Lord Hylton Portrait

Lord Hylton

Crossbench - Excepted Hereditary

Lord Hylton is not a member of any APPGs
1 Former APPG membership
Friends of Syria
Committee of Selection (Lords)
4th Dec 2008 - 26th Apr 2013


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Tuesday 23rd February 2021
Trade Bill
voted Aye
One of 80 Crossbench Aye votes vs 17 Crossbench No votes
Tally: Ayes - 367 Noes - 214
Speeches
Wednesday 15th September 2021
Environment Bill

My Lords, I am as keen on the environment as anyone else, but I suggest that it is incumbent on …

Written Answers
Wednesday 27th October 2021
Prisons: Church Services
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that all HM Prisons provide a weekly chapel service.
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 Hylton has voted in 14 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
Viscount Younger of Leckie (Conservative)
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
(2 debate interactions)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative)
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
(2 debate interactions)
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Department Debates
Ministry of Defence
(1 debate contributions)
Home Office
(1 debate contributions)
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Legislation Debates
Lord Hylton has not made any spoken contributions to legislative debate
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Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Lord Hylton, 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 Hylton has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Lord Hylton has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Lord Hylton has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

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


398 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
3 Other Department Questions
11th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the relative importance of (1) improving health and education, and (2) increasing GDP per capita, in reducing poverty in the UK.

Increasing GDP per capita leads to higher individual income on average, though its impact on poverty will depend on how that increase is distributed. If there is a real terms increase in household incomes for those at the bottom of the income distribution, this reduces the number of people in absolute poverty. Higher household incomes for those at the bottom would also reduce the number of people in relative poverty, if the household incomes for those at the bottom of the income distribution were to increase relative to the median household income.

For example, from 2010 to 2019, GDP per capita grew by 10.4%. Over a similar period, from 2009-10 to 2019-20, the number of people in absolute poverty before housing costs fell by 700,000, and the number of people in relative poverty before housing costs increased by 1.4 million.

As our economic recovery gathers pace, we are continuing to help people to move into and to progress in work through our expanded Plan for Jobs. Our approach is based on clear evidence that work, particularly full time, is the most effective way of tackling poverty. In 2019/20, working age adults in households where all adults were in work were 6 times less likely to be in absolute poverty (after housing costs) than adults in a household where nobody works.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
20th May 2021
To ask the Senior Deputy Speaker what plans there are to resume physical-only proceedings in (1) the Chamber, and (2) select committees, once the majority of members and Administration staff have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The House of Lords Commission, which has responsibility for setting the strategic direction in this area, met on 25 May and had a preliminary discussion of these matters. The Commission discussion was informed by the debate on hybrid proceedings held in the Chamber on 20 May and was followed by a meeting of the Procedure and Privileges Committee, on 26 May, at which an initial consideration of procedural implications was undertaken. Proposals and options will be developed ahead of further anticipated deliberation at June meetings of the House of Lords Commission, Procedure and Privileges Committee and Liaison Committee. Decisions will continue to be informed by the latest Government guidance and advice from Public Health England. Finally, and most importantly, the House will be invited to consider motions in due course to agree Chamber and Grand Committee procedures moving forwards.

14th Dec 2020
To ask the Senior Deputy Speaker why College Green has been closed; and when it is estimated that access will be permitted.

Abingdon Green was closed as a pedestrian thoroughfare on Monday 23 November while Westminster City Council complete essential security works at the perimeter at the Great College Street end, and will reopen on Friday 18 December. Access into and out of Abingdon Green will continue from the north (Jewel Tower) end. This is the first phase of essential security work being undertaken by Westminster City Council and subsequent closures might be expected later in 2021. These works are considered to be vital to protecting the security of Parliament and the surrounding area.

13th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the forthcoming Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy Review will incorporate Britain’s role and involvement in (1) the Council of Europe, (2) the OSCE and its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, (3) the Inter-Parliamentary Union, (4) the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and (5) other multilateral agencies.

The Integrated Security Defence and Foreign Policy Review was announced in the Queen's Speech to reassess the nation’s place in the world. The review will examine how we strengthen and prioritise our alliances, diplomacy and development. It will also deliver against the government’s ambition to extend our diplomatic network; reinvigorate relationships with Europe; and seek to strengthen old and new partnerships across the world.

Earl Howe
Deputy Leader of the House of Lords
12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they plan to assess the risks of any increase in the number of satellites in low-orbit, including the risks of (1) light pollution, and (2) debris.

Her Majesty’s Government are committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer space and take our international responsibilities around debris mitigation very seriously. The Government is committed to regularly reviewing and assessing risks and uses a robust methodology to ensure that risks are up to date and understood.

In carrying out safety assessments under its current licensing process, the UK Space Agency considers operators’ collision avoidance and debris mitigation measures as conducted throughout the entire time the spacecraft remains in orbit around the Earth.

The Government also actively participates in a number of multi-lateral fora, including the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its Subcommittees and the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), alongside a number of bodies defining safety standards. Within these forums, the Government works collaboratively with its international partners to define the best practice and associated guidelines that will ensure space is accessible for future generations.

We are also working with satellite operators, the Royal Astronomical Society, the European Astronomical Society and the International Astronomical Union to understand the impacts of the artificial light generated by satellites and clarify what actions could be taken to mitigate interference for the UK community and our international partners. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, alongside the UK Space Agency, will continue to support the UK science and astronomy community.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have (1) to reduce and, if possible, (2) to eliminate, the flaring of surplus gas from production platforms and refineries before COP26.

The Government continues to support measures in place to continue the reduction in flared and vented gas, via both the individual actions of the relevant regulators and collaborative engagement to share learning and identify further improvements on this practice.

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) is taking a robust stance to reduce flaring and venting from oil and gas production platforms through its consents, field development process and project stewardship role. The OGA issues consents for flaring and venting of gas on extant licences, where necessary for safety purposes, and is exploring tougher measures as part of this process, to eliminate unnecessary flaring and venting. The OGA has also expanded its benchmarking activity to the flaring and venting of greenhouse gases on the UK Continental Shelf – detailing flaring and venting activity levels in the North Sea – to enable operators to learn from good examples set by others.

