Lord Birt Portrait

Lord Birt

Crossbench - Life peer

2 APPG memberships (as of 29 Dec 2021)
Media, Metal, Stone and Heritage Crime
1 Former APPG membership
Sri Lanka
Lord Birt has no previous appointments


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Wednesday 15th December 2021
Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Entry to Venues and Events) (England) Regulations 2021
voted No
One of 31 Crossbench No votes vs 1 Crossbench Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 38 Noes - 205
Speeches
Thursday 16th December 2021
Integrated Rail Plan: Northern Powerhouse Area
My Lords, I am a proud Liverpudlian and chair of a business headquartered in Yorkshire. Well into the last century, …
Written Answers
Thursday 30th December 2021
Mathematics: Investment
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what percentage of the annual investment in the mathematical sciences has been in pure …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
None available
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
None available

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Lord Birt has voted in 53 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
Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
(11 debate interactions)
Lord Callanan (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
(7 debate interactions)
Baroness Barran (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
(5 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(9 debate contributions)
Department for Transport
(7 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(4 debate contributions)
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View all Lord Birt's debates

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Lord Birt, 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.


Lord Birt has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Lord Birt has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Lord Birt has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Lord Birt has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


91 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
14th Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what percentage of the annual investment in the mathematical sciences has been in pure mathematics and not invested in mathematics defined as maths of the “physical and material universe” in the past five years; and (2) what percentage of such annual investment is planned for future expenditure.

The UK is a world leader in Mathematics. British mathematicians publish a large volume of highly regarded work. When compared to international colleagues, British mathematicians have the 5th largest share of publications in the world. When looking at the top 1% of most cited publications, UK mathematicians are responsible for the third largest share.

Between Financial Year 2015-2016 and September 2021, UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) council the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) committed £259.9m to research grants Mathematical Sciences. This includes commitment from the Additional Funding Programme. At this time, EPSRC are unable to make a direct comparison between specific types of Mathematics.

Following the Government’s announcement in January 2020 to invest additional funding into Mathematical Sciences, UKRI has awarded around £104 million of additional funding to the discipline, over and above EPSRC’s core Mathematical Sciences Theme budget. The additional funding has covered institutes, small and large research grants, fellowships, doctoral studentships and postdoctoral awards.

On the 27 October 2021, the Government announced the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review. BEIS and UKRI will now set out how we meet the commitment to invest additional funding into Mathematical sciences in forthcoming years, as part of the allocations process.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the frequency with which Distribution Network Operators supply power outside the allowed fluctuations, and (2) the effects of such fluctuations on the safety devices on Electric Vehicle charging points.

The Electricity System Operator is responsible for keeping the overall frequency and voltage of the GB electricity network within the statutory limits and publishes annual data on system excursions. Conditions on the electricity distribution network, or internal wiring at a premises, can alter the voltage at a specific Electric Vehicle (EV) charging point. EV charging points are designed to operate over wide voltage and frequency ranges. They are also fitted with internal protective devices to limit damage should excursions exceed safe limits. Should any customers have concerns about voltage management at their premises, they can raise them with their Distribution Network Operator for investigation.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Callanan on 1 June (HL 257), whether OneWeb will be free to make decisions on the launchers it chooses on purely commercial grounds.

Although OneWeb will be encouraged to make use of the UK’s future launch capabilities, decisions on launches are entirely a business matter for OneWeb.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Callanan on 26 April (HL14697), what proportion of OneWeb launches are anticipated to use small launchers; and what is their assessment of the scale of the market for small launchers sited in Cornwall and Scotland.

Launch decisions are a business matter for OneWeb. The company is aware of the UK’s ambitions to launch satellites from Cornwall and Scotland by 2022 and will be encouraged to utilise this launch capability.

Based on market analysis conducted to date by the UK Space Agency, we are confident there is a market to support planned UK spaceports in Cornwall, Sutherland, and Shetland.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether OneWeb will use large or small launchers to create Low Earth Orbit satellite constellations.

OneWeb currently utilises heavy launch via their ArianeSpace contract executed through the Soyuz launcher. This is currently the most economical option for launching multiple Low Earth Orbit satellites at a single time.

The UK aims to develop domestic small satellite launch capabilities from Cornwall and Scotland by 2022, which OneWeb will be able to utilise as applicable to their business operations.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to offer financial assistance to the owners of small businesses that are required to close as a result of restrictions put in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic and who can furlough their employees but not themselves.

Substantial grant support is being made available for businesses that are required to close or which are severely affected by restrictions put in place to tackle Covid-19 and save lives.

Businesses that are mandated to close due to the national or local Covid restrictions are eligible for up to £1,500 for each 14-day period of closure. Local authorities may also choose to provide grant funding for businesses via the discretionary grant schemes.

Further to this, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on the 5th January an additional one-off top-up grant of up to £9,000 for business required to close. Additionally a top-up to the Additional Restrictions Grant of £500m has been announced, alongside the £1.1 bn of discretionary funds made available in November 2020.

The application deadline for three Coronavirus business interruption loan schemes – the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme – has been extended. Eligible businesses will be able to ‘top up’ existing Bounce Back Loans should they need additional finance.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish their plans for meeting their Net Zero target for carbon emissions by 2050.

Tackling climate change and delivering our world-leading Net Zero target is a key priority for the Government.

In 2020-21, ahead of hosting COP26, we will bring forward ambitious new plans to reduce emissions across key sectors of the economy – including an Energy White Paper, Transport Decarbonisation Plan and Heat and Building Strategy.

This will build on the strong foundations we have established through our world-leading progress in decarbonising our economy, our ambitious manifesto commitments, and recent announcements from my Rt. Hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer of measures to cut emissions as we build back better in our economic recovery from Covid-19.

We look forward to the Committee on Climate Change’s advice on the sixth carbon budget in December this year, ahead of setting this next ambitious target on the path to Net Zero by June 2021 as required by the Climate Change Act.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Callanan on 15 July (HL6348), how they propose to be publicly accountable for their investment in OneWeb.

The deal is subject to certain regulatory clearances and is expected to close before the end of the year.

We will have strong representation on the board, fully involved in setting the strategic direction of the business and developing the company’s business plan.

Mechanisms will be implemented for the continued monitoring and evaluation of the investment.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the letter from the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 26 June, what assessment they have made of the accuracy of the statement “there is a possibility that the entirety of the investment is lost and no wider benefits accrued” in relation to the investment into OneWeb.

The Government carried out a detailed examination of the business which demonstrated a commercial case for investment.

The fact that we are investing alongside a private commercial investor indicates a rational commercial case for investing. The deal will support the UK to be a pioneer in the research, development, manufacturing of novel satellite technologies, whilst boosting UK manufacturing.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reasons for the collapse of OneWeb in March; and, further to reports that they are considering investing in that company, why they are considering such an investment.

