Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Written Questions

29 Questions to Government Departments tabled by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth


Date Title Questioner
17 Sep 2020, 3:43 p.m. NHS Counter Fraud Authority Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to publish the post-2020 strategy of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority’s current strategy covers the period of 2017-20. The NHS Counter Fraud Authority will be publishing its new strategy later this year.

10 Sep 2020, 1:51 p.m. Universities: Admissions Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with universities regarding accommodating the demand for places on courses following the withdrawal of A-level results based on algorithms; and what additional resources are being made available to universities as a result of the change of policy.

Answer (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay)

My hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Universities, has written directly to all Vice Chancellors and has set up a Higher Education Taskforce so that the government can work with the sector to build capacity, harness expert views and tackle challenges. Together, we have agreed that all students who achieved the required grades will be offered a place at their first-choice university, wherever possible.

We have taken a number of steps to support this commitment. We have announced that, subject to parliamentary approval, we will completely remove temporary student number controls to help ensure there are no additional barriers to students being able to progress to higher education.

We have announced that we will lift caps on domestic medicine and dentistry courses in the next academic year. We will support providers to offer places to as many students who have met the grades for their current offer as they have capacity for, and where there are clinical placements available, through additional grant funding to support the costs of this provision.

We will also provide additional teaching grant funding to increase capacity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and other high-cost subjects, which are vital to the country’s social needs and economy. The Office for Students (OfS) will consult the sector on the details of how the allocations are made.

Providers will also be eligible to bid for a share of up to £10 million in funding to support capital expenditure. This funding will be used to support the infrastructure required to accommodate additional students recruited as a result of the changes to policy on A level grades.

The fund will be administered by the OfS, and providers will be eligible to bid for projects that support expansion in 2020/21.

We will continue to monitor the situation and to consider the effects that deferrals will have on future years. Funding decisions for future years will be taken at the Spending Review.

6 Aug 2020, 12:20 p.m. Coronavirus: Protective Clothing Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to promote the manufacture of personal protective equipment in the UK.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

Lord Deighton is leading the Government’s effort to unleash the potential of British industry to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) for the health and social care sectors. This will maximise opportunities for United Kingdom-based companies to fulfil orders of PPE.

We are building up UK manufacturing with signed contracts to manufacture and supply over three billion items of PPE through UK-based manufacturers, including facemasks, visors, gowns and aprons.

31 Jul 2020, 2:42 p.m. Roma Holocaust Memorial Day Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to mark Roma Holocaust Memorial Day on 2 August.

Answer (Lord Greenhalgh)

Every year we honour the memory of the Roma and Sinti population murdered by the Nazi's at the annual Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations on 27 January. The 2nd of August marks the liquidation of the Gypsy Family camp' at Auschwitz-Birkenau and this year due to the restrictions on gatherings brought about by the Covid -19 pandemic we will be honouring the memory of the Roma and Sinti men, women and children murdered by the Nazi's on social media.

29 Jul 2020, 4:52 p.m. Children: Coronavirus Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that children, in particular those from low-income families, are not negatively affected by missed schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic and can catch-up on lessons.

Answer (Baroness Berridge)

Education recovery lies at the heart of our national mission as we emerge from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. On 19 June we announced a £1 billion COVID-19 catch-up package to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time.

£650 million will be shared across state primary, secondary and special schools over the 2020/21 academic year. This one-off grant to support pupils recognises that all young people have lost time in education as a result of the outbreak, regardless of their income or background.  School leaders will have discretion over how to use the funding, but we expect it to focus on the most effective approaches. The Education Endowment Foundation has published guidance to help schools make good decisions about how to use the money effectively.

Separately, a National Tutoring Programme worth £350 million will increase access to high-quality tuition for children and young people from deprived backgrounds. This will help to accelerate their academic progress and tackle the attainment gap between them and their peers.  We published guidance on both parts of the package on 20 July, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-catch-up-premium.

This £1 billion package is on top of the £14.4 billion core funding increase over three years announced last year, and the £2.4 billion pupil premium funding which schools continue to receive to support their disadvantaged pupils.

28 Jul 2020, 4:44 p.m. Insolvency Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have received about their plans to restore Crown Preference in insolvency proceedings from December.

