Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Portrait

Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick

Non-affiliated - Life peer

3 APPG memberships (as of 2 Jun 2021)
Dementia, Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood, Trade and Export Promotion
1 Former APPG membership
Ireland and the Irish in Britain
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


Scheduled Event
Wednesday 16th June 2021
12:00
Oral questions - Main Chamber
16 Jun 2021, noon
Sustainability of the fishing industry in the UK
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Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 16th June 2021
15:00
Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland Sub-Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Introductory inquiry into the operation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland
16 Jun 2021, 3 p.m.
At 4.00pm: Oral evidence
Louise Coyle - Director at Northern Ireland Rural Women's Network
Dr Tom Kelly OBE - Columnist at Irish News
Jonathan Powell, former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Tony Blair (1997-2007)
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Division Votes
Thursday 10th June 2021
Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021
voted Aye
One of 3 Independent Aye votes vs 10 Independent No votes
Tally: Ayes - 104 Noes - 241
Speeches
Monday 14th June 2021
Covid-19: Vaccines and Pregnancy

My Lords, can the Minister comment on or indicate the extent of the level of co-operation between the UK Government …

Written Answers
Friday 11th June 2021
Biofuels: Imports
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the size the overseas carbon footprint is of the …
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 166 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
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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)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
(40 debate interactions)
Viscount Younger of Leckie (Conservative)
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
(20 debate interactions)
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Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(37 debate contributions)
Home Office
(24 debate contributions)
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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


447 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
6 Other Department Questions
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.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
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.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
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.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
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)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they have provided about the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland; and its implications for people in (1) Great Britain, and (2) Northern Ireland.

Comprehensive guidance on what the Protocol means for people and businesses in Great Britain and Northern Ireland is available online. In particular, details of available support and of specific processes for different kinds of goods movements (whether by traders or individuals) is available at this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trading-and-moving-goods-in-and-out-of-northern-ireland.

Lord Frost
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
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.

Lord Frost
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
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.

Lord Frost
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
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.

Lord Frost
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Attends Cabinet)
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.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
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
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 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)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how schools will be funded to continue to deliver the additional services they are providing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the three year increase to core funding, the biggest in a decade, schools have received a £2.6 billion increase in funding in financial year 2020/21 and will receive a further £4.8 billion increase in 2021/22, compared to 2019/20. The Department has also provided a range of funding and support to schools since March 2020 to help with the challenges of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes making available:

  • Exceptional costs funding. The Covid Exceptional Costs fund was established to reimburse schools for costs such as additional cleaning. Schools have been paid £139 million for all claims within the published scope of the fund across both application windows.
  • £1 billion catch-up funding announced in June 2020, including a one off £650 million catch-up premium and £350 million to support tutoring across the National Tutoring Programme and 16 to 19 tuition fund, which will go to schools, colleges and other 16 to 19 providers.
  • A further £700 million recovery package announced in February 2021, including a new one off £302 million Recovery Premium for state primary and secondary schools in academic year 2021/22, £200 million for summer schools, and a further £200 million expansion to tutoring including support for early language development.
  • Free school meals support. Schools have been able to use either the national voucher scheme, where costs were met centrally, or claim back additional funding to provide meal parcels or locally arranged vouchers for children who would be eligible for free school meals while children were educated from home. This funding has been in addition to the free school meals and universal infants free school meals funding that is with schools. As well as this, the free school meals supplementary grant was extended into 2020/21. This grant provides schools with extra funding to meet the costs of providing meals for newly eligible students before the lagged funding system catches up. The Department has made available over £760 million to support this.
  • Remote education support. The Department has invested over £400 million to support access to technology and online social care services, including delivering 1.3 million laptops.
  • Mass testing support. The Department has made over £100 million available on costs relating to the initial roll out of rapid mass testing.

My right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Education, have appointed Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner to advise on the approach for education recovery, including to consider how schools and the system can use evidence and more effectively target resources and support at pupils and areas in greatest need.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
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.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
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.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
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.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
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.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
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.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
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 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.

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 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)
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.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further (1) to the statement by the Airport Operators Association that airports may have lost at least £4 billion in revenue by the end of 2020, and (2) the job losses in the aviation sector, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what steps they are taking to assist financially the aviation industry. [T]

The Government recognises the challenging times facing the aviation sector as a result of COVID-19. The aviation sector is crucial to the UK’s economy and businesses across the industry will be able to draw on the unprecedented package of economic measures we have put in place during this time.

This includes a Bank of England scheme for firms to raise capital and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme which facilitates access to finance for businesses affected by the outbreak. Firms are also able to access ‘Time to Pay’ scheme which eases restrictions with tax bills and VAT deferrals.

The Government is also ensuring financial support for employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme covering 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, alongside the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions.

The Department is in close contact with the aviation sector ensuring that the Government is kept fully aware of the latest developments with all firms and to understand where additional policy measures may be useful and to address specific industry issues.

The Department has established a Restart and Recovery Unit for aviation. The unit will immediately focus on restart, in particular:

  • Examining new standards on health and wellbeing across the customer journey;

  • Measures needed to sustain and boost the sector;

  • Ensuring new standards are established at an international level; and

  • Engagement with the sector to ensure the proposals developed are fit for purpose.

The unit will also focus on establishing a clear vision and objectives for the sector looking forward to the recovery phase. We are working closely with the aviation sector to support it to ensure there is sufficient capacity to protect global travel routes, continue repatriation, freight and maintain vital connectivity.

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)
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)
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)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what advice they have given to manufacturers of over-the-counter medicines on how their supply to Northern Ireland can be maintained given the requirements of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

The Government is considering all possible steps to help ensure the continuity of medicine supply to Northern Ireland, including over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. All OTC medicines can be licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as the regulator for Northern Ireland, in line with the European Union’s rules.

The Department is working with the European Commission, as the representative of all EU Member States including Ireland, to resolve any outstanding issues relating to implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, including supply of OTC medicines. This includes discussions on medicines supply at recent meetings of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Specialised Committee attended by representatives from the EU Member States including Ireland.

The Government is working closely with industry to assess the impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol on the availability of medicines, including OTC medicines and we are committed to helping ensure the continuity of supply for patients in Northern Ireland.

We have provided guidance for manufacturers at the end of the transition period on how to maintain supply of medicines to Northern Ireland. We continue to work closely with industry partners, through our engagement channels and ad hoc queries and will continue to work alongside colleagues in the Border and Protocol Delivery Group and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to help ensure sector readiness for all implementation steps. We will set out the requirements for manufacturers to supply OTC medicines to Northern Ireland from 1 January 2022 in due course.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk to supply of over-the-counter medicines to Northern Ireland as a result of the requirements of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

The Government is considering all possible steps to help ensure the continuity of medicine supply to Northern Ireland, including over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. All OTC medicines can be licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as the regulator for Northern Ireland, in line with the European Union’s rules.

The Department is working with the European Commission, as the representative of all EU Member States including Ireland, to resolve any outstanding issues relating to implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, including supply of OTC medicines. This includes discussions on medicines supply at recent meetings of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Specialised Committee attended by representatives from the EU Member States including Ireland.

The Government is working closely with industry to assess the impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol on the availability of medicines, including OTC medicines and we are committed to helping ensure the continuity of supply for patients in Northern Ireland.

We have provided guidance for manufacturers at the end of the transition period on how to maintain supply of medicines to Northern Ireland. We continue to work closely with industry partners, through our engagement channels and ad hoc queries and will continue to work alongside colleagues in the Border and Protocol Delivery Group and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to help ensure sector readiness for all implementation steps. We will set out the requirements for manufacturers to supply OTC medicines to Northern Ireland from 1 January 2022 in due course.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions (1) they have had, and (2) they are planning to have, with the government of the Republic of Ireland on the supply of over-the-counter medicines to Northern Ireland.

The Government is considering all possible steps to help ensure the continuity of medicine supply to Northern Ireland, including over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. All OTC medicines can be licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as the regulator for Northern Ireland, in line with the European Union’s rules.

The Department is working with the European Commission, as the representative of all EU Member States including Ireland, to resolve any outstanding issues relating to implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, including supply of OTC medicines. This includes discussions on medicines supply at recent meetings of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Specialised Committee attended by representatives from the EU Member States including Ireland.

The Government is working closely with industry to assess the impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol on the availability of medicines, including OTC medicines and we are committed to helping ensure the continuity of supply for patients in Northern Ireland.

We have provided guidance for manufacturers at the end of the transition period on how to maintain supply of medicines to Northern Ireland. We continue to work closely with industry partners, through our engagement channels and ad hoc queries and will continue to work alongside colleagues in the Border and Protocol Delivery Group and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to help ensure sector readiness for all implementation steps. We will set out the requirements for manufacturers to supply OTC medicines to Northern Ireland from 1 January 2022 in due course.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether all over-the-counter medicines licensed for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency are authorised to be placed on the market in Northern Ireland.

The Government is considering all possible steps to help ensure the continuity of medicine supply to Northern Ireland, including over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. All OTC medicines can be licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as the regulator for Northern Ireland, in line with the European Union’s rules.

The Department is working with the European Commission, as the representative of all EU Member States including Ireland, to resolve any outstanding issues relating to implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, including supply of OTC medicines. This includes discussions on medicines supply at recent meetings of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Specialised Committee attended by representatives from the EU Member States including Ireland.

The Government is working closely with industry to assess the impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol on the availability of medicines, including OTC medicines and we are committed to helping ensure the continuity of supply for patients in Northern Ireland.

We have provided guidance for manufacturers at the end of the transition period on how to maintain supply of medicines to Northern Ireland. We continue to work closely with industry partners, through our engagement channels and ad hoc queries and will continue to work alongside colleagues in the Border and Protocol Delivery Group and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to help ensure sector readiness for all implementation steps. We will set out the requirements for manufacturers to supply OTC medicines to Northern Ireland from 1 January 2022 in due course.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to tailor their approach to BAME communities to aid uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Over £23 million has been allocated through the Community Champions scheme to 60 councils and voluntary groups across England to expand work to support those most at risk from COVID-19 and boost vaccine take up. The Department of Health and Social Care, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the National Health Service hold regular meetings with local authorities, faith leaders and black, Asian and minority ethnic organisations to provide advice and information about COVID-19 vaccines and how they will be made available.  A coalition of trusted voices to promote vaccine confidence in target audiences will be built and also provide us the opportunity to listen to concerns and adjust our approach. Local NHS staff and council officials have attended online question and answer sessions facilitated by local community leaders and community engagement workers have visited areas of low vaccine uptake to provide information in spoken and written community languages.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the efficacy of their guidance (1) about the restrictions in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) to promote uptake of COVID-19 vaccines among BAME communities; and what plans they have to adapt future measures in response to any such assessment.

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

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they (1) have had, and (2) intend to have, with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency about the (a) safety, and (b) effectiveness, of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

The Department has regular discussions with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency regarding the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Health Foundation's report Build Back Fairer: The COVID-19 Marmot Review, published in December 2020.

We have considered the report and the Government agrees that recovery from COVID-19 must be undertaken in a way that ensures inequalities are addressed. The report will help inform our recovery from the pandemic.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in food preparation factories.

Public Health England (PHE) has been working in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to provide guidance to food businesses. The guidance was published in an online only format on 6 January 2021.

PHE has also published a resource pack which has been prepared in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Food Standards Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and the Local Government Association for the food industry which has been made available to PHE’s Health Protection Teams (HPTs), the food industry and local authorities. It is available directly from HPTs, through the Local Government Association Knowledge Hub, on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Huddle site, and via FoodFarmHelp in an online only format.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had, and with whom, about reducing the number of maternal deaths among Black, Asian and minority ethnic women.

Discussions regarding reducing the number of maternal deaths among black, Asian and minority ethnic women have been addressed at two recent roundtables. The Minister of State for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, (Ms Nadine Dorries MP), chaired a Ministerial roundtable on Inequality in Maternity, and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities (Kemi Badenoch MP) led a discussion between frontline midwives, medical experts, academics, and regional health representatives.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the long-term health consequences of COVID-19 on the NHS.

The National Health Service and the wider scientific community are currently working to better understand the disease course of the COVID-19 virus including symptom severity and duration, long-term effects and how best to support recovery.

The National Institute for Health Research and UK Research and Innovation have invested £8.4 million in the Post-HOSPitalisation COVID-19 study (PHOSP-COVID), led by Christopher Brightling at the University of Leicester. This study is one of the world’s largest comprehensive research studies into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients.

The research currently underway will inform future service design and provision.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the COVID-19 pandemic on existing immunisation targets.

The impact of COVID-19 on immunisation targets has been variable. Preliminary data suggests that, whilst there was an initial decrease in the number of pre-school vaccinations delivered in primary care during the early weeks of the pandemic compared with the same period in 2019, the situation rapidly stabilised and recovered. In contrast, school-aged immunisation programmes were more impacted as a result of school closures. Providers have been working with schools to catch-up those programmes as schools have re-opened.

Due to the public health advice on social distancing and shielding, general practices were not expected to offer the opportunistic shingles vaccine to those aged 70, unless the patient was already in the general practitioner practice for another reason. Coverage among those turning 70 or 78 during quarter 4 – who were vaccinated up to the end of June 2020 – achieved lower coverage (9.3% and 10.4%, respectively) than among those who turned 70 or 78 after the same eligibility interval in previous quarters.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19 infections during the winter.

To prepare the National Health Service for winter, the Government is providing an additional £3 billion of funding. This includes money to allow the NHS to maintain the Nightingale surge capacity and continue to use the extra hospital capacity available within the independent sector.

Effective local management of any outbreaks is the first line of protection against a second wave. To support local authorities, we have made £300 million available and they already have robust plans in place to respond to outbreaks.

We have also made significant strides in building our Test and Trace service. We have established one of the world’s largest testing programmes, with capacity at around 350,000 tests every day and we have already traced around 250,000 people who may have unknowingly spread the virus.

NHS winter preparations include delivering a very significantly expanded seasonal flu vaccination programme for priority groups.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to maximise the take up of the influenza vaccine this year.

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

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of easing COVID-19-related restrictions in England on those who are (1) ill, and (2) disabled.

The Government have considered the impact that COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions are having on those with disabilities, and poor physical and mental health.

We keep these impacts under constant review assessing them to ensure that restrictions continue to be necessary and proportionate based on available scientific evidence, which includes up to date data.

The Chief Medical Officer has advised that the risk of exposure to the virus in the community is now significantly reduced from where it was at the peak of the pandemic. Therefore it is appropriate to pause shielding in England from 1 August 2020, as this was designed to protect clinically extremely vulnerable people during the peak of the risk of exposure to the virus, and in recognition that asking people to shield for longer than necessary would also cause harm for example increased social isolation and impacts on mental health.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to help tackle the disproportionate effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on BAME communities.

The Government is committed to reducing disparities in health outcomes experienced by black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities during this pandemic and are already taking action to do so. This includes developing effective risk assessment tools for schools and workplaces, expanding and targeting testing in high-contact professions, and working with the Race Disparity Unit to ensure that we have appropriate personal protective equipment reaching the right places. This is in addition to the wider work being taken forward by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities (Kemi Badenoch MP) to understand the drivers behind Public Health England’s findings on COVID-19 and BAME communities.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with each NHS trust in England about the implementation of the recommendations of Public Health England’s review Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups, published in June.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities (Kemi Badenoch MP) is reviewing the findings from Public Health England’s (PHE) reports to better understand the drivers behind the disparities and the relationships between the different risk factors. Her work will take into account PHE’s recommendations and help us to improve understanding of the virus and who it affects so we can build on the existing action we are already taking to tackle health inequalities.

