concerning rise in attacks and fatalities, which appear to be driven by this type of dog. We intend to have the legislation in place to deliver this ban by the end of the year.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the extent to which those taking the economic risk will be rewarded under the Environmental Land Management Schemes.

We are designing our Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes with this in mind, many of the actions we will pay for through the ELM schemes will help farmers and land managers reduce their costs, improve their efficiency and improve the natural environment. For example, the nutrient and integrated pest management standards will help optimise use of inputs, helping to reduce costs whilst also potentially maintaining or even improving yields. Other actions in our schemes can enable farmers to generate an income from unproductive corners and edges of fields, using hedgerows to improve productivity (for example as windbreaks or shelterbelts), and improving soil health. The payments are also intended to support and de-risk the transition for farmers wanting to adopt more sustainable farming approaches. We use ‘income foregone plus costs’ to calculate payment rates and we have recently reviewed and updated them to ensure they fairly reflect changes in costs.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government to what extent commoners with grazing rights in perpetuity will benefit from the Environmental Land Management Schemes.

We are designing the Environmental Land Management schemes so farmers on common land can take part in the schemes in a straightforward and positive way.

We have already designed the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) so that eligible single entities can apply for an agreement on common land, as well as making an additional payment available to help with the costs of administering an agreement if there is a group of two or more people on the common.

Commoners will also be eligible for the annual SFI management payment, which will pay £20 per hectare for up to the first 50 hectares entered into the scheme, resulting in a payment of up to £1,000 per year.

Alongside SFI, there are multiple actions available in Countryside Stewardship that are applicable to commoners, as well as payment to support the administration of agreements involving shared grazing on common land. Common land is also eligible for entry into the Landscape Recovery scheme, and applications are currently being accepted for round two.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for a national grid for water to ensure that those parts of England with sufficient water can supply water to areas that are water stressed.

The concept of a national grid for water has been assessed previously and has been discounted on the basis of cost and practicalities. Unlike gas and electricity, the infrastructure needed for a national grid is considerable as water is heavy, difficult and costly to move. It remains the case that often, local sources of water are better value economically and environmentally than moving water over long distances, which is carbon and energy intensive.

However, there are many existing transfers of water linking parts of the country. For example, the Environment Agency operates a transfer of water from north of Cambridge to Essex to benefit farmers and water companies. Water companies such as United Utilities transfer water from the Lake District to Manchester keeping the city in water. Water companies must look closely at ways of sharing water across their existing networks and by building new links when they prepare their statutory water resource management plans (WRMPs). The current draft WRMPs and regional water resource plans consulted on earlier this year include further development of connections, incrementally building wider and more integrated networks, as well as some regional transfers of water, where these are best value options for customers, society and the environment.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd May 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of major housing developments in contributing to sewage spills into combined sewers where the standard of the pipes falls below acceptable environmental standards.

In August 2022 the Government launched the most ambitious plan to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows in water company history – the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan. This plan was published alongside an Impact Assessment.

The Government has reviewed making Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) mandatory in new developments and will do this through the implementation of Schedule 3 to the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. We are now looking at how best to implement, considering scope, threshold and process, while also being mindful of the cumulative impact of new regulatory burdens on the development sector. There will be a public consultation later this year with implementation expected during 2024.

The approach to managing and avoiding flood risk is also set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, underpinned by our planning guidance, applies to all sources of flooding, including from overwhelmed sewers and drainage systems. The Framework expects local planning authorities to plan for the development and infrastructure required in their area, including infrastructure for wastewater and utilities. They should work with other providers, such as sewerage companies, to assess the quality and capacity of infrastructure and its ability to meet forecast demands.

The Government has made a commitment, as part of its reform package under the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, to consult on whether or not we should make water companies statutory consultees on certain planning applications, and if so, how best to do this. It will be important that water companies engage local planning authorities on the right applications at the right time so they can input effectively and not slow down the application process.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the cost to the UK chemical industry of simultaneously (1) adapting to the UK REACH programme, and (2) maintaining compliance with the EU REACH programme, insofar as it is necessary for trade with the EU; and what the impact has been on exports of chemicals in the past three years.

The most significant cost associated with the transition to UK REACH relates to registration. The estimated cost to industry of this is £2bn over six years; however, this estimate is uncertain and actual costs would be a matter of commercial negotiation. In response to this, we are exploring alternative arrangements for UK REACH transitional registrations, aiming to significantly reduce industry costs whilst ensuring high standards to safeguard public health and the environment. This work is still in progress, including working with industry stakeholders to better assess the practical and cost implications of different options, for example through regulators and industry volunteers preparing model dossiers. The requirements for the registration of novel chemicals to EU or UK REACH remain the same. We do not hold information on the costs faced by firms in complying with regulatory regimes outside Great Britain. Although values of chemical exports are increasing, this is not generally reflected in volume, suggesting that inflationary pressures are contributing to the figures.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Apr 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government how the mitigation hierarchy will be implemented in the planning process for offshore windfarms.

The mitigation hierarchy is an established principle of environmental and planning law. The Government is currently consulting on an updated National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure, including offshore wind, which states that applicants should always employ the mitigation hierarchy. The Government will be publishing updated guidance for offshore wind developers and regulators to further clarify how to work through and adhere to the mitigation hierarchy.

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill includes provision to replace Strategic Environmental Assessment and Environmental Impact Assessment processes for national infrastructure projects, marine works and terrestrial planning with Environmental Outcome Reports (EORs). EORs apply to a range of consenting regimes and will assess any steps proposed to avoid, mitigate or compensate for effects of specified environmental outcomes that are not met and to what extent the mitigation hierarchy was followed.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of levels of food security in England; and, in particular, of self-sufficiency in fruit and vegetables.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain. It is well equipped to deal with situations with the potential to cause disruption. Our high degree of food security is built on supply from diverse sources; strong domestic production as well as imports through stable trade routes. Domestic food production, coupled with international trade, gives us national resilience. When it comes to food we can produce here, we are 74% self-sufficient. Our aim is to broadly maintain the current level of food that we produce domestically and boost production in sectors where there are the biggest opportunities. Defra has a collaborative relationship with industry which allows us to effectively respond to disruption, should it occur.

Some supermarkets applied item limits to a small number of fruit and vegetables due to poor weather affecting the harvest in Spain and North Africa, where a high proportion of produce consumed in UK at this time of year is grown. However, with the exception of one retailer, these limits have now been removed, reflecting that fact that supply is returning to normal levels.

Recognising the importance of food security, in the Agriculture Act 2020, the Government made a commitment to produce an assessment of our food security at least once every three years. The first UK Food Security Report was published in December 2021. This report will serve as an evidence base for future policy work. Defra publishes annual statistics on horticulture, including some self-sufficiency statistics here: Latest horticulture statistics - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the resilience of the supply chain for imports of fruit and vegetables.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain. It is well equipped to deal with situations with the potential to cause disruption. Our high degree of food security is built on supply from diverse sources; strong domestic production as well as imports through stable trade routes. Domestic food production, coupled with international trade, gives us national resilience. When it comes to food we can produce here, we are 74% self-sufficient. Our aim is to broadly maintain the current level of food that we produce domestically and boost production in sectors where there are the biggest opportunities. Defra has a collaborative relationship with industry which allows us to effectively respond to disruption, should it occur.

Some supermarkets applied item limits to a small number of fruit and vegetables due to poor weather affecting the harvest in Spain and North Africa, where a high proportion of produce consumed in UK at this time of year is grown. However, with the exception of one retailer, these limits have now been removed, reflecting that fact that supply is returning to normal levels.

Recognising the importance of food security, in the Agriculture Act 2020, the Government made a commitment to produce an assessment of our food security at least once every three years. The first UK Food Security Report was published in December 2021. This report will serve as an evidence base for future policy work. Defra publishes annual statistics on horticulture, including some self-sufficiency statistics here: Latest horticulture statistics - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what checks are carried out on the labelling of meat products at the time of (1) production, (2) processing, (3) distribution, and (4) retail, in England.

It is the responsibility of a food business to ensure that labelling on food is accurate, clear and complies with the relevant legislation.

Establishments producing meat products require to be approved in accordance with Retained Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004, unless a relevant exemption applies. Part of this approval requirement is to apply an ID mark to all approvable meat products leaving the establishment. Meat product manufacturers may be approved by the FSA or the local authority. Local authority approved establishments will be inspected regularly in accordance with a risk-based frequency. At the time of inspection, local authority officers will make checks to ensure the ID mark is being applied to all approvable products leaving the establishment, that it contains the approval number issued to the establishment and that it is in the format prescribed by the legislation. The ID mark provides traceability and is applied to packaging intended for the final consumer and retail sale. Retail food outlets are required to register with and be inspected by local authorities. Local authorities will inspect retailers regularly, in accordance with a risk-based frequency. As part of these checks, they will examine items displayed for sale and in the case of meat products, they will ensure an ID mark is displayed.

Meat is also subject to the overarching food labelling rules which covers all foods and which are enforceable from the moment a food is placed on the market. While food is subject to these regulations it is the responsibility of a food authority, usually the Trading Standards Office attached to a local authority, to enforce these laws. This is done through a range of enforcement activities including both proactive, risk-led inspection activity and reactive enforcement following intelligence. Effective routine sampling is an essential part of local authority activity, with the Food Law Code of Practice and the Food Safety Act 1990 providing a framework to support sampling activity in addition to any enforcement action. Food samples submitted for analysis will also have a label check carried out which involves visually checking their labels against the mandatory requirements set out in the legislation.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recent shortages of certain foodstuffs; and what steps they will take to ensure fairness in the contractual relationship between UK fruit and vegetable growers and their supermarket outlets.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, as demonstrated throughout the COVID-19 response. It is well equipped to deal with situations with the potential to cause disruption. UK consumers have access through international trade to food products that cannot be produced here, or at least not on a year-round basis. This supplements domestic production and also ensures that any disruption from risks such as adverse weather or disease does not affect the UK's overall security of supply.

In recent weeks some supermarkets applied item limits to a small number of fruit and vegetables due to poor weather affecting the harvest in Spain and North Africa, where a high proportion of produce consumed in UK at this time of year is grown. Defra is closely monitoring markets and supply chains to explore the factors that have contributed to ongoing supply chain pressures and is considering how the Government and industry can work together to mitigate them, in the short and longer term. In the meantime Defra has requested weekly data from supermarkets on supplies of the foods affected to ensure we have the latest available data.

We continue to keep the market situation under review through the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group, which monitors UK agricultural markets including price, supply, inputs, trade and recent developments. Defra has requested weekly data from supermarkets on supplies of the foods to ensure we have the latest available data. Defra’s view is that the most effective response to food supply disruption is industry-led, with appropriate support and enablement from HM Government.

It is not for HM Government to set retail food prices nor to comment on day-to-day commercial decisions by companies. The supply of food is dependent on a combination of factors and supermarkets have worked with their suppliers to ensure availability.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of pollution caused by surface water runoff from highways into the sewers; and what plans they have to hold the highways authorities responsible for the pollution caused in this way and to eliminate the contribution of these sewage overflows in future.

We have not made an assessment of surface water runoff from highways into sewers. The amount of surface water entering our combined sewers network is dependent on the spread and intensity of rainfall. This is incredibly variable and therefore it is not possible to determine the relative contribution towards pollution from storm overflows from highway drains alone. As outlined in the Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan HM Government will work with water companies and relevant stakeholders to better manage rainwater and assess the role of highway drainage as a rainwater drainage system.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Feb 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what is the current level of UK self-sufficiency in fruit and vegetables.

The UK production to supply ratio for fresh fruit was 15% in 2021. For fresh vegetables, the ratio was 57%.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Feb 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to extend farm tenancies under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 and the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995.

The Government recognises that farming is a long-term business, and we are keen to explore ways to encourage more landlords and tenants to consider longer-term tenancy agreements while retaining the flexibility that Farm Business Tenancies currently provide. We are currently reviewing the Rock Review recommendations on encouraging longer-term tenancies in more detail and will respond later this year. There is also a role for industry leadership and best practice guidance setting out the options and benefits for tenants and landlords of longer-term agreements.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Feb 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government when the Tenancy Reform Industry Group (TRIG) will report on farm tenancy agreements.

The Tenancy Reform Industry Group (TRIG) is a valuable advisory body with an interest in all issues relating to agricultural tenancies. When required, the Group provides the Government and industry with advice, information, guidance and evidence on agricultural tenancies. TRIG is a valuable forum to discuss current agriculture tenancy and associated issues and when appropriate engages and seeks advice from other experts within the industry. For example, TRIG has recently published industry-led guidance on tree planting and agricultural tenancies and a code of good practice for projects, schemes or works that require landlord consent. While TRIG has no immediate plans to provide a report on farm tenancy agreements, the Government will continue to discuss farm tenancy issues with TRIG on an ongoing basis.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the requirements placed on the movement of horses between the UK and France; and what progress they have made on negotiating a tripartite agreement for the free movement of horses between Ireland, France and the UK.

Following the departure of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) the requirements for exporting equines to the EU are decided by the European Commission, and the UK is now treated as a third country. Whilst the biosecurity status of the UK has not changed since leaving the EU, equines are now subject to requirements for certain health tests before travel and pre-export residence and isolation periods. Equines must have an Export Health Certificate signed off by an Official Veterinarian. Equines must enter the EU and Northern Ireland through Border Control Posts where they are subject to 100% documentary, physical and ID checks. Prior to EU membership, there was a Tripartite Agreement (TPA) between Ireland, France and the UK for certain equines moving between the three nations. When the UK joined the EU, the EU agreed a continuation of the TPA as part of our membership agreement, as a derogation. When the UK left the EU and became a third country, the TPA ceased.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government how tenant farms will benefit under the Environmental Land Management Schemes.

As we said in response to Baroness McIntosh of Pickering’s question HL4012 on 30 December 2022, we are designing the schemes to be simple, flexible, fair and accessible to as many types of farmers and land managers as possible, including tenant farmers. We are aiming to remove barriers to tenants entering schemes where possible, and have done this already in the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and Landscape Recovery schemes. Ensuring tenants can benefit from the scheme is one of our design criteria for evolving the existing Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme. We will say more about how tenants can benefit from the evolved Countryside Stewardship scheme in due course.


Like all farmers, tenant farmers in SFI will benefit from the new payment of £20/hectare for the first 50 hectares, in addition to the payments farmers will receive for delivering SFI standards, to cover the costs of taking part in this scheme. Tenant farmers will also benefit from the updated payment rates for CS for ongoing activities, and for one-off grants for new agreements. The median increase to the value of a CS agreement will be about 10%.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government how many farms were in tenanted occupation in each of the last five years.

Statistical estimates of the number of commercial agricultural holdings in England in each of the last five years are shown in the table below, split by tenure type (solely owned, solely rented or mixed).

Commercial holdings are those registered with the Rural Payments Agency for payments or livestock purposes and with significant levels of farming activity (as recorded in responses to the Defra June Survey of Agriculture or the Cattle Tracing System). Holdings are only included if they have more than five hectares of agricultural land, one hectare of orchards, 0.5 hectares of vegetables or 0.1 hectares of protected crops, or more than 10 cows, 50 pigs, 20 sheep, 20 goats or 1,000 poultry.

Number of commercial holdings in England by tenure type

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020 (c)

2021

Solely owned

56,446

54,495

54,923

55,750

:

57,081

Solely rented

14,125

14,536

14,630

14,527

:

14,562

Mixed tenure (a)

35,249

35,954

35,625

34,777

:

32,371

Tenure not declared (b)

1,033

940

857

1,046

:

1,206

Total

106,853

105,925

106,035

106,100

107,079

105,220

: represents data that are not available or have not been collected.

(a) Mixed tenure - includes farms with land both rented and owned.

(b) Tenure not declared - a very small number of holdings provide farmed areas but no detail on ownership. Assumption of tenure cannot be made.

(c) It was not possible to run a full-scale June Survey in 2020 due to the Coronavirus outbreak. A small-scale survey was run instead to allow us to produce national estimates of key crop areas and livestock populations. As a result, detailed breakdowns are not available

A longer data series is available for England at Agricultural land ownership in England (www.gov.uk).

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to bring into force Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.

Following the publication of the review for making sustainable drainage systems mandatory in new developments on 10 January 2023, the Government will now give consideration to how Schedule 3 will be implemented. This will be subject to final decisions on scope, threshold and process, while also being mindful of the cumulative impact of new regulatory burdens on the development sector. A public consultation will be held later this year that will help to shape our new approach, with implementation expected during 2024.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Dec 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the ability of tenant farmers to benefit from Environmental Land Management Schemes.

We are designing the schemes to be simple, flexible, fair and accessible to as many types of farmers and land managers as possible, including tenant farmers. We are aiming to remove barriers to tenants entering schemes where possible, such as in the Sustainable Farming Incentive where tenants can enter without their landlord's explicit consent and tenants with annually renewing tenancy agreements can enter if they expect to have management control for the duration of their 3-year agreement. The independent Rock Review on the tenanted sector, led by Baroness Rock, noted that SFI’s agreement length and no penalty exits when management control of the land is lost unexpectedly have made the scheme more open to tenant farmers. The first round of Landscape Recovery was open to any land manager or groups of land managers, including tenant farmers, that could pull together a 500 to 5,000 hectare project of broadly contiguous land in England - around half of the 22 projects selected for round one involve tenant farmers. We are monitoring how these schemes are working for tenants and any impacts on tenants as part of the schemes' Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced on 1st December that rather than delivering the new Local Nature Recovery scheme as previously planned, we would build on the success of the existing Countryside Stewardship scheme to achieve the ambitious outcomes we had intended to deliver through Local Nature Recovery. This evolution was recommended by the Tenancy Working Group in the early conversations with Defra, with the group stating that many tenants were comfortable and familiar with CS. We are continuing to develop the Countryside Stewardship scheme, the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Landscape Recovery schemes through co-design with stakeholders, farmers, foresters, and other experts while considering the recommendations of the Rock Review to inform our decisions on tenanted land in these schemes.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government when they intend to bring fully into force Schedule 3 to the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.

HM Government is completing a review of the case for implementing Schedule 3 to the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 and will confirm the outcomes in due course.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what progress they have made in the development of a vaccine for domestic birds against avian influenza; and what assessment they have made of the entrance of vaccinated birds into the food chain.

Defra continues to invest in avian influenza research and monitors the situation in Europe and globally. In conjunction with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), Defra will continue to monitor the development and availability of vaccines for use to protect against avian influenza and as a control measure during avian influenza outbreaks, as they are put forward for marketing authorisation by vaccine manufacturers.

Currently, outside of zoos in England, the vaccination of birds as a routine preventative measure is not permitted. Therefore, there are no vaccinated birds entering the food chain. Any future decisions on disease prevention and control measures, including the use of vaccination, will be based upon the latest scientific, ornithological, and veterinary advice. Any proposed changes in the use of vaccination will be subject to risk assessments including in conjunction with the Food Standards Agency, assessments of their safety in the food chain.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take to encourage the restocking of domestic birds following the outbreak of avian influenza.

When avian influenza is confirmed at a premises, in order to limit the risk of the disease spreading, all birds on the premises are humanely culled. Keepers will be paid compensation for clinically healthy birds culled by government for disease control purposes as set out in the Animal Health Act 1981. Following the completion of culling and disposal, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will carry out preliminary cleansing and disinfection (C&D) at the premises. The costs for culling, disposal and the preliminary C&D are paid by government. Before a premises can be restocked the keeper will either need to undertake secondary C&D at their own expense or wait 12 months from the date of preliminary C&D.

Whether to undertake secondary C&D and how quickly the process is completed, and therefore when restocking and business activity can resume is a commercial decision by the keeper. APHA will work with the bird keeper to explain the requirements and monitor the effectiveness of C&D.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Director General of Environment in the European Commission about the creation of a common approach to the treatment of migratory birds in order to reduce avian influenza rates in the UK.

Defra’s approach to avian influenza is set out in the Notifiable Avian Disease Control Strategy for Great Britain supported by the Mitigation Strategy for Avian Influenza in Wild Birds in England and Wales.

The UK Government recognises the significant threat posed by highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), but there are limited effective actions that can be taken to control avian influenza in migratory wild birds as opposed to poultry and other captive bird flocks.  We will however continue to take and recommend whatever actions we can, in accordance with international best practice and the latest evidence.  International collaboration and knowledge exchange is facilitated through discussions between the UK Chief Veterinary Officer and her counterparts in the EU and globally through the World Organisation for Animal Health.

At the international level, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) virologists and epidemiologists collaborate with colleagues in Europe and around the world to closely analyse viruses involved in outbreaks in both poultry and other captive birds and those found in wild birds, with the aim of understanding what makes these viruses different and how they might change in the future. The UK National Reference Laboratory remains informally connected to colleagues in EU laboratories, including the EU Reference Laboratory, and continue to share and gather intelligence.

The UK’s membership of the OSPAR-HELCOM-ICES Joint Working Group on Birds and the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement are also key forums for improving collaboration, monitoring and information sharing on avian influenza in migratory birds.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of avian influenza on domestic poultry and what support they will provide to domestic producers.

The British poultry sector is highly resilient and plays a significant role in the production of high quality chicken, turkey, duck and geese.

The scale of Avian Influenza (AI) outbreaks occurring in the UK and Europe is unprecedented and we recognise the poultry industry is under serious pressure. In the United Kingdom, during the period 1 October to 3 November 2022, approximately 1.5 million chickens, 931,000 turkeys, 336,700 ducks, and 19,000 geese alone have died or been culled for disease control purposes because of AI. In comparison to approximately 2.4 million chickens, 351,000 turkeys, 342,500 ducks and 41,800 geese during the first year of the outbreak (October 2021 to September 2022).