Answer (Lord Agnew of Oulton)

Reforms to HMRC’s preferential creditor status will not restore Crown Preference. The Government has taken a proportionate approach, applying changes only to taxes paid in good faith by employees and customers, but held temporarily by the business, including Pay as You Earn (PAYE) Income Tax and VAT. Since reforms were announced at Budget 2018, officials and interested parties have maintained productive and fruitful discussion. The Government held a formal consultation between February and May 2019, seeking views from businesses, lenders and insolvency practitioners. Having balanced the interests of taxpayers, the Exchequer and other creditors, the Government believes these reforms take a fair and proportionate approach. This measure was legislated for in Finance Act 2020, to take effect from 1 December.

1 Jul 2020, 2:08 p.m. Windrush Generation: Anniversaries Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the celebration of Windrush Day on 22 June.

Answer (Lord Greenhalgh)

I would like to reflect on the success of Windrush Day, which was marked on June 22. This was the second annual National Windrush Day, and the third year that Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has supported celebrations since the 70th anniversary. I would like to thank my Noble friend for his role in initiating these earlier celebrations.

The day was well recognised in national and international media, with hundreds of broadcast features, including a piece on BBC’s The One Show and CNN broadcasting live from Brixton. There were tens of thousands of tweets, instagram and facebook posts shared to celebrate the Windrush Generation and their descendants. This was illustrative of the way in which communities and individuals led the way in marking the day.Supportive messages were delivered by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, His Excellency the Jamaican High Commissioner and the Most Reverend Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the midst of challenging circumstances, most of the 49 organisations which received funding from MHCLG’s Windrush Day Grant have demonstrated admirable willingness, aptitude and innovation to deliver their events through online or virtual means. Celebrations were mostly digital, but there were still plenty of them taking place across the country. From Bristol to Birmingham and Leicester to Leeds, grant recipients hosted online exhibitions, radio documentaries and educational workshops and lectures over zoom.

I was pleased to take part in the day myself by being hosted on a tour of Reading Museum's online exhibition The Enigma of Arrival . The exhibition was part-funded by MHCLG's Windrush Day Grant and was developed in partnership with the University of the West Indies as well as the Barbados Museum and Historical Society and members of the town's Caribbean community. I was particularly moved by images of men working at the town's Huntley and Palmers Biscuit factory and took a moment to reflect upon the truly vast scope of the Windrush Generation's contribution to all aspects of our national life in the aftermath of the Second World War.

I would finally like to reiterate my gratitude to the Windrush Day Advisory Panel, originally convened by my Noble friend, in supporting the funding's delivery and helping ensure that the day is marked appropriately year-on-year.

29 Jun 2020, 12:47 p.m. High Rise Flats: Insulation Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the details of the owners of buildings above 18 metres in height with aluminium composite material cladding have been disclosed.

Answer (Lord Greenhalgh)

The Department has a policy of not publicly disclosing information which could reveal the identity of buildings which have failed or are inferred to have failed cladding tests. This is because there are concerns that this information could be used by those with malicious intent to attack or otherwise compromise the safety of these buildings and their residents.

However, in February 2020, the Department published a list of corporate entities that have indicated that they are taking on the responsibility for the remediation of unsafe ACM cladding, but where at least one of their buildings does not yet have a plan in place. This can be (attached) found here , and the list will be updated periodically. Entities are excluded from this list if it would lead to the identification of a specific building with unsafe ACM cladding .

29 Jun 2020, 12:46 p.m. High Rise Flats: Insulation Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many buildings above 18 metres in height still have aluminium composite material cladding.

Answer (Lord Greenhalgh)

The Department publishes data on the number of high-rise residential and publicly owned buildings in England with ACM cladding systems unlikely to meet building regulations. The latest data is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/building-safety-programme-monthly-data-release-may-2020. This shows that there are 300 high-rise residential and publicly owned buildings with ACM cladding systems unlikely to meet Building Regulations yet to be remediated in England. Of these, 140 buildings have started remediation, including 54 buildings that have had their ACM cladding systems removed.