Within the health and care sector, all National Health Service employers were directed on 24 June by NHS England and NHS Improvement to make significant progress in deploying risk assessments for staff. NHS England and NHS Improvement have also established a Task and Finish Group, composed of a range of system leaders and voluntary sector partners, to focus on what specific, measurable actions should be taken by the NHS in the next few months. The Group will take account of feedback and ideas already received from black, Asian and minority ethnic organisations, the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, local systems and others.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the quality of (1) masks, and (2) respirators, distributed to workers in health and social care settings since March from the stockpile established under the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness programme.

NHS Supply Chain and Public Health England have worked with manufacturers and/or independent testing houses to quality test masks and respirators held in the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Programme before issuing them to health and social care settings or to extend their shelf life.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure an adequate supply of personal protective equipment for health, social care and other key workers to prepare for any second wave of COVID-19.

We continue to model future demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) to cover a range of possible scenarios, working closely with the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies to ensure it is underpinned by the latest science. Though the global market remains challenging, we continue to sign further deals to make our position more secure. We have now procured over 30 billion items of PPE from United Kingdom manufacturers and overseas suppliers.

We are confident in the stocks and sources of supply of PPE to meet the needs of health and social care over the next seven and 90 days and are increasingly looking further ahead. We have moved from an emergency situation a few months ago to a stable situation which allows us to prepare with resilience for any second spike or a new wave in the autumn or winter.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what cross-Government planning is taking place in preparation for a potential second wave of COVID-19.

To prepare the National Health Service for winter, the Government is providing an additional £3 billion of funding. This includes funding to allow the NHS to maintain the Nightingale surge capacity and continue to use the extra hospital capacity available within the independent sector.

Effective local management of any outbreaks is the first line of protection against a second wave that might overwhelm the NHS. To support local authorities, we made £300 million available and they already have robust plans in place to respond to outbreaks.

We have also made significant strides in our Test and Trace service. We have established one of the world’s largest testing programmes, with capacity at around 350,000 tests every day and we have already traced around 250,000 people who may have unknowingly spread the virus.

NHS winter preparations include delivering a very significantly expanded seasonal flu vaccination programme for priority groups.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what cross-Government discussions they have had about implementing the recommendations of Exercise Cygnus.

Learning the lessons from preparedness exercises, as well as other sources of expertise, has ensured that the United Kingdom remains well prepared for infectious disease outbreaks.

The Department continues to work across Government and with a range of stakeholders, such as local planners and expert advisory groups, to implement the lessons learned from Exercise Cygnus. These lessons learned have informed our preparedness, such as through development of draft legislation to support the response to a future influenza pandemic and strengthening health sector plans to surge and flex beyond normal operations.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had, and with whom, about preparation for any further local lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the country local authorities have done exceptional work to prepare their communities for COVID-19 outbreaks, protecting the most vulnerable and saving lives.

As of 1 July, all 152 upper tier local authorities have created and shared their outbreak plans. Their plans focus on identifying and containing potential outbreaks in places such as workplaces, ensuring testing capacity is deployed effectively and helping the most vulnerable in self isolation.

Councils were given £300 million in new dedicated funding to support this and have published further guidance on containing local outbreaks. The package recognises the additional costs and pressures on finances councils are facing as a result of the current crisis.

The Government will continue to work closely with councils as the pandemic progresses.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of (1) supplier performance, and (2) value for money achieved, for their contracts established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contracts are placed in line with Departmental terms and conditions which include clauses for contract management to ensure that supplier performance and the delivery of value for money can be properly assessed throughout the lifetime of the contract.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of easing COVID-19 shielding restrictions on ill and disabled people in England.

People who are ill or who are disabled are still at risk of severe illness if they catch COVID-19 and should continue to take precautions, even as the COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed. They should continue to socially distance as much as possible and always robustly practise good, frequent hand washing.

For those ill and disabled people who are also clinically extremely vulnerable and are shielding, from 6 July they will be able to go out more often and to more places and see more people but should take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household or support bubble.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase access by the public to face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) suggests that face coverings may help reduce the risk of transmission if someone is suffering from COVID-19, but not showing symptoms. Social distancing and hand hygiene remain the most important ways to guard against the virus, face coverings may help prevent individuals who have coronavirus but are not presenting symptoms from spreading it to others.

We are asking people to make their own face coverings at home, using scarves or other textile items. We have published guidance to show people how to do this which can be found online. We urge the public not to purchase medical or surgical masks as these must be reserved for health and social care workers who face the greatest risk.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the personal protective equipment they have procured during the COVID-19 pandemic has been manufactured by UK businesses.

COVID-19 has created a significant personal protective equipment (PPE) supply issue and global markets have faced a significant surge in demand which has resulted in vast increases in the cost of PPE, demonstrating the market's response to increased competition. In response, we are working to improve domestic manufacturing capability.

Lord Deighton is leading the Government effort by British industry to manufacture PPE. The Government is currently in contact with over 350 potential United Kingdom manufacturers and efforts by small companies are being scaled up. We have already taken delivery of products from new, certified UK manufacturers. More new manufacturers of PPE are expected to commit to producing PPE in the coming weeks, with 25 opportunist companies in final commercial discussions.

We are building up UK manufacturing with signed contracts to manufacture over two billion items of PPE through UK-based manufacturers, including facemasks, visors, gowns and aprons. This includes Survitec, a survival technology company, will begin producing gowns as soon as the beginning of June; Bolle, who manufacture protective eyewear, will make 6.5 million visors over the course of the pandemic; Jaguar Land Rover is now manufacturing 14,000 visors a week for healthcare staff; Don & Low will be manufacturing 12 million metres squared of fabric for gowns over the next six months, with the first delivery expected later this month; and Burberry is manufacturing non-surgical gowns at its factory in Castleford and sourcing masks through its supply chain. To date, the company has donated over 100,000 pieces of PPE to the National Health Service and healthcare charities.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) development of the NHS COVID-19 contact tracing application, and (2) trial of that application on the Isle of Wight.

The purpose of the Isle of Wight phase is to improve the user experience of the National Health Service COVID-19 contact tracing application and to understand the effectiveness of the Test and Trace programme. Uptake and correct usage of the app is important and we have engaged with residents on the Isle of Wight about how the app operates, why people choose not to have it, and their attitudes towards it and the wider Test and Trace programme. Alongside these, we are measuring quantitative measures such as usage and download rates. Just like any high-quality app, we will continually improve it over the coming weeks for optimal functionality as data continues to come in.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) effectiveness, and (2) value for money, of Government contracts with private companies to provide public services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guidance on how contracting authorities should respond to COVID-19 was published on 18 March. Authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances using regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015. Various options are available which include:

- direct award due to extreme urgency;

- direct award due to absence of competition or protection of exclusive rights;

- call off from an existing framework agreement or dynamic purchasing system;

- call for competition using a standard procedure with accelerated timescales; and

- extending or modifying a contract during its term.

We have also made it clear that authorities must continue to achieve value for money for taxpayers, use good commercial judgement and publish the details of any awards made, in line with Government transparency guidelines.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to remove any potential conflicts of interest when awarding Government contracts relating to their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guidance on how contracting authorities should respond to COVID-19 was published on 18 March. Authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances using regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015. Various options are available which include:

- direct award due to extreme urgency;

- direct award due to absence of competition or protection of exclusive rights;

- call off from an existing framework agreement or dynamic purchasing system;

- call for competition using a standard procedure with accelerated timescales; and

- extending or modifying a contract during its term.

We have also made it clear that authorities must continue to achieve value for money for taxpayers, use good commercial judgement and publish the details of any awards made, in line with Government transparency guidelines.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what their current policy is on self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic; under what circumstances that policy will change; and when that policy will be reviewed.

The United Kingdom currently advises that people who have any symptoms of COVID-19 - a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste; are waiting for a COVID-19 test result; have tested positive or someone in their household or support bubble has symptoms; is waiting for a test result; or has tested positive, should self-isolate.

If a person lives alone, they need to self-isolate for at least seven days. If someone in a person’s household or bubble has symptoms, the person will usually need to self-isolate for 14 days.

If someone has been outside the Common Travel Area in a country which is not covered by the travel corridor exemption, within the last 14 days, then, unless they satisfy one of the exemption criteria, they will need to self-isolate for the remainder of the 14-day period, starting from when they arrived in the Common Travel Area.

The Government keeps these arrangements under regular review.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they took part in EU joint procurement programmes for personal protection equipment; and if not, why not.

The United Kingdom is not participating in the first four European Union Joint Procurements in response to COVID-19, including those related to personal protective equipment (PPE). Owing to an initial communication problem, the UK did not receive an invitation in time to take part. However, participating in those four initial joint procurement schemes would not have allowed us to do anything that we have not been able to do ourselves.

We are working round the clock to secure the National Health Service and the social care sector the PPE and medical equipment they need. Since the start of the outbreak, we have delivered over 1.63 billion items of PPE to the front line.

The UK has discussed Joint Procurement bilaterally with the Commission and will consider participating in other future PPE schemes based on public health requirements.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made in the development of a vaccine for COVID-19.

Developing a vaccine is a complex process that can take many months and has no guarantees of success. We have pledged £250 million to the international effort to find a vaccine – the largest international contribution of any country – and are backing two of the global front-runners in the United Kingdom, at the University of Oxford and Imperial College, London. The Government recently announced £84 million of new funding to support Oxford and Imperial, bringing the total Government investment in these institutions to over £130 million.

The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca have recently announced a partnership to support the further development, large-scale manufacture and potential distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine currently being trialled by the University.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will implement their strategy for individual contact tracing in respect of COVID-19.

The Government’s new NHS Test and Trace service was launched across England on 28 May. It brings together testing, contact tracing and outbreak management into an end-to-end service. The primary objective of NHS Test and Trace is to control the rate of reproduction (R), reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in processing offers from UK manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment.

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

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to modify social distancing measures.

The Government published its roadmap which set out its plan to return life to as near normal, and as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods and protect the National Health Service. To do that it has set out a plan for recovery and a timetable for lifting restrictions. A copy of Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy is attached.

The Government amended the social distancing regulation on 1 June. The amendments include spending time outdoors, including private gardens in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distance guidelines and visiting and car showrooms and outdoor markets.

The Government will continue to review the measures and will make amendments to ensure that they continue to be necessary and proportionate. At all times, we have been consistently guided by scientific and medical advice to ensure that we do the right thing at the right time.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria they used in their decision to select Deloitte for the procurement of personal protective equipment.

Deloitte is providing operational support for the procurement process of personal protective equipment (PPE) from existing and new manufacturers who can assist in scaling-up regulatory-approved PPE resources within the United Kingdom. As an existing professional services provider to the public sector, Deloitte’s expertise is being used to supplement in-house resource to deliver significant programmes of work, which currently includes the national response to COVID-19.

Guidance on how contracting authorities should respond to COVID-19 was published on 18 March. Authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances using regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015. We have also made it clear that authorities must continue to achieve value for money for taxpayers, use good commercial judgement and publish the details of any awards made, in line with Government transparency guidelines.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria they used to select Deloitte to manage the procurement of personal protection equipment.

Deloitte is providing operational support for the procurement process of personal protective equipment (PPE) from existing and new manufacturers who can assist in scaling-up regulatory-approved PPE resources within the United Kingdom. As an existing professional services provider to the public sector, Deloitte’s expertise is being used to supplement in-house resource to deliver significant programmes of work, which currently includes the national response to COVID-19.

Guidance on how contracting authorities should respond to COVID-19 was published on 18 March in Procurement Policy Note – Responding to COVID-19. Authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances using regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contract Regulations 2015. We have also made it clear that authorities must continue to achieve value for money for taxpayers, use good commercial judgement and publish the details of any awards made, in line with Government transparency guidelines. A copy of the procurement policy note is attached.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 and the UK capability to manufacture it.

The development of a COVID-19 vaccine is at the early stages but progressing rapidly. The Government is backing two promising vaccine candidates at the University of Oxford and Imperial College, London. We are making over £45 million available to fund these teams, on top of the £250 million we have pledged to the international effort to find a vaccine – the largest international contribution of any country.

The Vaccines Taskforce is working with the BioIndustry Association Taskforce to review existing domestic capability to manufacture vaccines, in response to COVID-19. The Taskforce is also reviewing options for increasing this capacity. This includes a review of how the Government can support the acceleration and expand the capacity of the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, so that it becomes operational earlier than planned and is able to manufacture population level doses.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress the Cabinet Office has made in processing offers of help with the manufacture of personal protection equipment by UK businesses.

Lord Deighton is leading the Government effort to expand supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) from overseas and improve domestic manufacturing capability.

The Government has processed over 23,000 cases from over 15,000 suppliers and has contracted with 150 of them. In addition, we are in contact with over 350 potential manufacturers and have signed contracts to manufacture over two billion items of PPE through United Kingdom-based manufacturers. More new manufacturers are expected to commit to producing PPE in the coming weeks.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people have registered to volunteer for the NHS in England since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

607,074 NHS Volunteer Responders have completed the necessary identity checks to begin helping those most vulnerable, and as of 1 May, volunteers have completed 82,385 tasks.

NHS Volunteer Responders can provide a range of support, including collecting shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone close to their home, providing telephone support to individuals at risk of loneliness as a consequence of isolation, and patient transport support.

The programme is now accepting self-referrals and hon. Members are also able to refer vulnerable people to the programme to receive support from the NHS Volunteer Responders. This can be done by completing an online referral form via the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) website or by calling the RVS call centre.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of Exercise Cygnus, carried out in October 2016, into the resilience of the NHS to deal with an influenza pandemic.

Working across Government and with stakeholders, the lessons identified from Exercise Cygnus have informed our preparedness, such as development of draft legislation support to the response to a future influenza pandemic and, strengthening health sector plans to surge and flex beyond normal operations. Learning the lessons from preparedness exercises, as well as other sources of expertise has ensured that the United Kingdom remains well prepared for infectious disease outbreaks.

The lessons learned from Exercise Cygnus continue to be considered by the Government and a range of stakeholders, including expert advisory groups and local emergency planners in reviewing response plans.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps were taken in response to the results of Exercise Cygnus, carried out in October 2016, to build capacity in the NHS in relation to the provision of additional (1) nurses, (2) doctors, (3) critical care beds, (4) morgue equipment, and (5) personal protection equipment.

The lessons identified from Exercise Cygnus continue to be considered by the Government and a range of stakeholders, including expert advisory groups and local emergency planners.

Working across Government and with stakeholders, the lessons from Exercise Cygnus have informed our preparedness, including strengthening health sector plans to surge and flex systems and resources beyond normal operations, and stockpiling personal protective equipment specifically for a pandemic influenza, informed by expert advice.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to purchase personal protection equipment for all medical, nursing and health care workers; and what consideration they have given to purchasing such equipment from Randox Laboratories.

The Government’s Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) plan was published on 10 April 2020 and can be found online at GOV.UK.