We recognise that these outbreaks are very distressing for the individual poultry farmers and businesses that are affected. However, the overall impact on food supply is relatively small, with approximately 1.1 billion chickens and 11 million turkeys alone usually sold in Great Britain each year.

Defra's objective in tackling any outbreak of Avian Influenza is to eradicate the disease as quickly as possible. Our approach considers the latest ornithological, epidemiological, veterinary and other scientific advice. Where necessary, we are also able to introduce Avian Influenza Prevention Zones (AIPZ) and mandatory housing measures within AIPZs in order to reduce the risk of further disease spread. A national housing order in England was announced on 31 October and will come into force on 7 November.

On 28 October we announced a new package of measures to support domestic producers with the impacts of AI. This included changes to the compensation scheme allowing compensation to be paid to farmers from the outset of planned culling rather than at the end. This will allow us to give earlier certainty about entitlement to compensation, better reflect the impact of outbreaks on premises and lead to swifter payments to help stem any cash flow pressures.

In consultation with the Food Standards Agency, an easement to marketing rules is also being introduced in England. The measures mean that farmers who breed turkeys, geese, ducks or capons for their meat will have the option to slaughter birds early, and to freeze them, which can then be defrosted and sold to consumers between the period 28 November and 31 December 2022. This option is being introduced to give producers certainty over business planning.

Defra continues to monitor the situation and is working closely with the poultry sector.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the low level of self-sufficiency in fruit and vegetables in England; and what steps they will take to increase domestic production.

We have a high degree of self-sufficiency in many of those fruit and vegetables suited to our growing conditions. For example, in 2021 we were able to provide 57% of our vegetable needs, and 72% of the strawberries consumed. Our innovative and enterprising farmers and growers are now exploring ways to maximise this further by optimising growing conditions to increase yields. With advances in technology, they have already extended the growing seasons of a variety of crops through the adoption of Controlled Environmental Agriculture (CEA) technologies enabling crops to be grown and harvested year-round in a climate-controlled environment.

Our plan to help our fruit and vegetable growers to increase productivity and domestic production was outlined in the Government Food Strategy, launched earlier this year, which announced the development of a new Horticultural Strategy for England. This will cover a range of growing models including high-tech controlled environment growing to increase domestic production.

Defra has committed £98 million for the first round of the Farming Investment Fund which provides grants to farmers and horticultural growers so that they can invest in the equipment, technology and infrastructure that will help improve their productivity while enhancing the environment. We have also invested significant funding to provide grants for industry-led innovation across the farming sectors, including CEA, through UKRI's £90 million Transforming Food Production programme, and more recently through the £270 million Farming Innovation Programme with over £70 million of competition funding committed to date.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what progress they have made in rolling out the Environment Land Management Schemes; and how will those schemes benefit (1) tenant farmers, (2) smallholdings, and (3) upland farmers.

Following extensive testing and piloting, we began the successful roll out of the Sustainable Farming Incentive to eligible farmers in June 2022. We opened the scheme with two soils standards and a moorland standard, providing the opportunity for many thousands of farmers to be rewarded for taking care of their soil or assessing the condition of moorland. The scheme will expand each year, with the full set of standards available by 2025. As of 18th October 2022, over 4,450 farmers had started their applications, of which 1,980 had been submitted to the Rural Payments Agency and these are swiftly moving to live agreements. We will continue to expand the scheme as more funds are released from Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) reductions.

We are continuing to design the successor to Countryside Stewardship through co-design with stakeholders, farmers, foresters and other experts. We have used the outputs of a range of tests and trials to inform the design of the scheme, as well as working collaboratively with farmers and other land managers to design the actions we will pay for to ensure that they are less prescriptive and more flexible than current Countryside Stewardship options. We published some information about the likely shape of the scheme in August 2022, and we will publish more detailed information on what we will pay for later this year.

In February 2022 we launched the first Landscape Recovery competition. We confirmed the 22 successful projects from the first round of applications on 2nd September. Collectively, the successful projects aim to restore nearly 700km of rivers and protect and enhance 263 species such as water vole, otter, pine marten, lapwing, great crested newt, European eel and marsh fritillary.

We are working to make the Environmental Land Management schemes accessible to all kinds of farmers, foresters and other land managers who can deliver the land management activities the schemes pay for, including tenant farmers, small holdings and upland farmers. We are working with farmers, farming organisations and other experts, and reviewing the recommendations in the Rock Review by the Tenancy Working Group to achieve this.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Sep 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their current estimate of the cost of leaving the EU REACH programme and creating an alternative UK Register for chemicals.

UK REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) aims to ensure that companies putting chemicals on the market understand and manage the risks they might pose. Under UK REACH, manufacturers and importers have a duty to register chemicals to access the GB market.

The transition to UK REACH has presented some challenges for the chemicals industry, particularly the cost of having to negotiate and potentially pay for access to data needed to support a UK REACH registration. In response to this, in December 2021, we committed to exploring alternative arrangements for UK REACH transitional registrations, aiming to significantly reduce industry costs whilst ensuring high standards to safeguard public health and the environment. This work is still in progress.

Our estimated cost to industry of registering under the original UK REACH model is £2 billion over six years; however, this estimate is uncertain and actual costs would be a matter of commercial negotiation. We have recently consulted on extending the existing deadlines for the transition to UK REACH so companies do not incur these costs while we complete the work to develop an alternative transition model.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many times African swine fever has been identified in imported products in each of the last three years.

ASF virus can be present in the meat and bone marrow of contaminated products from infected animals. We have regionalisation in place for ASF for some countries, and there are rules in place for products from an ASF disease restriction zone or an ASF endemic country to be exported. Therefore, a non-processed product from an ASF disease restriction zone or an ASF endemic country is usually considered to be a non-compliant import and should be destroyed.

Defra does not routinely test for ASF virus in imported commodities.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the current risk level of African swine fever for the UK.

Managing the threat of African swine fever remains a key UK priority. Whilst we have never had an outbreak in the UK, we continue to prepare for the eventuality of one. Given the deteriorating epidemiological situation in Europe, Defra has commissioned an update to the 2018 risk assessment which looked at the risk of African swine fever entering Great Britain from the European Union via movement of humans, animals or animal products.

The risk assessment has concluded that the overall level of risk to Great Britain has remained the same as in 2018. However, the risk of entry of contaminated goods into Great Britain via personal luggage or couriers has become high. The department is looking at a range of mitigations, including targeted interventions to prevent high-risk pork from coming into Great Britain from Europe.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many seizures of imported (1) products of animal origin, and (2) pig meat, have been made in the last three years.

Border Force holds the data on seizures of imported products of animal origin, including meat. Data on seizures of pig meat specifically is unavailable.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, what assessment they have made of the current level of water supply given the heatwave in parts of the UK; and what plans they have to deal with any shortage of supply.

Water companies are reporting that water storage levels are adequate for supply this summer. Water companies have a statutory duty to provide a secure supply of wholesome water at all times. They are legally required to have robust plans in place to maintain the supply of water in a range of hazards, including heatwaves.

Water companies use a range of measures to manage higher water demand expected during heatwaves and respond to any disruption. These measures include ensuring their networks are prepared, customer communications to help manage demand, rerouting of water via their networks, and the provision of alternative water supplies, for example via tanker deliveries. In the event of disruptions, water companies also maintain priority access registers, which vulnerable customers can register with for provision of bottled water.

The Government is communicating frequently with water companies to monitor their performance and reiterate the importance of maintaining supplies to customers.

6th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the shortage of seasonal workers in the first six months of this year, and (2) the extent of the impact to crops of fruit and vegetables; and what plans they have to address this in 2023.

Horticulture has long relied on seasonal workers to bring home the harvest. After a series of annual pilots the government announced last December that the Seasonal Worker visa route has been extended to 2024 to allow overseas workers to come to the UK for up to six months to harvest both edible and ornamental crops. An initial allocation of 30,000 visas was made available for 2022, which will be increased to 40,000 (including 2000 for the poultry sector). Defra continues to monitor the supply of labour to UK horticulture throughout the year, working with operators and sector growers to ensure there is sufficient labour for harvesting the UK's fruit and vegetable crops.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many of the 570 Defra items listed on the Retained EU law dashboard, published on 22 June, relate to (1) phytosanitary, (2) plant, or (3) animal health, welfare and hygiene, measures.

Currently, of the 570 Defra Items listed on the Retained EU law dashboard 174 of these relate to phytosanitary, plant or animal health, welfare, and hygiene measures. The breakdown across each of these areas is displayed in the table below. This information is available on the Retained EU law dashboard at the link provided here: Retained EU law dashboard - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Defra will continue to review retained EU law to ensure it has an accurate record of it. The dashboard will be updated every quarter with any additional retained law added.

Total REUL

Phytosanitary

6

Plant (excluding Phytosanitary)

65

Animal Health

88

Animal Welfare

15

Animal Hygiene

0

Total

174

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the value of imported products made from rabbit fur to the UK economy, and (2) the cost of a ban on the importation of such products would have on the UK economy.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) data for 2019 indicates approximate values of £52,911,000 gross imports to the UK for raw furskins, tanned or dressed furskins, and articles of apparel, clothing accessories and other furskin articles. HMRC does not collect data on specific fur-bearing species.

Under existing domestic legislation it is an offence to keep animals solely or primarily for slaughter for the value of their fur. However, we do permit the import and sale of such products. The Government is committed to exploring potential action in this area in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. If any action were to be taken on fur, a full assessment of the impact on UK businesses would be conducted.

15th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the difficulties in exporting farm animals for breeding purposes to the EU because of a lack of facilities to take them; and what steps they will take to ease the export of such animals.

The construction and management of live animal Border Control Posts (BCPs) in the EU are commercial activities, and it falls on EU countries and competent authorities to approve the designation and operation of such facilities. As such, Defra is supporting National Farmers' Union and other industry bodies' efforts to push for the construction and designation of an appropriate BCP for livestock; specifically, through data collection and sharing to support the commercial case for such a facility, and through diplomatic channels to support the designation and approval process.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the EU's request in September 2021 for consolidated versions of Sanitary and Phytosanitary legislation integrating recent amendments to be made available as soon as possible, when they intend to make these versions available to the relevant Trade Specialised Committee.

We have informed the EU that consolidated versions of legislation are publicly accessible on www.legislation.gov.uk, and are made available as soon as possible.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what decisions they have taken following the recent discussions with the (1) United Nations, and (2) the EU, on the movement of perishable goods between the UK and the EU under the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

We are not aware of any discussions with the UN on this specific issue.

We continue to engage with the EU on a range of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues through the TCA framework. The TCA established the Trade Specialised Committee on SPS measures, including certification requirements and border clearance processes, and their application, in order to facilitate trade between the Parties. The Committee last met in September 2021 and the minutes can be found here.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to issue agricultural visas for picking and processing fruit and vegetables to female Ukrainian workers; and what consideration they have given to housing any such individuals in RAF Linton-on-Ouse.

The Home Office already operates such an immigration route. The Seasonal Worker visa scheme, which has been extended to 2024, allows overseas workers to come to the UK for up to six months to harvest both edible and ornamental crops. 30,000 visas will be available in 2022, and this is being kept under review with the potential to increase by 10,000 visas if there is evidence of need.

The Seasonal Workers visa route is managed by four scheme operators. The scheme operators select, sponsor and monitor migrants, and adhere to all Home Office requirements in practice, including those on migrant safety and welfare.

Under the scheme, licenced operators can recruit workers of any nationality or gender from any EU or non-EU country, including from Ukraine.

The operators of the Seasonal Worker visa route manage accommodation arrangements and must ensure that all workers are housed in safe hygienic accommodation and many UK farms are already set up for accommodating seasonal workers on site for the spring and summer months. Only asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute will be accommodated in the new reception centre at RAF Linton-On-Ouse.

On 24 February the Government announced that all Ukrainian nationals on an existing seasonal worker visa will have their leave in the UK extended to 31 December 2022 and can now switch to the Ukraine Extension Scheme visa if eligible.

Under the Ukraine Extension Scheme those who are successful in their application can stay in the UK for up to three years and will be able to live, work and study in the UK and access public funds. Further details on eligibility can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-to-stay-in-the-uk-under-the-ukraine-extension-scheme. A copy of the guidance is also attached to this answer.

Ukrainian women who are currently in the UK and have a right to work here can also access agricultural jobs through the Department for Work and Pensions’ Find A Job website.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the current state of the livestock industry, and in particular the pig sector.

The supply chain inflation seen in the livestock sector in recent months, driven significantly by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the consequential increase in costs for feed, fuel and fertilisers, has created challenges across this sector and the wider food and farming industry.

We have recognised that increasing input costs, particularly fertiliser, feed, fuel and energy, are creating short term pressures on cash flow. On 6 May, we announced that we are to bring forward half of this year’s BPS payment as an advance injection of cash to farm businesses to help provide confidence.

This builds on measures we recently announced to assist farmers with the availability of fertilisers for the coming growing season to help address uncertainty among growers and keep costs down for farmers. These include delays to changes to the use of urea; revised and improved statutory guidance on the use of slurry; and the publication of further details of the Sustainable Farming Incentive. The Government has announced that it will pay farmers to help with the costs of sowing nitrogen fixing plants and green manures to reduce dependence on manufactured fertilisers, and that farmers will be further supported through new slurry storage grants.

We are working closely with the industry to identify where further mitigations are available to tackle the challenges they face. We continue to keep the market situation under review through the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group, which monitors UK agricultural markets including price, supply, inputs, trade and recent developments. We have also increased our engagement with industry to supplement our analysis with real time intelligence.

The pig industry has faced several additional challenges in recent months. We provided a package of measures to help address these including temporary work visas for pork butchers, and Private Storage Aid and Slaughter Incentive Payment schemes to facilitate an increase in the throughput of pigs through abattoirs.

We are launching a UK-wide review of supply chain fairness in the pig sector. We will be engaging with industry on this with a consultation expected later this year. We want to hear from industry about improvements to fairness and transparency that could be made to ensure a profitable and productive future.

Although we have recently seen an increase in deadweight pig prices, we will continue to work with the industry to support them at this very challenging time.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are their proposals for seasonal workers for the UK agricultural sector.

Defra continues to work closely with industry and other Government departments to understand labour supply and demand, including both permanent and seasonal workforce requirements, and to ensure there is a long-term strategy for the UK agricultural sector.

The Government has announced that the seasonal worker visa route will be extended to 2024 to allow overseas workers to come to the UK for up to six months to harvest both edible and ornamental crops. 30,000 visas will be available for 2022. This will be kept under review with the potential to increase by 10,000 if there is clear evidence of need.

While acknowledging the sector’s reliance on foreign workers, the UK is committed to becoming a high-skilled, high-wage economy and the Government has been clear that more must be done to attract UK workers through offering training, career options, wage increases and to invest in increased automation technology.

Defra’s Review of Automation in Horticulture will be published shortly and will inform a range of policy decisions regarding automation and seasonal labour from 2022 onwards.

In addition, agricultural businesses can continue to rely on EU nationals living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status and EU nationals who have settled status can continue to travel to the UK to do seasonal work in 2022 and beyond. Over 5.7 million EU citizens and their families have been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Defra is working with industry and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to raise awareness of career opportunities within the food and farming sectors among UK workers.

Defra is also working closely with the Home Office to ensure that the requirement for these sectors is understood across Government.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they (1) have held, and (2) will hold, with the (a) United Nations, and (b) EU, on the movement of perishable goods between the UK and the EU under the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement; what assessment they have made of the implications of the International Treaty on the movement of Perishable Goods on the movement of such goods; and what changes they plan to make to the transport of perishable foods from 1 July when border checks are scheduled to come into force.

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

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the increase in the cost of (1) wheat, and (2) other feedstuffs, on all farmers, particularly pig producers.

Defra is monitoring the position on wheat closely, alongside other commodities which are used to make up animal feed rations for all species including the pig sector, with regular intelligence from industry on both availability and price. Domestic production of wheat comprises 85% of demand, which means the UK is less exposed to import availability than other countries, or on some other products. Currently, there is no direct impact of the Ukraine crisis on UK wheat imports.

Defra is working closely with its industry-led groups – the Arable Chain Advisory Group and Agri-Supply Coalition – alongside UK Flour Millers to monitor the wheat situation, including on prices. We are also working closely with grain trader associations including the Grain and Feed Trade Association, Openfield, Seed Crushers and Oil Processors Association, and cross cutting organisations including the NFU, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, the Agricultural Industries Confederation and pet food manufacturers.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on pigs and their welfare of the shortage of (1) abattoir workers, and (2) vets, resulting in delays to their slaughter.

We recognise the significant and ongoing challenges that the pig sector has faced over the last year. This is due to the pandemic and the loss of the Chinese export market to certain processing plants; global labour shortages; and disruption to supplies of carbon dioxide, which is used as a stunning method for pigs. In addition, in 2021, the UK pig herd was the largest for 20 years. Together these factors have resulted in a backlog of pigs on farm.

This supply chain disruption has not impacted animal welfare of pigs in slaughterhouses. Our concern is that increased numbers of animals on farms can create animal welfare issues if there is insufficient space or housing.

The Government has been working closely with the pig industry to put in place measures to alleviate the situation, including temporary visas for pork butchers, and Private Storage Aid and Slaughter Incentive Payment Schemes to incentivise processors to increase their throughput of pigs in slaughterhouses. These interventions are, together, making a significant contribution to reducing the backlog of pigs on farms. The Farming Minister, Victoria Prentis, has chaired two roundtables – on 10 February and 3 March - with pig industry representatives from across the UK to discuss the challenges that the sector has been facing. Minister Prentis has also met with representatives of the agricultural banking sector to discuss the current situation in the pig sector. The banks confirmed that they are working closely with impacted pig farmers during this exceptionally challenging period and remain keen to be supportive.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is responsible for the provision of official veterinarians to monitor and enforce animal welfare regulations in slaughterhouses. The FSA has maintained veterinary supervision in all slaughterhouses, which includes providing veterinary resource for additional slaughter shifts.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how any gap in funding between basic farm payments and the new environmental land management schemes will be met.

Ahead of the new environmental land management schemes being fully rolled out, between 2021 and 2024 we will help farmers to manage their land sustainably and prepare to take part in our environmental land management schemes. This will include:

  • extensions to Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship;
  • new Countryside Stewardship agreements, available until 2023, with the final round of agreements starting in January 2024;
  • piloting our environmental land management scheme offers;
  • core elements of our Sustainable Farming Incentive – the first in our package of environmental land management schemes - available to all farmers in receipt of BPS from later this year with the first payments due by the end of the year.

We have already launched a new Farming in Protected Landscapes programme in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We have also opened a number of productivity and innovation grant opportunities for farmers, and have already awarded grants to the value of more than £48 million.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the emphasis on sustainable farming initiatives will be rebalanced in view of the current rise in (1) food costs, (2) fuel, and (3) fertiliser, to secure an increase in food production in this country.

We have a highly resilient food supply chain which has coped well in responding to unprecedented challenges. Our food import dependency on the Eastern Europe region is very low, so we do not expect any significant direct impact on UK food supply. Farmers are facing a number of challenges, including rising input costs. We are already taking a number of steps to support British farmers, including ensuring they have the workforce they need through our seasonal workers scheme, and informing policy through the establishment of the UK Agricultural Market Monitoring Group. On Thursday 31 March, we held an industry roundtable chaired by the Farming Minister, Victoria Prentis, to look at the issues faced by the fertiliser industry and the impact on farmers. Alongside this, last week, we announced steps to assist farmers with the availability of fertilisers to address uncertainty among growers and keep costs down for farmers. This package of measures included delaying changes to the use of urea fertiliser by at least a year; revised and improved statutory guidance has been published on how farmers should limit the use of slurry and other farmyard manure at certain times of year. Farmers will be further supported through new slurry storage grants as of this year, helping meet the Farming Rules for Water and reducing dependence on artificial fertilisers by storing organic nutrients until needed or for onward processing. We also published further detail on the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) which will help farmers move towards sustainable farming practices over time, supporting farmers to build the health and fertility of their soil and to reduce soil erosion which are essential for sustainable food production, helping to bolster food security and the longer term resilience of the sector.

We believe food production and environmental protection go hand in hand; they are two sides of the same coin. That is why the SFI will open for early rollout of core elements of the scheme in summer 2022, to allow us to make the first SFI payments before the end of the year. We are planning to introduce a Nutrient Management Standard to the SFI in 2023 that will reward growers who make better use of naturally occurring sources of crop nutrients. Given current fertiliser prices, the priority must be to pioneer new technologies to manufacture more organic-based fertiliser products, and rediscover techniques such as using nitrogen fixing legumes and clovers as an alternative to fertiliser.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their policy on kept farm animals; and what steps they intend to take to assist livestock production.

All farm animals are protected by comprehensive and robust animal health and welfare legislation. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence either to cause any captive animal unnecessary suffering or to fail to provide for the welfare needs of the animal. This is supplemented by detailed legislation to protect the welfare of livestock while on farm, as well as legislation to protect animal welfare during transport and at slaughter.

Defra works closely with the livestock sector to encourage a productive, efficient and profitable sector. The Animal Health and Welfare Pathway will push forward and support the gradual and continual improvement in farm animal health and welfare. The pathway is a critical part of the farming reforms set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan, delivering benefits for animal health and welfare, farm productivity, food security, public health, UK trade and the environment. It does this by financially rewarding farmers who deliver public goods, stimulating market demand for higher welfare products and strengthening the regulatory baseline.

4th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on pig production of the shortage of butchers; what assessment they have made of the implications of the shortage on animal welfare; and what steps they intend to take to alleviate this situation.

We continue to monitor the evolving situation and to work closely with the pig industry to help them respond to challenges caused by the pandemic, including the loss of exports to the Chinese market for certain pig processors, disruption to CO2 supplies, and a temporary shortage of labour in the processing sector. This has led to a growing backlog of pigs on farms, which can pose challenges to animal welfare.

