Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick

Labour - Life peer

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee
8th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th May 2010 - 30th Mar 2015
Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)
6th May 2010 - 30th Mar 2015
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee
23rd Jan 2012 - 30th Mar 2015


Department Event
Wednesday 6th July 2022
Northern Ireland Office
Legislation - Main Chamber
Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill - report stage
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 6th July 2022
13:00
Department Event
Wednesday 13th July 2022
Northern Ireland Office
Legislation - Main Chamber
Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill [HL] - third reading
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Division Votes
Wednesday 27th April 2022
Nationality and Borders Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 35 Labour Aye votes vs 0 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 157 Noes - 212
Speeches
Monday 20th June 2022
Special Educational Needs
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take (1) to increase the Special Educational Needs budget in the …
Written Answers
Friday 1st July 2022
Debts: Developing Countries
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce legislation to limit the ability of private creditors to …
Early Day Motions
Tuesday 18th April 2017
CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING IN HOUSEHOLDS
That this House notes with concern that around 30 people a year still die as a result of carbon monoxide …
Bills
None available
MP Financial Interests
None available
EDM signed
Wednesday 26th April 2017
WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY
That this House welcomes World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2017 as an opportunity to recognise the vital role …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick has voted in 290 divisions, and 2 times against the majority of their Party.

8 Dec 2021 - Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick voted No - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 10 Labour No votes vs 38 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 125 Noes - 162
16 Mar 2022 - Health and Care Bill - View Vote Context
Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick voted No - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 24 Labour No votes vs 51 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 145 Noes - 179
View All Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick 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 Bethell (Conservative)
(41 debate interactions)
Lord Callanan (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
(37 debate interactions)
Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Conservative)
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
(19 debate interactions)
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View all Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick's debates

Commons initiatives

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

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


Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


775 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
24 Other Department Questions
30th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have held at Cabinet level about the adequacy of emergency funding available to support communities affected by flooding.

In the event of a major flood emergency in England the Secretary of State will liaise with Cabinet colleagues in relevant Departments, including Defra, BEIS and Treasury, to consider activation of i) the Bellwin Scheme, which can be used to provide funding to local authorities to cover the costs of immediate flood response work and ii) the Flood Recovery Framework which provides funding towards the costs of flood recovery for businesses and households.

These schemes are well-established mechanisms which can provide timely and effective support to help communities to recover.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding by the Building Research Establishment report The Cost of Poor Housing in England, published 11 November, that "it is costing the NHS some £1.4 billion per year to treat those people who are affected by poor housing".

The Government is committed to ensuring that everyone has a safe home and welcomes this updated research from the Building Research Establishment into the fiscal cost of poor-quality housing. As part of its ongoing work to ensure the quality of housing, the Government is currently reviewing the Decent Homes Standard and Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
26th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent assessment they have made of how the COP26 conference can benefit the people of Northern Ireland.

We are committed to working with Northern Ireland, as well as the other devolved nations, to ensure an inclusive and ambitious Presidency for the whole of the UK. COP26 has helped make sure our recovery from COVID-19 builds a better future – one with green jobs, cleaner air and increasing prosperity.

Through our domestic 'Together for our Planet' campaign we are building awareness and understanding of COP26 across the UK. For example, we ran our Creative Earth art competition in partnership with WWF inviting young people from around the UK to design artwork setting out their vision for the planet. The winning artworks were showcased at COP26, including a design from Alex in Northern Ireland who was the 13-16 age category winner.

We also worked with the devolved administrations to identify 'Together for our Planet Ambassadors' – individuals and organisations across the UK who are taking small steps to protect our planet and inspire wider climate action. One of our Ambassadors is a youth environmentalist, Emer Rafferty from Northern Ireland.

We also encouraged stakeholders from Northern Ireland who would like to be involved in events or showcasing in UKG managed spaces at COP26 to submit bids through an Expression of Interest process. All parts of the UK, including Northern Ireland, have been represented in the Green Zone programme that was published on 1 October.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reform local government finance.

The Spending Review concluded last week, and the Secretary of State has written to all local authority leaders about his plans. The Government will set out the proposed approach to allocating funding in 2022-23 through the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement and will engage further with the sector on wider reforms to be implemented in subsequent years.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
20th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effects on high street businesses of the extensions of Permitted Development Rights to allow the conversion of commercial premises to residential premises on high streets.

We aim to publish an Impact Assessment on the measures as soon as possible and in accordance with the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
20th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to seek locally-led proposals for local government reorganisation.

The Government’s approach is that locally led local government reorganisation is an option for areas where there is strong support for this and it remains the case that councils in such areas may seek an invitation to submit proposals for new unitary structures.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
20th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to enable local government representatives to conduct business virtually.

We launched a call for evidence on 25 March to gather views and inform a longer-term decision about whether to make express provision for councils to meet remotely on a permanent basis. The call for evidence closed on 17 June.

The Department is reviewing the responses to the consultation and the Government will respond in due course.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
13th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to improve building safety.

The Building Safety Bill was introduced on 5 July 2021 and began Public Committee on 9 September. Alongside the Fire Safety Act, the Building Safety Bill implements the key recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety and will drive the regulatory, cultural and behavioural changes needed to make sure people are safe in their homes and that residents are at the heart of the new, robust system.

The Bill will strengthen the regulatory system for the built environment based upon the principles of safety and proportionality. It will make sure there is greater accountability and responsibility for fire and structural safety issues throughout the lifecycle of higher-risk buildings within the scope of a more stringent regime. The Bill also paves the way for a National Regulator for Construction Products with a UK wide remit to enforce the law, encourage good practice and educate the industry.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
13th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support public participation in the planning process.

We have given many communities direct power to shape the development of their areas through neighbourhood planning, and we have invested £31million supporting local communities to get over 1000 neighbourhood plans in place. The National Model Design Code, published in July, shows how design codes based on genuine community involvement can let local people have a real say in the design of new homes and neighbourhoods.

Looking beyond this, we are considering the next steps for planning reform, and will announce our next steps on this in due course.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
13th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase the supply of affordable housing.

The Government is committed to increasing the supply of affordable housing and are investing over £12 billion in affordable housing over 5 years, the largest investment in affordable housing in a decade

This includes the new £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme (AHP), which will provide up to 180,000 new homes across the country, should economic conditions allow. We’re committed to delivering affordable homes of a variety of tenures so that we can support a range of people in different circumstances and stages in their lives.

Since 2010, we’ve delivered over 542,400 new affordable homes, including over 382,300 affordable homes for rent, of which over 149,400 homes are for social rent. The new Affordable Homes Programme will deliver more than double the social rent than the current programme, with around 32,000 social rent homes due to be delivered.

Approximately half of the homes delivered will be for affordable home ownership, supporting aspiring homeowners to take their first step on to the housing ladder. As part of this new programme, in August 2021 we announced a £8.6 billion funding package to build 119,000 affordable homes to boost home ownership and build the homes the country needs.

Nearly 90 partnerships across England, including councils, housing associations and private providers, successfully bid for a share of the cash. Supporting our levelling up agenda, nearly £5.2 billion of this will be spent outside of London and 75% of the 119,000 new homes will be built outside London.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
13th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support people at risk of homelessness.

The Government is committed to ending rough sleeping and preventing homelessness.

The Homelessness Reduction Act, the most ambitious reform to homelessness legislation in decades, came into force in April 2018. It places duties on local housing authorities to take reasonable steps to try to prevent and relieve a person's homelessness. For the first time, local authorities and other public bodies must work together to prevent homelessness for people at risk.

Acting earlier and for a broader range of people means more people will get the help they need before they face a homelessness crisis. Since the Act came into force, over 375,000 households have had their homelessness successfully prevented or relieved through securing accommodation for more than 6 months.

We have provided local authorities with £375 million this year through the Homelessness Prevention Grant (HPG), which represents a £112 million increase on the previous year's funding, to give them the funding they need to prevent homelessness and help more people sooner. This includes an exceptional top up to the HPG for this financial year with an additional £65 million for local authorities to help vulnerable households with rent arrears to reduce the risk of them being evicted and becoming homeless. This is part of more than £750 million being spent on tackling homelessness and rough sleeping in 2021/22.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
11th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the security of tenants in the private rented sector, in particular those affected by (1) the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and (2) the reduction in Universal Credit payments.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Universal Credit uplift were important elements of the wider package of support measures introduced by the Government during the pandemic. These measures have effectively prevented a widespread build-up of rent arrears and prevented evictions, by supporting private renters to continue paying their rent.

This is evidenced by the latest published data from the English Housing Survey Household Resilience Study from April – May 2021, which suggested that the vast majority (93%) of private renters are up to date with their rent. Of the 7% (257,000 households) in arrears, 60% are in arrears of less than 1 month.

In 2020/21, there was over a 40% reduction in households owed a homelessness duty following the end of an assured shorthold tenancy, compared with 2019/20.

As emergency measures are lifted, support remains in place for renters through the welfare system. This includes maintained Local Housing Allowance rates at their increased level in cash terms for 2021/22, and for those who need additional support £140m in Discretionary Housing Payments funding, and the new £500 million Household Support Fund.

As our recovery gathers pace, the government is continuing to help people into work and increase their earning potential – the most sustainable route to financial security. We are investing billions through our Plan for Jobs and the Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

We will continue to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 upon renters and are committed to delivering a fairer and more effective rental market that works for both tenants and landlords. This includes repealing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to improve security for tenants. We will set out our proposals for reform in due course.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
11th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to establish interest free, government-guaranteed hardship loans to support housing tenants with debts incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK Government has provided an unprecedented package of financial support which is available to tenants.

We have targeted our interventions as non-repayable forms of support, which offer a sustainable form of support for vulnerable renters, and do not encourage more debt.

As emergency measures are lifted, support continues to be in place for renters through the welfare system. Local housing allowance rates have been maintained at their increased level in cash terms in 2021/22, meaning claimants renting in the private rented sector continue to benefit from the significant increase in the local housing allowance rates applied in April 2020. For those who require additional support, Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) are available. For 2021-22 the Government has made £140 million available in DHP funding, building on the £180m provided last year.

The Government has also introduced a new £500 million Household Support Fund which will support millions of households in England who need it most, including for example to meet daily needs such as food, clothing and utilities. Households will continue to benefit from the energy price cap and increases in the National Living Wage.

As our recovery gathers pace, the government is continuing to help people into work and increase their earning potential – the most sustainable route to financial security. We’re investing billions through our Plan for Jobs and the Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

We continue to monitor the effectiveness of other examples of support, such as those from the devolved administrations in the UK, and note that uptake for loan support has been relatively low in Scotland and Wales.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take to mobilise public and private climate finance ahead of COP26.

The UK Presidency is pushing developed countries to significantly increase their financial commitments for mitigation, adaptation and nature for developing countries and to align global financial flows with the Paris Agreement. This includes setting out a $100 billion delivery plan to be taken forward by Canada and Germany to demonstrate how developed countries are mobilising $100 billion a year.

Public finance will work in tandem with private finance and be used to mobilise far greater sums of private finance. The UK Presidency is working with other donors and multilateral development banks in collaboration with governments, to promote and support a range of targeted initiatives that tackle barriers to and promote investment into developing countries; such as supporting new market structures, improving policy environments, de-risking investments and creating incentives for deal flow. In April 2021 we founded GFANZ, the Glasgow Finance Alliance for Net Zero which accelerates the implementation of net zero commitments and mobilises capital to climate solutions. There are currently over 250 member firms from over 30 countries, representing assets of more than US$88 trillion.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to prepare for COP26 in November.

COP26 is an event of global importance where the world must work together to secure a comprehensive and ambitious set of outcomes that accelerate climate action and get the world on track to a 1.5 degree pathway. This includes finalising the Paris Rulebook, supporting the full implementation of the Paris Agreement and addressing the gaps on ambition in reducing emissions this decade, mobilising finance, and adapting to our changing world.

COP26 logistical preparations are well established and we have a robust governance structure, involving close cooperation between Scottish, wider UK and international partners to ensure we host a safe and secure event that meets our objectives. Our preparations include a thorough risk assessment and mitigation plan along with a robust testing and exercise programme.

In terms of COVID, the COP26 unit has been working closely with public health officials, the Scottish Government, the WHO, the UNFCCC and all our partners to create a comprehensive set of COVID mitigations to ensure preparedness for the conference - the safety of participants and the local population is at the heart of all our planning. This includes a specific test, trace and protect regime, social distancing, enhanced ventilation, face coverings and vaccinations.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take to ensure that sufficient progress is made on strengthening climate adaptation and resilience ahead of COP26.

Driving progress to support vulnerable communities and ecosystems, adapt to climate impacts and build resilience to long term risks is a top priority for the UK’s COP26 Presidency. We are working with countries, civil society, businesses and local communities to deliver effective, inclusive adaptation action and to harness the vital power of nature in minimising climate risk.

We are focussed on improving preparedness for climate-related disasters, through a focus on enhanced early warning and early action systems; and supporting national adaptation planning - including a push for countries to publish an Adaptation Communication ahead of COP26 to outline current progress and needs. We are working to mobilise and advance adaptation action across all scales, through parties and non-state actors - including increased support to enable further locally-led adaptation. We are also working to increase the availability, efficiency and accessibility of adaptation and disaster risk finance from public and private sources - including through the Taskforce on Access to finance that was launched by the UK and Fiji at the Climate and Development Ministerial earlier this year.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have for public engagement on climate change mitigations ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in October–November.

Ahead of COP26 we have launched the Together for our Planet campaign to engage the public in the run-up to COP26 and celebrate the work people across the UK are doing to combat climate change. The campaign aims to drive awareness and create opportunities for people across the UK to participate in the run-up to COP26.

The Together for our Planet campaign is building momentum in the lead up to COP26 by showcasing how people across the UK are going One Step Greener to tackle climate change. Our One Step Greener ‘Climate Leaders’ will show how much inspirational action on climate change is already taking place.

As Presidency, we are committed to securing an outcome that respects and reflects the interests of all Parties, including those most impacted by climate change. We want to work with civil society to amplify the voices of those on the front line of climate change to deliver a truly ‘all of society’ and inclusive COP. Civil society organisations, with their links to on-the-ground communities and practitioners, are agents of change and their knowledge and leadership is necessary to deliver effective local solutions.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made on preparations for COP26.

Planning for COP26 is progressing in all areas and we are continuing to work closely with the venues and our delivery partners to ensure that we deliver the facilities and logistics needed for the event, in line with the requirements outlined by the UNFCCC.

Alongside summit preparations, the COP26 President, ministers and senior officials have been engaging with a wide range of UK and international partners.

Last month, COP President Designate Alok Sharma initiated a comprehensive round of consultations with the chairs of all UNFCCC negotiating groups to complement his ongoing informal engagement with international partners – which has included trips to Gabon, Ethiopia, Egypt and Nigeria already this year. And we continue to engage our international partners extensively at a technical level, as well as through our diplomatic network around the world.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to work with trade unions in the global south on addressing climate change ahead of COP26.

The UK is committed to delivering an ambitious and inclusive COP26. We know that approaching our Presidency in a fair, inclusive and balanced way will lead to the most sustainable outcomes.

We will champion inclusivity throughout our COP Presidency and use our position as Presidency to empower and amplify the voices of those whose views are often most marginalised, addressing their needs and priorities in the run up to, and at the COP itself.

We are working with a diverse group of Friends of COP, leading figures from around the world who are sharing their expertise in support of a successful summit. This includes Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation. We are also engaging regularly with the UNFCCC constituency focal points, which include the Trade Union non-governmental organisations.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 on trans people.

We want transgender people to be free to live and to prosper in modern Britain. We have looked carefully at the issues raised in the consultation, including the impact of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 on trans people. It is the Government’s view that the balance struck in this legislation is correct, in that there are proper checks and balances in the system and also support for people who want to change their legal sex.

We will make the gender recognition certificate process kinder and more straightforward. We will cut bureaucracy by enabling applications via gov.uk and will reduce the fee from £140 to a nominal amount. We know from our research that improving healthcare support is a priority for transgender people. That’s why three gender clinics will become operational this year, which should see waiting lists cut by around 1,600 patients by 2022 and why the GEO is providing funding for Dr Michael Brady, the UK’s National LGBT Health Advisor, and working with him and the NHS to improve transgender people’s experience.

29th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to tackle race inequality in the workplace.

The Government’s Race Disparity Audit (RDA) and its website, Ethnicity Facts and Figures, was launched in October 2017. The website is world first and has been welcomed internationally for its open and data-driven approach to highlighting inequalities of outcomes.

In response to its findings, Government has taken action to increase diversity in employment.

This includes launching the Race at Work Charter which aims to increase ethnic minority representation in all sectors, and providing targeted employment support in twenty areas around the country with high rates of ethnic minority unemployment to boost earning potential.

In 2018/19, the Government consulted on options for exploring possibilities for employer- level ethnicity pay reporting. Following the consultation, Government met with businesses and representative organisations to understand the barriers to reporting. The Government is continuing to analyse this data and is committed to responding to the consultation by the end of the year.

In addition, this year the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities was established and is examining all aspects of continuing racial and ethnic disparities in Britain. It is building on the work of the Race Disparity Unit. The Commission is carrying out a deeper examination of what the causes of these disparities are, and is seeking to establish what works to address them effectively, including in employment and enterprise.

28th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the Public Sector Equality Duty in respect of (1) undertaking, and (2) publishing, Equality Impact Assessments on Government policies.

The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) is a world leading policy that places a proactive equality duty on public bodies, and those exercising public functions, to consider the potential effects of key decisions on groups with protected characteristics. Government departments are each individually responsible for ensuring their compliance with the PSED.

Assessments of significant policy and operational changes are routinely undertaken by Departments and other public bodies as part of PSED compliance. There is however no statutory requirement to publish assessments and decisions on publication are a matter for the public body concerned, given the particular circumstances.

28th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on BAME communities.

The Government has implemented significant measures to reduce the spread of the virus in all communities, especially for people who may be at higher risk. This includes ensuring that those in high-contact professions get targeted testing and translating key public health messages into different languages.

The Minister for Equalities, Kemi Badenoch MP, is also leading cross-government work on the findings of the Public Health England Report “COVID-19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes”. This includes reviewing the effectiveness and impact of current actions being undertaken by government departments and their agencies to directly lessen disparities in infection and death rates of COVID-19. She will shortly be submitting her first quarterly report to the Prime Minister updating him on progress with this work.

7th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to increase the number of prosecutions for offences relating to violence against women and girls.

Tackling offending against women and girls is a priority for this Government, as shown by the introduction of the landmark Domestic Abuse (DA) Act.

The CPS is working hard to deliver justice and protect the public and has recently published an ambitious 12-month domestic abuse programme to help narrow the disparity between reporting and criminal justice outcomes.

Rape and serious sexual offences can also disproportionately affect women and girls. The CPS is committed to securing justice in every possible rape case, which means significantly increasing the number they bring to court, year on year. It is improving collaboration with police and other partners to take an offender-centric approach to building these cases, expanding its specialist RASSO units and improving the support it gives rape victims.

The Ministry of Justice are investing £27m to create 700 new posts for Independent Domestic Violence Advisors and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors, and that figure will increase to 1000 by the end of 2024/2025. In order to support victims throughout the criminal justice process.

Lord Stewart of Dirleton
Advocate General for Scotland
7th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the Crown Prosecution Service in ensuring access to justice for victims of crime.

Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) is currently conducting a programme of CPS Area specific inspections to assess casework quality and treatment of victims and witnesses. These inspections have recognised some good work in what continues to be a very challenging environment. The CPS recognise that they still need to improve on their work with victims and witnesses and have commissioned a significant piece of research to better understand victims’ needs. The findings of this research will be used to inform their future work on improving communications with victims.

The CPS will also apply for special measures available to assist victims and witnesses to give their best evidence, this includes the use of court appointed intermediaries, screens and in certain cases pre-recording a victim’s evidence.

Lord Stewart of Dirleton
Advocate General for Scotland
7th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that they act in accordance with the rule of law.

The freedoms and protections that we all enjoy rely on the rule of law. This is an important constitutional principle which this Government takes extremely seriously and which demands: equality under the law; access to independent and impartial justice; government subject to the law; law that is clear and certain.

The Law Officers have a particular role in respect of upholding the rule of law. I, and my fellow Law Officers, take that responsibility very seriously whenever we are called upon to provide advice.

Lord Stewart of Dirleton
Advocate General for Scotland
7th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to improve the (1) effectiveness, and (2) efficiency, of the (a) Serious Fraud Office, and (b) Crown Prosecution Service, in tackling (i) fraud, and (ii) economic crime.

We are determined to make the UK a more hostile environment for all forms of economic crime – including fraud. As prosecuting agencies, both the CPS and SFO play a critical role in this aim and continue to deliver strong operational results.

We have strengthened our fight against economic crime through publication of a landmark Economic Crime Plan in July 2019, which brings together government, law enforcement and the private sector. We are making measurable progress in delivering the Economic Crime Plan with 34 of the actions complete and work well advanced on the remaining 18.

In 2020-21, the CPS prosecuted over 6,500 defendants for Fraud with an 85.6% conviction rate. The SFO successfully secured orders requiring the payment by defendants of almost £1.3 billion to the taxpayer over the past five years.

Lord Stewart of Dirleton
Advocate General for Scotland
11th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of the number of police referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Government has committed to publish quarterly criminal justice scorecards which bring together data from across the system on key areas of performance including police referrals. This will allow us to identify problem areas and take a cross-system response to dips in performance. We have a number of measures to monitor different aspects of police referrals to the CPS so that we can identify where in the process issues are occurring. The first national scorecards were published in early December and can be found here: https://data.justice.gov.uk/cjs-scorecard-all-crime.

Lord Stewart of Dirleton
Advocate General for Scotland
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to improve the rate at which perpetrators of crime are charged in the criminal justice system.

The decision to charge suspects in England and Wales with criminal offences is made either by the police or by the CPS depending on the nature of the offence involved. The CPS make the decision to charge in serious cases but over the last five years the police have made the charging decision in 61% to 63% of the cases that are prosecuted by the CPS. In cases in which the CPS make the decision to charge, the CPS had a charging rate of between 74.5% and 77.7% over the last five years.

While the police and other investigators are responsible for conducting inquiries into any alleged crime and gathering evidence to inform a charging decision, prosecutors work closely with police during the investigation stage to assist with the building of strong cases. The recently introduced Director of Public Prosecution’s Guidance on Charging 6th Edition (DG6) supports this work to ensure cases are robustly prepared by police and prosecutors pre-charge.

This reflects aspects of the revised Attorney General’s Guidelines on Disclosure; both came into effect in England and Wales on the 31 December 2020.

Lord Stewart of Dirleton
Advocate General for Scotland
30th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent steps they have taken, together with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, to help prevent disruption at UK ports during the Christmas 2021 period.

The Government has engaged extensively with ports and carriers to ensure they are ready for the end of staged customs controls. We are confident that arrangements are in place to ensure the continued flow of trade over the Christmas period.

​The Government has invested £470 million for new infrastructure to carry out customs and biosecurity checks, including £200 million Port Infrastructure Fund grants for ports to build infrastructure onsite and £270 million for Inland Sites.

12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Common Frameworks scrutiny process; and what is the expected date for completion of the (1) examination, and (2) final publication, of all Frameworks.

Parliamentary scrutiny is a key stage in the delivery of a Common Framework; Government officials remain in regular contact with relevant Parliamentary committees about this matter. The Government anticipates that frameworks will be made available for Parliamentary scrutiny in the Autumn and that the Devolved Administrations will follow a broadly similar timetable. The Government and the Devolved Administrations are committed to delivering Common Frameworks by the end of 2021. Following this, Common Frameworks will be kept under periodic review.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have for further discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive regarding the need to complete their scrutiny of the outstanding Common Frameworks.

The majority of Common Frameworks intersect with the policy areas covered in Northern Ireland Protocol. Common Frameworks contain the governance structures needed to manage divergence arising as a consequence of new or amended EU law applied through the Protocol. Reporting on any divergence arising from the Protocol will be a matter for the relevant Common Framework-owning departments and their Devolved Administration counterparts to consider.

The Northern Ireland Executive has provided provisional confirmation for 21 Common Frameworks. Of the remaining 32 active areas in which a Common Framework is required, 28 Common Frameworks have now been provisionally confirmed and one has been fully implemented. Once sufficiently progressed, the Northern Ireland Executive will be sharing their Frameworks with the Northern Ireland Assembly to allow for Parliamentary Scrutiny in the same way colleagues across the UK Government will be sharing the provisionally confirmed Frameworks with the UK Parliament.

12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in relation to the Common Frameworks programme, what plans they have to support measures on reporting policy divergence between Great Britain and Northern Ireland through the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

The majority of Common Frameworks intersect with the policy areas covered in Northern Ireland Protocol. Common Frameworks contain the governance structures needed to manage divergence arising as a consequence of new or amended EU law applied through the Protocol. Reporting on any divergence arising from the Protocol will be a matter for the relevant Common Framework-owning departments and their Devolved Administration counterparts to consider.

The Northern Ireland Executive has provided provisional confirmation for 21 Common Frameworks. Of the remaining 32 active areas in which a Common Framework is required, 28 Common Frameworks have now been provisionally confirmed and one has been fully implemented. Once sufficiently progressed, the Northern Ireland Executive will be sharing their Frameworks with the Northern Ireland Assembly to allow for Parliamentary Scrutiny in the same way colleagues across the UK Government will be sharing the provisionally confirmed Frameworks with the UK Parliament.

15th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of (1) exports from the UK to the EU, and (2) imports from the EU to the UK, since 1 January.

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

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick

House of Lords

London

SW1A 0PW

Dear Lady Ritchie,

As National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, I am responding to your Parliamentary Question asking what assessment has been made on the level of (1) exports from the UK to the EU, and (2) imports from the EU to the UK, since 1 January (HL14230).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publish monthly trade statistics[1]. The latest official estimates are for January 2021, the first month since the end of the UK’s transition period with the European Union (EU). It should be noted that monthly data are erratic and small movements in these series should be treated with caution. There were also a number of atypical economic and global factors[2] contributing to the falls seen in the January data, so it is too soon to draw conclusions from the data.

Data on exports of goods from the UK to the EU and imports of goods to the UK from the EU can be found in Table 1 below. Please note that data are in current prices and, as such, include the effect of inflation.

Services data for January 2021 are not currently available at a geographical level.

Table 1: UK Imports and exports of goods with EU excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals, in £ billion, seasonally adjusted

Exports

Imports

December 2020 Value (£bn)

13.7

22.8

January 2021 Value (£bn)

8.1

16.2

Change (£bn)

-5.6

-6.6

% change

-40.7%

-28.8%

Source: ONS

Yours sincerely,

Professor Sir Ian Diamond

[1]https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/balanceofpayments/bulletins/uktrade/january2021

[2]https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/balanceofpayments/articles/impactofthecoronavirusandeuexitonthecollectionandcompilationofuktradestatistics/2021-03-08

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government on which days between 1 January to date the UK–EU Joint Working Consultative Committee has met to discuss the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland; and what issues were discussed at those meetings.

The Joint Consultative Working Group briefly convened for a very short period on 29 January to adopt the Rules of Procedure. This was not a full meeting so was attended by limited delegations of only three officials from each side.

The Working Group will continue to meet at dates decided by the co-chairs.

8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many meetings of the Joint Working Consultative Committee have taken place between the UK and the EU to discuss the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

The Joint Consultative Working Group briefly convened for a very short period on 29 January to adopt the Rules of Procedure. This was not a full meeting so was attended by limited delegations of only three officials from each side.

The Working Group will continue to meet at dates decided by the co-chairs.

8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the operation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

There have been challenges in the operation of the Protocol since the beginning of the year but the invocation of Article 16 on 29 January compounded those issues and undermined confidence across Northern Ireland.

Urgent progress is required to address outstanding concerns about the Protocol and restore confidence on the ground in Northern Ireland. Our discussions continue in the Joint Committee framework to take that forward. To provide space for those discussions without the threat of significant disruption for day-to-day lives in Northern Ireland, last week the Government set out several temporary operational measures to provide more time for businesses, such as supermarkets and their suppliers, to adapt to new requirements. These measures are lawful as part of a progressive and good faith implementation of the Protocol.

4th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the existing flexibilities and procedures for problem solving contained within the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, in relation to trading matters between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

As set out in our Command Papers, the UK Government has, at all times, taken forward a pragmatic and proportionate approach, drawing upon all available flexibilities to implement the Protocol without causing undue disruption to lives and livelihoods.

The EU’s actions on 29 January, however, profoundly undermined the operation of the Protocol and cross-community confidence in it. That is why it is now urgent for work to be taken forward to address all outstanding issues, to reassure all parties in Northern Ireland. The letter sent to Vice-President Sefcovic by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, on 2 February, sets out the baseline set of issues that the UK Government consider must be addressed in this regard. The Joint Committee co-chairs met again on 11 February as part of this work.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what has been the total number of commercial vehicles which have entered Northern Ireland via its sea ports from Great Britain since 1 January; how many of these vehicles have been subject to inspection under the terms of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland; and what has been the average time taken for each inspection.

Further to the statement I made, and the answer given by my Right Honourable Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy Lancaster, goods are moving effectively between GB and NI and there are no significant queues at NI ports. Freight levels arriving into and leaving Northern Ireland ports are now close to, or at, normal pre-Christmas levels.

The UK Government is working closely with the Northern Ireland Executive on the operationalisation of the requirements of the Protocol.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that the local elections due to be held in May 2021 are COVID-19-secure.

The Government is working with the electoral sector and Public Health England to identify and resolve challenges involved in delivering the May 2021 elections, including ensuring polling stations are safe and covid-secure places to vote. People will be able to participate in the polls safely and in a way of their choice, whether by post, proxy or in-person.

This was outlined in the Minister of State for the Constitution and Devolution’s letter to Electoral Returning Officers, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/letter-from-chloe-smith-mp-to-returning-officers

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the potential impact of introducing mandatory voter ID on the Traveller and Roma communities’ ability to vote.

Requiring proof of identity to vote in a polling station will strengthen the integrity of our electoral system, and give the public confidence that our elections are secure and fit for the 21st century.

We will continue to work with the Electoral Commission, charities and civil society organisations, including those that represent Traveller and Roma communities, to make sure that reforms are delivered in a way that is inclusive for all voters.

As the legislation is brought forward the appropriate impact assessments will be provided for Parliament in the normal way.

Showing ID is something people of all backgrounds already do every day, for example, to take out a library book, claim benefits or pick up a parcel from the post office. Proving who you are before you make a decision of huge importance at the ballot box should be no different.

The list of approved photographic ID will not be limited to passports and driving licences, a broad range of commonly held photographic documents will be accepted. For any voter who does not have one of the required forms of photographic ID, a local elector ID will be available, free of charge, from their local authority. Everyone who is eligible to vote will have the opportunity to do so.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the accessibility of voting for blind and partially sighted people.

The Government is committed to ensuring that elections are accessible for all those eligible to vote and has been working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to improve the voting process for blind and partially sighted people.

At the 2019 General Election, the Government encouraged Returning Officers to support voters with sight loss to use their own, familiar equipment, such as smartphones, with specially designed apps for reading documents, or video magnifiers to help them cast their vote. This was publicised by partner organisations such as the RNIB and supported the voting experience of people with sight loss. The Government has also worked with relevant organisations, such as the Electoral Commission, to improve disability related training for polling station staff.

We will continue to test further proposed interventions to improve accessibility for future elections.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the UK’s preparedness for the end of the transition period for the UK's departure from the EU.

We have been making significant preparations for the end of the transition period, and have been urging businesses and citizens to do the same, with the Government supporting them to do so.

The key actions that businesses and citizens need to take before the end of the Transition Period are set out on GOV.UK/transition which contains advice on a wide range of subjects.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the value for money of the use of management consultants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working effectively with the private sector is a vital part of our response to tackling the covid-19 crisis, allowing us to procure quickly and innovatively and to obtain specialist solutions to the myriad challenges that are facing us. The private sector is responsible for the miracle of vaccines being available in record time.

We have always made it clear that contracting authorities must use good commercial judgment and continue to achieve value for money for taxpayers, and we have engaged in both internal and external audit to satisfy ourselves that that has been the case.

Through “The Outsourcing Playbook” we are also improving the decision making and quality of contracts that the Government place with industry, and we are building our internal civil service capability, as we believe it is important that we invest in our in-house capacity and expertise so that we rely less on external consultants and contractors

We recognise the important role that Government suppliers have played supporting the Government’s Covid-19 efforts in addition to delivering on their existing public sector contracts.The safety of all staff is paramount, and all suppliers must adhere to Health and Safety legislation, as well as specific departmental policy when staff are working at Government sites.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of their outsourcing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working effectively with the private sector is a vital part of our response to tackling the covid-19 crisis, allowing us to procure quickly and innovatively and to obtain specialist solutions to the myriad challenges that are facing us. The private sector is responsible for the miracle of vaccines being available in record time.