1 Jun 2020, noon Organs: Donors Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the policy that deemed consent should not apply to transplants used to create Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) are an exciting technology with new therapies being developed all the time. Current ATMPs use tissues and cells taken from living donors. However, it is also becoming possible to use material from deceased donors. Such ATMPs would be novel and the Government wants to ensure that under the new deemed consent arrangements for organ donation, donation of cells for ATMPs cannot happen without express consent being in place.

The list of organs, tissues and cells excluded from deemed consent are set out in the Human Tissue (Permitted Material: Exceptions) (England) Regulations 2020. Any changes to the regulations would need to balance evidence, public acceptability and clinical need. Before making any changes, the Government will be guided by recommendations from NHS Blood and Transplant’s Research and Innovation in Transplant Advisory Group with advice from the Human Tissue Authority.

1 Jun 2020, noon Organ Transplants Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements they have made with the devolved administrations to facilitate cooperation and collaboration regarding organ transplants.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

NHS Blood and Transplant works closely with each devolved administration to ensure there are fair and transparent allocation policies governing all types of organ transplant across the United Kingdom. These are based on factors such as clinical need and guaranteeing the best match between donor and recipient to help ensure the longest possible survival of the transplant. These arrangements will continue.

1 Jun 2020, 11:59 a.m. Organs: Donors Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements they have made to publicise the change of law on deemed consent for organ donation.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

In April 2019, NHS Blood and Transplant started a two-year publicity campaign to highlight the change of law. The campaign has been using a number of platforms to raise awareness, including television and radio adverts, media and press releases, social media, partner and stakeholder communications channels and posters in public and community places such as general practitioner surgeries. The campaign also targets people with different backgrounds, faith and beliefs. NHS Blood and Transplant is also planning a further burst of communications activity later this year.

28 May 2020, 3:20 p.m. British Council: Coronavirus Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are giving to the British Council to respond to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answer (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon)

The FCO remains committed to the British Council, who are a key driver of our soft power overseas and a precious part of the FCO family. In order to help stabilise their immediate financial position following the impact of Covid-19 on their ability to operate, we agreed to provide the British Council with £26m of additional funding for the 2019-20 financial year. We have also provided some of their 2020-21 Grant-in-Aid funding upfront this month to further alleviate pressures.

The FCO have also supported the British Council in accessing wider government relief available through the COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme and similar schemes in other countries. This will help them support many of their workforce, and those employed through its partners, funded through the commercial side of their business. We will continue to work closely with the British Council in the coming days and weeks to seek to address the impact of COVID-19 on their ability to operate.

20 May 2020, 2:13 p.m. Coronavirus: International Cooperation Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the governments of (1) Germany, (2) New Zealand, and (3) South Korea, to exchange information relating to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic; and what lessons they have learned from such discussions.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

The Department is regularly in discussions with other countries on a wide range of issues of issues relating to COVID-19, including Germany, New Zealand and South Korea.

COVID-19 presents a global challenge which requires a collaborative response. The Department will continue to work with other countries throughout the crisis and beyond.

18 May 2020, 4:07 p.m. NHS: Coronavirus Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how they are seeking to reward those working in the National Health Service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

We are incredibly proud of all National Health Service staff and we are working hard to ensure that staff feel supported and safe to continue the fight against COVID-19 and their extraordinary commitment is recognised.

Pay for over one million Agenda for Change (AfC) staff is already set for 2020/21 as part of the agreed three year pay and contract reform deal and for doctors and dentists in training following a four-year pay and contract reform deal agreed in June 2019 (2019/20 – 2022/23).

The Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration will make pay recommendations for 2020/21 as usual for consultants and speciality doctors. Next year it will be for the NHS Pay Review Body to make recommendations for the pay of staff on AfC contracts from April 2021.

We want to ensure that the NHS employment offer continues to attract, retain and reward staff and this offer continues to be kept under review.

8 Apr 2020, 2:22 p.m. New Zealand: Coronavirus Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support UK citizens who are seeking to return to the UK from New Zealand who are affected by that country's lockdown due to COVID-19.

Answer (Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park)

The Foreign Secretary announced on 30 March a new partnership between the Government and airlines to fly home more stranded British travelers, where commercial routes do not exist. The Government will provide up to £75 million financial support to enable special charter flights to priority countries, operated by airlines including Virgin, Easyjet, Jet 2, Titan and British Airways. This service has already begun, with flights from Peru, Senegal, UAE, Ecuador, Bolivia, Ghana, Algeria and Tunisia as of 6th April.