As “Strand 3 - Future Supply” of the Government’s PPE Plan details, we have set up a cross-Government PPE sourcing unit to secure new supply lines from across the world and a call to industry has been issued to companies at home to manufacture and supply additional PPE at scale.

We welcome support from other manufacturers who wish to offer their production facilities where they can meet the required specifications for use by the National Health Service and care sector. New offers can continue to be made online via GOV.UK at ‘Offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support from your business’.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what training they plan to provide to health services personnel in the use of ventilators during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A far wider range of staff than usual will be involved in directly supporting patients with respiratory needs. Refresher training for all clinical and patient-facing staff will be provided within the next fortnight. A cross-specialty clinical group supported by the Royal Colleges is producing guidance to ensure learning from experience here and abroad is rapidly shared across the United Kingdom. This will include a short education package for the entire National Health Service workforce; a service guide, including for anaesthetics and critical care; and COVID-19 clinical management guides in collaboration with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

As part of the ‘Your NHS Needs You’ recruitment drive, 15,266 former professionals in England have so far come forward to help the NHS tackle COVID-19 and will start being deployed from this weekend. This includes 5,117 doctors, 5,605 nurses and midwives and 3,686 allied health professionals and pharmacists. From next week, 5,750 final year medics and 17,000 final year nursing students in England will be asked to consider moving into frontline placements with appropriate support.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they plan to introduce universal testing of all UK citizens for COVID-19.

Testing is a crucial part of the United Kingdom’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Government is working on multiple fronts to deliver additional testing capacity.

On 4 April 2020, the Government published its testing strategy Coronavirus (COVID-19) Scaling up our testing programmes. That strategy describes in detail the five pillars of work which together will put in place the testing that is mission critical as we fight the battle against COVID-19. A copy of the strategy is attached.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the findings of the report by the Imperial College COVID-19 response team Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand, published on 16 March.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is responsible for ensuring that timely and coordinated scientific advice is made available to decision-makers, to support United Kingdom cross-Government decisions.

In fulfilling this role, SAGE considers a wide range scientific evidence. SAGE is supported in this role by a sub group (Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, SPI-M) that consists of members from Public Health England and experts from several academic research groups at UK universities.

The report Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand, published on 16 March, is an important strand of the scientific evidence informing the Government’s response to the COVID-19 emergency.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many (1) intensive care beds, and (2) ventilators, there are in each NHS Trust in England; and what was the comparative figure for March 2019.

Information on numbers of intensive care beds and ventilators is not available in the format requested.

The National Health Service is currently scaling up intensive care beds. NHS England is looking at critical care capacity - including the availability of additional facilities of independent sector providers.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many additional intensive care beds they plan to provide to each NHS Trust in England.

Information on numbers of intensive care beds and ventilators is not available in the format requested.

The National Health Service is currently scaling up intensive care beds. NHS England is looking at critical care capacity - including the availability of additional facilities of independent sector providers.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many additional ventilators they plan to provide to each NHS Trust in England.

Work preparing the National Health Service has been ongoing and we have already nearly doubled ventilator capacity. New and existing suppliers are being asked to build as many as they can. The Prime Minister has issued a call to United Kingdom industry to produce additional ventilators and the Department asked appropriate potential manufacturers on 13 March to come forward with proposals for new ventilation machines. Around a dozen potential prototypes have now been presented to the Department which we are currently pursuing.

We will allocate these ventilators accordingly to each NHS trust based on clinical need.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the role of European Reference Networks in relation to access to medical health expertise, following the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.

United Kingdom patients will continue to access the world-leading rare disease clinical expertise in the UK as they do now, and we will continue to collaborate with international experts. The Government continues to monitor and analyse overall staffing levels across the National Health Service and adult social care, and we are working across Government to ensure there will continue to be sufficient staff to deliver the high-quality services on which the public relies following European Union exit.

From January 2021, the Government will be introducing a new Points Based Immigration System, in order to attract the brightest and best talent from across the world. To further facilitate the migration of skilled workers to support the NHS, there will be a fast-track NHS Visa for certain medical professionals with NHS job offers, including for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. Details will be announced by the Home Secretary in due course.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the governments of (1) Scotland, (2) Wales, and (3) Northern Ireland, about the social care and medical provision for people with dementia.

Health and social care for people with dementia is a devolved matter and the responsibility respectively of the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish Governments. Officials in the Department routinely work with the devolved administrations on areas of mutual interest.

For example, the Department has worked closely with the Scottish Government which had overall responsibility for the European Union Act on Dementia Joint Action 2016-19. The Joint Action promoted collaborative actions among Member States to improve the lives of people living with dementia and their carers and the Department co-ordinated a work package focussed on Dementia Friendly Communities.

27th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that research funding for dementia is increased to ensure that medical and care interventions are available to anyone with that condition.

The Government remains strongly committed to supporting research into dementia and the United Kingdom research community is playing a significant role in the global effort to find a cure or a major disease-modifying treatment by 2025.

The Government’s 2020 Challenge contained the commitment to spend £300 million on dementia research over the five years to March 2020. This commitment was delivered a year early with £341 million spent on dementia research over the four years to 31 March 2019. We are currently working on ways to boost significantly further research on dementia at all stages on the translation pathway including medical and care interventions.

24th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the diversion of the Ryanair flight FR4978 on 23 May which resulted in the arrest of the journalist Roman Protasevich.

As the Foreign Secretary made clear in his 24 May statement to Parliament, the Belarusian authorities' forced landing of Ryanair flight FR4978 and their subsequent arrest of the journalist, Roman Protasevich, is a shocking attack on human rights, civil aviation and international law. We have seen no evidence to support the Belarusian authorities' claims of a bomb threat to this flight. The UK Government summoned the Belarusian Ambassador to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on Monday 24 May to condemn the regime's actions and demand the release of Mr Protasevich. We have acted swiftly to suspend permits of the main airline operating flights between the UK and Belarus and have advised all UK airlines to avoid flying over Belarusian airspace. We are actively considering and coordinating with our allies on further sanctions. We welcome the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) investigation into this attack on the principles that underpin civil aviation.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the eruption of the Mount Nyiragongo volcano on 22 May, what assessment they have made of the impact on the (1) inhabitants, and (2) environment, of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Following the eruption of Mount Nyirangongo on 22 May, assessments show that around 4500 households have been displaced, 31 people killed during subsequent panic and evacuation, and water and electricity supplies to certain areas of Goma have been damaged. On 27 May, the North Kivu Governor announced the mandatory evacuation of ten neighbourhoods in eastern Goma citing the risks of further fissures and poisonous gas release. Thousands of people have been moving to the towns of Bukavu and Sake, and across the border to Rwanda. UK-funded partners are providing emergency support and first aid to those affected by the eruption and we are working closely with the Government of Democratic Republic of Congo, UN and humanitarian partners to monitor the situation, assess the impact, and deliver further assistance if required.

An assessment of the environmental impact will take longer as volcanic activity still continues and the full impact is yet to be realised. Release of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and other harmful gases is a cause of concern given Goma's proximity to the source of the eruption. Volcanic eruptions are known to cause respiratory and other health hazards (from ash) and to result in degradation of water quality and soil and an increase in temperatures.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with William Shawcross, former Special Representative on UK victims of Gaddafi-sponsored IRA terrorism, on his report on compensation for UK victims.

The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, The Rt Hon James Cleverly MP, and I made a Written Ministerial Statement in response to Mr Shawcross's report on compensation for UK Victims of Qadhafi-Sponsored IRA Terrorism. As ministerial lead on the issue, The Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa and senior FCDO officials kept Mr Shawcross informed of work on the Government's response to his report.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of human rights abuses against (1) women, and (2) political activists, in Zimbabwe.

We remain seriously concerned about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe. It is one of the UK's 30 Human Rights Priority Countries globally. On 1 February 2021, the UK announced new sanctions against four Zimbabwean security sector chiefs for serious human rights violations. We are concerned at the high rates of Gender-Based Violence which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 response, including reports of harassment by police officers enforcing lockdown laws. In an effort to safeguard women's rights, we spent £3,470,000 in 20/21 to support the work of civil society organisations working to tackle gender-based violence. We are concerned by the unacceptable pattern of arrests of prominent opposition and civil society figures. The Minister for Africa has regularly raised concern about the treatment of political opponents, most recently on 29 March in response to the harassment of opposition members Ms Mamombe, Ms Chimbiri, and Ms Marowa. We remain clear that the Government of Zimbabwe must meet its international and domestic obligations by respecting the rule of law, safeguarding human rights, and committing to genuine political and economic reform for the benefit of all Zimbabweans.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the analysis by Lord Macdonald of River Glaven of their decision to cut the level of foreign aid spending to 0.5 per cent of the national income.

The Foreign Secretary has taken a range of advice in respect of the decision to reduce aid spending to 0.5% of GNI. The International Development (Official Assistance Target) Act 2015 clearly envisages that the 0.7% target may not be met in a particular year, in the light of economic and fiscal circumstances, and provides for reporting to Parliament in the event that the target is not met. Since the economic situation is difficult to predict, we are monitoring the situation and planning accordingly.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) discussions they have had with, and (2) representations they have made to, the government of Iran about the court proceedings against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

We are using every diplomatic tool available to secure the immediate and permanent release of arbitrarily detained dual British nationals in Iran. We continue to raise Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case at the most senior levels in the Iranian Government. We requested access to the hearing on 14 March, as we have done for previous hearings and will do for any future hearings. Iran routinely denies us access to these because they do not recognise Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe as a dual British national and view her as solely Iranian.

The Foreign Secretary continues directly to press Foreign Minister Zarif for her release and the Prime Minister has raised this with President Rouhani, most recently on 10 March. Our Ambassador in Tehran consistently raises our detainees with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, most recently on 15 March.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had about the global distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The UK is committed to rapid equitable access to safe and effective vaccines. The UK has committed £548 million to the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) - the international initiative to support global equitable access to vaccines, of which the UK is one of the largest bilateral donors. Through match funding, the commitment encouraged other donors to commit $1 billion by the end of 2020. Our commitment will contribute to the supply of at least 1.3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021 for up to 92 developing countries, with their delivery to start shortly. The Prime Minister has also now confirmed that we will share the majority of any future surplus vaccines from our supply with COVAX.

The UK regularly engages stakeholders on the global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The UK participates in COVAX decision making through its governance mechanisms, including the UK's seat on the Gavi Board. The UK is also a founding member of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator - a coalition of leading international organisations and partners led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to accelerate development and access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. COVAX is the vaccine pillar of the ACT-Accelerator. The UK attends the ACT-Accelerator Facilitation Council and engages regularly with its partners and stakeholders on its strategic direction.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce sanctions on members of the Burmese military linked to human rights abuses and the recent coup d’état in Myanmar.

The UK condemns the state of emergency imposed by the Myanmar military on 1 February, and the unlawful detention of civil society representatives and democratically elected politicians, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

The UK has already imposed targeted sanctions on 16 individuals responsible for human rights violations in Myanmar. We played a leading role in securing sanctions on 14 individuals whilst we were in the EU. These have all been transitioned into UK law. In July 2020, we sanctioned the Commander-in-Chief and his Deputy, in our first tranche of sanctions under the Global Human Rights Sanctions regime. We have now sanctioned all six individuals named in the UN Fact Finding Mission Report. We are working closely with international partners to consider next steps with the aim of ensuring that the democratic wishes of Myanmar's people are respected and prisoners are released. The UK will consider all the tools at its disposal.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the coup d’état which took place in Myanmar on 1 February, and (2) its potential impact on (a) the rights of religious and ethnic minorities, and (b) the process of democratisation in that country.

The UK condemns the military coup in Myanmar and the detention of civil society and members of the elected government, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. These latest events are an attempt by the military to obstruct democracy and are a significant setback to the democratic reform process. The November 2020 election result must be respected.

The UK is concerned about the risk of violence targeted at ethnic minorities across the country. The UK is closely monitoring the situation and working with our partners to ensure lifesaving humanitarian assistance continues, including for religious and ethnic minorities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken since November 2020 to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for those living in the global south.

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

The UK is also working closely with international partners such as Gavi, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and UNICEF to support COVAX's preparations for vaccine rollout in countries in the global south. We welcome COVAX's recent agreement for up to 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine candidate, set to begin by the end of February.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to work with the EU on shared global development priorities.

We will continue to cooperate closely with all our allies and partners, including the EU and its Member States in areas of shared interest, including on our many shared global development priorities. For example, we will work closely with the EU to deliver our G7 Presidency priorities on development and for COP26. Since the UK's exit from the EU in February 2020, we have already worked together with the EU successfully to support COVAX and the GAVI replenishment. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement includes provisions for cooperation on global issues such as peace and security, climate change and sustainable development and for coordination in multilateral fora. It includes provisions covering cooperation on health security and on science and research through our association with Horizon Europe. The Withdrawal Agreement provides for continuing UK contributions to EU development programmes as part of the wider financial settlement.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health systems in sub-Saharan Africa since November 2020.

COVID-19 is resulting in health systems disruptions and reduced demand for health and nutrition services globally, including in Africa. A recent analysis by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) shows that over 40% of those that required health services during the pandemic had either missed or delayed their care, due to fear of contracting COVID-19 or reduced availability of services. Almost half had trouble accessing medicines. The UK's diplomacy, programmes and funding are playing a vital role in mitigating these indirect impacts of the pandemic.

The UK has committed up to £1.3 billion of UK Aid for the international response to the pandemic. This funding supports the direct response to COVID-19 and tackles the broader health, humanitarian, and socio-economic impacts, including ensuring continuity of access to essential health services. The UK has stepped up funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO), contributing £340 million in core voluntary funding over the next four years. This funding is helping to strengthen health systems in vulnerable countries, together with our bilateral health programmes and funding to other partnerships such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria, and Gavi, the vaccine alliance.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the potential impact of the end of their funding under the Nutrition for Growth Summit 2013 commitments on malnutrition in the global south.

The UK has been the largest nutrition donor globally over the past few years. The UK has invested £3.7 billion in tackling malnutrition since the Nutrition for Growth Summit in 2013. From 2015-2020, 55.1 million young children, women and adolescent girls have been reached through our nutrition programmes.

The Department is undertaking a rigorous internal prioritisation process following the spending review announcement. We will update on the implications of this for any new nutrition commitment in due course.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on poverty rates in the global south.

COVID-19 is likely to have resulted in over 140 million additional people living in extreme poverty - around 2% of the global population - and many more will have temporarily fallen below the poverty line. This is a seven-year reversal in progress to reduce poverty.

But the UK is at the forefront of the international response, committing up to £1.3 billion of new ODA to counter the health, economic, and humanitarian impacts of COVID-19, including mobilising COVAX to provide vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. We have also reprogrammed over 300 existing programmes to respond to the challenges created by COVID-19, and are supporting the multilateral development banks to make over £200 billion of financing available to developing countries. The UK is also playing a key role in setting the agenda for a longer-term recovery through our Presidency of the G7 in 2021.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they made to the government of the United States about (1) the designation of the Houthi movement as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation by that government, and (2) the humanitarian implications of such a designation.

We are deeply concerned by assessments from the UN and NGOs that the US Administration's decision to designate the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation is likely to disrupt the humanitarian response and stop vital food supplies getting in to Yemen. We have already engaged with the US to urge them to ensure that the vital humanitarian response, including food supplies, is not disrupted and will be raising this urgently with the new administration.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about the proposed settlement at Givat Hamatos.

