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Written Question
Development Aid
Friday 18th March 2022

Asked by: Lord Bruce of Bennachie (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to rebuild development capacity once the commitment to a target spending of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income for Official Development Assistance is restored.

Answered by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

The FCDO continues to maintain its development capability, and is focusing its learning and development efforts to ensure that it has the right people with the right capabilities working on the highest priorities. The launch of the FCDO removed outdated and artificial distinctions between diplomacy and overseas development. The successes of COP26, the Global Education Summit, and the UK's G7 Presidency, all show the value of integrating development and diplomatic expertise to deliver for the UK.

The Government is committed to returning to spending 0.7% of GNI on official development assistance (ODA) when the fiscal situation allows and has provided a clear measure for this. The two key tests are (1) When we are not borrowing to support day-to-day spending; (2) When underlying debt is falling. Improving economic forecasts show that HMG may meet its test to return to spending 0.7% of GNI on ODA in the final year of this Spending Review.


Written Question
Electric Cables: Storms
Friday 18th March 2022

Asked by: Lord Bruce of Bennachie (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to review the vulnerability of electricity power lines to disruption caused by storm damage.

Answered by Lord Callanan

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has commissioned a post-incident review into Storm Arwen to identify lessons and best practice for system resilience, consumer protection and additional response support. The Interim Report was published on 17 February 2022 and can be accessed on gov.uk


Written Question
Legislation: Supreme Court
Monday 25th October 2021

Asked by: Lord Bruce of Bennachie (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Attorney General:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the circumstances in which they would refer a bill passed by one of the devolved legislatures to the Supreme Court.

Answered by Lord Stewart of Dirleton

The Law Officers may refer the question of whether a Bill or any provision of a Bill would be within the legislative competence of a devolved legislature to the Supreme Court for a decision.

This power is set out in relation to the Scottish Parliament, the Senedd and the Northern Ireland Assembly in section 33 of the Scotland Act 1998, section 112 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, and section 11 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, respectively. The power must be exercised within four weeks of the Bill passing its final stage in the relevant devolved legislature.

The Law Officers exercise this power where we believe that a Bill, or a provision of a Bill, is outside the legislative competence of the relevant devolved legislature. The parameters of the devolved legislatures’ competence are set out in the relevant Acts of Parliament which have devolved various policy areas. The power in each case is discretionary and exercised in accordance with the wider public interest.

Turning to the particular Act of the Scottish Parliament to which the question refers, the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill passed its final stage in the Scottish Parliament on 22 December 2020. Having taken all relevant matters into consideration, the Law Officers decided that in all the circumstances to use their discretion not to refer the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill to the Supreme Court.


Written Question
UK Withdrawal From the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Act 2021
Monday 25th October 2021

Asked by: Lord Bruce of Bennachie (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Attorney General:

To ask Her Majesty's Government why the law officers did not refer the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Act 2021 to Supreme Court within four weeks of the bill being passed by the Scottish Parliament.

Answered by Lord Stewart of Dirleton

The Law Officers may refer the question of whether a Bill or any provision of a Bill would be within the legislative competence of a devolved legislature to the Supreme Court for a decision.

This power is set out in relation to the Scottish Parliament, the Senedd and the Northern Ireland Assembly in section 33 of the Scotland Act 1998, section 112 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, and section 11 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, respectively. The power must be exercised within four weeks of the Bill passing its final stage in the relevant devolved legislature.

The Law Officers exercise this power where we believe that a Bill, or a provision of a Bill, is outside the legislative competence of the relevant devolved legislature. The parameters of the devolved legislatures’ competence are set out in the relevant Acts of Parliament which have devolved various policy areas. The power in each case is discretionary and exercised in accordance with the wider public interest.

Turning to the particular Act of the Scottish Parliament to which the question refers, the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill passed its final stage in the Scottish Parliament on 22 December 2020. Having taken all relevant matters into consideration, the Law Officers decided that in all the circumstances to use their discretion not to refer the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill to the Supreme Court.


Written Question
Independent Commission for Aid Impact: Reviews
Thursday 12th November 2020

Asked by: Lord Bruce of Bennachie (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage (1) stakeholders of, and (2) users of reports by, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact to contribute to the review of that Commission’s role; whether that review will consider any views submitted after 11 November; what plans they have to invite a member of the House of Commons International Development Committee to be a member of the team conducting the review; whether they plan to seek external challenge to the outcome of the review; and if so, by whom.

Answered by Baroness Sugg

The Review Team has published Terms of Reference for the Review of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact and sought feedback from the public. They have also asked for written information from a range of stakeholders; and are conducting a series of interviews and roundtables. The Review Team will consider written views from members of the public until 11 November.

This is an internal departmental review. The International Development Committee is being consulted and there will be a small panel of independent experts to provide challenge to the review.


Written Question
Erasmus+ Programme and Horizon 2020
Thursday 28th May 2020

Asked by: Lord Bruce of Bennachie (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish the details of (1) the criteria they will apply to, and (2) the timetable for making, a decision on participating in (a) Horizon 2020, and (b) Erasmus Plus, after the transition period of the UK's departure from the EU.