The British Government is working around the clock to support British Nationals as we respond to this global pandemic. The British High Commission in Wellington has established an online registration system, allowing High Commission staff to track and directly communicate with British Nationals in need of assistance, in particular the most vulnerable. This includes regular updates through email and on social media platforms. There has been an extensive drawdown of commercial flights out of New Zealand to regional hubs, reducing significantly the options for British Nationals to depart New Zealand. We are engaging commercial airlines and international governments, encouraging them to keep commercial routes open, in particular in transit hubs.

7 Apr 2020, 4:53 p.m. Funerals: Coronavirus Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that there is timely, accessible advice available to religious communities concerning rules relating to (1) funeral services, (2) burials, and (3) cremations, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answer (Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist)

The government issued guidance on closure of business and venues on 23 March: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance. This sets out that funerals may continue to take place in places of worship and crematoria. On 31 March, Public Health England (PHE) published further guidance to ensure funerals are conducted safely, consistent with social distancing principles: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-advice-for-safe-funerals-after-discussions-with-faith-leaders. Faith leaders were consulted and worked with PHE to ensure that communities, the funeral industry and the NHS are protected.

Government is working with partners, including leaders and members of faith and belief communities, to communicate relevant guidance and to understand the issues faith communities are facing at this difficult time. We continue to value the input of our faith and belief communities.

7 Apr 2020, 4:53 p.m. Local Government: Coronavirus Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have established a hotline service to (1) advise on faith and secular gatherings, (2) provide information to the public, and (3) receive relevant information from members of the public, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answer (Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist)

The Government has issued guidance on social distancing on 16 March: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-guidance-for-mass-gatherings. In line with this guidance, large gatherings should not take place. Further guidance was published on 23 March on the closure of businesses and venues, including places of worship: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance.

The guidance is clear that all places of worship should be closed. This includes for the holding of faith and secular gatherings and solitary prayer. However, services are encouraged to take place with congregations online.

Government continues to have regular discussions with faith and belief groups to ensure that guidance relating to the COVID-19 pandemic is communicated clearly and effectively.

7 Apr 2020, 3:54 p.m. Students: Food Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to provide meals to students resident at hostels in the higher education sector who are unable to return to their home countries.

Answer (Baroness Berridge)

The government is grateful for the huge amount of work being done across the higher education sector to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on our students and institutions.

There will be many students – international students, along with students estranged from their parents and care leavers, among others – who remain in university-owned, or private university accommodation at present, particularly now government advice is for students to remain in their current residence, and not to return home. Higher education (HE) providers should aim to ensure that sufficient institutional accommodation is available to these students

In addition, the government has reminded HE providers of their responsibility to support services for students who remain on campus. This includes practical support to ensure students can access sufficient food and medical and cleaning supplies. HE providers have been asked to ensure catering staff are available to support on halls management, even in the event of wider university closure.

It is particularly important that universities who rely on outsourced staff, such as catering, who maintain the delivery of critical services and infrastructure, take appropriate measures to protect the health, safety and welfare of their staff.

The government is also working to improve joint continuity planning between HE providers and Local Resilience Forums to consider how to ensure availability of supply of food and medicines.

We stand ready to support HE providers in any discussion that is needed to ensure they have access to the right resources to care for their students. It is essential that students are reassured that their provider will continue to support them through these difficult and unsettling times.

1 Apr 2020, 12:21 p.m. Travelling People: Coronavirus Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that there is protection from eviction for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answer (Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist)

The Government takes the welfare of all citizens seriously and we are working hard to ensure those most at risk are identified and supported including those in GRT communities who will be receiving support alongside others.

The Government is also holding regular discussions with community representatives to understand issues faced and are looking into what guidance and support is required for Local authorities, who have a responsibility to look after vulnerable groups.

We are sending a clear message to landlords that they should do everything possible to avoid evictions – particularly where households are facing hardship as a result of coronavirus.

Where a person’s main home is on a camp site or caravan park, those sites can stay open.

