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Written Question
Agriculture: Land
3 Dec 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, (1) to investigate the purchase of agricultural farmland by multinational companies for the purpose of planting trees to offset carbon emissions, and (2) to prevent agricultural farm land being purchased for such purposes.

Answered by Lord Benyon

Voluntary carbon markets can be used by companies to finance nature-based solutions to climate change, and they can provide another potential income stream for landowners and farmers in appropriate areas. However, they should only ever be used in addition to action that companies are taking to reduce their own emissions in line with independently verified science-based targets. Guidance for companies on the responsible use of voluntary carbon markets is set out in Environmental Reporting Guidelines.

The UK Woodland Carbon Code and UK Peatland Code provide robust arrangements for the registration and monitoring of woodland creation and peatland restoration projects in the UK. These codes are supported by the publicly accessible UK Land Carbon Registry, which contains details of projects registered under these codes and the issuance of carbon units arising from these projects.

Her Majesty's Land Registry publishes information on all companies (UK and overseas) which own property in England and Wales ( https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/land-registry). Agricultural and planning policies are devolved matters.

It is important that tree planting and nature-based solutions more generally are undertaken in places that account for the multiple benefits we get from land. Planning policy is an important tool in helping to manage land use, as are environmental regulations and consultations to ensure that woodland creation, in particular, is undertaken in appropriate places. New tools, like Local Nature Recovery Strategies introduced in the Environment Act 2021, will help identify and map new opportunities for nature recovery and nature-based solutions.

We are also exploring how we can support more land sharing, for example by encouraging tree planting alongside or as part of food production through agroforestry. In the Net Zero Strategy published in October 2021, we committed to encourage and support increased agroforestry.


Written Question
Homelessness: EU Nationals
29 Nov 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of EU nationals living in England who have become homeless since the UK formally withdrew from the EU.

Answered by Lord Greenhalgh

Local housing authorities report their homelessness activities under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 to the Department by completing the quarterly Homelessness Case Level Collection (H-CLIC) statistical return. H-CLIC is an upload of all cases about statutory homelessness and the authority's activities within the legislative framework.

Figures from the latest H-CLIC data show that in England between March 2020 and April 2021, 15,140 EEA nationals were owed a homelessness prevention or relief duty. This is an 11% decrease from 2019/20.


Written Question
Homelessness: EU Nationals
29 Nov 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to alleviate homelessness among EU nationals living in England.

Answered by Lord Greenhalgh

Local housing authorities report their homelessness activities under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 to the Department by completing the quarterly Homelessness Case Level Collection (H-CLIC) statistical return. H-CLIC is an upload of all cases about statutory homelessness and the authority's activities within the legislative framework.

Figures from the latest H-CLIC data show that in England between March 2020 and April 2021, 15,140 EEA nationals were owed a homelessness prevention or relief duty. This is an 11% decrease from 2019/20.


Written Question
Ethiopia: Peace Negotiations
26 Nov 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to promote a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia.

Answered by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park

We are extremely concerned by the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia. The Minister for Africa spoke at a Westminster Hall Debate on 3 November. She stated that there is no military solution and the UK has been clear on this from the start. We have consistently called on all warring parties to end hostilities and seek a political dialogue and peaceful solution. The Foreign Secretary spoke to Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen on 5 November, where she also made clear there is no military solution and that negotiations are needed to avoid bloodshed and deliver lasting peace. We have made these points repeatedly to the Ethiopian Government and the Tigrayan authorities. We are fully supportive of the African Union (AU)'s mediation efforts, and the Minister for Africa spoke with AU Special Envoy Obasanjo on 4 November, and with AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Bankole on 8 November.


Written Question
Ethiopia: Unmanned Air Vehicles
26 Nov 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the use of drones in the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia.

Answered by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park

We are aware of reporting that drones are being used in the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia. We call for a ceasefire by all sides, including the Ethiopian Government, to end airstrikes. The indiscriminate targeting of civilians, no matter the weapon used, is against international law, and is entirely unacceptable.

A joint investigation by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, published on 3 November found reasonable grounds to believe that all parties to the conflict in Tigray have, to varying degrees, committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law. The UK will continue to support the UN in the need for independent, transparent and impartial investigations and will work to ensure that those responsible for these atrocities are held to account.


Written Question
Ethiopia: Aid Workers
26 Nov 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that UN workers providing humanitarian aid are being detained by the Ethiopian authorities.