On July 3rd, 2020, the Government announced it had led a successful bid to acquire OneWeb, who develop cutting-edge satellite technology in the UK and in the United States. The move signals the government’s ambition for the UK to be a pioneer in the research, development, manufacturing, and exploitation of novel satellite technologies through the ownership of a fleet of Low Earth orbit satellites.

As part of developing our bid and making the acquisition, the UK Government undertook appropriate due diligence.

The deal will support the UK to be a pioneer in the research, development, manufacturing, and exploitation of novel satellite technologies, whilst boosting UK manufacturing.

It will also allow the UK to explore other potential strategic opportunities, working with our international allies.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Callanan on 23 June (HL5752), in what ways, if at all, the Horizon judgments considered the extent to which individuals were responsible for the failings of the Post Office

The Horizon Judgments did not attribute individual responsibility for the system failings. The Judgment on the first "Common Issues" trial, concerned the terms and interpretation of the contract between postmasters and Post Office, and the second "Horizon Issues" trial, concerned the function and reliability of the Horizon Point of Sale system.

The findings outlined throughout the Horizon judgments provided an extensive insight as to what went wrong at the Post Office, including an independent judicial view of the facts all sides were looking for. The Post Office has accepted that, in the past, it got things wrong in its dealings with a number of postmasters. Under the leadership of its new CEO, the Post Office is now committed to applying the lessons learnt from the litigation to build and strengthen the relationship with postmasters.

The Judge when handing down the Horizon Issues Judgment raised concerns in relation to the evidence provided by Fujitsu employees. He has referred these cases to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Ministerial Statement by the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets on 10 June (HCWS280) announcing an Independent Review into the Post Office Horizon IT System and Trials, whether that Review (1) will take account of the “significant failings within Post Office Ltd over nearly two decades” identified by Mr Justice Fraser, (2) will have the power to require Ministers, Board Members, executives, staff and suppliers associated with the organisation throughout the period to appear before it, and (3) will have the power to access all relevant documentation from throughout the period. [T]

The?findings outlined throughout the Horizon judgments?provided an?extensive insight as to what went wrong at the Post Office, including an?independent?judicial view of the facts all sides were looking for. However, the Government accepts more needs to be done. The Government now wants to be fully assured that through the Independent Review there is a public summary of the failings that occurred at Post Office Ltd, drawing on the judgments from the Horizon case and by listening to those that have been most affected, without repeating the extensive findings of Justice Fraser.

Post Office Ltd have committed to fully cooperating with the Review. The Review will have sufficient strength and breadth and deliver in a timely manner. The Chair of the review will be fully independent of both the Post Office and Government. They will draw conclusions and make recommendations as he or she sees fit.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reasons for the 0.3 per cent improvement in UK productivity over the last decade; and why UK productivity is below that of other comparable countries.

The UK has a longstanding ‘productivity gap’ with its main competitors. This has been exacerbated in recent years by weak productivity growth, commonly referred to as the ‘productivity puzzle’.

The slowdown in UK productivity growth in the last decade can largely be attributed to changes in the finance and manufacturing sectors which saw an outsized fall in their productivity growth. Economic shocks and pressures arising from the Financial Crisis and the Euro Area crisis also had a dampening effect on productivity.

Productivity is the main driver of long-run economic growth. The UK’s ability to improve living standards is almost entirely dependent on its ability to raise productivity. In 2017 the Government published a document on the Industrial Strategy that set out a long-term plan to boost productivity by backing businesses to create good jobs and increase the earning power of people throughout the UK with investment in skills, industries and infrastructure. The Government recently published the Business Productivity Review in response to the Industrial Strategy’s core priority of addressing the UK’s productivity issue.

Furthermore, the Industrial Strategy Council – an independent, non-statutory advisory group comprised of leading men and women from business, academia and civil society – was created to provide impartial and unbiased evaluation of the Government’s progress in delivering the Industrial Strategy. The Council published its success metrics on its website in Autumn 2019.

2nd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government which (1) body, or (2) individual, is accountable for the delivery of gigabyte-capable broadband for all by 2025.

DCMS is the lead Government department for the delivery of gigabit capable broadband, working closely with the telecommunications industry and other Government departments.


Government is delivering a number of reforms to make it easier for the private sector to deploy gigabit broadband. For example, the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill will make it easier for network builders to access blocks of flats where there is an absent or unresponsive landlord. The Government also intends to bring forward legislation to ensure new build homes have the infrastructure to support gigabit capable connections. In addition, the Government intends to invest £5 billion of funding to deliver faster broadband in the hardest to reach areas of the UK.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to require technology companies selling consumer devices to state at the point of sale how long they will continue to provide software updates which will allow such devices to continue to function.

On 27 January 2020, DCMS published a response to their regulatory consultation on increasing the baseline cyber security of Consumer Internet of Things (IoT) security.

The regulatory proposals advocated that all consumer IoT devices embed important security requirements. These requirements are set out in the Code of Practice for Consumer IoT Security, published by my department in March 2018, and ETSI TS 103 645, the first globally applicable standard for consumer IoT security.

One of these guidelines would require manufacturers of IoT devices to explicitly state the minimum length of time for which the device will receive security updates, with that information clearly displayed at the point of sale.

Responses to the consultation showed widespread support for the introduction of such a baseline, as a significant step towards protecting consumers and enabling the IoT sector to grow and flourish. As such, DCMS are seeking to bring forward legislation to mandate these guidelines as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the total annual investment at Higher Education level in the pure mathematical sciences; and how, as a share of GDP, this compares with that of countries with the best mathematics results at that level.

​The government strongly supports mathematical sciences in higher education. Ensuring that there is high-quality provision in a range of subjects is critical in order to build our workforce and support our public services. We are pleased many students chose to take up courses in mathematical sciences, with 39,210 students enrolling in England in 2019/20 academic year: https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis/students/table-49.

Our student loan system supports students who have the qualifications to access higher education, including a range of mathematics courses. In the 2019/20 academic year, a total of £300 million was made available as tuition fee and maintenance loans for students doing mathematics courses.

The UK continues to be a world leader in mathematics. To support mathematics research and development, UK Research and Innovation has awarded £104 million of additional funding into Mathematical Sciences, over and above the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s core Mathematical Sciences Theme budget. The additional investment has funded institutes, small and large research grants, fellowships, doctoral studentships and postdoctoral awards.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the success of individual universities in maintaining student courses and contact during the lockdown.

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

Our latest guidance on the impact of COVID-19 is set out below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

Teaching, learning and assessment in higher education are not stopping and we are working with the sector to ensure that universities are able to make all reasonable efforts to enable students to continue and complete their studies, for their achievements to be reliably assessed and for qualifications to be awarded securely.

Higher education providers have adapted to the COVID-19 outbreak by rapidly moving teaching, examination and assessment online and all providers are developing their online provision ahead of the next academic year. Individual providers have issued advice and guidance to help support students through the transition to online provision and we are continuing to work closely with the sector, putting student wellbeing at the heart of these discussions. We believe that efforts so far have been largely successful in ensuring continued provision for the majority of students and are grateful to providers for taking such rapid action to ensure continued provision.