We have provided a package of measures to help address these unique circumstances, which includes temporary work visas for up to 800 pork butchers, and Private Storage Aid (PSA) and Slaughter Incentive Payment (SIP) schemes to facilitate an increase in the throughput of pigs through abattoirs. Together with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and other Government Departments, we are working to both expand existing markets and to identify new export markets for pork, particularly lightly processed pork. We are also working with industry to support their efforts on the recruitment and retention of domestic workers.

On 10 February, the Farming Minister Victoria Prentis chaired a roundtable with pig industry representatives from across the UK to discuss the challenges that the sector has been facing in recent months. We are launching a UK-wide review of supply chain fairness in the pig sector. We will be engaging with industry on this straight away, with a consultation expected later this year. We want to elicit industry views on improvements to fairness and transparency that could be made to ensure a profitable and productive future.

We have also introduced additional flexibility to the SIP scheme to further encourage uptake and reduce the backlog. This will remove all restrictions on the end destination of products killed during SIP shifts from 18 February.

It is the responsibility of the registered keeper or owner to ensure the health and welfare of the animals in their care and to apply and adjust contingency plans, in response to a changing situation. Contingency plans may involve movement of animals to another holding, or on-farm culling of animals that are suffering, or at imminent risk of suffering, adverse welfare impacts. Farms have contingency plans to deal with short-term disruptions. In some cases, this has resulted in animals being culled on-farm to prevent animal welfare issues or to address issues that have arisen.

While the shortage of butchers has reduced the opportunity for processors to butcher meat, particularly for the domestic retail market, it has not impacted the number of pigs slaughtered. Defra records show that the number of pigs slaughtered throughout 2021 was higher than the 5-year average. GB Pig slaughter numbers were up by 0.2 million to 11.4 million pigs in January-November 2021, compared to the same period 2020. Slaughter numbers were also 0.3m or 3% higher than the 2018-20 average.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the stability of the food supply chain; and what plans they have to ensure that (1) food, and (2) other perishable items, are not blocked in warehouses due to a shortage of lorry drivers.

In December 2021, the Government published the UK Food Security Report, an analysis of statistical data on food security. This is the first in a series of reports to be published triennially. This landmark report shows we have a resilient and stable food supply-chain which adapted quickly throughout the pandemic. Perishable products across the food supply chain have continued to be delivered to meet demand.

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

We are engaging with the food industry to collect evidence to devise appropriate solutions to alleviate supply chain bottlenecks.

Some of these Government-led key measures include: the Driver and Vehicle Standard Agency's action to increase HGV tests to 3,000 per week; the Department for Transport's 16-week skills bootcamps to train new and returning drivers; and the streamlining of the HGV testing regulatory framework, increasing testing capacity by around 50,000.

In addition, the Transport Secretary has relaxed driver hours regulation, allowing more flexibility in response to supply disruptions from the Omicron variant. This relaxation will last until 10 February 2022 in England, Scotland, and Wales.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government when their Environment Principles Policy Statement will be published.

We will publish the environmental principles draft policy statement as soon as possible, following the consultation we carried out last year. In the meantime, we are working closely with departments to support them in planning for implementing the duty to have due regard to the policy statement.

5th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the opportunities for livestock producers in the UK in 2022.

Leaving the EU has provided a huge opportunity for UK agriculture to boost domestic productivity and improve its competitiveness - developing the next generation of food and farming technology, adopting the latest techniques and investing in skills and equipment. As a government we will always champion our farmers and producers, supporting them to grow more of our great British food.

In November we opened the new Farming Investment Fund which will provide grants to farmers, foresters, and growers in England (including contractors to these sectors) so that they can invest in the equipment, technology and infrastructure that will help their businesses to prosper, while improving their productivity and enhancing the environment.

We will also work with the sector to boost exports, building on the UK's growing reputation for high-quality food and drink, with high standards of animal welfare, traceability and sustainability. The Government will add eight new agri-food and drink attachés in priority markets. As well as posts in China, USA, India, Canada and Mexico, the agri-food attachés will be covering growth markets in the Gulf, Africa, South America and the Asia-Pacific region. Existing attachés in China and the UAE have been pivotal in securing access for a greater range of products, driving export growth and building mutually supportive relationships with trading partners.

During the PM's visit to the US last year agreement was made regarding the small ruminant rule, which opens a valuable path for UK exports of lamb to the US. This achievement follows on from last year’s commencement of UK beef exports to the US for the first time in over 20 years. The UK beef sector can now begin to reap the economic benefits of trade with the US – with industry estimating beef exports will be worth £66 million over the next five years. The Mexican market is now also open for British pork for the first time, which means a potential boost of £50m over the first five years of trade. British exporters can now tap into this brand-new market, which boasts high demand for high quality pork meat. Last year, over £597 million of British food and drink exports headed to Gulf Co-operation Council countries. Farmers and food producers could now benefit hugely from better market access to a region that imports virtually all its food and has high demand for top-quality British produce including lamb.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made, if any, of (1) the implications for producers and their livelihoods of the current bird flu outbreak, and (2) the availability of poultry for Christmas.

Defra’s avian influenza disease control measures aim to minimise the economic burden of the outbreak on the food, farming and tourism industries and the wider economy.

The Department works closely with poultry industry stakeholders and the impacts of the avian influenza outbreak are being monitored closely. Where avian influenza is confirmed on a premises, the producer receives compensation for any healthy birds culled for disease control purposes. Compensation is not available for sick birds or those that have died, or for consequential losses such as lost sales opportunities as a result of movement restrictions. These are well-established arrangements in line with the Animal Health Act 1981 (As amended).

Around 9 million British turkeys are reared for Christmas every year to some of the highest standards in the world. Although the supply of vets, catchers, farm staff and drivers remains a challenge for the poultry industry, recent avian influenza outbreaks at turkey farms are very unlikely to have any detrimental impact on the supply of British turkeys this Christmas.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many times the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 have been applied each of the last two years.

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 ban the commercial third-party sale of puppies and kittens in England. This amendment, also known as Lucy's Law, came into force in April 2020. Any cases of pet dealers attempting to circumvent the ban on third-party sales should be reported to the relevant local authorities, as enforcers of the legislation. Defra does not hold the data for the application of Lucy’s Law by local authorities.

Defra recognises that raising awareness of deceitful sellers is another integral step towards tackling low-welfare and illegal supply of puppies. That is why we launched the communications campaign "Petfished" in March 2020 to raise the public's awareness of the consequences of buying from a low-welfare seller and challenging the assumption that it is easy to spot bad practice. The campaign also signposts to resources available to help people make good decisions and source from responsible breeders or rehoming centres in the UK.

3rd Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the link between sewage spills and the disposal of wet wipes containing plastic; and what advice they plan to give to companies to reduce the use of plastic wipes.

We are committed to tackling the issues caused by wet wipes. On 20 November, we launched a call for evidence on commonly littered and problematic plastics, and this includes a chapter on wet wipes.

Defra continues to encourage the water industry and wet wipe manufacturers to work together to raise consumer awareness about the appropriate disposal of wet wipes and other non-flushable products.

1st Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the animal welfare implications of the shortage of workers in the processed meat sector; and what steps they are taking to address this.

Farmers have reported an overstocking of pigs on farms because of staff shortages in processing plants. This has the potential to lead to welfare issues for pigs on farm, due to overcrowding. The Government has implemented a number of measures to address the backlog and to reduce any on-farm animal welfare implications. Defra is not aware of any animal welfare issues in other meat processing sectors due to a shortage of workers.

The package of measures that Defra has provided to help to alleviate the backlog of pigs on farms and to ease potential welfare implications includes temporary work visas for up to 800 pork butchers and Private Storage Aid (PSA) and Slaughter Incentive Payment (SIP) schemes to facilitate an increase in the throughput of pigs through abattoirs.

Furthermore, in England and Scotland, the two meat levy bodies, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and Quality Meat Scotland, suspended the statutory levy for pig farmers and producers during November 2021.

The Government will continue to monitor the evolving situation and is working closely with the industry through this challenging period.

29th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) how many, and (2) which, measures they intend to take to reduce sewage discharges into rivers and coastal waters in the current price review.

Water companies set out the measures that are to be taken as part of a price review period in their business plans. For 2020-2025, water companies have committed £3.1 billion to a programme of improvements to monitoring and management of sewer overflows, including £1.9 billion of investment in the Thames Tideway Tunnel. This will deliver over 800 improvement schemes in response to Event Duration Monitoring insights and implementing additional monitoring to cover 100% of the network by the end of 2023.

Companies have also already re-opened their business plans as part of our efforts to build back greener from the pandemic. In July 2021, Ofwat approved a draft package of over £2.7 billion and as part of this new package of investment, companies committed an additional £144 million to help eliminate the harm caused by Storm Overflows and to trial the creation of two bathing rivers.

However, the Government has been clear that the current number of sewage discharges is unacceptable and that there is more to do. We have made tackling this a priority and are the first Government to take concerted action to tackle this historic infrastructure issue.

In July, the Government published a new draft set of strategic priorities for the water industry's financial regulator, Ofwat. In this publication, the Government set out its expectation that water companies must take steps to "significantly reduce the frequency and volume of sewage discharges from storm overflows."

The Environment Act then placed this direction on a statutory footing, setting a duty for water companies to achieve a progressive reduction in the adverse impacts of discharges from Storm Overflows. Defra intends to set out the level of ambition expected by this in due course.

Precisely which measures will be achieved by Water and Sewerage Companies in the next price review period will be a case for the Environment Agency and Water Companies to agree in the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP) and will be reflected in water company business plans, but we have been clear that increased ambition is needed, and this will be laid out early in the new year.

29th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the damage done by single use plastics in terms of causing flooding; and what steps they intend to take to reduce such damage.

Wet wipes are a significant contributor to sewer blockages - which can in turn contribute to flooding. Defra has recently launched a call for evidence to better understand the impact of wet wipes in sewers and is exploring options such as a ban on wipes containing plastic, a mandatory standard and labelling for all wipes. More information can be found at: Call for evidence on commonly littered and problematic plastic items - Defra - Citizen Space. More broadly, litter of all types can make flooding worse, and Defra’s proposed measures to reduce the use of single-use plastics, as well as broader measures to control litter and illegal waste will help mitigate this issue.

29th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will bring forward regulations under Schedule 3 to the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.

The Government is currently undertaking a review of the case for implementing Schedule 3 to the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. The review will report in 2022.

19th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the reply by Lord Benyon on 17 November (HL Deb, col. 282), to what extent tenant farmers may claim for an environmental scheme as part of the Environmental Land Management Schemes without breaching their farm tenancy agreement.

The Government is working to ensure that the design of our future farming schemes is broadly accessible to as many land managers as possible including tenant farmers. As part of this we are considering questions around landlord consent and length of scheme agreement and we are exploring and testing how our new schemes might work in practice across different types of holdings and different types and lengths of tenancy agreements.

For our new environmental land management schemes to be successful, we need them to work for a wide range of farmers, foresters and other land managers including tenant farmers.

As part of the development of the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme, we have considered the needs of tenants and have worked closely with a number of organisations including the Tenant Farmers Association, Country Land and Business Association and National Farmers’ Union. We’re also working with tenants through our pilot, test and trials and user research

For the Sustainable Farming Incentive Pilot, participants must have management control of the land included within the agreement for the duration of the pilot agreement. This is so that participants can fulfil the actions on the land whilst under agreement but has allowed tenants with land covered by short term tenancies to apply for the scheme pilot.

We are embedding the pilot learning and will continually review this eligibility to inform our development of all the future schemes including the early roll out of the Sustainable Farming Incentive in 2022.

Whilst land under Agricultural Holdings Act Tenancy Agreements and Farm Business Tenancy Agreements is substantially for agricultural use, landlords and tenants can work together positively to agree to diversifications including using the land for environmental improvements which can often be delivered alongside agricultural production.

To encourage this the Tenancy Reform Industry Group recently produced a Code of Good Practice CODE OF GOOD PRACTICE (rics.org) providing guidance to help tenants, landlords and their advisers take a positive and practical approach to agreeing variations to agricultural tenancy agreements that will help the sector adapt and make the most of new opportunities as we move through the agricultural transition period.

The Government encourages all tenants and landlords to work together and follow the Code of Practice on agreeing diversifications as we transition to new agricultural polices based on public money for public goods.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk of landowners evicting tenant farmers that seek to use land for (1) water storage, (2) carbon sequestration, (3) tree planting, as part of Environmental Land Management Schemes; and what steps they are taking to mitigate any such risk.

The Government is working to ensure that the design of our future farming schemes is broadly accessible to as many land managers as possible including tenant farmers. As part of this we are considering questions around landlord consent and length of scheme agreement and we are exploring and testing how our new schemes might work in practice across different types of holdings and different types and lengths of tenancy agreements.

For our new environmental land management schemes to be successful, we need them to work for a wide range of farmers, foresters and other land managers including tenant farmers.

As part of the development of the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme, we have considered the needs of tenants and have worked closely with a number of organisations including the Tenant Farmers Association, Country Land and Business Association and National Farmers’ Union. We’re also working with tenants through our pilot, test and trials and user research

For the Sustainable Farming Incentive Pilot, participants must have management control of the land included within the agreement for the duration of the pilot agreement. This is so that participants can fulfil the actions on the land whilst under agreement but has allowed tenants with land covered by short term tenancies to apply for the scheme pilot.

We are embedding the pilot learning and will continually review this eligibility to inform our development of all the future schemes including the early roll out of the Sustainable Farming Incentive in 2022.

Whilst land under Agricultural Holdings Act Tenancy Agreements and Farm Business Tenancy Agreements is substantially for agricultural use, landlords and tenants can work together positively to agree to diversifications including using the land for environmental improvements which can often be delivered alongside agricultural production.

To encourage this the Tenancy Reform Industry Group recently produced a Code of Good Practice CODE OF GOOD PRACTICE (rics.org) providing guidance to help tenants, landlords and their advisers take a positive and practical approach to agreeing variations to agricultural tenancy agreements that will help the sector adapt and make the most of new opportunities as we move through the agricultural transition period.

The Government encourages all tenants and landlords to work together and follow the Code of Practice on agreeing diversifications as we transition to new agricultural polices based on public money for public goods.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the requirement in farm tenancy agreements made under the (a) Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, or (b) Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995 that the tenant is required to use the land exclusively for agriculture, and (2) the implications of this requirement on tenant farmers seeking to use land for (i) water storage, (ii) carbon sequestration, (iii) tree planting, as part of Environmental Land Management Schemes.

The Government is working to ensure that the design of our future farming schemes is broadly accessible to as many land managers as possible including tenant farmers. As part of this we are considering questions around landlord consent and length of scheme agreement and we are exploring and testing how our new schemes might work in practice across different types of holdings and different types and lengths of tenancy agreements.

For our new environmental land management schemes to be successful, we need them to work for a wide range of farmers, foresters and other land managers including tenant farmers.

As part of the development of the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme, we have considered the needs of tenants and have worked closely with a number of organisations including the Tenant Farmers Association, Country Land and Business Association and National Farmers’ Union. We’re also working with tenants through our pilot, test and trials and user research

For the Sustainable Farming Incentive Pilot, participants must have management control of the land included within the agreement for the duration of the pilot agreement. This is so that participants can fulfil the actions on the land whilst under agreement but has allowed tenants with land covered by short term tenancies to apply for the scheme pilot.

We are embedding the pilot learning and will continually review this eligibility to inform our development of all the future schemes including the early roll out of the Sustainable Farming Incentive in 2022.

Whilst land under Agricultural Holdings Act Tenancy Agreements and Farm Business Tenancy Agreements is substantially for agricultural use, landlords and tenants can work together positively to agree to diversifications including using the land for environmental improvements which can often be delivered alongside agricultural production.

To encourage this the Tenancy Reform Industry Group recently produced a Code of Good Practice CODE OF GOOD PRACTICE (rics.org) providing guidance to help tenants, landlords and their advisers take a positive and practical approach to agreeing variations to agricultural tenancy agreements that will help the sector adapt and make the most of new opportunities as we move through the agricultural transition period.

The Government encourages all tenants and landlords to work together and follow the Code of Practice on agreeing diversifications as we transition to new agricultural polices based on public money for public goods.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what data they have on the catch taken by the EU Fisheries fleet in UK waters this year.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement requires both Parties to share information on records of catches from each other’s waters. The UK receives information on records of catches of quota and non-quota species from the UK Exclusive Economic Zone by EU vessels on a monthly basis.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure that the UK fishing fleet will continue to have access to their natural fishing grounds so that fishing is not displaced by inshore windfarms.

The Government is committed to promoting a more competitive, profitable and sustainable fishing industry across the whole of the UK, and setting a gold standard for sustainable fishing around the world. We are also committed to delivering 40GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 to deliver net zero. We recognise the spatial challenges this presents, for these industries and others.

Our existing English Marine Plans, which are in place for all English waters, seek to encourage opportunities for co-existence between fishing and other activities as well as promote new ways of working. However, we recognise that a greater level of spatial prioritisation may be required to enable this. A new cross-UK Government programme has been established to create a shared 2050 strategic vision for the marine environment. It will enable the Government to deliver on its commitments including net zero and sustainable fisheries.

This month, my department is also hosting a workshop with both the fishing and offshore wind industries to discuss the opportunities and challenges for co-location of activities.

16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the pressure on the management of non-quota species and the impact this will have on the UK Inshore Fisheries fleet.

There are over 200 non-quota species (NQS). We are working to develop our evidence base for the current management regime for NQS, which is complex and irregular in places. Some of our most valuable and vulnerable species are NQS and there would be a significant impact on the inshore fleet and other fishers if the stocks are not well managed.

We are looking at how best to improve management and believe that the Fisheries Management Plans offer the best way to do so, working with the EU where appropriate.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prepare for the requirement for mandatory veterinary health certificates for imports from the EU, that come into force on 1 October.

The Government has set out a new timetable for introducing full import controls for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) goods being imported from the EU to the UK.

The new timetable considers the challenges businesses have faced due to the global pandemic, as well as its impact on supply chains across the UK and Europe. The Government believes a more pragmatic timetable will help give businesses time to recover from the pandemic and adjust to the new processes.

The controls will now be phased in across 2022.

From 1 July 2022:

  • The new requirements for GB Export Health Certificates from EU exporters, which were due to be introduced on 1 October 2021, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022.
  • Phytosanitary certificates for lower risk plant produce, due to be introduced on 1 January 2022, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022.
  • Physical checks on SPS goods at Border Control Posts will now begin on 1 July 2022.

All current controls for live animals, products of animal origin under safeguard measures and high priority plants and plant products remain unchanged.

In addition, the following customs controls will be phased in:

  • Full customs declarations and controls will be introduced on 1 January 2022 as previously announced.
  • Safety and Security declarations on imports will be required as of 1 July 2022 as opposed to 1 January 2022.

The new timeline allows importers, exporters and EU certifiers more time to prepare for the requirements and controls. It will ensure we reduce any anticipated disruption when these measures are introduced.

Defra has been working hard with businesses to ensure they are prepared and has run numerous webinars and advice sessions, attended by around 4,000 businesses.

Around 4,600 businesses are already registered for the Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS). More than 13,000 individual users are registered for IPAFFS.

The process is simple and only requires a Government Gateway account to register. We have sought to make these processes as straightforward as possible, and many thousands of businesses are already prepared for their introduction.

Defra is working closely with customs agents who are keen to provide import and export support to businesses. We are looking to provide digital solutions to simplify processes and encouraging more agents to offer pre-notification support and support to EU exporters.

Pre-notification procedures from January 2022 to July 2022 have been reduced and now mirror the current import process introduced for live animals in January this year, requiring importers or their agents to complete 15 simple information boxes on IPAFFS.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the European Union on the implementation of the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement in relation to fishing rights and quotas in the waters around the Channel Islands.

We have had regular engagement, at all levels, with the European Union on implementation of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement in relation to fishing in the Channel Islands’ territorial seas and will continue to do so.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to negotiate a sanitary and phytosanitary trade agreement with the EU.

The sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) chapter of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement puts in place a framework that allows the UK and the EU to take informed decisions to reduce their respective SPS controls, with a commitment to avoid unnecessary barriers. It is in both Parties’ interests to use this framework to reduce the rate of SPS checks required.

We are open to discussion with the EU on an agreement that goes further in reducing trade frictions between us, but it cannot be on the basis of alignment with EU rules as this would compromise UK sovereignty over our own laws

22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect the Specialised Committee on Fisheries to be established under the provisions of the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

• The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides for a number of Specialised Committees which sit underneath the Partnership Council. The Specialised Committee on Fisheries will provide a forum for discussion and co-operation in relation to sustainable fisheries management.

• Until the TCA has been ratified in European parliament, the Partnership Council and Specialised Committees will not become operational. The membership and administration of the Partnership Council and the supporting Specialised Committees is being worked through at a UK level in anticipation of ratification.

22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to digitise export health certificates and other customs documents required for exporting goods to the EU.

The Export Health Certificate Online (EHC Online) service is currently live with digitised forms covering all EU exports and currently covering just over 80% of rest of the world trade. To date, in excess of 130,000 EHC's have been applied for on the service and the system is working well.

21st Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there will be any legislative restrictions placed on the burning of coal by the UK heritage industry other than the ban on sales of house coal and wet wood in England.

The Government understands the importance of securing the long term viability of the Heritage Sector. The legislation which will come into force from May 2021 is applicable in England only and will end the sale of bituminous coal and smaller quantities of wet wood to households which will lead to significant health benefits. The legislation will not directly impact on the sale of coal to businesses such as the Heritage Sector, although we acknowledge the potential indirect impact this may have on the supply.