Answered by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park

We are concerned by recent reports of the detention of several UN staff in Ethiopia. Expulsions and detention of key UN personnel will have a direct impact on the ability of the international community to deliver vital humanitarian assistance. On 30 September the Minister for Africa called on the Government of Ethiopia to reverse the decision to expel UN officials from the country. Our concerns were reiterated at the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council on 4 October where a joint statement was issued by the UK Ambassador to the UN on behalf of over 40 countries, and we also raised this at the UN Security Council (UNSC) briefing on Ethiopia on 6 October. The British Ambassador to Ethiopia raised our concerns about ongoing detentions with President Sahle-Work on 12 November.


Written Question
Armenia: Azerbaijan
25 Nov 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan regarding that government's alleged mistreatment and torture of Armenian prisoners of war.

Answered by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park

During her most recent conversations with the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia, on 14 June and 6 September respectively, the Minister for Europe and Americans urged both parties to work with the International Committee of the Red Cross to expedite the return of all prisoners of war. The Minister reiterated this message in her recent meetings with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Ambassadors on 4 and 17 November respectively. In addition to the issue of prisoners of war, the Minister highlighted the UK's concerns over reports of war crimes and urged both Governments to take steps to de-escalate border tensions, undertake independent investigations into all allegations arising from last year's conflict and settle all outstanding matters solely through peaceful negotiation.


Written Question
Armenia: Azerbaijan
25 Nov 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan regarding that government's reported occupation of Armenian territory.

Answered by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park

The UK Government is closely monitoring the situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border following an increase in tensions on the border and exchange of fire on 16 November. Through the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and bilateral engagement in Baku and Yerevan, UK officials continue to urge the Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities to settle all outstanding matters including the peaceful negotiation of their borders, in line with the Minsk Group Principles. The Minister for Europe and Americas has met both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Ambassadors to London in recent weeks to reinforce these messages.


Written Question
UK Shared Prosperity Fund
24 Nov 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the UK Shared Prosperity Fund has (1) retained ring fenced funding for rural areas, and (2) matched previous EU funding before 2024–25; and, in each case, if not, why not.

Answered by Lord Greenhalgh

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), worth over £2.6 billion, will help people access opportunity in places in need, such as ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and rural and coastal communities, and for people in disadvantaged groups across the UK. The funding announced at Spending Review 2021 meets the government's previous commitment to at least match receipts from EU structural funds. Further details about the UKSPF will be set out in due course.

Funding equivalent to European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), including Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l'Économie Rurale (LEADER) and Growth, has been provided as part of the domestic farm settlement that replaces UK participation in the EU Common Agricultural Policy. The farm settlement is being delivered by Defra in England, and the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Written Question
UK Shared Prosperity Fund
24 Nov 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have undertaken rural proofing of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund; and, if so, whether they plan to publish the findings of this.

Answered by Lord Greenhalgh

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), worth over £2.6 billion, will help people access opportunity in places in need, such as ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and rural and coastal communities, and for people in disadvantaged groups across the UK. The funding announced at Spending Review 2021 meets the government's previous commitment to at least match receipts from EU structural funds. Further details about the UKSPF will be set out in due course.

Funding equivalent to European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), including Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l'Économie Rurale (LEADER) and Growth, has been provided as part of the domestic farm settlement that replaces UK participation in the EU Common Agricultural Policy. The farm settlement is being delivered by Defra in England, and the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Written Question
Gambling: Twitter
17 Nov 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Bristol University What are the odds? The appeal of gambling adverts to children and young persons on twitter, published on 26 October; and particularly the findings that (1) the majority of gambling advertisements were twice as likely to appeal to children as older adults, and (2) nearly half of children and almost three quarters of young people saw gambling adverts on Twitter almost once per week

Answered by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay

The Government is carrying out a Review of the Gambling Act 2005 and is looking closely at the evidence regarding the impacts of allowing operators to advertise, including on social media. It will consider the research conducted by Bristol University carefully as part of that Review.

All gambling advertising, wherever it appears, is subject to strict controls on content and placement. Gambling operators advertising online, including on social media, must abide by the advertising codes issued by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Gambling Commission may take enforcement action against them if they do not. The CAP consulted earlier this year on proposals to strengthen the codes and further limit the presence of gambling adverts for the protection of children and vulnerable people. Changes to safeguard vulnerable adults were announced this summer, and the full outcome is to be announced before the end of the year.

