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Written Question
Drinking Water and Sewage: Standards
Friday 24th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Conservative - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address public concerns concerning (1) the quality of drinking water, and (2) the discharge of untreated waste into the sea, rivers and lakes.

Answered by Lord Douglas-Miller

It is important not to conflate the quality of raw water and drinking water. Drinking water quality in England is of an exceptionally high standard and among the best in the world. Compliance with drinking water quality standards has been consistently high for a number of years, with a rate of 99.97% in 2022.

The Government published the Plan for Water in April 2023 – our comprehensive strategy for managing our water environment. It brings together the significant steps we have already taken with a suite of new policy actions. It aims to change the way that we manage water, improve water quality, and continue to secure our water supply through increased investment, stronger regulation and enforcement.

The Government is clear that the amount of sewage discharged into our waters is unacceptable. The Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan (SODRP) sets out stringent targets to protect people and the environment; and prioritises for early action areas used for bathing, for growing shellfish or with high ecological importance. The SODRP will drive £60 billion investment between now and 2050 to improve storm overflows, the largest infrastructure programme in water company history.

We will not let companies get away with illegal activity and where breaches are found, the regulators will not hesitate to hold companies to account.

The recent cryptosporidium outbreak in Brixham is extremely unfortunate and it is a horrific experience for the people who have been made ill. The Drinking Water Inspectorate is actively investigating the cause, extent and actions of the company, and will take actions including enforcement action in due course to prevent this type of event happening again.

Thankfully, these events are very rare, and elsewhere consumers should continue to have confidence in their high quality drinking water.


Written Question
Overseas Students
Friday 24th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Conservative - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on the economy of the fall in applications by international students to study in the UK.

Answered by Baroness Barran

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


Written Question
Environment Agency: Standards
Friday 24th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Conservative - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the performance of the Environment Agency in relation to (1) monitoring water quality, and (2) taking appropriate remedial action.

Answered by Lord Douglas-Miller

DEFRA works closely with the Environment Agency to ensure it is equipped to carry out its functions effectively and deliver for the public and the environment.

The EA is accountable to Parliament via the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. As the principal sponsor of EA, DEFRA works closely with EA officials at every level to provide constructive challenge and support on EA performance and delivery.

The EA currently operates a network of monitoring programmes which fulfil different legislative, regulatory and policy needs. These programmes have been designed by technical experts to reflect a diverse range of parameters used to understand water quality, at the scale and frequency the data is required.

In 2023 over 70,000 samples were collected and analysed to understand water quality from a range of programmes. The EA also has continuous monitoring in place for water quality at over 200 sites at any given time.

It is critical that we continue to build and maintain a robust evidence base which strengthens our understanding of the state of the environment, and the pressures and risks impacting it. This allows action to be taken in the right places to improve the environment when needed.


Written Question
Smoking
Thursday 23rd May 2024

Asked by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Conservative - Life peer)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask His Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) the British Medical Association, and (2) other health organisations, concerning the proposed generational ban on smoking.

Answered by Lord Markham

The Department meets with the British Medical Association (BMA) on a range of issues. Along with other health stakeholders, the BMA was invited to provide views via the Creating a smokefree generation and tackling youth vaping consultation, and to take part in ministerial roundtables during the development of our Smokefree Generation policy.

Ministers and officials regularly meet with a number of health organisations to discuss the Smokefree Generation policy. These include royal colleges, non-government organisations, and academics. All senior officials’ and ministerial external meetings are published on the GOV.UK website, in an online only format.


Written Question
Smoking
Thursday 23rd May 2024

Asked by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Conservative - Life peer)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask His Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the cost saving to the NHS of the proposed generational ban on smoking from 2027 onwards.

Answered by Lord Markham

Smoking is responsible for approximately 80,000 deaths a year in the United Kingdom and causes around one in four UK cancer deaths. Smoking is one of the most important preventable causes of disparities in health, and a significant contributor to the gap in life expectancy.

Reduced smoking rates lead to fewer people dying from smoking-related diseases and fewer children exposed to second-hand smoke or living in smoking-induced poverty. There are four major diseases that together account for almost 60% of all ill health and early deaths attributable to smoking: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; coronary heart disease; lung cancer; and strokes. By 2075, our modelling suggests that between 48,000 and 115,000 cases of these diseases would be avoided, improving people’s lives and avoiding the pain of loss for families.