Universities offering good online tuition will continue to charge fees. However, the government has been clear that if universities want to charge full fees, they will have to ensure that good-quality courses are delivered which are fit for purpose and help students progress towards their qualifications.

The government’s clear expectation is that providers should make all reasonable efforts to enable students to complete their studies. If institutions are unable to facilitate adequate online tuition then they should seek to avoid charging students for any additional terms they may need to undergo as a consequence – therefore avoiding effectively charging them twice.

If students are concerned, there is a process in place. They should first raise this with their university. If their concerns are unresolved, students can contact the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.

12th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to undertake a review of the potential risks posed by intensive farming of animals in enclosed spaces on (1) the incubation, and (2) animal to human transmission, of viruses.

Defra works in a ‘One Health’ approach with others, including public health and food safety departments and devolved administrations. We know the importance of surveillance for and management of the risk of emergence of zoonotic diseases, a constant threat in our globalised world where disease can spread so rapidly. We continue to develop a robust evidence base.

Defra’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) routinely carry out surveillance on farms for zoonotic pathogens. It has significant surveillance programmes for tuberculosis, avian influenza, salmonella, brucellosis and anti-microbial resistance.

We respond promptly to outbreaks to minimise the impacts of zoonotic disease associated with farming and farmed products.

Different types of farming systems can be managed in a professional way with good biosecurity plans and housing systems to reduce disease transmission.

12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the number of pheasants in the UK, and (2) their impact on other wildlife.

The number of pheasants and their impact are being considered as part of a review by Defra that was initiated in response to a Judicial Review. The findings of the review will be published in due course.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to prevent walkers on public footpaths being killed by cattle.

Promoting safety in the countryside and ensuring the public feel safe and confident while using the rights of way network is very important.

The Health and Safety Executive provides advice on keeping cattle in areas where there are public rights of way and in open access areas, which can be accessed here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ais17ew.pdf. It provides a list of actions which farmers can take to avoid or mitigate risk; for example, keeping stock elsewhere, avoiding fields with public access, putting up temporary fencing and clear signposting.

Cattle, particularly if with calves, can occasionally become aggressive towards dogs. The current Countryside Code pages on GOV.UK give advice for the public on dogs and farm animals, as well as advice for land managers regarding identifying threats to visitor safety. These pages can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code/countryside-code-full-online-version. Natural England is refreshing the code for a planned relaunch next year which will provide an opportunity to reinforce messaging around cattle and public access.

2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment, if any, they have made of the condition of public footpaths in England and Wales; and in particular whether (1) signposts, waymarks, bridges and stiles are effectively maintained on public rights of way, and (2) crops are being planted on fields without marking the route of public rights of way.

Local authorities are responsible for the management and maintenance of public rights of way. They are required to keep a Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) to plan improvements to the rights of way network in their area, which are usually available on the authority’s website. This must include an assessment of the local rights of way including the condition of the network.

Deferring the 2026 cut-off date for registration of historic rights of way is a possibility, which would create more time for the reforms to rights of way legislation to be implemented effectively. We must weigh this against the desire for certainty around where rights of way exist, which implementing the cut-off date will bring. Officials intend to meet the rights of way reform Stakeholder Working Group soon and will discuss this issue with them and others before we come to a decision.

2nd Jun 2020
The Leader of the House what percentage of (1) topical questions for written answer, and (2) normal questions for written answer, have not been answered within the expected timeframes for responding to such questions since the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed.

Since the lockdown was imposed on 23 March 82 topical questions for written answer were tabled. 49% of these were not answered within the expected timeframe. There were 2434 standard questions for written answer tabled, 25% of which were not answered within the standard time frame. These figures are correct as of 11 June.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal
12th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 4 June 2019 (HL15826) and following the inception of the Raptor Persecution Priority Group, how that group will measure its success; and how many prosecutions have been mounted for the unlawful killing of hen harriers.

The Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group is a police, rather than Government, led group. The group’s objectives are supported by a tactical delivery plan which sets out targeted measurable actions to reduce raptor persecution in England and Wales.

Ministry of Justice data shows that between 2013 and 2018 there were 98 prosecutions for offences against birds under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is not possible to break this data down by species.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to commission an independent review into the economic, environmental and wildlife impacts of driven grouse shooting.

The Government will consider the findings of the recently released Werritty Review which addresses these issues in Scotland. We will continue to work to ensure a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between shooting and conservation.

13th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish a response to the questions set out in the reported letter from the Secretary of State for International Trade to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 8 July about the new UK border regime to be introduced from 2021.

As the noble Lord will be aware, HM Government does not comment on leaked documents. However, as set out by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 13 July, we have set out comprehensive guidance on the movement of goods between Great Britain and the EU after the end of the transition period.

This Border Operating Model provides clarity and certainty to the border industry and businesses on the core customs processes that all importers and exporters will need to complete, and some additional processes that apply to only certain products.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
8th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take to eliminate the backlog in issuing driving licences; and when they estimate that the backlog will be cleared.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online services are the quickest and easiest way to renew a driving licence. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their driving licence within a few days. However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application for a driving licence. The latest information on DVLA services and the turnaround times for paper driving licence applications can be found on GOV.UK.

The DVLA has introduced additional online services, recruited more staff and has secured extra office space in Swansea and Birmingham to help reduce waiting times while providing future resilience and business continuity.

The DVLA understands the impact that delays can have on people’s everyday lives and continues to work as quickly as possible to process paper applications and return people’s documentation to them.

In October, the DVLA’s primary focus was on reducing the vocational licensing queue to support tackling the HGV driver shortage. This has been successful with vocational applications now back to normal turnaround times despite a significant increase in applications. The remaining queues are reducing and customers will see an improving picture in terms of turnaround times over the next few months.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what the average waiting time was on 1 August for those who had submitted paper applications to the DVLA for the renewal of their driving licences.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s online services are the quickest and easiest way to apply for a driving licence. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their driving licence within a few days.

However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application for a driving licence. The DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day which must be dealt with in person. Industrial action by members of the Public and Commercial Services union has led to delays for customers who make paper applications. The DVLA has also been working with fewer staff on site to ensure social distancing in line with Welsh Government requirements.

Information on average waiting time for a paper application for a driving licence to be processed on a specific day is not recorded.

The following table shows the average time taken to issue a driving licence after receiving a paper application where no medical condition is involved.

Apr-21

May-21

Jun-21

Jul-21

Aug-21

YTD

Ordinary licence renewal

Working days

14

20

28

37

40

30

Vocational licence renewal

Working days

12

14

16

21

21

17

The time taken is measured from date the application is received at the DVLA to the date the driving licence is sent to the customer.

The latest information on turnaround times for paper driving licence applications can be found on GOV.UK.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
13th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 12 July (HL1445), what assessment they have made of the social and economic value of Hammersmith Bridge beyond the boundaries of the local authorities it connects; and what plans they have to review whether such strategic assets of wide economic value are best owned by local authorities.