We have always made it clear that contracting authorities must use good commercial judgment and continue to achieve value for money for taxpayers, and we have engaged in both internal and external audit to satisfy ourselves that that has been the case.

Through “The Outsourcing Playbook” we are also improving the decision making and quality of contracts that the Government place with industry, and we are building our internal civil service capability, as we believe it is important that we invest in our in-house capacity and expertise so that we rely less on external consultants and contractors

We recognise the important role that Government suppliers have played supporting the Government’s Covid-19 efforts in addition to delivering on their existing public sector contracts.The safety of all staff is paramount, and all suppliers must adhere to Health and Safety legislation, as well as specific departmental policy when staff are working at Government sites.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with those private companies which provide services to Government about (1) employment practices, and (2) the safety of their staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working effectively with the private sector is a vital part of our response to tackling the covid-19 crisis, allowing us to procure quickly and innovatively and to obtain specialist solutions to the myriad challenges that are facing us. The private sector is responsible for the miracle of vaccines being available in record time.

We have always made it clear that contracting authorities must use good commercial judgment and continue to achieve value for money for taxpayers, and we have engaged in both internal and external audit to satisfy ourselves that that has been the case.

Through “The Outsourcing Playbook” we are also improving the decision making and quality of contracts that the Government place with industry, and we are building our internal civil service capability, as we believe it is important that we invest in our in-house capacity and expertise so that we rely less on external consultants and contractors

We recognise the important role that Government suppliers have played supporting the Government’s Covid-19 efforts in addition to delivering on their existing public sector contracts.The safety of all staff is paramount, and all suppliers must adhere to Health and Safety legislation, as well as specific departmental policy when staff are working at Government sites.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
10th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of the UK’s preparedness for the end of the transition period following the UK's departure from the EU.

We have been making significant preparations for the end of the transition period, and have been urging businesses and citizens to do the same, with the Government supporting them to do so.

The key actions that businesses and citizens need to take before the end of the Transition Period are set out on GOV.UK/transition which contains advice on a wide range of subjects.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with the Northern Ireland Executive regarding their approach to implementing the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill.

We have been working closely with the Northern Ireland Executive as implementation work proceeds, including in relation to agrifood movements into Northern Ireland, and where discussions with the EU have concerned devolved issues. The Northern Ireland Executive has also been closely involved in the work of the Northern Ireland Secretary’s Business Engagement Forum. Ministers from the Northern Ireland Executive have attended meetings of the Joint Committee. This close working will continue to the end of the transition period and beyond.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
20th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent assessment they have made of the risk of Russian interference in UK democratic processes; and what steps they are taking to enable the rapid publication of the report by the Intelligence and Security Committee Russia, sent to the Prime Minister on 17 October 2019.

The Intelligence and Security Committee published its Russia Report on 21 July 2020. The Government published its response to the report on the same day.

I refer the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement made on 16 July 2020 by the Foreign Secretary, which was repeated in this House (HLWS376).

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of their preparations for the end of the transition period for the UK's departure from the EU.

The Government is working to ensure the UK is prepared for the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. We recently announced a significant investment in ports and borders infrastructure. We have also launched a major new campaign to communicate the steps we must all take to prepare for the end of the transition period. Details are available at gov.uk/transition.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that the outcome of UK–EU negotiations on arrangements after the transition period for the UK's departure from the EU will not be detrimental to the UK’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leaving the EU means we will be able to design our own rules, in our best interests, including regarding how we manage our response to crises like the covid-19 pandemic. For example, we will have greater control over our laws, our borders and our economy. The UK Government will of course continue to cooperate closely with the EU and its member states, alongside other international partners.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the new National Security Adviser being a political appointee on his ability to carry out the full functions of that role.

As with previous National Security Advisers, David Frost will be the principal adviser to the Prime Minister and Cabinet on national security strategy, policy, capability and civil contingencies. I refer the noble Lady to the statement I made on 30 June 2020.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the size of the civil service workforce on their ability to implement policies; and what plans are in place to mitigate any potential reduction of that workforce.

This Government was elected with an ambitious agenda. The Government keeps resourcing for the Civil Service continually under review, to ensure it has the resources to deliver Government priorities as we recover from COVID-19.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
13th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure transparency regarding any conflicts of interest in matters relating to public procurement.

Regulation 24 of the Public Contract Regulations 2015 requires contracting authorities to take appropriate measures on conflicts of interest arising in the conduct of procurement procedures. In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not normally disclosed.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
13th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what cross-Departmental discussions they have had about ensuring the transparency of their contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regulation 24 of the Public Contract Regulations 2015 requires contracting authorities to take appropriate measures on conflicts of interest arising in the conduct of procurement procedures. In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not normally disclosed.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
1st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are providing to veterans of the armed forces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government continues to provide a full range of support services for veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic, with appropriate adjustments to those services to take into account the requirement for social distancing and to keep people safe.

This support has included NHS mental and physical health support, access to Veterans UK services including its welfare and transition services and a helpline telephone call back service and support for those veterans within the criminal justice system. In addition to this, the Government has continued to take further steps to support the Armed Forces community, including improved access to social housing and a £6m COVID-19 fund which has provided grants to 100 Service sector charities, including veterans’ care and residential settings.

Government continues to work to ensure any new or changed support needs as a result of COVID-19 are identified and can be met. The Office for Veterans’ Affairs has funded a new study with the King’s Centre for Military Health Research, part of King’s College London, exploring the impact of COVID-19 on veterans. This study will provide evidence about the impact of the pandemic on the veterans community and ensure any specific needs or impacts can be addressed.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
29th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) when the next meeting of the British-Irish Council will take place; and (2) what will be the subjects for discussion.

The 34th British-Irish Council Heads of Administration Summit was due to take place in June 2020 hosted by the Scottish Government. In light of the unprecedented circumstances created by the Covid-19 situation, which has affected all eight of the Council’s Member Administrations, the Summit was postponed.

It is anticipated that the next summit will take place in late 2020, in keeping with the usual pattern. Discussions between the member administrations on the agenda, theme and form are ongoing. Arrangements will be informed by the latest public health advice at the time.

UK Government officials continue to remain active in progressing the work of the Council through remote working and virtual meetings across the 11 work sectors.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had, and with whom, about the steps the Race Disparity Unit is taking to help tackle racial injustices in society.

In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not normally disclosed. Ministerial meetings with external individuals and organisations are published and available on GOV.UK.

The Race Disparity Unit (RDU) continues to collect and publish data and analysis about variances in treatment or outcome affecting people of different ethnicities.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ensure that civil servants in public-facing roles are able to work safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For civil servants whose roles require them to be in the workplace, advice has been provided to support them in line with the government guidance on safer working during covid-19.

Departments are working closely with individual employees to take into account their personal circumstances.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk to BAME (1) civil servants, and (2) contracted workers in Government departments, of (a) contracting, and (b) spreading, COVID-19.

Government advice remains that people should work from home where possible.

For civil servants whose roles require them to be in the workplace, advice has also been provided to support them in line with the government guidance on safer working during covid-19. In addition, a Workplace Incident Framework, developed with trade unions, sets out the activity that must take place when an individual develops Covid-19 specific to their employees, including for public-facing roles, in line with BEIS guidance and through close working with NHS England and Public Health England.

Departments are working closely with individuals to ensure their personal circumstances are fully factored into decisions about their working arrangements. This includes supporting ethnic minority individuals based on their particular circumstances and ensuring they have the right to challenge a proposed return to the workplace if they have concerns, to have those concerns properly considered and addressed and to not return where they feel this has not been done.

Measures to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading covid-19 for temporary agency workers have been put in place, including a payment scheme to support the pay of temporary agency workers who cannot work for reasons associated with covid-19 (up to the value of 80% of their salary to a cap of £2,500 per month) and the use of virtual pre-employment screening checks and interviews.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the annual canvass produces an (1) comprehensive, and (2) accurate, record of the electorate in England.

The Representation of the People (Annual Canvass) (Amendment) Regulations 2019, made in October 2019, introduced comprehensive reform to the annual canvass. Canvass Reform has provided Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) with greater flexibility to target their resources in a way which best suits their local area, while at the same time reducing their overall administrative burden. The reforms also make the canvass more effective for citizens, as the initial data matching step means that many will no longer have to respond to the canvass each year.

Ensuring that the electoral register is both accurate and complete is the legislative responsibility of EROs and the Government is supporting EROs to be able to meet this requirement. Preparations to undertake the 2020 Annual Canvass under the reformed system are well underway and Cabinet Office officials have ensured a comprehensive package of training has been provided and direct support is in place.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, and to provide additional flexibility to EROs, the Government is also introducing legislation this summer to extend the publication date of the annual register from December 2020 to February 2021. This will provide EROs with greater flexibility and further time to produce a comprehensive and accurate record of the electorate.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the potential merits of extending voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds in England.

The Government was elected on a manifesto commitment to retain the current franchise at 18 and therefore has no plans to extend voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds in England.

The Government continues to believe that the voting age should remain aligned with the age of majority, at 18. This is the point at which many other key rights and obligations as a citizen are acquired and is in line with international comparators.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
21st May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they estimate that the results of the investigation into the conduct of the Home Secretary will be published.

The Prime Minister asked the Cabinet Office to establish the facts and that work is ongoing. The Prime Minister will make any decision on the matter public once the work has concluded.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
21st May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they made of the preparedness of the Civil Service and public services to respond to a pandemic prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.

The Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) is responsible for the National Security Risk Assessment (NSRA). For all risks included in the NSRA there is an established departmental risk owner. It is the responsibility of each risk-owning department to oversee the management of their portfolio of risks, to ensure their own preparedness and that of their relevant sectors. Departments and agencies can draw upon a wide range of stakeholder input, including Regulators and Local Resilience Forums to enact appropriate mitigation, response and recovery plans for their risks and sectors.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
20th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what preparations they have made for the easing of social distancing measures.

Coronavirus is the biggest challenge the UK has faced in decades. That is why the Government put in place strict social distancing to slow the spread of the virus so that the NHS would not be overwhelmed, and lives could be saved. With thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of the British people, the UK slowed the spread of Coronavirus.

As set out in Our Plan to Rebuild, the Government will introduce a range of adjustments to current social distancing controls, timing these carefully according to both the current transmission rate of the virus and the Government’s ability to ensure safety. The steps for modifying social distancing measures are set out in the plan, with strict conditions to safely move from each step to the next.

The Government continues to keep social distancing measures under constant review, with a statutory obligation to review progress every three weeks.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
20th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on their ability to implement a future relationship agreement with the EU by 31 December.

Negotiations on the future UK and EU relationship have continued despite the COVID-19 outbreak.

The UK and EU engaged in a full and constructive round of negotiations between 11 - 15 May. A Written Ministerial Statement was made by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 19 May updated the progress of negotiations, which I repeated in this House (HLWS239).

Future relationship discussions are ongoing, and the next round of negotiations began on 1 June.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
20th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the progress of negotiations on the UK’s future relationship with the EU following the most recent round of negotiations between 11 May and 15 May.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster made a Written Ministerial Statement on 19 May, which I repeated in this House (HLWS239), to update Parliament on the third round of negotiations, which took place between 11 and 15 May.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what further plans they have to modify social distancing measures.

As set out in Our Plan to Rebuild, the Government will introduce a range of adjustments to current social distancing controls for England, timing these carefully according to both the current transmission rate of the virus and the Government’s ability to ensure safety. The steps for modifying social distancing measures are set out in the plan, with strict conditions to safely move from each step to the next.

Step One was implemented from 13 March. The Government's current aim is that the move to Step Two will be made no earlier than 1 June, subject to these conditions outlined in the document being satisfied. Proposed changes set out include a phased return for early years settings and schools; opening non-essential retail when and where it is safe to do so; permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast; and re-opening more local public transport in urban areas.

Step Three will also take place when the assessment of risk warrants further adjustments to the remaining measures. The Government's current planning assumption is that this step will be no earlier than 4 July, subject to the five tests, and further detailed scientific advice provided closer to the time, on how far we can go.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement by 31 December.

Work on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement continues despite the challenges posed by the UK and EU’s responses to COVID-19. This Government is overseeing a broad programme of activity which will ensure the UK is prepared for the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

The Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee met for the first time on 30 March and will meet again on 12 June. The Specialised Committees are also progressing.

The Cabinet Office has published a Command Paper on the Implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. This is available on gov.uk and in the library of the House.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to extending the Brexit transition period past 31 December as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government was elected on a manifesto which made clear the transition period would end on 31 December 2020. This is now enshrined in primary legislation and it remains our policy.

Extending the transition period would simply prolong the negotiations, prolong business uncertainty, and delay the moment of control of our borders. Extending the transition period would mean we will have to make further payments into the EU budget. It would also keep us bound by EU legislation, at a point when we need legislative and economic flexibility to manage the UK response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
17th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of fair competition in the trade negotiations between the UK and EU following December 2020.

The Political Declaration (Section XIV) set out our commitment to discuss open and fair competition as part of negotiations on our future relationship with the EU and the Government are committed to doing so. The Government will of course keep Parliament and the public updated about the progress of negotiations.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
28th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the comments made by Michel Barnier when he spoke at the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute, Queen's University Belfast, on Monday 27 January about access for goods, products and services from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The Withdrawal Agreement with the EU respects the territorial integrity of the UK.

It ensures that Northern Ireland remains part of the UK’s customs territory and Northern Ireland’s businesses will have unfettered access to the whole of the UK internal market.

I echo our European ally’s commitment to peace and stability across the island of Ireland. We are firmly committed to peace in Northern Ireland and to upholding the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

27th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the next meeting of the British–Irish Council discusses (1) mental health, and (2) dementia, medical and social care provision.

The British Irish Council supports 11 work sector programmes, the members of whom meet regularly at official and ministerial level. These thematic policy groups include Social Inclusion, Housing and Collaborative Spatial Planning, Digital Inclusion and Misuse of Substances, which each cover aspects of mental health and social care. As part of the agenda for the next main Summit meeting the Council will be provided with an update on the 11 work sector programmes.

Earl Howe
Deputy Leader of the House of Lords
20th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the implications for UK businesses of the EU's proposed Directive on Corporate Sustainability and Due Diligence.

I outlined in my letter of 23 May 2022 to the Chair of the Commons Committee for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Government’s initial views on this EU proposed directive, including its implications for UK businesses. I attach a copy of my letter, which has been published by the Committee.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take (1) to introduce a new UK corporate accountability law, and (2) to ensure it is effective.

The Government recently confirmed, following consultation, reforms for ‘Restoring trust in audit and corporate governance’. It has no plans to propose additional legislation for corporate accountability, for example along the lines of the EU’s recent draft directive for cross cutting corporate sustainability due diligence.

The Government supports the voluntary due diligence approaches by UK businesses to these issues, taking account of international frameworks such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises. The Government has not been persuaded that a blanket approach to mandatory due diligence in law is practical or proportionate.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to (1) introduce, and (2) implement, legislation regarding (a) corporate accountability, (b) human rights, and (c) environmental, due diligence, for businesses throughout the UK.

The Government keeps under review policy approaches involving corporate due diligence, but it currently has no plans to propose cross cutting legislation to regulate corporate accountability and due diligence for human rights and environmental protection. The Government supports voluntary due diligence approaches by UK businesses to these issues, taking account of international frameworks such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of how collaborative training can be developed between manufacturers, colleges, and other training providers to (1) develop, and (2) roll out, heat pump system training.

Training courses are available for existing heating engineers to learn to install heat pumps and can be completed in one week. Industry groups are confident that there will be enough training capacity to be able to meet demand for heat pump upskilling as heat pump deployment increases.

The Government is also updating the apprenticeship framework for heating and plumbing to ensure this offers the right skills to deliver Net Zero. The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education is working with an industry group to revise the existing Plumbing and Domestic Heating apprenticeship, and to develop a new Low Carbon Heating Technician apprenticeship.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for mandating the installation of hydrogen-ready boilers in homes from 2026.

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

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial impact of low-carbon heating training incentives on (1) self-employed heating systems installers, and (2) Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs); and whether they will provide financial remedies to address any deleterious impact.

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

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Boiler Upgrade Scheme will run for the three years originally envisioned.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme currently has a committed budget of £450m over three years from 2022/23 to 2024/25. Any additional scheme budget or extension beyond this timeframe will be a matter for a future fiscal event.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had about including hybrid heat pumps within the scope of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

Hybrid heating systems will not be supported through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme as funding will be directed towards the technologies that offer the greatest carbon savings, rather than those which would continue to involve the burning of fossil fuels for heating. Government will continue to consider the role that gas and electric hybrid systems may play in the longer-term decarbonisation of heat on the gas grid.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide additional financial support measures when the Boiler Upgrade Scheme closes in 2025.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) currently has a committed budget of £450m over three years from 2022/23 to 2024/25. Any additional scheme budget or extension beyond this timeframe will be a matter for a future fiscal event.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to provide additional financial measures to incentivise heat pump installations if the number of grant applications made under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme exceeds the permitted 30,000 per year.

Any additional budget for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme beyond the presently committed £450m over three years will be a matter for a future fiscal event. However, we want as many people as possible who want to have a heat pump installed this year to be able to have one, so will continue to keep uptake of the scheme under review.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to support local authorities who are not included in the initial 22 authorities receiving £67m in the first phase of the Home Upgrade Grant.

£1.1 billion has been allocated to the Home Upgrade Grant since 2020. This £67 million was an extension of £152 million allocated to successful local authorities under the Sustainable Warmth competition, bringing the first phase of HUG to a total of £219 million. BEIS are working across government and with key stakeholders to decide the final policy scope and delivery approach for future funding iterations until 2025.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of rising global gas prices on achieving their Net Zero targets; and what steps they will take to mitigate this impact.

The energy transition is not only an issue of decarbonisation, it is also an issue of national security. The Government’s strategy to generate more low-carbon energy in the UK will reduce reliance on imported gas, shield consumers from volatile international fossil fuel markets, and provide new opportunities to level up the economy and drive job creation.

By accelerating the deployment of cheap renewable power, and rolling out further energy efficiency measures, the Government’s decarbonisation policies will help household energy bills by ensuring that consumers are less exposed to international fossil fuel prices while driving progress towards its Net Zero targets.

As the Government produces more domestically sourced energy, families will be much better protected from energy price spikes caused by volatile international fossil fuel markets. At the same time, by getting ahead of the curve in driving down the costs of the latest clean technology, more consumers will enjoy more efficient cars and heating systems sooner.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the percentage of low carbon technology installations such as heat pumps that will be covered by the Home Upgrade Grant scheme.

The Government has allocated a total of £1.1 billion to the Home Upgrade Grant, with delivery taking place from early 2022 to March 2025. It will provide support to low-income families living off the gas grid to transition to low carbon heating, including heat pumps. The Home Upgrade Grant funds all energy efficiency and low-carbon heating measures that can be modelled by Reduced Data Standard Assessment Procedure (RdSAP).

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their proposed Boiler Upgrade System will be fully implemented by 1 April; what discussions they have had with the industry regarding the implementation of that scheme; and when they will publish full details on how the scheme will be implemented.

Earlier this month, we announced the launch dates for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. The scheme will open for installer account creation on 11 April, and voucher applications will open 23 May. All systems commissioned from 1 April will be entitled to support under the scheme. These dates were communicated directly to industry.

The Government has had, and continues to have, significant engagement with industry including manufacturers, installers, trade associations and industry standards bodies. Ofgem consulted at the end of last year to seek industry views on their administration of the scheme.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to introduce in the UK measures equivalent to the proposal published by the European Commission on 23 February for a Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence.

The UK already requires companies to undertake due diligence on sustainability matters under existing legislation on corporate transparency. UK listed companies are required to report on relevant environmental, social and governance aspects in their annual reports. Large businesses are also required to publish supply chain transparency statements on steps they have taken to ensure that no modern slavery or human trafficking is taking place in their business or through their supply chains. Both reporting requirements compel disclosure of a company’s due diligence arrangements where these are in place.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights Human Rights and Business 2017: Promoting responsibility and ensuring accountability (Session 2016–17, HL Paper 153), what steps they will take to introduce a mandatory human rights and due diligence law.

The UK has a strong record on human rights protection, much of which results from our framework of legislation. The UK already requires companies to undertake due diligence on sustainability matters under existing legislation on corporate transparency. UK listed companies are required to report on relevant environmental, social and governance aspects in their annual reports. Large businesses are also required to publish supply chain transparency statements on steps they have taken to ensure that no modern slavery or human trafficking is taking place in their business or through their supply chains. Both reporting requirements compel disclosure of a company’s due diligence arrangements where these are in place.

In certain circumstances, companies can already be held liable for breaches of duties of care to others where harm is suffered as a foreseeable consequence of the breach.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to mitigate against fuel poverty.

The Sustainable Warmth strategy, published in February 2021, sets out government’s approach to tackling fuel poverty in England. It is accessible here.

Energy efficiency improvements remain the best way to tackle fuel poverty in the long term. Support for low income and vulnerable households is available through schemes such as the Local Authority Delivery Scheme and the Energy Company Obligation.

Financial support to help toward energy bills is available through the Warm Home Discount, Cold Weather Payment and Winter Fuel Payment.

In addition, a new package of support to help households with their energy bills was announced on the 3rd February which includes a £200 discount on household energy bills this Autumn for domestic electricity customers in Great Britain; a £150 non-repayable rebate on Council Tax bills for all households in Council Tax Bands A-D in England; and an additional £144 million of discretionary funding for Local Authorities to support households who are not eligible for the Council Tax rebate.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of how many annual extra heat pump installations the introduction of the interim uplift to building energy efficiency requirements from June 2022 will incentivise.

There will be several routes to compliance with the 2021 uplift, and it is therefore not possible to produce a robust estimate of the number of annual heat pump installations that will result. Modelling from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities produced as part of their impact assessment in the case of domestic properties specifically, estimates that around 10% of new homes built in 2022 could include an air source heat pump.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the feasibility of the target to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028.

The Heat and Buildings Strategy set out the range of policies that will combine to support the development of the heat pump market towards 600,000 per year by 2028.

This package includes: the Future Homes Standard, which will ensure that new homes are built zero carbon-ready without the need for costly retrofitting; targeted funding support, through the £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme, the Home Upgrade Grant and Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund; and proposals currently out to consultation for a new market-based incentive, to be introduced from 2024, and to phase out new fossil fuel heating systems in off-gas grid buildings, starting with larger non-domestic buildings from 2024 and smaller buildings and homes from 2026.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of how many annual extra heat pump installations the introduction of the Future Homes Standard from 2025 will incentivise.

The Government will be consulting on the exact technical specification of the Future Homes Standard in 2023. A robust estimate of the impact of the standard with regards heat pump installations will be possible once its technical specification is finalised.

We are clear however that when it is implemented in 2025, all new homes built to the Future Homes Standard will have low carbon heating, such as heat pumps. With that in mind, the Department’s impact assessment on our proposal to introduce a market-based mechanism for low carbon heat included an indicative estimate of up to around 200,000 heat pump installations per year from 2027, consistent with DLUHC estimates of around 250,000 annual net new-build completions from 2023 to 2029.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure effective cross-departmental working towards the decarbonisation of the built environment in the UK.

The recently published Heat and Buildings Strategy brings together work from across Government on energy efficiency and clean heat, delivering a consistent and coherent approach across different markets, buildings and occupancy types. The Government has taken action to ensure that decision-making across government is aligned to deliver net zero, including establishing two Cabinet Committees, chaired by my Rt. Hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the COP President, to co-ordinate action across government, strengthening official-level governance, and taking new approaches to embed net zero in spending decisions.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the feasibility of their target of reducing the cost of heat pumps by between a quarter and a half by 2025, as set out in the Heat and Buildings Strategy, published on 19 October.

The policies announced in the Heat and Buildings Strategy combine targeted funding to kickstart market growth, with incentives and regulations to provide long-term policy clarity for industry. We expect these measures will rapidly drive down costs, in line with the Government’s ambitions to reduce the upfront costs of heat pumps by between a quarter and a half by 2025. We are encouraged that so many across the sector have already pledged to significantly reduce costs.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the feasibility of their target set out in the Heat and Buildings Strategy for heat pumps to cost the same (1) to buy, and (2) to run, as fossil fuel boilers in 2030.

Alongside leading figures in industry and many suppliers, we are confident that the costs of heat pumps can reduce by 25-50% by 2025 and have set an ambition to work with industry to achieve further reductions towards overall cost parity with gas boilers by 2030 at the latest. The policies we are introducing, including a new £450m Boiler Upgrade Scheme, the Future Homes Standard, and a new market mechanism in the heating appliance market, will rapidly scale up the market to help deliver cost reductions.

We remain committed to working with industry to keep costs down and making sure energy prices are fair and affordable and incentivise consumers to make sustainable choices. We will launch a Fairness and Affordability Call for Evidence on options to help rebalance electricity and gas prices with a view to taking decisions in 2022.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when in 2022 they expect to publish their hydrogen production strategy.

As set out in the UK Hydrogen Strategy, the Government intends to provide further detail on its hydrogen production strategy in early 2022.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of how long industry would need to adjust to a requirement to use hydrogen in the heating of buildings.

The Government plans to take decisions in 2026 on the role of hydrogen in heating buildings. In order to inform these decisions, the Government is working with industry and others on a range of projects that will help to assess the feasibility and impacts of using hydrogen in place of natural gas and the timescales required for industry to adjust.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to bring forward their decision on the role of hydrogen in heating buildings from the current date of 2026.

The Government plans to take decisions in 2026 on the role of hydrogen in heating buildings. In order to inform these decisions, the Government is working with industry and others on a range of projects that will help to assess the feasibility and impacts of using hydrogen in place of natural gas and the timescales required for industry to adjust.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Northern Ireland Executive regarding the use of renewable energy in Northern Ireland.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is working closely with Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy and is committed to exploring options for Northern Ireland to join the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme – the UK’s main support mechanism for large-scale renewable generation. My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State also recently met with the Northern Ireland Assembly's Minister for the Economy Gordon Lyons where, amongst other issues, there was a discussion around Northern Ireland and the CfD scheme. Current work is considering a range of issues, including impacts on consumer bills and wider implications for how the scheme operates currently in Great Britain.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to improve the energy efficiency of homes through retrofitting.

The Government remains committed to its manifesto pledge to invest £9.2 billion in the energy efficiency of homes, schools, and hospitals, helping to decarbonising buildings to keep us on track to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

  • The Government allocated £500 million funding to support the energy efficiency upgrades of homes of low-income households across England through the Phase 1 and 2 of the Local Authority Delivery Scheme. The Government announced a further £200m to a third phase of this scheme which will be delivered alongside an initial £150m of the Homes Upgrade Grant Scheme from early 2022 to March 2023.
  • The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) will upgrade a significant amount of the social housing stock. We announced up to £160m funding for the 2021/22 financial year, delivering up to January 2023.

In addition, the Energy Company Obligation has already installed 3.3 million measures in 2.3 million homes, and we are increasing the amount energy suppliers invest in energy efficiency measures for low-income households, recently consulted on a successor scheme ECO until 2026, and boosting its value from £640 million to £1 billion a year. This will help an extra 305,000 families with green measures such as insulation, with average energy bill savings of around £300 a year.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent assessment they have made of the ability of Trading Standards to pursue sellers of toys not in compliance with UK safety regulations.

The Government is committed to ensuring that only safe products can be sold in the UK and existing laws require that all consumer products, including toys sold online, must be safe before they can be placed on the UK market.

The national product safety regulator, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), and Local Authority Trading Standards have powers to take action against manufacturers, importers or distributors who sell unsafe and non-compliant toys, including through online marketplaces. These regulators have access to a national Product Safety Database to share information and to help prioritise and target activity.

The Government recognises the scale of the challenge in regulating online sales and OPSS is taking forward a programme of work to help ensure the safety of products sold online. This includes actively identifying products available online that pose a serious risk and ensuring that non-compliant products being sold by third-party sellers are removed from sale. Since April 2021, OPSS interventions have led to the withdrawal of more than 10,000 unsafe products, including toys, previously listed and available in the UK, via online marketplaces.

The Government’s review of the UK’s product safety framework aims to ensure it remains robust and is future-proofed so that it continues to protect consumers while enabling businesses to safely innovate and grow. This includes reviewing the impact of eCommerce on the product safety framework to ensure appropriate accountability and clear responsibilities throughout the supply chain.

The Government has analysed submissions to the Call for Evidence and is currently finalising its response which will be published in due course. OPSS officials continue to engage with stakeholders as the review progresses and any proposals for legislative change would be subject to public consultation.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take following the closure of the UK product safety review: call for evidence on 17 June; and what are the timelines for those steps.

The Government is committed to ensuring that only safe products can be sold in the UK and existing laws require that all consumer products, including toys sold online, must be safe before they can be placed on the UK market.

The national product safety regulator, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), and Local Authority Trading Standards have powers to take action against manufacturers, importers or distributors who sell unsafe and non-compliant toys, including through online marketplaces. These regulators have access to a national Product Safety Database to share information and to help prioritise and target activity.

The Government recognises the scale of the challenge in regulating online sales and OPSS is taking forward a programme of work to help ensure the safety of products sold online. This includes actively identifying products available online that pose a serious risk and ensuring that non-compliant products being sold by third-party sellers are removed from sale. Since April 2021, OPSS interventions have led to the withdrawal of more than 10,000 unsafe products, including toys, previously listed and available in the UK, via online marketplaces.

The Government’s review of the UK’s product safety framework aims to ensure it remains robust and is future-proofed so that it continues to protect consumers while enabling businesses to safely innovate and grow. This includes reviewing the impact of eCommerce on the product safety framework to ensure appropriate accountability and clear responsibilities throughout the supply chain.

The Government has analysed submissions to the Call for Evidence and is currently finalising its response which will be published in due course. OPSS officials continue to engage with stakeholders as the review progresses and any proposals for legislative change would be subject to public consultation.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) steps they have taken, and (2) further plans they have, to ensure that children are protected from harm caused by toys sold in online marketplaces which are not compliant with UK safety regulations.

The Government is committed to ensuring that only safe products can be sold in the UK and existing laws require that all consumer products, including toys sold online, must be safe before they can be placed on the UK market.

The national product safety regulator, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), and Local Authority Trading Standards have powers to take action against manufacturers, importers or distributors who sell unsafe and non-compliant toys, including through online marketplaces. These regulators have access to a national Product Safety Database to share information and to help prioritise and target activity.

The Government recognises the scale of the challenge in regulating online sales and OPSS is taking forward a programme of work to help ensure the safety of products sold online. This includes actively identifying products available online that pose a serious risk and ensuring that non-compliant products being sold by third-party sellers are removed from sale. Since April 2021, OPSS interventions have led to the withdrawal of more than 10,000 unsafe products, including toys, previously listed and available in the UK, via online marketplaces.

The Government’s review of the UK’s product safety framework aims to ensure it remains robust and is future-proofed so that it continues to protect consumers while enabling businesses to safely innovate and grow. This includes reviewing the impact of eCommerce on the product safety framework to ensure appropriate accountability and clear responsibilities throughout the supply chain.

The Government has analysed submissions to the Call for Evidence and is currently finalising its response which will be published in due course. OPSS officials continue to engage with stakeholders as the review progresses and any proposals for legislative change would be subject to public consultation.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of progress towards the globally agreed aim of limiting global heating to below 2°C; and pursuing efforts to limit heating to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

While we welcome progress made and new Nationally Determined Contributions and commitments made at the Climate Ambition Summit and since by many parties, we agree with assessments by the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Energy Agency, and the Climate Action Tracker that there remains a significant gap to achieving below 2°C and to 1.5°C.

The temperature goal of the Paris Agreement is just within reach, but to achieve it, further ambition is needed and must be acted on today. That is why we are asking all countries to come forward ahead of COP26 with enhanced and ambitious commitments to reduce emissions and scale up adaptation.

The UK is driving up global climate ambition and fostering a global, green, inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19 through our leadership in multilateral forum, our COP26 and G7 Presidencies, our international climate finance commitments and our International Energy Unit.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take to promote climate action and a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic ahead of COP26.

As part of the Government’s commitment to build back better from the pandemic, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister set out in his Ten Point Plan for the UK to lead the world into a Green Industrial Revolution. This innovative programme set out ambitious policies and £12 billion of government investment to support up to 250,000 green jobs across the UK, accelerate our path to reaching net zero by 2050 and lay the foundations for our green recovery by building back greener from COVID-19.

We are making real progress in delivering the Ten Point Plan while setting out plans for further climate action. Since last November, we have secured new investments in offshore wind, electric vehicles and battery manufacturing and supply chains, and rolled out schemes to decarbonise homes and buildings - supporting green jobs across the UK. We have also published our Energy White Paper, North Sea Transition Deal, Transport Decarbonisation Plan, Industrial Decarbonisation and Hydrogen Strategy and consultation on Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) business models.

This November, the UK will host COP26 in Glasgow bringing together world leaders, climate experts, business leaders and citizens to agree ambitious action to tackle climate change. Ahead of COP26, we will bring forward further bold proposals, including a Net Zero Strategy, to cut emissions and create new jobs and industries across the whole country, going further and faster towards building a stronger, more resilient future and protecting our planet for this generation and those to come.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take to achieve (1) the UK’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) under the Paris Agreement, and (2) the net zero target ahead of COP26.