We consistently call for an immediate end to all actions that undermine the viability of the two-state solution, including settlement expansion within the West Bank. Both the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa made clear our opposition to settlement advancement in the sensitive location of Givat HaMatos on 21 January. The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa raised construction in Givat HaMatos with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 18 January and urged the Government of Israel not to proceed. The British Embassy Tel Aviv also urged the Israeli Authorities to cease the construction process in a meeting alongside European counterparts on 19 January. The UK's position on settlements is clear. They are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability of a two-state solution. Settlement expansion is also a counterproductive move in light of the positive developments of normalisation agreements reached between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. We call on Israel to halt settlement expansion immediately.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are their priorities for their presidency of the UN Security Council in February.

The UK's presidency of the UN Security Council in February 2021 is an important moment in a year of international leadership for the UK. We will use our presidency to maximise impact while role modelling a more efficient and effective presidency of the Council. There will be a particular focus on climate security and vaccines.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what engagement they have had with President-elect Biden's transition team on UK–US joint priorities.

Since President Biden's inauguration, the UK Government has engaged extensively with the new Administration at all levels of government on our joint priorities. The Prime Minister spoke with President Biden on 23 January, where they looked forward to deepening the close alliance between our nations. They noted the significant challenges facing the world during the pandemic, but also the unparalleled opportunities to build back better and greener together. The Foreign Secretary spoke with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on 27 January where they spoke of the same priorities and the need to promote open societies and an international system based on the rule of law and human rights. He also spoke to the new National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, on 22 January where they looked forward to working together to deliver on our shared foreign and security priorities. The Defence Secretary, the Chancellor, and the President for COP 26 have also spoken to their counterparts in the new Administration on our priorities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consular support they provide to UK citizens subject (1) to arbitrary detention, and (2) to torture; whether they provide guidance to their embassies on the nature of such support; and if so, (a) what such guidance says, and (b) what limitations on consular support such guidance advises.

The assistance we can, and cannot, provide to British nationals abroad is set out in the publication: Support for British nationals abroad: A Guide on GOV.UK (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-britishnationals-abroad-a-guide). This also sets out who we can help, and that the level and type of assistance we offer is tailored to the individual circumstances of each case and local conditions. If a British national is not treated in line with internationally-accepted standards, which may include if their trial does not follow internationally-recognised standards for a fair trial, we will consider approaching local authorities. We take all allegations of torture and mistreatment very seriously and will follow up with action appropriate to the circumstances of the case. Although we cannot investigate torture or mistreatment allegations, with the individual's permission, we can raise them with the local authorities, demanding an end to the mistreatment, and that the incident is investigated and the perpetrators are brought to justice. Consular staff have access to a range of guidance, training, and supervision to support them.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that countries in sub-Saharan Africa will have equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The UK is committed to rapid, equitable access to safe and effective vaccines as demonstrated by our strong support for the Access for COVID19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. The UK has contributed up to £813 million to the ACTAccelerator partners. This includes the UK's commitment of up to £548 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) - the international initiative to support global equitable access to vaccines, of which the UK is the largest bilateral donor. Our commitment to the COVAX AMC will support access to COVID-19 vaccines for up to 92 developing countries, including in sub-Saharan Africa, by contributing to the supply of 1 billion doses in 2021, and vaccinations for up to 500 million people (subject to vaccines successfully securing stringent regulatory approvals).

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Sri Lanka about human rights in that country.

Sri Lanka is a human rights priority country for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and we regularly raise our concerns about the human rights situation with the Government of Sri Lanka. These concerns include the increased harassment of civil society, the militarisation of civilian functions, and the government's withdrawal of support for the UN Human Rights Council resolution on post-conflict truth, accountability and reconciliation. I have raised concerns on several occasions with the Sri Lankan High Commissioner and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, most recently during calls on 4 and 5 November. The UK's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka also regularly raises human rights issues in her discussions with the government of Sri Lanka.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ensure that UK businesses undertake supply chain due diligence regarding the reported human rights violations of workers in (1) Xinjiang, and (2) Tibet.

The UK Government remains seriously concerned about the gross human rights violations taking place in Xinjiang and Tibet. We continue to urge all UK businesses to conduct appropriate due diligence in their supply chains to satisfy themselves that their activities do not support, or risk being seen to support, any human rights violations or abuses. More broadly, we are funding think-tank research and engaging business and other stakeholders to share information and promote knowledge of China's human rights violations.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take in response to the disqualification of four pro-independence opposition lawmakers from the legislative council of Hong Kong.

As Minister Adams, the Minister for Asia, said in Parliament on 12 November, the imposition of new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong constitutes a clear breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration. We have raised our concerns directly with the Beijing authorities, including by summoning the Chinese Ambassador on 13 November.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to identify and apply sanctions against any senior officials of the government of China who are found to be responsible for committing human rights violations against (1) Uyghurs, and (2) Hong Kong citizens.

The UK has taken a leading international role in holding China to account for its gross human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. On 6 October, the UK and 38 other countries joined a statement at the UN Third Committee in New York expressing deep concern at the situation in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, including the mass detention of Uyghurs in political re-education camps. This growing caucus reflects UK diplomatic leadership. The Government's position remains that it is not appropriate to speculate about who may be designated under the Global Human Rights sanctions regime, as to do so could reduce the impact of the designations.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the conflict in the Tigray region, including the impact of that conflict on (1) surrounding regions, and (2) access for humanitarian and human rights organisations to country.

Humanitarian agencies, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), have not had access to Tigray, and telephone and internet services there have not been functioning, since 4 November. This means we lack an understanding of both the full humanitarian picture in the region, including the protection context in camps and refugee hosting areas. The UK has been at the forefront, liaising closely with the UN and partners, in calling for immediate, free and unfettered humanitarian access across Tigray, in line with the guiding principles laid down by UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The UK worked with the UN to develop these guidelines and they have been shared with the Government of Ethiopia.

We are encouraged that a UN assessment mission was able to access Tigray on 7 December. The mission must be able to work without hindrance and in turn it must facilitate the timely supply of humanitarian support to those who need it including to civilians in contested areas. We will work with the UN to monitor access and humanitarian delivery and the degree to which the UN's guiding principles are adhered to. The UK has, alongside international partners, called on all sides to ensure the protection of civilians and for respect for human rights. We welcome the appeal made by the Ethiopian Commission for Human Rights' for an independent investigation into human rights violations.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the outcome of the general election in Tanzania, and (2) reports that opposition communications were censored during that election using UK companies.

The Minister for Africa issued a statement on 1 November setting out our concerns over widespread allegations of interference during the Tanzanian elections on 28 October, and urging a transparent investigation by the electoral authorities. In the run up to elections we were troubled by reports of violence and heavy-handed policing, including the arrest of opposition political leaders. Our High Commissioner raised our concerns with the Tanzanian Foreign Minister on 26 October.

We are also concerned about reported restrictions to communications, including the internet and social media. We are aware of a directive issued by the Tanzanian Communications Regulatory Authority requiring the temporary suspension of bulk short messaging and bulk voice calling services. The High Commissioner to Tanzania raised our concerns around increasing restrictions on media freedom with Tanzanian Minister of Foreign Affairs on 22 September. A free media is vital to ensure credible, transparent democratic processes that are key to Tanzania's future stability and prosperity.

The UK welcomes recent steps taken towards forming a Government of National Unity on Zanzibar, and encourages all parties to commit to genuine and transparent change.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support peace and conciliation in the Tigray region.

The Foreign Secretary spoke with Prime Minister Abiy on 10 November, calling for an immediate de-escalation of the conflict and for all parties involved to move swiftly to political dialogue. He reiterated these messages when he met Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke on 25 November. The Minister for Africa also stressed these points when he spoke with the Ethiopian Ambassador in London on 18 November, as well as in his tweets of 24 and 19 November. Our Ambassador in Addis continues to engage across the Ethiopian leadership in support of these objectives.

The UK is also liaising closely with partners across the region and the wider international community to urge all parties involved to engage in political dialogue and find a political solution. The Foreign Secretary spoke on 16 November with Foreign Minister Pandor of South Africa, communicating our support of President Ramaphosa's efforts towards a political solution. He also discussed approaches with his French and German counterparts in Berlin on 23 November, with President Kenyatta of Kenya on 24 November, and with Prime Minister Hamdok of Sudan on 12 November. The Minister for Africa also reiterated our concerns about the need for an urgent peaceful settlement in Tigray when he spoke with Foreign Minister Kutesa of Uganda on 26 November, and raised the situation in Ethiopia, and the role Ethiopia plays in regional stability, with the Governments of Somalia and Kenya during his visit to those two countries on 9 and 10 December. The Minister for Middle East and North Africa has done similarly with counterparts in the Gulf.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health systems in sub-Saharan Africa.

COVID-19 has a significant impact on health, as a direct result of the pandemic but also as a result of disruption to health services globally, including in Africa. An analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 14 African countries shows a sharp decline in the demand for and delivery of essential health services between January and September 2020 compared with the two previous years. Services included outpatient consultations, inpatient admissions, skilled birth attendance, treatment of confirmed malaria cases and the provision of immunisation.

To date, the UK has committed up to £1.3 billion of UK Aid to combat COVID-19 and is balancing its COVID-19 response with support to maintaining access to essential health services. Our bilateral health programmes and £340 million core contribution to the WHO over the next four years will help to support their work to strengthen health systems in vulnerable countries. The UK is also providing up to £1.4 billion for the next 3-year replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Our funding to partnerships such as the Global Fund, Gavi and the Global Financing Facility maintains essential activities, such as bed net distribution, immunisation and the provision of maternal and new-born health services.

23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their programmes to help address (1) HIV/AIDS, (2) tuberculosis, and (3) malaria, in sub-Saharan Africa.

We expect to see a significant impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on cases and deaths from HIV, TB and malaria in sub-Sahara Africa. However, it is not yet possible to quantify the full extent to which COVID-19 has affected these disease burdens. TB case notifications have decreased this year, partly due to laboratory capacity being diverted to COVID-19 testing. The World Health Organisation has predicted that COVID-19 may cause a doubling in malaria deaths in sub-Sahara Africa in 2020. A recent parliamentary report concluded that COVID-19 has disrupted HIV service provision, with marginalised communities worst affected.

The UK is flexing its funding and programming to address these effects by providing up to £1.4 billion for the next 3-year replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM). This includes a contribution to the $1 billion GFATM is making available to countries to respond to COVID-19, reinforce their health systems and adapt their HIV, TB and malaria programming. The UK is also working with governments to ensure that, as far as possible, essential services for these diseases continue, with patients protected from COVID-19. We are also supporting national governments in making sustainable decisions about resource allocation to national COVID-19 programmes.

23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address violence against women and girls in the least developed countries.

The UK is recognised as a global leader in tackling violence against women and girls in all its forms by pioneering approaches around the world that have shown reductions in violence of around 50%, proving that VAWG is preventable. We are scaling up our investments, including through the launch early next year of a new £67.5 million seven-year programme to scale up effective interventions to prevent VAWG. We are also making the biggest single investment worldwide to date by any international donor to end FGM (£50 million).

We know that success in the fight against VAWG will depend on putting women's rights organisations at the heart of our response. That is why the UK has provided long-term support to women's rights organisations on the frontlines through our contribution to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women. We are also delighted to have been selected to co-lead the new Generation Equality global Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence to drive more concerted, scaled-up global action.

23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for those living in the global south.

The UK is committed to rapid, equitable access to safe and effective vaccines as demonstrated by our strong support for the Access for COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. The UK has contributed up to £813 million to the ACT-Accelerator partners. This includes the UK's commitment of up to £548 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) - the international initiative to support global equitable access to vaccines, of which the UK is the largest bilateral donor. Our commitment to the COVAX AMC will support access to COVID-19 vaccines for up to 92 developing countries by contributing to the supply of 1 billion doses in 2021, and vaccinations for up to 500 million people (subject to vaccines successfully securing stringent regulatory approvals).

23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to end the provision of Official Development Assistance to fossil fuel projects overseas.

Tackling climate change is a key priority for the UK. The Government is committed to working with countries across the world to unlock their renewable energy potential and support their transition away from fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives. The UK will continue to lead by example through aligning our Official Development Assistance (ODA) with the Paris Agreement temperature goals, including our support for energy.

The Prime Minister announced in January that the Government would end direct ODA, investment, export credit and trade promotion support for thermal coal mining and coal power plants overseas. The Government continues to keep its approach to other fossil fuel investments and financing overseas under review.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the governments that make up the African Group about the draft proposal for a UN Human Rights Council inquiry into systemic racism against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement agencies.

The UK Government regularly engages with governments that make up the African Group on a number of issues. Information on discussions about the draft proposal for a UN Human Rights Council inquiry into systematic racism against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement agencies is not centrally held, and can only be made available at a disproportionate cost.

The UK is committed to combatting all forms of racism, both at home and abroad. We actively participate in the full range of racism-related UN mechanisms, and speak out against instances of racism and intolerance bilaterally and in multilateral fora. Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon recently discussed the importance of combatting racism during the UK's closing statement at the 44th session of the Human Rights Council, on 26 June.

21st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of the United States about the death of Harry Dunn.

The Foreign Secretary has discussed this regularly with the US Government. Most recently, both the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister raised it with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on 22 July. They made clear that we believed the US refusal of the extradition request for Mrs Sacoolas amounted to a denial of justice, and that she should return to the UK.

21st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to provide protection and support for LGBT+ communities in eastern Europe.

The UK is implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination and is committed to promoting and protecting the rights and freedoms of LGBT people in all circumstances. The UK plays an active role in eastern Europe and across the world in support of LGBT rights. The UK became Equal Rights Coalition (ERC) co-chair on 14 June 2019, in partnership with Argentina. The ERC is a group of 42 like-minded States that share best practice and promotes LGBT equality globally. The UK has ambitious plans, including delivery of an ERC Strategy and Action Plan to re-energise the work of the ERC.

We continue to engage with Governments across the region on this agenda. On 30 April, the Minister for Europe and the Americas raised with Hungarian Deputy Foreign Minister Magyar our concerns regarding the impact on transgender rights of amendments to the Registry Act. On 17 June, she raised with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Titov the UK's deep concern regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in Russia, including the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya.

Our embassies across the region work actively to promote LGBT rights, regularly engaging in dialogue on this issue with Governments, local civil societies and our diplomatic partners. They also continue to work with local LGBT communities to identify opportunities to tackle discrimination and promote inclusion by supporting human rights defenders during Pride and anti-discrimination events. Our embassies proudly fly the rainbow flag for International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) and during Pride month.

21st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to protect global press freedom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Media freedom is vital to open societies, and journalists must be able to investigate and report without undue interference. We must oppose all attempts by any state to use the COVID-19 pandemic to restrict press freedom, silence debate, abuse journalists, or spread misinformation.

As the Minister of State responsible for Human Rights, I addressed the Alliance for Multilateralism on 16 April, and highlighted the UK's commitment to human rights and media freedom, particularly during the crisis. To mark World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), the Foreign Secretary issued a statement on 2 May with his German, French and Dutch colleagues, calling on governments to defend media freedom, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK also signed a statement issued by the Media Freedom Coalition on WPFD and supported a Dutch social media campaign publicly highlighting cases of journalists who have been killed or imprisoned.