As highlighted in my Written Answer on 12 July (HL1445), Hammersmith Bridge is owned by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) and therefore the Department for Transport has not undertaken any assessments of the social or economic value of the closure of the bridge or its impact on other local authorities. Analyses of the impact of the closure of the bridge will be required as part of the submission of a satisfactory business case by LBHF. The submission of such a case is a condition for the release of any Government contribution to the cost of repairing the bridge, as agreed in the Transport for London extraordinary funding and finance agreement of 1 June 2021.

Under the current system of local government finance, local authorities are free to determine their own capital strategies to deliver local services, on the principle that they are best placed to make the decisions needed to support their local communities and to ensure local accountability.

Following the Government’s investment of £4 million toward emergency mitigation works, the Board responsible for the Case for Continued Safe Operation made the decision to reopen Hammersmith Bridge to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic on 17 July. This is a very welcome development, especially for the people and businesses that use the Bridge.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of vehicles owned or hired by the government to transport (1) ministers, and (2) senior civil servants, on official business are fully electric.

The Government Car Service (GCS) provides a departmental pool car service to most Government Departments. Cars are provided as a shared resource for Ministers and senior officials, which is managed by individual departments. The departmental pool car fleet currently consists of 96 vehicles. 28 of those vehicles are fully electric (29%) and 26 are hybrid electric (27%).

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the social cost, and (2) the loss to the UK economy, of the closure of Hammersmith Bridge.

Hammersmith bridge is owned by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) and therefore the Department for Transport has not undertaken any independent assessments of the social or economic impact of the closure of the bridge. The submission of a satisfactory full business case, including analyses of the impact of closure and the benefits of reopening, is a condition for the release of any Government funding contribution to the cost of repairing the bridge, as agreed in the TfL extraordinary funding and finance agreement of 1 June 2021.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to bring forward regulations to require operators of electric vehicle charging points to make their services interoperable with other charging networks in order to allow drivers to use any membership card at a charging point.

The Government is committed to ensuring consumers have reliable access to a comprehensive vehicle charging network so that they can easily and conveniently charge their cars. The Government is currently consulting on using its powers under the Automated Electric Vehicles Act to mandate minimum requirements, including requiring chargepoint operators to make their services interoperable with other charging networks, to improve the experience of consumers when using a public chargepoint. We will continue to support industry and consumers to make the switch to cleaner vehicles. We will publish a clear delivery plan in 2021.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk posed by private planes (1) landing next to, and (2) taxiing across, public footpaths.

Licensed or certificated aerodromes are required to adequately signpost any public right of way crossing or bordering a landing area. For unlicensed aerodromes, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has published guidance which advises that footpaths should be clearly marked with similar warning signs.

The CAA uses a wide range of information and intelligence to identify and assess any potential risks to safety posed by aviation activity. The CAA does not have evidence to suggest that this issue poses a safety risk that would necessitate additional regulations or guidance.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
17th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 16 June (HL4913), what is their guidance on the social distancing of passengers on board aircraft.

On 11 June 2020, the Government published aviation specific guidance. This guidance sets out measures operators should put in place to protect staff and passengers. The guidance to passengers covers all aspects of the travel experience, from checking the public health requirements before booking a flight, to navigating the airport safely and boarding the flight or leaving the airport.

As social distancing may not be possible on board all flights, the Government has introduced mitigating measures to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus such as wearing face covering when at the airport and on board an aircraft. These measures will be kept under constant review and updated as and when necessary.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer from Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 14 May (HL4070), what progress they have made on working with the aviation sector to develop an approach for social distancing on flights (1) within, (2) arriving in, or (3) leaving the UK.

On 12 May, the Government published transport guidance for operators and passengers on travelling safely. This addresses issues relating to social distancing. On 11 June we published guidance specific to the aviation sector, which provides advice on measures to help mitigate the risk of transmission of Covid-19.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government plans they have to require social distancing on flights (1) within, (2) arriving in, or (3) leaving, the UK. [T]

Department for Transport officials are currently working across government and with aviation sector to discuss potential baseline public health measures.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
16th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 7 January (HL105), what discussions they have had with Transport for London about the Well Managed Highway Infrastructure Code of Practice with regards to the closure of Hammersmith Bridge.

The Department for Transport has not had any discussions with Transport for London about the Well Managed Highway Infrastructure Code of Practice specifically regarding the closure of Hammersmith Bridge.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they provide to local authorities and the Greater London Authority on the (1) closure of bridges, (2) factors to be considered when deciding to close a bridge to traffic, and (3) length of time for which bridges should remain closed.

The Department for Transport endorses the Well Managed Highway Infrastructure Code of Practice, published by the UK Roads Liaison Group. The Code provides advice to highway authorities on all aspects of the management and maintenance of highways and associated assets such as bridges. It provides guidance on issues such as substandard structures and possible remedial action, such as weight restrictions or, if necessary, closure.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
9th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the NHS app will (1) record the date a COVID-19 booster vaccine has been administered, and (2) specify the type of COVID-19 vaccine used, with equal prominence to the first and second vaccinations.

Booster and third dose COVID-19 vaccinations are visible within the NHS COVID Pass through the NHS App and NHS.UK. The record includes information about the vaccine used and the date it was administered. The booster record can be found in the NHS COVID Pass for travel and the domestic pass. Boosters and third doses are displayed first, followed by an individual's first and second vaccinations.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Kamall on 29 September (HL2638), what assessment they have made of the higher hospitalisations and fatalities relating to COVID-19 recorded in England, compared to those reported in other Western European countries; and what were the main conclusions of any such assessment.

The UK Health Security Agency has not made this comparative assessment. Direct international comparisons of COVID-19 hospitalisations and fatalities in countries are complicated by a range of different factors such as the proportion of the population vaccinated, the timeliness of the vaccine delivery, non-pharmaceutical interventions and compliance and differences in reporting of key COVID-19 epidemiological metrics in different countries. Even when using several indicators, comparisons between countries should be carried out with caution.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the incidence of cases of COVID-19 in the UK on 1 September compared to the average incidence rate across Europe on that day, and (2) the reasons why the UK rate was higher than the European average.

Data on the incidence of COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom is not available in the format requested, therefore no such assessment has been made.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the percentage of COVID-19 infections transmitted via (1) the air, and (2) surfaces.

No specific assessment has been made.

19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) global, and (2) UK national, frameworks of (a) institutions, (b) capabilities, (c) processes, and (d) co-operation, that will be needed in the future effectively to detect and to counter pandemics.

We continually assess our pandemic preparedness plans to ensure that they remain as robust as possible. This assessment includes, as appropriate, incorporating lessons learned from exercises that test the readiness of our plans and from our experience in responding to pandemics, disease outbreaks, and other types of incident in the United Kingdom. The UK Health Security Agency, established in April 2021, will be dedicated to ensuring that we are protected from all future health threats including pandemics.