In 2018, the Environment Agency reissued its environmental permits for oil & gas refineries under the Environmental Permitting Regulations to reflect the revised European standard limiting the use of flares for safety reasons or for non-routine operational conditions only, alongside several techniques for reducing emissions to air when flaring is unavoidable.

Furthermore, the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED) is responsible for developing, administering and enforcing the offshore oil and gas environmental regulatory regime. As the Regulator for the environment, OPRED is charged with protecting the environment, and issuing permits under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme which provides a fiscal regime for emissions reduction.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to develop an internet service provider children protection policy; and what plans they have to require British telecommunications companies to demonstrate that they are taking steps to block child pornography wherever they operate or invest.

The government has no plans to develop a specific internet service provider child protection policy.

Tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse is a priority for the new online safety regulatory framework. All companies in scope will need to ensure that illegal content is removed expeditiously and that the risk of it appearing is minimised through effective systems.

Internet service providers will not be in scope of the duty of care. This is because they do not directly host user generated content or provide search engine services. It would not be proportionate to impose duties on such companies as they do not control if, or how, content is hosted or promoted. Subjecting them to new duties could incentivise broad blocking or removal of websites or apps, which would pose significant risks to freedom of expression and users’ ability to access services. However, they will have duties with regard to enforcement action and Ofcom will be able to require these services, where appropriate, to cooperate with business disruption measures.

Furthermore, the government will produce voluntary best practice guidance for infrastructure service providers, setting out where their actions can help identify and prevent child sexual exploitation and abuse. This guidance will be separate from the online harms regime.

Pornography is a legal activity amongst consenting adults. Children cannot consent to sexual activity under UK law, and “child pornography” is an inappropriate description of illegal sexual abuse. The terms used in the UK are indecent imagery of children (IIOC) or child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of state schools providing (1) breakfast clubs, (2) food banks, and (3) food and other parcels, to the families of pupils; and what plans they have to support schools to continue this provision in the long-term.

The government remains committed to ensuring the most disadvantaged children continue to be supported.

The department is investing up to £38 million in the National School Breakfast Programme. Overall, this money will set up or improve breakfast clubs in up to 2,450 schools in disadvantaged areas, making them sustainable in the long run. The focus of these clubs has been to target the most disadvantaged areas of the country – including the Department for Education’s Opportunity Areas – to help make sure every child gets the best start in life. We will shortly be providing more information on the future of breakfast club provision, as our current contract is due to expire in July.

During the periods of school attendance restrictions, schools have been asked to continue to provide support for eligible free school meal pupils learning at home. Schools have been able to choose the approach that works best for them, whether providing a lunch parcel, a locally arranged voucher or accessing the national voucher scheme. So far families have redeemed more than £90 million in supermarket vouchers during this school term.

The government has taken unprecedented measures during the COVID-19 outbreak to protect the most vulnerable and put in place a strong package of financial support to support families and children. The COVID Winter Support Package was announced in November 2020. This included: the Department for Work and Pensions’ £170 million COVID Winter Grant Scheme, which has now been extended until the end of the Easter holidays (16 April 2021); the £220 million national expansion of the department’s Holiday Activities and Food Programme in 2021; and a further £16 million for FareShare to distribute to food charities.

4th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to publish their response to the List of Issues for the combined 6th and 7th reports under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This government is fully committed to protecting and promoting children’s rights. In 2020 we held a parliamentary reception to celebrate 30 years of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which was ratified in 1991 by the government. We regularly report to the UN Committee on the work we have been doing across the UK to implement the UNCRC and promote children’s rights.

We intend to submit our combined sixth and seventh report to the UN Committee in accordance with the timelines prescribed by the Committee, in February 2022.

12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to protect the best interests of children who have a parent in custody, during, and after, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ensuring that vulnerable children remain safe and protected is our top priority. For children who have a parent in custody, their circumstances vary considerably and therefore local agencies are best placed to determine what support is needed. This may include early help, statutory social care services, or support for other needs, such as mental health. A child’s need for support should be assessed individually. We do not believe a prescriptive approach – such as regarding all children of prisoners as children in need – is the right one. However, it is vital that all services consider the safeguarding and welfare issues that may be faced by children of prisoners.

The statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018), is unequivocally clear that anyone who has concerns about a child’s welfare should make a referral to local authority children’s social care. The local authority and its social workers then have specific roles and responsibilities to lead statutory assessments or enquiries to determine whether the child is in need (section 17, Children Act 1989), or suffering or likely to suffer significant harm (section 47, Children Act 1989).

We know that attending education settings is an important protective factor for vulnerable children. That is why we have ensured vulnerable groups, including children with a social worker and children assessed as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities, can continue to attend educational settings. We are also providing laptops and tablets for children with a social worker and care leavers, and those in year 10 preparing for exams who do not already have such devices, to help children’s social care services keep in touch and keep children safe, and to support remote education.

For schools and colleges, the statutory guidance, Keeping Children Safe in Education, sets out that staff should consider the additional needs of children with parents in prison. The guidance highlights the risk of poor outcomes including poverty, stigma, isolation and poor mental health. It signposts staff to the National Information Centre on Children of Offenders website which provides specialist advice and resources to support professionals working with offenders and their children, to help mitigate negative consequences for those children.

We recognise the importance of supporting and maintaining links between offenders and their families, when this is in the best interests of the child. This is why HM Prison and Probation Service have been active in responding to this need and providing support for the families and children of those men, women and young people in their care. This includes the issuing of 900 mobile phones to establishments, piloting a video calling service, video messaging, using social media to update families, issuing letters from senior prison staff to prisoners’ families with information and updates on conditions, weekly bulletins and updates from establishments, reassurance updates from healthcare and psychology teams, and running art competitions for children of prisoners.

12th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many (1) prosecutions, and (2) convictions, have been obtained in each of the last five years for discharging (a) general garbage, (b) plastic materials, and (c) fishing nets, into natural waters in England.

The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste. In December 2018, we published the Resources and Waste Strategy, which sets out how we want to achieve this and move towards a circular economy while stamping out waste crime. We also committed in the Strategy to consult on measures such as Extended Producer Responsibility for fishing gear.