On 13 July at the inaugural meeting of the UK National Committee for the Safety of Journalists, I talked about the opportunity we had to lead internationally, developing an effective National Action Plan and thus setting an example for other countries in best practice.

We are determined not to allow the pandemic disrupt global efforts to protect media freedom. On 23 July, I called the Canadian High Commissioner to maintian momentum towards the next conference of the Media Freedom Coalition, which we hope will be held later this year. We remain committed to broadening this coalition of like-minded states to ensure that journalists are able to work freely without interference.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with international partners about securing a permanent ceasefire in Yemen.

The UK continues to support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to secure the parties' agreement to proposals for a nationwide ceasefire and resumption of the UN-led political process. We engage regularly with international partners on Yemen, including through our role as penholder in the UN Security Council. On 1 July, the Foreign Secretary wrote a joint op-ed with his Swedish and German counterparts calling for the international community to back peace efforts. On 18 June, the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa spoke with senior Yemeni leaders and the Special Envoy during a "virtual visit" and called for urgent action to secure peace and avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the situation in Ladakh.

The Prime Minister expressed his concern at increased tensions between China and India in the House on 24 June. We welcome recent progress between India and China to manage tensions along their disputed border, and the commitment on 5 July by Indian and Chinese Special Representatives on 'the Boundary Question' to disengage troops along the Line of Actual Control and de-escalate the border areas. We encourage both sides to maintain dialogue and continue to monitor the situation closely.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with international partners about securing a permanent ceasefire in Yemen.

The UK continues to support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to secure the parties' agreement to proposals for a nationwide ceasefire and resumption of the UN-led political process. We engage regularly with international partners on Yemen, including through our role as penholder in the UN Security Council. On 1 July, the Foreign Secretary wrote a joint op-ed with his Swedish and German counterparts calling for the international community to back peace efforts. On 18 June, the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa spoke with senior Yemeni leaders and the Special Envoy during a "virtual visit" and called for urgent action to secure peace and avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent representations they have made to the government of Israel about the planned annexation of parts of the West Bank.

As the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa made clear at the UN Security Council remote meeting on the Middle East Peace Process on 24 June, we are deeply concerned by reports that the new Israeli Government coalition has reached an agreement which may pave the way for annexation of parts of the West Bank. Any unilateral moves towards annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel would be damaging to efforts to restart peace negotiations and contrary to international law. We continue to urge Israel not to take these steps. The Prime Minister has conveyed the UK's opposition to unilateral annexation to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on multiple occasions, including in a phone call on 6 July and a letter in June. The Prime Minister also urged Israel not to proceed in an article in Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth on 1 July. The Foreign Secretary reiterated this message in his calls with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Gantz and Foreign Minister Ashkenazi.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with the government of Iran about the release of (1) Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe, (2) Anoosheh Ashoori, and (3) British-Iranian nationals held in that country.

The Government remains concerned about the welfare of British-Iranian dual nationals detained in Iran, including Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori. Iran does not recognise dual nationality and therefore does not permit access to British-Iranian detainees.

We continue to urge the Iranian Government to immediately release all UK dual nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran - to enable them to return to their families in the UK.

We continue to raise their cases at the most senior levels, and discuss them at every opportunity with our Iranian counterparts. Our Ambassador in Tehran consistently raises all of our dual national detainees with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Our Embassy in Tehran continues to request consular access to our detained dual nationals, and we have been supporting their families since being made aware of their detentions.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to restart the work of the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

The Government paused its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy in April due to the pressing need to focus on COVID-19. We formally recommenced the Review on 24 June, building on the work done since the Review was originally launched in February.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements they have made to meet with the new Taoiseach and his ministerial team to discuss (1) Anglo-Irish relations; (2) the COVID-19 pandemic; and (3) Brexit.

Ireland is a close friend and neighbour to the UK. As the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland tweeted over the weekend of 27/28 June, we welcome the formation of a new Irish Government and we look forward to continued close working with Ireland. The Prime Minister and the new Taoiseach spoke on Tuesday 30 June, and other UK Ministers have already been in contact with their counterparts on a range of issues including: the bilateral relationship and foreign policy, especially following Ireland's election to the UN Security Council; Northern Ireland; our joint response to and recovery from Covid-19; and our future relationship with the EU.

25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of implementing a requirement for banks to regularly publish data on the reimbursement rates of bank transfer scam victims.

The Government is committed to tackling fraud and ensuring that victims of Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams are protected.

The Government recognises the work industry has undertaken to date, including the introduction of a voluntary reimbursement Code, which has demonstrably had a beneficial impact. However, the Code, whilst improving matters, comes with limitations, including disparity in how different payment service providers are interpreting their obligations under it, as well is its lack of comprehensive cover across providers.

The Government therefore welcomed the publication of the Payment Systems Regulator’s (PSR) call for views on APP scams in February 2021, which set out various potential measures for reducing APP scams and improving customer outcomes, including new requirements on payment service providers to reimburse APP scam victims and publishing APP scam data. The Government is of the view that the introduction of Faster Payments Service rules setting reimbursement requirements on all scheme participants is the best possible solution to the issue of APP scams; this will ensure the rules underpinning Faster Payments are fit for purpose.

The PSR’s call for views has now closed and the Government is engaging with the PSR and industry on next steps, including considering what further actions may be necessary to make progress on this issue.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the finance industry regarding the adoption of the voluntary Contingent Reimbursement Model Code; and what steps they are taking to persuade retail banks to sign up to the Contingent Reimbursement Model Code.

The Government is committed to tackling fraud and ensuring that victims of Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams are protected.

The Government recognises the work industry has undertaken to date, including the introduction of a voluntary reimbursement Code, which has demonstrably had a beneficial impact. However, the Code, whilst improving matters, comes with limitations, including disparity in how different payment service providers are interpreting their obligations under it, as well is its lack of comprehensive cover across providers.

The Government therefore welcomed the publication of the Payment Systems Regulator’s (PSR) call for views on APP scams in February 2021, which set out various potential measures for reducing APP scams and improving customer outcomes, including new requirements on payment service providers to reimburse APP scam victims and publishing APP scam data. The Government is of the view that the introduction of Faster Payments Service rules setting reimbursement requirements on all scheme participants is the best possible solution to the issue of APP scams; this will ensure the rules underpinning Faster Payments are fit for purpose.

The PSR’s call for views has now closed and the Government is engaging with the PSR and industry on next steps, including considering what further actions may be necessary to make progress on this issue.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to implement the recommendations made by the Financial Conduct Authority in The Woolard Review - A review of change and innovation in the unsecured credit market, published on 2 February.

The Government has welcomed The Woolard Review – A review of change and innovation in the unsecured credit market. The review will contribute to the evidence base to inform the Government’s future decisions in relation to this market.

The review made recommendations to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), including many calling for the FCA to work closely with government. The FCA has stated that it supports the recommendations directed to the FCA and will build these recommendations into their forthcoming Business Plan, as one driver of their priorities for 2021-22.

While many of the recommendations are for the FCA and are, as the review acknowledges, longer-term recommendations there was one recommendation relating to Buy-Now-Pay-Later which required urgent Government action.

We have already responded to this recommendation. On 2 February the Government announced it would legislate to regulate interest-free Buy-Now-Pay-Later agreements, and these agreements will be regulated by the FCA. On 17 March, the Government tabled an amendment to the Financial Services Bill to provide the Government with the powers to ensure a proportionate approach to this regulation. The Government will bring forward secondary legislation to bring currently unregulated Buy-Now-Pay-Later products into regulation when Parliamentary time allows. The final approach to regulation will be determined following public consultation.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
21st Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure the equitable distribution of schemes designed to support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government has provided £25 billion in cash grants for businesses. The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy has been working closely with local authorities to ensure that these grants are delivered as swiftly as possible and directed towards the businesses that have been most impacted by the pandemic.

This includes the £5 billion of funding allocated at the March Budget for Restart Grants and the discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant fund.

Local authorities received their allocation for the new Restart Grants on 6th April, and we encourage local authorities to pay eligible businesses as soon as possible.

To access the Additional Restrictions Grant top-up, local authorities will have to spend their existing allocation by the end of June. Those which have already done so will receive their top-up payment in the coming weeks.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
21st Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support the self-employed during the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Government announced at Budget 2021 that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will continue until September, with a fourth and a final fifth grant. This provides certainty to business as the economy reopens and means the SEISS will continue to be one of the most generous schemes for the self-employed in the world, and one of the few where support is committed until September.

The fourth and fifth SEISS grants are an estimated £13.5bn of additional support, taking total support for the self-employed to over £33 billion since the start of the pandemic.

Self-employed people may also have access to other elements of support available, including Restart Grants, the Recovery Loan scheme, business rates relief, and other business support schemes.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of The Woolward Review: A review of change and innovation in the unsecured credit market, published on 2 February.

The Government welcomes The Woolard Review – A review of change and innovation in the unsecured credit market. The review will contribute to the evidence base to inform the Government’s future decisions in relation to this market.

We have already taken action to respond to the review’s urgent recommendation for government to legislate to regulate interest-free Buy-Now-Pay-Later agreements, announcing on 2 February that these agreements will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). On 19 March, the Government tabled an amendment to the Financial Services Bill to provide the Government with the powers to ensure a proportionate approach to this regulation.

The review acknowledges that the longer-term recommendations it makes will take time to implement. The FCA will build these recommendations into their forthcoming Business Plan, as one driver of their priorities for 2021-22. The Government will work with the FCA to deliver to them as appropriate.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
15th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Northern Ireland Executive about the UK Government's decision to increase the level of corporation tax.

The UK Government and Northern Ireland Executive have regular discussions at official and Ministerial level on matters of mutual interest.
Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support the self-employed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has supported the livelihoods of millions of self-employed people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, the three grants already provided through the scheme have provided up to £21,570 of support for each claimant, placing the SEISS among the most generous schemes for the self-employed in the world. There will also be a fourth grant covering February to April 2021. Further details on the SEISS, including the fourth grant, will be announced on 3 March.

The SEISS continues to be just one element of a substantial package of support for the self-employed. People who are ineligible for the SEISS may still be eligible for other elements of the support available. The Universal Credit standard allowance has been temporarily increased for 2020-21 and the Minimum Income Floor relaxed for the duration of the crisis, so that where self-employed claimants' earnings have fallen significantly, their Universal Credit award will have increased to reflect their lower earnings. In addition to this, they may also have access to other elements of the package, including Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, self-isolation support payments and other business support grants.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the implications of the collapse of the German Property Group for UK investors in that company, and the prospect of compensation payments.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is working closely with financial advisers who advised customers to make these investments, and operators of Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs), whose customers currently hold investments with the German Property Group.

The FCA has published a joint statement with the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). The statement sets out what UK consumers should do if they invested in the German Property Group via an FCA authorised firm, either a financial adviser firm or a SIPP operator. If the customer believes these investments were mis-sold, they may be eligible for compensation via the FOS or FSCS. The FCA’s statement can be accessed at https://www.fca.org.uk/news/statements/gpg-companies-preliminary-bankruptcy-proceedings.

Companies under the German Property Group are incorporated in Germany and have never been authorised by the FCA. However, consumers should be assured that the FCA is working closely with the FOS and FSCS on this matter and will share any further updates as and when they are able to.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
12th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide additional economic support to areas affected by local restrictions put in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March the Government’s priority has been to save lives and protect jobs, businesses, and livelihoods. The Government has supported people and businesses via an unprecedented package of financial support worth more than £280 billion.

As of 5 January, England entered a national lockdown in order to manage a new variant of the virus. Under these England-wide restrictions, businesses can continue to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which has been extended until the end of April 2021 and has helped to pay the wages of people in 9.9 million jobs across the UK. Support continues also to be available for the self-employed through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) which will cover 80% of trading profits and is open until the end of April 2021. So far SEISS has seen 2.7 million self-employed workers make claims under the scheme totaling £13.7bn

Businesses needing access to liquidity can also apply for guaranteed loans through various loan schemes, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, until the end of March 2021. Over 1.4 million small and medium sized companies have received government-backed loans, worth over £68 billion

With the new restrictions, the Chancellor announced that an additional one-off grant worth up to £9,000 will be offered to businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure facing forced closure in England to help them through to spring. This is alongside the existing Local Restriction Support Grant (closed) which will continue to offer businesses support of up to £3000 for each month they closed.

England’s Local authorities and devolved administrations will also receive a £594 million top-up to the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) which has already provided local authorities with £1.1 billion throughout the Autumn. This ensures that local authorities can provide discretionary support to businesses not eligible for existing grants, but which may still be affected by the restrictions. Business grant policy remains a fully devolved area with Devolved Administrations receiving their share of this funding through the Barnett formula in the usual way.

This support comes on top of billions of pounds’ worth of Rate Reliefs, tax deferrals, and other labour market schemes.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the EU about equivalence recognition for UK-based financial services companies after 31 December.

On 9 November, the Government announced as many equivalence decisions for EEA Member States as it could in favour of openness, and where it made sense to do so, in the absence of clarity from the EU. These decisions were made to provide clarity and stability to industry. The granting of these equivalence decisions provides a broad range of benefits in terms of having open markets that are well regulated, facilitating firms’ ability to pool and manage risks effectively, and supporting UK and EEA clients’ access to financial services and market liquidity.

Equivalence assessments are an autonomous process, managed separately from trade negotiations. This applies in the case of the EU, and where the EU choose to grant the UK equivalence, this will be done in accordance with their own decision-making process. However, the Government has made sure that the EU has the information it requires to make a positive decision for the UK for all equivalence regimes, including decisions for which the EU have announced they are not currently assessing the UK. The Government has not received any further questions from the EU since returning all questionnaires to the EU in early July.

The Government is not ruling out further equivalence decisions for the EEA Member States in the future as it continues to believe that comprehensive mutual findings of equivalence between the UK and the EEA are in the best interests of both parties and we remain open and committed to continuing dialogue with the EU about their intentions in this respect.

The recognition of individual firms for the purposes of equivalence is a matter for the UK and EU financial services regulators. These regulators continue to be obliged to discharge their responsibilities for financial stability, consumer and investor protection and financial market operation. The regulators continue to cooperate on those issues and engage with each other as firms consider their planning for the end of the transition period and what will follow.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the future of Ulster Bank.

This is a commercial matter for the management and Board of NatWest Group.

The government manages its shareholding in NatWest Group at arm’s length on a commercial basis through UK Government Investments Ltd (UKGI). UKGI's role is to manage the investment, not the bank itself. NatWest Group retains its own independent board and management team for strategic and operational decisions.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in addressing (1) tax avoidance, (2) fraud, and (3) money laundering.

Since 2010 this government have secured and protected over £250 billion that would otherwise have gone unpaid due to tax related fraud, avoidance, evasion and other forms of non-compliance within the tax system. During this time we have introduced over 120 new measures and invested over £2 billion extra in HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to tackle all forms of tax fraud and non-compliance. This includes £63 million in additional funding for HMRC in 2020/21 to ensure that more of the tax that is owed is collected.

HMRC achieved its commitment, made at Summer Budget 2015, to raise an additional £5 billion a year by 2019/20 by tackling tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning, evasion and other non-compliance.

The UK tax gap (the difference between the amount of tax that should, in theory, be paid and what is actually paid) in tax year 2018/19 (the latest figure available) is estimated to be 4.7% (£31 billion). The tax gap has fallen from 7.5% in 2005 to 2006, showing a long term downward trend.