International cooperation is and will remain essential to detecting and countering pandemics and the Prime Minister, together with other world leaders, has called for a new international treaty on pandemic preparedness. We continue to take every opportunity to engage with our international counterparts, including through the G7 and G20, with the World Health Organization and with the European Union as set out in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

15th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the percentage of adults that need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order for the UK to achieve herd immunity.

No specific assessment has been made. The full impact of vaccination on infection and transmission of the virus will not become clear until a large number of people have been vaccinated.

12th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to issue guidance which sets out a specific radius in which exercise is permitted to be undertaken outside the home while restrictions are in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is no specific distance applicable for exercising but time outside of the home should be minimised. When spending time outside the home we advise to stay local and avoid travelling outside of the village, town or the part of a city where a person lives. The Government has these restrictions constantly under review.

7th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the most common situations in which COVID-19 was transmitted in December 2020, and (2) why some areas of England experienced higher levels of transmission than others in that month.

The weekly national influenza and COVID-19 surveillance report summarises the information from the surveillance systems which are used to monitor COVID-19, influenza, and other seasonal respiratory viruses in England. The most common settings for which COVID-19 was transmitted in December 2020 were care homes, hospitals, educational settings, prisons, workplace settings, food outlet/restaurant and other settings.

The new variant of the COVID-19 virus along with the differing tier systems in operation at the time have been identified as contributors of higher levels of transmission in some areas.

10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the length of time the COVID-19 virus can remain on (1) plastic packaging, (2) cardboard packaging, (3) stainless steel surfaces, (4) mobile phone screens, and (5) door handles; whether any such estimate has been revised since April 2020; and what steps they are taking to include such estimates in their guidance (a) to businesses, and (b) to the general public.

In May 2020, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) published a review of Evidence of environmental dispersion for different mechanisms, and the risks and potential mitigations/measures of control within different environments from what we know about COVID-19: A brief evidence summary for SAGE. A copy is attached. The SAGE Environmental and Modelling Group published a paper on Environmental Influence on Transmission of COVID-19, which considered the evidence relating to duration of time spent in an environment and transmission on surfaces. A copy is attached.

Preliminary analysis suggests surface contacts are likely to be a significant transmission route for COVID-19. Evidence to date suggests that the virus can persist on surfaces at a level that may pose a risk for up to 48 hours, while it is unlikely to persist in air for more than 30 minutes. As new evidence or data emerges, SAGE will continue to update its advice accordingly.

4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the percentage of smartphone users in the UK who have downloaded the NHS COVID-19 Application.

Since it was launched on 24 September, the app has been downloaded over 21 million times. It is estimated that 62% of those with a compatible smartphone aged 16 years old and over in England and Wales have downloaded the app and 56% of smartphone users overall aged over 16 years old.

12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding of the research by Australia’s National Science Agency, published on 7 October, that the COVID-19 virus can survive on bank notes, phone screens and stainless steel for up to 28 days.

No specific assessment has been undertaken.

18th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the delivery of the flu vaccine this autumn has been delayed in reaching GP surgeries.

It is usual for flu vaccine deliveries from manufacturers to be phased throughout the vaccination period.

General practitioners and pharmacies are responsible for ordering the flu vaccine for adults directly from manufacturers, and decisions about volume and delivery dates are made by the manufacturer.

8th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what insights they have gathered from the NHS COVID-19 Test and Trace service about the main circumstances in which the virus is transmitted.

To help understand the circumstances in which COVID-19 is transmitted, a wide variety of real-time data at both local and national level is published in the Weekly COVID19 Surveillance Report in an online only format on GOV.UK.

The virus is transmitted when a contact spends time with someone who has COVID-19. This includes face-to-face contact (for one minute), being coughed on, or spending more than 15 minutes within two metres of someone with COVID-19. While those who test positive cannot say for certain where they picked up the infection, they can indicate possible places. Data from 13 to 20 September, shows the most common potential event, positive cases indicated where they may have picked up the virus as; eating out (14.6%), followed by shopping (13.4%). Then for contacts of a known positive case this was indicated from within households (59.8%), followed by visiting the positive case in their household (13.7%).

2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 1 September (HL6347), what plans they have to publish guidance on how to deal most safely with the possible COVID-19 contamination of parcels delivered to the home, or of packaged goods bought in retail outlets; and whether any precautionary measures should take into account the differences between paper, cardboard, plastic and metal.

In May 2020, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) published a review of Evidence of environmental dispersion for different mechanisms, and the risks and potential mitigations/measures of control within different environments from what we know about COVID-19: A brief evidence summary for SAGE. A copy is attached. The SAGE Environmental and Modelling Group published a paper on Environmental Influence on Transmission of COVID-19, which considered the evidence relating to duration of time spent in an environment and transmission on surfaces. A copy is attached.

Preliminary analysis suggests surface contacts are likely to be a significant transmission route for COVID-19. Evidence to date suggests that the virus can persist on surfaces at a level that may pose a risk for up to 48 hours, while it is unlikely to persist in air for more than 30 minutes. As new evidence or data emerges, SAGE will continue to update its advice accordingly.

9th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to share complete details of COVID-19 cases with Directors of Public Health in local authorities as soon as cases are identified. [T]

All upper tier local authorities have access to record level (including sex, age, occupation and postcode) test and case data. Directors of Public Health are also receiving fully identifiable test, case and contact tracing data where the case data includes, address, postcode, sex, age, NHS Number, occupation, test date, and additional data describing progress through the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing process. Public Health England (PHE) provides access to this data via a secure platform to Directors of Public Health to enable them more flexible access to test, case and contact tracing data to support their outbreak management responsibilities, as is routine. This data is currently updated on a daily basis.

PHE began providing record level positive test data, including postcodes, to local authorities (including Directors of Public Health) on 24 June.

6th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government to publish the reasons for developing a bespoke COVID-19 contact tracing application; whether they sought to collaborate with the developers of such applications in operation in other countries; if not, why not; and what lessons they have learned from the decision not to continue with their initial approach to the development of such an application.

We are working with other countries to exchange ideas and like the United Kingdom, many countries are working on solutions that best support their local systems while taking into account cultural and societal differences.

The challenges we have faced are not unique to us and have been experienced by a number of countries, including some who rolled out the app and then had to change their approach. It is only right that we test our approach and make sure we deliver a product that works.

1st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 26 June (HL3499), where in the report Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and Mitigating Measures, published on 4 June, “the latest research on the amount of time that the COVID-19 virus remains potent on different kinds of surface” is addressed; and whether they will now answer the question put, namely, what assessment they have made of the latest scientific research on the amount of time that the COVID-19 virus remains potent on different kinds of surface; whether they will publish that assessment; and if so, when. [T]

The key conclusions on page one of the report Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and Mitigating Measures reported that the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is most strongly associated with close and prolonged contact, suggesting that close-range direct person-to-person transmission (droplets) and indirect contact transmission (via surfaces and objects) are the most important routes of transmission.