The number of prosecutions and convictions on discharging (a) general garbage, (b) plastic materials, and (c) fishing nets, into natural waters in England are not centrally held in the court proceedings database as these specific offences are not separately defined in legislation. Identifying prosecutions and convictions for such actions would require a manual search of court records, which would incur disproportionate costs.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 it is an offence to litter or to knowingly cause or permit the unauthorised or harmful deposit, treatment or disposal of waste.

Published figures for prosecutions and convictions for these offences are available in the Home Office code principal offence tool at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/987731/HO-code-tool-principal-offence-2020.xlsx

It is important to note that these numbers include all prosecutions and convictions that fall within each offence category, beyond those specifically requested and beyond just natural waterways.

Defra also publishes annual statistics for fly-tipping, which include enforcement actions. These are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/fly-tipping-in-england

Under the Merchant Shipping Regulations on the Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships (2020), the discharge of all garbage into the sea is prohibited with very limited exceptions. In all cases the discharge of plastic is prohibited. These regulations bring the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships (MARPOL Annex V) into UK law. No data has yet been collected for these regulations.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of amendment 53 to the Environment Bill at report stage in the House of Lords regarding the diversity of insect life and pollination.

Decisions on pesticide authorisation are based on expert assessment by the Health and Safety Executive. The independent UK Expert Committee on Pesticides advises on novel scientific issues. Current legislation already requires that active substances and pesticide products have “no unacceptable effects on the environment … having particular regard to its impact on non-target species”, which can include impacts on bees and other pollinators.

The scientific risk assessment relies on detailed data requirements and processes, carried across from EU law at the end of the transition period. The Government will ensure that these are updated to keep in step with developments in scientific understanding. Risk assessments made for active substances are already subject to public consultation. These assessments establish the key risks posed by pesticide substances in representative conditions of use.

Protecting pollinators is a priority. The National Pollinator Strategy, developed and updated alongside many partners following thorough scientific review, identifies pressures on pollinators on which we are acting, including potential harm from pesticide use, habitat loss and fragmentation, and invasive species.

We continue making decisions on pesticides use based on scientific risk assessments, while aiming to achieve high levels of protection for people, wildlife, and the environment.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of House of Lords report stage amendment 53 to the Environment Bill, which would insert a clause on the protection of pollinators from pesticides.

Decisions on pesticide authorisation are based on expert assessment by the Health and Safety Executive. The independent UK Expert Committee on Pesticides advises on novel scientific issues. Current legislation already requires that active substances and pesticide products have “no unacceptable effects on the environment … having particular regard to its impact on non-target species”, which can include impacts on bees and other pollinators.

The scientific risk assessment relies on detailed data requirements and processes, carried across from EU law at the end of the transition period. The Government will ensure that these are updated to keep in step with developments in scientific understanding. Risk assessments made for active substances are already subject to public consultation. These assessments establish the key risks posed by pesticide substances in representative conditions of use.

Protecting pollinators is a priority. The National Pollinator Strategy, developed and updated alongside many partners following thorough scientific review, identifies pressures on pollinators on which we are acting, including potential harm from pesticide use, habitat loss and fragmentation, and invasive species.

We continue making decisions on pesticides use based on scientific risk assessments, while aiming to achieve high levels of protection for people, wildlife, and the environment.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their analysis of the impact of palm-oil production on (1) indigenous small farmers, (2) global climate, (3) food manufacturing, and (4) consumer diets and health.

To inform our policies on palm oil, the Government draws on the analysis of experts and NGOs, as well as working with the UK roundtable on sustainable palm oil, and the work of certification schemes like Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. In addition, we utilise government programming like Partnerships for Forests and the independent Global Resource Initiative to help inform policies on palm oil and on supply chains more widely.

This analysis has indicated that palm oil can be associated with negative environmental impacts, such as deforestation, land conversion and associated climate impacts. However, it also shows that oil palm is a very efficient crop, producing more oil per hectare than other vegetable oil crops. Substitution with other oils (e.g. soybean, rapeseed, sunflower), which typically require significantly more land to produce, may lead to greater deforestation as more land is converted to agricultural use. More than 3 million smallholder farmers make a living from palm oil, providing 40% of total production, and palm oil is important for food security in many countries

Certifiably sustainable palm oil increases traceability and transparency through the supply chain, supporting manufacturers and retail to make more informed decisions about their sourcing, and allowing them to source from producers with a lower environmental footprint. The UK’s Partnership for Forests programme includes support to develop new standards for the sustainable production of palm oil, and support to test new ways of growing oil palm that brings greater benefits to local communities and protects forests.

Finally, palm oil is an important part of food production globally. We want the entire supply chain to help to deliver healthier food and encourage healthy eating. To that end, our Food Strategy White Paper will build on existing policy work such as that developed under the Agriculture Act, and the obesity strategy, to help ensure our food system delivers healthy and affordable food for all people and is built upon a resilient and sustainable agriculture sector.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all (1) removal of forest and woodland cover, and (2) peat extraction, is balanced by new or replacement planting.

The recently published England Trees Action Plan and England Peat Action Plan set out our ambitions to massively increase woodland creation, peatland restoration, and their protection and management in support of Net Zero commitments and nature recovery. This is being kickstarted using the £640m Nature for Climate Fund.

The Government has a general policy against permanent loss of woodland and tree cover, and the management and felling of trees is managed through the felling licence regime. We have developed the National Framework of Green Infrastructure Standards to help local authorities, developers and communities improve greening provisions in their areas.

The Government open habitat policy helps balancing conversion of woodland to open habitat and protection of existing woodland, to generate landscapes that provide benefits for people and wildlife for the 21st century.

There are an estimated 24 extraction licences currently in operation in England and each extraction permission already contains a condition requiring the restoration of the site at the conclusion of the permission to ensure a return over time to as near a natural state as possible. We have taken action to tackle domestic extraction of peat which includes the National Planning Policy Framework, first published in 2012. This ends the granting of licences for peat extraction on new sites or extensions to existing sites and peat extraction in England will therefore end when those remaining licenses expire. Peatland restoration has already begun on some sites.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps have been taken since 2004 to reduce, and if possible eliminate, the (1) trapping, and (2) shooting, of migrating birds in the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus, in particular since the Larnaca Declaration of 2011.