Following work with the Gambling Commission, the industry has also committed to make better use of advertising technology to target adverts away from children on social media. The Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising now requires operators to ensure paid-for advertising is targeted only at those over 25 years old on social media and to age-gate operator YouTube channels and content.

The Government is also looking more broadly at how online advertising is regulated through the Online Advertising Programme, which will be launching a public consultation this year. Our aim is to foster fair, accountable and ethical online advertising that works for individuals, businesses and society as a whole.


Written Question
Gambling: Social Media
17 Nov 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recommendation from the report by Bristol University What are the odds? The appeal of gambling adverts to children and young persons on twitter, published on 26 October, that there should be an opt-in requirement to receive gambling advertisements on social media.

Answered by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay

The Government is carrying out a Review of the Gambling Act 2005 and is looking closely at the evidence regarding the impacts of allowing operators to advertise, including on social media. It will consider the research conducted by Bristol University carefully as part of that Review.

All gambling advertising, wherever it appears, is subject to strict controls on content and placement. Gambling operators advertising online, including on social media, must abide by the advertising codes issued by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Gambling Commission may take enforcement action against them if they do not. The CAP consulted earlier this year on proposals to strengthen the codes and further limit the presence of gambling adverts for the protection of children and vulnerable people. Changes to safeguard vulnerable adults were announced this summer, and the full outcome is to be announced before the end of the year.

Following work with the Gambling Commission, the industry has also committed to make better use of advertising technology to target adverts away from children on social media. The Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising now requires operators to ensure paid-for advertising is targeted only at those over 25 years old on social media and to age-gate operator YouTube channels and content.

The Government is also looking more broadly at how online advertising is regulated through the Online Advertising Programme, which will be launching a public consultation this year. Our aim is to foster fair, accountable and ethical online advertising that works for individuals, businesses and society as a whole.


Written Question
Gambling: Money Laundering
17 Nov 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many times gambling companies have paid compensation for failing to prevent money laundering when an individual criminally convicted of theft used stolen funds to gamble; and what was the total amount paid by gambling companies in such cases.

Answered by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay

The Gambling Commission can fine a gambling operator if a licence condition has been breached. In some circumstances, the Commission may decide to agree a regulatory settlement instead of issuing a fine. While fines are paid to the exchequer, regulatory settlements are divested by the company to third parties. In circumstances where a victim of crime can be identified, for example an employer whose money was stolen by someone who went on to gamble with those funds, the Commission would expect funds to be divested back to the employer.

The information we hold shows that in the last three years, the Commission has required four operators to pay compensation to victims where stolen funds have been used to gamble and an individual has been criminally convicted. The total amount paid by each gambling company is as follows:

  • Betway - £5,068,577

  • Gamesys - £460,472

  • Platinum Gaming - £629,420

  • Petfre - £140,000

In addition to these figures, all regulatory actions taken by the Gambling Commission are accessible on their Public Register which may be found at the following link.


Written Question
Cuba: Religious Freedom
16 Nov 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking in response to the 4 November statement by the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief on the government of Cuba's targeting of religious leaders following protests in July.

Answered by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park

The UK is concerned by the arrests of religious leaders in Cuba, and reports of their continued maltreatment by the Government of Cuba. We have raised our concerns over ongoing detentions directly with the Cuban Government, both in London and Havana. We are clear that all Cubans should have the right to protest peacefully, and that detention must not be used as a tool to restrict freedom of expression, assembly, and religion. The UK was one of the first countries to call for the Cuban people to be allowed to express their views freely and peacefully following the Cuban Government's response to demonstrations on 11 July. We continue to monitor the situation closely.


Written Question
Cuba: Human Rights
16 Nov 2021

Questioner: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to raise human rights abuses with the government of Cuba, including the rights to freedom of assembly, expression, and religion or belief; and whether they plan to send an observer from the British Embassy in Cuba to attend the trial of Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo.

Answered by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park

Our constructive and honest relationship with Cuba allows for frank dialogue on matters on which we do not agree. UK ministers and senior officials have raised our concerns over the approach to public demonstrations directly with the Cuban Government, including twice over the last month. The British Embassy in Havana also regularly raises these issues with the Cuban Government, and will continue to monitor the situation closely, including Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo's trial.