In the overview of modes of transmission from page two onwards, the report stated that transmission may also be influenced by environmental conditions. The virus is stable on surfaces and in air under laboratory conditions that simulate indoor environments. The virus survives better under colder, drier conditions with survival times of hours to days. Experiments under simulated sunlight suggests that high exposure to UV in outdoor environments will reduce the survival time to the order of minutes, however this will depend on the time of year and the cloud cover. The virus is not likely to survive for long periods of time on outdoor surfaces in sunlight, but it may survive for more than 24 hours in indoor environments.

No further assessment has been undertaken.

15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the data obtained so far from the Test and Trace programme and, in particular, what it shows about how people are contracting COVID-19.

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

10th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the comments by the Chief Executive of NHS Providers on 6 June about the Government’s introduction of new measures to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, and in particular that NHS Trust leaders (1) felt “completely in the dark” about "significant and complex" changes; (2) are asked to make operational changes with little notice; (3) are concerned that there is insufficient strategy and planning; and (4) felt that last-minute decisions are overly influenced by politics. [T]

We are committed to working closely with the National Health Service on the introduction of new measures to counter the COVID-19 pandemic and give as much advance notice as possible. However, this is a fast-moving situation and at times it has been necessary to introduce measures at short notice.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 28 May (HL4485), what was the policy in respect of discharging patients from hospitals to care homes in the period from the onset of the COVID-19 lockdown to 14 April.

On 19 March, we published the COVID-19 Hospital Discharge Service Requirements, which sets out guidance on supporting the discharge of patients who no longer need acute care, following the ‘Discharge to Assess’ model. Wherever possible, people who are clinically ready should be supported to return to their place of residence, where an assessment of their longer-term needs will take place. A copy of this guidance is attached.

For those coming out of hospital, we have made available £1.3 billion funding via the National Health Service to support the discharge process. This funding can also cover the costs of providing alternative accommodation to quarantine and isolate residents, where needed, before returning to their care home from hospital, as set out in COVID-19: Our Action Plan for Adult Social Care on 15 April. A copy of the Action Plan is attached.

Our guidance published on 2 April, Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home, sets out advice to care homes on the appropriate isolation required for care home residents who have been discharged from hospital following treatment for COVID-19. A copy of the guidance is attached.

We are currently reviewing our care homes guidance and will be publishing new guidance shortly.

18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government with what frequency they plan to publish a national figure for R, the reproduction index for the COVID-19 virus; whether they plan to publish regularly a value for the R figure by geographic area; and whether they plan to publish regularly a value for the R figure for different demographic groups. [T]

The Government Office for Science currently publishes the latest estimate of the United Kingdom-wide range for R on a weekly basis. The current range is estimated to be 0.7-1.0 and is based on latest data available to determine infection and transmission rates. R is an average value that can vary in different parts of the country, communities, and subsections of the population. It cannot be measured directly so there is always some uncertainty around its exact value.

The Government is committed to publishing the scientific evidence that has informed the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies advice. These papers are being published in batches. The latest batches were released on 20 March 2020 and 5 May 2020 and the next batch will published in the coming weeks. The full list of papers released to date is available in an online only format on GOV.UK. This list will be updated to reflect papers considered at recent and future meetings.

14th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government why patients have been discharged to care homes from hospitals without prior testing for COVID-19.

The safety of residents and staff is always a priority. We are determined to make sure discharges into nursing or social care do not put residents currently in those settings at risk. We have introduced a policy of testing all residents prior to discharge to a care home. This was announced in our Adult Social Care Action Plan on 15 April.

A small number of people may be discharged from the National Health Service within the 14-day period from the onset of COVID-19 symptoms needing ongoing social care. Some care providers will be able to accommodate these individuals through effective isolation strategies or cohorting policies. If appropriate isolation/cohorted care is not available with a local care provider, the individual’s local authority will be asked to secure alternative appropriate accommodation and care for the remainder of the required isolation period.

This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we will continue to review our guidance in line with scientific advice.

13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government which agency has the lead responsibility for supplying COVID-19 testing kits to care homes.

Public Health England (PHE) and the Department are working closely together to respond to outbreaks of COVID-19 in care homes.

PHE's health protection teams (HPTs) play a vital role locally in responding to any outbreak in care homes, providing tailored infection control advice to allow staff to protect themselves and their residents. From the outset, HPTs have been arranging testing for residents when an outbreak is reported at a particular care home.

The Department is offering a test to every staff member and resident in every care home in England, whether symptomatic or not. By 6 June, every care home for the over 65s will have been offered testing for residents and staff.

12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to stockpile sufficient (1) personal protective equipment and (2) medical equipment and supplies, to cope with any second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. [T]

We are working to expand the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) from overseas and improve domestic manufacturing capability. We are expanding and improving the logistics network for delivering to the front line.

We are confident in the stocks and sources of supply of PPE to meet the needs of health and social care over the coming months.

As part of our concerted national efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department is working closely with industry, the National Health Service and others in the supply chain to help ensure patients can access the medicines and medical devices and equipment they need. Precautions are in place to reduce the likelihood of future shortages, including management of demand.

The Department shares regular information about impending supply issues and management plans with the NHS via networks in primary and secondary care and will liaise with relevant patient groups about issues affecting specific medicines, medical devices and equipment.

28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the latest scientific research on the amount of time that the COVID-19 virus remains potent on different kinds of surface; whether they will publish that assessment; and if so, when. [T]

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) provides scientific advice to support United Kingdom decision-makers during emergencies.

The Environmental and Modelling Group presented its report Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and Mitigating Measures to SAGE on 4 June 2020.

This report addresses the latest research on the amount of time that the COVID-19 virus remains potent on different kinds of surface and sets out 39 risk mitigation measures that are important in different circumstances based on the individual setting.

A copy of the report is attached.

28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the approach taken by the government of South Korea to the COVID-19 pandemic and, specifically, their focus on testing, tracing and isolating; what plans they have, if any, to introduce a similar policy in the UK; and what contingency plans, if any, they have developed to enable implementation of such a policy.

We are working closely with other countries through international forums such as the G7, G20 and the World Health Organization, as well as on a bilateral basis on a range of issues relating to COVID-19.

We are developing a test and trace programme to support the next phase of our COVID-19 response. This will include a new app which will complement existing web and phone-based contact tracing approaches as well as swab testing. This programme will play an important role in helping to minimise the spread of the virus in the future.

28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to improve infection control in care homes.

The Department, NHS England, Public Health England and Care Quality Commission co-published Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home guidance on 2 April 2020. This guidance sets out infection control and cohorting advice to care homes, which providers should follow to ensure that they have the confidence to receive and support residents. A copy of the guidance is attached.

Following publication of the Adult Social Care Action Plan on 15 April 2020, we are reviewing the Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home guidance.

This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we are constantly reviewing our guidance in line with scientific advice. We continue to engage with stakeholders to ensure that any changes to guidance are made in conjunction with them. As policy develops, we will continue to update the relevant guidance.