The Sovereign Base Areas Administration (SBAA) has a zero tolerance policy towards the trapping and killing of wild birds and continues to make significant efforts to prevent the trapping in the Eastern Sovereign Base Areas of Cyprus, using increased enforcement and denial of trapping opportunities.

The Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) Police continue to use a detect, deter and disrupt strategy against the trappers. This includes seeking improved evidence collection, using enhanced surveillance equipment, resulting in greater fixed penalty notices and/or court sentences. The programme of seizing bird trapping paraphernalia continues, as does extensive patrolling by the SBA Police during the migratory seasons.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and BirdLife Cyprus have recognised the SBAA’s continued efforts highlighting an estimated 94% reduction in mist netting activity in 2020 compared to the baseline year of 2002.

All opportunities are taken to enhance the excellent cooperation between the SBAA, the RSPB, BirdLife Cyprus and other NGOs involved in preventing illegal bird trapping.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the evidence of the impact of urban light pollution on (1) migrating birds, (2) resident birds, and (3) astronomy; and what plans they have to reducing the adverse effects of light pollution.

Defra has published or contributed to a range of assessments of the impact of artificial light on insects and wider biodiversity, as well as global and national assessments of the drivers of biodiversity loss more generally.

There has been no systematic research on or appraisal of the effects of urban lighting on migratory or resident birds. There is some evidence that artificial lighting can assist nocturnal feeding for some species under certain circumstances and prolong activity of birds beyond their normal periods. More significantly, there is evidence that shows strong light sources can disorient birds in flight and lead to direct mortality due to collisions with the light sources, their associated structures, and the ground.

In particular research suggests that artificial light can have an adverse effect on migratory birds’ ability to undertake long distance migrations. Birds attracted to light are not only at risk of death or injury due to collision with buildings and other structures, but are also at risk of exhaustion, starvation, or predation.

However, neither national nor global research has identified artificial light as a significant threat to UK bird populations. The UK’s recent report to the EU under Article 12 of the Birds Directive identified a medium threat to storm petrels from ‘attraction to and incineration by flares from oil platforms and rigs.

Government officials have met with relevant stakeholders including the Commission for Dark Skies but have not made an assessment of the impact of light pollution on astronomy.

The National Planning Policy Framework sets out how the possible ecological impacts of artificial light should be considered in the planning system. It makes clear that policies and decisions should limit the impact of light pollution on local amenity, dark landscapes, and nature conservation, including where there may be impacts on wildlife and ecosystems. Defra has contributed to associated guidance published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to consult all European countries about the reported declines in insect populations.

The UK Government is committed to action for pollinators, globally and at home. We regularly discuss and share information on research, policy and practical activities with a number of countries, in and beyond Europe, on reported declines and how best to address them.

The UK is a member of ‘Promote Pollinators’, an international coalition of the willing, with 60 members, including countries in Europe and across the world, committed to action to protect pollinators.

We have also supported collaborative international research which has underpinned such initiatives, including a major global review of the status and threats to insect pollinators, published in 2015 by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

The UK continues to play a leading role in the development of an ambitious post-2020 global framework for biodiversity to be adopted at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. We will be supporting ambitious targets to bend the curve on biodiversity loss by 2030 - including in areas which will help to recover insect populations, such as ecosystem restoration and species recovery - supported by strengthened reporting and review mechanisms to help facilitate the implementation of the targets.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what provision they plan to make (1) in 2021, and (2) in later years, for the recruitment of seasonal workers in (a) agriculture, (b) horticulture, and (c) food-processing.

The Government knows how important seasonal workers are to our farmers and growers and to the food-processing sector, supporting the growth and prosperity of our farming, fisheries and food and drink sectors by helping to ensure that produce is picked and processed.

In 2021 and beyond, agricultural businesses will continue to be able to rely on EU nationals living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status - around 3.5 million EU citizens and their families have been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme - and there will continue to be other flexibility in the system.

Defra has been encouraging the horticulture sector to employ domestic workers, which has been supported by the 'Pick for Britain' campaign this year. This was a joint Defra and industry initiative to support the recruitment of British workers to help with this year's harvest during the Covid-19 pandemic. We will take lessons from this campaign to help inform the future needs of the sector.

The Seasonal Workers Pilot has operated in 2019 and 2020 and allowed the recruitment of up to 10,000 non-EEA seasonal workers this year. The Pilot will run until the end of December 2020 when the new points-based immigration system will come into force. The Pilot will be evaluated ahead of any decisions being taken on how future needs of the sector will be addressed.

2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to secure a global ban on the sale of bush-meat, in particular with regard to preventing the transfer of diseases from animals to humans

We remain concerned about the impact the bush-meat trade can have on endangered species. However, we are not currently seeking a blanket ban on the sale of bush-meat as a means of preventing the transfer of zoonotic diseases. It is clear that poorly managed and illegal wildlife trade (IWT) poses threats to animal health and welfare, diminishes our biodiversity, undermines governance, and can result in serious public health issues. However, well managed, sustainable trade can make important contributions to biodiversity conservation, livelihoods and wealth creation, social cohesion and cultural identity, and help meet the nutritional needs of local and rural communities in developing nations.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have for ending the use of plastics in fishing lines and nets.

Through the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR), the UK co-led a study (attached and available at https://www.ospar.org/documents?v=42718) on best practice for the design and recycling of fishing gear in the North-East Atlantic. This study will support countries to develop measures to reduce the environmental impact of fishing gear at end-of-life, which could include alternative gear design and improved recycling.

A wide variety of materials are used to make fishing gear and important design considerations include functionality, durability and cost. Plastic is an essential material in current fishing gear and the Government is not planning to end its use.

In England, the Government has committed to reviewing and consulting on measures such as Extended Producer Responsibility to ensure that fishing gear that is no longer fit for purpose is disposed of correctly and prevented from polluting the ocean.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have put in place to deal with any long spring and summer drought, in particular in relation to the potential impact of such a drought on food supplies and public health.

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

The Government has a range of policies in place to mitigate the impacts of drought, including the impact on food supplies and public health:

  • The Environment Agency, which has responsibility for managing water resources and protecting the environment, chairs the National Drought Group (NDG). The NDG consists of representatives from regulators such as Public Health England (PHE), the agricultural sector and water companies. This group ensures that all sectors work together and take action to manage any impacts of dry weather and drought.