Defra currently has no further plans to restrict the use or sale of bituminous coal in England, however the Devolved Administrations are considering their approach to the burning of household solid fuels. On 13 January the Welsh Government published a consultation on reducing emissions from domestic burning of solid fuels to ensure only the cleanest forms of solid fuel and appliances are used in Wales, containing proposals in line with the new legislation in England.

19th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the effectiveness of existing flood warning systems, and (2) the level of investment in flood defences.

Over 1.52 million properties in England are signed up to the Environment Agency's (EA) free flood warning service, which sends a message directly by voice message, text or email when a flood warning is issued.

Our latest assessment from September 2020 showed that the EA’s Flood Warning Service is available to 84% of those who live in areas of flood risk (target 83%).

The take up is 82% by those who are offered the service (target 80%). The EA continues to work on improving performance against measures on flood warning quality (timeliness and accuracy, message quality).

There are millions of visits every year to the online Flood Information Service. This provides the public with an opportunity to give feedback on the service provided. From July to December 2020, 61% said that they were either satisfied or very satisfied.

Direct user feedback helps to target where improvements are needed and make best use of government funding. For example, as part of the discovery work for the NeXt Warning System, the EA looked into how the current flood warning service and supporting systems are designed, support and delivered. The report proposes recommendations on how they can build a next generation flood warning system to better support the needs of the users, the business and wider government.

Since 2010 the Environment Agency (and Natural Resources Wales) has worked with telephone providers to access and automatically register landline phone numbers onto the flood warning system. The service, which automatically adds phone numbers registered in areas at risk of flooding, now encompasses all four major Mobile Network Operators – O2, Three, Vodafone and EE.

From April 2021, the new 6-year £5.2 billion capital investment programme, announced in the March 2020 Budget, will start. This will ensure a further 336,000 homes and non-residential properties such as businesses, schools and hospitals are better protected from flooding and coastal erosion.

£24.9 million of this investment will be allocated annually to run the Flood Incident Management service which directly supports costs for Flood Warnings. In addition, £23.1 million will be spent over the next 5 years for developing and enhancing the service.

The Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme has also allocated £150 million from 2021 to 2027 for ‘resilience actions’, such as tailored flood warning systems.

19th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with relevant water management bodies, including (1) water companies and, (2) the Association of Drainage Authorities, about (a) increasing the maintenance of water courses, (b) achieving integrated catchment management, and (c) increasing private sector investment in flood defences.

Ministers and officials meet regularly with water companies, the Association of Drainage Authorities and other stakeholders to discuss these and other matters that will help secure our long term resilience to flooding and costal erosion.

In July 2020 the Government published its long-term Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Policy Statement which sets out the Government's ambition to create a nation more resilient to future flood and coastal erosion risk. The Policy Statement sets out five key policies and over 40 actions, to deliver an integrated approach to managing water and develop a diverse range of sustainable funding and finance opportunities.

Between 2015 and 2020 we committed over £1 billion on the maintenance of flood defence assets. This is a real term increase in spending compared to the £812 million spent in the previous five years. Our Policy statement includes our commitment to ensure that there is a long-term approach to maintain our network of flood defences across the country, through a combination of investment and action by risk management authorities, government, riparian owners and wider beneficiaries. This, and all the actions set out in the Government's Policy Statement will continue to be delivered in partnership with all our stakeholders.

The Government's Strategic Policy Statement already requires Ofwat to ensure water companies improve planning and investment to prevent wastewater flooding and to improve infrastructure resilience against extreme flood events. Following the 2019 Price Review the water sector has committed to invest more than £1 billion to protect the environment, homes, businesses and drinking water from flooding.

Water companies are developing Drainage and Sewerage Management Plans that will inform the next price review. These plans provide a framework for organisations to work together, through which joint solutions and approaches can be developed to improve drainage and environmental water quality. Water companies are participating in and, in some cases, fund the Catchment Based Approach which is one of the Government's key mechanisms to deliver integrated catchment management.

Ahead of the next price review in 2024, the Government has committed to consider if additional outcome measures are required through future Price Reviews and the Environment Agency and Ofwat will develop a joint approach for how water companies should address flood and coastal resilience.

Between 2015-2021 the government's partnership investment programme has generated over £500 million from private and public sources to complement the government's grant in aid budget. This investment has helped deliver flood defence projects across England helping the Government meet its commitment of better protecting 300,000 homes from flooding.

The Government's Policy Statement sets out how we will explore opportunities to further incentivise contributions from others including from businesses and the private sector. On 1 February we published a call for evidence on strengthening the assessment of local factors in the government's flood and coastal defence programme, including how we can incentivise increased private sector contributions to flood and coastal defence projects.

7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the role farmers can play in improving biodiversity in their preparations for participation in the Conference on the Convention on Biodiversity in 2021.

Farmers have a crucial role to play in implementing the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity at home.

This role was evident from the evaluation of Biodiversity 2020, the Government’s previous strategy for implementing the Convention commitments in England. This report, published in 2019, found strong partnerships that included farmers and landowners had supported progress in driving forward our biodiversity goals on land, by managing habitat condition, extent and connectivity. Agri-environment schemes were considered in the report to be the main mechanisms by which biodiversity improvements have been delivered. It highlighted how farmers and landowners, through agri-environment options and partnership working with Government and the conservation community, had supported the recovery of declining species, including cirl bunting and turtle dove.

Domestic biodiversity and land management policy is devolved in the UK. We are developing a new strategy for nature to replace Biodiversity 2020 in England. We expect the new strategy will continue to stress the importance of farmers, farming and wider land management as we take forward our plans under a new post-2020 global biodiversity framework under the Convention on Biodiversity, as well as those set out under our 25 Year Environment Plan.

Our new Environmental Land Management Scheme will be a powerful tool for delivering the goals of our 25 Year Environment Plan, including for biodiversity, on farmed land in England. Environmental Land Management will also play a role in supporting the “30by30” target, to protect 30% of England’s land for biodiversity by 2030, through habitat creation and restoration, or securing long-term management and protection for wildlife-rich habitats.

The 15th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity will be held in Kunming, China in 2021. The make-up of the UK delegation will be confirmed closer to the time and will be dependent on the conference agenda.

7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to include farming representatives in the UK delegation to the Conference on the Convention on Biodiversity in 2021.

Farmers have a crucial role to play in implementing the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity at home.

This role was evident from the evaluation of Biodiversity 2020, the Government’s previous strategy for implementing the Convention commitments in England. This report, published in 2019, found strong partnerships that included farmers and landowners had supported progress in driving forward our biodiversity goals on land, by managing habitat condition, extent and connectivity. Agri-environment schemes were considered in the report to be the main mechanisms by which biodiversity improvements have been delivered. It highlighted how farmers and landowners, through agri-environment options and partnership working with Government and the conservation community, had supported the recovery of declining species, including cirl bunting and turtle dove.

Domestic biodiversity and land management policy is devolved in the UK. We are developing a new strategy for nature to replace Biodiversity 2020 in England. We expect the new strategy will continue to stress the importance of farmers, farming and wider land management as we take forward our plans under a new post-2020 global biodiversity framework under the Convention on Biodiversity, as well as those set out under our 25 Year Environment Plan.

Our new Environmental Land Management Scheme will be a powerful tool for delivering the goals of our 25 Year Environment Plan, including for biodiversity, on farmed land in England. Environmental Land Management will also play a role in supporting the “30by30” target, to protect 30% of England’s land for biodiversity by 2030, through habitat creation and restoration, or securing long-term management and protection for wildlife-rich habitats.

The 15th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity will be held in Kunming, China in 2021. The make-up of the UK delegation will be confirmed closer to the time and will be dependent on the conference agenda.

25th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with the International Council for Exploration of the Seas (ICES); if so, when; and what annual budget they intend to allocate for ICES' research and scientific activities from 2021.

The UK is in the process of finalising the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). The UK expects to sign the MoU in time for it to enter into force on 1 January 2021.

The cost to the UK for advice received from ICES will be outlined within the MoU.

18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of (1) the construction of, and (2) the underwater noise levels caused by, wind turbines at sea on (a) dolphins, (b) porpoises, (c) whales, (d) seals, and (e) other marine life; and what steps they are taking to mitigate any such impact.

Defra has commissioned a number of projects to assess the impact of underwater noise pollution. These include several projects to set targets for Good Environmental Status (GES) under descriptor 11 (marine noise) of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which assesses noise and its effects on marine species including fish, crustaceans and other invertebrates. Most recently, we have this year published a risk assessment of underwater noise pollution in Special Areas of Conservation for marine mammals, wider Marine Protected Areas and throughout the UK Exclusive Economic Zone.

A Defra project is currently investigating effectiveness of existing, new and emerging mitigation techniques for offshore wind. We are working with other Government bodies, The Crown Estate, industry and wider stakeholders to mitigate against, and prepare for, any environmental impacts of growth in the offshore wind sector

To mitigate the impact of underwater noise in the Southern North Sea we have worked with the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies to publish guidance for assessing the significance of noise disturbance against Conservation Objectives of harbour porpoise Special Areas of Conservation and continue to work with industry and marine regulators on its implementation.

3rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what relationship they plan to have with the EU's Scientific Review Group after 1 January 2021.

As we have left the EU we will no longer participate in, or be bound by, EU structures, including the EU Scientific Review Group which comprises representatives from EU Member States’ Scientific Authorities. Our Scientific Authorities, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, will continue to provide scientific advice on a range of CITES matters and collaborate internationally with other CITES Scientific Authorities to ensure we remain a world leader in environmental protection.

3rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the power to prohibit the holding of specimens including live animals under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has been removed; if so, (1) why, and (2) what plans they have to reverse any such removal.

The Environment and Wildlife (Miscellaneous Amendments etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 do not lessen government powers or weaken our implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The provision in Council Regulation 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein states that Member States ‘may prohibit the holding of specimens, in particular live animals of the species listed in Annex A’.

Rather than conferring any legislative powers, this provision simply states that EU Member States have discretion to act should it be considered necessary. At the end of the Transition Period, the UK will continue to be able to act, meaning the inclusion of the provision in retained direct EU legislation would be an unnecessary statement of the government’s ability to put in place legislation. Its omission does not lessen existing powers or weaken our controls on endangered species.

3rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what happens to the fines levied under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora; and what plans they have, if any, to use any money raised by such fines solely for the benefit of wildlife and endangered species.

CITES offences and penalties are used as a deterrent to illegal wildlife trade which in turn protects wildlife and endangered species. The collection of fines resulting from convictions under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations (COTES) is undertaken by HM Courts & Tribunals Service.

With the agreement of HM Treasury (HMT), as part of its Spending Round 2015 settlement the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has been permitted to retain receipts from all fine collections. These receipts form part of the overall settlement provided by HMT to MoJ to operate the Courts and Tribunals Service and are used for this purpose.

2nd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the damage caused by sky lanterns; and what plans they have to impose a national ban on such lanterns in rural areas.

In 2013, the UK and Welsh Governments jointly commissioned an independent study looking at the impacts of sky lanterns and helium balloons on livestock and the environment. The report concluded that the impact was generally low, though did highlight a potential fire safety risk.

Any action the Government takes must be proportionate to the level of risk and we have concluded, based on the results of this research, that an outright ban would be disproportionate in the circumstances. Should evidence that this approach is no longer sufficient arise, we will take the necessary action.

We do recognise the need to protect our environment and wildlife and have therefore used media messaging to encourage people and businesses to consider the risks before releasing lanterns.

There may be times when a local ban is appropriate as part of a wider strategic approach. and local authorities already have powers to restrict or ban the use of sky lanterns on council or public land. Many councils in England, Scotland and Wales have applied such a ban. We will continue to review the latest evidence on problematic products and materials to take a systematic approach to reducing the use of single-use products.

Voluntary actions and initiatives aimed at minimising the risks associated with sky lanterns and driving up safety standards have been effective. This includes a voluntary Code of Practice for sky lanterns developed by industry with Government support to ensure that they are manufactured to be safe and are sold responsibly. Sky lanterns also fall in scope of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 which oblige producers and distributors to place only safe consumer products on the market.

As the law stands in England, it is conceivable that a magistrates’ court would conclude that a release of sky lanterns constitutes a littering offence. Section 87 of the?Environmental Protection Act 1990 says: “A person is guilty of an offence if he throws down, drops or otherwise deposits any litter in any place to which this section applies and leaves it”. Ultimately it would be for a court to rule whether this phrase would cover sky lantern releases.

19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of export health certificates for animal products that will need to be issued from 1 January 2021; and what is their current capacity for issuing these certificates.

New requirements for export health certificates (EHCs) for goods moving from Great Britain to the EU from 1 January 2021 may increase demand for EHCs for products of animal origin (POAO) by up to five times, compared with the approximately 57,000 issued for third country trade in 2017. To meet this possible demand, we have increased the number of Official Vets (OVs) holding the relevant qualification to certify POAO exports from around 600 in February 2019 to more than 1200 today, with further funded training announced on 1 October 2020. In addition, around 1000 Food Competent Certifying Officers (FCCOs) working in 153 different local authorities across Great Britain can certify some exports and therefore contribute towards certification capacity. We have also introduced the role of Certification Support Officers (CSOs) to help reduce the burden on OVs and FCCOs. CSOs are able to carry out preliminary and administrative work to prepare consignments for export. On 1 October, we announced additional funded training to help increase the number of CSOs from 96 qualified and authorised by APHA.

19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the UK is facing a critical shortage of veterinarians; and what steps they are taking to increase veterinary capacity.

The Department is aware of staff shortages within the veterinary profession which has an existing job vacancy rate of around 10%. Defra is working with the UK veterinary profession to address the UK’s veterinary resourcing needs and to ensure capacity in both the short and long term.

With support from stakeholders, the Department was successful in ensuring that veterinarians were added to the UK Shortage Occupation List in September 2019. This will make it easier for UK employers to recruit vets from overseas. Additionally, two new veterinary schools have been opened to expand the number of UK veterinary graduates in the future.

To support official veterinarians further, Defra created a Certification Support Officer (CSO) role to help work on export certification. Additionally, to ease the burden of statutory TB skin testing of cattle, from 2 November 2020, Approved Tuberculin Testers (ATTs) can be employed and trained by private veterinary businesses in England.

15th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of Burning as a tool for the restoration of upland blanket bog: Position Statement by Natural England, published in February 2019, which advises that "in exceptional circumstances it may be appropriate to carry out a one-off burn for the purposes of restoration"; and what steps they intend to take in response to that advice before imposing any blanket ban on such burning.

The Government has always been clear of the need to phase out rotational burning of protected blanket bog to conserve these vulnerable habitats, and we are looking at how legislation could achieve this. Real progress is being made in promoting sustainable alternatives. We have urged landowners to adopt these and continue to work with them constructively.

Any legislative proposals will be developed with consideration of the expert advice of Natural England. These considerations are complex, but it is important that we take the right steps to restore and protect this valuable habitat.

6th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) the Environment Agency, and (2) water companies in England, about testing waste water for COVID-19; and what plans they have to use the results of such tests to detect early warning signs of community COVID-19 outbreaks.

Defra, the Environment Agency (EA) and the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) have been working together since April 2020 to establish a national monitoring programme to detect fragments of genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus in waste water. The programme was announced by Defra in a press release on 12 June. Data from the programme is being used as an early warning system to detect the presence of the virus in the population. The programme could not have been established without close collaboration with the water companies. Defra, EA and JBC continue to work with water companies to further develop and refine the work programme.

3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recommendations on the standards for food imports which should apply in international trade agreements in the report by Henry Dimbleby National Food Strategy: Part One, published on 29 July.

The Government has a clear manifesto commitment that in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.

We will use all appropriate policy levers available to us to achieve our policy aims ensuring that trade agreements live up to the values of farmers and consumers across the UK.

The National Food Strategy recommends that the independent Trade and Agriculture Commission consider this issue. As noted in the public record of its meeting of 21 August, available online, the Commission has already started discussing its response. The membership agreed to deliberate further on some of the report’s recommendations on the international framework of rules and standards.

30th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in agreeing common frameworks with the devolved administrations, in particular in regard to (1) trade, (2) agriculture, and (3) fisheries, policies.

Defra is working closely with the Devolved Administrations to agree the common frameworks that we will need for those returning EU powers that intersect with Devolved competence. We have made significant progress in developing the policy content of the frameworks mentioned and these will be shared for parliamentary scrutiny at the appropriate stage of policy development. The set of principles, including the need to ensure that frameworks support the UK’s international trade obligations, agreed at the Joint Ministerial Committee for EU negotiations in October 2017 guide Defra and the Devolved Administrations in the development of these frameworks.

14th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to clarify their relationship with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea; and when they expect to conclude the agreements that are necessary before 31 December.

The UK has agreed in principle a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). This will ensure the advice we require is in place so that the UK can continue to meet its international and domestic commitments and obligations on sustainability. The MoU will be signed by December 2020, entering into force on 1 January 2021.

The UK has been a member of ICES since its inception in 1902 and we intend to continue playing a strong role in it in the future. UK scientists make a significant contribution to the science that generates ICES’s advice, including annual recommendations for total allowable catches, and they will continue to provide their scientific expertise. The UK will continue to provide strong support for ICES’s scientific activities in 2020 and beyond.

21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of COVID-19 on the farming and agricultural sectors.

The Government is aware that coronavirus represents a very significant challenge, affecting daily life and every part of the economy. We are working closely alongside the agricultural industry to ensure that we understand and manage the impacts on farming and the agricultural sectors.

Defra’s Food Chain Emergency Liaison Group (FCELG) is meeting regularly to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the food and farming sectors across the UK, and what actions are needed to support the sectors. This group includes the National Farmers Union (NFU), other industry stakeholders and the devolved administrations.

Since 18 March, the UK Agricultural Market Monitoring Group (UKAMMG) has increased the frequency of its meetings to weekly. Its aim is to monitor UK agricultural markets and provide forewarning of any atypical market movements. During the coronavirus outbreak this is allowing Defra and the devolved administrations to share the latest stakeholder information to assess the effects of COVID-19 on the agricultural industry, as well as prepare the evidence base for a possible range of interventions needed in specific markets, or geographical regions.

Officials are having regular meetings with the different agricultural sectors to understand the specific issues affecting each sector. We have also provided all agricultural industry stakeholders with a central point of contact to send details of any emerging impacts as and when they arise.

The Secretary of State remains in regular contact with representatives of the farming and agricultural sectors and will continue to engage with them on the effects of COVID-19. We will continue to monitor the situation and to work closely with the farming sectors to respond to emerging issues as they arise.

21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of municipal waste site closures on the prevalence of fly tipping; and what advice they provide to local councils about reducing the incidence of fly tipping.

Fly-tipping is unacceptable and the Government is committed to tackling this crime.

We are aware of reports of an increase in fly-tipping and that, anecdotally, this may be a result of the decisions taken by local authorities to close household waste recycling centres. However, this does not appear to be consistent across the country. We have requested fly-tipping incident data through the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group (NFTPG), chaired by Defra, which includes local authorities and other key stakeholders, to help us to monitor the situation.

We have published guidance to help local authorities prioritise waste services. This recommends keeping household waste recycling centres open if it is safe to do so and that the clearance of fly-tipped material should be given a high priority. The Government has been working with local authorities to explore ways in which household waste recycling centres that have been closed might be re-opened, whilst observing social distancing and other requirements. The Government published guidance on this on 5 May 2020.

Through the NFTPG, we have also disseminated messaging aimed at householders promoting the secure storage of waste, use of registered waste carriers and reiterating that waste must not be fly-tipped.

4th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their policy on the regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and, in particular, genome-edited crops; and what plans they have to make regulations to address any potential danger of cross-contamination with non-GMO products.

The UK Government takes a science-based approach to genetically modified organism (GMO) policy and regulation. Our view is that genome-edited organisms should not be subject to GMO regulation if the DNA changes could have occurred naturally, or through traditional breeding methods.

No genetically modified or genome-edited crops are grown commercially in the UK.

The UK Government supports choice for both farmers and consumers. Before any GMO crops are grown here, we will need to put rules in place to segregate production methods and facilitate that choice. These rules will be based on independent scientific advice and they will take the potential for cross-pollination into account.

24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to implement the recommendations contained in the report by Sir Michael Pitt The Pitt Review: Lessons learned from the 2007 floods, published on 25 June 2008, in particular to end developers’ automatic right to connect new developments to public sewers.

The Government implemented recommendations from Sir Michael Pitt’s review through the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s report on the Post-legislative scrutiny of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 was in its Sixth Report of Session 2016–17, published on 26 April 2017.

The Government response to the Committee’s report notes that planning practice guidance includes a hierarchy for sustainable drainage options that favours non-sewer solutions. Draining to a combined sewer should be the least favoured option in new development, to be considered when sustainable drainage options are not reasonably practicable. Removing the right to connect to an existing sewer therefore would offer no clear benefits over current arrangements and is likely to add costs and delay to the planning process for new housing.

4th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the environmental damage caused by spillages from combined sewer overflows releasing raw sewage into rivers; and what plans they have to prevent such spillages.

Combined sewers that carry surface water from roofs and roads together with sewage from homes are a common sewage system. On occasion, storm sewage discharges occur from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) when the risk of sewer flooding is high and pipework capacity is exceeded. This is done to reduce the flood risk to homes and businesses. The Environment Agency (EA) has looked at the reasons for rivers not achieving good ecological status and found that about 3% of water bodies are failing due to the impact of CSOs.

To prevent spillages, between 2015 to 2020 water companies are installing monitors on up to 13,000 of the 15,000 CSOs in England. These will measure how often and for how long they operate, helping inform where improvement works may be required and providing information to the public about spills. This information has been used to help develop the environmental programme that the water companies will be implementing over the next five years. This includes further monitoring of CSOs, over 700 investigations and more than 200 schemes for environmental improvement or to reduce the spills from CSOs.