We are urgently introducing emergency legislation to protect tenants in social and private accommodation from an eviction process being started and are considering what further action may be appropriate. In the meantime, we are urging the landlords of those on licences to follow the same guidance to work with renters who may be facing hardship as a result of Covid-19.

7 Jan 2020, 2:12 p.m. Educational Institutions: Fire Prevention Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made in removing cladding made from Aluminium Composite Material from educational buildings.

Answer (Viscount Younger of Leckie)

Information on progress to remove Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding from student accommodation and publicly-owned schools can be found in the Building Safety Programme monthly data release. This can be found (attached) at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/building-safety-programme-monthly-data-release-november-2019

7 Jan 2020, 1:52 p.m. Hate Crime: Public Transport Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to tackle hate crime on public transport.

Answer (Baroness Williams of Trafford)

The Government is clear that all forms of hate crime are unacceptable. The Government’s Hate Crime Action Plan 2016, and the refresh in 2018, contains a number of commitments to tackle hate crime on public transport. These include:

  • The Department for Transport committing, in the July 2018 Inclusive Transport Strategy, to run a public awareness raising campaign to increase disability awareness amongst all transport passengers; and
  • Working with local transport providers to ensure that bus drivers across England and Wales are fully equipped to challenge hate, including new guidance to support them.

The 2018 Hate Crime Action Plan refresh also includes a number of broader actions addressing all forms of hate crime, including hate crime on public transport. These include:

  • A review by the Law Commission into the coverage and approach of current hate crime legislation; and
  • A wide-ranging national hate crime communications campaign to publicly address hate crime and make clear that it is unacceptable to target people on the basis of their identity.

More widely, the British Transport Police (BTP) provides a policing service that meets the needs of all passengers and people who use or work on the railways. BTP has a firm commitment to responding to all reports of hate crime and it actively works with train operating companies and Network Rail to improve awareness, vigilance and reporting of information on hate crime incidents.

5 Nov 2019, 2:38 p.m. Hydrogen: Storage Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to promote hydrogen energy storage.

Answer (Lord Duncan of Springbank)

The report published on the 2nd May 2019 by our independent advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, has stressed the importance of hydrogen in achieving Net Zero, however the technologies required to produce low carbon hydrogen are not yet fully developed. BEIS, through its Energy Innovation Programme, has committed more than £40 million to accelerate:

  • the commercialisation of large-scale hydrogen energy storage technologies; and
  • the development of supplying low carbon hydrogen at scale for industry, power, buildings and transport.
4 Nov 2019, 4:37 p.m. Electric Vehicles Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to promote the (1) production, and (2) use, of electric cars in the UK.

Answer (Baroness Vere of Norbiton)

The Government is supporting the automotive industry in the switch to ultra-low emission vehicles. The Office for Low Emission Vehicles has awarded over £300m in grants, via Innovate UK, into ultra-low emission technologies to support vehicle manufacturers, technology companies and academia in delivering a major programme of R&D into cleaner vehicle technologies. The Government and industry have also committed around £1bn over 10 years to 2023 through the Advanced Propulsion Centre, to research, develop and commercialise the next generation of low carbon technologies, and to keep the UK at the cutting edge of low carbon automotive innovations.

The £274m Faraday Battery Challenge will ensure the UK builds on its strengths and leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of electric batteries. The £80m Driving the Electric Revolution Challenge provides support for innovation in electric motor technology.

The Government has recently also announced up to £1bn of additional funding to develop UK supply chains for the large-scale production of electric vehicles, and for further EV research and development.

Alongside these supply-side measures, we are investing nearly £1.5bn‎ between April 2015 and March 2021, via grants available for plug in cars, vans, lorries, buses, taxis and motorcycles, and schemes to support chargepoint infrastructure at homes, workplaces and on residential streets. These subsidies are designed to support the early market and achieve a competitive, self-sustaining market.

2 Oct 2019, 12:42 p.m. Television: Licensing Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in guaranteeing free TV licences for over-75s.

Answer (Baroness Barran)

In the 2015 licence fee funding settlement, the government agreed with the BBC that responsibility for the over 75s TV licence fee concession would transfer to the BBC in June 2020. This reform was then debated extensively and agreed to by Parliament during the passage of the Digital Economy Act 2017. This legislation provides that the future of the concession is the responsibility of the BBC, not of the government.