  • Water companies have the legal duty to supply adequate quantities of wholesome water. To fulfil their duties, water companies maintain statutory drought plans, which set out the short-term actions they will take should a drought develop. Water companies’ drought plans are published on their websites.

The impacts of drought on food supply are mitigated by the UK’s robust and reliable food industry, which is experienced in dealing with scenarios that can affect food supply, from adverse weather damaging crops to transport issues abroad. The size and diversity of the industry is a key factor in enabling the food sector to remain resilient to food supply chain disruptions. The expertise, capability, levers and resilience to plan for and respond to food supply disruption lies within the industry.

The health effects of drought are primarily indirect, including: injury, risk to public and private water supply; dust-related problems for those with pre-existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease; and impacts on mental health and wellbeing. PHE specifically plans for the risks of hot weather, including drought, in the Heatwave and Summer preparedness programme of the Heatwave Plan for England - which became operational in June 2020.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many trees have been planted in (1) England, (2) Scotland, and (3) Wales, in each of the last three years; and what were the respective acreages of (a) replanting of existing woodlands, and (b) new afforestation.

The Forestry Commission produces statistics on woodland planting and restocking by area, but not by tree numbers, in the UK. These are Official Statistics produced to meet the standards of the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Woodland area statistics can be found on the Forest Research website together with background information at: https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/forestry-statistics/

The area of new planting (woodland creation) and publicly funded restocking for each country in each of the last three years, taken from the published statistics, which report in hectares, is shown below.

Woodland Area (thousands of hectares)

Year (ending 31/3)

New planting

Restocking

England

2016-17

1.15

3.00

2017-18

1.50

2.04

2018-19

1.42

1.65

Wales

2016-17

0.40

1.67

2017-18

0.24

1.71

2018-19

0.52

1.44

Scotland

2016-17

4.76

11.07

2017-18

7.14

9.66

2018-19

11.21

11.19

Note: Publicly funded restocking is defined in the statistics as restocking of Forestry England, Forestry and Land Scotland, Natural Resources Wales Forest Service Woodlands and grant aided restocking of private sector woodland. This means that the level of restocking is under-reported in these statistics.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had, and intend to have, with UNHCR and other governments and agencies, about (1) the resettlement of refugees and migrants, and (2) preventing existing refugee camps and detention centres becoming permanent.

The UK maintains an ongoing dialogue with UNHCR and a range of other partners, including other governments and agencies, and has a strong and constructive relationship across a range of asylum and resettlement issues.

Our resettlement schemes offer a safe and legal route to the UK for vulnerable refugees in need of protection. We work closely with UNHCR in the operation of our schemes. UNHCR is uniquely placed to identify those living in formal refugee camps, informal settlements and host communities who would benefit most from resettlement to the UK.

Refugee camps provide vital humanitarian assistance including shelter, food, clean water, and sanitation and medical services, but can also limit movement and longer-term options for refugees. As such, they are normally considered temporary measures of last resort. While camps provide a vital lifeline for many refugees a relatively small number (around 5.3 million refugees) live in them, with the majority in urban areas, informal settlements and out-of-camp individual accommodation.

We actively engaged in agreeing the Global Compact on Refugees, which aims to boost refugees’ self-reliance while simultaneously supporting generous host communities and countries – an approach that the UK has helped to develop and champion.

15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken in response to the appeal by the Libyan National Centre for Disease Control for ventilators and other medical supplies to counter COVID-19.

The UK remains concerned about the violent conflict in Libya, the impact this has on the humanitarian situation and implications for COVID-19 response. The UK is supporting the COVID-response in Libya, including through support for online information dissemination; supporting Social Peace Partnerships in over 12 municipalities to deliver awareness-raising campaigns, mobilise production of face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE), and delivery of food to vulnerable families; and supporting reporting and analysis on the COVID-19 situation.

We continue to work closely with WHO and the humanitarian community in Libya to ensure that international funding and expertise are effectively deployed during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support the reopening of all recognised border crossings in Syria for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The UK is lobbying for the renewal of UN Security Council Resolution 2504, permitting cross-border aid delivery into North West Syria, before its expiry on 10 July. We are regularly raising our view at UN fora, and are using bilateral meetings to encourage other donors to support this position. It is essential that humanitarian actors continue to have the unhindered access they need to address severe needs.

Additionally, the loss of Yaroubiya crossing in January has created several critical gaps in the North East Syria healthcare response, which have not been filled by UN cross-line aid delivery from Damascus. This is particularly concerning in light of COVID-19, and we are therefore lobbying for the reinstatement of Yaroubiya crossing. Similarly, we are raising this at meetings involving the UN and other donors, and will continue to push for cross-line and cross-border aid delivery in Northern Syria.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance they and international partners are providing to the government of Kenya to deal with (1) locusts, (2) malaria, (3) food shortages, and (4) COVID-19, particularly in the Nairobi and Mombasa regions.

The UK is supporting the Government of Kenya’s response to locusts through a £7 million contribution to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation’s regional locust appeal, and core funding to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, which has committed £7.5 million. This will help support efforts to control and manage the outbreak.

UK support to malaria is provided through the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria (GFATM), to which the UK contributes approximately 10 per cent of the overall budget. To date, GFATM has disbursed approximately £311 million for malaria in Kenya, the majority of which has been used to procure key commodities for treatment, testing and bed nets.

On food shortages, since 2007, the UK has committed £255 million to establish and support the government’s Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) in four arid counties. HSNP provides regular cash transfers to over 100,000 households, with capacity to reach an additional 275,000 households during drought periods. The transfers are largely used to meet beneficiaries’ food needs. In addition, the World Food Programme is supporting GoK to assist up to 390,000 vulnerable and food insecure people, including through cash transfers and in-kind food assistance.

5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the humanitarian aid package for Libya proposed by the government of Malta and agreed with EU Foreign Ministers on 22 April.

We welcome efforts to address the humanitarian situation in Libya. The UK remains deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict in Libya and by the potential for COVID-19 to have a devastating impact. We urge all parties to the conflict to de-escalate and engage with the UN and the humanitarian community to reduce the impact on the population and to allow an effective response to the shared threat of COVID-19. The UK continues to support humanitarian response in Libya, including in the healthcare sector.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the decision by the governments of Italy, Malta and Libya to disallow landing facilities for refugees and migrants rescued at sea, what plans they have to call for the establishment of COVID-19 testing and quarantining arrangements for refugees and migrants in those and other countries.