15th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they promote and develop (1) food security, and (2) self-sufficiency, in the production of UK food.

Our landmark Agriculture Bill sets out a clear path for future policy to support farming and the environment which includes commitments to regularly review our food security.

As part of the Bill, we are including a new requirement for the UK Government to regularly report on food security to Parliament, demonstrating the importance we place on this subject. The report will contain information on the role of strong domestic production alongside diverse sources of supply. It will encompass a range of current issues relevant to food security including global food availability; supply of food sources; the resilience of the supply chain for food; household expenditure on food; food safety and consumer confidence in food.

The UK has a high degree of food security, built on access to a range of different sources including strong domestic production and imports from other countries, demonstrated by the UK's current production to supply ratio of 75% for indigenous-type foods and 60% for all foods

The National Food Strategy will cover the entire food chain from field to fork, building on work already underway in Defra.

It will address the challenges of supporting people to eat healthy diets, producing food sustainably and protecting national food security, whilst also looking at related issues such as food price and trade.

21st Dec 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the most recent UK trade figures published by the ONS on 12 October; and in particular, the decrease in imports and exports with non-EU countries.

The latest UK trade figures were published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 22 December 2022. These show that:

1) UK exports (goods and services) in the 12 months to end of September 2022 were £777.6bn, an increase of 24.1% in current prices compared to the previous 12 months, and up 11.9% once adjusted for inflation. Of this, UK exports to non-EU countries were £447.4bn, up 23.5% in current prices.

2) Over the same time period, UK imports were £859.6bn, an increase of 29.4% in current prices and up 11.2% once adjusted for inflation. Of this, UK imports from non-EU countries were £456.4bn, up 31.3% in current prices.

Lord Johnson of Lainston
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
14th Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made as to whether the progress of negotiating free trade agreements and economic partnership agreements is constrained by a lack of staff and resources.

The Government has an ambitious programme of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations. When delivering any programme, but particularly one of such scope and ambition as our FTA programme, resource will always be a constraint.

To achieve the best outcomes for the UK, we manage the delivery of our work to ensure that we use our finite resource in the right way. This has allowed the Department to realise unparalleled success in the delivery of our FTA programme. So far, we have agreed trade deals with 70 countries plus the EU. Those deals covered £766 billion of our bilateral trade in 2020.

14th Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what priority they are giving to negotiating economic partnership agreements with Commonwealth countries.

We are committed to working with our friends and allies in the Commonwealth to remove unnecessary barriers to free and fair trade.

The UK already has trade deals with 33 Commonwealth members. In addition, a further 15 Commonwealth members who qualify as developing countries benefit from reduced tariffs under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences.

8th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Grimstone of Boscobel on 4 November (HL3304), when the Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC) will advise on the free trade agreements negotiated between the UK and (1) Australia, and (2) New Zealand; and whether the TAC will provide their advice before the agreements are finalised.

As agreed during the passage of the Trade Act 2021, the Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC) will consider whether the relevant provisions of an FTA are consistent with the maintenance of UK levels of statutory protection in relation to: animal and plant life or health; animal welfare; and the environment. In line with this, the TAC will consider the agreement after it has been signed but prior to it be laid before Parliament under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act. The TAC will not advise on policy or live negotiations.

The TAC will commence its scrutiny of the free trade agreements negotiated between the UK and (1) Australia, and (2) New Zealand following signature of these agreements. The TAC will then have a minimum of three months to prepare its advice.

21st Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure that imported meat and food products under any Free Trade Agreement meet the same high standards of production in terms of (1) animal welfare, and (2) health environmental conditions of home produce; and whether failure to meet such standards will mean these imports will not be allowed.

HM Government remains committed to Britain’s high animal welfare, food safety, environmental, product and labour standards. We have established the Trade and Agriculture Commission and placed it on a statutory footing to independently help us make sure that British food safety standards are protected throughout trade negotiations.

25th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of provisions in recent roll-over trade agreements that grant trading surpluses to partner countries rather than for UK exports; and what assessment they have made of the benefits to date of the UK's departure from the EU.

The United Kingdom has sought to reproduce the effects of trading agreements that previously applied, to ensure continuity for British businesses. The Department has published parliamentary reports for all such partner countries containing explanations of any changes or significant differences between these bilateral agreements and the previous EU trade agreements (e.g. gov.uk/government/publications/continuing-the-uks-trade-relationship-with-canada-parliamentary-report).

The United Kingdom’s departure from the EU presents opportunities for us to do things differently and better. HM Government has already acted in a number of areas, for example, establishing the new ‘Points Based System’ on migration and replacing the Common Agricultural Policy. The United Kingdom can capitalise on new regulatory and policy freedoms, and the ability to find new ways to drive growth internationally, enabling us to deliver on the priorities of the British people.

30th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the Minsterial Forum set up to include the devolved administrations in trade policy and trade agreements last met; how often it has met since it was established; and what is the composition and remit of the Forum.

The Ministerial Forum for Trade last met on 22nd April 2020. It has been convened twice since it was established in January of this year and will meet again in the coming weeks. The Forum is chaired by my Hon Friend, the Minister of State for Trade Policy, and membership comprises Ministerial representatives from each Devolved Administration and UK Government Territorial Offices. The forum covers matters of trade policy, including the UK’s current and future negotiations, priorities at the WTO and trade disputes.

30th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what will be the (1) remit, and (2) composition, of the proposed Trade and Agriculture Commission; and whether the Commission's recommendations to the Government will be binding.

The Department for International Trade has announced on Friday 10 July further details of the new Trade and Agriculture Commission which has been set up to act as an advisory board to my Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade.

The Commission will be chaired by Tim Smith, former director of FSA, and will have a fixed term of six months to consider trade policies that Government should adopt to secure opportunities for UK farmers, producers and exporters. The Commission will ensure the sector remains competitive and that animal welfare and environmental standards in food production are not undermined. At the end of its work, the Trade and Agriculture Commission will produce an advisory report which will be presented to Parliament by the Department for International Trade. The recommendations will not be binding as the Commission has an advisory role.

19th Dec 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on the economy of any decline in the UK's ranking in the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index.

The Department for Transport has not made an assessment of the economic impact of the decline in the UK’s ranking in the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI).

According to the latest available data published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the Transport and Storage Sector contributed £83.5 billion Gross Value Added to the UK economy in 2021. It should be noted that this figure includes some sub-sectors not specific to logistics. A breakdown by sub-sector is available within the ONS published Annual Business Survey statistics.

Lord Davies of Gower
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th Dec 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the value of the logistics sector to the economy.

The Department for Transport has not made an assessment of the economic impact of the decline in the UK’s ranking in the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI).

According to the latest available data published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the Transport and Storage Sector contributed £83.5 billion Gross Value Added to the UK economy in 2021. It should be noted that this figure includes some sub-sectors not specific to logistics. A breakdown by sub-sector is available within the ONS published Annual Business Survey statistics.

Lord Davies of Gower
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Dec 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the illegal use of privately owned e-scooters driven in public places, and what measures they intend to take to impose penalties for their illegal use.

Private e-scooters remain illegal to use on public roads, cycle lanes and pavements. Those riding illegally are subject to the same road traffic offences and penalties for unlawful use as all other motor vehicles.

Users can face fixed penalty notices, criminal prosecution, points on their driving licence, and having their e-scooter seized. How resources are deployed to tackle illegal riding is a matter for Chief Officers according to local policing plans.

Lord Davies of Gower
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Jul 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what is the timetable for the Ely area capacity enhancement programme; and what assessment they have made of the impact of this programme on the freight corridor, from Felixstowe through Ely and to Selby in North Yorkshire, serving Yorkshire and the Humber region in terms of increasing rail freight capacity.

Business case analysis of the Ely Area Capacity Enhancement Scheme confirms it could unlock rail freight capacity across Britain, including in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th Jul 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the risk to pedestrian safety of carelessly ridden e-bikes, e-scooters and bicycles with a view to increasing the penalties that apply.

Cycling on the pavement is already an offence, and privately owned e-scooters cannot be ridden on the highway or on pavements. Enforcement of these offences is a matter for the police. There are already penalties in place for these offences and the Government has no plans to change these.

The Government is considering bringing forward legislation to introduce new offences concerning careless or dangerous cycling, to tackle those rare instances where victims have been killed or seriously injured by irresponsible cycling behaviour. This follows an earlier review exploring the case for specific careless and dangerous cycling offences, a response to which the Government will publish as soon as it can.

In the case of e-scooters, a range of motoring offences and penalties currently apply for using an e-scooter illegally and/or irresponsibly, including criminal prosecution.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to encourage targeted technology investment in renewable fuels such as the use of waste cooking oils in aviation fuel.

The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation is currently our main support mechanism to encourage the supply of renewable fuels, including aviation fuels and those produced from waste feedstocks like used cooking oil (UCO).

The Government plans to introduce the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) mandate in 2025, which will aim to drive demand for SAF in the UK and deliver at least 10% SAF in the jet fuel mix by 2030. The mandate will include a cap on hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) SAF, which includes UCO. The Department is currently consulting on what level the cap should be set at.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the penalties for (1) serious, and (2) fatal, injuries caused by (a) cyclists, (b) e-cyclists, and (c) drivers of e-scooters.

We are considering bringing forward legislation to introduce new offences concerning dangerous cycling, to tackle those rare instances where victims have been killed or seriously injured by irresponsible cycling behaviour.

Additionally, as e-scooters are currently classed as motor vehicles, a range of motoring offences and penalties already apply for using an e-scooter illegally and/or irresponsibly.  Users can face criminal prosecution, be fined up to £300, have 6 points put on their driving licence, and the e-scooter can be impounded. The Department for Transport is working closely with the Home Office and the police to ensure that the future regulations for e-scooters enable effective enforcement against illegal use.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd May 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of incidents of disruptive air passengers and their impact on airlines and the travelling public; and what steps they intend to take to reduce such incidents.

Incidents of disruptive air passengers remain rare. The Government’s view is that the existing legislation and industry powers to deal with disruptive passengers, including financial penalties are robust enough to deal with disruptive passengers.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government how many bus tickets have been purchased under the Help for Households campaign; and what assessment they have made of the impact the campaign has had on passenger numbers in (1) urban, and (2) rural, areas.

The Government is providing up to £135 million to help bus operators cap single fares at £2 from 1 January to 30 June. Over 140 operators covering more than 4,700 routes in England outside London are currently participating, and the primary objectives of the scheme are to help people save on their regular travel costs and to increase bus usage.

The Department for Transport is running a Monitoring and Evaluation exercise to review the scheme so that we will be in position to understand the impact it has brought on savings and patronage.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what is the current level of charging points for electric vehicles in rural areas as opposed to urban areas; and what plans they have to roll out more charging points across the country.

Chargepoints are being added to the public network at a growing rate, with larger increases in 2021 and 2022 than in any year seen previously. To date, the Government and industry have supported the installation of over 38,700 publicly available charging devices in the UK including more than 7,400 rapid devices.

However, the majority (around 75%) of electric car charging happens at home, as it is often cheaper and more convenient for drivers. The Government expects home charging will remain central to the future charging behaviour of drivers.

The below table provides an estimate of the number of electric vehicle (EV) charging devices in England, as of 1 January 2023, situated in local authorities that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has classified as either urban or rural respectively as a whole. This includes both public charging devices and private charging devices or sockets funded through the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) supported grant schemes.

Local Authority Classification

Public Charging Devices

Workplace Charging Sockets

Home Charging Devices

Rural

5,336

8,442

88,456

Urban

26,130

26,395

236,914

Total

31,466

34,837

325,370

Note: Home Charging Devices are a sum of charging devices funded through EV Homecharging Scheme and Domestic Recharging Scheme. A further 1,515 charging sockets have been funded separately through EV Chargepoint Grants.

The Government is committed to ensuring that the deployment of EV charging infrastructure happens across all areas of the country. Already, over the last 7 months, through the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) pilot, the Government has awarded just over £31 million of public funding to 25 local authorities across England. This portfolio of projects looks to deliver over 3,000 chargepoints.

One aim of the LEVI Fund is to address regional charging inequality and ensure no part of the country is left behind. The Government has developed a data-led allocation model to award the funding, which considers factors such as the level of rurality and the number of vehicles without off-street parking within the local authority.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce tougher penalties for death or serious injury caused by dangerous, careless or inconsiderate cycling.

The Government is considering bringing forward legislation to introduce new offences concerning dangerous cycling, to tackle those rare instances where victims have been killed or seriously injured by irresponsible cycling behaviour. This follows an earlier review exploring the case for specific dangerous cycling offences, a response to which the Government will publish as soon as it can.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government how many casualties have been caused by (1) e-scooters, (2) e-cyclists, or (3) cyclists, in England in each of the last three years.

Statistics on road casualties are based on data collected via the STATS19 system of collisions reported by the police. STATS19 data does not allow the precise cause of collisions to be determined so it is not possible to provide figures for collisions caused by a particular road user type.

The number of casualties, including fatalities, involving (but not necessarily caused by) an e-scooter or a pedal cycle in England for the last 3 years for which data is available can be found in the below table. The majority of casualties in these collisions are the pedal cyclist or e-scooter user themselves.

The Department cannot disaggregate non-powered pedal cycles from pedal-assisted pedal cycles or motorised pedal cycles. E-scooters only began to be identified within STATS19 from 2020 onwards.

Year

Casualties in collisions involving a pedal cycle

Casualties in collisions involving an E-scooter

2019

16,661

Not available

2020

15,964

474

2021

16,367

1,396

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
27th Feb 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what proposals they have to improve access for disabled passengers at Thirsk Station; and what is their timetable for such improvements.

We are assessing over 300 nominations, including one for Thirsk station, for the next tranche of the Access for All programme. We hope to be in a position to announce successful projects later this year.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Feb 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of disabled access to Thirsk Station; and what plans they have to make improvements to that access.

We have completed accessibility audits at over 95% across Great British mainline stations and expect to finish this work by Spring. Thirsk station was also one of 300 stations nominated for the next round of the Access for All programme, and we hope to be in a position to announce successful projects later this year.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Dec 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government whether the planned improvements by Network Rail over the Christmas period will still take place given the industrial action at that time.

Network Rail has confirmed only eight of seventy planned work packages will be cancelled as a result of strike action but the majority of its £120 million programme of improvement works will go ahead over the Christmas period. The industrial action means that at the most important work sites, Network Rail will need to take possession of the railway earlier on Christmas Eve and hand it back at the end of the works later on 27 December than originally planned.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 8 November (HL Deb col 588), what consideration they have given to delaying the entry into force of the new provisions relating to the Drivers’ Hours, Tachographs, International Road Haulage and Licensing of Operators (Amendment) Regulations 2022 until (1) there is sufficient awareness of their provisions among UK operators, (2) the costs have been met, and (3) the question of supply has been addressed.

The implementation dates for the introduction of the smart 2 tachograph are the dates agreed in the UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) and are applicable not only to UK operators undertaking journeys in Europe, but EU operators undertaking journeys in Europe and in the UK. Any delay would require the European Commission’s agreement to make changes to the TCA. It is the Government’s position not to reopen negotiations on the TCA.

My Department will continue to engage with industry stakeholders to raise awareness of the implementation dates for installing the smart 2 tachograph into new vehicles from August 2023 and in older vehicles and light goods vehicles from 2024-26. In addition to raising awareness of the need for operators to cover the cost of installing a smart 2 tachograph in their vehicles if they want to continue to operate in Europe after these dates.

On the question of supply of smart 2 tachographs, the UK Mission to the EU is in contact with the technical experts on tachographs in the European Commission to seek assurances on the availability of tachographs for UK operators. The European Commission has been assessing the situation and has not indicated concerns or that it will delay the deadline for implementation in Europe. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of awareness amongst UK operators of the requirement for new tachograph equipment in goods vehicles weighing more than 2.5 tonnes on international journeys.

Since May 2022, UK operators of goods vehicles weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes that will be used for hire and reward to transport goods between the UK and EU have needed an International Community operator licence. These are the same vehicles that will also need to install a smart tachograph 2 from 1 July 2026.

My Department has not made an assessment of the level of awareness amongst UK operators of this future requirement at this stage but will ensure that affected operators are made aware of this new requirement in due course.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what mechanism they will use to ensure that small operators are aware of the changes introduced under the Drivers' Hours, Tachographs, International Road Haulage and Licensing of Operators (Amendment) Regulations 2022.

Under the Drivers’ Hours, Tachographs, International Road Haulage and Licensing of Operators (Amendment) Regulations 2022, from 1 July 2026 operators of small goods vehicles (weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes), when used for hire and reward for international journeys into the EU, will be required to comply with the retained EU drivers’ hours regulations and install a smart tachograph 2. In advance of this date, my Department will continue to engage with industry stakeholders, including smaller operators, on the changes that will be required.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the UK insurance sector regarding insurance cover for the users of e-scooters.

As part of The Future of Transport Regulatory Review, the Department is reviewing regulations for micromobility vehicles, including e-scooters. Further conversations will be held as more evidence from e-scooter trials and wider sources is collected. These will feed into considerations for how best to regulate e-scooters, including whether to require insurance and, if so, what kind.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to introduce compulsory insurance for e-scooters; and if so, how that measure would be enforced.

Users are required to scan their driving licence via the operator’s app in order to verify their eligibility to ride an e-scooter. In some cases this is done via facial-recognition technology where the user must scan their driving licence and then take a clear photo of themselves on the operator’s app. This allows the operator to verify that the user is using a valid driving licence and is at least 16 years old. Some operators use manual verification of driving licences before allowing users to rent an e-scooter.

Additionally, the police have powers to issue Fixed Penalty Notices of £100 and seize e-scooters, if an individual is found to be driving without a driving licence or is under the age of 16.

As part of its stakeholder engagement, the Department is in continuous contact with representatives of the motor insurance industry and as part of that, does discuss e-scooters to understand their views.

Ministers are currently considering options for how best to regulate e-scooters, including whether to require insurance and, if so, what kind.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what checks are undertaken in e-scooter rental trials to ensure that those who use the e-scooters (1) hold the appropriate driving licence, and (2) are at least 16 years old.

Users are required to scan their driving licence via the operator’s app in order to verify their eligibility to ride an e-scooter. In some cases this is done via facial-recognition technology where the user must scan their driving licence and then take a clear photo of themselves on the operator’s app. This allows the operator to verify that the user is using a valid driving licence and is at least 16 years old. Some operators use manual verification of driving licences before allowing users to rent an e-scooter.

Additionally, the police have powers to issue Fixed Penalty Notices of £100 and seize e-scooters, if an individual is found to be driving without a driving licence or is under the age of 16.

As part of its stakeholder engagement, the Department is in continuous contact with representatives of the motor insurance industry and as part of that, does discuss e-scooters to understand their views.

Ministers are currently considering options for how best to regulate e-scooters, including whether to require insurance and, if so, what kind.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to amend road traffic legislation to make causing death or serious injury by dangerous cycling an offence; and whether any such changes would cover (1) electrically assisted pedal cycles, and (2) e-scooters.

The Department for Transport is working on addressing concerns around dangerous cycling and will publish conclusions in due course. Decisions on which modes of transport might be covered by any new legislation will be taken at the time.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) motoring organisations, and (2) other road users, regarding the imminent changes to the Highway Code.

When carrying out the review of The Highway Code to improve road safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders, the Department for Transport worked closely with an expert stakeholder group from the outset representing different users of the road. All road users had the opportunity to shape the changes to The Highway Code through a 12-week formal consultation process.

The Department has been and continues to work with a broad range of stakeholders including Cycling UK, the AA, RAC, Road Haulage Association and the British Horse Society on a communications campaign to raise awareness of the changes that is fit for purpose and meets the needs of all road users.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to regulate use of e-scooters, including compulsory insurance cover on their use.

The Department is running trials of rental e-scooters to assess their safety and wider impacts. Some 32 trials are underway and will run across the year, with final trial schemes due to conclude by 31 March 2022. The evidence gathered during the trials will inform whether e-scooters should be legalised in the future and how we can ensure their use is as safe as possible. Until we have that evidence, we do not want to speculate on the future legal status of e-scooters or on specific issues like insurance.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made on facilitating international travel; and what plans they have (1) to clarify the status of countries on the green list, and (2) to reduce the cost of PCR tests.

The Global Travel Taskforce outlined plans for the safe and sustainable reopening of international travel using a traffic light system. The traffic light system categorises countries based on risk to protect public health and the vaccine rollout from variants of COVID-19. The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) produces risk assessments of countries and territories. Decisions on Red, Amber or Green List assignment and associated border measures are taken by Ministers, who take into account the JBC risk assessments, alongside wider public health factors. Country categorisation is published on gov.uk.

The Government continues to work with the travel industry and private testing providers to further reduce testing costs, while ensuring travel is as safe as possible. The price of tests has reduced significantly over recent weeks, and several providers are offering Day 2 tests for green arrivals for under £50.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce a hard copy passenger locator form on all (1) flights, (2) ferry journeys, and (3) Eurostar train journeys, arriving into the UK, to improve tracking of passengers and their compliance with self-isolation rules.

The passenger locator form is designed to track and trace those individuals who may have come into contact with another person who has, or goes on to develop, coronavirus. It is also used to monitor self-isolation of those individuals who have been abroad and returned to the UK and who are not exempt from self-isolation measures.

The PLF was introduced as an electronic form, and allows Public Health England to conduct fast and efficient contact tracing.

The vast majority of arriving passengers are complying with all the requirements of the Covid-19 related health regulations at the border.

Border Force Officers are on hand at the Border to help passengers who may struggle to submit an electronic form.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the sale of alcohol airside at international airports in the UK; and what plans they have to bring such sales into line with the sale of alcohol landside.