Smoking also costs society £21.8 billion a year and puts a huge burden on the National Health Service. Our Impact Assessment on the Tobacco and Vapes Bill found that there would be savings of more than £2 billion, in 2019 prices, in reduced healthcare usage costs over 30 years from 2027. Health and economic gains are expected further in the future, saving the health and care system up to £18 billion and boosting the economy by up to £85 billion by 2075, cumulatively and undiscounted. Someone who avoids a smoking-related death can be expected to live eight to nine years longer as a result of this change, as set out in the command paper from October 2023.


Written Question
Smoking
Thursday 23rd May 2024

Asked by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Conservative - Life peer)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the health benefits of the proposed generational ban on smoking.

Answered by Lord Markham

Smoking is responsible for approximately 80,000 deaths a year in the United Kingdom and causes around one in four UK cancer deaths. Smoking is one of the most important preventable causes of disparities in health, and a significant contributor to the gap in life expectancy.

Reduced smoking rates lead to fewer people dying from smoking-related diseases and fewer children exposed to second-hand smoke or living in smoking-induced poverty. There are four major diseases that together account for almost 60% of all ill health and early deaths attributable to smoking: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; coronary heart disease; lung cancer; and strokes. By 2075, our modelling suggests that between 48,000 and 115,000 cases of these diseases would be avoided, improving people’s lives and avoiding the pain of loss for families.

Smoking also costs society £21.8 billion a year and puts a huge burden on the National Health Service. Our Impact Assessment on the Tobacco and Vapes Bill found that there would be savings of more than £2 billion, in 2019 prices, in reduced healthcare usage costs over 30 years from 2027. Health and economic gains are expected further in the future, saving the health and care system up to £18 billion and boosting the economy by up to £85 billion by 2075, cumulatively and undiscounted. Someone who avoids a smoking-related death can be expected to live eight to nine years longer as a result of this change, as set out in the command paper from October 2023.


Written Question
Tobacco and Vapes Bill
Monday 20th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Conservative - Life peer)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask His Majesty's Government what data they collected on other countries that have restricted smoking when drafting the Tobacco and Vapes Bill.

Answered by Lord Markham

Smoking is responsible for approximately 80,000 deaths a year in the United Kingdom and causes around one in four UK cancer deaths. It also costs society £21.8 billion a year and puts a huge burden on the National Health Service. The latest estimates from Action on Smoking and Health put the cost of smoking to the NHS and social care at £3 billion a year.

As part of our impact assessment, we reviewed evidence and data from a range of countries. This included modelling from New Zealand, Singapore, and the Solomon Islands on the estimated impact of a smokefree generation policy on smoking prevalence, smoking attributable mortality, and other health impacts. We also considered evidence and data from countries that have already implemented an increase in the age of sale for tobacco to a particular age. For example, we analysed data and evidence from the United States on the impact that raising the age of sale from 18 to 21 years old had on smoking prevalence.

This was in addition to considering evidence and data from the UK on the impact that previous increases in the age of sale for tobacco have had on smoking prevalence. A copy of our Tobacco and Vapes Bill - impact assessment is attached.


Written Question
Coal
Tuesday 14th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Conservative - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero:

To ask His Majesty's Government what progress they have made in phasing out coal power.

Answered by Lord Callanan

In line with our net zero target, the Government is committed to phasing out unabated coal-fired power generation by 1st October 2024, earlier than the original 2025 target. The remaining coal fired power station in Great Britain is scheduled to close before this date.

This will mean that we will have reduced coal’s share of our electricity supply from around a third, to zero in the space of only ten years.


Written Question
Railways: Strikes
Thursday 9th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Conservative - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect on the economy of industrial action on Network Rail.

Answered by Lord Davies of Gower - Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

Strikes by RMT among their members at Network Rail in 2022/23 typically resulted in average industry-wide service levels of around 20%.

These strikes have resulted in direct impacts on rail industry revenue and on the wider economy, for example due to people being unable to attend work. Given the move to flexible working post-pandemic, the impact of strikes on the economy is far lower, albeit the hospitality sector experiences particular impacts as set out by HospitalityUK.


Written Question
Bus Services: Fares
Thursday 2nd May 2024

Asked by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Conservative - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Transport:

To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to retain a cap on bus fares after November 2024.

Answered by Lord Davies of Gower - Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

The £2 fare cap is set to run until the end of this year, with the Government having provided almost £600 million to deliver the scheme. The Government will continue to provide funding to support the sector through our regular funding streams. This includes making over £200 million available annually to bus operators through the Bus Service Operator’s Grant to help them maintain an extensive network and keep fares down, and over £2 billion for local areas to deliver their Bus Service Improvement Plans which can support local fares initiatives.