We will publish a comprehensive Net Zero Strategy ahead of COP26, setting out the Government’s vision for transitioning to a net zero economy. This will raise ambition as we outline our path to meet net zero by 2050, our Carbon Budgets and Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial value to the biomass industry of the zero carbon exemption for biomass within the UK's emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The current treatment in the UK ETS of carbon emissions from biomass provides continuity for participants.

The UK only supports biomass which complies with strict sustainability criteria, and electricity generators receive subsidies only for compliant biomass.

The sustainability criteria, amongst other things, take into account the greenhouse gas emissions from collecting, transporting and turning biomass into a viable energy source (for example wood pellets), whether that is in the UK or elsewhere, to ensure that biomass delivers a carbon saving compared to fossil fuels.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the size the overseas carbon footprint is of the cutting down of trees, converting them into wood pellets, and shipping them to the UK to generate electricity for Britain.

The UK only supports biomass which complies with strict sustainability criteria, and electricity generators receive subsidies only for compliant biomass.

The sustainability criteria, amongst other things, take into account the greenhouse gas emissions from collecting, transporting and turning biomass into a viable energy source (e.g. wood pellets), whether that is in the UK or elsewhere, to ensure that biomass delivers a carbon saving compared to fossil fuels.

Generators must report against these criteria under the Renewables Obligation and the Contracts for Difference schemes on a monthly basis to Ofgem.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many financial institutions not approved by regulators have been accredited under loan schemes designed to support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Details of lenders accredited to deliver the Covid-19 Loan Schemes were published on the British Business Bank’s website while the schemes were in operation.

Providing a list would incur a disproportionate cost to the Department. Each lender’s regulatory status is available on the relevant regulator’s website.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of business debt accrued during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In February 2021, the stock of total loans outstanding, and held by monetary financial institutions, to UK non-financial businesses (seasonally adjusted), was £528 billion, up from £487 billion in February 2020 (Source: BoE Bankstats).

Within this, the stock of total loans outstanding owed by UK SMEs was £215 billion in February 2021, up from £167 billion in February 2020.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the devolved administrations about (1) the reduction in the number of available COVID-19 vaccines during April, and (2) the impact of that reduction on the UK’s vaccination programme.

UK Government Ministers and officials are in weekly discussions with the Devolved Administrations regarding the supply of vaccines. This is in addition to the UK Government sharing a rolling 13-week forecast with the four nations each week, as well as a 6-month forward look which is shared each month. This helps to ensure that deployment can be planned effectively and aligned to forecast supply.

Our forthcoming scheduled deliveries will fully support our target of offering a first vaccine dose to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) priority cohorts 1 to 9 by 15 April and all remaining adults by 31 July.

The UK Government is responsible for supplying vaccines to the Devolved Administrations. However, as health policy is a devolved matter, the vaccination programme in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the respective Devolved Administrations.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to meet their net zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

We have already made significant progress towards meeting our net zero target. We met our first and second carbon budgets that were established under the Climate Change Act 2008, and we are on track to meet the third.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan is the down-payment on meeting the fourth (2023-27) and fifth (2028-32) carbon budgets. Spanning clean energy, buildings, transport, nature and innovative technologies, the plan will mobilise £12 billion of government investment to unlock three times as much private sector investment by 2030; level up regions across the UK; and support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs. It will also support our efforts to build back greener from the coronavirus, generating jobs and bolstering the economy, whilst continuing to drive down emissions both now and in the future.

Ahead of COP26, we will set out ambitious plans across key sectors of the economy to meet our carbon budgets and net zero. We have already published the Energy White Paper and the first phase of our Transport Decarbonisation Plan, and will publish further strategies, including on Heat and Buildings, in due course.

We will also publish a comprehensive Net Zero Strategy ahead of COP26, setting out the Government’s vision for transitioning to a net zero economy, making the most of new growth and employment opportunities across the UK.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to their Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, published on 18 November, what plans they have to promote a 'green recovery' from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we rebuild, we must build back better, greener, and faster. This means supporting green jobs, levelling up, accelerating our path to net zero, and creating long-term advantage for the UK. The UK has shown that growing our economy and cutting emissions can be achieved at the same time - growing our economy by 78% while cutting emissions by 43.8% over the past three decades.

Spanning clean energy, buildings, transport, nature and innovative technologies, the Ten Point Plan will mobilise £12 billion of government investment to unlock three times as much private sector investment by 2030. This will support our efforts to build back greener from the coronavirus, generating jobs and bolstering the economy, whilst continuing to drive down emissions both now and in the future.

Ahead of COP26, we will set out ambitious plans across key sectors of the economy to meet our carbon budgets and net zero. We have already published the Energy White Paper and the first phase of our Transport Decarbonisation Plan, and will publish the Heat and Building Strategy in due course.

We will also publish a comprehensive Net Zero Strategy, setting out the Government’s vision for transitioning to a net zero economy, making the most of new growth and employment opportunities across the UK. These will raise ambition as we outline our path to hit our 2050 target.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the Green Homes Grant scheme.

The Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme opened for applications in September 2020.

As of 8th February, 22,165 vouchers have already been issued with more being issued every day.

An evaluation of the effectiveness of the voucher scheme, including a comprehensive analysis of scheme outcomes and evidence collected from scheme applicants and other stakeholders will be undertaken.

We continue to listen to and act upon feedback from stakeholders as we have done since the formation of the scheme.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support contractors with the administration of the Green Homes Grant scheme.

We are listening to feedback from installers and are working closely with Trade Associations and Certification Bodies to ensure their members are fully informed of the requirements of the scheme.

We have provided guidance for quotes to both installers and homeowners, so they are clear on the information needed for the scheme administrator to approve an application and we have updated other aspects of the guidance available for installers, for example around payment processes. We have already made improvements based on feedback received and are working closely with the scheme administrator to identify further improvements and support increasing numbers of vouchers and payments to be issued.

BEIS officials will continue to work closely with ICF to identify areas where the process could be improved.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with industry bodies about the effectiveness of the Green Homes Grant scheme.

We engage regularly with industry stakeholders across a range of Certification Bodies, Trade Associations and Industry Groups including TrustMark and MCS. We are listening to their feedback and working closely with those bodies to ensure their members are fully informed of the requirements of the voucher scheme.

We have numerous channels for dialogue with the supply chain and consumer groups, including roundtables with certification bodies, trade bodies and representatives from the industry. In December, the Department held its first installer Webinar, taking questions and walking through the scheme details and processes with over 150 installers in attendance.

There will be an independent evaluation of the processes and effectiveness of the voucher scheme, including a comprehensive analysis of scheme outcomes and evidence collected from scheme applicants and other stakeholders.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support sub-postmasters affected by failings in the Horizon IT system.

Post Office Ltd has admitted it got things wrong in relation to the Horizon IT system and has apologised. The Government understands the serious impact that issues arising from faults with the Horizon IT system, and the Post Offices management of these issues, have had on affected postmasters’ lives and livelihoods. In order to ensure that there is a public summary of failings and that this situation will never be repeated, the Government launched the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry on 29 September 2020.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to develop the renewable energy sector in the UK.

As stated in the answer I gave the noble Baroness on 23 November 2020 to Question HL10093, the next Contracts for Difference allocation round will take place later this year, in which we are aiming to deliver up to double the renewable capacity achieved in the last round. The Government has committed £160 million to support new port and manufacturing infrastructure, which is needed to achieve our 40GW offshore wind ambition and secure local jobs and benefits. We are also considering the responses received through our recent consultation on changes to supply chain plans for future allocation rounds and will respond shortly.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prioritise the life sciences sector in any economic recovery policies.

We have a long-term ambition for the UK to become the leading global hub for life sciences through the implementation of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy; the last year has accelerated and deepened that commitment. The UK is at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies: for example, we have launched genome sequencing of 500,000 Biobank participants; developed a national infrastructure for advanced therapy manufacturing; and establishing the Accelerated Access Collaborative to deliver a step change in the uptake of innovative treatments in the NHS.

We continue this work in collaboration with our life sciences partners in order to build back better, boosting resilience in the sector and strengthening our science base. This is supported by the Government’s target of public and private research and development investment to reach 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with manufacturers about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment levels.

Throughout the Covid-19 outbreak, we have engaged closely with manufacturing industry through sector roundtables and by talking directly to businesses. This has helped shape the Government’s unprecedented package of support which has included loan schemes, grant funding, tax deferrals and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all of which is designed to be accessible to businesses in most sectors including manufacturing.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with small businesses on the effect of the (1) COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) the UK’s trading relationship with the EU, on such businesses.

The Government maintains an ongoing programme of engagement with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and their Business Representative Organisations (BROs) in order to better understand the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and to support them in adapting to the UKs new trading relationship with the EU.

In recent weeks, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State has hosted roundtables with SMEs and BROs to discuss a range of topical issues facing SMEs, including Covid-19 and EU trade.

My Hon. Friend the Minister for Small Business regularly meets with SMEs and BROs from a range of sectors across the UK and holds weekly calls with representatives from the hospitality and consumer goods sectors.

On the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to regular meetings with SMEs, BEIS Ministers conducted 25 regional business engagement roundtables, including nine roundtables with businesses in the Devolved Nations. Attendance at these events was made up of mainly SMEs, reaching over 1,000 attendees.

BEIS continues to deliver a rolling plan of engagement with UK SMEs, including through webinars and other events across the spectrum of our sectors to discuss the ongoing impact of Covid-19, the continued support Government is providing businesses and how we can Build Back Better as our economy reopens.

On the UK’s relationship with the EU, we communicate with a wide range of sectors and businesses about actions they can take to be ready for new opportunities now the transition period has ended. This includes a regular bulletin to BROs, with over 12,500 subscribers, and a weekly email from the Secretary of State to over half a million subscribers, including small businesses.

In the run up to the end of the Transition Period, the Government corresponded with over 4.7 million businesses, circulated frequent bulletins, and provided support to Trade Associations to communicate to their members.

There have been over 9.5 million views of information about UK transition and over 55,000 businesses have directly engaged with webinars, forums or through sector engagement since October 2020. Webinars have received over 16,000 views, and digital adverts have achieved over 47 million impressions.

As the backbone of our economy, we will continue to ensure that SMEs are engaged on Covid-19 and EU Trade, in addition to the wider issues that impact them.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with business representative organisations about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses.

Ministers and officials have engaged closely with business representative organisations throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and we continue to do so.

BEIS Ministers hold regular sector calls with all the industries that BEIS covers, including but not limited to manufacturing, energy, construction, life sciences, professional services, retail and hospitality. The industry representatives include business organisations and trade associations. We use these ongoing engagements to collect direct intelligence on the impacts of Covid-19 on industries and sectors that informs the response from BEIS and other Government departments and ensures the effectiveness of the Government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak and economic recovery.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with business organisations about the impact of the UK’s trading relationship with the EU on businesses.

Ministers and officials have engaged closely with business organisations throughout the negotiations with the EU and we continue to do so. BEIS Ministers hold regular calls with all BEIS sectors, including but not limited to manufacturing, energy, construction, life sciences, professional business services, retail and hospitality. We use these ongoing engagements to collect direct intelligence on the impacts of the Trade Co-operation Agreement (TCA) on industries and sectors that informs the response from BEIS and other Government departments, and ensures the effectiveness of Government’s advice and support to businesses. In addition, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster chairs the Brexit Business Taskforce comprising a wide group of businesses and business organisations that regularly meet to discuss the impacts and opportunities for businesses from the UK leaving the EU.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the restrictions in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses’ ability to trade.

We know that businesses across all sectors have faced enormous challenges throughout this pandemic, that is why the Government has spent over £280bn to put in place an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs and help businesses continue trading where possible.

We are also investing in the development, purchase, and deployment of vaccines in order to lift restrictions once the health data indicates it is prudent to do so.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with business representative organisations about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ministers and officials have engaged closely with business representative organisations throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and we continue to do so.

BEIS Ministers hold regular sector calls with all the industries that BEIS covers, including but not limited to manufacturing, energy, construction, life sciences, professional services, retail and hospitality. The industry representatives include business organisations and trade associations. We use these ongoing engagements to collect direct intelligence on the impacts of Covid-19 on industries and sectors that informs the response from BEIS and other Government departments and ensures the effectiveness of the Government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with (1) employers, and (2) trade unions, on the use of so-called ‘dismissal and re-engagement' strategies in negotiations with employees.

Using threats about firing and re-hiring as a negotiating tactic is unacceptable. If the employer changes an employee’s terms and conditions without their agreement, the employee may be entitled to seek legal redress.

The Government has been working with ACAS on this issue, who are seeking insights and views from employer bodies and trade unions, as well as professional bodies with advisory contact with employers, such as employment lawyers, accountants, and payroll services.

This work is generating valuable information on the circumstances when fire and hire practices have been used and their impact on the workplace.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made towards preparing for COP26.

Planning for COP26 is ongoing and we are continuing to work closely with the venues and our delivery partners to ensure that we deliver the facilities and logistics needed for the event, in line with the requirements outlined by the UNFCCC.

Alongside summit preparations, the COP26 President, Ministers and senior officials have been engaging with a wide range of UK and international partners.

On 12th December, the fifth anniversary of the landmark Paris Agreement, the UK, UN and France co-hosted a Climate Ambition Summit alongside our partners Italy and Chile. Over 90 countries, businesses, sectors, cities, including 75 world leaders, attended and set out their ambitious plans and new commitments. This was a clear signal that climate change remains at the top of the global agenda despite the challenges of COVID-19. This marked a major milestone on the road to COP26, and we will build on this momentum to drive forward climate action and ambition in 2021.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish their Heat and Buildings Strategy.

The Government is planning to publish a Heat and Buildings Strategy in the new year, which will set out the immediate actions we will take for reducing emissions from buildings.

These actions include the deployment of energy efficiency measures and low carbon heating as part of an ambitious programme of work required to enable key strategic decisions on how we achieve the mass transition to low-carbon heat and set us on a path to decarbonising all homes and buildings.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to (1) protect jobs, and (2) support businesses, at the end of the transition period for the UK's departure from the EU.

We have provided support and tools to help businesses prepare and understand the actions they need to take ahead of the end of the transition period. The Government, through HMRC, has provided £84 million to support small businesses adapt to new customs rules, and the Department for International Trade has established a £38m Internationalisation Fund for small businesses.

The Government has published comprehensive guidance and launched an online checker tool for businesses to tailor guidance to their needs via GOV.UK. BEIS has also undertaken a comprehensive programme of engagement with businesses, including my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State writing out to 4.7 million businesses across the country to inform them of how to prepare for the end of the transition period.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to (1) maintain jobs, and (2) support businesses, after the end of the transition period following the UK's departure from the EU.

We have provided support and tools to help businesses prepare and understand the actions they need to take ahead of the end of the transition period. The Government, through HMRC has provided £84 million to support small businesses adapt to new customs rules and DIT has established a £38m Internationalisation Fund for small businesses.

The Government has published comprehensive guidance and launched an online checker tool for businesses to tailor guidance to their needs via GOV.UK. BEIS has also undertaken a comprehensive programme of engagement with businesses including the Secretary of State writing out to 4.7 million businesses across the country to inform them of how to prepare for the end of the transition period.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made with preparations for COP26 in November 2021.

Planning for COP26 is ongoing and we are continuing to work closely with the venues and our delivery partners to ensure that we deliver the facilities and logistics needed for the event, in line with the requirements outlined by the UNFCCC.

Alongside summit preparations, the COP26 President, Ministers, and senior officials have been engaging with a wide range of UK and international partners.

COP26 presents an unprecedented opportunity to come together as a country to tackle the threat of climate change. That is why we have launched the ‘Together for our Planet’ campaign, to raise public awareness of COP26 and the UK’s Presidency.

The UK, UN and France will also co-host a Climate Ambition Summit alongside our partners Italy and Chile, on 12th December 2020 on the fifth anniversary of the landmark Paris Agreement. This will be an opportunity for countries to announce ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and net zero, finance and adaptation commitments.

The recent net zero commitments from China, Japan and South Korea have provided welcome momentum and we hope that the Ambition Summit provides impetus for further commitments by the end of the year.

Another key preparation that took place on Friday 27th November was the first meeting of the Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council. It was here that Ministers and representatives from some of the world’s largest and most progressive car markets came together to discuss how they can work together to make the transition cheaper, easier, and faster for all. Following the meeting, a joint statement of intent was released, see here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/joint-statement-of-the-zero-emission-vehicle-transition-council.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) employers, or (2) employers’ associations, about the use of ‘dismiss and rehire’ strategies.

The Government appreciates that news about redundancies and job losses will be distressing for many and employers should always treat employees fairly.

Despite the unprecedented package of support provided by this Government, some employers will need the flexibility to be able to offer different terms and conditions to ensure the sustainability of their business. However, using threats about firing and re-hiring as a negotiating tactic is unacceptable and if the employer changes any of the terms without the employee’s agreement, the employee may be entitled to seek legal redress.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce the use of ‘dismiss and rehire’ strategies by employers.

The Government appreciates that news about redundancies and job losses will be distressing for many and employers should always treat employees fairly.

Despite the unprecedented package of support provided by this Government, some employers will need the flexibility to be able to offer different terms and conditions to ensure the sustainability of their business. However, using threats about firing and re-hiring as a negotiating tactic is unacceptable and if the employer changes any of the terms without the employee’s agreement, the employee may be entitled to seek legal redress.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase jobs in the marine renewable energy sector.

The Government has just concluded a call for evidence in September on the potential of marine energy projects in Great Britain. This sought evidence on the scope for innovative marine energy technologies across Great Britain and we are currently considering responses to it.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to develop the renewable energy sector in the UK.

Achieving our 2050 net zero target will require significant increases in renewable electricity generation, and we will continue to encourage deployment and support the UK sector.

The Contracts for Difference scheme has been very successful in delivering large-scale renewable generation whilst reducing costs through competitive allocation rounds. The next round will open in late 2021 and aims to deliver up to double the renewable capacity of last year’s successful round, potentially providing enough clean energy for up to 10 million homes. The Smart Export Guarantee, which was introduced in January 2020, gives small-scale generators, such as homes with solar panels, the right to be paid for the renewable electricity they export to the grid.

The UK is a major global market for renewables, and we want to harness the wider benefits of this market-leading position in terms of jobs and investment. We have already announced £160 million of funding for portside manufacturing infrastructure. The government is eager to strengthen how supply chain plans operate, as signalled in my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s announcement on 6 October.? A government response and a further consultation on how we propose to strengthen supply chain plan requirements through the next Contracts for Difference allocation round will be published shortly.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure their policy on oil and gas is compatible with their commitment towards net zero emissions by 2050.

The UK was the first major economy in the world to legislate for net zero and as we move to a low carbon economy, oil and gas will play a smaller role in meeting the demand for energy over time.

The oil and gas sector will play a crucial role in supporting the UK’s energy transition. We are working closely with the sector to agree a transformational North Sea Transition Deal, which we have committed to deliver within this Parliament. The focus of this deal will be on ensuring the sector can support the energy transition and anchoring the supply chain across the UK with a focus on new high-quality jobs and opportunities.

We are also conducting a review of policy on the future of the offshore oil and gas licensing regime, to ensure the government has the information needed to plan for future oil and gas production, in a way that is aligned with the government’s climate change objectives. Initial findings will be announced alongside the upcoming Energy White Paper.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support sub-postmasters affected by the Horizon Post Office accounting software.

On 29 September, we announced the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry. The Inquiry aims to achieve the following:

  • build on the findings of Mr Justice Fraser, by obtaining all available relevant evidence from Post Office Ltd, Fujitsu and BEIS to establish a clear account of the implementation and failings of the Horizon IT computer system over its lifetime.
  • understand what went wrong in relation to Horizon and the impacts that the Horizon IT system caused;
  • acknowledge the personal experiences of those who have worked with the Horizon system and were affected by it and identify what key lessons must be learned for the future;
  • assess whether Post Office has learned the lessons and made good progress on the changes necessary to ensure a similar case does not happen again; and
  • provide a public summary of the above through the publication of a report by Summer 2021 which will also make recommendations as the Inquiry chair, Sir Wyn Williams, sees fit.

The Post Office has also committed to a significant programme to fundamentally reform the organisation. Ministers and Officials regularly engage with Post Office management on the progress of this programme to ensure they deliver on their commitments from the settlement.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the life sciences sector is central to the economic recovery.

The UK has one of the strongest, most productive health and life sciences industries globally. The sector is a major component of the UK economy with a turnover of £80.7 billion, supporting 256,100 jobs.

The life sciences industry provides high quality, highly skilled jobs across all the regions of the UK and is powered by one of the world’s best research and science bases, underpinned by top class universities, globally renowned clinical research, and the NHS.

The UK has real advantages in life sciences, and the Government has worked closely with industry, academia, and charities to make rapid progress. In June 2020, the Government released the Life Sciences Recovery Roadmap, which includes a proposed plan for the healthcare system to get back on its feet, and for the sector to emerge from the pandemic in the strongest possible position.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to grow the UK's technology sector.

The UK has one of the most vibrant and innovative technology sectors in the world, which has been highly resilient through the pandemic. This Government is fully committed to unleashing innovation and supporting priority technologies.

We are providing a wide range of support to high-tech industry, including through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and a £1.25 billion coronavirus package of support for innovative firms – which includes the Future Fund – together with our major commitment to increase public R&D spending to £22 billion by 2024-25.

Furthermore, we support specific priority technologies: combined public and private investment in the National Quantum Technologies Programme over its 10 year lifetime is set to pass £1bn and the Artificial Intelligence Sector Deal represents a £1bn commitment from industry and Government.

In September, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport launched the framework UK National Data Strategy to support further action to build the UK’s position as a world-leading data economy.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to promote a green recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister has set out his ambitions Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution.

Spanning clean energy, transport, nature and innovative technologies this plan will enable the UK to forge ahead in delivering its target of net zero – ending its contribution to climate change by 2050 – and building back better.

The plan – which is part of the PM’s mission to level up across the country - will mobilise £12 billion of government investment to support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs in the UK, and spur up to three times as much private sector investment by 2030. Over the past 30 years, the UK has been at the forefront of the transition to green – demonstrating that economic growth is aligned with protecting the climate and environment, with our GDP growing by 75% whilst emissions have fallen by 43%.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the business sectors which have been most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; and what discussions they have had with such sectors.

The Government knows that many areas of the economy face challenges, especially sectors that have closed under new national restrictions, such as hospitality. That is why we have extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to the end of March 2021 and provided an unprecedented support package, including grants, job support, loans, business rate holidays, VAT cuts and additional financial support through local authorities.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what formula they use to calculate the amount of additional financial support for businesses in areas at (1) very high, and (2) high, COVID-19 alert levels.

During the period of national restrictions, all areas of England will be provided with funding to support both closed and severely impacted businesses.

Areas that were subject to Local Covid Alert Level 2 (High) or equivalent restrictions for the period from the 1st August will be allocated funding via the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) to run local discretionary grant schemes. This means that businesses most impacted by the restrictions can be supported: the appropriate level of grant is for Local Authorities to determine bearing in mind the size of business, its fixed costs and the severity of impact suffered.

Where areas were subject during this period to Local Covid Alert Level 3 (Very High) restrictions Local Authorities will receive an allocation of funding via the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) to provide grants of up to £3,000 per four week period to those businesses that have been required by local restrictions to close.

Information on these schemes is available in guidance to local authorities which was published on 3rd November and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-restrictions-support-grants-lrsg-and-additional-restrictions-grant-arg-guidance-for-local-authorities.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with business representative organisations about the impact of COVID-19.

Ministers and officials have engaged closely with business representation organisations throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and we continue to do so.

BEIS Ministers hold regular sector calls, with all the industries that BEIS covers, including but not limited to manufacturing, energy, construction, life sciences, professional services, retail and hospitality. The industry representatives include business organisations and trade associations. We use these on-going engagements to collect direct intelligence on the impacts of Covid-19 on industries and sectors that informs the response from BEIS and other Government departments and ensures the effectiveness of the Government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with manufacturers about the impact of COVID-19 on jobs.

Manufacturing is a critical part of our economy,?and?the Department?continues to regularly engage with industry, suppliers, and trade associations to ensure that we can support our?manufacturing sectors?during and after the Covid-19 crisis. We have made £2 billion in Government-backed finance available to manufacturers through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and £2.3 billion through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme to help firms keep operating. We have also provided support totalling £4.78 billion through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended to March 2021 to protect people’s wages and manufacturing jobs across the UK.

The Government is also continuing to support growth in the sector through investments into: Made Smarter, to help manufacturers reap the benefits of industrial digital technology; the High Value Manufacturing Catapult network, to support manufacturers in commercialising innovation, and; innovation programmes such as the Automotive Transformation Fund to ensure the UK can unlock future markets and lead future industries. Through our Lifetime Skills Guarantee we are also making it easier for people to retrain for jobs of the future.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have for the future of nuclear energy in the UK.

The Government believes that nuclear power will play a key role in our future energy mix alongside other technologies, such as renewables. Nuclear is the only technology that is currently proven that can be deployed on a sufficiently large scale to provide continuous low-carbon power, which will help us to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The forthcoming Energy White Paper will address changes to our energy system, promoting high-skilled jobs and clean, resilient economic growth as we deliver on our net zero target.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the notice filed by the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group to appoint administrators.

The Government recognises the impact that coronavirus is having on job security in the retail sector and we have put together a far-reaching package of support for businesses and for the economy.

We understand this will be a worrying time for Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group’s employees and their families and stand ready to support anyone affected in any way we can.

This is a commercial matter for the company and we hope the administrators will be able to secure as many jobs as possible.

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

The aerospace sector is being supported with over £8.5 billion support through the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility, grants for research and development, loan guarantees, and support for aerospace exports.

The Government works with industry through the Aerospace Growth Partnership to deliver the UK’s strategy for aerospace. This includes a commitment of £1.95 billion of funding for research and development, matched by industry, over 13 years up to 2026. Funding of £125 million through the Future Flight Challenge will also support research on electric and autonomous flight technology, positioning the UK aerospace sector to transition to cleaner forms of aviation.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the devolved institutions about enhancing the aerospace sector in the UK.

We are working closely with the devolved administrations, including through regular Ministerial calls. We are also inviting the devolved administrations to participate in the Aerospace Growth Partnership (the sector council) so they can hear first-hand the activities and priorities for the sector and will be able to contribute accordingly.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of support required to retain jobs in the aerospace industry across the UK.

The aerospace sector is being supported with over £8.5 billion of support through the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility, grants for research and development, loan guarantees, and support for aerospace exports. My Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer has extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to the end of October, allowing aerospace employers to ensure they retain as many employees as possible. In addition, and the Chancellor launched the Job Retention Bonus, which will to help the sector to retain furloughed workers.

In addition, to support employment, the Government is investing a total of £1.6 billion to scale-up employment support schemes, training, and apprenticeships to help people looking for a job, including in the aerospace sector. The investment will include:

  • A £2000 payment to businesses for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the Government already provides for new 16 to 18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.
  • £111 million funding to triple the scale of traineeships in 2020-21 ensuring more young people have access to high quality training.
  • £17 million of funding to triple the number of sector-based work academy placements in 2020-21.
  • Nearly £900 million to double the number of work coaches to 27,000.
  • An extra £32 million investment in the National Careers Service benefiting over a quarter of a million more young people.
Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had about the level of support required to retain jobs in the aerospace industry in the UK.

We are working closely with the UK’s aerospace industry, including at sector level through the Aerospace Growth Partnership, to help retain jobs and return the sector to growth as soon as possible.

The UK’s aerospace industry has been able to draw on the Government’s extensive Covid-19 business support measures, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. The Government is also providing the UK aerospace industry and its aviation customers with over £8.5 billion of support through the Coronavirus Corporate Financing Facility, research and development grants, loan guarantees, and support for exports.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the future of the aerospace sector in the UK.

The aerospace sector will be affected by a significant reduction in demand due to the global impact of Covid-19. We are supporting its long-term return to growth through the Aerospace Growth Partnership, with £1.95 billion of funding for research and development (R&D), matched by industry, over 13 years up to 2026.

UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) is also providing £125 million to the Future Flight Challenge for research on greener ways of flying through advances in electric and autonomous flight technology, which is expected to generate an additional £175 million of match-funding from industry.

We are also co-investing in aerospace productivity improvement and innovation programmes to support small and medium-sized businesses, backed with over £135 million of public funding.

In addition, the aerospace sector and its aviation customers are being supported with over £8.5 billion support through the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility, grants for R&D, loan guarantees, and support for aerospace exports.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of women who have left the workforce as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are actively monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on the labour market, including the impact on men and women.

We are continuing to analyse the ONS labour market statistics, with the latest edition released on the 16th of June which cover the 3-month period to the end of April. These statistics showed that compared to the previous month’s release, the economic activity rate has fallen more for men (0.4 percentage points) than it has for women (0.2 percentage points). The next ONS labour market statistics covering the 3-month period to the end of May will be released on the 16th July.

It is still too early to make any firm conclusions of impacts, or provide any full estimates of the number of women who have left the workforce as a result of Covid-19, due to the lag in the official statistics. Impacts have not yet fully filtered through to headline indicators, including the number of those economically inactive.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to support pregnant women who have been unable to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We expect employers to do the right thing to support the wellbeing of their staff generally, and to pay particular attention to those who may be more vulnerable during the COVID-19 outbreak, including pregnant women.

If employers cannot provide a safe working environment for pregnant women, they will be able to access a range of government support: this includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for employees who have previously been furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and the £8bn that has been injected into our welfare system to improve the safety net.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with business representative bodies about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department continues to have close contact with UK Business Representative Organisations (BROs) to help us understand where support is most needed for businesses across the economy during the Coronavirus outbreak and the economic recovery. This engagement includes, but is not limited to, meetings and discussions with leading organisations such as Trade Associations, and cross-sector organisations.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has instigated a series of regular calls with BROs and other Trade Associations during the coronavirus outbreak to discuss government support measures, including the suite of Coronavirus business support schemes.

BROs and Trade Associations are also invited to join regular sector specific calls led by relevant Ministers, and engagement forums around Safer Working Environments led by the Secretary of State, where they provided the views of their members to support Her Majesty'd Government in developing guidance for the working environments most relevant to their membership.

The Secretary of State is also creating 5 new business-focused groups to unleash Britain’s growth potential and create jobs, as part of the government’s plans to help the economy bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. This will engage both business representative organisations and SMEs.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with employer bodies about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department continues to have close contact with UK Business Representative Organisations (BROs) to help us understand where support is most needed for businesses across the economy during the Coronavirus outbreak and the economic recovery. This engagement includes, but is not limited to, meetings and discussions with leading organisations such as Trade Associations, and cross-sector organisations.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has instigated a series of regular calls with BROs and other Trade Associations during the coronavirus outbreak to discuss government support measures, including the suite of Coronavirus business support schemes.

BROs and Trade Associations are also invited to join regular sector specific calls led by relevant Ministers, and engagement forums around Safer Working Environments led by the Secretary of State, where they provided the views of their members to support Her Majesty'd Government in developing guidance for the working environments most relevant to their membership.

The Secretary of State is also creating 5 new business-focused groups to unleash Britain’s growth potential and create jobs, as part of the government’s plans to help the economy bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. This will engage both business representative organisations and SMEs.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with representatives of small- and medium-sized enterprises about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department continues to have close contact with UK Business Representative Organisations (BROs) to help us understand where support is most needed for businesses across the economy during the Coronavirus outbreak and the economic recovery. This engagement includes, but is not limited to, meetings and discussions with leading organisations such as Trade Associations, and cross-sector organisations.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has instigated a series of regular calls with BROs and other Trade Associations during the coronavirus outbreak to discuss government support measures, including the suite of Coronavirus business support schemes.

BROs and Trade Associations are also invited to join regular sector specific calls led by relevant Ministers, and engagement forums around Safer Working Environments led by the Secretary of State, where they provided the views of their members to support Her Majesty'd Government in developing guidance for the working environments most relevant to their membership.

The Secretary of State is also creating 5 new business-focused groups to unleash Britain’s growth potential and create jobs, as part of the government’s plans to help the economy bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. This will engage both business representative organisations and SMEs.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent steps they have taken to attach conditions to funding they have allocated for the development of vaccines and medical equipment to help tackle COVID-19.

The Government has established the Vaccines Taskforce to coordinate the work going on across government, academia and industry to accelerate the development and manufacture of a COVID-19 vaccine. The development of a vaccine is at the early stages but progressing rapidly.

Funding for the development of vaccines has been provided for in line with the guidance set out in HM Treasury’s Green Book. Due to the commercial sensitivity of the contracts, it would not be possible to comment on individual elements.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made on revising their plans for COP26.

The Government will be setting out dates for a rescheduled conference in 2021, hosted in Glasgow by the UK in partnership with Italy, in due course.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their investment in economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic will support the UK’s climate objectives.