Tackling financial crime remains an important priority for the government. We are committed to preventing money laundering, financial exploitation and fraud, closing down vulnerabilities in the system that may be exploited by criminals and hostile actors and ensuring members of the public have the information they need to spot a scam and stand up to fraudsters. We continue to work closely with industry on these issues.

In 2019, the Government and private sector jointly published a landmark Economic Crime Plan which brought together the Government, law enforcement and the private sector in closer cooperation than ever to deliver a whole system response. This Plan sets out 52 actions of which 13 have been fully completed. We plan to publish a detailed update on ECP actions in the new year.

This year, the government completed its transposition of the EU’s Fifth Money Laundering Directive, bringing new sectors into scope for money laundering regulation, including cryptocurrencies, the art market, and the letting sector. We also significantly expanded the scope of the Trusts Registration Service in order to drive greater transparency of who ultimately owns trusts that present a money laundering or terrorist financing risk. This ensures our system remains responsive to emerging threats and is in line with evolving international standards set by Financial Action Task Force.

We have made significant process on the UK Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU) staffing uplift, who will undertake greater analysis of SARs reports and provide more timely and meaningful feedback to reporters, with c.130 staff currently in post (up from c.80 at the time of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) review in 2018).

The government is also committed to ensuring the UK’s anti-money laundering supervision system is effective and consistent across the 25 supervisors. HM Treasury publishes annual reports on the performance of the AML/CFT supervision system, most recently in August 2020. In 2018, the government introduced legislation to create the Office for Professional Body Anti Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS). OPBAS’s remit is to ensure a consistently high standard of AML supervision by the 22 professional body supervisors and facilitate information sharing between AML supervisors and law enforcement agencies.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people were supported by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in each of the last three months for which figures are available.

HMRC published statistics on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in November 2020 which included figures for the number of employments furloughed and supported by the CJRS each day up to 30 September. These statistics can be found at the GOV.UK link in the footnote to this answer.

The figures are for employments furloughed rather than people; figures for the number of people furloughed are not available.

These statistics are the latest available. They provide preliminary figures for the number of employments furloughed for 1 July to 30 September, based on claims received to 31 October, and are subject to revision as claims for support from the CJRS for periods from 1 July could be submitted until 30 November.

Figures for specific dates are provided in the table below. Additional information is available in the statistics publication.

Employments furloughed and supported by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (preliminary data)

31 July

5.2 million

31 August

3.6 million

30 September

2.4 million

The next release of statistics on the Job Retention Scheme is scheduled for 17 December.

Footnote text:

The November 2020 Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme statistics can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-statistics-november-2020

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect of the Spending Review 2020 on the UK’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The OBR set out their latest forecasts of the economy and public finances in in their November Economic and Fiscal Outlook[1]. The forecasts take into account the effect of measures announced in Spending Review 2020.

The OBR note that “real GDP would have taken a materially-weaker near-term path”[2] in the absence of measures announced since the Summer Economic Update. They also note that “in the medium term, the economic recovery is supported by the strong growth in public investment announced in the March Budget”[3].

[1] OBR Economic and Fiscal Outlook November 2020 https://obr.uk/efo/economic-and-fiscal-outlook-november-2020/

[2] Page 32, Box 2.1: The impact of fiscal policy on GDP growth and unemployment

[3] Page 12, paragraph 1.24

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect of uncertainty over the UK’s relationship with the EU after the transition period for the UK’s departure from the EU on the economy.

The government has been clear that the end of the transition period will bring both changes and opportunities, regardless of our future trade relationship with the EU.

The government has provided certainty about the actions businesses and individuals need to take in preparation for the end of the transition period through the ‘Time is running out’ campaign and published the ‘Reasonable Worst Case Scenario’ for borders illustrating the costs of a lack of preparedness while there is still time to prepare.

At Spending Round 2019, the government provided £2 billion of funding to departments to prepare for the UK’s exit from the EU. These preparations have continued over the course of 2020. SR20 provides over £2 billion to support repatriation of functions from the EU and to take back control of UK borders.

The end of the transition period also brings opportunities for the UK to seize and Spending Review 2020 supports this. For instance, ensuring the UK’s economy is ready to attract the best and brightest from around the world as the government introduces a new points-based immigration system, with an additional £217 million to deliver the Future Borders and Immigration System, and ensuring departments can make the most of the opportunities this freedom provides, with effective promotion of the UK to investors around the world, including through the new Office for Investment.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish any modelling from September 2020 on the economic effect of (1) introducing the COVID-19 'circuit-breaker' recommended by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, and (2) the introduction of a lockdown to address the COVID-19 pandemic in November 2020 for England.

Throughout the pandemic, economic analysis has been a key part of the advice that ministers use to inform decisions taken in this fast-moving health environment. The Treasury continues to provide economic analysis to ministers on an ongoing basis as part of policy making and design.

The Treasury does not produce formal forecasts for the UK economy. Economic and fiscal forecasting is the responsibility of the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) who updated their forecasts on 25 November 2020.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the comparative effect of the COVID-19 financial support package on regional economies.

The government recognises that every region is feeling the impact of this crisis and has taken unprecedented steps to support people and businesses across the country.

For example, the government has helped over one million employers furlough 9.6 million employments throughout the country, and supported over £60 billion of loans. Regional breakdowns of the uptake of the income support schemes are regularly published on the government’s website.

Additionally, we recognise the impact of local restrictions on businesses and this is why we continue to provide monthly grants to both open and closed businesses in tiers 2 and 3, of up to £2,100 and £3,000 respectively, through the Local Restrictions Support Grants. This is in addition to the funding provided to local authorities in tiers 2 and 3 to enable them to make grants of £1,000 to all wet-led pubs, and the Additional Restrictions Grant, that provided all local authorities with a one-off payment to support their local economies in the Autumn, worth £20 per head.

We collect and monitor regional data on how our economic support schemes are used at regional and local authority level. No final assessment of the impact of the economic support schemes can yet be made.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have received from organisations representing people who are ineligible for COVID-19 financial support schemes.

Treasury ministers and officials have had meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors (including MPs, businesses, professional representative bodies, and the unions) throughout the development of the COVID-19 support package including both the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

This engagement has been widely praised; the Institute for Government said: “The government’s approach to consultation compensated for some of the difficulties of accelerated policy development, because it gave it fast access to information, and an early sense of whether the measures would work and how they would be received by businesses and workers. This contributed to both positive reception on announcement and successful roll-out.”

Details of ministerial and permanent secretary meetings with external organisations on departmental business are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-ministers-meetings-hospitality-gifts-and-overseas-travel
Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the withdrawal of the Coronavirus Job Retention Bonus Scheme on business planning.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until the end of March 2021 for all parts of the UK, with employees receiving 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

The Job Retention Bonus (JRB) will not be paid in February 2021 and the Government will redeploy a retention incentive at the appropriate time. The purpose of the JRB was to encourage employers to keep people in work until the end of January 2021. Having extended the CJRS, the objective of the JRB falls away and the Government will return to that issue once the position on that has become clearer. The Government remains committed to providing some form of employer support of this kind in due course.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to assist countries in the Global South with debt reduction.

The UK has been at the forefront of leading the international response in assisting developing countries to deal with debt challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the G20 and Paris Club, the UK has supported a new Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) which has paused the debt service repayments of low-income countries until at least June 2021, ensuring they can focus their resources on the health and economic response to Covid-19. As of 13 November 2020, 46 countries have requested to benefit from the DSSI, amounting to an estimated USD 5.7bn of 2020 debt service deferral.

As well as making £150 million available to the International Monetary Fund’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust and doubling the UK’s £2.2bn loan to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust to £4.4bn, the UK has also supported the development of a landmark Common Framework between the G20 and Paris Club which aims to facilitate the timely and orderly debt treatment for DSSI-eligible countries where needed. .

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
19th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on the economy of uncertainty of the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

The government has been clear that the transition period will end on 31 December 2020 and that this will bring both changes and opportunities, regardless of the future trade relationship with the EU.

The Government has provided certainty about the actions businesses and individuals need to take in preparation for the end of the transition period through the ‘Time is running out’ campaign and published the ‘Reasonable Worst Case Scenario’ for borders illustrating the costs of a lack of preparedness while there is still time to prepare.

At Spending Round 2019, the government provided £2 billion of funding to departments to prepare for the UK’s exit from the EU. These preparations have continued over the course of 2020. SR20 provides over £2 billion to support repatriation of functions from the EU and to take back control of UK borders.

The end of the transition period also brings opportunities for the UK to seize and Spending Review 2020 supports this. For instance, ensuring the UK’s economy is ready to attract the best and brightest from around the world as the government introduces a new points-based immigration system, with an additional £217 million to deliver the Future Borders and Immigration System, and ensuring departments can make the most of the opportunities this freedom provides, with effective promotion of the UK to investors around the world, including through the new Office for Investment.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of ending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on employment levels.

On 5 November, the Chancellor announced an extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of March 2021, to ensure jobs and businesses are protected through the winter.
Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support creative freelancers who do not qualify for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Those not eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) may still be eligible for other elements of the unprecedented package of financial support available. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. The Government has also extended the temporary reduced VAT rate for hospitality and tourism to 31 March 2021. This will continue to apply to admission to attractions across the UK, including concerts, theatres, exhibitions and similar events.

Furthermore, the Government has announced a £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund to protect the cultural sector through the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, £409 million in grant funding has been awarded to over 2,000 cultural organisations in England including orchestras, music venues, galleries, theatres, museums and festivals. This funding will help to enable performances to restart, protect jobs and create opportunities for freelancers.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had, and with whom, about the effect of the withdrawal of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on those with protected characteristics.

In making decisions about the withdrawal of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, HM Treasury worked closely with key stakeholders, including business representatives, and other Government departments.

HM Treasury considers the equality impacts of individual policies on those with protected characteristics carefully and consistently, in line with both its legal obligations and its strong commitment to equality; and there are internal procedural requirements and support in place for ensuring that such considerations inform decisions taken by Ministers.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
29th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to make a statement about the future of (1) VAT rates, and (2) other fiscal measures in the UK

On 8 July the Chancellor announced a Plan for Jobs to support the UK’s economic recovery by supporting, protecting and creating jobs across all regions and nations of the UK. As part of this plan, and to support over 150,000 businesses and protect 2.4 million jobs following the lifting of the Covid-19 lockdown, the Government will temporarily apply a reduced rate of VAT (5%) to tourist attractions and goods and services supplied by the hospitality sector.

The “hospitality sector” includes accommodation such as hotels, and food eaten-in or hot food taken-out from restaurants, cafes and pubs.

The temporary reduced rate will apply for six months. It will come into effect on 15 July 2020 and end on 12 January 2021 and apply across the UK.

The VAT cut aims to support the hospitality and tourism sector across the UK to re-establish eating out in restaurants, and to help businesses recover from the economic impacts of Covid-19, supporting employment.

Businesses will have one week to prepare before the reduced rate comes into effect, with guidance published on 9 July 2020.

The Chancellor said on 8 July that he will set out a Budget in the Autumn. The exact timing of the next Budget will be a matter for the Chancellor to decide in due course.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the ending of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme on women.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) continues to be one of the most generous self-employed COVID-19 support schemes in the world as the economy reopens.

The Government takes care to pay due regard to the equality impacts of its policy decisions relating to the Covid-19 outbreak, including the equality impacts of the SEISS, in line with all legal requirements and the Government’s commitment to promoting equality.

HMRC have published statistics about the number and value of SEISS claims made by 31 May, including a breakdown by gender. These can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the potential gaps in provision of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for people shielding from COVID-19.

From 1 August, those who are shielding who need to work and who cannot do so from home will be able to return to work as long as their workplace is COVID-secure, adhering to the guidance available. Employers should do all they can to enable shielders to work from home where this is possible, or to work in a COVID-secure workplace where this is not.

Employees who are still unable to work because they are shielding in line with public health guidance can be furloughed, providing that they have previously been furloughed for at least three consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June.

The Government has set out an unprecedented package of financial support measures to help the country through the coronavirus pandemic, to which shielders may have access. These measures include Statutory Sick Pay, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, and an injection of £8 billon into the welfare system to improve the safety net.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to include ministers of religion in the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

The design of the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), including the eligibility requirement that an individual’s trading profits must at least equal to their non-trading income, means it is targeted at those who are most reliant on their self-employment income.

Where ministers of religion are paid through PAYE, they may be eligible to be furloughed and receive support through the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme. They may also be eligible for the other elements of the unprecedented financial support provided by the Government. This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support?increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with international counterparts about requiring private creditors to cancel or suspend repayments on debt owed by developing countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her Majesty’s Government is deeply concerned about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on low-income developing countries. It is vital that all creditors work together to ensure that countries especially vulnerable to the pandemic are able to protect their citizens and economies.

The Chancellor and his G20 counterparts called on commercial creditors to participate in the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, which suspends payments due from the 77 poorest countries, on comparable terms to the official sector.

Her Majesty’s Government is working closely with the Paris Club of official creditors and Institute of International Finance (IIF) to facilitate private sector participation. On 28 May, the IIF published a Terms of Reference to guide its members’ responses to DSSI-eligible requests for commercial forbearance.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their (1) economic, and (2) financial, strategy for the post COVID-19 pandemic period.

The Treasury’s priority is to support the economy through the immediate crisis. We have taken unprecedented steps to keep as many people as possible in their existing jobs, support viable businesses to stay afloat and protect the incomes of the most vulnerable. These measures aim to protect the productive capacity of our economy and to enable a strong and sustainable recovery from this crisis.

It is clear that the impact on the economy and the government's necessary response will lead to an increase in borrowing in the short-term. However, the Office for Budget Responsibility note that the measures taken should help limit the long-term damage to the economy and public finances – and the costs of inaction would have been higher.

The government has set out a conditional roadmap for reopening certain economic activities, whilst continuing to suppress the Covid-19 outbreak. Our economic strategy will therefore be closely coordinated with the public health strategy to ensure a safe return of economic activity. What we are thinking about first and foremost is protecting people's health, protecting people's jobs and supporting businesses. As we exit the current crisis, we will take stock of the economy and public finances and make the right decisions at that point.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have in respect of (1) personal taxation, and (2) business taxes, for the post COVID-19 pandemic period.

The Government’s priority is to support the economy through the immediate crisis. The Government has taken unprecedented steps to keep as many people as possible in their existing jobs, support viable businesses and protect the incomes of the most vulnerable. These measures aim to protect the productive capacity of the economy, and to enable a strong and sustainable recovery from this crisis. The Government will continue to keep all taxes under review.
Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
29th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to revive the economy following the lifting of restrictions put in place to address COVID-19.

The Treasury’s priority is to support the economy through the immediate crisis. We have taken unprecedented steps to keep as many people as possible in their existing jobs, support viable businesses to stay afloat and protect the incomes of the most vulnerable. These measures aim to protect the productive capacity of our economy and to enable a strong and sustainable recovery from this crisis.

On 10 May, the Prime Minister set out the government’s conditional plan for reopening certain economic activities, whilst continuing to suppress the outbreak. Our economic strategy will therefore be closely coordinated with the public health strategy to ensure a safe return of economic activity.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
29th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they (1) have had, and (2) intend to have, with the devolved administrations about their plans for the revival of the UK economy following the lifting of restrictions put in place to address COVID-19.