21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of trials taking place in Sao Paulo of Azithromycin and Hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19.

The Department is considering carefully all available evidence around the potential of different drugs for use in treating COVID-19, including from clinical trials in the United Kingdom and overseas.

Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are not currently licensed to treat COVID-19-related symptoms or prevent infection. Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are both being tested through clinical trials in the UK. These clinical trials are ongoing, so no conclusions have yet been reached on the safety and effectiveness of these medicines to treat COVID-19.

23rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they plan to (1) catalogue, and (2) assess, the global scientific effort to (a) create a vaccine, and (b) improve therapeutics and testing, to reduce the impact of COVID-19; and how they intend to ensure that any transformational breakthroughs that emerge are rolled out rapidly.

Development of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics is an international effort. The World Health Organization (WHO), through its R&D Blueprint team, is leading the coordination and monitoring of global research and development, including on vaccine efforts. The United Kingdom is fully supportive of this leadership and the convening role of the WHO. We will both feed-in UK expertise and use the monitoring tools that the WHO produces.

19th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to produce an estimate of the actual number of new COVID-19 cases in the UK each day, to compare against reported cases.

The Government relies on modelling work undertaken by several academic groups, who report to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) through its various subgroups. SAGE will continue to publish the evidence that it considers.

From modelling and current data on the outbreak, it is likely that the number of confirmed United Kingdom cases will rise. The number of COVID-19 cases will depend on the implementation of and adherence to public health measures, and the success of those measures in suppressing transmission of the virus and the numbers of cases of infection.

18th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what scientific advice they have received to explain the flattening of the growth trend of newly reported cases of COVID-19 (1) in Japan, (2) in South Korea, and (3) in China.

The Government is monitoring the development of the COVID-19 outbreak around the world, including in Japan, China and South Korea, and international evidence has been used alongside a wide range of other intelligence to inform the United Kingdom response. Lessons learned from other countries on what worked well in certain situations, for example social distancing measures, can be useful for the Government to consider as we form policies. The Government Office for Science is working closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development, Cabinet Office and other departments to ensure the latest evidence on the international outbreak and response is scientifically sound and the conclusions drawn are robust.

3rd Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford on 30 January (HL734), why those arriving in the UK on commercial flights from Wuhan after the Government had received reports of coronavirus received no medical intervention when those evacuated on the flight from Wuhan organised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are to be quarantined for 14 days.

The supported isolation model used following the flight from Wuhan organised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 31 January and the subsequent flight on 2 February was undertaken as a highly precautionary measure. Direct flights from Wuhan ceased on 24 January. On 30 January the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and the risk associated with return from the epicentre of the outbreak had increased.

We are asking anyone in the United Kingdom who has returned from Hubei Province in the last 14 days to self-isolate, to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people.

23rd Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that passengers arriving in the UK on flights from Wuhan since the outbreak of the coronavirus in China have not been medically screened upon their arrival.

Enhanced monitoring measures are in place for all direct flights from Wuhan to the United Kingdom in response to the outbreak of Wuhan novel coronavirus (WN-CoV). We are rolling the enhanced monitoring for all direct flights from China. The focus of the measures is to identify those who may be at risk of having contracted WN-CoV, ensuring that they have information and support if they are concerned and can contact Public Health England staff at the airport.

These measures do not include the introduction of ‘medical screening’ such as temperature screening. Expert advice suggests ‘medical screening’ such as temperature screening would be of very limited effectiveness and detect only a small minority of cases. This is because symptoms do not usually appear until five to seven days, and sometimes up to 14 days.

8th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to help alleviate the risk of a winter famine in Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister has announced that the Government will increase our overall assistance for Afghanistan to £286 million this financial year. On 31 October he announced the allocation of £50 million of that money for humanitarian purposes to those who need it most. We are working closely with the World Food Programme to ensure that food insecure adults and children receive the support they need.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the percentage of the world’s adult population which have received one or more vaccinations against the COVID-19 virus by the end of May.

The data on global COVID-19 vaccine delivery is rapidly evolving as new vaccines are approved and distributed, and varies based on national reporting practices. As of 9 June 2021, the World Health Organization estimates that 2.09 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide. More data on worldwide vaccination can be found at https://covid19.who.int/.

The UK is committed to rapid, equitable access to safe and effective vaccines. We are among the largest donors to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), having committed £548 million, which through match-funding leveraged $1 billion from other donors in 2020. This support to COVAX has been critical in supporting its supply of COVID-19 vaccines to over 125 countries and economies. COVAX aims to provide COVID-19 vaccine doses to at least 30% of the adult population in low and middle-income countries by the end of 2021.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what approaches they have made to the government of the United Arab Emirates about the situation of Princess Latifa Al Maktoum.

We are aware of the allegations surrounding Princess Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum. We are aware that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has asked the UAE Mission in Geneva for further information and proof of life. We will continue to follow developments closely.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of India about the reported capture and detention of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, including reports of the involvement of Indian special forces.

We are aware of the allegations regarding the disappearance of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum. The UK is not directly involved in this case but we will follow any developments closely.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan following the Legatum Institute identifying eight journalists as being murdered in Pakistan between October 2018 and October 2019.

We are deeply concerned by the reported murders of journalists in Pakistan. The UK is committed to the protection of journalists and promotion of media freedom. We regularly raise our concerns about the human rights situation, including on the freedom of expression, with the Government of Pakistan at a senior level and continue to monitor the situation actively. Pakistan's Foreign Minister Qureshi attended the UK's Global Media Freedom Conference in London in July 2019.

In support of our commitment to media freedom and the protection of journalists, the UK and other partners funded the Asma Jehangir Conference held in Lahore in October 2019. This was a two day conference, which provided space for civic discourse and included sessions on media freedom.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by the Earl of Courtown on 3 February (HL543), whether the Banking: Conduct of Business sourcebook rule 2.3.7CG(3), published in the Financial Conduct Authority Handbook, that “the cost of a currency transfer service includes the margin between the exchange rate that would be offered to a majority of persons of the class at whom the promotion is directed and a currently applicable interbank exchange rate, calculated using an independently published interbank spot rate”, will be applied to providers calculating the currency conversion charge for consumers under the Cross Border Payments Regulation to ensure that providers show the full cost payable by a consumer.

The Second Cross Border Payments Regulation (CBPR2) updates rules on the transparency of currency conversion charges within the European Union. The UK has left the EU, and during the transition period EU laws that currently apply, or will start to apply during the transition period, will apply to the UK. Under the terms of section 8 of the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 (and as further amended by the EU Withdrawal Agreement Act 2020) the Government has the power to fix deficiencies in EU legislation retained following the transition period.

The Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) Principles for Businesses and Handbook Banking: Conduct of Business sourcebook (BCOBS) also apply to UK providers of currency transfers services. BCOBS 2.3.7CG(3) is guidance (not a rule) so is an example of one way to comply with the relevant FCA rule (at BCOBS 2.3.7BR).