This is a fast-moving situation and Italy, Malta and Libya are all adapting their approach to the evolving threat posed by COVID-19. Their responses include dedicated structures to quarantine rescued migrants, mandatory self-isolation for 14 days, testing regimes and, in Libya’s case, disembarkation only in accordance with the Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration’s capacity to provide shelter. The UK is monitoring these situations closely. In Libya, the UK continues to provide humanitarian support in the healthcare sector.

The UK has contributed over £744 million of UK Aid in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, including £20 million to the UN Refugees Agency (UNHCR) to ensure UK Aid meets the needs of vulnerable groups such as refugees. This includes providing access to health services and medical supplies, improving shelters so people with symptoms can isolate, and making sure that there are adequate hygiene supplies and facilities for hand washing in camps and large settlements, to prevent the humanitarian disaster that mass infections among refugees would bring.

14th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to ensure that necessary aid access to Syria is maintained, including by alternative routes, following the UN Security Council Decision of 10 January only to re-authorise two of the four crossing-points from Turkey to Syria for a period of six months rather than 12.

We are gravely disappointed that the new resolution loses two of the four crossing-points into Syria, including Yaroubiya, the only UN-mandated border crossing into the North East. With UN agencies unable to deliver aid cross-border into North East Syria, and medical supplies from Yaroubiya reaching 1.4 million people last year, DFID Ministers and UK Officials are raising this with the UN, and will ask the UN to report regularly on the humanitarian situation in North East Syria. DFID is also speaking with international partners to determine how to meet the immediate shortfall in medical supplies. The UK is committed to supporting UN and NGO partners to have unfettered humanitarian access to all those in need in Syria, across all modalities, and this cannot be time-restricted.

8th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that any existing unlimited-value open licences for the export of military equipment do not permit any governments considered to have human rights concerns to receive weapons or ammunition without sufficient scrutiny and end-use verification; and what plans they have to cease the issue of such licences to such countries.

All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the ‘Consolidated Criteria’).

In reaching a decision, the Department for International Trade (DIT) receives advice from a number of Departments including the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Together, we draw on all available information, including reports from Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and our diplomatic missions. The Consolidated Criteria provides a thorough risk assessment framework and requires us to think hard about the impact of exporting any items.

A licence will not be issued if to do so would be inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria, including where there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression.

We are able to review licences – and suspend or revoke as necessary – when circumstances require, in line with the Consolidated Criteria.

We have no plans to cease the issue of open licences.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
20th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Prime Minister has received a joint letter, dated 2 September, from community organisations representing Cypriots, Armenians, Kurds and Egyptians in the UK about the government of Turkey's military actions; and if so, what assessment they have made of that letter.

The joint letter was responded to by HM Government on 30th September 2020.

The response outlined our priority to replicate the effects of the existing EU trading relationship with Turkey as far as possible, into a bilateral arrangement by the end of the Transition Period, whilst also offering reassurance on the robustness of our policies on the important matters raised. Trade does not come at the expense of our record in upholding rights and responsibilities, which a key part of our foreign policy, and HM Government will continue to engage the Turkish Government on these issues.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to suspend the provision of export licences to the United States for tear gas and plastic or rubber bullets.

My Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade and I have been sorry to see the violence that has taken place in the United States of America.

All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (‘Consolidated Criteria’). In reaching a decision, the Department for International Trade (DIT) receives advice from a number of Departments including the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Together, we draw on all available information, including reports from Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and our diplomatic missions. The Consolidated Criteria provides a thorough risk assessment framework and requires us to think hard about the impact of exporting any equipment. These are not decisions my Department takes lightly, and we will not license the export of items where to do so would be inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria.

Any licence granted by my Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade may be subject to conditions. In addition, in line with the Consolidated Criteria, my Department are able to review licences – and suspend or revoke as necessary – when circumstances require. There are currently eight extant licences that may be linked to law enforcement agencies. Six are Open Individual Export Licences (‘OIELs’), which have potential end users that include law enforcement agencies. Two are Standard Individual Export Licences (‘SIELs’), which have numerous potential end users that include law enforcement agencies. There are also fifteen Open General Licences (‘OGLs’) for which businesses can register that cover the export of anti-riot gear.

We continue to monitor developments in all countries closely. We are able to review licences and suspend or revoke as necessary when circumstances require, and this is done in line with the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. We have suspended or revoked licences when our assessment changes. This shows how seriously we take the guiding principle of responsible export controls.

Much information is in the public domain already. We publish information on all export licences issued, refused and revoked on a quarterly and annual basis as official statistics on GOV.UK – at: www.gov.uk/government/collections/strategic-export-controls-licensing-data – and whilst data on actual exports is not required to be centrally held, the licences issued until the end of December 2019 are available.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
15th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they consider that space travel should be limited to scientific research, rather than space tourism.

We are on the threshold of the new commercial space age, and this is a pivotal moment for the UK’s spaceflight ambitions.

The UK Government has put in place the legislation needed for operators to open spaceports which allows for a range of commercial spaceflight activities, including suborbital space-tourism. However, it will be up to the operators of the spaceports what services they seek to run from them. The immediate focus for the UK Government is enabling launch and supporting the small satellite launch market. These small satellites can support improvements to public services for all.

Growing our launch capability will help create new jobs and bring economic benefits to communities and organisations right across the UK, as well as inspiring the next generation of space scientists and engineers.

Access to space is also essential for improving understanding of climate change and our efforts to tackle it. Satellite measurements of Earth’s temperature, greenhouse gas emissions, atmospheric gases, sea levels, ice cover and other properties give the science community valuable data that can help us analyse and predict the impacts of climate change to enable effective strategies and decisions to be made. UK launch capability will enable the expansion and enhancement of earth observation and the gathering of environmental data, enabling a real and meaningful contribution to tackling climate change.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent seafarers' employment contracts from being extended because of COVID-19.