Answered by Lord Callanan

On the issue of Horizon Europe, I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave to the noble Lord Bassam of Brighton on 20th May 2020 to Question HL3887.

On the issue of Erasmus Plus, the Government remains open to considering participation the next Erasmus+ programme, provided it is in the UK’s interest to do so.

The UK will consider options for participation in elements of Erasmus+ on a time limited basis, provided they are in line with UK interests and we can agree a fair and proportionate financial contribution. Erasmus+ is a complex programme with very many elements, of which some provide value to the British taxpayer. This will be subject to our ongoing negotiations with the EU.

We will, in parallel with these negotiations, continue to develop a domestic alternative to Erasmus+, to ensure we are prepared for every eventuality as the Government remains committed to international exchanges in education, both with the EU and beyond.


Written Question
Offshore Industry: Coronavirus
Thursday 30th April 2020

Asked by: Lord Bruce of Bennachie (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking, or plan to take, to support the UK offshore oil and gas industry and its supply chain through (1) the changes in the global oil market, and (2) the COVID-19 pandemic. [T]

Answered by Lord Callanan

My Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced a host of measures to help business in this period with £330bn worth of government backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses across the UK. These support measures remain under review and have been adapted based on feedback from industry to ensure they continue to meet the needs of all sectors of the economy.

Over the past month, Ministers and officials have been proactively engaging with the oil and gas sector and its supply chain by holding virtual meetings with representatives, individual businesses, trade associations, their members and the regulators to ensure that the sector can benefit from the far-reaching package of interventions that the government has put in place to help businesses through the current situation.

Officials in the Department are working closely with the Oil and Gas Authority, to monitor and mitigate the impacts of low oil prices and Covid-19 on the sector and track any financial and operational risks, particularly any that could impact on health, safety, the environment or security of supply.


Written Question
Visas: EU Countries
Tuesday 12th March 2019

Asked by: Lord Bruce of Bennachie (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Exiting the European Union :

To ask Her Majesty's Government what visa or equivalent charges they expect UK residents to pay to secure access to EU Member States after Brexit.

Answered by Lord Callanan

The European Union has proposed to grant UK nationals visa-free travel to the EU for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. The UK has also said that we do not intend to require visas for EU citizens travelling to the UK for short stays.

The arrangements for longer stays will depend on the approach taken by individual Member States.

The FCO’s Travel Advice pages provide the most up to date information on entry requirements for travellers for each Member State.

This can be found at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Written Question
Health Services: British Nationals Abroad
Monday 11th March 2019

Asked by: Lord Bruce of Bennachie (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that UK residents travelling to and within EU member states will be able to access health care on the same basis as currently provided by the European Health Insurance Card.

Answered by Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford

Subject to the Withdrawal Agreement being agreed by Parliament, during the implementation period the current rules on reciprocal healthcare will continue until December 2020. This will include access to healthcare through the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme.

In a ‘no deal’ scenario, the United Kingdom will seek an ongoing arrangement akin to the EHIC scheme as part of negotiations on our future arrangements with the European Union.

The Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill is intended to support the implementation of comprehensive reciprocal healthcare arrangements. In a ‘no deal’, scenario the Bill can be used to protect the health aspects of citizens’ rights, to make payments in support of healthcare access abroad, and to allow data processing to facilitate this.

The reciprocal healthcare system requires reciprocity from the EU or individual Member States and cannot be protected unilaterally. The UK Government is seeking agreements with Member States, so that no individual, including those travelling in EU Member States, will face sudden changes to their healthcare cover.

The Government has published updated advice for UK persons resident in countries in the European Economic Area as well as for those wishing to travel to such countries with specific information on potential changes to access to reciprocal healthcare and precautions they may wish to take in the event of a ‘no deal’.

General information is available online via GOV.UK and country-specific advice can be found under the relevant sections of NHS.UK. This includes guidance for UK citizens living in European countries and suggestions on alternative arrangements they may wish to make, should existing arrangements such as the EHIC scheme cease, which appears as a section under the profile of each individual country.


Written Question
Credit Cards: Fees and Charges
Monday 11th March 2019

Asked by: Lord Bruce of Bennachie (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what charges they expect to be applied after Brexit to UK credit card transactions in EU member states.

Answered by Lord Bates

The UK and EU negotiating teams have reached agreement on the terms of an Implementation Period that will start on 29 March 2019 and last until 31 December 2020. During the Implementation Period, the UK will no longer be a Member State of the European Union, but market access will continue on current terms. This would mean that the current ban on surcharging consumer credit and debit cards, as set out in the second Payment Services Directive, would apply during an Implementation Period.

In the event that the UK leaves the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement or Implementation Period, credit and debit card transactions with UK payment cards in EU member states could become more expensive and surcharges may be applied, given the UK would be treated as a third country in relation to the EU. As the second Payment Services Directive, which currently bans surcharging for consumer credit and debit cards issued in EU Member States, would no longer apply to UK payment cards, any changes would be a result of the laws of individual EU Member States. The UK Government cannot legislate with respect to surcharges applied by merchants in the EU, and any decision to apply a surcharge would be a commercial decision by the merchant.

Merchants in the UK will continue to be banned from applying surcharges to payments made by a consumer credit or debit card issued by a provider based in the UK.