The Government keeps the matter of licencing at airports under consideration. There are tough penalties in place for drunk and disruptive behaviour onboard an aircraft, including imprisonment for up to two years or an unlimited fine. Pilots also have the power to deny boarding or force passengers to disembark a plane if they are drunk and threaten the safety of the aircraft or its passengers.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to keep the public service obligation for Belfast International Airport under review.

The Government recognises that connectivity between Northern Ireland and Great Britain is vital, which is why we secured a £5.7 million support package in May this year to temporarily support the last remaining service from Belfast to London during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK policy on public service obligations (PSO) is to protect existing routes into London that are in danger of being lost. It is for the relevant local authority or devolved administration to determine the need for a PSO on a route and to submit a business case to DfT for consideration. The local authority must also hold a full and open tender to select an airline to operate the route on an exclusive basis. Airlines select the airports they wish to operate from, if there is more than one option available, as part of their bid.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made on the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy; and when they plan to publish an updated version.

The Government remains committed to delivering the aims and ambitions set out in the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy and progress to date is set out in the first Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy Report to Parliament published in February 2020.

On the 9 May, the Government announced a £2 billion package of funding for cycling and walking over the next five years. Later this summer, the Government will say more about plans to update the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, to build on the new opportunities that this funding provides.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what source of energy (1) is, and (2) is planned to be, used to power electric (a) buses, and (b) cars; and what estimate they have made of the sustainability of those sources of energy.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy produce annual statistics and future projections of UK energy demand currently up to 2035. Of electricity generated in 2019, low carbon electricity’s share of generation amounted to 54.2 per cent. This comprised 36.9 per cent renewables and 17.4 per cent from nuclear generation. Fossil fuel’s share of generation was 43.4 per cent, of which 40.9 per cent was from gas, 2.1 per cent coal and 0.3 per cent oil. The remaining 2.4 per cent generation share came from pumped storage and other fuels including the non-renewable component of waste. It is not possible to identify accurately what proportion of energy is used to recharge electric buses and other electric vehicles.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consultation took place to inform the new guidance on cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic; and how they intend to police that guidance. [T]

This guidance has been fast-tracked without consultation because of the need to make sure the opportunity to improve cycling and walking facilities is not missed – the Government has only a few weeks in which action can be taken. The guidance will be reviewed after 3 months and local authorities and others will be involved in that process.

The guidance sets out our vision for ensuring active travel is embedded in local authorities’ green restart plans. We expect them to be prioritising walking and cycling and considering how to make adjustments to their roads to enable social distancing. The Department is not responsible for policing what local authorities implement on their roads.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to reviewing the rate of inflation figure used for state pensions.

The Department for Work and Pensions is required by law to undertake an annual review of benefits and pensions. CPI in the year to September is the latest figure that the Department for Work and Pensions can use to allow sufficient time for the required operational changes before new rates can be introduced at the start of the new financial year.

All benefit up-rating since April 1987 has been based on the increase in the relevant price inflation index in the 12 months to the previous September.

The Department for Work and Pensions decisions regarding benefits/pensions for 2022/23 were announced to Parliament on 25 November 2021 and the increase of 3.1 per cent from April 2022 was agreed by both Houses of Parliament.

8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that pensioners with (1) vision, and (2) hearing, impairments are able to apply for Pension Credit.

Individuals wishing to claim Pension Credit can do so by telephone, online or by postal claim form. Within these three options, there are a number of different ways the Department communicates with people with visual or hearing impairments. These include large print, Braille and British sign language options. Hearing loop, textphone and Next Generation Text relay facilities are also available.

More generally, people wishing to claim Pension Credit who need help to do so can receive help from family members, friends or voluntary organisations such as Citizens Advice or Age UK.

8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of take up of Pension Credit; and what discussions they have had with the BBC about publicising eligibility for Pension Credit alongside advertising to the same group their eligibility for free television licences.

The Department assesses levels of take-up of Pension Credit on an annual basis. Latest official statistics on the take-up of income-related benefits at Great Britain level, including Pension Credit, can be found in the publication “Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up in 2018 to 2019”, is available on the gov.uk website.

As well as regular meetings to discuss Pension Credit and the implications of the new television licence arrangements, DWP officials have worked with the BBC to ensure that the BBC’s letters to all existing free TV licence holders informing them of the new arrangements included information on how to claim Pension Credit. The Minister for Pensions and I are engaging with the BBC to discuss what more we could do together to increase take-up of Pension Credit.

1st Feb 2024
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact that food consumption campaigns, such as “Drinka Pinta Milka Day”, have had on introducing children to healthy eating habits.

We cannot comment on campaigns undertaken by other commercial companies or organisations. The Government’s nutrition campaigns, such as Better Health Families previously named Change4Life, have focused on sugar, specifically encouraging parents to decrease the amount of sugar their children consume.

These campaigns have seen high claimed behavioural change as a result, as well as a measurable reduction in sugar consumption. For example: in 2019, 59% of all mothers of five to 11 year olds, or 89% of advert recognisers, said they took direct sugar-related action as a results of the campaign; in 2017, 64% of mothers reported making changes around sugar, saturated fats or salt as a result of our Be Food Smart campaign; a 2016 study of the Sugar Smart campaign showed that supermarket stores which featured Change4Life advertising saw a 3% to 4% difference in sales of sugary cereals, sugary drinks and diet drinks compared to the control stores, a trend which continued for 16 weeks after the campaign ended; and the 2014 Smart Swaps campaign led to a decrease of more than 8% in the purchase of sugary fizzy drinks during the campaign period, when compared with the previous year.

For the assessment of our campaigns, we use an evaluation framework to holistically evaluate, measure success, and optimise. This framework examines the conditions in which campaigns operate, the cost of the campaigns, the activity undertaken and the resultant reach, the reaction to the campaign, the behaviour change achieved, whether claimed and actual, and the impact of the campaign on individuals.

Lord Markham
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Nov 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to restore the balance in funding between primary and secondary care to ensure primary care has the resources to train, recruit and retain GPs.

Funding for General Practice and Primary Care Networks has increased to £11.5 billion in 2023/24.

The Government remains committed to growing the general practitioner (GP) workforce and number of doctors in general practice and is determined to deliver this as soon as possible. We are working with NHS England to increase the GP workforce in England. This includes measures to boost recruitment, address the reasons why doctors leave the profession, and encourage them to return to practice.

NHS England has made available several retention schemes available to boost the general practice workforce. This includes the GP Retention Scheme, the GP Retention Fund, the National GP Induction and Refresher, the Locum Support Scheme, and the Supporting Mentors Scheme.

To boost recruitment, we have increased the number of GP training places. Last year, we saw 4,032 doctors accepting a place on GP training, up from 2,671 in 2014. The number of training places will rise to 6,000 by 2031/32, with the first 500 new places available from September 2025.

Lord Markham
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Nov 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage more GPs to practice in rural areas.

The Government recognises that there are issues with recruitment and retention in certain areas of the country, including some rural locations. We launched the Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme in 2016, which has attracted hundreds of doctors to train in hard to recruit locations, including many rural areas, by providing a one-off financial incentive of £20,000. As of 2023/24, there are 782 places available on the scheme.

Lord Markham
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what proportion of imported meats were denied entry into the UK for having failed documentary or physical checks in each of the last three years.

Documentary, identity and physical checks on imported meat and meat products from non- European Union countries are undertaken at the first point of entry into Great Britain at designated Border Controls Posts.

The frequency of checks applied to imported meat and meat products are prescribed in Commission Retained Regulation (EU) 2019/2124. Imported meat, meat preparations and meat products are subject to 100% documentary and identity checks, with the frequency of physical checks varying from 1% to 30% depending upon the type of meat product that is imported.

As our systems record all failures arising from documentary, identity, or physical checks, it may be the case that a single consignment may have failed one or all the checks. The total number of documentary, identity and physical checks failures as a percentage of all checks carried out in 2020 was 0.36%, in 2021, 0.34% and in 2022, 0.31%.

Lord Markham
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government at which point checks are carried out on meat imported into the UK; how many checks are purely on the basis of documentary evidence; and what proportion are physical checks.

Documentary, identity and physical checks on imported meat and meat products from non- European Union countries are undertaken at the first point of entry into Great Britain at designated Border Controls Posts.

The frequency of checks applied to imported meat and meat products are prescribed in Commission Retained Regulation (EU) 2019/2124. Imported meat, meat preparations and meat products are subject to 100% documentary and identity checks, with the frequency of physical checks varying from 1% to 30% depending upon the type of meat product that is imported.

As our systems record all failures arising from documentary, identity, or physical checks, it may be the case that a single consignment may have failed one or all the checks. The total number of documentary, identity and physical checks failures as a percentage of all checks carried out in 2020 was 0.36%, in 2021, 0.34% and in 2022, 0.31%.

Lord Markham
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government whether General Practitioners are no longer able to perform routine procedures such as syringing of ears and treatment of minor injuries; and if not, who took the decisions to remove these procedures from general practice; and when these decisions were taken.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued guidance in 2018 no longer advising manual ear syringing due to risks associated, such as trauma to the ear drum or infection. NICE guidance suggests alternative arrangements for treatment of excessive ear wax, such as considering ear irrigation using an electronic irrigator, micro suction, or manual removal using a probe. General practitioners follow this guidance and are increasingly recommending self-care methods as the primary means to support the safe removal of ear wax, such as in cases of deafness.

Lord Markham
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government why ear syringing is now only provided by a private sector provider in some areas, and not by the NHS.

Integrated care boards are responsible for commissioning services on the National Health Service in line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance. This includes provision of recommended ear wax removal services for patients with a clinical need for ear wax removal.

In June 2018, NICE updated its guidance Hearing loss in adults: assessment and management so that it no longer recommends manual ear wax syringing. This update of the guidance was due to risks associated with the treatment such as trauma to the ear drum or infection. Instead, the guidance suggests alternative arrangements, such as ear irrigation using an electronic irrigator, micro suction, or another method of earwax removal such as manual removal using a probe.

A copy of the guidance is attached.

Lord Markham
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Sep 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the delays to discharge from hospitals owing to the lack of availability of social care; and what steps they intend to take to address this.

We are working with NHS England and local government to monitor and address discharge delays. NHS England’s data shows that on 31 August there were 13,195 patients in hospital in England who no longer meet the criteria to reside. However, this data does not record whether those patients are awaiting a care home placement or care at home.

In December 2021, the Department established the National Hospital Discharge Taskforce with membership from local and central government, the National Health Service to identify long-term, sustainable measures to reduce delayed discharges. The Taskforce launched a ‘100-day discharge challenge’ in July 2022, focusing on 10 best practices for use in hospitals. Integrated care systems and local areas have been invited to submit expressions of interest to become ‘discharge frontrunners’ to facilitate the sharing of good practice and ideas to ease discharge pressures. In addition, we are simplifying the recruitment of eligible workers from overseas to allow social care employers to fill vacancies.

21st Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they anticipate to return to funding general practice to 11 per cent of the total NHS budget.

There is no target on the proportion of the National Health Service budget allocated for the funding of general practice. In 2019, we invested an additional £4.5 billion in primary medical and community care by 2023/24. In February 2020, we committed at least a further £1.5 billion until 2023/24 for the recruitment of additional staff in general practice.

21st Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many General Practitioners they forecast to be in practice in 2030.

The information requested is not held centrally. However, we are working to increase the general practice workforce, address the reasons why doctors leave the profession and encourage them to return to practice.

The updated GP Contract Framework for 2020/21 also provides new retention schemes and continued support for existing schemes to retain general practitioners. We are also working with the National Health Service and the profession to understand what further support may be required and to improve the working environment.

21st Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to retain General Practitioners working up until the age of retirement to stem the flow of GPs leaving the profession.

The updated GP Contract Framework announced a number of new retention schemes alongside continued support for existing schemes for the general practice workforce. The GP Retention Scheme provides financial and educational support to assist general practitioners (GPs) to remain in clinical practice where they are unable to undertake a regular part-time role and may otherwise leave the profession.

The International Induction Programme provides a supported pathway for overseas qualified GPs who have not worked in general practice in the United Kingdom to be inducted safely into the National Health Service. The Return to Practice Programme provides a pathway for qualified GPs who have previously been on the General Medical Council’s GP Register and NHS England’s Medical Performers List to return to general practice after an absence of more than two years.

The Primary Care Fellowship Programme guarantees the opportunity for every newly qualified GP and nurse entering general practice to receive funded mentorship, funded continuing professional development opportunities of one session per week and rotational placements within or across Primary Care Networks to develop experience and support the transition into the local workforce. The Supporting Mentors Scheme is a new national scheme which will offer an opportunity for highly experienced GPs to mentor newly qualified GPs entering the workforce through the Fellowship Programme.

The New to Partnership Payment is available to those GPs without partnership experience who are offered partnerships, in addition to other professional groups such as nurses and pharmacists. New partners will benefit from a £3,000 business training allowance and a guaranteed one-off payment of £20,000 to support their establishment as a new partner.

29th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps the NHS is taking to administer a COVID-19 booster vaccine, together with the annual flu vaccine, this autumn.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have advised that National Health Service systems should maximise opportunities to jointly promote and administer vaccinations where possible and clinically advised, particularly where this improves patient experience and uptake.

The enhanced service specification for the COVID-19 vaccination programme also states that, where it is operationally expedient, administration with the flu vaccine may be provided. Individuals are offered COVID-19 and flu vaccines when eligible and in some instances, a short delay between vaccines will ensure that more individuals receive both vaccines, such as in care homes. Vaccination sites have been asked to use their discretion to maximise these opportunities.

17th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the numbers of GPs retiring in the next few years; and what steps they are taking to address this.

No specific assessment has been made as the decision to retire can be influenced by many factors. We are working to support and increase the general practice workforce, address the reasons why doctors leave the profession and encourage them to return to practice.

The updated GP Contract Framework for 2020/21 announced a new retention schemes and continued support for existing schemes to allow more general practitioners (GPs) to remain in the National Health Service. We are also working with the NHS and the profession to understand how GPs’ working environment can be improved.

29th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the regulations limiting the number of patients able to wait in consulting rooms in healthcare settings have been lifted.

There are currently no regulations limiting the number of patients able to wait in consulting rooms in healthcare settings.

29th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the level of COVID-19 infections on (1) pharmacies, and (2) GP surgeries.

No specific assessment has been made of the impact of the level of COVID-19 infections on pharmacies and general practitioner (GP) surgeries.

However, to support community pharmacies during the pandemic, we reprioritised services, removed some administrative tasks, enabled working behind closed doors and allowed flexibility in opening hours and closures. If required, these measures can be reintroduced.

In addition to £520 million made available to improve access and expand general practice capacity during the pandemic, we established a £250 million Winter Access Fund to allows patients to see or speak to GPs and their teams. In 2020, we announced £1.5 billion to create an additional 50 million general practice appointments by 2024 by increasing and diversifying the workforce.

General practices have remained open throughout the pandemic, offering face to face appointments to those who need them as well as telephone and online consultations. Practices now offer triage and remote consultations alongside face-to face appointments, in order to see as many patients as possible, while protecting staff and patients from infection risks.

10th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of staff shortages on the (1) NHS, and (2) care sector, in terms of treating patients and those in care.

No formal assessment has been made. Safe staffing levels remain the responsibility of local clinical and other leaders, supported by national guidance and regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

The monthly workforce statistics for October 2021 show that there over 1.2 million full time equivalent staff in the National Health Service. Since October 2020, there are 4,800 more doctors, over 10,900 more nurses and over 44,700 more NHS Health and Community Hospital Services staff in total. We are on schedule to deliver 50,000 more nurses by the end of this Parliament and we have funded an additional 1,500 undergraduate medical school places each year for domestic students in England.

We have provided £462.5 million to local authorities and social care providers for recruitment and retention in the sector, expanded the Health and Care Visa to include care workers and we have launched the Made with Care recruitment campaign, running until March 2022.

10th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the level of absence amongst (1) NHS staff, and (2) carers, over the last month attributed to COVID-19.

In the month to 5 January 2022, the average daily number of staff absent from work in National Health Service hospital trusts for COVID-19 related reasons was 30,637. This compares to a peak of over 100,000 absences per day in April 2020 and over 50,000 absences per day in January 2021.

The Department does not hold data on the number of carers absent from work due to COVID-19 over the last month. The Department collects data on COVID-19 related absence among staff in care homes and domiciliary care, which is currently being collated and validated for future publication.

16th Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they stopped funding workplace testing for COVID-19; and whether that decision will be kept under review.

Workplace testing ended in England at the end of July and employers were encouraged to direct their employees to order home tests from GOV.UK, collect from local pharmacies or order via the 119 service. The introduction of these citizen-direct testing channels meant that workplace testing was no longer required. Workplace testing will continue in some sectors where there is a particular need and the Department will continue to monitor any issues in other sectors. We have also announced that we will deliver tests to workplaces to allow 100,000 workers in priority, critical roles to test daily for the next five weeks. Roll out started from Monday 10th January. Tests will be separate from public sectors who already have a testing allocation with UK Health Security Agency, such as adult social care or education, and separate to those delivered to pharmacies and homes, so those channels will not be impacted by the new scheme.

14th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they plan to lift social distancing regulations to allow an increase in face to face appointments at GP surgeries.

On 14 October, the UK Health Security Agency published an online review into changes to COVID-19 infection prevention and control guidance to help ease pressure on the National Health Service, Recommendation 4: a more flexible approach to patient consultations in primary care and general practice. The review states that face to face consultations should be permitted where this is safe for patients and staff, whilst recognising that telephone and video consultations continue to have an important role. Physical distancing can be reduced from two metres to one metre with appropriate mitigations, such as the continued use of face coverings or masks.

18th Aug 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the operation of the NHS COVID-19 app.

The NHS COVID-19 app is kept under close review and is continually being refined and enhanced to ensure it can continue to break chains of transmission. Research from academics and bodies such as The Alan Turing Institute and The University of Oxford have shown that the app continues to work effectively, and user research and feedback are continually considered and incorporated into app releases. Constant evaluation is conducted to ensure the app can continue to support present and future requirements.

18th Aug 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the letters from NHS England and NHS Improvement to GP practices dated 17 March 2020 and 4 August 2020, when additional costs related to COVID-19 borne by dispensing GPs will be reimbursed.

Dispensing practices continue to be reimbursed for additional costs related to COVID-19 in the same way as non-dispensing practices. At the beginning of the pandemic the COVID-19 support fund for general practice (GP) reimbursed practices for additional expenditure they incurred for absence cover, bank holiday opening and the costs of some consumables.  A further £270 million has been made available from November 2020 until September 2021, allocated to systems and ring-fenced exclusively for use in GP to ensure practices can continue to provide the necessary care for all patients.

9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what treatments are available on the NHS in England which help to prevent those with ostopenia contracting osteoporosis; and whether those with ostopenia are kept under regular review to assess the risk of developing osteoporosis.

People with osteopenia will not necessarily go on to develop osteoporosis. In those found to have a bone density within an osteopenic range, preventative lifestyle measures, such as healthy eating, exercise and taking vitamin D supplements, are recommended to protect against developing osteoporosis.

Clinicians may wish to monitor patients found to have a bone density within an osteopenic range, depending on what risk factors they have for osteoporosis or fragility fracture.

7th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they plan to work with dispensing doctors for the administration of COVID-19 vaccines to patients in rural areas.

General practices, including dispensing practices, form just one part of the plan for delivering COVID-19 vaccination and will operate as part of a system of providers, ensuring the best possible coverage of the UK population. Each Primary Care Network grouping is required to work with their local regional team to understand the current healthcare provision for vulnerable groups. Where there are gaps in provision, NHS England will commission additional providers, such as community pharmacy, hospital hubs, and mass vaccination centres, to provide COVID-19 vaccinations. The first community pharmacy sites and mass vaccination centres opened the week commencing 11 January 2021.

7th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure patients in rural areas receive the COVID-19 vaccination in a timely manner; whether any such steps take into account the (1) isolation of such patients, and (2) the distances such patients have to travel to medical facilities.

Currently, in England, more than 98% of the population is within 10 miles of a vaccine service. In a small number of highly rural areas, the vaccination centre will be a mobile unit. The mobile model helps more remote rural communities, particularly those where public transport is limited.

12th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccination will be available in those rural areas which are less easily accessible and with higher population sparsity.

The National Health Service has a tried and tested track record for delivering vaccination programmes and will work with existing partners across the healthcare system to ensure a COVID-19 vaccine can be deployed safely and effectively. Detailed planning is underway building on the NHS’s expertise delivering immunisation programmes including the flu vaccination programme. Planning considerations include the size and make-up of the workforce needed to deliver a potentially extensive vaccination programme at pace, training requirements, guidance, consumables and other equipment. They also include the supporting infrastructure required, including warehousing, transport, logistics for transport across the nation and end-destination ‘clinic’ storage.

12th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the future importance of dispensing practices in administering COVID-19 vaccinations in rural areas with poor transport links and connectivity.

The National Health Service has a tried and tested track record for delivering vaccination programmes and will work with existing partners across the healthcare system, including general practices, to ensure a COVID-19 vaccine can be deployed safely and effectively. Detailed planning is underway building on the NHS’s expertise to deliver immunisation programmes, such as the flu vaccination programme. Planning considerations, includes the supporting infrastructure required, including warehousing, transport, logistics for transport across the nation and end-destination ‘clinic’ storage.

12th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the potential reliance on paracetamol in alleviating possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccination; what plans they have to ensure that patients in rural areas can access such medication where there is no community pharmacy in place; and whether rural dispensing practices will be permitted to sell sufficient quantities of such medication.