As stated in its Policy Statement PS19/3 making BCOBS 2.3.7CG(3) (‘General standards and communication rules for the payment services and e-money sectors’), the FCA acknowledged that CBPR2 would impact cost disclosure requirements, particularly in relation to credit transfers. The FCA has since convened a group of industry representatives to discuss and agree on a common presentation format of the information required by CBPR2. The FCA has stated that it will continue to monitor the progress and if it does not see improvements in cost disclosure to customers, it will consider consulting on additional rules and guidance.

29th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that International Monetary Fund data shows that the UK is placed 27th out of 28 EU countries for investment as a proportion of GDP between 2000 and 2019.

We recognise that in recent years the UK has seen relatively low levels of investment. This Government has committed to increase investment through improving infrastructure. The National Infrastructure Strategy, to be published alongside the Budget, will set out further details of the Government’s plan to transform the UK’s infrastructure and the Government’s long-term ambitions across transport, local growth, decarbonisation, digital infrastructure, infrastructure finance and delivery.

The UK corporate tax regime is highly competitive, with the lowest rate of corporation tax in the G20. Beyond this, businesses are benefitting from enhanced tax incentives, including the recent introduction of the Structures and Buildings Allowance (SBA), and a temporary increase in the Annual Investment Allowance to £1 million.

Earl of Courtown
Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)
20th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that (1) the precise spot rate, and (2) the commission charged, are identified for all consumer foreign currency transactions at the moment of the transaction post-Brexit.

Under the Payment Services Regulations 2017, where a currency conversion service is offered before the initiation of the payment transaction, the party offering the currency conversion service must disclose to the payer all charges as well as the exchange rate to be used for converting the payment transaction. This will not change after the UK leaves the EU.

From April 2020, the EU’s Cross Border Payments Regulation, known as CBPR2, will require greater transparency on currency conversion charges and exchange rates when making payments, either at a point of sale or an ATM.

After 31 January, the UK and EU will enter an implementation period, during which EU laws that currently apply, or will start to apply during the implementation period, will apply to the UK.

Under the terms of section 8 of the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 (and as further amended by the EU Withdrawal Agreement Act 2020) the Government has the power to fix deficiencies in EU legislation retained following the Implementation Period.

Earl of Courtown
Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)
19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to require that all currency conversion rates should be expressed as a percentage mark-up on the interbank rate applying at the time of the conversion after Brexit.

HM Treasury does not publish or set the format for the presentation of exchange rate data.

Earl of Courtown
Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)
8th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 7 October (HL8409), whether they will now answer the question put, namely what percentage of e-mails received by the Home Office Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre in August were answered within the usual reply period of five working days.

The Home Office does not collate the specific information requested, however, the progress of responses to questions directed to the Coronavirus Immigration Team is monitored regularly and remains a priority.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of e-mails received by the Home Office Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre in August were answered within the usual reply period of five working days.

Asylum seekers can work in the UK if their claim has been outstanding for 12 months, through no fault of their own. Those allowed to work are restricted to jobs on the Shortage Occupation List, which is published by the Home Office and based on expert advice from the Migration Advisory Committee.

It is important to distinguish between those who need protection and those seeking to work here, who can apply for a work visa under the Immigration Rules. Our wider policy could be undermined if migrants bypassed work visa Rules by lodging unfounded asylum claims here.

The Home Office is currently reviewing policy on right to work.

As part of the plans to speed up Asylum decision making, over the last 18 months, UK Visas and Immigration have increased the number of Asylum decision makers and support staff as part of a rolling recruitment campaign and mobilised a transformation programme that seeks to simplify, streamline and digitise processes.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the success of tactics used to police large gatherings of people who are not adhering to COVID-19 preventative measures.

The deployment of tactics is an operational matter for the police. The police response follows the four-step escalation principles – engaging, explaining, encouraging, and then enforcing. In general the public have followed the rules without any need for enforcement action. We have empowered the police to disperse gatherings and issue Fixed Penalty Notices for those who break the rules. This includes £10,000 fines to those who hold, or are involved in the holding of, illegal gatherings as well as fines for those who participate.

The National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) regularly publish data on fixed penalty notices issued under COVID-19 emergency health regulations by police forces and are in the process of collating data relating to the number of £10,000 fines issued.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
28th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to ban the practice of “milling” as part of the selection process for the Parachute Regiment.

There are no plans to ban the practice of milling as part of the selection process for the Parachute Regiment. As a training activity milling is subject to risk assessment and review. To mitigate any risk milling bouts are regulated to ensure compliance under departmental Medical, Training and Health and Safety policy. A General Practitioner (GP), a dedicated ambulance and a paramedic are in attendance at all times milling takes place. The GP conducts a pre-medical to assess a participant's fitness and make them aware of the risks. Participants can withdraw at any time.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
28th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 16 June (HL706), what plans they have to review whether strategic assets of wide economic value are best owned by local authorities.

Under the current system of local government finance, local authorities are free to determine their own capital strategies to deliver local services, on the principle that they are best placed to make the decisions needed to support their local communities and to ensure local accountability.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of prison cells in England and Wales do not contain a toilet.

Prison operating standards state that prisoners in normal accommodation should have sanitation either within their cell or as an annex to the cell. The vast majority equating to around 68,400 (90%) of cells, including all newer prisons, have modern sanitation inside the cell. These cells hold approximately 91% of the prison population.

The remaining 7,600 (10%) do not have in-cell sanitation. The majority of these are at sites subject to open conditions, where prisoners have 24-hour access to sanitation facilities that are not physically integrated into their cells.

In a small number of older prisons, however, it has not proved possible to install in-cell sanitation or the cost of doing so would be prohibitively high. In such cases, a system of electronic unlocking is in place, in which prisoners are able to request via an in-cell call bell that the cell door be remotely unlocked for a limited period of time to allow them to access to shared facilities on the wing.

12th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government why only 206 new prison places have so far been created to help meet their 2016 commitment to produce 10,000 new places.

In 2016, the then Secretary of State for Justice announced the creation of up to 10,000 new for old prison places. As part of this, a new 206 place houseblock at HMP Stocken was opened in June 2019. Work to construct a modern, uncrowded, decent, safe and secure prison at Wellingborough, providing 1,680 places, is progressing on schedule and we will commence work to build a 1,680 place prison at Glen Parva in the Summer, bringing the total places delivered to 3,566.

The Prime Minister has committed to invest up to £2.5 billion to transform the prison estate by building 10,000 additional places – in addition to the 3,566 already being delivered. The first of these new prisons will be at Full Sutton. All future new prison developments are subject to receiving planning permission and will be announced in due course.

We acknowledge the National Audit Office’s review, ‘Ministry of Justice, HM Prison and Probation Service: Improving the prison estate’, undertaken in 2019 and we will be carefully considering the report to ensure that we are able to effectively deliver the additional 10,000 places whilst ensuring value for money for taxpayers.