The UK has shown that growing our economy and cutting emissions can be achieved at the same time. We have grown our economy by 75% while cutting emissions by 43% over the past three decades. The UK has over 460,000 jobs in low carbon businesses and their supply chains and many of the actions we need to take to reach our target of net zero emissions by 2050 will support the future growth of our economy.

As we recover from COVID-19, the Government intends to deliver a UK economy which is stronger, cleaner, more sustainable and more resilient.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on science and research funding life sciences to deliver testing capabilities now and in the future.

The UK continues to be a prime destination for life sciences. Sustained Government and industry investment in life sciences research across the UK has provided a strong foundation for this work to flourish.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, the Government is engaging with the life sciences sector to understand how it can best respond to issues, such as developing and producing testing supplies.

The Government’s long-term objectives for research and development are clear: to invest in the science and research that will deliver economic growth across the UK, for decades to come. As part of the Government’s £1.25 billion Covid-19 support package, Innovate UK is investing £750 million to support innovation in the country’s most research-intensive businesses during and afterthe pandemic.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many businesses have had a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan application (1) approved, and (2) rejected.

As of 6 May, in total over £5.5 billion worth of loans have been issued under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to 33,812 businesses. Lenders have received 62,674 completed applications.

In order to minimise administrative burden and therefore facilitate the issuing of as many loans as possible, the British Business Bank’s system only gathers data from lenders when loans are offered and drawn. Decisions on whether to capture information relating to rejected loans are at the discretion of the lender.

We are working with the British Business Bank, HM Treasury and the lenders on providing transparent and regular data publication going forward.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the British Business Bank about the operation of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

This Department continues to work closely with the British Business Bank on the design and implementation of the CBILS loan schemes. This includes discussions on monitoring the take-up of the loans across the UK. My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy keeps in regular contact with each of the biggest CBILS lenders to monitor implementation to ensure that companies receive the full benefits of the support being provided.

The Department maintains close contact with UK Business Representative Organisations (BROs) to understand where support is needed most for businesses across the economy during the Coronavirus outbreak. This engagement includes, but is not limited to, the Federation for Small Businesses, the Confederation of British Industry, the British Chambers of Commerce, MAKE UK - the Manufacturers Organisation, UK Finance, and the Institute of Directors.

The Secretary of State and my Hon. Friend the Minister for Small Business conduct calls with a range of BROs to discuss feedback from businesses on government support measures; and additional calls have been initiated to announce developments to the suite of COVID19 business finance.

The Minister for Small Business has attended and answered questions at 4 public webinars in April and May including one hosted by Merton Chambers of Commerce. All were joined by a large number of SMEs.

This Department has hosted a series of?free, live webinars for business and industry, week commencing 4 May, to help businesses understand the support available?during the COVID19 outbreak. Over 4,000 attendees joined the 5 May webinar. Officials presented updates on the CBILS scheme and tax issues and answered questions online.

The webinars included:

  • Tuesday 5 May – loans for small businesses, tax deferral
  • Wednesday 6 May -?COVID-19: Impacts and changes to International Trade
  • Thursday 7 May -?Managing your business during coronavirus: reporting, regulations, and tax.
Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Federation of Small Businesses about the operation of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

This Department continues to work closely with the British Business Bank on the design and implementation of the CBILS loan schemes. This includes discussions on monitoring the take-up of the loans across the UK. My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy keeps in regular contact with each of the biggest CBILS lenders to monitor implementation to ensure that companies receive the full benefits of the support being provided.

The Department maintains close contact with UK Business Representative Organisations (BROs) to understand where support is needed most for businesses across the economy during the Coronavirus outbreak. This engagement includes, but is not limited to, the Federation for Small Businesses, the Confederation of British Industry, the British Chambers of Commerce, MAKE UK - the Manufacturers Organisation, UK Finance, and the Institute of Directors.

The Secretary of State and my Hon. Friend the Minister for Small Business conduct calls with a range of BROs to discuss feedback from businesses on government support measures; and additional calls have been initiated to announce developments to the suite of COVID19 business finance.

The Minister for Small Business has attended and answered questions at 4 public webinars in April and May including one hosted by Merton Chambers of Commerce. All were joined by a large number of SMEs.

This Department has hosted a series of?free, live webinars for business and industry, week commencing 4 May, to help businesses understand the support available?during the COVID19 outbreak. Over 4,000 attendees joined the 5 May webinar. Officials presented updates on the CBILS scheme and tax issues and answered questions online.

The webinars included:

  • Tuesday 5 May – loans for small businesses, tax deferral
  • Wednesday 6 May -?COVID-19: Impacts and changes to International Trade
  • Thursday 7 May -?Managing your business during coronavirus: reporting, regulations, and tax.
Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with small businesses about the operation of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

This Department continues to work closely with the British Business Bank on the design and implementation of the CBILS loan schemes. This includes discussions on monitoring the take-up of the loans across the UK. My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy keeps in regular contact with each of the biggest CBILS lenders to monitor implementation to ensure that companies receive the full benefits of the support being provided.

The Department maintains close contact with UK Business Representative Organisations (BROs) to understand where support is needed most for businesses across the economy during the Coronavirus outbreak. This engagement includes, but is not limited to, the Federation for Small Businesses, the Confederation of British Industry, the British Chambers of Commerce, MAKE UK - the Manufacturers Organisation, UK Finance, and the Institute of Directors.

The Secretary of State and my Hon. Friend the Minister for Small Business conduct calls with a range of BROs to discuss feedback from businesses on government support measures; and additional calls have been initiated to announce developments to the suite of COVID19 business finance.

The Minister for Small Business has attended and answered questions at 4 public webinars in April and May including one hosted by Merton Chambers of Commerce. All were joined by a large number of SMEs.

This Department has hosted a series of?free, live webinars for business and industry, week commencing 4 May, to help businesses understand the support available?during the COVID19 outbreak. Over 4,000 attendees joined the 5 May webinar. Officials presented updates on the CBILS scheme and tax issues and answered questions online.

The webinars included:

  • Tuesday 5 May – loans for small businesses, tax deferral
  • Wednesday 6 May -?COVID-19: Impacts and changes to International Trade
  • Thursday 7 May -?Managing your business during coronavirus: reporting, regulations, and tax.
Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ensure that (1) firms observe social distancing guidelines, and (2) workers are adequately protected at work, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government has introduced important social distancing measures for all types of business to consider in order to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. The Government has been clear that it is vital that all employers follow this guidance, which is clinically led and based on expert advice.

The Government has stated that vulnerable people who are increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 need to be particularly stringent about social distancing measures. Additionally, the Government guidance sets out that workers who are vulnerable or extremely vulnerable should be supported by their employers as they follow the required social distancing and shielding measures.

If the business is not operating in line with Government guidance, there is a role for the relevant health and safety enforcing authority – the Health and Safety Executive (HSC) or a Local Authority. Where the enforcing authority identified employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks – for example, employers not taking appropriate action to socially distance or ensure works in the shielded category can follow NHS advice to self-isolate for the specified period – the enforcing authority will consider taking a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. These actions include the provision of specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what further financial measures they plan to introduce to assist the self-employed and freelancers who are financially disadvantaged due to COVID-19.

The self-employed play an important role in the UK economy and the Government is supporting them through an unprecedented package of measures during this period of disruption.

These include a temporary relaxation of the earnings rules (known as the Minimum Income Floor) for self-employed claimants who are sick or self-isolating according to Government guidance. This has already come into effect: on 20 February the Government extended this to all self-employed claimants not just those directly impacted by the virus, ensuring those affected by the economic impact of the outbreak are supported.

Self-employed people unable to work because they are directly affected by Covid-19 or self-isolating will also be eligible for Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. As announced at Budget, this is now payable from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth.

Furthermore, on 26 March, the Chancellor announced world-leading scheme to support the UK’s self-employed affected by the coronavirus outbreak. he Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

All details of Government support for business during the coronavirus outbreak can be found on the Government’s Business Support website.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government when companies in scope of the Online Safety Bill will be provided with a draft list of priority categories for “legal but harmful” content for (1) adults, and (2) children.

Priority harmful content to children and adults will be set out in secondary legislation once the Secretary of State has been granted the relevant powers to make regulations for priority harmful content under the Bill.

Her Majesty’s Government has a duty to consult Ofcom on the proposed priority categories of harmful content before designating them in secondary legislation.

Setting out the priority harms in secondary legislation will allow Her Majesty’s Government to respond to changing risks to children and adults online, ensuring that new, currently unforeseen harms can be dealt with as they emerge.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
6th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have prepared a draft list of priority categories for “legal but harmful” content for (1) adults, and (2) children, which is due to be set out in secondary legislation under the proposed Online Safety Bill.

Priority harmful content to children and adults will be set out in secondary legislation once the Secretary of State has been granted the relevant powers to make regulations for priority harmful content under the Bill.

Her Majesty’s Government has a duty to consult Ofcom on the proposed priority categories of harmful content before designating them in secondary legislation.

Setting out the priority harms in secondary legislation will allow Her Majesty’s Government to respond to changing risks to children and adults online, ensuring that new, currently unforeseen harms can be dealt with as they emerge.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
6th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what technical feasibility assessment they have undertaken regarding the (1) journalistic, (2) news publisher, and (3) content of democratic importance, exemptions set out in the Online Safety Bill.

Her Majesty’s Government is confident that the protections for recognised news publishers, journalistic content, and content of democratic importance are technically feasible and that the Bill’s definition of the relevant terms is appropriate.

Recognised news publishers’ content will be exempted from platforms’ new online safety duties. This means tech companies will be under no legal obligation to apply their new safety duties to that content. The criteria under which an organisation qualifies as a publisher are set in the Bill. When drafting these criteria, Her Majesty’s Government has taken significant care to ensure established news publishers are captured, while limiting the opportunity for others to benefit.

Category 1 service providers will also need to have clear policies relating to their treatment of journalistic content and content of democratic importance, and to ensure these are enforced consistently. Ofcom will set out further details in codes of practice about how companies can comply with these duties.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
6th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of the definitions provided in the Online Safety Bill for (1) journalistic content, (2) content of democratic importance, and (3) news publisher content.

Her Majesty’s Government is confident that the protections for recognised news publishers, journalistic content, and content of democratic importance are technically feasible and that the Bill’s definition of the relevant terms is appropriate.

Recognised news publishers’ content will be exempted from platforms’ new online safety duties. This means tech companies will be under no legal obligation to apply their new safety duties to that content. The criteria under which an organisation qualifies as a publisher are set in the Bill. When drafting these criteria, Her Majesty’s Government has taken significant care to ensure established news publishers are captured, while limiting the opportunity for others to benefit.

Category 1 service providers will also need to have clear policies relating to their treatment of journalistic content and content of democratic importance, and to ensure these are enforced consistently. Ofcom will set out further details in codes of practice about how companies can comply with these duties.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
15th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the proposed Online Safety Bill will address the availability of (1) violent, or (2) abusive, pornography online.

The Online Safety Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17 March. The Bill will require user-to-user and search services to tackle illegal content on their sites.

Revenge and extreme pornography will be listed as priority illegal offences in the Online Safety Bill. This means that companies will need to have proportionate systems and processes in place to seek out and remove this type of content or face regulatory enforcement action.

Providers of services which are likely to be accessed by children will also have additional duties to protect children from harmful and age-inappropriate content such as pornography, even if it is not illegal. There will also be specific duties on providers which publish pornographic content on their services to prevent children from accessing that content.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
15th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of UK children who have accessed online pornography since their decision not to bring Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 into force in October 2019.

The Online Safety Bill will go further than the Digital Economy Act 2017, protecting children from a broader range of harmful content on a wider range of services. The Digital Economy Act was criticised for not covering social media companies, through which a considerable quantity of pornographic material is accessible, and which research suggests children use to access pornography. The online safety framework will cover all online sites that offer pornography, including commercial pornography sites, social media, video-sharing platforms, fora and search engines.

HM Government has commissioned research to build the evidence base on harms to children online. This will review the prevalence and impact of a wide range of harmful content online, including pornography, to ensure that the Online Safety Bill provides comprehensive protections for children.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
5th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to monitor the effectiveness of social tariffs offered by broadband providers.

A range of broadband social tariff packages are now available in the market to support those on low incomes or who receive specific benefits. BT, for example, recently launched a Home Essentials package which will provide fibre and voice services to those on Universal Credit starting at £15 per month. Virgin, Hyperoptic and other providers are offering similar packages to assist households on low incomes. Between them, these products are available to 99% of households across the country.

The Government continues to encourage more fixed-line providers to introduce a social tariff and we will continue to monitor the provision in the market. We will also continue to work with Ofcom, which has a statutory duty to review the affordability of telecommunication services, to do this.

In December, the Government strengthened Ofcom's consumer protection rules, to ensure that consumers can access the right information to make informed decisions about new services, have stronger contract rights, and switch providers more easily. Ofcom also published its Vulnerability Guide in July 2020, setting out how the sector should support vulnerable households struggling to pay their bills.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that broadband internet access is affordable for people in receipt of low incomes and benefits.

A range of broadband social tariff packages are now available in the market to support those on low incomes or who receive specific benefits. BT, for example, recently launched a Home Essentials package which will provide fibre and voice services to those on Universal Credit starting at £15 per month. Virgin, Hyperoptic and other providers are offering similar packages to assist households on low incomes. Between them, these products are available to 99% of households across the country.

The Government continues to encourage more fixed-line providers to introduce a social tariff and we will continue to monitor the provision in the market. We will also continue to work with Ofcom, which has a statutory duty to review the affordability of telecommunication services, to do this.

In December, the Government strengthened Ofcom's consumer protection rules, to ensure that consumers can access the right information to make informed decisions about new services, have stronger contract rights, and switch providers more easily. Ofcom also published its Vulnerability Guide in July 2020, setting out how the sector should support vulnerable households struggling to pay their bills.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
29th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking (1) to increase digital inclusivity, and (2) to address the digital divide.

The Government’s 10 Tech Priorities include building a tech savvy nation where everyone has a base level of cyber and digital skills.

Training is available for adults wishing to acquire digital skills. The Government has introduced a digital entitlement for adults with no or low digital skills to undertake specified digital qualifications, up to level 1, free of charge.

The Government is tackling the digital divide for adults with learning disabilities through our £2.5m Digital Lifeline fund. This fund is providing tablets, data and free digital support to over 5,000 people with learning disabilities, enabling them to connect with friends and family, and access services and support groups, promoting overall well being.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital connectivity. It has been an important component in allowing children to learn remotely. Over 1.3 million laptops and tablets have been distributed to schools, trusts, local authorities and further education providers for disadvantaged children and young people as part of a £400 million government investment to support access to remote education and online social care services.

Government has worked closely with industry throughout the pandemic and agreed a set of commitments with the UK’s major broadband and mobile operators to support consumers during the Covid-19 period. Providers have committed to working with customers who are finding it difficult to pay their bill as a result of Covid-19 to ensure that they are treated fairly and appropriately supported. There are also social tariffs in place that provide low cost landline and broadband services for those on means tested benefits.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support charities help rebuild civil society after COVID-19.

The government has provided a multi-billion-pound package of support for Britain's charities to continue their vital work, and mitigate the risks created by the pandemic.

Charities continue to benefit from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and many will have benefited from government grants where they have been required to close non-essential retail. This support is in addition to the £750 million targeted support package that was made available to support charities and social enterprises to maintain and reshape vital services.

Guidance has been made available on a range of activities that will be relevant to charities and social enterprises, including organised events and grassroots sport and sports facilities. We have also worked with the Institute of Fundraising and Fundraising Regulator to support the development of guidance on the safe return to fundraising activities.

We continue to monitor sector health closely. The government is working with charity sector representatives to support a strong and resilient charity sector.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had about children's participation in sport and physical activity; and with whom those discussions took place.

The Government is committed to ensuring that all children and young people have the best opportunities to engage in sport and physical activity. We work closely with Sport England to review and increase children’s participation in sport and physical activity. We also regularly engage with a wide range of sport sector organisations on this issue.

The Government hosted school sport roundtable meetings in March and June of this year. Both meetings were attended by Sport England and a number of sport sector organisations, including national governing bodies. These discussions focused on getting our children and young people active again as we recover from the pandemic, as well as developing a long term strategy for school sport and physical activity.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to progress the Destination Management Organisation review.

The Government launched the independent review of Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) in England, led by Nick de Bois, in March. The review will examine how best to structure and support DMOs at a local and regional level in order to deliver the Government’s tourism policy priorities and support economic growth.

The first phase of the review included a public consultation, stakeholder conversations, and a survey of DMOs. The review's second phase was formed of regional roundtables, taking place across England in June.

Nick de Bois will evaluate his findings and submit a written report, including recommendations, to the DCMS Secretary of State in Summer 2021.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to privatise Channel 4.

As part of its ongoing strategic review of the UK’s system of public service broadcasting, the Government launched a public consultation on the future of Channel 4, including its ownership model and remit, on 6 July 2021 .

The broadcasting landscape has changed beyond recognition since Channel 4’s creation almost 40 years ago, and it continues to change apace. Increased global competition, changing audience habits, the decline of linear advertising revenue, and a wave of consolidation in the sector all pose challenges.

The Government’s consultation seeks views and evidence on whether stakeholders agree that a new ownership model would give Channel 4 the broadest range of tools to continue to thrive as a public service broadcaster in the face of these new challenges.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage growth in the creative industries.

The creative industries contributed approximately £116bn to the UK economy in 2019. The Government has recognised the sector as one of the key sectors to drive growth across the country in the Chancellor’s Plan for Growth.

We are actively supporting the creative industries through a range of initiatives such as:

  • £4m towards the Creative Scale-Up programme which seeks to help creative businesses expand their operations.

  • £39m towards the Creative Clusters programme through UKRI which connects businesses and academia to take advantage of the most recent research and innovations so they can grow.

  • £33m towards the Audience of the Future which encouraged creative businesses to use innovative new technologies to reach new audiences.

  • £20m towards the first round of the Cultural Development Fund to support business growth and productivity through investment in cultural and creative infrastructure via five projects in places like Wakefield and Worcester, in addition to a further £18.5m for a second round as part of the landmark Cultural Investment Fund, launched in May 2021.

  • HMG committed over £2m to the Creative Careers Programme which aims to address aspirational and informational barriers to entry amongst young people and their carers. To date over 115,000 young people have engaged with the programme at over 1500 schools in England and Wales.

  • Continuing to work with industry through the Creative Industries Trade and Investment Board to increase exports in the creative industries.

  • The Government supports trade promotion in the CIs through DIT’s export hubs, the Internationalisation Fund, the Export Academy. All this support will feature in the Creative Industries Export Campaign which will encourage both new exporters and companies wanting to look at new export markets to take advantage of the fantastic opportunities available to the UK as an independent trading nation.

  • The Government is also looking carefully at options for an Export Office.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
28th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to protect all UK citizens from online harms and misinformation.

On 12 May 2021, we published the draft Online Safety Bill, which sets out new expectations on companies to keep their users safe online. Companies will have to enforce their promises to users, remove criminal content from their sites, and protect children from harmful content including misinformation. The biggest companies will have duties on legal content that may cause significant physical or psychological harm to adults, including mis/disinformation such as anti-vaccination content and falsehoods about COVID-19.

The Bill will strengthen Ofcom’s existing duty to promote media literacy to build audience resilience to mis/disinformation and support users’ critical thinking skills. Ofcom will also be required to set up an advisory committee to build understanding and technical knowledge on how to tackle mis/disinformation.

The government is currently tackling mis/disinformation through the Cross-Whitehall Counter-Disinformation Unit, which develops a comprehensive picture of the extent, scope and the reach of mis/disinformation, and works with social media platforms to ensure appropriate action is taken in line with their terms of service.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to develop the technology sector.

The digital sector contributed £151bn to the UK economy in 2019 and accounts for 7.6% of UK GVA. It supports 1.6 million jobs and around 232,000 businesses of which almost all are SMEs. The Government is taking great strides to support this growth, championing the digital sector across Whitehall and supporting it through EU Exit and the pandemic.

As many companies struggled due to the pandemic, HMG introduced unprecedented support for the sector, including the Future Fund, Bounce Back Loans and Coronavirus Business Loans. The Future Fund alone has disbursed £1,066m in convertible loans to 1,055 innovative companies facing difficulties, including digital businesses.

Throughout the EU Exit process, HMG engaged regularly with the sector to understand their concerns, providing bespoke guidance for the sector throughout the Transition Period.

Last year DCMS introduced the UK Gigabit Programme and the Shared Rural Network programme to develop the country’s broadband infrastructure; introduced a Digital Markets Taskforce, an Online Harms White Paper response and a Digital Identity Call for Evidence to ensure people remain safe online. We ran an entirely digital London Tech Week to show our support for the sector. This event was a resounding success, with initial figures suggesting 2,500 unique viewers attended each day, with 24,000 registering for the entire event. DCMS also delivers support through Tech Nation and our Digital Trade Network.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of visa arrangements with the EU for UK musicians.

The UK and EU have unilaterally decided not to impose visas on short-stay visitors. For short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period, UK nationals will not need a visa when travelling to and within the Schengen Area to undertake a limited range of activities, such as tourism, or attending business meetings, or cultural and sports events. However, Member States can require a visa for what they regard as “paid activity”.

Therefore, UK cultural professionals, including musicians, seeking to tour within the EU will be required to check domestic immigration and visitor rules for each Member State in which they intend to tour. Although some Member States may allow touring without a visa or work permit, others will require musicians and other creative professionals to obtain a visa or work permit, in the same way that they are required for other international artists.

We recognise that this means there will be some additional processes for those in cultural and creative industries working across the EU. However this does not mean our sectors will not be able to work in the EU nor that our position has changed on being as welcoming as ever to talented EU artists and musicians wishing to perform in the UK.

We are delivering an extensive programme of engagement with the industry to assess impacts and support these sectors in understanding new requirements. The Secretary of State had a very productive discussion with representatives from across the creative and cultural sectors on the issue on Wednesday 20th January. We have also published guidance online, signposting to official information provided by EU countries about their business travel routes, which is regularly updated.

We will also look at whether we can work with our partners in EU Member States to find ways to make life easier for those working in the creative industries in our respective countries.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support local independent (1) newspapers, and (2) radio stations, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local news coverage provides a vital service - supplying information about local public affairs, holding local decision-makers to account, and providing a forum for community discussion. The Government’s manifesto recognises their role, committing to “support local and regional newspapers, as vital pillars of communities and local democracy”.

It has been an absolute priority to ensure we do all we can to support local news outlets during this crisis, as well as supporting commercial and community radio. This includes bringing forward the commencement of zero-rating of VAT on e-newspapers to May 2020, and reaching agreement with Arqiva, the UK’s TV and radio transmission provider, to provide six months discount charges which has benefited small local commercial radio stations.

Government also worked to ensure local media could operate during the Covid-19 lockdown period. We designated journalists and other key media ancillary staff as ‘key workers’; issued guidance to local authorities on the importance of newspaper delivery; took steps to ensure the use of ‘keyword blocklisting’ technology was not disproportionately limiting news publishers’ online advertising revenues for Covid-19 related stories; and implemented a significant public information campaign, using local and national press and commercial radio to extend the reach of these campaigns.

We continue to work closely with local news organisations to assess the effectiveness of our media support measures and the impact of Coronavirus-related government policy, including the current tiered restrictions, on their ability to continue supporting their communities.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they estimate that stage 5 of their plan to re-open live performance venues will begin.

From Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December, new national restrictions will be in force in England to control the spread of coronavirus. During this period, performing arts venues can continue to operate under Stages 1 and 2 of the performing arts roadmap. This means performing arts professionals may continue to rehearse and train, and perform for broadcast or recording purposes. Other than for this purpose, theatres, concert halls and entertainment venues must close.

We have consistently stated that further reopening would be dependent on the public health context at the time. We will continue to work with the sector and have convened a Venues Steering Group which includes representatives from leading sector organisations as well as Public Health England and other experts to develop an action plan for maximising activity under Stages 3 and 4 when it is permitted and for how we safely proceed to stage 5.

DCMS will continue to work with the sector to establish an appropriate pilot process for testing the return to stage 5 activity when appropriate. We are committed to exploring new technologies to minimise these risks, which is why in parallel the government is exploring innovative ways to keep these sectors open.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of swimming pool and gym closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sports and physical activity are incredibly important for our physical and mental health, and are a vital weapon against coronavirus. That’s why we made sure that people could exercise at least once a day even during the height of lockdown - and why we opened up grassroots sport and leisure facilities as soon as it was safe to do so.

As announced by the Prime Minister on Saturday from Thursday until Wednesday 2 November there will be significant restrictions on some sectors of the economy including the closure of indoor and outdoor leisure. Outdoor gyms and playgrounds will remain open. Exercise and recreation outdoors will be allowed with your household or on your own with one person from another household.

It is not possible to isolate the specific impact of swimming pool and gym closures on physical activity levels because people can substitute this with other activities such as running and cycling.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial position of the grassroots sports sector.

Sports and physical activity providers and facilities are at the heart of our communities, and play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active.

Government has provided unprecedented support to businesses through tax reliefs, cash grants and employee wage support, which many sport clubs have benefited from. An income scheme announced in July by the Secretary of State for Local Government, aims to support local authorities who have incurred irrecoverable loss of income from sales, fees and charge which they had reasonably budgeted for. On 22 October, the Government announced a £100m support fund for local authority leisure centres. In addition, Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund has also provided £210 million directly to support community sport clubs and exercise centres through this pandemic.

We are continuing to work with organisations to understand what they need and how we may be able to support them.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are on track to meet their target of full-fibre, gigabit-capable broadband by 2025.

The Government remains committed to delivering nationwide gigabit connectivity as soon as possible. Our ambition is to deliver this by 2025. We recognise that this is a challenging ambition. We support industry’s plans to deliver gigabit broadband to the most commercial parts of the UK (c.80% of the country) and will continue to take action to remove barriers to deployment to help them deliver this by 2025.

Building Digital UK (BDUK) is currently in the process of mobilising the new £5 billion UK Gigabit Programme which was announced in the Spring Budget. Procurements will commence in 2021.

According to Thinkbroadband (https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/) as of 27 October, coverage at UK premises for different broadband speeds is currently:

  • Superfast (30Mbps) = 96.50%

  • Ultrafast (100Mbps) = 63.27%

  • Gigabit (1,000Mbps) = 27.52%

  • Full Fibre (Gigabit+) = 17.49%

Virgin Media are in the process of activating gigabit services across their entire network by the end of 2021, and this currently covers over 52% of the UK. BT Openreach and CityFibre also have multi-billion pound fibre rollout programmes underway so a leap in gigabit coverage during 2021 is anticipated. This planned build predominantly covers urban areas so DCMS’s focus is on stimulating build in the more rural and disadvantaged areas of the UK where the commercial market will not build unaided.

The government has invested significant amounts in digital infrastructure over the last decade. The DCMS portfolio of active projects is currently c.£4 billion (detailed below) and in the Spring Budget, a further £5 billion of investment was announced for the hardest to reach areas of the UK. More details regarding the programme will follow in the Autumn Spending Review.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the removal of the TV licence concession for the over-75s on their loneliness strategy.

The future of the over 75s concession is the responsibility of the BBC, not of the government. The government is disappointed with the BBC's decision to restrict the over 75 licence fee concession to only those in receipt of pension credit. We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe they should be funded by the BBC. The BBC must ensure that it supports those affected by its decision and we expect it to do so with the utmost sensitivity.

More broadly, the government remains committed to working with partners across society to tackle loneliness, including for people over 75. Earlier this year we announced new action to support social connection during the Covid-19 pandemic, including new funding for loneliness charities, guidance for the public, and the new Tackling Loneliness Network.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to support the voluntary and community sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Charities play an invaluable role in this country, which is why we have committed an unprecedented £750 million in targeted funding so that they can continue their vital work through the coronavirus outbreak. This included £60 million which was distributed via the Barnett formula to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to support charities on the frontline of the response.

The Government also matched public donations to the BBC’s “Big Night In” charity appeal, with over £70 million being distributed by Comic Relief, Children In Need and the National Emergencies Trust to charities on the frontline. Our £85 million Community Match Challenge has secured an additional £85m of match funding from charities, funders and philanthropists for good causes.

An additional £150 million from dormant bank and building society accounts has been unlocked to help charities, social enterprises and individuals in vulnerable financial circumstances during the coronavirus outbreak.

Charities, social enterprises and other types of civil society organisations, have benefited from wider Government support such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and are eligible for the new Job Support Scheme.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address loneliness this winter.

Government is addressing the impact of loneliness this winter by providing millions of pounds in funding, inspiring organisations to take action and encouraging people to reach out through our campaign ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’.

As part of the £750 million charity funding package announced in the spring, £18 million has been provided to charities at the forefront of tackling loneliness. This funding is directly benefiting people at increased risk of loneliness, including young carers, veterans, new parents, people living with disabilities and many more.

We have set up a new Tackling Loneliness Network that brings together over 65 private, public and voluntary organisations. These organisations are sharing expertise and developing innovative ways to tackle loneliness.

The ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’ campaign continues to share practical tips and signpost support via social media and through our website, so that no one needs to feel lonely this winter.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support tourism businesses that are unable to trade due to COVID-19 restrictions.

We are aware that many tourism businesses’ trade has been restricted by Government measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

We have taken a number of steps to support tourism businesses through this period, including the significant cut to VAT for tourism and hospitality activities until the end of March. Businesses can continue to make use of the Government’s broader support package, including the Bounce Back Loans scheme, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and the Job Support Scheme.

We have expanded the Job Support Scheme to provide support to businesses whose premises have been legally required to close as a direct result of Covid-19 restrictions set by one or more of the four governments of the UK.

We have also announced grants of up to £2,100 per month, primarily for businesses in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector who may be adversely impacted by the restrictions in high-alert level areas in England.

We are continuing to engage across Government and with stakeholders to assess how we can most effectively support the recovery of tourism across the UK.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to close the digital divide.

We continue to take steps to roll out gigabit capable broadband to every home and business in the UK, including a £5bn investment ensuring the whole of the UK benefits from a world class broadband infrastructure. Current gigabit coverage is over 27% of the UK and growing quickly, this is compared to under 5% just two years ago. Mobile coverage is also improving, thanks to our landmark Shared Rural Network agreement with the mobile network operators - the first of its kind in the world - 95% of the UK will have 4G coverage by the end of 2025.

The introduction of the Digital Entitlement means that adults with no or low digital skills can undertake new digital qualifications up to Level 1 free of charge. The Government also supports the Future Digital Inclusion Programme. Since 2014, the programme has helped over 1.4 million people to gain the digital skills they need for life and work.

In response to Covid-19 the Government invested over £195 million to support remote education. Part of this included delivering over 220,000 laptops and tablets over the summer term for vulnerable and disadvantaged children who would not otherwise have access. We are also making available 250,000 additional laptops and tablets (100,000 of these have been delivered since September) for disadvantaged children to supplement this in the event face-to-face schooling is disrupted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to introduce an online harms bill.

The Government is firmly committed to making the UK the safest place to be online, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as well as the Home Office are working at pace to introduce this legislation. We will publish a Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation later this year, and we will follow this with legislation, which will be ready early next year.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
29th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had, and with whom, about tackling online abuse targeted at women.

Ministers and officials have regular meetings and discussions with a wide range of stakeholders, on a variety of issues, including online abuse targeted at women. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the Gov.uk website.

The new online harms regulatory framework will require companies to put effective systems and processes in place to protect UK users from harm online. Further details will be included in the full government response to the consultation, which we will publish later this year.


Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to reinstate the Erasmus scheme for developing international educational opportunities in all schools in England.

While the government fully recognises the benefits of international educational opportunities, the government has decided that it was not in the UK's interests to seek continuing participation in the Erasmus+ programme.

Under the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU, the UK will continue to participate fully in the 2014-2020 Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes. This means that the projects successfully bid for during the current programmes will continue to receive EU funding for the full duration of the project, where certain projects may continue up to 2024.

The UK has introduced the Turing Scheme, a new international mobility scheme that has a global reach. The Turing Scheme provides funding for UK education providers and organisations in the schools, higher education, further education, vocational education, and training sectors to offer international opportunities across the world for their pupils, students, and learners. Funding has been allocated for over 41,000 individual placements to over 150 destinations across the 2021/2022 academic year.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
23rd May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of budgets allocated to Special Educational Needs in England in each of the last five years since 1 April 2017.

In response to the department's assessment of the extra demands on the high needs budget, which covers children and young people with more complex special educational needs (SEN), there have been increases to high needs funding allocations to local authorities in England in the last five years, as shown in the table below. Furthermore, the department was able to announce last December that overall high needs funding for children and young people with complex needs is increasing in this financial year by £1 billion to over £9 billion. This includes a small amount of funding that is not allocated to local authorities.

Local authorities have also increased the notional amounts allocated to mainstream schools for their pupils with lower level SEN, and to meet costs up to £6,000 per pupil for those with high needs, and these are also included in the table below.