Assessments on the potential reliance on medication in alleviating possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccination are not finalised as we do not yet know the full characteristics, including side effects, of any of the vaccines in development. All plans for deployment remain flexible as there are no certainties in the development, production, formulation and timing of any new vaccines.

Detailed planning is underway building on the National Health Service’s expertise to deliver immunisation programmes, such as the flu vaccination programme. Planning considerations, includes the supporting infrastructure required, including warehousing, transport, logistics for transport across the nation and end-destination ‘clinic’ storage.

Medication such as paracetamol can also be purchased from supermarkets and other retail outlets, as a ‘general sales’ medicine. Paracetamol can also be purchased online, including in a larger quantity from an online pharmacy.

12th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that remaining influenza vaccines are delivered to GP practices and administered for those over the age of 50 in advance of the COVID-19 vaccine being made available.

The flu vaccine programme is currently underway, with priority given to those who are most at risk from the effects of flu, and frontline health and social care workers. We have announced that we will be extending the programme to those aged 50-64 from 1 December.

The Department has procured additional doses of seasonal flu vaccine to ensure more flu vaccines are available this winter. General practitioners who have exhausted their own supply are now able to order from this central stock.

Overall, there is sufficient vaccine for more than 30 million people to be vaccinated in England this winter.

2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the uptake of the influenza vaccination programme this autumn; and what measures they intend to take to promote uptake.

On 5 August 2020 we published the Annual Flu Letter Update 2020/21, which set out our ambitions for uptake for all eligible groups.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with local areas to ensure that regional teams have plans in place to increase coverage of the influenza vaccination this winter. In addition to developing the existing system of providing vaccinations through general practice, community pharmacies, schools, community and other National Health Service settings to reach new cohorts and increase uptake in existing cohorts; new models of delivery have been shared with regional commissioning teams to encourage innovative thinking such as mobile and mass vaccination models to allow for increases in uptake safely whilst observing social distancing and personal protective equipment requirements.

29th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the British Medical Association about the capacity to deliver seasonal flu jabs to all people aged over 50 in the autumn. [T]

NHS England and NHS Improvement have had discussions with the British Medical Association, and other representative bodies to discuss delivery of the expanded flu programme.

In addition to developing the existing system of providing vaccinations through general practice, community pharmacies, schools, community and other National Health Service settings to reach new cohorts and increase uptake in existing cohorts; new models of delivery have been shared with regional commissioning teams to encourage innovative thinking to deliver the programme this winter.

29th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the causes of the outbreak of COVID-19 at meat processing plants; and what measures they plan to take (1) to address such outbreaks, and (2) to prevent any such recurrence. [T]

Public Health England (PHE) local health protection teams respond to notifications of suspected outbreaks in food processing plants by undertaking a risk assessment, providing public health advice, including on infection prevention and control and social distancing measures, and advising on the testing of employees. In doing so, an assessment is made as to whether transmission may be occurring in or outside the workplace.

An enhanced outbreak investigation protocol has been developed which will allow PHE to further understand the factors relating to infection transmission in meat-related food production settings to ascertain potential routes of transmission: within the workplace through a more detailed understanding of the workforce, the working environment and working practices; staff and environmental biological sampling; factors outside the workplace, such as transport arrangements, housing, employment conditions.

The learning from such investigations can identify measures that may help prevent outbreaks from occurring in these settings.

22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with NHS England about why it has not triggered Regulation 61 of the National Health Service (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/349) to allow for the flexible provision of pharmaceutical services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department is in regular discussions with NHS England and NHS Improvement over the provision of services during this pandemic.

The Secretary of State has enabled Regulation 61 of the National Health Service (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013. Regulation 61 allows NHS England and NHS Improvement to commission a dispensing doctor to provide pharmaceutical services to patients to whom the dispensing doctor is not otherwise entitled to provide pharmaceutical services during an emergency.

The prerequisite is the temporary closure of pharmacy premises which results, in NHS England and NHS Improvement’s opinion, in inadequate provision of pharmaceutical services in an area. There are currently few pharmacies closed across England and whether this extra provision is needed, in any particular area, is an operational decision for NHS England and NHS Improvement’s regional teams.

22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that NHS England implements the Electronic Prescription Service in dispensing practices to benefit rural patients.

The majority of dispensing practices are live with the prescribing functionality of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS). In the next round of general practitioner contract negotiations, the Department and NHS England and NHS Improvement will look at what further support can be provided to dispensing practices to implement the EPS.

23rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect personal protective equipment in storage areas to be distributed to front line medical practitioners in hospitals and GP surgeries

As of 14 April, since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak we have delivered over 923 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to 58,000 different health and care settings including National Health Service trusts, general practitioners, pharmacies and community providers. We have provided PPE equipment to over 26,000 care homes including home care and hospices across the country. Over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, over 48 million PPE items were delivered.

We are working around the clock to give the NHS and the wider social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this outbreak. We have brought together the NHS, industry and the armed forces to create a new nationwide PPE distribution network, delivering critical PPE supplies to those who need it.

We have a 24 hours a day, seven days a week helpline for those experiencing supply disruption with business as usual ordering channels. Where there may be any shortages, we act on this immediately. Local Resilience Forums are also supporting care homes, hospices, home care and primary care in getting hold of PPE equipment.

16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that COVID-19 will be listed as a qualifying disease for insurance payouts.

On 5 March 2020, the Government added COVID-19 to its list of notifiable diseases.

Insurers’ policies that cover notifiable diseases will typically only cover a specific subset of notifiable diseases (such as cholera or anthrax) that the insurer will reference in the policy documentation. These policies will exclude any notifiable disease not on the insurer’s list, as well as future/unknown diseases such as COVID-19. The price that the insurer charges for the policy is modelled against the risk posed by this set list of diseases.

Some businesses will have purchased add-ons for their insurance that cover for ‘unspecified notifiable diseases’. These policies effectively cover any disease listed as a notifiable disease, enabling the business to claim for losses for all notifiable diseases as well as from diseases that are unknown at the point the policy is written.

The effect of the Government adding COVID-19 to its list of notifiable diseases is to ensure that businesses with unspecified notifiable disease cover are able to make a claim – subject to the terms and conditions in their policy. For example, someone infected with COVID-19 may need to have been on the premises.

12th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the availability of medical supplies following the outbreak of Wuhan coronavirus and the closure of manufacturing facilities in China; and what contingencies they have in place in the event of any shortages of supplies.

The National Health Service and wider health system are extremely well prepared for these types of outbreaks and follow tried and tested procedures of the highest standards to protect staff, patients and the public. The Department has stepped up its efforts to assess risks to the availability of medical supplies and put in place contingencies to help ensure uninterrupted supply.

These efforts have included:

- a response group has been established to evaluate the potential impacts of this situation on continuity of supply of medical goods;

- asking suppliers to conduct a full risk assessment of the impact of the situation on their supply chains;

- requesting that suppliers who still retain some or all of their European Union exit stockpiles, should hold on to them, while the Department considers more targeted approaches;

- directing NHS Supply Chain to pause ramp-down activity of the centralised stock-build of medical devices and clinical consumables; and

- contacting all known medical suppliers trading from or via China.

Working closely with industry, the NHS and others in the supply chain, we continue to monitor the situation to help prevent shortages and minimise the risks to patients.

20th Jul 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with members of the Nordic Council in regards to (1) achieving peace in Ukraine, and (2) preventing the spread of any hostilities to (a) Scandinavian, or (b) Baltic, countries.

The Nordic and Baltic states are key UK partners in regional security, working closely through NATO and the Joint Expeditionary Force, and together in support of Ukraine. We welcome Nordic countries' support for the G7 Joint Declaration agreeing long-term bilateral security commitments for Ukraine.

In support of regional security and protecting NATO's Eastern Flank, the UK has deployed a significant military presence to Estonia as part of NATO's enhanced Forward Presence. The UK has been committed to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, which will strengthen Euro-Atlantic security. We welcome Finland's membership and are supporting Sweden's swift accession to the Alliance.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of Russian activity in Kaliningrad and the possible implications for neighbouring countries.

Kaliningrad is part of the Russian Federation. We will continue to work closely with partners, including those across Europe, to strengthen security in the region.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what the level of funding will be for the BBC World Service from April 2022.

We strongly value the work of the BBC World Service and its independent and impartial broadcasting. In 2021-22, the FCDO is providing a total of £94.4 million to the World Service. The FCDO is committed to providing funding for the BBC World Service through to 2025, with final allocations to be confirmed after the conclusion of the FCDO business planning process.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking (1) to prevent the sale of counterfeit drugs to developing countries, and (2) to ensure that only patented drugs are sold to those countries. [I]

The UK has long supported strategies to increase access to safe, effective, quality, and affordable essential medicines to people living in low- and middle-income countries. This includes patented products, and their generic equivalents, which are affordable versions of brand name products. We also work to prevent the spread of substandard, falsified, and counterfeit medicines; for example, through support to the WHO's Global Surveillance and Monitoring System for substandard and falsified medical products.

14th Dec 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government whether they will introduce a zero rate of VAT for repairs of rural churches.

VAT is a broad-based tax on consumption and the twenty per cent standard rate applies to most goods and services. Whilst there are exceptions to the standard rate, these have always been limited by both legal and fiscal considerations.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport already administer the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme. This aims to redress financial shortfalls by providing grants towards VAT paid on repairs and maintenance to the nation's listed places of worship. With annual funding increased to £42 million per annum, the scheme handles around 7,000 claims per annum and has made grants totalling over £300 million to date.

Going further by zero rating all repairs of rural churches would impose significant additional pressure on the public finances to which VAT makes a significant contribution.

There are no plans to introduce a new VAT relief for the repair of rural churches. However, the Government keeps all taxes under review.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th Sep 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of any distortion to the housing market caused by VAT on the renovation and restoration of existing homes as opposed to VAT exemption for the building of new homes; and what plans they have, if any, to address such distortion.

The construction of certain new-build properties, including residential buildings, is subject to a VAT zero rate to encourage the construction of new homes. A reduced rate of VAT at five per cent is also maintained, subject to certain conditions, for residential renovations. This includes conversions of buildings from one residential use to another, conversions from commercial to residential use, and the renovation of properties that have been empty for two years or more.

Extending this VAT relief would impose additional pressure on the public finances to which VAT makes a significant contribution. As such, the Government has no plans to introduce a VAT relief on the renovation and restoration of existing homes; however, the Government keeps all taxes under review.

A temporary zero rate (up to April 2027) also applies to installations of qualifying energy saving materials, such as insulation, solar panels and heat pumps into residential accommodation. This relief is targeted at materials that specifically improve the energy efficiency or reduce carbon emission from a residential property.

Baroness Penn
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
4th Sep 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take, if any, to set up a rural banking hub to avoid a lack of banking provision within ten miles.

Decisions on opening and closing branches are taken by the management team of each bank on a commercial basis, which it would be inappropriate for the Government to intervene in.

Guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) sets out its expectation of firms when closing a branch; they must carefully consider the impact of a planned closure on their customers’ everyday banking and cash access needs and consider possible alternative access arrangements. This will ensure the implementation of closure decisions is done in a way that treats customers fairly.

An alternative for those who prefer to conduct their everyday banking face-to-face is the Post Office, which enables customers to carry this out at 11,500 post offices across the UK. The Post Office is required by the Department for Business and Trade to ensure that 95% of the total rural population across the UK to be within 3 miles of their nearest Post Office outlet.

New shared Banking Hubs are also being introduced providing cash and basic banking services, and dedicated space where community bankers from major banks can meet customers of that bank. Banking Hubs are a commercial initiative provided by participating retail banks and building societies in partnership with the Post Office. Decisions regarding the operation and location of Banking Hubs are taken by the parties involved.

Regarding access to cash, the government legislated to protect access to cash services through the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023. Following this, the government recently published a policy statement. This included setting the government’s current understanding that the vast majority of people in predominately rural areas have access to cash within 3 miles of where they live, while the vast majority of people in predominately urban areas have access to cash within 1 mile of where they live. This is based on FCA analysis and concerns access to cash services in general rather than bank branches. The policy statement sets out that the FCA, as responsible regulator, should seek to maintain this distribution of cash access services, while recognising that cash needs may differ by location and change over time. The government’s policy statement is available on gov.uk.

Baroness Penn
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
4th Sep 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what provisions are in place to support customers in the event of a rural bank closure with no bank branch available within three miles.

Decisions on opening and closing branches are taken by the management team of each bank on a commercial basis, which it would be inappropriate for the Government to intervene in.

Guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) sets out its expectation of firms when closing a branch; they must carefully consider the impact of a planned closure on their customers’ everyday banking and cash access needs and consider possible alternative access arrangements. This will ensure the implementation of closure decisions is done in a way that treats customers fairly.

An alternative for those who prefer to conduct their everyday banking face-to-face is the Post Office, which enables customers to carry this out at 11,500 post offices across the UK. The Post Office is required by the Department for Business and Trade to ensure that 95% of the total rural population across the UK to be within 3 miles of their nearest Post Office outlet.

New shared Banking Hubs are also being introduced providing cash and basic banking services, and dedicated space where community bankers from major banks can meet customers of that bank. Banking Hubs are a commercial initiative provided by participating retail banks and building societies in partnership with the Post Office. Decisions regarding the operation and location of Banking Hubs are taken by the parties involved.

Regarding access to cash, the government legislated to protect access to cash services through the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023. Following this, the government recently published a policy statement. This included setting the government’s current understanding that the vast majority of people in predominately rural areas have access to cash within 3 miles of where they live, while the vast majority of people in predominately urban areas have access to cash within 1 mile of where they live. This is based on FCA analysis and concerns access to cash services in general rather than bank branches. The policy statement sets out that the FCA, as responsible regulator, should seek to maintain this distribution of cash access services, while recognising that cash needs may differ by location and change over time. The government’s policy statement is available on gov.uk.

Baroness Penn
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
15th Dec 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what data they collect on the average distances a resident in a rural community must travel to access (1) a bank, and (2) a cash machine.

The government recognises that while the transition towards digital banking and payments brings many opportunities, cash continues to be used by many people, including those who may be in vulnerable groups, and small business across the UK.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has a considerable evidence base on cash provision and use across the UK. Analysis that was published by the FCA in June 2022 shows that, as of the end of 2021, over 95% of the population are within two kilometres of a free-to-use cash access point, such as a free-to-use ATM, bank branch or Post Office branch. Additional breakdowns by category of cash facility and areas are published on the FCA’s website.

The government is currently taking legislation to protect access to cash across the UK through Parliament as part of the Financial Services and Markets Bill 2022. The legislation will establish the FCA as the lead regulator for access to cash with responsibility and powers to seek to ensure reasonable provision of withdrawal and deposit facilities.

As part of its responsibilities, the FCA will be granted powers to seek to address any local deficiencies in the provision of access to cash facilities that it has identified and considers to be significant. The government’s view is that this will allow for consideration of local circumstances in all parts of the UK. This will result in a regulatory framework that will support the ongoing assessment of cash needs and provision at both a nationwide and local level.

Lord Harlech
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government under what conditions a formal complaint against a financial service provider may be considered not a regulated activity by the Financial Ombudsman Service; and what forms of redress consumers have against financial malpractice by financial service providers.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) dispute resolution rules set out what complaints the Financial Ombudsman Service is able to look at. These are set out in the DISP rules in the FCA Handbook. These rules provide that the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) can consider complaints about regulated activities but also certain other activities which are not regulated activities. DISP 2.3.1R sets out what activities the FOS’s Compulsory Jurisdiction covers. https://www.handbook.fca.org.uk/handbook/DISP/2/3.html

The FOS was set up by Parliament to resolve complaints between financial businesses and their customers quickly and with minimum formality, on the basis of what is, in the ombudsman’s opinion fair and reasonable in all the circumstances of the case. Where a complaint is determined in favour of the complainant, the FOS can make a money award in favour of the complainant or direct the businesses to take certain other steps.

Baroness Penn
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
21st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the tax situation regarding the lump sum payments extended through the agriculture regulations.

The Government intends to introduce legislation to provide clarity that payments under the Lump Sum Exit Scheme will be treated as capital in nature and will be subject to capital gains tax, or corporation tax in the case of incorporated entities. The existing capital gains reliefs will be available where the qualifying criteria are met.

Baroness Penn
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
3rd Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what long-term arrangements they will put in place to assist (1) low-income households, and (2) pensioners on fixed incomes, to alleviate their domestic energy costs.

The Government recognises many households will need support to help deal with the rising cost of energy prices. Therefore, we are providing support worth £9.1bn in 2022-23 composed of:

  • A £200 discount for households delivered via their energy bill this autumn, paid back automatically over the next 5 years, spreading the increased costs of global prices over time in a way that is more manageable for households.
  • A £150 non-repayable cash rebate to 80% of households to help with rising costs now, delivered as a payment from government to Local Authorities, for implementation from this April via a payment to all households in Council Tax Bands A-D.
  • £144 million of discretionary funding for Local Authorities to support households who need support but are not eligible for the Council Tax reduction.

There is also our £500m Household Support Fund which will help vulnerable households, including pensioners, with the costs of essentials this winter – local authorities will ensure it reaches those who need it most, and 50% of the funding is ringfenced for households with children.

This is on top of wider support available for vulnerable households, elderly and low-income people this winter. These schemes include the Warm Home Discount, which is being expanded to 3m people and increased to £150, up to £300 Winter Fuel Payment for all households with at least one member above State Pension age and a £25 per week Cold Weather Payment. These measures will help ensure those most vulnerable are better able to heat their homes over the winter.

In addition to these measures, we’re also providing £3bn over this Parliament to help more than half a million lower income homes become more energy efficient, saving them £290 per year on average.

In the longer term, the Government will look to reduce our reliance on global gas prices by moving to a cleaner, more resilient energy system and improve energy efficiency to help keep bills down.

Baroness Penn
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
3rd Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to repay the rebate announced to help alleviate household energy bills; and what assessment they have made of the impact on households as a result of such repayment.

In recognition of the increase in energy costs and the impact this will have on households, the Government is providing significant financial support – up to £350 – to the majority of households. One element of this is a £200 discount for households delivered via their energy bill this autumn.

We expect households will pay back the discount from 2023 – when energy prices are expected to be lower - through an increase to standing charges on their bills of around £40 per annum over five years.

This approach is fiscally responsible while also helping customers manage the unprecedented increase in energy bills by spreading the increased costs of global prices over time. The policy will provide a significant discount to bills this year whilst gas prices are at historic highs.

The government will explore this issue through a public consultation run by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the spring.

This policy is on top of wider support available for vulnerable households, elderly and low-income people this winter. These schemes include the Warm Home Discount, which is being expanded to 3m people and increased to £150, up to £300 Winter Fuel Payment for all households with at least one member above State Pension age and a £25 per week Cold Weather Payment. These measures will help ensure those most vulnerable are better able to heat their homes over the winter.

There is also our £500m Household Support Fund which will help vulnerable households, including pensioners, with the costs of essentials this winter – local authorities will ensure it reaches those who need it most, and 50% of the funding is ringfenced for households with children.

In addition to these measures, we’re also providing £3bn over this Parliament to help more than half a million lower income homes become more energy efficient, saving them £290 per year on average.

Baroness Penn
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review regulations relatig to short selling  to ensure that any such regulations are fit for purpose.

The government works closely with the regulators and market participants to monitor the effectiveness of the regulatory regime, in line with the government’s objectives of supporting economic growth and financial stability.

The UK’s Short Selling Regime, introduced in 2012, regulates short selling practices while safeguarding companies and the financial system.

Among other things, it requires persons to report their short positions in companies whose shares are admitted to trading on UK trading venues, and provides the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with powers to request information from persons on their short selling activities, to apply penalties to persons who do not meet their regulatory obligations under the short selling regime, and to restrict the short selling of certain instruments in certain circumstances.

In particular, the FCA can temporarily restrict short selling when the price of an instrument has fallen significantly during a single trading day in relation to the closing price of that instrument on the previous trading day, and can restrict short selling for a period of up to three months when there are adverse events or developments which are a serious threat to financial stability or to market confidence in the UK.

It is the Government’s position that this regime is working as intended, providing the necessary safeguards to allow the operation of a fair and effective market. Therefore, we see no need to conduct a full review of this legislation at this time.

2nd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the economic impact of the loss of duty-free sales on (1) Belfast International Airport, (2) Stansted Airport, (3) Manchester Airport, and (4) Newcastle Airport.

Ahead of the end of the transition period, the Government has announced the excise duty treatment of goods purchased by individuals for personal use and carried in their luggage arriving from or going overseas (passengers). The following rules will apply from 1 January 2021:

- Passengers travelling from Great Britain to any destination outside the United Kingdom (UK) will be able to purchase duty-free excise goods once they have passed security controls at ports, airports, and international rail stations.

- Personal allowances will apply to passengers entering Great Britain from a destination outside of the UK, with alcohol allowances significantly increased.

The Government published a consultation which ran from 11 March to 20 May. During this time the Government held a number of virtual meetings with stakeholders to hear their views and received 73 responses to the consultation. The Government is also continuing to meet and discuss with stakeholders following the announcement of these policies.

The detailed rationale for these changes are included in the written ministerial statement and summary of responses to the recent consultation: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2020-09-11/hcws448 and https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-consultation-on-duty-free-and-tax-free-goods-carried-by-passengers. A technical note has also been issued to stakeholders to expand on this document and to respond to issues raised by stakeholders.

On 25 November the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) set out their assessment of the fiscal impact of the withdrawal of the tax-free airside sales. The OBR estimate that the withdrawal will raise approximately £170 million per year for the Exchequer, after behavioural responses are taken into account and passenger numbers recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

The Government recognises the challenges the aviation sector is facing as it recovers from the impacts of Covid-19 and has supported the sector throughout the pandemic, and continues to do so, including schemes to raise capital, flexibilities with tax bills, and financial support for employees.