The UK strongly supports the United Nation General Assembly’s resolution on international cooperation to address challenges faced by seafarers to support global supply chains and the International Labour Organization’s resolution on maritime labour issues, both in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has published an information note which aims to help address serious concerns about seafarer wellbeing arising due to COVID-19 restrictions. The MCA considers any request for an extension of a Seafarer Employment Agreement on a case by case basis. An extension will only be given if they are completely satisfied that any health, safety or wellbeing concerns are being addressed and only with the consent of the seafarer.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
13th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of vessels in British ports or territorial waters whose crews have been on board for more than eleven months; and what steps they are taking to ensure the repatriation of such crew members.

For cruise vessels laid up in the UK, we are aware of 39 seafarers who have now gone over their 11 months. We continue to support operators in regard to repatriation and there are a number of planned repatriation flights over the next four weeks which should see many seafarers returning home. There are a small number of states where repatriation continues to be difficult or not possible and we are working with those States to seek solutions.

In regard to other vessels operating or calling at UK ports, we are not aware of any UK flagged ships in the UK territorial waters with seafarers who have been on board for more than 11 months.

With the exception of cruise vessels, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, as the port state authority, has not been made aware of any seafarers who have been working on board for more than 11 months on non-UK ships.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to extend the £20 per week increase in the standard rate of Universal Credit to people remaining on legacy benefits such as Jobseeker's Allowance and Income Support.

The Government introduced a package of temporary welfare measures worth around £9.3 billion this year to help with the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. This included the £20 weekly increase to the Universal Credit Standard Allowance rates as a temporary measure for the 20/21 tax year.

We are continuing to work with the Treasury on the best ways to support those receiving benefits.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to replace Universal Credit Advance Payment loans with grants or 'starter payments' to reduce applicants' accrual of debt during the five-week waiting period.

We have no plans to do this. Our focus remains firmly on ensuring that millions of new and existing claimants continue to receive their payments on time, and that we do everything possible to support people back into work where it is right to do so.

Nobody has to wait for five weeks for a Universal Credit (UC) payment. New Claims Advances are available which allow claimants to receive up to 100 per cent of their estimated UC payment upfront so that new claimants will receive their annual award over 13 payments during their first year, instead of 12. These advances are not loans.

The Department has announced that from October 2021, the maximum recovery period is increasing from 12 to 24 months for new claim and benefit transfer advances and that we are reducing the normal maximum level of deductions from a claimant’s UC Standard Allowance to 25 per cent, down from 30 per cent.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publicise and promote the Alternative Payment Arrangements for Universal Credit.

The Department for Work and Pensions recognises that vulnerable claimants may need additional support managing their money. Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs) are available to help Universal Credit (UC) claimants have their award paid differently. This can involve housing costs being paid directly to a claimant’s landlord, receiving twice monthly instead of monthly payments and/or having the UC award split between two members of a couple.

APAs can be considered at any point during the UC claim. Crucially, these arrangements are intended only for vulnerable claimants who need targeted, additional support in managing their money – for example, claimants with dependency issues, learning difficulties, significant debts and/or victims of domestic abuse.

The Department already publicises APAs. UC work coaches have clear guidance to help them identify when an APA may be appropriate and will always consider any APA that would best support the claimant. Identifying vulnerabilities is a key element of the work coach role and allows the Department to tailor the support it offers to each claimant. In addition, landlords and support organisations are aware of this provision and can request an APA be considered at any time for claimants they are supporting. GOV.UK also includes APAs as part of the additional financial support available to UC claimants

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the proposed reforms to adult social care announced in September, what steps they are taking to ensure that as many people as possible can remain in their own homes for as long as reasonably possible.

We recognise the important role of housing in providing care and support to people in the community. There is clear evidence that the right housing arrangements can deliver improved outcomes and meet people’s preferences to remain in their own home. The Government will invest in the Disabled Facilities Grant and supported housing, as well as exploring other innovative housing solutions to allow more people to live independently at home for longer with personalised care and support. We will continue to work closely with the sector, including as part of the white paper on adult social care which will be published later this year.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether those with an incomplete record of National Insurance contributions will in future have full access to social support and care.

Local authorities are responsible for assessing an individual’s eligibility for care and support as set out in the Care Act 2014 and for meeting their eligible needs. A person’s National Insurance Contributions does not impact upon this.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what advice they have given to the NHS about priorities for preventing disease, and (2) what percentage of total health expenditure is devoted to disease prevention.

The 2021-22 Mandate to NHS England and NHS Improvement sets an objective to improve the prevention of ill-health and delivery of public health services. This includes investment in evidence-based programmes on smoking, alcohol and secondary prevention of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and dementia.

While National Health Service spending on prevention is not collected in the format requested, the Office for National Statistics estimates that prevention forms approximately 5% of all public funding on health in the United Kingdom. We have asked NHS England and NHS Improvement to introduce a yearly prevention spend, outcome and trajectory reporting criteria, including for major preventable diseases.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the provision of social care for (1) the elderly, and (2) physically and mentally impaired people, at a (a) local, (b) regional, and (c) national, level.

The Department has not made a specific assessment. However, the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF), provides a consistent basis for local accountability and for measuring the outcomes and experience of people who use social care services, including people over 65 years old, younger adults, adults with a learning disability and adults in contact with secondary mental health services.

The ASCOF figures are available at local authority, regional, and national level and is used to measure progress, set priorities for care and support and strengthen transparency and accountability. The Government does not seek to performance manage councils in relation to any of the measures set out in this Framework. The ASCOF informs and supports improvement led by the sector itself, underpinned by strengthened transparency and local accountability.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will classify the crews of merchant ships coming to British ports as vital workers with priority for vaccination.

Merchant ship crews coming into British ports have not been prioritised for vaccination based on their occupation. However, everyone aged 18 and over in the United Kingdom can now receive their vaccination; this includes all seafarers calling in UK ports.

The Government encourages all eligible seafarers and cruise ship employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The Department is working closely with the Department for Transport, the Devolved Administrations and NHS England and Improvement to ensure that operational challenges in vaccinating these groups are mitigated so all those who are eligible can access the vaccine in an efficient and convenient way.

For phase one of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the JCVI considered evidence on the risk of exposure and risk of mortality from COVID-19, and subsequently provided advice that only health and social care workers should be prioritised for vaccination. The objective of this prioritisation was to protect workers at high risk of exposure, who, should they become infected, may also expose vulnerable individuals to COVID-19 whilst providing care. The Government accepted the JCVI advice.