Financial year

Total high needs funding allocations to local authorities (£ million)

Mainstream school notional SEN budget totals (£ million)

2017-18

5,827

3,148

2018-19

6,115

3,693

2019-20

6,279

3,945

2020-21

7,063

4,117

2021-22

7,906

4,316

2022-23 (including supplementary funding)

8,981

Due to be published later this year

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to establish a long-term plan for education focused on digital inclusion for every child in England.

Building on the government’s £400 million investment in devices, connectivity, training and support for remote access to education and children’s social care services during the COVID-19 outbreak, the department is developing an evidence-based and strategic approach for technology use in the education sector. We will explore options that create a more resilient, digitally enabled system. This approach will include consideration of devices and the infrastructure and capability required to make the best use of these devices. The department will take into account the recommendations of the UNICEF report in developing this strategy. We may need to prioritise our interventions and will take an evidence based and user-centred approach in collaboration with industry and experts.

The department’s strategy will align with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s top ten priorities for technology. We continue to work closely with them as the lead department on digital inclusion, and through their relationship with Ofcom for data on availability of technology in homes in England.

22nd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have (1) to undertake a mapping exercise to collect data on the numbers of children who are digitally excluded, and (2) to publish the reasons for such exclusion.

Building on the government’s £400 million investment in devices, connectivity, training and support for remote access to education and children’s social care services during the COVID-19 outbreak, the department is developing an evidence-based and strategic approach for technology use in the education sector. We will explore options that create a more resilient, digitally enabled system. This approach will include consideration of devices and the infrastructure and capability required to make the best use of these devices. The department will take into account the recommendations of the UNICEF report in developing this strategy. We may need to prioritise our interventions and will take an evidence based and user-centred approach in collaboration with industry and experts.

The department’s strategy will align with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s top ten priorities for technology. We continue to work closely with them as the lead department on digital inclusion, and through their relationship with Ofcom for data on availability of technology in homes in England.

22nd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by UNICEF and the Carnegie UK Trust Closing the Digital Divide for Good: An end to the digital exclusion of children in the UK, published on 21 June.

Building on the government’s £400 million investment in devices, connectivity, training and support for remote access to education and children’s social care services during the COVID-19 outbreak, the department is developing an evidence-based and strategic approach for technology use in the education sector. We will explore options that create a more resilient, digitally enabled system. This approach will include consideration of devices and the infrastructure and capability required to make the best use of these devices. The department will take into account the recommendations of the UNICEF report in developing this strategy. We may need to prioritise our interventions and will take an evidence based and user-centred approach in collaboration with industry and experts.

The department’s strategy will align with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s top ten priorities for technology. We continue to work closely with them as the lead department on digital inclusion, and through their relationship with Ofcom for data on availability of technology in homes in England.

12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that children and their parents or carers have effective education about internet safety, specifically online abuse and sexual exploitation, and about what healthy relationships look like in the digital world.

The Department is committed to supporting schools to deliver high quality teaching of Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education (RSHE) which includes teaching about online safety and is compulsory in all state-funded schools in England.

Health Education includes specific content about online safety and harms and includes being taught what positive, healthy and respectful online relationships look like, the effect of online actions on others and knowing how to recognise and display respectful behaviour in an age appropriate way. As with all curriculum teaching, schools have the flexibility to tailor their teaching to specific cohorts and to the needs of their pupils.

The RSHE statutory guidance sets out that at primary school, pupils will be taught about online relationships and being safe in an online context. At secondary school, pupils will be taught about online and media and internet safety and harms. A full breakdown of content can be found in the RSHE statutory guidance and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education.

To further support this, the department published Teaching Online Safety in School which highlights potentials harms and risks and suggests how they might be addressed through the curriculum. The risks include how content can be used and shared, grooming, pornography and live streaming: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teaching-online-safety-in-schools.

Guides for parents and carers of primary and secondary age pupils that schools and parents can use to help them with teaching about RSHE can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-sex-and-health-education-guides-for-schools.

The new RSHE subjects complement the embedded computing curriculum, which covers the principles of online safety at all key stages, including teaching on how to use technology safely, responsibly, respectfully and securely, how to keep personal information private, and where to go for help and support when they have concerns about content or contact on the internet or other online technologies.

12th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of funding for education and skills provision to help unemployed people; and what recent discussions they have had, if any, about that funding.

The department wants to ensure that a wide range of opportunities are available to people of all ages. Anyone who becomes unemployed for whatever reason can access a range of provision to meet their future skills needs, and funding for this will depend on age and prior attainment.

Adult skills are key in supporting the economy and tackling disadvantage and so we are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) (£1.34 billion in the 2020/21 academic year). The AEB fully funds or co-funds skills provision for eligible adults aged 19 and above from pre-entry to Level 3, to support adults to gain the skills they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning and training up to Level 2 for unemployed people aged 19 and over.

In July, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a £500 million package of support to ensure young people can access the training, and develop the skills they will need, to go on to high-quality, secure, and fulfilling employment including: incentive payments for employers to take on apprentices; tripling the number of traineeships; and an additional £17 million in the 2020/21 financial year to support an increase in the number of sector-based work academy programme placements. This additional funding will enable unemployed individuals acquire the skills needed for local jobs.

Starting this year, the government is investing £2.5 billion (£3 billion when including Barnett funding for devolved administrations) in the National Skills Fund. This is a significant investment and has the potential to deliver new opportunities to generations of adults who may have been previously left behind.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £375 million for the National Skills Fund at the Spending Review in November 2020. This includes £95 million funding for a new Level 3 adult offer and £43 million for Skills Bootcamps, as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

From April 2021, any adult aged 24 and over who is looking to achieve their first full Level 3, which is equivalent to an advanced technical certificate or diploma, or two full A levels, will be able to access a fully funded course which will give them new skills and greater prospects in the labour market. Currently, adults between the ages of 19 to 23 are eligible for full funding for their first full Level 3. This offer will ensure that adults aged 24 and over are now able to access their first full, fully funded, Level 3 qualification.

We have also introduced the Skills Bootcamps, which are free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. Skills Bootcamps have the potential to transform the skills landscape for adults and employers.

The Skills Bootcamps are open to all adults aged 19 or over, who are either in work or recently unemployed. Further to this, we have now opened an Invitation to Tender to extend Skills Bootcamps to more areas, and to cover not only digital skills but also technical skills training including engineering and construction. This will enable us to assist employers across England to fill their in-demand vacancies and we anticipate training upwards of 25,000 individuals.

The government plans to consult on the National Skills Fund in spring 2021 to ensure that we develop a fund that helps adults learn valuable skills and prepares them for the economy of the future.

Also, as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, has announced a lifelong loan entitlement. This will make is easier for all adults to study more flexibly, allowing them to space out their studies across their lifetimes, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study.

29th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had, and with whom, about the potential merits of including black British history in the national curriculum.

Department officials have discussed the flexible scope of the history curriculum, and the opportunities there are to teach black history within it, with a number of organisations such as the Runnymede Trust, The Black Curriculum and the Historical Association. We welcome the profile given to the importance of teaching black history by bodies such as the Runnymede Trust, The Black Curriculum, Fill in the Blanks and many other groups and individuals over the years, and the support and resources on teaching they provide to teachers.

28th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to close the attainment gap for (1) disabled children, and (2) children from (a) disadvantaged, and (b) BAME, communities.

The government is taking steps to close the attainment gap for disabled and disadvantaged children.

We have announced £780 million additional funding in 2020-21 for children and young people with the most complex needs, bringing the total funding for high needs to £7.2 billion.

Since 2018, we have commissioned a programme of work to embed special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) into school improvement practice and to equip the workforce to deliver high-quality teaching across all types of SEND. The department provided funding of £3.9 million for the first 2 financial years and have extended the contract until March 2021 for a further £2.18 million.

On 19 May, the government announced that the Family Fund will receive funding of £37.3 million in the financial year 2020-21 to provide grants to families on low incomes who have disabilities or severe medical conditions. This funding includes £10 million which has been allocated to help families in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. More details are available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/37-million-to-support-children-with-complex-needs.

To help close the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils, our £1 billion COVID-19 catch-up package will provide additional funding to schools to support pupils whose education has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Part of this package includes the National Tutoring Programme (NTP), which is providing £350 million of targeted support focused on disadvantaged pupils. This will give schools access to subsidised tuition and in-house academic mentor to help disadvantaged pupils make up for lost learning time. The NTP sits alongside our £650 million universal catch-up premium funding for the current academic year, which will enable schools to prioritise support for specific groups of pupils in line with their level of need.

The ongoing provision of pupil premium funding, which is worth £2.4 billion this financial year, aims to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. It allows school leaders to tailor the support they provide, based on the needs of their disadvantaged pupils, with the aim of accelerating their progress and improving their attainment.

To help schools support pupils with particular characteristics, including ethnicity, we have commissioned an independent research and assessment agency to consider catch-up needs and monitor progress over the course of the year, to help us target support across the system. This research will make use of existing assessments that schools already choose to use and are typically taken by over a million children each year. This will allow the department to assess how a range of groups are performing over this year, including the most disadvantaged and those with historically poor outcomes.

28th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support women returning to work to access childcare as restrictions to address the COVID-19 pandemic are eased.

The government funds a generous package of free and subsidised childcare. Parents can find out more about the support they can get at: https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.

The government recognises the importance of childcare to families. Early years was one of the first sectors in which COVID-19 restrictions were eased. Since 1 June, early years providers have been able to open to all children, and since 20 July, they have been able to return to their normal group sizes.

We are providing extra security to nurseries and childminders that are open by ‘block-buying’ childcare places for the rest of this year at the level we would have funded before the COVID-19 outbreak, regardless of how many children are attending. We have also made temporary changes to ensure that eligible parents who experienced a reduction or increase in income as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak retain their eligibility for the entitlement to 30 hours of free childcare a week.

Local authorities are responsible for ensuring there are sufficient childcare places during the COVID-19 outbreak. Parents who are experiencing difficulties in obtaining childcare should contact their local authority directly.

2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial effect of the decision of examination bodies in England to allow predicted grades as a basis for students’ applications on universities and the higher education sector.

My hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, and departmental officials have been working closely with the higher education sector, through the Higher Education Taskforce, to review developments in the admissions cycle taking place in the current complex circumstances, including the reliance on centre-assessment grades. The taskforce continues to examine patterns of admissions, with expert input and information from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. This ongoing analysis and dialogue with the sector includes consideration of financial implications of the way in which the admissions cycle is operating in practice. My hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, will continue to listen to the views raised through the taskforce.

The government understands that the sector is facing significant financial challenges and we are working closely with the sector, with the Office for Students (OfS), and across the government to understand these challenges. We will work closely with any provider affected. Providers with concerns about their financial viability or sustainability have been encouraged to contact the OfS at the earliest opportunity. They are now also able and encouraged to contact the Department for Education’s Restructuring Unit directly.

The government has already put a number of financial support measures in place. We have announced a package of measures which combines different ways to give further support to providers at this time of financial pressure. We have pulled forward an estimated £2.6 billion worth of forecast tuition fee payments to ease cashflow pressure this autumn. We are also bringing forward quality-related research funding for higher education providers in England in the current academic year by £100 million.

To ensure that providers are able to offer increased capacity, the government will provide additional grant funding to support this provision which is vital to our economy and public services, as well as providing additional teaching grant funding to increase capacity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and other high-cost subjects. The OfS will consult the sector on the details of how the allocations are made in due course.

Providers will also be eligible to bid for a share of up to £10 million of funding to support capital expenditure. This funding will be used to support the infrastructure required to accommodate additional students recruited as a result of the changes to policy on A level grades. The fund will be administered by the OfS, and providers will be eligible to bid for projects which support expansion in 2020/21.

The government has also announced a further package of support to universities and other research organisations to enable them to continue their research and innovation activities. This includes £280 million of taxpayer funding as well as a package of low-interest loans with long pay-back periods, supplemented by a small amount of government grants. In sharing responsibility for the future of science and research with our world-leading university system, from the autumn the government will cover up to 80% of a university’s income losses from international students for the academic year 2020/21, up to the value of their non-publicly funded research activity.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, also announced further information about the Higher Education Restructuring Regime on 16 July. This may be deployed as a last resort, if a decision has been made to support a provider in England, when other steps to preserve a provider’s viability and mitigate the risks of financial failure have not proved sufficient.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with representatives of the higher education sector in (1) Northern Ireland, (2) Wales, (3) England, and (4) Scotland.

The Department for Education is in regular contact with representatives of the higher education system throughout the United Kingdom and has weekly interactions with Universities UK and the Office for Students (OfS).

We have also recently established a Higher Education Taskforce, which is looking at the admissions processes following recent changes to exam results. This taskforce includes representatives from UCAS, the OfS and a wide range of university groups. Following these changes, my hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, has also had bilateral calls with the Vice Chancellors of many universities in England.

The Department has also had regular contact with its counterparts – both at ministerial and official level – in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland throughout the summer.

Officials from the department have weekly calls with colleagues from the devolved administrations on a number of policy areas, including on the COVID-19 response and higher education admissions.

At a ministerial level, there are both bilateral discussions on a regular basis and quadrilateral meetings between my hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, and her counterparts in the home nations.

These are all supplemented with ad hoc discussions on emerging policy. To give an example, there were discussions regarding the recent results day and subsequent move to centre-assessed grades in England, which also led to the removal of student number controls, an area of interest to each of the devolved administrations.

We are also working directly with representatives of the higher education sector throughout the UK. An example of this is a recent conversation my hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, had with the Vice Chancellors of Queens University, Belfast, the University of Edinburgh and Cardiff University.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the merits of including Black British history in the national curriculum in England.

The department is committed to an inclusive education system which recognises and embraces diversity and supports all pupils and students to tackle racism and have the knowledge and tools to do so.

The national curriculum is a framework setting out the content of what the department expects schools to cover in each subject. The curriculum does not set out how curriculum subjects, or topics within the subjects, should be taught. The department believes teachers should be able to use their own knowledge and expertise to determine how they teach their pupils, and to make choices about what they teach.

As part of a broad and balanced curriculum, pupils should be taught about different societies, and how different groups have contributed to the development of Britain, and this can include the voices and experience of Black people. The flexibility within the history curriculum means that Black British history can already be included in the teaching of the curriculum.

13th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with the food industry in Northern Ireland in relation to the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

Defra regularly engages with a wide range of businesses and industry bodies including the food industry via various forums, to understand the impacts of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Our weekly NI-GB Food Supply Chain Forum regularly attracts over 150 businesses and, during the week commencing 13 June, we held eight distinct engagements with multiple sectors of the food supply chain via dedicated roundtables, forums and 1:1 engagements.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made protecting peatlands in England; and what discussions they have had with the devolved nations and regions about this issue.

In the Net Zero Strategy, we committed to aim to restore approximately 280,000 ha of peatland in England by 2050, with the Nature for Climate Fund providing funding for the restoration of approximately 35,000ha of peatland by 2025. In the England Peat Action Plan, published last year, we set out the steps we will take to protect and restore our peatland.

In 2021, Defra established the Lowland Agricultural Peat Task Force to explore ways of preserving the carbon stored in our lowland farmed peatlands, both to reduce emissions and to safeguard productive agriculture, and we look forward to receiving its recommendations later this summer.

The Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2021 prohibits burning on deep peat in protected sites without a licence and the accompanying guidance sets out the very limited circumstances where burning will be seen as a permissible activity conducted in the right place for the right reasons. We are continuing to engage with stakeholders to encourage sustainable land management practices that reflect our ambitions to restore and protect our peatlands.

Through the England Peat Action Plan, we are encouraging landowners and land managers to adopt or create good quality wildfire management plans and use sustainable land management practices to reduce fuel loads - making the land more resilient to and mitigating the risk of wildfire. Last April we supported the development of a new training program, to consolidate knowledge, skills and understanding of vegetation fires including wildfire incidents. Defra has committed further funding for the next three years and we continue to share learning and good practice with the devolved administrations.

We have consulted on measures to end the use of peat and peat containing products in horticulture, including a ban on the sale of peat in the retail sector by the end of this Parliament. We continue to engage with the industry on making the transition to peat-free alternatives as seamless as possible and will publish our formal response to the consultation in due course.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to tackle global deforestation.

The UK continues to take a leading role in working with global partners to halt and reverse forest loss. At COP26, the UK led the way in securing an agreement from over 140 world leaders, representing over 90% of the world’s forests, to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 under the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use. This was backed by almost £14 billion of public and private funding, including $1.5 billion to protect the forests of the Congo Basin, an area of critical importance to global efforts to address climate change.

In February 2021, the UK and Indonesia established the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue, bringing together major producer and consumer countries of agricultural commodities to protect forests while promoting development and trade. At COP26, 28 governments including Indonesia, Colombia, Brazil, Ghana, the EU, UK and USA launched the FACT Roadmap, committing to advance sustainable production and trade, and outlining actions to incentivise sustainability, support smallholder farmers, improve transparency of supply chains and drive innovation.

The UK has introduced ambitious due diligence legislation through the Environment Act to help tackle illegal deforestation in UK supply chains. This new law is one part of a wider package of measures to improve the sustainability of our supply chains and will contribute to global efforts to protect forests and other ecosystems. It will make it illegal for larger businesses operating in the UK to use key forest risk commodities produced on land illegally occupied or used.

We have also doubled our international climate finance to £11.6 billion, of which at least £3 billion will be spent on nature, including solutions that protect, restore and sustainably manage forests. FCDO, BEIS and Defra share the forests portfolio which aims to specifically reduce emissions from deforestation and land use change and help forest communities adapt to climate change through sustainable farming and land use practices.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what specific measures they will implement to address sensitive species bycatch in English waters.

We recognise that accidental bycatch in fisheries is one of the greatest threats faced by sensitive marine species such as dolphins and seabirds, and we remain fully committed to tackling this issue. The Fisheries Act 2020 and Joint Fisheries Statement have an “ecosystem objective” which includes an objective to minimise and, where possible, eliminate incidental catches of sensitive marine species.

Since 2020, Defra has funded Clean Catch UK, a research programme which is developing and trialling a range of bycatch monitoring and mitigation measures in Cornwall (a known high-risk area for sensitive species bycatch). This programme has developed a bycatch self-reporting mobile application validated by observers and electronic monitoring and an online ‘Bycatch Mitigation Hub’ with information on different approaches to reduce bycatch. In addition, we are working with the fishing industry to trial various innovative technologies to reduce cetacean bycatch. The government will continue to build on the work of Clean Catch to improve our understanding of bycatch and implement effective mitigation measures to minimise and, where possible, eliminate bycatch.

The UK Government funds a comprehensive and well-respected bycatch monitoring programme which provides essential observer data on incidents of sensitive species bycatch. The programme focuses primarily on gear types with a high expected or known risk of sensitive species bycatch. A new contract for the bycatch monitoring programme is expected to begin in April 2022.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Bycatch Mitigation Initiative’s ability to meet the ecosystem objective in the Fisheries Act 2020, to ensure that sensitive species bycatch is (1) minimised, and (2) eliminated.

We recognise that accidental bycatch in fisheries is one of the greatest threats faced by sensitive marine species such as dolphins and seabirds, and we remain fully committed to tackling this issue. Defra officials are working closely with the Devolved Administrations to finalise the UK Bycatch Mitigation Initiative (BMI).

The BMI will identify policy objectives and potential actions to achieve part of the Fisheries Act’s ecosystem objective to minimise and, where possible, eliminate incidental catches of sensitive marine species. The actions include improving our understanding of where and how much bycatch occurs and implementing effective mitigation measures to minimise and, where possible, eliminate bycatch.

This initiative will set out a joint vision for bycatch across the UK. Each administration will be responsible for developing solutions that are tailored to local needs.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect DEFRA and the Office of Environmental Protection will (1) agree, and (2) publish, a Framework Document; and whether this will be in draft form.

We are committed to working collaboratively with the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) to finalise the Defra-OEP Framework Document as soon as possible. The Framework Document will be published in due course, once a final version has been agreed between Defra and the OEP.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish a new life cycle assessment of nappies to replace the 2008 Life Cycle Assessment.

The Defra-funded environmental assessment of washable and disposable nappies is nearing completion. Peer review is expected to commence shortly and we aim to publish the research in the spring.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish their Environmental Principles Policy Statement; what is their timetable for it coming into effect; and what interim arrangements they have made for the intervening period.

We will publish the environmental principles draft policy statement as soon as possible, following the consultation we carried out last year.

The policy statement will then undergo parliamentary scrutiny and a final version will be published. There will be an implementation period to allow Government departments to prepare for the new duty. Defra has already been working with departments by providing training and ensuring the new duty is clearly captured by existing Government policy guidance documents, such as HM Treasury’s Green Book.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will announce the budget for the Office for Environmental Protection; and whether this will be ring-fenced within the relevant spending review.

The Government is committed to establishing the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) with sufficient funding to fulfil its statutory functions. The OEP will be given a five-year indicative budget, which will be ring-fenced by Defra within the spending review period. The OEP’s budget for financial year 22/23 and an indicative five-year budget will be announced before it comes into effect at the start of the next financial year.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
31st Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to the need to introduce legislation to ban the importation of F1 and F2 hybrid cats.

Pet dogs, cats and ferrets are strictly defined within the pet travel legislation as Canis lupis familiaris (domestic dog), Felis silvestris catus (domestic cat) and Mustela putorius furo (ferret). Movements of these pet animals must be accompanied by documentation verifying identification, valid rabies vaccinations, a rabies blood test (if required) and, if relevant, treatment against the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis.

Under the current legislation, documentation can only be issued to domestic dogs, cats and ferrets. Other species are not permitted to travel under the pet travel or commercial import rules. We consider that the legislation governing these movements is fit for purpose.

Animals other than domestic animals must be entered into a zoo-approved quarantine premises and an import licence is required.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
31st Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have considered to tackle social media influencers promoting the sale of (1) exotic, and (2) hybrid, animals online.

The commercial sale of cats as pets is regulated under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018. The 2018 Regulations set out clear requirements for those who breed and sell cats commercially, including their importation and distribution. For example, licencees must meet strict statutory minimum welfare standards which are enforced by local authorities who have powers to issue, refuse or revoke licences. Any licensee advertising animals for sale will need to include their licence number in the advert and specify the local authority who issued the licence. Additional requirements placed on advertisements include that the age of the animal for sale must be displayed along with a recognisable photograph.

Additionally, the keeping of dangerous wild animals is regulated by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. Keepers of dangerous wild animals listed in the Schedule to the 1976 Act must get a Dangerous Wild Animals licence from their local authority. Licences must be obtained by keepers prior to the acquisition of such animals. All cats are listed in the Schedule to the Act, although several species – such as the domestic cat – are exempted. Cat hybrids having a domestic cat, or other exempted species, as one parent and a non-exempted cat as the other parent would require a Dangerous Wild Animals licence. Subsequent generations, involving a domestic or other exempted cat as one parent and a hybrid cat as the other parent would not require a licence.

Licences can only be granted when the authority is satisfied that it would not be contrary to public interest on the grounds of safety or nuisance; that the applicant is a suitable person; and the animal's accommodation is adequate and secure. The effect of the 1976 Act is to restrict the purchase of dangerous wild animals to those who can keep them safely and provide them with suitable accommodation and diet.

Influencer marketing is not a new phenomenon, however, the pace and change on social media platforms has led to a rapidly growing market. This has created opportunities for users to become influencers, and they in turn can bring positive impacts to society through campaigning or advocacy. At the same time, there is evidence of problems in this market. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has programmes of work on Online Safety and on Online Advertising to ensure the regulatory framework remains appropriate. However, it is the responsibility of all actors in the supply chain - from brands to talent agencies, platforms and influencers themselves - to ensure that this is a market that uploads the highest standards and best practice is improved.

The Government is considering whether advertising regulation online should be strengthened, recognising the rapid growth of online advertising. DCMS will be consulting on the Online Advertising Programme this spring, which will look at whether the current regulatory regime is equipped to tackle these challenges.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
31st Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to tackle the sale of (1) hybrid, and (2) wild, cats online.

The commercial sale of cats as pets is regulated under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018. The 2018 Regulations set out clear requirements for those who breed and sell cats commercially, including their importation and distribution. For example, licencees must meet strict statutory minimum welfare standards which are enforced by local authorities who have powers to issue, refuse or revoke licences. Any licensee advertising animals for sale will need to include their licence number in the advert and specify the local authority who issued the licence. Additional requirements placed on advertisements include that the age of the animal for sale must be displayed along with a recognisable photograph.

Additionally, the keeping of dangerous wild animals is regulated by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. Keepers of dangerous wild animals listed in the Schedule to the 1976 Act must get a Dangerous Wild Animals licence from their local authority. Licences must be obtained by keepers prior to the acquisition of such animals. All cats are listed in the Schedule to the Act, although several species – such as the domestic cat – are exempted. Cat hybrids having a domestic cat, or other exempted species, as one parent and a non-exempted cat as the other parent would require a Dangerous Wild Animals licence. Subsequent generations, involving a domestic or other exempted cat as one parent and a hybrid cat as the other parent would not require a licence.

Licences can only be granted when the authority is satisfied that it would not be contrary to public interest on the grounds of safety or nuisance; that the applicant is a suitable person; and the animal's accommodation is adequate and secure. The effect of the 1976 Act is to restrict the purchase of dangerous wild animals to those who can keep them safely and provide them with suitable accommodation and diet.

Influencer marketing is not a new phenomenon, however, the pace and change on social media platforms has led to a rapidly growing market. This has created opportunities for users to become influencers, and they in turn can bring positive impacts to society through campaigning or advocacy. At the same time, there is evidence of problems in this market. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has programmes of work on Online Safety and on Online Advertising to ensure the regulatory framework remains appropriate. However, it is the responsibility of all actors in the supply chain - from brands to talent agencies, platforms and influencers themselves - to ensure that this is a market that uploads the highest standards and best practice is improved.

The Government is considering whether advertising regulation online should be strengthened, recognising the rapid growth of online advertising. DCMS will be consulting on the Online Advertising Programme this spring, which will look at whether the current regulatory regime is equipped to tackle these challenges.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
31st Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to banning the cross breeding of exotic cats with domestic cat breeds in England.

Where any animal is subject to inappropriate breeding practices, whether for commercial activity or not, their welfare may suffer. To combat this all animals are protected under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The 2006 Act requires those in charge of animals to protect them from harm and to ensure they have five key welfare needs provided for. Those in charge of animals who fail to protect them from harm, or fail to provide for their welfare needs may be prosecuted and face penalties including a custodial sentence or an unlimited fine, or both.

Additionally, the keeping of dangerous wild animals is regulated by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. Keepers of dangerous wild animals listed in the Schedule to the 1976 Act must get a Dangerous Wild Animals licence from their local authority. Licences must be obtained by keepers prior to the acquisition of such animals. All cats are listed in the Schedule to the Act, although several species – such as the domestic cat – are exempted. Cat hybrids having a domestic cat, or other exempted species, as one parent and a non-exempted cat as the other parent would require a Dangerous Wild Animals licence.

Licences can only be granted when the authority is satisfied that it would not be contrary to public interest on the grounds of safety or nuisance; that the applicant is a suitable person; and the animal's accommodation is adequate and secure. The effect of the 1976 Act is to restrict the purchase of dangerous wild animals to those who can keep them safely and provide them with suitable accommodation and diet.

Where breeding does lead to poor outcomes for the animals involved it is right for us to be concerned. Currently, there is only very limited evidence that the breeding of exotic and domestic cats causes harm to the animals involved. Any revision of the applicable licensing schemes or new regulation would require strong and verifiable evidence of a significant welfare issue which, despite our relationships with representatives and organisations from across the animal welfare spectrum, has not been forthcoming. Nevertheless, we will continue to work with the sector to identify any issues and agree and implement improvements where they are necessary.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
31st Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the harms caused by breeding exotic cat species with domestic cat breeds in England.

Where any animal is subject to inappropriate breeding practices, whether for commercial activity or not, their welfare may suffer. To combat this all animals are protected under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The 2006 Act requires those in charge of animals to protect them from harm and to ensure they have five key welfare needs provided for. Those in charge of animals who fail to protect them from harm, or fail to provide for their welfare needs may be prosecuted and face penalties including a custodial sentence or an unlimited fine, or both.

Additionally, the keeping of dangerous wild animals is regulated by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. Keepers of dangerous wild animals listed in the Schedule to the 1976 Act must get a Dangerous Wild Animals licence from their local authority. Licences must be obtained by keepers prior to the acquisition of such animals. All cats are listed in the Schedule to the Act, although several species – such as the domestic cat – are exempted. Cat hybrids having a domestic cat, or other exempted species, as one parent and a non-exempted cat as the other parent would require a Dangerous Wild Animals licence.

Licences can only be granted when the authority is satisfied that it would not be contrary to public interest on the grounds of safety or nuisance; that the applicant is a suitable person; and the animal's accommodation is adequate and secure. The effect of the 1976 Act is to restrict the purchase of dangerous wild animals to those who can keep them safely and provide them with suitable accommodation and diet.

Where breeding does lead to poor outcomes for the animals involved it is right for us to be concerned. Currently, there is only very limited evidence that the breeding of exotic and domestic cats causes harm to the animals involved. Any revision of the applicable licensing schemes or new regulation would require strong and verifiable evidence of a significant welfare issue which, despite our relationships with representatives and organisations from across the animal welfare spectrum, has not been forthcoming. Nevertheless, we will continue to work with the sector to identify any issues and agree and implement improvements where they are necessary.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
31st Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to the licensing requirements for holders of (1) exotic, and (2) hybrid, cat species in England under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

Under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 anyone exhibiting wild animals (other than in a pet shop or a static circus) for seven or more days in a year requires a licence. Wild animals are defined in the Act as any animal not normally domesticated in Great Britain, and therefore covers any ‘exotic’ animal or any animal where one of the parents is not normally domesticated in Great Britain. Zoos licensed under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 are required to have regard to the Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice. The Standards include detailed requirements in respect of the management of zoos and the animals within them. Under the current Standards, where a hybrid animal is transferred to another collection, if practical, the animal should be permanently sterilised prior to transfer.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what further steps they will take to (1) support, and (2) increase, exports of food and drink.

We want people at home and abroad to be lining up to buy British and are delivering on our commitment to drive export growth.

We have recently announced an export package to boost export capability and deliver on growing demand for our high-quality UK produce across the world. This includes an expansion of our agrifood attaché network and the establishment of an Export Council that brings industry and government together to increase exports.

The new attachés will broaden export opportunities for UK farmers and producers, break down technical barriers and support UK companies to capitalise on growing demand in global markets and deliver on the opportunities created by new trade agreements.

The UK wide Export Council will deliver a strategic approach to boosting exports through increased capability, strengthened market intelligence and an enhanced provision of tailored advice and support for companies of all sizes.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to carry out checks at the border to ensure that (1) a pet animal is the same as the animal listed on the pet passport, (2) the animal is the age stated, and (3) there are no welfare concerns about the animal.

We operate one of the most rigorous and robust pet travel checking regimes in Europe. All non-commercial dogs, cats and ferrets entering Great Britain (GB) on approved routes (every route other than the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Crown Dependencies) under the Pet Travel rules undergo 100% documentary and identity checks by authorised pet checkers.

To enter GB pets must have been implanted with a microchip or have a legible tattoo imprinted prior to 3 July 2011. A pet’s identity is checked by ensuring that the microchip or tattoo details correspond to the details in the pet’s documentation, which includes the date of birth of the pet animal. Carriers can refer suspected non-compliances to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), including cases where any dog appears underage. APHA staff are highly trained to deal with intercepted shipments.

Animal welfare legislation requires that when animals are transported their transportation must comply fully with legal requirements aimed at protecting their welfare, such as: they must be fit for the intended journey; they must be transported in the appropriate conditions; and, when transportation is for a commercial purpose, the transporter must hold a GB authorisation.

APHA works collaboratively with Border Force and other operational partners at ports, airports and inland, sharing intelligence to enforce the Pet Travel rules, disrupt illegal imports, safeguard the welfare of animals and seize non-compliant animals.

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was introduced in Parliament on 8 June 2021 and completed committee on 18 November 2021. The Bill allows us to further protect the welfare of pets by introducing restrictions to crack down on the low welfare movements of pets into Great Britain and includes powers to introduce new restrictions on pet travel and the commercial import of pets on welfare grounds, via secondary legislation.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to shift the focus of enforcement of pet travel legislation from carriers to a qualified animal professional working for a government agency.

Carriers work closely with operational colleagues at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Border Force and are committed to preventing illegal imports of pet animals. Authorised pet checkers are trained by APHA prior to being granted approval and receive annual audits of their checking and processing to ensure they uphold our requirements. APHA regularly reviews its border enforcement work against known travel trends of those that seek to illegally import puppies to the UK, to keep pace with this rapidly evolving criminal activity. Part of this work includes intelligence-led targeting of suspected smugglers, alongside partner agencies, including Border Force. Border Force operates a 24-hour service seven days per week and alerts APHA to suspected non-compliant dogs and puppies. Targeted intelligence-led work often takes place outside of normal working hours as needed. The Government is satisfied with the workings of these current arrangements.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with local authorities regarding the impact of the shortage of HGV drivers on refuse collection services.