The Treasury’s priority is to support the whole UK economy through the immediate crisis. The devolved administrations are working closely with the UK government on a UK-wide response and there is regular engagement on economic issues, including plans on economic recovery.

The Government has taken unprecedented steps to keep as many people as possible in their existing jobs, support viable businesses to stay afloat and protect the incomes of the most vulnerable. These measures aim to protect the productive capacity of the whole UK economy and to enable a strong and sustainable recovery from this crisis.
Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
29th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance relating to customs they intend to provide to Northern Ireland businesses that will be trading within the UK internal market after January 2021.

Northern Ireland remains part of the UK’s customs territory. The Government is working hard to ensure that businesses have the necessary guidance in place to be ready for future arrangements. The Government recognises the importance of having guidance that meets businesses’ needs, including providing full guidance for Northern Ireland businesses on new arrangements related to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
11th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce value added tax on services supplied to tourists.

VAT is an important source of revenue for the Exchequer, raising approximately £132 billion in 2018/2019. This plays an important part in funding the Government's spending priorities including hospitals, schools, and defence. Therefore, while all taxes are kept under review, there are currently no plans to reduce the rate of VAT on services supplied to tourists.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
11th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the net additional spending available for revenue and capital expenditure to the Northern Ireland Executive, excluding the money from the Confidence and Supply Arrangement of June 2017, following the Chancellor of Exchequer’s Budget statement on Wednesday 11 March.

As a result of UK Government decisions at this Budget, the Northern Ireland Executive’s Barnett-based resource budget will increase by over £70 million and its capital budget by over £130 million in 2020-21.

This is on top of the £430 million of additional funding for 2020-21 provided at Spending Round 2019. All these additional Barnett consequentials are separate to the funding agreed by the Government in the financial annex to the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
27th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have received about the case for reducing VAT applicable to the UK tourism industry.

At Spring Statement 2018, the Government launched a call for evidence on the impact of VAT and APD on tourism in NI, which also considered UK-wide changes. The Government received over 80 individual responses to this call for evidence from a wide range of stakeholders, including trade organisations, public sector bodies, campaign groups and wider industry. The response to the call for evidence was published at Budget 2018.
Earl of Courtown
Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that there is a coordinated approach to protecting children from sexual abuse online, for example through joining up the upcoming online harms legislation with the new strategy on violence against women and girls.

Violence against women and girls can have lifelong physical and mental impacts on victims, as well as causing knock-on negative effects for their families, friends and for society as a whole. The risks which existed ten years ago are still there, but the pace of societal and technological change means that new and evolving forms of abuse are continuously emerging.

We will be publishing a new Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy this year which will help to better target perpetrators and support victims of these crimes, and increase our ability to tackle emerging forms of VAWG such as ‘upskirting’ and revenge porn.

We are working closely both across government departments and within the Home Office to ensure the strategy is joined up with the upcoming online harms legislation in which the strongest protections from harmful or inappropriate content are for children and young people.

All companies in scope will be required to fulfil the duty of care by ensuring that they take reasonably practicable steps to tackle relevant illegal content, such as online child sexual exploitation and abuse, and protect children where they are likely to access their services. For content which is legal but harmful, the online safety legislation will close the gap between what companies say they do, and what they actually do by ensuring companies enforce their terms of service.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps (1) they have taken, and (2) they intend to take, to address the level of (a) domestic abuse, (b) violence against women and girls, (c) hate crime, (d) online hate, and (e) online radicalisation, experienced by BAME communities.

Domestic Abuse and VAWG

Tackling Domestic abuse and violence against women and girls (VAWG) is a government priority. These abhorrent crimes have no place in our society.

We know that anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of ethnicity or background. That is why the Home Office has provided funding to ‘by and for’ specialist services including , Southall Black Sisters who have been provided with £80,951 in funding during the Covid pandemic.

Added to this, our landmark Domestic Abuse Bill which is due to achieve Royal Assent this Spring will strengthen our response to perpetrators and improve our support to victims.This Summer the Government will also publish a strategy to combat Violence Against Women and Girls, followed by a complementary strategy on Domestic Abuse.

Hate Crime & Online Hate

The Government has been clear that all forms of hate crime are unacceptable and that the cowards who commit these crimes should face the full force of the law. Action under the hate crime action plan 2016-20 (Action Against Hate: The UK Government’s plan for tackling hate crime) included approximately £5 million for protective security measures to protect places of worship and asking the Law Commission to review the effectiveness and coverage of hate crime legislation.

In November 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government awarded £1.8 million through the Faith, Race and Hate Crime Grant Scheme to support established community groups and civil society organisations to run short projects to boost shared values and tackle religiously and racially-motivated hate crime.

We have published the Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper, which includes specific measures to work with private companies and ensure that they are held to account for tackling illegal activity and content, such as hate crime, harassment, and cyber-stalking, as well as activity and content which may not be illegal but is nonetheless highly damaging to individuals (legal but harmful). The Full Government Response will be followed by legislation, which we are working on at pace, and will be ready this year. The Home Office also funds a Police Online Hate Crime Hub to improve the police response to victims of online hate crime.

Online radicalisation

Terrorist groups use the internet to spread propaganda designed to radicalise, recruit and inspire vulnerable people, and to incite, provide information to enable, and celebrate terrorist attacks. Our objective is to ensure that there are no safe spaces online for all forms of terrorists to promote or share their extreme views.

In 2010, we set up the police Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU), based in the Metropolitan Police. To date, over 314,500 individual pieces of terrorist content referred by CTIRU have been removed by companies and the Unit has also informed the design of the EU Internet Referral Unit based at Europol.

The Government has also pressed companies to increase the use of technology to automate the detection and removal of content where possible. As a result of continued engagement, companies have expanded the use of automated removals.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
15th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the actions of the Metropolitan Police at a vigil in memory of Sarah Everard at Clapham Common on 13 March.

Following events surrounding the vigil in memory of Sarah Everard on Clapham Common, the Home Secretary asked for an immediate full report from the Metropolitan Police, which she received on Sunday 14 March.

The Home Secretary felt there were still questions to be answered and – in the interest of confidence in policing - has asked HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services to look into what happened in more detail.

It would be inappropriate for Government to comment further until the report is complete.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that organised crime and terrorism can be addressed effectively after the end of the transition period for the UK's departure from the EU.

The safety and security of our citizens is the Government’s top priority.

Negotiations continue, and on law enforcement and criminal justice, there is a good degree of convergence in what the UK and EU have been negotiating in terms of operational capabilities.


In the event that it is not possible to reach an agreement, the UK has well-developed and well-rehearsed plans in place. We will transition cooperation with EU Member States to alternative, non-EU arrangements by the end of the Transition Period, where available and relevant. Broadly speaking, this means making more use of Interpol, Council of Europe Conventions and bilateral channels.

Specifically on counter-terrorism, cooperation with European partners on national security takes place outside EU structures and so is not dependent on the EU. Our bilateral and multilateral cooperation will continue, regardless of the outcome of any negotiations

The UK will continue to be a global leader on security and one of the safest countries in the world.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they estimate the frontier workers' permit scheme, as outlined in the Citizens’ Rights (Frontier Workers) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, will be open for applications.

The Government will open the frontier worker permit scheme to applications from 10 December. The scheme will ensure EEA and Swiss citizens who are frontier working (employed or self-employed in the UK but living elsewhere) at the end of the transition period on 31 December can continue to do so.

The Government launched a national information?campaign?on?13 July to prepare the public and businesses for the end of the transition period. It provides information on the actions they need to take, including information on frontier workers’ rights. Further information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/frontier-workers-in-the-uk-rights-and-status.

Where people need further information or support in applying under the frontier worker permit scheme, they will be able to contact the Home Office Settlement Resolution Centre, which is open seven days a week.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they plan to provide to ensure that existing organisations that provide advice on the EU Settlement Scheme have the resources and the capacity to deal with any increased workload caused by frontier workers seeking advice and assistance following the frontier workers' permit scheme coming into force.

The Government will open the frontier worker permit scheme to applications from 10 December. The scheme will ensure EEA and Swiss citizens who are frontier working (employed or self-employed in the UK but living elsewhere) at the end of the transition period on 31 December can continue to do so.

The Government launched a national information?campaign?on?13 July to prepare the public and businesses for the end of the transition period. It provides information on the actions they need to take, including information on frontier workers’ rights. Further information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/frontier-workers-in-the-uk-rights-and-status.

Where people need further information or support in applying under the frontier worker permit scheme, they will be able to contact the Home Office Settlement Resolution Centre, which is open seven days a week.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address child sexual abuse, including online abuse.

Nothing is more important than the safety of our children. The UK Government is committed to stamping out all forms of child sexual exploitation and abuse and continuing to be a global leader in tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Last year we announced an additional £30 million to safeguard children from child sexual exploitation and abuse, both at home and online. This includes £9.86 million to the National Crime Agency (NCA) to improve its ability to tackle perpetrators seeking to offend against children via the Dark Web and £3.36 million to further improve our understanding and tackle all aspects of the threat.

Recognising the unprecedented challenge posed by the impact of COVID-19 and restrictions to prevent its spread, the Prime Minister hosted a cross-Government Hidden Harms Virtual Summit, to bring together key decisions makers and agree actions to combat hidden crimes, including child sexual abuse. We have also worked across government, with law enforcement and the third sector to provide information and advice about child sexual exploitation and abuse to schools, parents, carers and children and to ensure that victims and survivors continue to have access to the greatest possible support.

For example through the NCA’s #OnlineSafetyAtHome campaign and their ThinkUKnow resources, as well as published guidance on GOV.UK. We have also galvanised industry and international partners to raise awareness of online safety in response to COVID-19 and formally launched the Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.

In the Queen’s Speech in December 2019, the Government committed to develop legislation to improve internet safety for all. This will build on the proposals in the Online Harms White Paper, published in April 2019 which set out our plans for world-leading legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.

We intend to establish in law a new duty of care on companies towards their users, overseen by an independent regulator. The duty of care will require companies to put in place appropriate systems to deal with harmful content on their services and keep users safe. Companies will be required to take particularly robust action on tackling online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

On 12 February the Government published an initial response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation. We are working on a full Government response, which will be published shortly. This will be released alongside an interim code of practice to tackle online child sexual exploitation and abuse. This code will set out steps that companies can take to tackle online child sexual exploitation and abuse on a voluntary basis, ahead of any regulatory system introduced following the proposals in the Online Harms White Paper.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address serious youth violence.

The Government is committed to delivering on the people’s priorities by tackling violent crime. This means giving the police the resources and powers they need to make a difference. In January this year we announced the biggest funding increase in a decade for the police system and we are recruiting an additional 20,000 police officers over next three years including 6,000 additional officers by the end of financial year 2020/21.

In the 18 Police Force areas worst affected by serious violence, we have invested a total of £176.5 million over 2 years (2019-21) to deliver a whole-systems response. Of this funding, £106.5 million is to enhance the Police’s operational response and £70 million has funded the establishment of local, multi-agency Violence Reduction Units to address the drivers of serious violence. Tackling serious violence will be backed with £119 million in 2020-21, which includes £20 million to tackle county lines drug dealing; £35m funding for Violence Reduction Units (VRUs); and £41.5m on extra police resources in the areas most affected by serious violence.

The Government has also invested £200 million in a 10-year Youth Endowment (YEF) Fund to tackle the drivers behind serious youth violence. An extra £5million has been awarded to the YEF in 2020 to develop a National Centre of Excellence, which will share knowledge and expertise with those working with vulnerable children and young people at risk of involvement in serious youth violence.

In July 2020, the YEF offered a total of £6.5m to 130 organisations across England and Wales as part of its COVID-19 grant round. The funding will help charities, social enterprises, local authorities and youth organisations to re-connect with young people at-risk of being drawn into violent crime and tackle any problems to emerge because of COVID-19.

It was announced on 19 December in the Queen’s Speech that we will be bringing forward legislation that will place new duties on a range of specified agencies across different sectors to work collaboratively, share data and put in place plans to prevent and reduce serious violence.

In addition, on 14 September we launched an 8-week public consultation on the design of the new court order - Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs). SVROs would give the police personalised powers to target those already convicted of certain knife and weapon offences, giving them the automatic right to search those who pose the greatest risk.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address county lines drug trafficking and safeguard children from being exploited by such crimes.

This Government is determined to crack down on the county lines gangs who are exploiting our children and have a devastating impact on our communities.

That is why we are investing £25m to boost law enforcement efforts in England and Wales to tackle these ruthless gangs. Our overall package launched in October last year and includes: expanding the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre (NCLCC), increased disruption on the rail networks by the British Transport Police’s County Lines Taskforce, operational activity against high harm lines in the three major exporting force areas (the Metropolitan Police, Merseyside, West Midlands), investment in new technology, and increased support for victims.

Our investment is already delivering results; between November 2019 and March 2020, the Metropolitan Police, Merseyside, West Midlands and the British Transport Police made over 650 arrests, closed nearly 140 deal lines, seized cash and drugs with a total value of over £3 million, made over 100 weapons seizures, and safeguarded a number of individuals, including 140 children. The most recent county lines ‘Week of Intensification’ conducted 14-20 September also resulted in over 1,000 arrests, drugs worth more than £1m seized and over 1,500 vulnerable individuals safeguarded.

We are significantly increasing investment in specialist support for children and young people involved in county lines to help them exit and rebuild their lives. We are funding St Giles Trust £860,000 this financial year to provide specialist one-to-one support in London, Merseyside and the West Midlands and are also continuing to fund Missing People’s SafeCall service, a specialist 24/7 helpline which provides advice and support to children, young people and parents/carers concerned about county lines exploitation.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that the Domestic Abuse Bill provides for community-based domestic abuse services.

The Domestic Abuse Bill, as introduced in the House of Lords on 7 July, includes a new statutory duty on tier one local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children within safe accommodation. These provisions have been designed in the light of extensive consultation and analysis about how to address the gaps in current provision.

We fully recognise the vital role played by community-based support services in helping victims of domestic abuse and their children to rebuild their lives. However, until we have undertaken a similar analytical exercise in relation to community-based support services, we believe it would be premature to legislate in this Bill.

To enable us to better understand the complex landscape for community-based support for all victims, including children, the designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner has agreed to undertake an in-depth exploration of the current community-based support landscape over 2020/21. The Government will then work with the Commissioner to understand the needs identified and develop options on how best to address them.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
29th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had, and with whom, about tackling hate crime.

The government continues to routinely engage with a wide range of national partners and other stakeholders about tackling all aspects of hate crime.

The Home Office and MHCLG are also working closely with the National Police Chief’s Council to ensure that all police forces are providing reassurance to affected communities and encouraging hate crime reporting during the Covid 19 pandemic. This includes working with civil society partners and social media platforms to encourage victim reporting of hate crime.

The Government is also engaging with a range of Departments and civil society partners to explore possible approaches to tackling hate crime beyond the Hate Crime Action Plan 2016-2020.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
16th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK.

During this unprecedented time we have had regular and frequent discussions with domestic abuse organisations, the Domestic Abuse and Victims’ Commissioners, law enforcement and other Government Departments to monitor and assess the impact of COVID-19 on victims of domestic abuse.

We are aware that domestic abuse helplines have reported significant increases in calls during lockdown, some of which may be due to increased awareness or enquiries from friends or families. The police have also reported an increase in reported domestic abuse incidents based on provisional data (a 6% increase in the four weeks up to 5 July compared to the same period last year). What is critical is that victims are able to reach out for advice or support if they need to do so.