The government remains disappointed with the BBC’s decision to restrict the concession to only those aged over 75 in receipt of Pension Credit. My colleague the Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport recently met with the Chairman of the BBC Board and the Director-General of the BBC and asked them to do more to help those affected by its decision. Discussions continue between government officials and the BBC.

9 Sep 2019, 4:55 p.m. Health Services: Reciprocal Arrangements Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether UK citizens will continue to benefit from the European Health Insurance Card in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 31 October; if so, by what mechanism; and if not, what alternative provision, if any, they intend to make.

Answer (Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford)

The Government has proposed to all European Union Member States that when we leave, we should maintain the existing healthcare arrangements including the European Healthcare Insurance Card (EHIC) Scheme until 31 December 2020, with the aim of minimising disruption to healthcare provision for United Kingdom nationals and EU citizens. This is subject to agreement by individual EU Member States.

In a ‘no deal’ scenario, the continuation of the EHIC scheme will be dependent on the UK agreeing its continuation with individual Member States through bilateral reciprocal healthcare agreements. It is not possible for the UK Government to guarantee access unilaterally to healthcare abroad, as this depends on decisions by Member States.

The UK Government has already committed to fund healthcare for UK-insured people who have applied for, or are undergoing, treatments in the EU prior to and on exit day, for up to one year, to protect the most vulnerable.

The Government always advises UK nationals to take out comprehensive travel insurance when going overseas, both to EU and non-EU destinations. The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and we have always advised that individuals should have both when travelling abroad.

9 Sep 2019, 4:27 p.m. Energy: Meters Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made towards the roll-out of smart meters.

Answer (Lord Duncan of Springbank)

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

There were 14.9 million smart and advanced meters operating in Great Britain at the end of June 2019. The Government publishes quarterly reports on the number of smart electricity and gas meters installed in Great Britain as part of its Smart Meters statistics collection.

The Government is committed to every home and small business being offered smart meters by the end of 2020.

9 Sep 2019, 4:27 p.m. Energy: Imports Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the UK’s current dependency on energy supplied by interconnectors.

Answer (Lord Duncan of Springbank)

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

The latest figures on electricity supplied by interconnectors are available in the 2019 ‘Energy Trends: Electricity’, published by BEIS. In Q1 2019, net imports of electricity via interconnectors were 6.0 TWh for the UK. This is equivalent to 6.4% of total demand over the period. In Great Britain, as part of the Capacity Market process, National Grid Electricity System Operator assesses how much capacity will be needed in the years ahead factoring in the risks of particular technologies not delivering. This annual process includes an assessment of how interconnectors should be derated to reflect the likely reliability of electricity flow during times of stress. We then secure all the capacity needed through the Capacity Market, ensuring we meet our reliability standard.

In Northern Ireland, the Single Electricity Market operates as a single, shared wholesale electricity market between Ireland and Northern Ireland, with electricity flows between Ireland and Northern Ireland treated as internal flows. The Single Electricity Market’s capacity remuneration mechanism is working well to ensure security of supply of electricity in Northern Ireland.

9 Sep 2019, 3:42 p.m. Driving under Influence Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce deaths and injuries (1) caused by driving under the influence of alcohol, and (2) where driving under the influence of alcohol was a contributing factor.

Answer (Baroness Vere of Norbiton)

In 2017, an estimated 250 people were killed in accidents where at least one driver or rider was above the drink-drive limit. Drink driving is involved in around 5% of reported road casualties and 14% of fatalities.

The Government is committed to tackling drivers under the influence of alcohol and all dangerous drivers and is determined that all such drivers are caught and punished. We employ a combined approach of tough penalties and rigorous enforcement along with our highly respected and effective THINK! campaigns to reinforce the social unacceptability of drink driving, and to remind people of the serious ramifications that drinking and driving can have on themselves and others.

The Department has also taken some important steps to tighten drink driving legislation. We have made it a requirement for high risk offenders to undertake medical tests before they are allowed to drive again, and we have also made sure that drivers over the breath limit cannot escape a conviction by demanding a further blood or urine test.