The Government is in regular contact with the waste sector and local authorities to ensure we have up to date information about current waste collection vehicle staffing levels.

The Government recently announced a significant package of measures, including plans to streamline the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence, and increased capacity for HGV driving tests. As driver shortages across Europe demonstrate, this is a widespread problem caused by a range of factors, including an ageing workforce.

We are moving to a high wage, high skilled economy and the Government is encouraging all sectors to adapt and make employment more attractive to UK domestic workers through offering training, careers options and wage increases. The waste sector is already making good strides in this, highlighting that many rounds can be conducted close to home with defined hours, promoting a healthy work/life balance.

More information about the measures we are taking to tackle the haulier shortage is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/more-support-to-help-people-to-become-hgv-drivers-among-package-of-government-measures-to-ease-risk-of-shortages

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the rising age at which children are being fully toilet trained, and (2) the link between this rising age and the increased use of single-use pull-up nappies.

The independent analysts carrying out the environmental assessment of disposable and reusable absorbent hygiene products have taken into consideration the recent YouGov survey to establish current ages for potty training. The sources of the information used in the study, as well as an explanation of the methodology and assumptions made, will be included in the final report which will be published later this year following peer review.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their life cycle assessment of disposable and washable absorbent hygiene products will consider the results of the YouGov survey, published on 2 July, which found that the average age for potty training has increased from 2.5 to 3.5 years old.

The independent analysts carrying out the environmental assessment of disposable and reusable absorbent hygiene products have taken into consideration the recent YouGov survey to establish current ages for potty training. The sources of the information used in the study, as well as an explanation of the methodology and assumptions made, will be included in the final report which will be published later this year following peer review.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take to encourage local authorities to reduce the tonnage of single-use nappies going to (1) landfill, and (2) incineration.

In line with the 25 Year Environment Plan, and our Resources and Waste Strategy, we are considering the best approach to minimise the environmental impact of a range of products, including nappies, taking on board the environmental and social impacts of the options available.

Potential additional policy measures include standards, consumer information and encouraging voluntary action by business. We are seeking powers, through the Environment Bill, that will enable us to, where appropriate and subject to consultation, introduce ecodesign and consumer information requirements. This could include labelling schemes that provide accurate information to consumers, to drive the market towards more sustainable products. We are also seeking powers through the Bill to enable us to put in place extended producer responsibility schemes, where required, that relate to the efficient use of resources for a wide range of products, which could include nappies.

We are also funding an environmental assessment of disposable and washable absorbent hygiene products with the primary focus on nappies. This is looking at the waste and energy impacts of washable and disposable products, disposal to landfill or incineration, and recycling options. The research will be published later this year, following peer review, and will help inform possible future action on nappies by the Government and industry, including any work with local authorities.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take to reduce single-use nappy waste as far as possible by 2042, under the 25 Year Environment Plan.

In line with the 25 Year Environment Plan, and our Resources and Waste Strategy, we are considering the best approach to minimise the environmental impact of a range of products, including nappies, taking on board the environmental and social impacts of the options available.

Potential additional policy measures include standards, consumer information and encouraging voluntary action by business. We are seeking powers, through the Environment Bill, that will enable us to, where appropriate and subject to consultation, introduce ecodesign and consumer information requirements. This could include labelling schemes that provide accurate information to consumers, to drive the market towards more sustainable products. We are also seeking powers through the Bill to enable us to put in place extended producer responsibility schemes, where required, that relate to the efficient use of resources for a wide range of products, which could include nappies.

We are also funding an environmental assessment of disposable and washable absorbent hygiene products with the primary focus on nappies. This is looking at the waste and energy impacts of washable and disposable products, disposal to landfill or incineration, and recycling options. The research will be published later this year, following peer review, and will help inform possible future action on nappies by the Government and industry, including any work with local authorities.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to amend the Environment Bill to introduce a legally binding target to halt and reverse the decline of nature.

As a core part of our commitment to leave the environment in a better state than we found it, we have amended the Environment Bill to require a new, historic legally binding target for species abundance for 2030 to be set, aiming to halt the decline of nature.

Tackling the long-term decline of nature will be challenging but through this new target we are committing ourselves to that objective. A domestic 2030 species target will not only benefit our species but the actions necessary will also help to drive wider environmental improvements.

Our focus is now on the detailed work to develop a fully evidenced target. We are developing the scientific and economic evidence to underpin this target. The duty to set this target is in addition to the existing requirement to set at least one long-term legally binding biodiversity target. Interventions should not be made, or targets set, in isolation. We are taking a system-based approach to the setting of targets, as far as possible, so that we consider the targets collectively and understand their interdependencies. We will continue to work with stakeholders and independent experts to ensure policy action furthers the objective of halting a decline of species.

We will refine the 2030 species target following the agreement of global targets expected to be agreed at the Convention on Biological Diversity's COP15.

The details of the 2030 target will be set in secondary legislation, in the same manner as the other long-term targets. We expect to publish a public consultation in early 2022 on all proposed legally binding targets. This would include a rationale for the proposed targets and a summary of the evidence used to inform targets.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to introduce a target to reduce their environmental footprint by 75 per cent by 2030.

There is no requirement in the Bill for a footprint target. However, this does not preclude the Government from setting one if it is judged to be the best way to deliver long-term environmental outcomes, building on progress made in delivering the 25 Year Environment Plan.

The Bill framework allows for long-term targets to be set on any aspect of the natural environment, or people’s enjoyment of it. The Government is committed to setting targets through a robust, evidence-led process that seeks independent expert advice, provides a role for stakeholders and the public, as well as scrutiny from Parliament.

We have commissioned the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to develop a global environmental footprint indicator to help us understand the UK’s global footprint. The first phase of this work was published in May 2021, with further development currently underway. The outcomes of this work will help inform our future thinking on the most appropriate approach to drive change in this area.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had, if any, with (1) breakfast cereal manufacturers, and (2) related stakeholders, on how to support families facing food poverty.

The Government continues to have discussions with all levels of the food supply chain to understand how industry and the Government can work together to ensure families that live in low-income households continue to have access to affordable, nutritional food.

During the pandemic collaboration between the Government and the food industry was key in putting into place policies to support vulnerable individuals, which included wholesalers leading on the delivery of the Food Box scheme, supermarkets putting in place priority delivery slots to support those shielding and food manufacturers donating free breakfasts to school children following school closures.

The Department for Education will shortly be launching a £24 million contract to support over 2500 schools with a National Breakfast Clubs programme, with the aim of ensuring pupils have a healthy start to their day.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for creating a Food Security Minister responsible for interventions to people living in poverty.

I am the Minister responsible for security of the food chain, working with industry to make sure food is available to buy. Defra officials continue to work with other relevant Departments on food policy and food insecurity, including on school meals (DfE), local authority provision (MHCLG) and the welfare system (Department for Work and Pensions) (DWP).

Since the start of the pandemic, government departments have come together to coordinate support for the most vulnerable. Defra, DfE, DWP and DHSC worked together on the COVID Winter Support Package in November 2020 - ensuring that support was provided to those impacted by the pandemic throughout the winter period. Departments are continuing to work together to deliver a number of key cross-cutting outcomes linked to the 2020 Spending Review.

This Government is wholly committed to supporting those on low incomes, including by increasing the living wage, and by spending £111 billion on welfare support for people of working age in 2020/21. This included around £7.4 billion of COVID-related welfare policy measures.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the potential impact of a veterinary agreement between the UK and the EU on frictionless trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

The United Kingdom proposed in the TCA negotiations last year that there could be an equivalence arrangement between the UK and the EU. Unfortunately, the EU was not open to such a suggestion. We continue to be open to such an equivalence arrangement, if the EU is interested in it. However, this cannot be on the basis of any dynamic alignment with EU rules, as this would compromise UK sovereignty over our own laws and impact our ability to strike trade deals or agree trade facilitations with non-EU countries.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to secure a veterinary 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 for 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.

12th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that farmers continue to receive financial support following the UK’s departure from the EU.

In 2019, the Government made a manifesto commitment to maintain the current annual budget to farmers. This was honoured in the 2021/22 Spending Review.

The commitment is being achieved through a combination of Exchequer funding and remaining EU funding. We have adopted a consistent approach across the UK, topping up EU receipts with Exchequer funding to the level of the manifesto commitment. This ensures that the manifesto commitment is met in each nation.

12th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to maintain British food production standards in trade agreements.

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

Legal protections for our standards are in place. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 retains standards on environmental protection, animal welfare, animal and plant health and food safety. This includes the prohibition on the use of artificial growth hormones in both domestic production and imported meat products and that no products, other than potable water, are approved to decontaminate poultry carcases.

The Government has recently taken steps to give Parliament a greater role in scrutinising trade agreements. In the Agriculture Act 2020, the Government established a duty for the Secretary of State to report to Parliament on whether, or to what extent, measures in new Free Trade Agreements, relating to trade in agricultural goods, are consistent with maintaining UK levels of statutory protection in relation to human, animal or plant life or health, animal welfare and the environment.

In July we established the Trade and Agriculture Commission, an independent board set up to advise and inform the Government’s trade policies on environmental and animal welfare standards in food production. We have since moved to put it on a statutory footing in the Trade Bill and the Commission will directly feed into the Agriculture Act reporting process.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent steps they have taken to implement the recommendations of the report by Sir Charles Godfray A strategy for achieving Bovine Tuberculosis Free Status for England: 2018 Review, published on 13 November 2018.

In March 2020, the Government published its response to Professor Sir Charles Godfray’s 2018 review of England’s bovine TB (bTB) eradication strategy. Sir Charles’ review set out a number of potential options for the future.

The Government response sets out our top priorities for the next five years. The steps we have taken in 2020 to start to deliver this next phase of the strategy include:

  • Accelerating our cattle vaccination work by appointing a Clinical Research Organisation to run cattle vaccination field trials. The aim of these trials is to support applications for UK marketing authorisations of the vaccine and a test to detect infected animals among vaccinated animals.

  • Evolving our badger control policy, including tendering for a farmer-delivered project in East Sussex to vaccinate badgers against TB, and publishing a map showing the estimated distribution of TB infection in badgers in England’s bTB Edge Area.

  • Improving our TB testing programme, through awarding £500,000 funding for innovative research to diagnose bTB more quickly, and starting to increase the default frequency of mandatory surveillance TB testing of cattle across England’s bTB High Risk Area from annual to every six-months, with some exceptions for lower risk herds.

  • Evolving and strengthening partnership working though recruiting for a new Bovine TB Partnership to replace the existing Bovine TB Eradication Advisory Group for England.

Work is ongoing and we plan to announce further steps in due course.

11th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to reduce air pollution in addition to the measures in the Environment Bill.

Our Clean Air Strategy sets out an ambitious programme of action to reduce air pollutant emissions from a wide range of sources. We have also put in place a £3.8 billion plan to tackle roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations.

We have also implemented the Medium Combustion Plant Directive which will help to reduce air pollution by bringing in emission controls for plant used to generate heat and power for large buildings and industrial processes, as well as for power generation


Together these measures will significantly reduce the impact of emissions from pollution sources on the environment and public health.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Sri Lanka about the 21 waste containers that were returned from that country to the UK in September 2020.

The Environment Agency (EA), as the waste shipments regulator for England, is proactively engaging with the authorities in Sri Lanka about containers of waste illegally exported to Sri Lanka in 2017 and is leading the response on this matter.

The containers were found by Sri Lankan authorities to contain illegal materials, described as mattresses and carpets, which had been exported for recycling. The 21 containers queried arrived back in England on Wednesday 28 October 2020 and are part of a shipment totalling 263 containers which are being returned. The Environment Agency estimate that by February 2021, 133 containers will have been returned to England in total. The Environment Agency will continue to work with the Sri Lankan authorities to expedite the return of the remaining waste.

Environment Agency enforcement officers are working to confirm the types of waste shipped, who exported it and the producer of the waste. Those responsible could face a custodial sentence of up to two years, an unlimited fine, and the recovery of money and assets gained through the course of their criminal activity. Despite media reports suggesting that medical waste was illegally shipped from England to Sri Lanka, the EA has not received any indication or evidence from the Sri Lankan authorities to corroborate those reports.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial viability of wildlife trusts and nature reserves.

My department constantly keeps under review the financial health of Defra-related sectors, including in relation to how sectors are faring in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Environmental charities and their partners are able to apply to the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, with the first successful applicants announced in December. The Government has committed a further £40m to the Green Recovery Challenge Fund in 2021/22, and my department will be announcing further details of a second round in the coming weeks.

Environmental charities have also been able to benefit from wider government financial support for businesses during Covid-19, including the Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended to the end of April 2021.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish an annual league table to assess the performance of water companies in addressing water leaks and wastage.

The Discover Water website publishes up to date records of water company performance on leakage. Details can be found in the PDF attachment and at the following link: https://discoverwater.co.uk/leaking-pipes.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to reduce the risk of flooding for communities that have already experienced flooding in the last 12 months.

In the March 2020 Budget, Government provided additional funding of £120 million for 2020-21 to repair assets damaged in the 2019/2020 autumn and winter floods. In the last 12 months, the Environment Agency (EA) has completed around 20,000 inspections of flood assets that were damaged in the winter 2019/20 floods. The EA has a prioritised programme of repairs based on risk to lives and livelihoods underway. All of the flood defences damaged last year have either been repaired or have contingency plans in place to reduce the risk to their communities this winter.

The EA has continued to build and maintain flood risk management assets and is on track to better protect 300,000 properties from flooding and coastal erosion between 2015 and 2021.

The EA has continued to engage with communities during the pandemic, sharing scheme updates and consulting with local residents in a COVID secure ways with the help of new technology. The EA’s Flood Action Campaign last Autumn helped ensure communities know how to check their flood risk and are better prepared using the three-point plan to PREPARE, ACT, SURVIVE. Over 1.4 million properties are signed up to receive free flood warnings.

Following the flooding in winter 2019/2020, government announced Property Flood Resilience (PFR) repair grants of up to £5,000 in affected areas to help eligible homes, charities and businesses become more flood resilient. The repair grants apply to those affected in district or unitary authorities that have 25 or more severely flooded properties. The most recent figures (held by Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government) show that over 47 district or unitary councils with over 7000 properties are eligible in England for the November 2019 and February 2020 PFR repair schemes.

In recognition of the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic, both the 2019 and 2020 schemes have been extended by 9 months to give homeowners and businesses more time to carry out repairs and local authorities a greater period to process the grants.

Local authorities on the November scheme now have until 31 December 2021 to recover their costs whilst local authorities on the February scheme have until 1 July 2022.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial viability of (1) wildlife trusts, and (2) nature reserves.

My department constantly keeps under review the financial health of Defra-related sectors, including in relation to how sectors are faring in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Environmental charities and their partners are able to apply to the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, with the first successful applicants announced in December. The Government has committed a further £40m to the Green Recovery Challenge Fund in 2021/22, and my department will be announcing further details of a second round in the coming weeks.

Environmental charities have also been able to benefit from wider government financial support for businesses during Covid-19, including the Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended to the end of April 2021.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of access to insurance for households affected by the 2019/2020 winter floods.

Following the November 2019 flooding in South Yorkshire, the Government commissioned an independent review of flood insurance, led by Amanda Blanc, former chair of the Association of British Insurers. The review, published on 5 November 2020, examined the level of insurance cover held by those affected in Doncaster, the barriers they may have faced in obtaining cover and whether there are any systemic issues in the provision of flood insurance.

The report identifies that 95% of homeowners were able to confirm that they had both buildings and contents insurance. This compares with 94% of households at risk of flooding in Defra's national survey looking at the availability and affordability of flood insurance. This shows the sustained availability of home insurance for homeowners especially in this area of high flood risk. However, among homeowners who had insurance, 6% of buildings insurance policies did not cover flooding and 7% of contents insurance policies did not cover flooding.

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

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to promote sustainable fishing.

We recently published our Marine Strategy Part One assessment on the health and resilience of our marine ecosystems, including progress towards achieving our objective of good environmental status in UK waters.

As an independent coastal state, we are committed to working closely with our partners including the EU, Norway and Faroe Islands to manage shared stocks sustainably and share fishing opportunities on a fair and scientific basis. The UK Government’s ambition is to set a gold standard for fisheries management to achieve sustainable fisheries safeguarding stocks and the environment for the long-term. At front and centre of the Fisheries Act is the set of fisheries objectives which will be followed by detailed policies in the Joint Fisheries Statement to deliver sustainable fishing.

Underpinning this new framework is our commitment to sustainability – supporting future generations of fishermen while allowing our marine environment to thrive. It enshrines in law the Government’s manifesto commitments for sustainable fishing, restating our commitment to Maximum Sustainable Yield by including the ‘Sustainability Objective’ and ‘Precautionary Objective’ to achieve MSY. Furthermore, the Act contains a ‘Bycatch Objective’ seeking to reduce the wasteful practice of discarding fish; an ‘Ecosystem Objective’ to minimise and, where possible, eliminate negative impacts on marine ecosystems; and a new ‘Climate Change Objective’ which recognises and combats the impact of fishing on the health of our oceans and our planet. The Fisheries Act further adds powers to improve the protection of the wider marine environment around the UK and to enable the Marine Management Organisation to support marine improvement around the world.

5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the devolved administrations about future policies on agriculture and land-use that are designed to meet biodiversity and climate targets.

Domestic agricultural policy is a devolved matter in the UK. The UK Government is working closely with the devolved administrations to develop the Agricultural Support Common UK Framework, and we expect to be able to agree this soon. The aim of this is to ensure effective co-ordination and dialogue between the administrations on how any changes to legislation or policy in one part of the UK may affect other parts. This includes discussion on the concept of agreements with land managers for delivering public goods, such as may support the UK’s biodiversity and climate targets.

In England, the Agriculture Bill will introduce an ambitious new Environmental Land Management scheme, based on the principle of “public money for public goods”, which will allow us to reward farmers and land managers who protect our environment. The scheme will provide a powerful vehicle for supporting our biodiversity goals and meeting our commitment to net zero emissions by 2050.

Domestic biodiversity policy is also devolved. The UK Government and devolved administrations also meet regularly as part of the UK Biodiversity Framework, which was established in 2012 to identify joint actions to complement country implementation of biodiversity strategies, evidence collation, sharing of best practice and reporting, for example on UK progress with biodiversity targets.

As part of our preparations for the COP26 Climate Conference next year, the UK Government is working with the devolved administrations on a number of regional events across the UK to demonstrate the benefits of nature-based solutions that can support our climate change targets.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the extent to which poor air quality may disproportionately affect BAME communities.

In 2006 the Government published a report on air quality and social deprivation in the UK. This highlighted that there are inequalities in the distribution of pollutant concentrations.

More recently, as part of the UK Plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the Government reviewed evidence investigating the inequalities in the distributional impact of poor air quality. The published technical report highlights that air quality inequalities exist mostly in urban areas. Furthermore, the report references research conducted by Fecht et al (2015) that demonstrates that higher concentrations of NO2 and coarse particulate matter (PM10) have been observed in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods.

The Government is taking a proactive approach to tackling air pollution concentrations through our NO2 plan and Clean Air Strategy and any actions that focus on reducing the highest concentrations of harmful pollutants will disproportionately benefit ethnically diverse communities if they are located in these areas.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have received about the potential merits of amending the Environment Bill in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government is working with a wide range of stakeholders, including businesses and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), on how the Environment Bill can support our goals to build a fairer, greener, more resilient recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The Secretary of State met with chief executives of six leading environmental NGOs on 11 May, 8 June, and 9 July, to discuss the Government’s environmental ambitions including the Environment Bill and the opportunities relating to the recovery from the crisis.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the penalties for animal welfare offences.

The Government is supporting the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill as it makes its way through Parliament. The Bill will increase the maximum custodial penalty for animal cruelty from six months’ imprisonment to five years’ imprisonment.

The new maximum penalty of five years is in line with campaigns by key stakeholders such as Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Dogs Trust and the RSPCA. This is a positive step forward in improving animal welfare and will act as a serious deterrent against cruelty and neglect. Northern Ireland has already set the maximum penalty for animal cruelty offences at five years’ imprisonment, and the Scottish Government introduced the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill on 30 September 2019. The Welsh Government has confirmed that the new maximum penalty being proposed should apply in Wales.

The increase to five years' imprisonment will provide one of the toughest sanctions in Europe, strengthening the UK's position as a global leader on animal welfare. This builds on recent positive action the Government has taken to improve animal welfare standards, such as a requirement for CCTV in all slaughterhouses and implementing one of the world's toughest ivory bans. For companion animals, we have introduced new updated minimum welfare standards for pet selling, dog breeding, riding schools, animal boarding and exhibiting animals, as well as a ban on the commercial third-party sale of puppies and kittens.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure an adequate supply of labour on farms in (1) England, (2) Northern Ireland, (3) Wales, and (4) Scotland.

The Seasonal Workers Pilot is providing thousands of non-EU workers to farms across the UK this year. Immigration is a reserved matter and the Seasonal Workers Pilot is a nationwide pilot, with a nationwide quota. The Government has placed a specific duty on the operators to ensure that all regions of the UK benefit from this pilot.

While restrictions due to COVID-19 initially delayed the arrival of some Pilot workers, Defra and the Home Office worked closely with Pilot operators to enable workers to reach the UK. The Visa Application Centres in Ukraine and Belarus, which were temporarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, reopened on 1 June. This allowed significant numbers of Pilot workers from those countries to obtain a visa and travel to the UK.

We are aware of the wider impact that restrictions on travel from other countries, as a result of COVID-19, has had on the number of seasonal workers coming to work in the UK. We are working closely with industry and government officials in Scotland and Wales to help our world-leading farmers and growers access the labour they need over the busy harvest months. All are supportive of the joint Defra and industry ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign and website, aimed at driving awareness of seasonal roles on farms. We understand that for England the demand for seasonal workers is currently being met, and we are closely monitoring the situation throughout the rest of the summer.

Defra discussed with officials at DAERA the plans for the Pick for Britain website and their thoughts on a future public -acing campaign to attract more seasonal workers from the UK. The feedback received was that DAERA was working closely with industry representatives in Northern Ireland and would use the existing Department for Communities website – JobCentre Online (JCOL) to advertise local opportunities. The website also provided a link to the Pick for Britain initiative.

6th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of any improvements required to protect communities from flash flooding and more frequent flooding events.

The UK Climate Projections 2018 (UKCP18) provide crucial information about how we can expect our climate to change over future decades. More intense rainfall, more extreme weather and wetter winters are projected to increase the threat of damage and disruption as a result of all types of flooding.

The Government is investing £1.2 billion for a state-of-the-art supercomputer to improve severe weather and climate forecasting which will help to predict storms more accurately and select the most appropriate locations for flood defences. Forecasting improvements will also help to predict better the likelihood of rain that might lead to flooding from surface water.

We have committed to double the amount we invest in the flood and coastal defence programme in England to £5.2 billion over six years, better protecting 336,000 homes and non-residential properties. According to Environment Agency modelling, this will reduce national flood risk by up to 11% by 2027.

In April we announced changes to how the Government funding is allocated to flood projects, including the introduction of a new risk category which will enable schemes that prevent surface water flooding to qualify for more funding.

In July 2018 the Government published the Surface Water Management Action Plan. This sets out the steps we are taking, with the Environment Agency and others, to manage the risk of surface water flooding. It includes 22 actions both to improve our understanding of the risks and to strengthen delivery. These cover: improving risk assessment and communication; making sure infrastructure is resilient; clarifying responsibilities for surface water management; joining up planning for surface water management; and building local authority capacity.

As a result of the Government's Strategic Policy Statement to Ofwat, the 2019 Price Review includes more than £1 billion to reduce the impact of flooding on communities across England and Wales.

Last week the Government published its long-term plan to tackle the risks of flooding and coastal erosion. The plans include £200 million for innovative projects such as sustainable drainage systems and nature-based solutions like temporary or permanent water storage areas which also boost wildlife. These will support 25 areas at risk of flooding to test and demonstrate innovative actions to adapt to a changing climate and improve their resilience.

In addition, up to £170 million will be spent to accelerate work on shovel-ready flood defence schemes that will begin construction in 2020 or 2021. 22 areas across the country will benefit from this immediate boost to jobs supporting the local economy as communities recover from the impact of coronavirus.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to bring forward legislative proposals on animal sentience.

The Government is committed to further strengthening our world-leading animal welfare standards. We have committed to bringing in new laws on animal sentience. Any necessary changes required to domestic legislation will be made in a rigorous and comprehensive way and will be brought forward when parliamentary time allows.

Additionally, we have committed to ending excessively long journeys for slaughter and fattening and to banning the keeping of primates as pets. The Government is supporting the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill. This will increase the maximum custodial penalty for animal cruelty from six months' imprisonment to five years' imprisonment. The new maximum penalty of five years is in line with campaigns by key stakeholders such as Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Dogs Trust and the RSPCA. This is a positive step forward in improving animal welfare. and will act as a serious deterrent against cruelty and neglect. It will provide one of the toughest sanctions in Europe, strengthening the UK's position as a global leader on animal welfare.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown measures on communities that are recovering from the 2019–20 winter floods.

The Government recognises the impact of COVID-19 on flood-affected householders and businesses and sympathises with those affected.

Flood recovery is a devolved matter and in England the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is the lead Government department for recovery.

In response to the flood events of 2019 and 2020, the Government activated the Flood Recovery Framework in England. This framework aims to help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

This framework includes the Community Recovery Grant, a one-off £500 hardship grant, available to eligible flooded households and businesses. Those households are also able to receive a 100% council tax rebate (for a minimum of three months); rebates will apply to the flooded property and any temporary accommodation those households are required to move into.

In addition to the core framework led by MHCLG, Defra leads on two recovery schemes: the Property Flood Resilience Scheme and the Farming Recovery Fund. The Property Flood Resilience fund enables eligible flood-affected properties to receive up to £5,000 to improve their resilience to future flooding. Both the November 2019 and February 2020 schemes remain open despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Defra officials are working closely with local authorities to monitor the situation and provide support if necessary.

The Farming Recovery Fund was opened to support the recovery from the June and July 2019 floods in North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. This was extended to cover the further flooding in parts of South Yorkshire, Gloucestershire and the Midlands in November 2019. The Farming Recovery Fund was subsequently further extended to support recovery for farmers most seriously affected by flooding in February 2020 to parts of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire and North and East Yorkshire. Delivery is unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials are also in close contact with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to understand the progress insurers are making within the recovery process in light of COVID-19. In general, insurers are stepping up their use of technology to work around the need to be in properties in person. They have access to the required protective equipment where needed, and suitable accommodation is being found where required. The ABI has been active in providing customers with regular updates and keeping officials informed of the progress on the ground.

Last week the Government published its long-term plan to tackle the risks of flooding and coastal erosion. The plans include £200 million for innovative projects such as sustainable drainage systems and nature-based solutions like temporary or permanent water storage areas which also boost wildlife. These will support 25 areas at risk of flooding to test and demonstrate innovative actions to adapt to a changing climate and improve their resilience.

In addition, up to £170 million will be spent to accelerate work on shovel-ready flood defence schemes that will begin construction in 2020 or 2021. 22 areas across the country will benefit from this immediate boost to jobs supporting the local economy as communities recover from the impact of coronavirus.

The Environment Agency (EA) has carried out approximately 20,000 post-incident inspections following the flooding events in November 2019 and February 2020. These inspections are now complete and the results have been used to plan projects for the EA’s recovery programme that will deliver asset repairs. Government provided £120 million of funding at the Budget in March to repair assets damaged in this winter’s floods, and it is expected that all assets will be restored by the end of October 2020, or the EA will have sufficient temporary measures in place to mitigate risks to communities while works complete over winter.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to hold the summit on flooding to put in place defensive measures in Yorkshire, announced in response to the November 2019 floods.

The Government recognises the impact that flooding has had on individuals and local communities and sympathises with all those affected. Following the November flooding, the Government worked quickly to respond and activated the Government Flood Recovery Framework and Property Flood Resilience grants to aid people in getting back on their feet as quickly as possible.

Last week the Government published its long-term plan to tackle the risks of flooding and coastal erosion. The plans include £200 million for innovative projects such as sustainable drainage systems and nature-based solutions like temporary or permanent water storage areas which also boost wildlife. These will support 25 areas at risk of flooding to test and demonstrate innovative actions to adapt to a changing climate and improve their resilience.

In addition, up to £170 million will be spent to accelerate work on shovel-ready flood defence schemes that will begin construction in 2020 or 2021. 22 areas across the country will benefit from this immediate boost to jobs supporting the local economy as communities recover from the impact of coronavirus. Up to approximately £50 million of this funding will be invested in Yorkshire to bring forward flood schemes in Leeds, Sheffield and Hebden Bridge.

We are continuing to work on preparations for a focused roundtable with Yorkshire MPs, and other stakeholders, which Defra will host. Officials were working to identify a date before the Covid-19 restrictions came into effect. We are seeking to make alternative arrangements.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to protect British food standards under any dual tariff proposals.

The Government stood on a manifesto commitment that in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards. The EU Withdrawal Act will transfer all existing EU food safety provisions, including existing import requirements, onto the UK statute book.

We are going into all our trade negotiations clear that we will uphold our food standards in future deals and we will use the most appropriate levers available to achieve this.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what progress has been made in the construction of the inspection facilities at the ports of (a) Warrenpoint, (b) Belfast, and (c) Larne, as part of the post-Brexit custom checks allied to the New Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland; and (2) who will pay for the (a) construction, and (b) operation of those facilities.

Applications were submitted to the European Commission at the end of June for sanitary and phytosanitary inspection facilities at the ports of Belfast, Warrenpoint, Larne and Foyle. These applications were submitted to ensure we meet our agreements under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

DAERA and Defra will continue to work together to develop plans for the construction of these facilities. The facilities will be operated by DAERA in conjunction with local authorities, the Food Standards Agency and the port operators. The Government has agreed in principle to fund the construction costs for these facilities. This funding is limited to costs associated with reaching the required level of compliance to implement the UK’s obligations in relation to the Protocol.

17th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) legislative, and (2) policy, measures they plan to put in place to (a) encourage UK farmers to adopt a whole system integrated pest management approach, and (b) discourage such farmers from not adopting such an approach.

The Government is continuing to develop its approach to pesticides. The National Action Plan for the Sustainable use of Pesticides will be published for consultation later this year and will be the first step in this process. It will detail our plans to support Integrated Pest Management at a whole farm level.

17th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will be published; and what measures that Plan will contain to reduce the level of (1) pesticide use, and (2) pesticide-related harms to human health and the environment.

We will publish a consultation on the National Action Plan for the Sustainable use of Pesticides later this year. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) will be at the heart of our holistic approach to encourage and support measures to minimise pesticide use and potential related harms to human health and the environment. IPM means that sustainable biological, physical and other non-chemical methods of pest control are preferred to chemical methods.

16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they are giving to changing (1) UK pesticide standards, in particular maximum residue levels, and (2) the UK's approach to authorising pesticides, in order to achieve future trade agreements.

The UK is proud of its world-leading food, health and animal welfare standards. We will not compromise on our standards nor put the UK’s biosecurity at risk as we negotiate new trade deals. Any trade agreements must respect the regulatory autonomy of both parties. Now that we have left the EU, the UK will operate an autonomous Sanitary and Phytosanitary regime, which covers the regulation of pesticides, to uphold our existing high standards.

The UK Government and devolved administrations have assured stakeholders that we will maintain current standards of environmental and health protection. Our EU exit legislation has carried across unchanged all of the statutory requirements of the EU regime relating to standards of protection, maximum residue level and approval of active substances. We will continue to ensure that decisions on the use of pesticides are based on careful scientific assessment of the risks, with the aim of achieving a high level of protection for people and the environment.

We will continue to draw on the considerable scientific and technical expertise of the Health and Safety Executive which will continue to operate as our expert national regulator on behalf of the UK Government and the devolved administrations. This puts the UK in a strong position in terms of having the necessary capacity and expertise to be able to take its own independent decisions after the transition period. There is a comprehensive Government programme of monitoring of pesticide residues in food, including imports, to determine whether food available to UK consumers complies with the statutory residue levels and is safe. The results of this monitoring are published following consideration by the Defra Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food. We will not compromise on these standards in our trade negotiations.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a reduction in the use of pesticides will be necessary in order to meet the targets set out in their policy paper A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment.

The Government is clear that it is right to minimise the use of pesticides and is committed to putting Integrated Pest Management at the heart of its approach, to make the greatest possible use of alternative pest and disease control methods in support of sustainable farming and land management. This will support the goals and targets of our 25 Year Environment Plan.

13th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their policy on the maintenance of sanitary and phytosanitary standards for imported (1) agrifood, and (2) animal, products after the transition period.

The Government remains committed to promoting robust food standards nationally and internationally, to protect animal and plant health and consumer interests, and ensure that consumers can have confidence in the food they buy. We will keep our existing UK legislation, and the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 carried over EU law into UK law, ready for the end of the Transition Period. Decisions on food safety and sanitary and phytosanitary standards will be based on independent, science and evidence-based advice.