That is why the Government has ensured the availability of information on domestic abuse and sources of advice and support including through the #YouAreNotAlone campaign, and provided funding to ensure that vital support services continue to be available.

In May, the Government announced £76 million of the £750 million package of support for charities would go towards groups supporting survivors of?domestic abuse, sexual violence and modern slavery?as well as to ensure that vulnerable children and young people continue to get the help they need.

In addition, the Home Office has provided £1.2 million of funding to domestic abuse organisations to help bolster helplines and on line services to ensure that these remain available to victims.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
16th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with groups supporting victims of domestic violence in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During this unprecedented time we have had regular and frequent discussions with domestic abuse organisations, the Domestic Abuse and Victims’ Commissioners, law enforcement and other Government Departments to monitor and assess the impact of COVID-19 on victims of domestic abuse.

We are aware that domestic abuse helplines have reported significant increases in calls during lockdown, some of which may be due to increased awareness or enquiries from friends or families. The police have also reported an increase in reported domestic abuse incidents based on provisional data (a 6% increase in the four weeks up to 5 July compared to the same period last year). What is critical is that victims are able to reach out for advice or support if they need to do so.

That is why the Government has ensured the availability of information on domestic abuse and sources of advice and support including through the #YouAreNotAlone campaign, and provided funding to ensure that vital support services continue to be available.

In May, the Government announced £76 million of the £750 million package of support for charities would go towards groups supporting survivors of?domestic abuse, sexual violence and modern slavery?as well as to ensure that vulnerable children and young people continue to get the help they need.

In addition, the Home Office has provided £1.2 million of funding to domestic abuse organisations to help bolster helplines and on line services to ensure that these remain available to victims.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the suspension of gender pay gap reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic on gender pay gap inequality.

In recognition of the unprecedented uncertainty and pressure facing employers due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Government and the Equality and Human Rights Commission suspended enforcement of the gender pay gap reporting deadlines for 2019/20. However, employers can still choose to report their data and we have carried on providing support to those who need it. Over 5,500 employers have reported to date and more continue to do so.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community; what analysis they have carried out regarding such crimes; whether they have identified any trends; and if so, what they are.

The Home Office collects and publishes statistics annually on the number of hate crime offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, broken down by five centrally monitored strands: race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity.

The Home Office routinely work with civil society partners, including those working on LGBTQ+ issues, to understand hate crime trends. The latest Home Office data on recorded crime in relation to all protected characteristics, including prevalence and trends, is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/839172/hate-crime-1819-hosb2419.pdf

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
25th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether immigration officers exercising the powers in the Coronavirus Act 2020 in Northern Ireland will fall under the complaints remit of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

The powers for immigration officers in the Coronavirus Act 2020 will be exercised following prior consultation with public health officers where that is practicable and, where that is not practicable, in accordance with public health guidance.

Any action undertaken by Border Force or Immigration Enforcement officers in exercising these powers would be subject to the set of complaints procedures which may be found on Gov.uk.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the current condition of the munitions that were dumped into Beaufort’s Dyke in the Irish Sea by the Ministry of Defence following the end of the Second World War.

I refer the noble Lady to the reply given by my hon. Friend, the Minister for Defence Procurement (Jeremy Quin), in the House of Commons on 2 July 2020 to the hon. Member for Ayr, Carrock and Cumnock (Allan Dorans) in response to Question number 65104.

The last known at-sea disposal at Beaufort's Dyke was the emergency dumping of two cases of corroded 40mm ammunition in 1976.

Historical information on the sea disposals at Beaufort's Dyke and other locations is available through The National Archives at:

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

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

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
21st Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they estimate that the process of dumping munitions in Beaufort’s Dyke stopped.

I refer the noble Lady to the reply given by my hon. Friend, the Minister for Defence Procurement (Jeremy Quin), in the House of Commons on 2 July 2020 to the hon. Member for Ayr, Carrock and Cumnock (Allan Dorans) in response to Question number 65104.

The last known at-sea disposal at Beaufort's Dyke was the emergency dumping of two cases of corroded 40mm ammunition in 1976.

Historical information on the sea disposals at Beaufort's Dyke and other locations is available through The National Archives at:

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

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

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
20th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to maintain the size of the regular Armed Forces as set out in the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, published in November 2015.

The Armed Forces have active and targeted recruitment campaigns which are proving effective; intake to the UK Regular Armed Forces was 16,340 in the 12 months to 31 March 2020, an increase of 30.9 per cent compared with the previous 12 months. Although recruitment figures have exponentially increased, we are not complacent and recognise that outflow also increased slightly by 5.7 per cent to 15,460 in the same 12 months. To improve retention, we closely monitor the impact of Service life on individuals, particularly in areas where there are shortages, and take steps to address issues arising.

Measures include the 2019 Armed Forces pay rise of 2.9 per cent which also increased starting pay by 6%, one of the biggest awards within the public sector; Flexible Service, introduced in April 2019 affording personnel more control over their working patterns; the new Future Accommodation Model (FAM) which gives personnel greater control over their housing arrangements; the Service for Experienced Re-joiner and Volunteer Engagements (SERVE) launched on 24 June; and Wrap-around childcare pilots that alleviate the associated challenges faced by our personnel.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
20th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent assessment they have made of the affordability of The defence equipment plan 2019, published on 27 February.

The Secretary of State is taking steps to manage the financial pressures in the Ministry of Defence's plans. We have reduced the shortfall in the years from 2020-21 by securing £2.2 billion extra spending for Defence in the 2019 Spending Round and we are driving progress in our ambitious Transformation programme. Future spending decisions are for the forthcoming spending review.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
16th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch Report on the investigation of the near miss between the ro-ro ferry Stena Superfast VII and a submerged Royal Navy submarine in the North Channel on 6 November 2018, published on 16 July; and what steps they are taking to ensure similar incidents do not reoccur. [T]

Ensuring safety at sea is a top priority for the Royal Navy. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch's (MAIB) report is welcomed and the Royal Navy fully accepts their recommendation.

Actions have been taken to prevent re-occurrence and a system of assurance is in place in accordance with the Navy's Safety Management System.? To deliver the MAIB's recommendation, the Fleet Commander has directed an independent review of the actions taken to provide assurance that such actions have been effective. This review will be led by the Defence Maritime Regulator, part of the independent Defence Safety Authority.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
1st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent estimate they have made of the number of armed forces personnel who have tested positive for COVID-19.

I refer the noble Lady to the answer given in the House of Commons to the hon. Member for Lewisham East (Janet Daby) to Question 904256.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
1st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the contribution of the armed forces in tackling the outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having plans and resources in place, coupled with effective military aid to civil authorities (MACA) mechanisms was key to delivering Defence's response in aid of Other Government Departments (OGDs).

Due to the public's adherence to lockdown measures, and the ability of OGDs to maintain essential services, it was not necessary to deploy most of those personnel held at higher readiness.

Defence remains committed to supporting the cross government COVID-19 response, along with delivering its critical outputs maintaining National Security.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
1st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the defence industry.

It is inevitable that the Covid-19 pandemic will have some impact on the defence industry and we remain closely engaged with our strategic suppliers during this difficult time to understand this in more detail. We will continue to provide support, where appropriate, to ensure that critical defence operations and programmes, on which our nation relies, continue uninterrupted.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
1st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on veteran's welfare of the temporary closure of the Veterans UK telephone helpline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full range of veterans' support services, including the Veterans UK helpline and Welfare Service, has continued to be provided throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 situation necessitated the delivery of helpline services in a different manner and call backs and referral to the Veterans Welfare Service were made where urgent or vulnerable veterans were identified. The Veterans helpline telephony service has now resumed operations.

Veterans UK has helped over 13,000 veterans since 23 March. In addition, approximately 470,000 monthly pension and compensation scheme payments continue to be paid into nominated accounts.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the (1) government of Ireland, and (2) political parties in Northern Ireland, about the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill.

The Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill relates to the conduct of the UK Armed Forces outside of the UK. The operation of the UK Armed Forces is a reserved matter and one for the UK Government. The introduction of the Bill in the House of Commons is just the start of the process, and the Ministry of Defence will continue to engage with stakeholders across the UK throughout the Bill’s progress through Parliament.

No discussions have taken place with the Irish Government on the contents of this Bill.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
13th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made for the timeline for the (1) introduction, and (2) progress, of the Building Safety Bill.

The Building Safety Bill was published in draft on 20 July 2020 and has undergone pre-legislative scrutiny by the HCLG Select Committee. The Government has been considering the Committee’s report and recommendations and will introduce the Bill as soon as Parliamentary time allows. We recognise that these are important public safety measures; that is why the Government is committed to progressing the Bill as quickly as possible, so that reforms can be implemented in a timely manner and residents can feel safe, and be safe, in their homes.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with community-based organisations about supporting BAME communities to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government has been engaging with community-based organisations to reach, engage and communicate with those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, in particular people from Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. Through our community champions scheme we are working with organisations, such as Strengthening Faith Institutions and Near Neighbours, that have successful track record of delivering initiatives in grass root communities to support BAME communities recover from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

These organisations work directly with communities to identify and train community champions. Government is working with them to promote relational community engagement, including up-to-date public health messages and to promote positive messages within government guidelines on how to make local activities safer. Government is also working with them to develop resilience and increase mechanisms for outreach, communication and engagement, and is developing strategic communications which trains those communities and supports BAME community organisations to sustain, scale-up and develop COVID-19 response projects and activities to recover from impact of the pandemic.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Northern Ireland Executive about their decision to open an office of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in Belfast.

We are committed to moving more civil servants out of London and closer to the communities they serve - including Northern Ireland. We will shortly start recruiting civil servants to be based in Northern Ireland, to help implement new UK-wide investment programmes announced in the Budget, benefitting from local knowledge of projects coming forward and working closely with the Northern Ireland Executive and others to maximise investment opportunities.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the support required by the built environment sector to adapt to the Future Homes Standard.

We expect that homes built to the Future Homes Standard will have carbon dioxide emissions 75-80 per cent lower than those built to current Building Regulations standards, which means they will be fit for the future, with low carbon heating and very high fabric standards. These homes will be ‘zero carbon ready’, with the ability to become fully zero carbon homes over time as the electricity grid decarbonises, without the need for further costly retrofitting work.

Some home-builders are already building to fabric standards above the current Building Regulations or installing low carbon heating systems, but it is important that all parts of industry are ready to build homes that are fit for a zero carbon future.

Our October 2019 consultation on an interim uplift to energy efficiency requirements acknowledged that in order to meet the Future Homes Standard, industry will need time to develop the necessary supply chains, skills and construction practices to deliver homes that incorporate low-carbon heat and very high fabric standards.

The consultation set out a proposed implementation timeline for the Future Homes Standard, with indicative timings for further research, industry engagement and a full technical consultation. We anticipate that the two-stage approach that we are taking to implementing the Future Homes Standard will help to prepare the necessary supply chains by encouraging the use of low-carbon heating in new homes, while accounting for the skills of industry and market factors.

We will be publishing the Government response to the Future Homes Standard interim uplift consultation as soon as possible and this will set out a roadmap to the Future Homes Standard.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
17th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what funding they will allocate annually to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund; and what proportion of such funding will be given to each of the devolved administrations.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) will help to level up and create opportunity across the UK for people and places.

Funding for the UKSPF will ramp up so that total domestic UK-wide funding will at least match receipts from EU structural funds. Its funding profile will be set out at the next Spending Review.

To help local areas prepare over 2021-22 for the introduction of the UKSPF, the Government will provide additional funding to support our communities to pilot programmes and new approaches. Further details will be published in the new year.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
17th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) will help to level up and create opportunity across the UK for people and places.

Funding for the UKSPF will ramp up so that total domestic UK-wide funding will at least match receipts from EU structural funds. Its funding profile will be set out at the next Spending Review.

To help local areas prepare over 2021-22 for the introduction of the UKSPF, the Government will provide additional funding to support our communities to pilot programmes and new approaches. Further details will be published in the new year.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what financial resources have been allocated to the Future Homes Task Force from (1) 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020, and (2) 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

The Future Homes Taskforce has been set up by the Home Builders Federation to provide sector leadership on climate change issues for housing. The Taskforce will produce a report later this year which will be sent to Government Ministers for consideration. No funding has been requested or allocated to their work although officials from No 10, BEIS, MHCLG and HMT are working with the Home Builders Federation to help inform industry’s discussions.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Future Homes Task Force.

This Government is improving building standards and overhauling our outdated planning system as a priority. By putting communities in control of what is built locally we will deliver better designed, more sustainable buildings and the homes that are needed for the next generation.

The Government looks forward to seeing the plans of the Future Homes Task Force later this year to support this exciting agenda as we work towards a cleaner, greener and more beautiful built environment.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the sustainability of publicly funded criminal defence.

The Legal Aid Agency monitors capacity across criminal legal aid contracts and where issues are identified acts to ensure there is ongoing availability of criminal legal advice for the public.

In August we announced that we would be taking forward the policy proposals that practitioners told us mattered most for the Criminal Legal Aid Review (CLAR) accelerated areas. These areas were:?unused material, cracked trials, paper-heavy cases, sending cases to the Crown Court, and?pre-charge engagement. These policies allowed us to inject up to £51 million into criminal legal aid to further strengthen the market.

As part of our response to the Criminal Legal Aid Accelerated Areas consultation, we also announced that the next phase of the review would include an independently led review of the market, to ensure it can meet demand now and into the future, provide an effective and efficient service that ensures value for money for the taxpayer, and continues to provide defendants with high-quality advice from a diverse range of practitioners. Alongside this we continue to look at the current fee schemes to ensure they keep pace with wider reforms across the justice system.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of a reduction in the provision of the Standard Monthly Payments to criminal legal aid firms on the number of criminal defence lawyers.

At present, 17% of all crime accounts are paid under the Standard Monthly Payment (‘SMP’) model. The remainder have opted for Variable Monthly Payments, which pays the actual value of the claim submitted each month. Firms can elect to be paid by either model, according to which may be most advantageous to them. SMPs relate to Controlled Work services only, and therefore reflect a proportion of a Provider’s total revenue.

The number of those accounts paid via SMP which have seen a reduction in payments since July 2020 represents 6% of all crime accounts. Where a reduction is necessary, this takes effect following the Legal Aid Agency notifying providers of this in advance. Firms facing financial hardship can discuss payment options further with their LAA Contract Manager.

The LAA have been in contact with providers to assess the impact on their businesses and can confirm that no Criminal Defence Providers have exited the market as a result of a reduction in SMPs.

The LAA has implemented several changes to maintain cashflow to firms and to allow firms to be paid more quickly – through these changes we can inject up to £51 million per year into criminal legal aid. We have begun a review into how criminal lawyers are compensated for their work and there is more information about this here: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/criminal-legal-aid/criminal-legal-aid-review/

In addition to the support schemes offered by the government, we have continued to pay providers on time and introduced a number of measures to speed up payments to providers. All of the measures taken by the LAA are set out on our gov.uk page and there is further information about this here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-legal-aid-agency-contingency-response#financial-relief-page

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in implementing the recommendations of the Lammy Review, published on 8 September 2017.

The Government has provided updates on the implementation of the independent review into the treatment of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system; The Lammy Review.


Where a recommendation could not be implemented in full or exactly as set out in the Review, alternative approaches have been sought to achieve the same aim. A