10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to use green gilts to promote (1) waste recovery, and (2) energy generation from waste.

On Monday 9 November, The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the UK’s intention is issue its inaugural Sovereign Green Bond (SGB), subject to market conditions, in 2021.

Further details on timings and other aspects of the policy, such as the issuance framework, which will set out the projects that the SGB will help to finance, will be provided in due course.

While it is possible that government expenditures on projects relating to waste recovery and energy generation from waste could be financed with the proceeds of the SGB, such decisions will be made in the coming months following discussions with other government departments, structuring advisors and other stakeholders. The government will provide updates as appropriate.

The government is already taking powers in the Environment Bill to implement Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes which promote waste recovery. These require producers to fund the end of life costs of their products and can deliver higher collection, recycling and recovery rates.

In addition, the Landfill Tax was introduced in 1996 with the aim of diverting waste away from landfill to more environmentally friendly alternatives, such as Energy from Waste. It has been hugely successful in achieving this aim alongside other waste policy – since 2000, Local Authority waste sent to landfill in England has fallen by 87%.

23rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government why (1) betting shops, (2) bingo halls, and (3) casinos, were excluded from the business rate holiday; and what plans they have to extend such businesses the same relief as granted to other retail and leisure businesses.

The Government has set out a package of measures to support businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

The Chancellor previously announced a 100% rates holiday for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties in 2020-21. On 25 March the Government went further and removed some of the exclusions for this relief, so that eligible retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that will have to close as a result of the measures announced by the Prime Minister in his statement of the 23 March, will now be eligible for the relief.

Support is also available to those not eligible for business rates relief. This includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, a statutory sick pay relief package, the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms continue to keep people in employment, and a new lending facility from the Bank of England for larger firms.

16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that commercial businesses seeking insurance payouts for cancellations or closures due to COVID-19 are covered.

The Chancellor has made clear that, for those businesses which have an appropriate policy that covers pandemics, government’s medical advice of 16 March is sufficient to allow businesses to make a claim against their insurance, provided the other terms and conditions in their policy are met.

In addition, the FCA’s rules require insurers to handle claims fairly and promptly; provide reasonable guidance to help a policyholder make a claim, and appropriate information on its progress; not reject a claim unreasonably; and settle claims promptly once settlement terms are agreed.

However, most businesses have not purchased insurance that covers pandemic related losses. As such, any affected businesses should note the government’s full package of support.

The Government is in continual dialogue with the insurance sector about its contribution to handling this unprecedented situation.

13th Dec 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the rise in shoplifting; and what steps they will take to reduce these offences.

The Government recognises the significant impact shoplifting has on businesses, communities and consumers. The Crime Survey for England and Wales shows neighbourhood crime is down 51% compared to findings from the year ending March 2010.

However, Police Recorded Crime figures show shoplifting offences increased by 25% in the 12 months to June 2023. Statistics also show the number of people charged with shoplifting offences has risen by 29% in the year ending June 2023.

We have recently made significant steps to improve the police response to retail crime, including shoplifting.

In October, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) published the Retail Crime Action Plan. Through this Plan, all police forces in England and Wales have committed to prioritise police attendance at the scene where violence has been used towards shop staff, where an offender has been detained by store security, and where evidence needs to be secured and can only be done by police personnel. Additionally, where CCTV or other digital images are secured, police will run this through the Police National Database to further aid efforts to identify prolific offenders or potentially dangerous individuals.

This builds on the NPCC commitment that police forces across England and Wales will follow up all crimes where there is actionable evidence and the chance of identifying an offender, including shoplifting.

October also saw the launch of Pegasus, a unique private-public partnership, which involves retailers providing data, intelligence and evidence to Opal, the national police intelligence unit on organised acquisitive crime, to develop a better strategic picture and help forces crack down on serious offenders.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
23rd Nov 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government how many fines or other penalties have been imposed for breaches of road traffic laws by (1) e-bikes, and (2) e-scooters, in each of the past six months.

The Home Office collects and publishes data on fixed penalty notices (FPNs) and other outcomes for motoring offences in England and Wales on an annual basis, as part of the ‘Police Powers and Procedures: Other PACE’ statistical bulletin. The most recent data, up to 2021, is available here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1118166/fixed-penalty-notices-and-other-motoring-offences-statistics-police-powers-and-procedures-year-ending-31-december-2021.ods

However, the Home Office does not centrally collect data on the type of vehicle involved in the offence.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Jul 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government how many privately owned e-scooters have been confiscated in each of the last three months for the offence of being driven in a public area.

The Home Office does not hold the information requested.

The Home Office collects and publishes data on Fixed Penalty Notices and other outcomes for motoring offences as part of the “Police Powers and Procedures: Other PACE powers” statistical bulletin. The most recent data, for 2021, are available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1118166/fixed-penalty-notices-and-other-motoring-offences-statistics-police-powers-and-procedures-year-ending-31-december-2021.ods

However, data are not collected on the type of vehicle involved in the offence. Additionally, the Home Office does not hold information on the number of e-scooters confiscated.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
4th Jul 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government how many penalties have been issued for (1) e-scooters, (2) e-bikes, and (3) bicycles, in each of the past three months for the road traffic offence of riding on a pavement.

The Home Office does not hold the information requested.

The Home Office collects and publishes data on Fixed Penalty Notices and other outcomes for motoring offences as part of the “Police Powers and Procedures: Other PACE powers” statistical bulletin. The most recent data, for 2021, are available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1118166/fixed-penalty-notices-and-other-motoring-offences-statistics-police-powers-and-procedures-year-ending-31-december-2021.ods

However, data are not collected on the type of vehicle involved in the offence. Additionally, the Home Office does not hold information on the number of e-scooters confiscated.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to extend the Youth Mobility Scheme to allow applicants from EU countries.

We remain open to negotiating Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) arrangements with other countries and territories including EU Member States. However, each YMS is subject to a bilateral, reciprocal agreement and, we are unable to disclose the status of negotiations as they occur. Further details of additional YMS agreements will be announced once they are concluded.

25th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government on what basis, and for what intended purpose, a refugee camp is being planned for the former RAF Station at Linton-on-Ouse; and what assessment they have made about whether the camp would be best suited to housing seasonal workers to pick and process fruit and vegetables grown in the area.

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

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
7th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to resolve the reported failure of new British passports to be read at border e-gates due to glossy coating of the pages, which has led to delays at airports.

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

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
9th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, for each of the six months from August 2021, how many fines or penalties have been issued for inappropriate use of (1) rental e-scooters, and (2) privately owned e-scooters.

The information requested is not held.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
13th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the proceeds of crime generated by cyber attacks by hostile states utilising ransom demands; and what steps they are taking to prevent such crime.

During 2021, ransomware became the most significant cyber threat facing the UK. In response, in June the Home Office launched a cross-government policy sprint to accelerate our response to this growing threat. The sprint has engaged in three pillars of activity aligning to the wider SOC strategy pillars (prepare, prevent, protect and pursue): threat, resilience, and international. Underreporting continues to impact our ability to understand the true cost and scale of cybercrime to the UK, an aspect we are actively trying to improve.

Tackling cyber crime, including ransomware, is at the heart of the UK government’s new National Cyber Security. The strategy was launched in December 2021 and presents the UK’s role as a responsible and democratic cyber power, protecting and promoting UK interests in, and through, cyberspace. The strategy commits £2.6bn of new investment to deliver objectives under five strategic pillars: Ecosystem; Resilience; Technology; International; and Threat.

HMG continues its work with global partners to detect and disrupt shared threats emanating from overseas, the most consistent of these from ransomware criminals based in Russia. In December 2021, the UK held a G7 Senior Officials’ Forum on Ransomware to combat the threat, and the UK is taking a leading role in the international Counter Ransomware Initiative. Further information on the impacts and actions to combat cyber crime can be found in the National Cyber Security Centre Annual Review 2021, on ncsc.gov.uk.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
5th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) how many e-scooters have been seized for illegal use, and (2) how many fines have been imposed, in each of the last three months in England.

The Home Office collects and publishes data on the number of motoring offences in the ‘Police Powers and Procedures, England and Wales’ statistical bulletin, which can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/police-powers-and-procedures-england-and-wales. However, the Home Office does not hold information on the numbers and types of vehicle seized for illegal use, or figures for the number of fines imposed for the illegal use of e-scooters.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many points have been added to driving licences for the illegal use of e-scooters in each of the last three months.

The Home Office collects and publishes data on the number of motoring offences in the ‘Police Powers and Procedures, England and Wales’ statistical bulletin, which is already reasonably accessible to you here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/police-powers-and-procedures-england-and-wales.

However, information on the type of vehicle issued with a motoring offence, including a fine or penalty points is not collected.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many fixed penalty notices have been issued for illegal use of e-scooters in each of the last three months.

The Home Office collects and publishes data on the number of motoring offences in the ‘Police Powers and Procedures, England and Wales’ statistical bulletin, which is already reasonably accessible to you here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/police-powers-and-procedures-england-and-wales.

However, information on the type of vehicle issued with a motoring offence, including a fine or penalty points is not collected.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
1st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many illegal e-scooters have been confiscated in (1) London, (2) Birmingham, and (3) other cities in England, in each of the last three months.

Information on numbers and types of vehicle seized is not held centrally.

The Metropolitan Police seized over 1,000 scooters in June 2021.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
8th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) local authorities, and (2) police forces, to prevent the illegal (a) purchase, and (b) use, of e-scooters in England.

Legislation was amended in July 2020 to allow for rental e-scooter trials around England which will run for 12 months with the trial period beginning in each area as and when e-scooters become available to the public. It remains illegal to use privately owned e-scooters on the road as they do not meet the requirements of stringent construction regulations, registration, road tax, insurance and MOT testing.

It is not illegal to sell an e-scooter as they can be used legally on private land. However, under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, there is a general obligation for traders to give consumers sufficient information about goods and services at the point of sale, so consumers are not misled.

Electric scooters have to abide by the same road traffic legislation as mopeds and motorcycles. To drive or ride any motor vehicle without permission onto a footpath, common land, moorland or land of any description that does not form part of the road is an offence under section 34 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. To drive or ride a powered scooter on a pavement, as with pedal cycles, is an offence under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835.

Enforcement of road traffic laws on the illegal use of e-scooters is an operational matter for individual Chief Officers who will decide how to deploy available resources, taking into account any specific local problems and demands. Where e-scooters amount to anti-social behaviour, then local authorities make byelaws/injunctions and Anti-Social Behaviour orders to curb the misuse of vehicles.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
25th Apr 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to use Overseas Patrol Squadron vessels to monitor hostile activity in the UK's fisheries and against vulnerable undersea assets in regions such as the North Sea.

The Ministry of Defence constantly monitors activity within UK waters and its Economic Exclusion Zone to counter and deter detected threats.

The Royal Navy's Batch 1 Offshore Patrol Vessels, of the Overseas Patrol Squadron, are frequently used on a high readiness basis in UK waters to undertake domestic security tasks, including escorting foreign warships through UK waters. This is in addition to the Fleet Ready Escort and other persistently available Royal Navy platforms.

The Government takes the security and resilience of undersea infrastructure, including cables, interconnectors, and pipelines, very seriously. These are critical to our national infrastructure, and we monitor the full range of threats and risks.

23rd Oct 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government whether there are any circumstances in which a residential home would be considered as empty where the resident has been unable to sell or is long-term sick and hospitalised.

Properties being sold are not eligible for empty dwellings management orders (EDMOs), nor are the homes of people away from home because they are being cared for in hospital or elsewhere. The full exemptions to EDMOs are set out in guidance available on the Government website and set out a balanced approach between giving local authorities appropriate powers to bring empty homes into use and protecting home owners whose properties may be empty for a period due to personal circumstances.

Baroness Swinburne
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
23rd Oct 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government under what circumstances office properties which have been empty for six months or longer will be considered for change of use to qualify for conversion to residential homes.

A national permitted development right (Class MA) provides for the change of use to residential of offices that have been vacant for a continuous period of at least three months. The permitted development right is subject to prior approval by the local planning authority in respect of particular planning matters, such as flooding and transport, and various limitations. Full details of the permitted development right are set out in legislation: The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, as amended.

A planning application is required for any change of use from an office to residential use that falls outside of the scope of the permitted development right, or where the right has been removed by the local planning authority by making an Article 4 direction. Any planning application will be determined in accordance with the local plan and other material considerations.

Baroness Swinburne
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
23rd Oct 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government whether there is a register for empty properties.

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

Baroness Swinburne
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
13th Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to review the resolution system for disputes between tenants and landlords.

The Renters (Reform) Bill) will introduce a new private rented sector Ombudsman, ensuring that tenants and landlords have the same mechanisms to resolve disputes as exist in the social sector through The Housing Ombudsman.

The new Ombudsman will act as an impartial decision-maker to which complaints can be escalated by private tenants where they have been unable to resolve these with their landlord. We are exploring whether the Ombudsman also could provide a mediation service for landlords to resolve disputes with their tenants without needing to take court action.

Through the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill, the Government is taking action in the social housing sector to ensure that disputes between tenants and landlords can be resolved more effectively. This includes giving the Ombudsman the powers to issue a code of practice on complaint handling and issue orders to landlords to prevent the recurrence of issues identified through an investigation.

In October 2022, we amended legislation to allow social housing residents with unresolved complaints to access the Housing Ombudsman directly without having to contact a designated person or wait eight weeks.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
23rd May 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government whether they plan to make water companies statutory consultees in major housing developments.

Whilst we generally resist adding new statutory consultees to the planning application process, the Government has made a commitment, as part of its reform package under the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, to consult on whether or not we should make water companies statutory consultees on certain planning applications, and if so, how best to do this. It will be important that water companies engage local planning authorities on their applications at the right time so they can input effectively and not slow down the application process.

The approach to managing and avoiding flood risk is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, underpinned by our planning guidance. This applies to all sources of flooding, including from overwhelmed sewers and drainage systems. The Framework expects local planning authorities to plan for the development and infrastructure required in their area, including infrastructure for wastewater and utilities. They should work with other providers, such as sewerage companies, to assess the quality and capacity of infrastructure and its ability to meet forecast demands.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
20th Apr 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government to what extent the Environmental Outcome Reports provided for by the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill will cover site assessments undertaken as part of the planning process for offshore wind farms.

The Government recognise the important role site assessments play in understanding the impact of development and such assessments will fall under the new system of Environmental Outcome Reports (EORs).

An outcomes-based approach will test the acceptability of environmental impacts, with indicators developed to assess how a plan/project supports environmental outcomes set out in in the Environmental Improvement Plan, the Clean Air Strategy, and the UK Marine Strategy. These indicators will measure the expected change due to a plan/project against baseline conditions and wider trend data.

The Bill creates a framework for assessment that can work across the various EIA and SEA regimes - including the nationally significant Infrastructure Planning regime covering offshore wind projects. Further detail will be developed through consultation.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
28th Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what proportion of new residential properties have been constructed within Environment Agency flood zone 3 for the most recent year that data are available, broken down by local planning authority area.

The percentages of new residential addresses created that have been within each of Environment Agency flood zones 3 and 2 in each financial year since 2012-13 are provided below. Figures for 2012-13 are not available on the same basis due to a change in land use change methodology which took effect from 2013-14.

The most recent available percentages of new residential addresses created that have been within Environment Agency flood zone 3, broken down by local authority area are provided in the attached table.

Financial year

Proportion of new residential addresses created within Flood Zone 3 1 (Per cent)

Proportion of new residential addresses created within Flood Zones 2 and 3 2 (Per cent)

2013-14

7

10

2014-15

8

11

2015-16

8

11

2016-17

8

11

2017-18

10

13

2018-19

8

11

2019-20

9

13

2020-21

7

11

2021-22

7

10

Sources:

1 Live table 320: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/land-use-change-statistics-2021-to-2022

2 Using address data used to derive the land use change - new residential address statistics: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/land-use-change-statistics-2021-to-2022

Although National Flood Zone 2 is a stand-alone category, to be practically useful it is generally combined with National Flood Zone 3 to give a complete picture of areas at 0.1% or more risk of flooding in any given year. Therefore figures are provided for National Flood Zones 2 and 3 combined.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
28th Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government how many new residential properties have been constructed within Environment Agency flood zone 3 each year, since the financial year 2012/13.

The percentages of new residential addresses created that have been within each of Environment Agency flood zones 3 and 2 in each financial year since 2012-13 are provided below. Figures for 2012-13 are not available on the same basis due to a change in land use change methodology which took effect from 2013-14.

The most recent available percentages of new residential addresses created that have been within Environment Agency flood zone 3, broken down by local authority area are provided in the attached table.

Financial year

Proportion of new residential addresses created within Flood Zone 3 1 (Per cent)

Proportion of new residential addresses created within Flood Zones 2 and 3 2 (Per cent)

2013-14

7

10

2014-15

8

11

2015-16

8

11

2016-17

8

11

2017-18

10

13

2018-19

8

11

2019-20

9

13

2020-21

7

11

2021-22

7

10

Sources:

1 Live table 320: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/land-use-change-statistics-2021-to-2022

2 Using address data used to derive the land use change - new residential address statistics: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/land-use-change-statistics-2021-to-2022

Although National Flood Zone 2 is a stand-alone category, to be practically useful it is generally combined with National Flood Zone 3 to give a complete picture of areas at 0.1% or more risk of flooding in any given year. Therefore figures are provided for National Flood Zones 2 and 3 combined.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
28th Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government how many new residential properties have been constructed within Environment Agency flood zone 2 each year, since the financial year 2012/13.

The percentages of new residential addresses created that have been within each of Environment Agency flood zones 3 and 2 in each financial year since 2012-13 are provided below. Figures for 2012-13 are not available on the same basis due to a change in land use change methodology which took effect from 2013-14.

The most recent available percentages of new residential addresses created that have been within Environment Agency flood zone 3, broken down by local authority area are provided in the attached table.

Financial year

Proportion of new residential addresses created within Flood Zone 3 1 (Per cent)

Proportion of new residential addresses created within Flood Zones 2 and 3 2 (Per cent)

2013-14

7

10

2014-15

8

11

2015-16

8

11

2016-17

8

11

2017-18

10

13

2018-19

8

11

2019-20

9

13

2020-21

7

11

2021-22

7

10

Sources:

1 Live table 320: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/land-use-change-statistics-2021-to-2022

2 Using address data used to derive the land use change - new residential address statistics: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/land-use-change-statistics-2021-to-2022

Although National Flood Zone 2 is a stand-alone category, to be practically useful it is generally combined with National Flood Zone 3 to give a complete picture of areas at 0.1% or more risk of flooding in any given year. Therefore figures are provided for National Flood Zones 2 and 3 combined.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
16th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government how many (1) one, and (2) two, bedroom homes have been built in (a) urban, and (b) rural, areas in each of the last three years in England.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) publishes annual statistics on the stock of domestic properties in the council taxbase in England which does contain information on the number of bedrooms. These statistics can be found here. This information covers all housing stock, not just newly built properties.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
14th Dec 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what progress they have made using building regulations to improve the energy resilience of properties.

In December 2021, the Government amended Building Regulations to require new buildings, as of June 2022, to meet higher energy efficiency standards. This means that new homes will produce 30% less Carbon Dioxide emissions compared to previous 2013 standards with new non-domestic properties producing 27% less Carbon Dioxide emissions. The amendment also included improvements in the energy efficiency standards required of new and replacement thermal elements, replacement building services, and controlled fittings when undertaking a renovation or extension of an existing building.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
5th Sep 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase (1) energy, and (2) water, efficiency in new housing.

From 2025, the Future Homes Standard will ensure that new homes produce at least 75% fewer CO2 emissions compared to those built to the 2013 standards.

In December 2021 the Government introduced an uplift in energy efficiency standards, which came into force in June 2022. The uplift delivers a meaningful reduction in carbon emissions and provides a stepping-stone to the Future Homes Standard. New homes are now expected to produce around 30% fewer CO2 emissions compared to the previous 2013 standards.

With regard to water, the Government continues to review options regarding improving efficiency and will come forward with further information in due course.

13th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish their Levelling Up white paper.

Levelling up is a transformative agenda and the Department’s priority is to produce a White Paper which matches our ambition, building on existing action we are already taking across Government and setting out a new policy regime that will drive change for years to come.

Work is progressing well and we plan to publish the White Paper in due course.

10th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what provision is currently in place for local councils to meet virtually.

The Department has been considering the responses to the call for evidence on local authority remote meetings and the Government will respond shortly.

16th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Town and Country Planning Association, Planning 2020: Raynsford Review of Planning in England, published in November 2018; and what steps they intend to take in response.

The Government believes that further reform of the planning system is necessary. We will be publishing a planning White Paper in due course, which will aim to make the planning system clearer, more accessible and more certain for all users, including home owners and small businesses. It will also address resourcing and performance in local planning departments and ensure timely decisions are made. It will seek to improve the ways communities can get involved in the planning process, including through the opportunities afforded by new digital methods of engagement.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, what progress they have made in developing a report about the extent to which individuals are protected from domestic abuse when using contact centres in England, as set out in section 83 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

The Government is on track to publish a report about the extent to which individuals, when they are using contact centres in England, are protected from the risk of domestic abuse or, in the case of children, other harm. This will be delivered by April 2023 as set out in section 83 of the Domestic Abuse Act.

10th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much funding they are giving to the National Association of Child Contact Centres; and whether the grant will be for a (1) two year, or (2) three year, period.

Whilst the Government has no overall responsibility for funding child contact centre provision, we are supportive of the work of the National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC) and have provided grant funding since 2013. The formal process of awarding any grant to NACCC from April 2022 has not yet been completed, so we are unable to confirm the amount and period for any future grant.