21st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that part of the budget of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is ring-fenced for the provision of international aid.

We will continue to look at how this money can be spent most effectively in our national interest, including through the Integrated Review – which will inform the priorities of the new Department. Development spending will remain central to the new department’s mission. Our commitment to spending 0.7 percent of our national income on aid is enshrined in law and we will continue to be guided by our responsibilities under the International Development Act, including a commitment to poverty reduction.

20th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe.

The UK is extremely concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. Before the onset of COVID-19, Zimbabwe was already facing a humanitarian crisis due to drought, poor government policies and a worsening economy. According to the World Food Programme’s latest estimates, by December more than half the population – 8.6 million Zimbabweans – will be without the food they need. In response, the UK has committed £49m to provide humanitarian food aid and cash transfers, as well as £5m for the UNICEF cholera fund. To date, 448,000 extremely vulnerable people have received food assistance and 100,000 living in urban areas have received cash transfers

3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support producers in the global south whose trade has been disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK is championing a comprehensive and coordinated trade and development response to COVID-19 working. This includes advocating for developing country interests at the G20 and WTO and adapting our policy and programming portfolios to provide immediate support.

Through the Trade and Investment Advocacy Fund, Manufacturing Africa programme and our funding to the World Bank, we are supporting countries to better understand the impacts of COVID-19, design their policy response accordingly, engage in the WTO, increase their production of COVID-19 related goods such as personal protection equipment, and ease the passage of goods across borders.

The government is engaging with businesses in the UK and in developing countries to understand the challenges they are facing to protect incomes, livelihoods, and ensure that supply chains remain resilient. We are developing a programme of support in partnership with businesses, to address these issues in the most vulnerable countries and are also providing support to Business Fights Poverty to accelerate a global learning process to enable business to provide support to vulnerable workers in global supply chains. This includes the launch of the Business and COVID-19 Response Centre, an online tool that hosts a range of resources intended to empower companies to take action in support of their most vulnerable employees, suppliers, customers and communities. They have had over 9,000 visits to their COVID-19 Response Centre and other resources and over 1,700 people have registered to engage in the process.

We are continuing to finalise further trade agreements, building on those already signed. Together these will grant preferential market access to around 100 developing countries, helping to support their economic recovery.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking with multilateral organisations to ensure that official development assistance, allocated to tackling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, is reaching people living in the global south that need it.

The UK is working together with international partners including the G7, G20, the UN, the World Bank and other multilateral institutions, to galvanise the global fight against COVID-19.

The UK is playing a leading role in the international response to the pandemic, pledging up to £764 million of UK aid to help address urgent needs in vulnerable countries, accelerate progress towards a vaccine, reinforce infection control and help the poorest countries address the economic impact.

We are a major contributor to the UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan, which is supporting the most vulnerable people in this crisis, including women and girls, people with disabilities, refugees, internally displaced persons, migrants and host communities. The UK has committed £2.2 billion in new loan resources for the IMF’s concessional lending operations to make rapid emergency financing available for developing countries, and up to £150 million to the IMF Catastrophe Containment Relief Trust for the poorest countries to receive debt relief on IMF repayments. On 4 June, the UK hosted the Global Vaccine Summit, where world leaders, foundations, corporations and organisations pledged $8.8 billion for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. This funding will help strengthen health systems in the global fight against COVID-19 and immunise a further 300 million children in the world’s poorest countries against other deadly diseases. The UK remains Gavi’s largest donor, pledging an equivalent of £330 million per year over the next five years.

We continue to use our seat at the table to shape the multilateral response and ensure it addresses the needs and priorities of the poorest and most vulnerable.

3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are providing to international non-governmental organisations based in the UK to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UK and Southern Civil Society organisations (CSOs) are crucial partners for DFID and play a critical role in ensuring UK aid reaches the most vulnerable in the global response to COVID-19. UK charities, such as Christian Aid and Humanity & Inclusion, are receiving funding to support vulnerable people around the world during the crisis. We have allocated £18 million to charities through the Rapid Response Facility and over £24 million through our partnership with Unilever.

A new UK Aid Direct funding round has also been launched, some of which has been set aside for rapid access by existing UK Aid Direct grant holders who are able to respond immediately to COVID-19. As DFID’s country network adapts programming to respond to COVID-19, country teams are considering how they can do this through partners, including through CSOs.

In addition, DFID welcomes the vital role that NGOs will continue to play in service delivery through multilaterals. UN agencies have undertaken a review of their existing procedures related to partnership management and issued additional internal guidance to simplify and expedite collaboration where appropriate. We will be working with the UN and DFID’s country offices to increasingly better understand and track eventual flows to NGOs in-country.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prioritise climate justice in the allocation of Official Development Assistance to developing countries recovering from the effects of COVID-19.

The impacts of climate change will disproportionately affect the lives of the poorest and most marginalised. The UK’s aid programme, including our international climate finance, prioritises the interests of the world’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Our international response to COVID-19 is focused on securing a strong global health response, in particular supporting countries most vulnerable to the impact of the virus, accelerating the search for a vaccine and new treatments and supporting the global economy. We recognise that there is a connection between healthy lives, healthy societies and a healthy environment.

The steps taken to rebuild economies will have a profound impact on future sustainability, resilience and wellbeing. The Prime Minister recently addressed a high-level event at the invitation of the United Nations Secretary General focussed on ‘recovering better for sustainability,’ and as we prepare for COP26, we are urging the world to take the opportunity to make the recovery clean, inclusive and resilient.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with representatives of the Commonwealth Development Corporation on adapting its investments and programmes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

DFID ministers and officials are in frequent discussions with CDC’s Chair and Executive Leadership Team as the institution delivers its response to the COVID-19 crisis. Most recently, both the Secretary of State and the Minister for Africa held a productive discussion on 6 May 2020 with the CEO and Chair of CDC. As a long-term investor focussed on delivering development impact, CDC is taking a targeted response that preserves, strengthens and helps rebuild economies across Africa and South Asia to mitigate the economic and health impacts of COVID-19. As well as providing additional capital to help firms weather the crisis and meet immediate liquidity needs, CDC has also launched an Emergency Technical Assistance Facility and published advice on its website (https://www.cdcgroup.com/covid-19) on measures that companies should take to protect the health and safety of employees and customers and protect jobs.

14th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what meetings they have had with ambassadors at the World Trade Organisation with (1) the African group, and (2) the Least-developed countries group, about negotiations on the COVID-19 text produced by the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Council.

The UK has continuously engaged with the African Group and the Least Developed Countries Group, represented by Tanzania and Bangladesh respectively, throughout the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) debate. A consensus-based agreement on a TRIPS Decision was reached at the World Trade Organisation’s 12th Ministerial Conference, which both groups are eligible to use.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
8th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent steps they have taken to increase the proportion of UK trade through free trade agreements.

We have secured free trade agreements (FTAs) with 70 countries plus the EU, covering trade worth £772 billion in 2020. So far, this year, we have signed an FTA with New Zealand and a Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore, commenced the second round of FTA negotiations with India, launched a consultation for an enhanced FTA with Israel, and launched FTA negotiations with Greenland. We are preparing for FTA negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Canada and Mexico, which we expect to launch later this year.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
8th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the potential effect of investor state dispute settlement provisions in the CPTPP on business in the UK.

Investment protection provisions protect investors and their investments against discrimination, unfair treatment and expropriation of their assets without due process or compensation. Investor state dispute settlement provisions exist to protect British businesses and investments abroad, including pension funds and small and medium sized enterprises.

The UK already has investor-dispute settlement mechanisms in place with 90 countries and has never been taken to a tribunal using these mechanisms. Accession to Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will help to secure the UK’s already strong position in investment.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
7th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what further steps they are taking to increase exports of steel.

The Department for International Trade recently published our refreshed Export Strategy with an action-led 12-point plan. We have introduced a whole new range of support measures to help exporters thrive in the global market, internationalising key trading sectors, and raising the UK’s exporting culture in the long-term.

Further to this, following two months of intensive discussions, the UK secured an expansive removal of Section 232 tariffs on UK steel and aluminium exports to the US on 22 March. The solution reached with the US is bespoke for the UK and reflects the needs and interests of our steel and aluminium industries.

From 1 June 2022, the US will replace its Section 232 tariffs on certain UK exports of steel and aluminium with “tariff-rate quotas” (TRQs). This re-opens tariff-free access to the US market back to levels before section 232 tariffs up to a specified volume. This will bring welcome relief to the UK steel and aluminium industries which support the jobs of around 80,000 people across the UK supply chain.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
7th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what further steps they are taking to help businesses export to European markets.

Our refreshed Export Strategy, Made in the UK Sold to the World, focuses on a business-facing 12 point action plan to support exporters. At the centre of this transformation is our new Export Support Service, launched in October 2021, which provides a single point of contact and entry for businesses exporting to Europe and helps businesses to navigate government support.

The UK Export Academy provides free training, mentoring and resources to boost British businesses’ global trading capability.

Our new Trade and investment offices in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast will ensure trade opportunities and support are available to businesses UK-wide, levelling up export growth and supporting jobs.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
7th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to enable small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to benefit from the provisions on small businesses in free trade agreements.

I refer the noble Lady to the answer I gave her on 3 February 2022, UIN: HL5511.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
7th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that workers' rights are maintained in trade agreements.

HM Government shares the public’s high regard for workers’ rights and the trade deals secured with both Australia and New Zealand recently demonstrate that we will work hard to maintain a high level of protection for our labour standards in trade agreements.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
18th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to encourage World Trade Organization members to support the introduction of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights waiver.

The United Kingdom does not support the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver. We have not seen evidence that Intellectual Property (IP) rights are a blocker to increasing the supply of COVID-19 goods, including vaccines. Rather, evidence shows continued increases of COVID-19 vaccine doses being manufactured.

While we recognise and share concerns regarding the lack of access to vaccines in parts of the world, we must focus on the real challenges to vaccine equity. This includes pressure on health systems; supply chain issues like export restrictions; and vaccine confidence. We remain open to initiatives which help overcome these challenges, which waiving IP rights does not.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
18th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) how many, and (2) what proportion, of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises they have provided support with exports to, in each of the last three months.

The Department is not able to provide reliably the management information data requested across all of the services provided. However, published research from the Export Client Quality Survey reported over 19,000 unique businesses supported by the services covered by the survey between April 2018 and March 2019.

More recently, on 1 October, DIT launched the Export Support Service where UK businesses can get answers to practical questions about exporting to Europe by accessing cross government in-formation and support all in one place. 95% of enquiries into the Export Support Service (ESS) have been from Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). Based on this we estimate that ESS provided support to 1,000 SMEs in October 2021, 1,280 in November 2021 and 970 in December 2021.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
18th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that protections for exports to third countries negotiated while the UK was a member of the EU are maintained following the UK's departure.

Since leaving the EU, HM Government has sought continuity for businesses, investors, and consumers in our trading relationships.

Of the non-EU countries that were in scope of our trade continuity programme, those secured to date account for 99% of the value of trade with all continuity partners. We have secured continuity agreements with 68 non-EU countries. The value of trade with these countries is £189bn in 2020.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
18th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what further steps they will take to increase exports of UK steel.

The Department for International Trade recently published our refreshed Export Strategy with an action-led 12-point plan. We have introduced a whole new range of support measures to help exporters thrive in the global market, internationalising key trading sectors, and raising the UK’s exporting culture in the long-term.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
18th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises can benefit from Free Trade Agreements.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are vital to increasing UK trade. That is why we are seeking SME chapters and SME-friendly provisions throughout all our Free Trade Agreements. These chapters and provisions signpost SMEs towards the information they need to make informed decisions and take advantage of new opportunities.

In addition, the refreshed Export Strategy focuses on barriers faced by UK businesses, particularly SMEs. We will support exporters at every stage of their journey, through the Export Support Service, the UK Export Academy, UK Export Finance, and our International Trade Advisers and global networks.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with UK trade partners on inserting clauses on environmental standards into future trade deals.

The UK is seeking ambitious environmental provisions in all future trade deals, including those which preserve our high levels of environmental protection and ensure our trade and environment policies are mutually supportive.

Negotiations, including with both Australia and New Zealand, are progressing and the UK is also preparing for the next phase of negotiations, including with India, Mexico and Canada.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with UK trade partners on inserting clauses on human rights into future trade deals.

HM Government is clear that more trade will not come at the expense of human rights. The UK will continue to show global leadership in encouraging all states to uphold international human rights obligations and hold those who violate human rights to account. By having stronger economic relationships with partners, we can have more open discussions on a range of issues, including human rights.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent progress they have made in negotiating new Free Trade Agreements.

HM Government signed a new free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) in July. Building on the success of the United Kingdom’s recent Agreement-in-Principle with Australia, we have been accelerating talks to reach an Agreement-in-Principle with New Zealand too.

We are progressing plans to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and recently concluded a public consultation for FTA negotiations with India, as well as a call for input for new FTA negotiations with Canada and Mexico.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of trends in the level of UK trade with the EU since January 2020.

UK goods trade (excluding precious metals) with the EU was £368.9bn in 2020, down 15.8% compared to 2019, mainly due to decreases in April 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

UK trade in goods with the EU suffered a further decrease in January 2021, down 36.0% for the month (compared to December 2020).

Since January 2021, monthly goods trade has increased, with monthly exports now almost at pre-covid levels (July 2021 was 5.6% below 2019 monthly average), and imports growing but still below pre-covid levels (July 2021 was 14.6% below 2019 monthly average).

UK trade in services with the EU have shown little recovery since falling in April 2020. Services trade with the EU was £160.2bn in the 12 months to end of June 2021 down 22.3% on the previous 12 months.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ensure that the rights of workers are protected in future trade deals.

The UK is committed to ensuring that the rights of workers are upheld in trade deals. HM government has made clear that trade does not have to come at the expense of labour standards, and this is reflected in our UK trade policy.

In its public mandates, the Government committed to protect the UK’s world-leading labour standards.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
15th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the devolved administrations regarding the UK’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Department has engaged extensively with the Devolved Administrations throughout the accession process thus far, both at the Chief Negotiator and at Ministerial level, including the sharing of negotiation positions in devolved areas. At every stage, we have taken into consideration their views and priorities. Our programme of engagement totals hundreds of hours at official level and dozens at Ministerial level.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
21st Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Pesticide Action Network UK Toxic Trade: How joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) threatens to weaken UK pesticide standards, published on 7 June; and what assessment they have made of the YouGov polling referenced in that report which found that more than two thirds of respondents were concerned about negative impacts to the environment and human health resulting from a lowering of UK pesticide standards as a result of joining the CPTPP.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership protects the right for members to regulate on public policy issues such as environmental standards. This includes setting regulations on pesticides. The Government will continue to ensure that its own levels of protection are based on appropriate scientific risk assessment with the protection of people and the environment being of greatest importance. The Government shares the public’s high regard for the UK’s environmental protections and will not compromise on them. The Government has ensured in law that existing standards will remain in place, and is clear that trade does not have to come at the expense of the environment.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
21st Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with environmental NGOs in the UK regarding the UK’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

As part of the public consultation on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the Government has engaged with hundreds of businesses, Non-Governmental Organisations, and trade unions, some of whom gave views on environmental issues. Points raised were analysed and will continue to inform the Government’s overall approach to negotiating UK accession to the agreement.

CPTPP has high environmental standards and maintains the UK’s right to regulate for its own level of environmental protection. The UK will not need to lower domestic standards to join and the Government notes that within the CPTPP agreement there are commitments to environmental protection.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with the government of the United States about any future trading relationship.

The incoming US administration is currently in the process of nominating members of its Cabinet and appointing senior staff.

In line with previous practice, the transition team is limiting foreign government contact with the President-elect’s appointees and nominees ahead of the inauguration and (where applicable) Senate confirmation process. We look forward to working closely with the new team following the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on 20th January.

Department for International Trade (DIT) Ministers also engage senior US political figures on a bipartisan basis, including recent discussions on UK-US trade negotiations held between the Secretary of State and Senator Wyden (Dem) and Senator Portman (Rep).

Round five of Free Trade Agreement negotiations between the UK and US concluded on 30 October 2020. It was the most intensive round of negotiations held so far, with a significant proportion of legal text agreed across multiple chapters.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with trade partners about the insertion of clauses on safeguarding human rights in future trade agreements.

The United Kingdom has long promoted her values globally. We are clear that more trade does not have to come at the expense of rights and responsibilities.

While our approach to agreements will vary between partners, it will always allow HM Government to have open discussions on these issues.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with UK trade partners about inserting clauses on human rights in future trade deals.

The United Kingdom has a strong history of promoting our values globally, safeguarding human rights and responsibilities. Our strong economic relationships with trading partners allow HM Government to have open discussions on a range of difficult issues.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they take to ensure that all arms and equipment licensed for export from the UK meet the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.

As the Noble Lady will recall from my answer to her question of 15th June, all export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the ‘Consolidated Criteria’). In reaching a decision, my Department receives advice from a number of Departments including the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Together, we draw on all available information, including reports from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and our diplomatic missions. The Consolidated Criteria provides a thorough risk assessment framework and requires us to think hard about the impact of exporting any equipment. These are not decisions my Department takes lightly, and we will not license the export of items where to do so would be inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with UK trade partners about maintaining environmental protection standards in trade agreements.

In line with our international obligations, HM Government will continue to ensure a high level of protection of the environment in new trade agreements. HM Government shares the public’s high regard for Britain’s environmental protections and has made clear that we will not compromise on these.

While the detail of free trade agreements (FTAs) are reserved for formal negotiations, HM Government has publicly committed to protecting Britain’s world-leading environmental standards in our outline approaches to FTAs with the US, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with UK trade partners about protecting International Labour Organisation standards in future trade agreements.

In line with our international obligations, including those under the International Labour Organisation (ILO), HM Government will continue to ensure a high level of protection of labour standards in new trade agreements. HM Government shares the public’s high regard for worker protections and has made clear that we will not compromise on these.

While the detail of free trade agreements (FTAs) are reserved for formal negotiations, HM Government has publicly committed to reaffirming its international labour standards in our outline approaches to FTAs with the US, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in negotiating free trade deals.

The United Kingdom is currently in negotiations with the United States, Australia and New Zealand to establish new Free Trade Agreements. We are also negotiating with a number of markets to establish continuity of trade, as we leave the transition period on 31st December. We reached one such agreement in principle for an enhanced trade agreement with Japan on 11th September, and we will be presenting final text to the House shortly.

My department published an update on the third round of negotiations with the US on GOV.UK on 12th August. The fourth round of negotiations have been running from 8th September and are due to close tomorrow, on the 18th September.

Over the summer, we have also held productive first round negotiations with Australia and New Zealand. Second rounds are scheduled for the week commencing 21st September and late October respectively.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect of preferential trade agreements on (1) labour standards, and (2) human rights.

The United Kingdom has a strong history of safeguarding rights and promoting our val-ues globally. Our strong economic relationships with trading partners allow the Govern-ment to have open discussions on a range of difficult issues, including rights and responsibilities.

The United Kingdom upholds its international labour standard commitments through domestic legislation and any Free Trade Agreements that we finalise with other countries will not change those commitments.

Further, we are clear that more trade does not have to come at the expense of our track record in upholding rights and responsibilities. We will include measures that allow the United Kingdom to maintain the integrity, and provide meaningful protection, of our world-leading labour standards, and we continue to encourage all states to uphold international rights and obligations too.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support the renewable energy sector in exporting products and services.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) undertakes a range of promotion activities to support exports from the renewable energy sector, including those under the GREAT campaign, further information about which can be found on DIT’s website. Engagement with UK exporters forms part of the work of DIT’s sector teams – one of which specifically focuses on renewable energy technologies – as well as our international network of trade and investment advisors, with renewable energy and clean growth being key themes of work.

Last year, for example, DIT worked closely with Taiwan, including by signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and Taiwan, to open up offshore wind opportunities for UK companies. The offshore wind sector deal commits DIT and industry to increase offshore wind exports fivefold to £2.6 billion by 2030.

DIT is developing a new UK Export Strategy with one of the key pillars being ‘clean growth’. Stakeholders will be consulted ahead of its launch later this year.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in rolling over UK trading arrangements with countries that have an agreement with the EU.

As of 31st January 2020, when the United Kingdom left the EU, we had successfully concluded and signed trade continuity agreements with 48 countries.

This accounts for £110 billion of United Kingdom trade in 2018, which represents 74% of the trade with countries with whom we were seeking continuity before the Withdrawal Agreement was signed – and we are continuing our programme to replicate the effects of existing EU trade agreements with other countries to ensure maximum continuity for British businesses following the transition period.

Work continues on these remaining trade continuity agreements in a way that reflects the reality of the current situation and respects public health. An up-to-date list of trade continuity agreements, signed and in discussion, is publicly available at: gov.uk/guidance/uk-trade-agreements-with-non-eu-countries.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Brazil about ensuring that UK–Brazil trade does not affect the preservation of the Amazon rainforest.

Trade does not have to come at the expense of the environment. As part of our independent trade policy, HM Government is committed to upholding the United Kingdom’s high environmental standards. HM Government is already working with Brazilian counterparts and other interested parties to tackle deforestation and has committed £200m through a number of International Climate Finance programmes aimed at tackling deforestation. The United Kingdom will continue to monitor the situation in the Amazon closely and to raise in our ongoing dialogue with Brazil.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the World Trade Organisation about invoking Article 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in the event that an agreement is not reached with the EU before the end of the transition period; and what progress they have made in establishing UK independent World Trade Organisation schedules.

At the end of this year the UK will have recovered its economic and political independence. The question is whether we can agree with the EU a deeper trading relationship or whether we have a trading relationship based on the 2019 deal, without a free trade agreement (FTA), on the lines of Australia’s.

On leaving the EU on February 1st 2020 the UK took up its independent seat at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The UK’s independent schedules were submitted to the WTO for certification in 2018 in July (Goods) and December (Services), and when the transition period ends at the end of this year they will form the basis of the UK’s independent trade policy.

GATT Article XXIV permits the establishment of FTAs and Customs Unions as an exception to the most favoured nation principle, but it has no relevance without an agreement between the WTO members in question.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the most recent inward investment statistics.

Two major FDI publication have recently been published, reflecting on European investment performance in 2019. The Financial Times’ FDI Report 2020 placed the UK top in Europe, with 1,271 recorded FDI projects – more than Germany and France combined (702 and 500 respectively). This gave the UK an overall market share of 20% in Europe.

The EY UK Attractiveness Survey 2020 shows a different picture with the UK receiving fewer projects than France (1,109 to 1,197), therefore conceding the top spot in Europe. Despite the EY report recording an increase for the UK’s FDI project numbers, France saw a greater increase (5% compared to 16%).

According to UNCTAD’s WIR 2020, the UK remains the top destination in Europe for attracting foreign direct investment with the highest inward FDI stock in Europe, and has improved its position to being the second highest inward FDI stock in the world, behind the US. The UK’s FDI stock of $ 2 trillion has risen by 10% compared to 2018 and almost doubled from its 2010 levels.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all arms and equipment licensed for export from the UK meet the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria.

All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (‘Consolidated Criteria’). In reaching a decision, the Department for International Trade (DIT) receives advice from a number of Departments including the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Together, we draw on all available information, including reports from Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and our diplomatic missions. The Consolidated Criteria provides a thorough risk assessment framework and requires us to think hard about the impact of exporting any equipment. These are not decisions my Department takes lightly, and we will not license the export of items where to do so would be inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
10th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with UK trade partners on maintaining environmental protection standards in trade agreements.

We are clear that more trade does not have to come at the expense of the environment. HM Government is committed to meeting its ambitious environmental objectives and the United Kingdom has long supported the promotion of our values globally. This will continue now that we have left the EU.

The precise details of any United Kingdom free trade agreement are a matter for formal?negotiations?and we would not seek to pre-empt these discussions, but I can assure the Noble Lady that we are exploring all options in the design of future trade and investment agreements, including possible environment provisions, to ensure that future trade is sustainable and upholds the United Kingdom’s high environmental standards.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
10th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with UK trading partners about inserting human rights clauses into the text of future trade agreements.

The United Kingdom has a strong history of safeguarding rights and promoting our values globally. Our strong economic relationships with trading partners allow HM Government to have open discussions on a range of difficult issues, including rights and responsibilities. We continue to encourage all states to uphold international obligations.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
10th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent progress has been made on negotiating a trade agreement with the United States.

The first UK-US negotiation round successfully concluded on 15 May. It saw the two sides hold a full discussion covering all aspects of a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. Discussions have continued between the negotiation rounds across a number of chapters.

The sessions in the first negotiation round focused on agreeing the scope, objectives and modalities of the potential chapters. Progress has been made in a number of areas, including services, investment and digital trade.

The second UK-US Free Trade Agreement negotiating round began on 15 June and will take place over two weeks.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
9th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to expedite the import of essential medical products during the COVID-19 pandemic.

HM Government is working around the clock to ensure the NHS and our social care workers have the medical equipment to do their critical frontline work.

To achieve this, a cross-government sourcing effort has been undertaken to secure new supply lines of medical products from across the world.

As a result of the Department of International Trade’s work, purchase orders have now been raised by the Department for Health and Social Care for many billions of items globally from new suppliers including gloves, masks, and aprons.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent assessment they have made of the effectiveness of their Export Strategy.

We launched the Export Strategy in August 2018 with the goal of strengthening the UK’s position as a global trading nation.

I’m pleased to say that UK exports are at a record high, with the latest figures showing exports of £705.1 billion in the 12 months to January 2020. That is an increase of 7% year-on-year.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made by the Secretary of State for International Trade with her counterparts in non-EU countries on any opportunities for trade deals after the transition period.

While there are many other markets the UK will look to for new agreements in the future, our shared values and strength of trade with the United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, make them the right places to focus our initial attention. We have published our negotiation objectives for a UK-US free trade agreement. We will publish more details on our approach to other priority partners in due course.

We are also continuing our programme to replicate the effects of existing EU trade agreements to ensure continuity for UK businesses following the transition period. By the time we left the EU, we had signed trade continuity agreements with 48 countries.

My Rt Hon Friend the Minister of State for Trade Policy (Conor Burns) is leading for the Department on engagement with Nations beyond US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support exports by the renewable energy sector.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) undertakes a range of activities to support exports from the renewable energy sector, including those under the ‘GREAT’ campaign. DIT’s renewable energy sector team engages with UK exporters, and our international network of trade and investment advisors offers further help to exporters, with renewable energy and clean growth key themes.

For example, last year the Department worked closely with Taiwan, signing a Memorandum of Understanding to open up Taiwan’s offshore wind opportunities for UK companies. The offshore wind sector deal commits DIT and industry to increase offshore wind exports fivefold to £2.6 billion by 2030.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
13th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with international counterparts on the administration of trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

The UK Government has agreed arrangements which avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland in a Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement.

We are considering the best way to implement the Protocol and we will continue to engage with the EU. In developing our policy, alongside WTO rules, we are also taking into consideration a broader set of international obligations, including those under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. This work will inform communications with international counterparts, where relevant.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
21st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure that (1) freight, and (2) passenger, services between Larne and Cairnryan ports are reinstated.

We have worked closely with the Devolved Administrations on this. Other ferry companies have stepped up to provide the ferry capacity that has been abruptly taken out of the market by P&O Ferries. We have been able to obtain assurances that the further vessel and additional capacity Stena has put in will mitigate the P&O vessel being out of service.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of air pollution from motor vehicles since the restrictions put in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic were eased in August 2020.

Despite increases in some areas as March lockdown measures eased, average roadside NO2 concentrations are below levels observed in the previous 3 years. We continue our ambitious plans to improve air quality with our Clean Air Strategy, tackling NO2 pollution and increasing active travel. Government continues working in partnership with local authorities to help them deliver Clean Air Zones. The Environment Bill will enable greater local action for tackling air pollution.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
21st Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what reports have they received about fishing vessels from the West of Scotland and Northern Ireland picking up munitions in their nets (1) from 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2020, and (2) from 1 April to 21 September 2020.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency recorded twenty-six incidents of munitions being encountered at sea between 1 January 2016 and 31 March 2020, and one incident from the 1 April to 21 September 2020 in the region of the West of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In the timescale given to respond to this question we were unable to determine whether the encounters detailed above were fishing vessels finding munitions in their nets or due to other circumstances as this requires a manual review of each incident log. Unfortunately, due to the way in which the data from 2010 to 2016 is stored we will require additional time to retrieve data from prior to 2016.

Munitions found at sea West of Scotland/Northern Ireland

01/04-31/03

01/04 - 21/09

2016/17

2017/18

2018/19

2019/20

2020

10

3

6

7

1

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
21st Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of a trawler registered in Ardglass fishing port in County Down picking up munitions in its catch on 19 September.

On the 19 September 2020 HM Coastguard responded to a report from the Harbour Master at Ardglass of Second World War munitions having been left at the port by a fishing vessel. The Coastguard assisted the Police Service of Northern Ireland in securing a cordon. Explosive ordinance disposal attended and removed the items for destruction.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the suspension of gender pay gap reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic on gender pay gap inequality.

I refer the noble Baroness to the answer given to HL6083 on 3rd July 2020.

6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the measures in place to protect ferry services across the UK from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

We announced on 24 April a package of support for up to 31 critical Roll On, Roll Off (RoRo) freight routes between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and mainland Europe, which will help to maintain capacity on these routes. We also announced a package of support to safeguard the vital lifeline services to the Isle of Wright and the Isles of Scilly.

We will continue to keep these schemes under review so that vital ferry routes are supported during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ensure the safety of passengers and crew on ferries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public Health England has published guidance advising on measures that everyone should be adopting to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Additional advice was developed specifically for the maritime sector and this applies to all vessels including ferries. Additionally, the Department has been working with Public Health England and the public health bodies in the devolved administrations to engage with the industry and has supplemented the online guidance with a series of FAQs, expanding on specific issues raised by the sector.

Furthermore, on Sunday 10 May, the Prime Minister outlined the Government’s roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions and informed the public, that if they unable to work from home, then they can now go back to work as long as appropriate measures are put in place to protect the health of all employers. The Department understands that the transport sector will be instrumental in getting people back to work and therefore on 12 May 2012, issued further guidance for both transport operators and passengers, including guidance in relation to workforce planning and protecting workers, social distancing measures and face coverings where social distancing may be difficult.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures have been put in place to protect the safety of passengers (1) travelling to airports, (2) in airports, and (3) on aircraft.

The Government has recently published safer travel guidance for passengers, including advice on social distancing and face coverings. Public Health England advises that there are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms.

If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the resilience, and (2) the financial situation, of airlines which operate in the UK.

We recognise that airlines are facing a number of challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. They have seen unprecedented falls in demand which have had a significant impact of their financial position. To this end we are maintaining a regular dialogue with airlines across the sector to understand the positions they are in and to encourage them to draw on the unprecedented package of cross-economy financial support measures which the Government has made available.

This engagement sits alongside the work of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in its role as independent regulator of the UK aviation sector. The CAA is responsible for the assessment of UK airlines under the formal licensing regime, and the financial health of airlines is taken into consideration throughout this process.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of COVID-19 on connectivity between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Officials are in regular contact with officials from the relevant Northern Ireland government departments.

Maintaining an airbridge between Great Britain (GB) and Northern Ireland (NI) during the current COVID-19 situation is critical for lifeline services, including the connectivity of key workers and repatriation.

A temporary support package has been agreed and is being funded jointly by the UK government and the Northern Ireland Executive (NIE). This package will ensure continuation of two lifeline passenger services – Derry to London and Belfast to London, including financial support to ensure the relevant airports remain operational to support those services. We will continue to monitor NI-GB connectivity as part of the Department’s work on restart and recovery of the sector.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support is available to UK residents seeking to travel between Northern Ireland and Great Britain during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government has announced a £5.7million funding package of measures, supporting two airlinks, from Belfast and Londonderry to London, alongside both City of Derry Airport and Belfast City Airport.

The funding package will ensure that lifeline connectivity services continue to both Belfast and Derry during the COVID-19 pandemic. These routes provide critical connectivity for key workers, repatriation, and access to healthcare services.

This approach was taken to ensure in the immediate term the continuity of service for passengers and specifically places an obligation on the operators to ensure the services continue at a minimum appropriate level. We will continue to monitor Northern Ireland – Great Britain connectivity as part of the Department’s work on restart and recovery of the sector.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent assessment they have made of the preparedness of UK ports of entry to facilitate international trade after the transition period.

The Government has confirmed that it plans to introduce full import controls on EU goods at the border after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. That will involve the need for customs declarations and will mean that goods are newly subject to checks.

Her Majesty’s Government is continuing to engage with ports, airports and other stakeholders at key border locations to understand local constraints and opportunities and how best to support planning for operational readiness.

In September 2019, the Department also announced that 16 ports would receive a share of £10 million in order to improve port resilience.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
29th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take to ensure that the DVLA will not refuse tax renewals for those people in Northern Ireland who have not been able to have MOT assessments in Northern Ireland because of any ongoing difficulties in Motor Testing Centres there.

It is a legal requirement for customers to license their vehicles if they are being used or kept on a public road.

Motorists who have been issued with temporary exemption certificates by the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland will be able to license their vehicles.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
17th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Marie Curie report Dying in Poverty, published in May.

The Department has noted the recommendations made in the report, values Marie Curie as a key stakeholder and welcomes our ongoing constructive engagement with them and other key end of life charities on policy development in this area.

The Government is committed to improving fast tracked access to benefits for people nearing the end of their life. Recent changes to Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance regulations have replaced the current 6-month rule for determining who get this fast-tracked access with a 12-month end of life approach.

The Social Security (Special Rules for End of Life) Bill, introduced in the Queens Speech earlier this month, will make similar changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Attendance Allowance (AA). Collectively, these changes, will enable thousands more people who are thought to be in the final year of their life to get fast-tracked access to the benefits they are eligible for.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to provide (1) support, and (2) protection, for the staff of P&O Ferries who were made redundant on 17 March.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) stands ready to support anyone affected by this announcement, with our Rapid Response Service (RRS) offer. This is a service designed to give support and advice to employers and their employees when faced with redundancy.

The range of support available from Jobcentre Plus and partners may include:

  • Connecting people to jobs in the labour market
  • Information, advice and guidance
  • Help with job search including CV writing, interview skills, where to find jobs and how to apply for them.
  • Help to assess transferable skills in relation to the local labour market by conducting a Skills Transfer Analysis
  • Vocational training to address skills needs
  • Other RRS funded support to help overcome barriers to getting a job or starting self-employment

In addition, DWP is also working closely with the Department for Transport to implement a unique portal on the Aviation Skills Retention Platform (ASRP) for workers affected by the P&O redundancy. The portal has been designed to directly target individuals affected to provide visibility of jobs in aviation and wider transport sectors. The new portal will provide all registered companies with the opportunity to engage with P&O Ferries workers, highlighting opportunities to the group as a whole, rather than individually, and ensure workers can be approached with a range of opportunities that match their skills.

Information on other Government programmes on retraining such as Department for Educations Skills Bootcamps and Apprenticeships will also be shared with affected P&O employees.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the cost of ending the £20 uplift to Universal Credit.

No assessment has been made. The Chancellor announced a temporary six-month extension to the £20 per week uplift at the Budget on 3 March to support households affected by the economic shock of Covid-19. Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and the temporary uplift was part of a COVID support package worth a total of £407 billion in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

There have been significant positive developments in the public health situation since the uplift was first introduced. With the success of the vaccine rollout and record job vacancies, it is right that our focus is on helping people back into work.

Through our Plan for Jobs, we are targeting tailored support schemes of people of all ages to help them prepare for, get into and progress in work. These include: Kickstart, delivering tens of thousands of six-month work placements for Universal Credit claimants aged 16-24 at risk of unemployment; Restart, which provides 12 months’ intensive employment support to Universal Credit claimants who are unemployed for a year; and JETS, which provides light touch employment support for people who are claiming either Universal Credit or New Style Jobseekers Allowance, for up to 6 months, helping participants effectively re-engage with the labour market and focus their job search. We have also recruited an additional 13,500 work coaches to provide more intensive support to find a job. In total, our Plan for Jobs interventions will support more than two million people.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they are (1) monitoring, and (2) addressing, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on child food poverty.

We take the issue of food insecurity seriously, which is why we added internationally used food security questions to the Family Resources Survey in 19/20 and these questions remain in the survey for 20/21.

This Government is wholly committed to supporting those on low incomes, including by increasing the living wage, and by spending £111 billion on welfare support for people of working age in 2020/21. This included around £7.4 billion of Covid-related welfare policy measures.

Our Covid Local Support Grant is ensuring that families across England get help with food and essential utility bills. We have now extended this temporary scheme for a final time with an additional £160 million in funding between 21 June and 30 September, taking total funding under the scheme to £429 million. This funding recognises that while restrictions are planned to end in July, families might need additional help to get back on their feet as the vaccine rollout continues and our economy recovers.

Our ambition is to help people move into and progress in work as quickly as possible based on clear evidence around the importance of employment, particularly where it is full-time, in substantially reducing the risks of poverty. Our ambitious Plan for Jobs is already delivering for people of all ages right across the country and includes new schemes such as the £2 billion Kickstart Scheme, the £2.9 billion Restart Scheme and our Job Entry Targeted Support Scheme.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent estimate they have made of the levels of child poverty in England.

National Statistics on the number and percentage of children in low income are published annually in the “Households Below Average Income” publication.

In the three years to 2019/20, the absolute child poverty rate, before housing costs, in England was 18 per cent, down 3 percentage points since the three years to 2009/10.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of the funding provided to support people who are unemployed.

The government is investing billions of pounds in supporting people who have become unemployed due to the impact of Covid-19 on the UK economy. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is at the heart of delivering this support, which includes:

• the new 3-year long £2.9 billion Restart programme which will provide intensive and tailored support to over 1 million unemployed people and help them find work

• the £2 billion Kickstart Scheme which will create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country. To date, tens of thousands of Kickstart jobs have already been created.

• The recruitment of 13,500 new Work Coaches to provide essential support through Jobcentre Plus. This includes delivering DWP’s new Youth Offer, comprising of a 13-week Youth Employment Programme, DWP Youth Hubs co-located and co-delivered with our network of external partners and the expansion of Youth Employability Coaches.

• Expanding Sector-based Work Academy Programmes (SWAP), which assist unemployed people to pivot into priority sectors, including construction, infrastructure and social care. In the ‘Plan for Jobs’, the Chancellor announced an extra 32,000 SWAP participant starts in 2020/21, providing £17m for Department for Education to triple the number of associated vocational training placements. DWP’s Secretary of State also pledged to increase further the number of people taking part in 2021/22. The Sector-based Work Academy Programmes offer training, work experience and a guaranteed job interview to those ready to start a job. This is alongside the expansion of support for traineeships in England and for apprenticeships, which enable people to work while having a structured training programme.

• DWP, through contracts with externally contracted providers are also delivering the new Job Finding Support Service, which will help familiarise newly unemployed people with current recruitment practices, gain an understanding of sector specific approaches and develop a personalised job finding action plan; and

• Job Entry: Targeted Support, which will provide up to 6 months of essential support for people who have been unable to find work within the first 3 months of unemployment.

• The government is also investing an additional £150 million into the Flexible Support Fund, which will increase the capacity of the Rapid Response Service, supporting people through redundancy and providing additional local support to claimants by removing barriers to work such as travel expenses for attending interviews and child care.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent assessment they have made of the impact of the migration to Universal Credit on child poverty.

The Government made a commitment that no eligible claimants’ existing benefits, whose circumstances remain unchanged and who are moved to Universal Credit (UC), will have a lower entitlement at the point of their move to UC than they had entitlement to their existing benefits.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect on disabled people of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government is committed to supporting disabled people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people using existing and new data sources.

The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work has had discussions with charities, disabled people's organisations and individuals to understand the range of experiences disabled people have had during the COVID-19 pandemic and to identify the support needed as lockdown restrictions are eased.

We are ensuring that disabled people continue to have access to disability benefits, food, medicines, essentials, accessible communications, updated guidance, including workplace and transport related guidance, as well as financial and other support during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Government continues to provide disability employment support through initiatives such as Access to Work, Disability Confident, the Work and Health Programme, Intensive Personalised Employment Support, and other forms of support that disabled people need to retain, adapt and move into employment.

The Cabinet Office Disability Unit continues to work with disability stakeholders and across Government Departments to ensure that the needs of disabled people are considered in the UK Government’s response to COVID-19. We are clear that consideration of equality impacts must be integral in all key policy decisions. All equality and discrimination laws and obligations continue to apply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People taking into account the impacts of the pandemic on disabled people. The Strategy will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects and phases of life, including employment, housing, education and transport.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of women who have left the workforce as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We do not have a current estimate however the latest published Office of National Statistics data in the three months to August 2020 shows that 15.5 million women are in employment. We know that some groups of people are more likely to have been affected than others, but the Covid-19 Job Retention Scheme and the plan for jobs will make sure that no person is left behind in our economic recovery.

Through our Plan for Jobs we are continuing to support people back into work by doubling the number of Work Coaches across our Jobcentres to 27,000, ensuring jobseekers have access to tailored and personalised support. We’re also helping those made jobless by the pandemic through our newly launched Job Entry Targeted Support, accessible to all Universal Credit claimants out of work for at least three months.

Our £150 million investment in the Flexible Support Fund means our national network of Work Coaches can continue to enrol people on training helping to increase their employability and quickly move into work.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on disabled people; and what plans are in place to aid recovery from that impact.

The Government is committed to supporting disabled people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people using existing and new data sources.

The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work has had discussions with charities, disabled people's organisations and individuals to understand the range of experiences disabled people have had during the COVID-19 pandemic and to identify the support needed as lockdown restrictions are eased

We are ensuring that disabled people continue to have access to disability benefits, food, medicines, essentials, accessible communications, updated guidance, including workplace and transport related guidance, as well as financial and other support during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Government continues to provide disability employment support through initiatives such as Access to Work, Disability Confident, the Work and Health Programme, Intensive Personalised Employment Support, and other forms of support that disabled people need to retain, adapt and move into employment.

The Cabinet Office Disability Unit continues to work with disability stakeholders and across Government Departments to ensure that the needs of disabled people are considered in the UK Government’s response to COVID-19. We are clear that consideration of equality impacts must be integral in all key policy decisions. All equality and discrimination laws and obligations continue to apply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People taking into account the impacts of the pandemic on disabled people. The Strategy will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects and phases of life, including employment, housing, education and transport.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) how many meetings have taken place between Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions and the Minister for Communities in Northern Ireland between 11 January and 26 June; and (2) what subjects were discussed.

There were no meetings with the Minister for Communities in Northern Ireland during that period. There are regular meetings between officials in my Department and those in the Department for Communities to discuss matters of joint interest across the Work and Pensions portfolio.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on disabled people.

The Government is committed to supporting disabled people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people using existing and new data sources.

The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work has had discussions with charities, disabled people's organisations and individuals to understand the range of experiences disabled people have had during the COVID-19 pandemic and to identify the support needed as lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Government is ensuring that disabled people continue to have access to accessible communications, updated guidance, including workplace and transport related guidance, as well as other support during the Covid-19 outbreak. All equality and discrimination laws and obligations continue to apply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cabinet Office Disability Unit continues to work with disability stakeholders and across Government Departments to ensure that the needs of disabled people are considered in the UK Government’s response to COVID-19.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce a universal basic income to offset any financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are no current plans to introduce a universal basic income.

This Government has introduced unprecedented support for workers and businesses to protect them against the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where small and large employers will be eligible to apply for a government grant of 80 per cent of workers’ salaries up to £2,500 a month. The scheme will be backdated to 1 March and available for at least three months;
  • a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme which will help eligible freelance workers receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least three months;
  • deferral of the next quarter of VAT payments for firms, until the end of June representing a £30 billion injection into the economy;
  • £330 billion worth of Government backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses;
  • a strengthened safety net for the most vulnerable with over £6.5 billion invested into improving our welfare system for this year; and
  • more support for benefit claimants in the Private Rented Sector by increasing Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile, helping to alleviate affordability challenges.

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

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to meet the ministers with responsibility for welfare reform and benefit administration from the devolved nations.

Welfare reform, social security and benefit administration are reserved matters in England and Wales, transferred matters in Northern Ireland, and partially devolved in Scotland.

With respect to Scotland, the Joint Ministerial Working Group on Welfare is a regular forum that allows the UK and Scottish Ministers to oversee the safe and secure transfer of the powers devolved through the Scotland Act 2016 that relate to social security and employability. It is co-chaired by the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, and attended by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Discussions with Ministers in the Welsh Government take place on a more ad hoc basis, and focus largely on devolved areas relating to employability such as skills provision, but also to interactions between devolved matters and the social security system.

The Northern Ireland Executive has recently re-formed, and we will be discussing the arrangements for welfare reform there with the relevant Ministers.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the operation of section 26 of the Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Claims and Payments) Regulations 2013.

Under Universal Credit, claims may be backdated by up to one calendar month in some circumstances for vulnerable claimants, who may be delayed in claiming Universal Credit through no fault of their own. Claims may also be backdated in specific circumstances when a couple separates, to ensure that there is no gap in entitlement between the couple claim and the new claim made by a single claimant.

In order to provide the best possible support to our claimants, it is important that we are able to have discussions about their claim and circumstances at the earliest possible opportunity, whether to support them back into work or to provide or signpost them to other support and guidance. It is therefore important that backdating provisions are used in specific circumstances, and that all claimants are encouraged to engage with us at the earliest opportunity.

Universal Credit has been designed with a diverse range of claimants in mind and we want the application process to be as quick and easy as possible to ensure that claimants receive their money at the earliest opportunity. Comprehensive support is available to claimants to use our digital service, however, we recognise there will be occasions when people are unable to make or maintain their claim online, so telephone support is available. The initial verification can include a home visit to support a claimant with making their claim and completing any other administrative tasks required, including applications for Section 26, to ensure that they receive the correct payment.

Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland have supported over 200,000 individuals through ‘Help to Claim’ since April 2019, offering tailored and practical support to help people make a Universal Credit claim up to receiving their first full correct payment on time. ‘Help to Claim’ is available online, on the telephone and face-to-face, in locations including Jobcentres and Citizen’s Advice Bureaux.

The Department has delivered a number of improvements to support claimants during their first assessment period, including paying those claimants moving from Housing Benefit onto Universal Credit a two week ‘transitional housing payment’, and introducing a two-week run on for eligible claimants of Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance from July 2020.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the devolved administrations regarding the proposed reduction of (1) salt, and (2) sugar, in food in England.

The voluntary reduction and reformulation programmes challenge all sectors of the food and drinks industry, including retailers, manufacturers and eating out of home sector such as cafes, takeaways and delivery firms, to reduce the amount of sugar and salt in foods and drinks.

The sugar reduction programme aimed to reduce the amount of sugar in foods which contribute the most to children’s  intake by 20% by 2020. While there has been mixed progress in decreasing the sugar content of foods, retailers and manufacturers demonstrated greater achievements in sugar reduction in unsweetened juice and sweetened milk based drinks. Monitoring the sugar content of drinks in scope of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy shown that substantial reductions have been achieved. The fourth progress report on sugar reduction is expected in 2022. An assessment of salt reduction targets to be achieved by 2024 is expected in 2022. Officials maintain regular contact with the devolved administrations on the salt and sugar reduction programmes.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to decrease the levels of (1) salt, and (2) sugar, in food in England.

The voluntary reduction and reformulation programmes challenge all sectors of the food and drinks industry, including retailers, manufacturers and eating out of home sector such as cafes, takeaways and delivery firms, to reduce the amount of sugar and salt in foods and drinks.

The sugar reduction programme aimed to reduce the amount of sugar in foods which contribute the most to children’s  intake by 20% by 2020. While there has been mixed progress in decreasing the sugar content of foods, retailers and manufacturers demonstrated greater achievements in sugar reduction in unsweetened juice and sweetened milk based drinks. Monitoring the sugar content of drinks in scope of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy shown that substantial reductions have been achieved. The fourth progress report on sugar reduction is expected in 2022. An assessment of salt reduction targets to be achieved by 2024 is expected in 2022. Officials maintain regular contact with the devolved administrations on the salt and sugar reduction programmes.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to introduce (1) antiviral drugs, and (2) a vaccine, to address Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

The monoclonal antibody palivizumab is currently offered by the National Health Service each winter to high-risk children for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) prevention, in line with guidance from the Joint Community on Vaccines and Immunisation (JCVI).

In addition, there are several RSV vaccines and monoclonal immunisations in phase three trials, from maternity and infancy to older adults. There are also antiviral treatments for RSV in clinical development, including an antiviral treatment by Enanta Pharmaceuticals. Manufacturers are encouraged to provide information to the UK Health Security Agency and the JCVI as it becomes available, which are monitoring development of these trials. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is responsible for the approval of new vaccines and treatments.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to introduce the Innovative Medicines Fund.

The Innovative Medicines Fund for non-cancer medicines recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for managed access was launched in June 2022.

The Fund will support early access to the most promising new medicines for National Health Service patients while further evidence is collected to address clinical uncertainty.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the devolved administrations about providing additional (1) funding, and (2) support, for those living with rare diseases in the UK.

Alignment and coordination of rare disease policy and action plans is facilitated through meetings of the UK Rare Diseases Framework Board, which includes representatives from the devolved administrations. Discussion includes topics such as improving the coordination of care for people living with rare diseases. However, funding is not discussed as it is a devolved matter.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of allergy services by (1) region, and (2) integrated care system.

No specific assessment has been made. Allergy services in England are currently commissioned through clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), considering the needs of the local population. A small number of specialist allergy services for patients with rare and complex conditions are commissioned by NHS England’s specialised commissioning. Its service specification states that centres should provide equity of access to best practice standards for diagnosis and management, based on current national and international guidelines.

Integrated care boards will be established on 1 July 2022 and will assume the commissioning functions of CCGs as well as some of NHS England’s commissioning functions.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to (1) control infections, and (2) reduce costs, in NHS controlled hospitals.

On 14 April 2022, NHS England and NHS Improvement published the National infection prevention and control manual for England, which sets out how Standard Infection Control Precautions (SICPs) are to be used by all staff in all settings regardless of whether infection is known to be present to ensure the safety of those being cared for, staff and visitors in the care environment. SICPs may be insufficient to prevent cross transmission of specific infectious agents. Additional precautions called Transmission Based Precautions may be required when caring for patients with known or suspected infection or colonisation. Clinical judgement and decisions should be made by staff on what additional precautions are required. A copy of the manual is attached.

The Government has set an efficiency target of 2.2% for the National Health Service, which NHS England and NHS Improvement have incorporated into planning guidance. In the draft annual plans, NHS systems have set out cost savings across a number of categories. These include temporary staffing, digital investments, purchasing of goods and services and estate running costs. There are also national programmes intended to support organisations to reduce costs, including agency staffing reductions, procurement of goods and services at a national scale and support organisations to review patient pathways to improve patient outcomes and reduce cost.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the need for accurate diagnosis to ensure the prescribing of anti-viral drugs.

A range of treatment options are available to non-hospitalised patients at higher risk from COVID-19 to reduce severe disease, hospitalisation and death. The highest risk cohort also have access to free lateral flow device testing to facilitate access to these treatments.

The clinical access policy states that an individual must be in the highest risk cohort, have symptoms of COVID-19 without signs of recovery and must have a confirmed positive test result. The patient must then undergo a clinical assessment before they can be prescribed an antiviral treatment.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance is given to hospitals on pre-operative screening for high-risk patients with high prevalence of superbugs, such as Carbapenemase Producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE).

The UK Health Security Agency has advised health and social care providers, including hospitals, on minimising the impact of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales (CPE). This includes recommendations for pre-operative screening and information regarding surgical prophylaxis options for high-risk patients. Patients should be considered for screening on admission if they are likely to stay in hospital overnight and if in the last 12 months, they have been previously identified as CPE positive; been an inpatient in any hospital, in the United Kingdom or abroad; had multiple hospital treatments; had known epidemiological link to a known carrier of CPE; and they are being admitted into augmented care or high-risk units.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance is given to hospitals on screening for the diagnosis of superbug bacterial infections.

Guidance on screening for the diagnosis of bacterial infections is organism or resistance specific. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) recommends the active patient admission screening of risk groups to minimise the impact of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales (CPE). Patients should be strongly considered for screening on admission if they are likely to stay in hospital overnight and if in the last 12 months, they have been previously identified as CPE positive; been an inpatient in any hospital in the United Kingdom or abroad; had multiple hospital treatments; had a known epidemiological link to a known carrier of CPE; and they are admitted into augmented care or high-risk units.

The UKHSA also recommends screening for candida auris in hospital units which have ongoing cases and/or colonisations, or identification of a new infected or colonised patient. The UKHSA’s antimicrobial resistance and healthcare associated infections reference unit supports the diagnosis of bacterial infections, including carbapenem-resistant bacteria, Staphylococcus and Acinetobacter species and Neisseria gonorroheae. The unit also provides information and advice on infection prevention and control issues.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have made towards developing (1) rapid, and (2) accurate, PCR testing infrastructure to control infections and protect patients in (a) NHS, and (b) private hospitals.

In National Health Service hospitals, rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is in place to support the urgent testing of patients. Free symptomatic testing continues to be provided for patients in hospital for whom a test is required for clinical management or to support treatment pathways; individuals who live or work in high-risk closed settings in patient facing roles where infection needs to be identified quickly to minimise outbreaks; and individuals whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 who are eligible for anti-viral medication or other treatments. People in this group will be contacted directly and automatically receive tests for use should they have COVID-19 symptoms.

Hospitals also use rapid lateral flow device testing where appropriate, which can be used in emergency departments as part of the early decision assist test pathway. The UKHSA does not provide PCR testing to private hospitals as part of the testing regime.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to create rapid PCR capability in (1) emergency departments, and (2) acute healthcare settings.

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

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many NHS trusts have point-of-care teams; and how many of these have access to rapid PCR technology.

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

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they will support the placement of rapid PCR technology in community diagnostic centres.

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

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Kamall on 30 March (HL7298), what plans they have to request that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) carry out an analysis of the cost-effectiveness of further vaccinating 50–64-year-olds in light of the high cases of COVID-19.

The Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation has provided its advice on the cohorts which should be recommended for the flu vaccine in the 2022/23 flu vaccination programme. There are no current plans to carry out a further cost-effectiveness analysis.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) provided additional advice to the Welsh Government on the cost-effectiveness of further vaccinating 50–64-year-olds to inform their decision to extend eligibility for 2022-3; and if so, whether that advice was made available to the UK Government.

The Welsh Government’s decision on the priority cohorts for inclusion in the 2022/23 annual flu vaccination programme was based on existing advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). No additional advice was provided by the JCVI. Health departments in the devolved administrations are made aware of the JCVI’s advice through their designated observers, who attend JCVI and sub-committee meetings and receive committee papers. While the JCVI do not provide separate advice to the devolved administrations as a matter of course, it can do so if specifically asked.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
31st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the PCR test funding for NHS providers will be continued through the next phases of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indicative allocations for National Health Service testing in 2022/23 include polymerase chain reaction testing through diagnostics in hospital settings, in-hospital moves for the severely immunocompromised, outbreak testing in healthcare settings, discharged patients to care homes, maternity patients on admission and emergency admissions. All policies will remain subject to review.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
31st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure that funding for pathology services supports rapid-PCR technology for respiratory testing.

In 2022/23, the Department will continue to provide funding for polymerase chain reaction testing processing and testing activities within National Health Service settings, such as pathology services.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
31st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they will support the creation of guidance to standardise the use in Emergency Departments of rapid-PCR testing for respiratory illnesses during future winters, in light of COVID-19.

We have no plans to do so as a standardised approach may not be viable in each emergency department. However, screening, triaging and testing for COVID-19 and other respiratory pathogens such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus will continue to be practiced in emergency departments based on a clinician’s individual assessment.

Organisations and employers should include testing as part of the infection prevention and control (IPC) risk mitigation strategy at times of increased infection prevalence. The choice of test, how and when these are deployed and whether confirmatory testing is required should form part of the local IPC policy for accident and emergency departments and admissions.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to ensure that hospitals in all NHS health trusts allocate dedicated funding for respiratory testing for (1) diagnostic, and (2) treatment, purposes.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have invested £2 million to fund the establishment of respiratory clinical networks. These networks support the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan’s objectives and provide clinical leadership to respiratory services. As part of commissioned respiratory services, National Health Service hospital trusts are funded to provide respiratory testing for diagnostic and treatment purposes.

Additional capacity has been created through 71 community diagnostic centres in 2021/22. These centres will provide an estimated 750,000 further tests per year in a number of specialties, including respiratory health.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) diagnostic services, and (2) antimicrobial stewardship, in NHS health trusts.

In October 2020, Professor Sir Mike Richards published Diagnostics: Recovery and Renewal: Report of the Independent Review of Diagnostic Services for NHS England. The review identified the need for investment in and reform of diagnostics services, with recommendations including the separation of acute and elective diagnostics, supported by the establishment of community diagnostics centres (CDCs). We have now made £2.3 billion available for diagnostic services in line with these recommendations, including the launch of up to 160 CDCs by March 2025. A copy of the review is attached.

The UK Health Security Agency published English surveillance programme for antimicrobial utilisation and resistance (ESPAUR). Report 2020 to 2021. The report assessed national data on antimicrobial prescribing, resistance, and stewardship activities. The 2020/21 report highlighted that routine antimicrobial stewardship activities had been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a number of positive outcomes were also identified, such as increased use of tests to distinguish between viral and bacterial infections. A copy of the 2020/21 ESPAUR report is attached.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government why those aged 50 to 64 will not be eligible for free flu vaccinations in the 2022/23 flu season.

Due to the success of the COVID-19 vaccination programme and the treatments now available to those individuals most at risk of infection, eligibility for other vaccination programmes, such as flu, will return to the pre-pandemic cohorts. We continue to keep the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s advice for the flu vaccination programme under review.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have modelled the potential co-circulation of COVID-19 and flu among the over 50s in the 2022/23 flu season; and if so, what were the results of that modelling.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is currently undertaking independent flu and COVID-19 models. The UKHSA anticipates there will not be a significant interaction between the two pathogens and it is more likely that coincidental co-infections will occur. The sum of the independent COVID-19 and flu models will therefore represent the overall impact which may be expected.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Kamall on 1 March (HL6395), what assessment they have made of the number of women who (1) have undergone a formal cancer risk assessment, and (2) have been identified as having dense breasts.

No specific assessment has been made as there is currently no formal cancer risk assessment for all women. However, the National Health Service Breast Screening Programme identifies those in the population with an increased risk of developing this cancer. Breast density is not currently identified during screening.

The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) is aware that breast density is related to these risks and will review evidence to risk-stratify women when it becomes available. In England, there are several trials ongoing designed to assess the efficacy of risk-stratifying women into categories and offering differing screening modalities, chemoprevention and screening intervals to determine whether personalised screening protocols would benefit women in England. If found to be efficacious, the UK NSC will determine if the research provides conclusive evidence to recommend changes to the breast screening pathway.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the benefits of lowering the breast cancer screening age.

The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) awaits the publication of the Age Extension Trial before a recommendation can be made to the Department. The results of the trial will be critical to providing a better understanding of the benefits and harms of offering screening outside the recommended screening ages. Publication of the AgeX trial is expected in 2026. The UK NSC is in contact with the researchers and will review the findings as soon as they are available. Any changes to national screening policy are made on the basis of robust evidence where the benefit to screen outweighs the harms.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to establish a National Clinical (1) Lead, or (2) Director, to work alongside the Clinical Immunologist advising on allergy pathways.

Whilst there are currently no plans to appoint a National Clinical Lead or Director for allergies, NHS England and NHS Improvement keep the position under review and new National Clinical Directors or Specialty Advisers are appointed as necessary.

Clinical advice and leadership is currently provided by the clinical reference group for specialised allergy and immunology services, which leads on the development of clinical commissioning policies, service specifications and quality standards.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the devolved administrations regarding a UK-wide National Strategy for Allergy.

There are no plans to develop a National Strategy for Allergy in England and we have had no specific discussions with the devolved administrations. We continue to engage with stakeholders to understand the needs of people with allergies and how services could be improved.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to establish a National Strategy for Allergy.

There are no plans to develop a National Strategy for Allergy in England and we have had no specific discussions with the devolved administrations. We continue to engage with stakeholders to understand the needs of people with allergies and how services could be improved.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the devolved administrations regarding the diagnosis arrangements for (1) dementia, and (2) Alzheimer’s, across the UK.

There have been no specific discussions as the diagnosis arrangements for dementia and Alzheimer’s in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a devolved matter.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to reduce the delays in undertaking diagnosis arrangements for patients with (1) dementia, and (2) Alzheimer’s, in England.

NHS England and NHS Improvement continue to monitor the monthly dementia diagnosis rate and provide analysis on trends at a regional and sustainability and transformation partnership level to aid targeted recovery efforts.

In 2021/22, the Government allocated £17 million to NHS England and NHS Improvement to address dementia waiting lists and increase the number of diagnoses. This funding was made available to clinical commissioning groups in June 2021. Later this year we will set out our plans for dementia in England, which will include a focus on dementia diagnosis.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the benefits of introducing Tomosynthesis to digital mammography in order to improve the accuracy of breast screening.

The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) is aware of the Prospects trial involving 100,000 women to assess whether tomosynthesis could supplement the routine breast screening programme. The UK NSC will review the results of the research as soon as it is available. Tomosynthesis has been approved for use in the National Health Service breast screening programme as an optional tool in the assessment of screen detected soft tissue breast abnormalities, following the primary screen. In the meantime, digital mammography is offered as the primary screen for the programme offering high quality images.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the benefits of using breast density measurement software to identify women with dense breast tissue, in order to prioritise those women for breast cancer screening.

The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) is aware that breast density is related to risk although further evidence is required before it may be used confidently to stratify women. Significant new evidence will be reviewed when available. In 2019, the UK NSC reviewed density, where it recommended that additional screening with ultrasound after a negative mammography screening in women with dense breasts should not be introduced. Based on the evidence, breast density measurements are not yet robust enough and there is no ‘gold standard’ to validate breast density measurements.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the benefits of introducing Artificial Intelligence led mammography (1) to increase capacity in breast screening programmes, and (2) to support the work of radiologists.

In the National Health Service, each mammogram is reviewed by two radiologists, with the second opinion blind to the first. The Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award is funding the trial of artificial intelligence (AI) to evaluate its performance as a replacement for the second reader in the NHS Breast Screening Programme. AI may support radiologists by spotting earlier signs of cancer, reduce workforce pressures and increase efficiency.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment it has made of the potential merits of permanently expanding the free seasonal flu vaccination among 50–64 year olds that are not in a clinical risk group, beyond the 2022/23 flu season.

No decisions have yet been made in relation to whether the scope of the 2022/23 flu programme will include 50 to 64 year olds not in a clinical risk group and no formal assessment has been made of the permanent expansion of the programme to this cohort. However, the Department will continue to consider the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The JCVI follows the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s methodology and criteria to assess whether a vaccine programme can be considered to be cost effective.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what funding they have allocated to support the expansion of the free seasonal flu vaccination among 50–64 year olds that are not in a clinical risk group for the 2022/23 season.

No decisions have yet been made in relation to whether the scope of the 2022/23 flu programme will include 50 to 64 year olds not in a clinical risk group and no formal assessment has been made of the permanent expansion of the programme to this cohort. However, the Department will continue to consider the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The JCVI follows the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s methodology and criteria to assess whether a vaccine programme can be considered to be cost effective.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have plans to provide additional funding for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) research; and if so, when.

No specific assessment of the services available to people with myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) has been made. Clinical commissioning groups are best placed to plan, assess and commission ME/CFS care services. These processes are subject to local prioritisation and funding and should take into account best practice guidance, such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) most recent guidelines. Whilst guidelines are not mandatory, clinicians and commissioners are expected to take them fully into account in designing services that meet the needs of their local population and to work towards their implementation over time.

We continue to consider options to improve outcomes for people with ME/CFS and their families, including the potential development of a national strategy. The Government invests in health research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC). The NIHR and MRC welcome high-quality applications for research into all aspects of ME/CFS. While there are no plans to provide additional funding at this time, both funders are considering how they can support the academic community to drive research in this underserved area.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the new National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Guidance for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is being implemented in accordance with the regulations.

No specific assessment of the services available to people with myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) has been made. Clinical commissioning groups are best placed to plan, assess and commission ME/CFS care services. These processes are subject to local prioritisation and funding and should take into account best practice guidance, such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) most recent guidelines. Whilst guidelines are not mandatory, clinicians and commissioners are expected to take them fully into account in designing services that meet the needs of their local population and to work towards their implementation over time.

We continue to consider options to improve outcomes for people with ME/CFS and their families, including the potential development of a national strategy. The Government invests in health research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC). The NIHR and MRC welcome high-quality applications for research into all aspects of ME/CFS. While there are no plans to provide additional funding at this time, both funders are considering how they can support the academic community to drive research in this underserved area.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what further steps they are taking to develop a national strategy for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).

No specific assessment of the services available to people with myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) has been made. Clinical commissioning groups are best placed to plan, assess and commission ME/CFS care services. These processes are subject to local prioritisation and funding and should take into account best practice guidance, such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) most recent guidelines. Whilst guidelines are not mandatory, clinicians and commissioners are expected to take them fully into account in designing services that meet the needs of their local population and to work towards their implementation over time.

We continue to consider options to improve outcomes for people with ME/CFS and their families, including the potential development of a national strategy. The Government invests in health research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC). The NIHR and MRC welcome high-quality applications for research into all aspects of ME/CFS. While there are no plans to provide additional funding at this time, both funders are considering how they can support the academic community to drive research in this underserved area.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)