8th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the implications for the response to COVID-19 in the UK of the open letter from medical doctors and health professionals to Belgian authorities and media on 5 September concerning global COVID-19 public health measures.

The Government has made no specific assessment of the letter referred to.

15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they plan to fill staff vacancies in the NHS; and from where they expect to recruit such staff (1) now, and (2) in the future.

We are the NHS: People Plan 2020-2021 sets out actions to expand and develop our workforce by retaining staff for longer and building on the renewed interest in National Health Service careers. A copy is attached. The next phase of the NHS People Plan will focus on workforce growth and ensuring it has the right skills mix in place for a flexible and modern NHS.

7th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the actions taken by the government of South Korea to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic; and what plans they have to use any lessons learned to guide future policy.

No specific assessment has been made. However, the Department is regularly in discussions with other countries, including South Korea, on a wide range of issues relating to COVID-19 and has been throughout the pandemic. The Department will continue to work with other countries to defeat the virus.

15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the degree and effectiveness of international scientific collaboration on pandemics such as SARS and COVID-19; and what proposals they have for enhancing collaboration in regard to causation and responses, particularly, testing and vaccines.

Whilst we have made no specific assessment, the Government is committed to ensure that the United Kingdom continues to be one of the best places in the world for research and innovation and is at the forefront of health and social care research internationally and specifically, global research on pandemics.

The UK has pledged £388 million in aid funding for research into vaccines, tests and treatments which is part of a larger £744 million existing commitment to help end the pandemic and support the global economy. This also includes £250 million for global Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to develop vaccines against coronaviruses. The UK will also provide £330 million a year for the next five years to the Global Vaccine Alliance, readying it to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine in developing countries.

15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to sponsor virtual meetings of international foreign and health ministers to coordinate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We recognise the importance of international cooperation in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The United Kingdom convened a wide range of international leaders, Foreign and Health Ministers at the Global Vaccine Summit on 4 June. Ministers participate in regular dialogue including through the G7, G20, World Health Assembly and in ad hoc groupings convened by other partners – as well as initiating our own calls as required with specific partners.

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

30th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what additional (1) funds, and (2) equipment, they intend to provide for the hospice movement to deal with the rising death rate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To support the hospice movement in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 8 April 2020 additional funding of up to £200 million for hospices as part of a wider package of £750 million for the wider voluntary and charity sector. This funding is supporting hospices by securing capacity to relieve pressure on the National Health Service as the Government manages its response to COVID-19.

The Department is also actively taking steps to ensure that staff operating in the hospice sector have access to the proper equipment, including adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), to continue to provide palliative and end of life care during this challenging period.

To address continuity of supply concerns, central delivery points provided by hospices, including children’s hospices, to the Department will get weekly drops of PPE until they can be added to the PPE e-commerce ordering portal. The Department will continue to work with the hospice sector to ensure they have the support they need during this challenging period.

23rd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made with the testing for COVID-19 of (1) prison staff, and (2) prisoners.

COVID-19 testing has been extended to cover prison staff, probation staff and those working in approved premises. Hundreds of staff have now been tested and Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service is working with the Department testing teams to roll-out a COVID-19 testing plan for prison staff.

19th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the National Health Service about sourcing additional beds for patients, including in non-hospital settings.

The Government is working in partnership with the health and care sector to ensure the supply of National Health Service beds matches demand during this unprecedented global emergency. For example, community health providers and social care providers have been asked to free up community hospital and intermediate care beds that could be used flexibly. These measures together could free up to 10,000 beds.

Other measures include the refitting and opening of seven Nightingale Hospitals in England in the next few weeks.

This extra capacity is on top of 33,000 additional beds freed up across NHS hospitals by postponing all non-urgent elective operations, urgently discharge all hospital in-patients who are medically fit to leave and block-buying capacity in independent hospitals.

11th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what assessment they have made of the experience of (a) the United States, and (b) other countries, in repatriating their nationals from detention camps in Syria, (2) whether they are considering individual cases, in particular of (a) widows, and (b) fatherless children, and (3) if so, how many individual cases are currently being considered.

The UK continues to work with and learn from our international partners on a range of issues to help address the difficult situation in North East Syria, including in relation to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. It is ultimately a matter for individual countries how they address any situations involving their nationals, including, where applicable, repatriation to the country of origin. We are aware that British nationals, including children, are located in IDP camps in north east Syria. Due to the shifting circumstances on the ground we are not in a position to make an accurate estimate of their number. Where we become aware of British unaccompanied or orphaned children we work with partners to facilitate their return where feasible. Establishing their whereabouts and identity is not straightforward, but we have facilitated a number of such returns to the UK. Each case is considered on a case by case basis, subject to national security concerns.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the relative importance of (1) improving health and education, and (2) increasing GDP per capita, in reducing poverty in countries in receipt of UK development aid.

The FCDO remains steadfast in our focus on tackling poverty. The importance of interventions in improving health and education versus those aimed at increasing GDP per capita in reducing poverty varies with context. The FCDO conducts country-level analyses which identify the main barriers to development and poverty reduction and the main opportunities for acting on them.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, (1) to encourage countries with surplus vaccines to make these available to COVAX, and (2) to seek improved cooperation between health and finance ministers in other countries in relation to (a) the COVID-19 pandemic, and (b) future pandemics.

Our G7 Presidency has championed equitable access to vaccines, treatments and tests, and the importance of future funding for COVAX. We secured commitments to share or finance up to 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by mid-2022. The Prime Minister has committed the UK to donating 100 million doses by June 2022. To date, we have donated 10.5 million doses and we are on track to meet our target of 30 million doses by the end of 2021. Ministers and officials continue to encourage other countries, including in G7 and G20 forums, to donate.

The government is committed to continuing to improve global health and finance coordination to prepare for and respond to future pandemics. We are supporting G20 proposals to improve international governance and coordination between global health and finance policy makers.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about the number of Palestinians killed or injured by live fire from Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank so far this year.

We regularly raise the issue of the high numbers of Palestinians killed and injured by Israel Defence Forces in the West Bank and Gaza with the Israeli authorities, encouraging them to carry out transparent investigations into whether the use of live fire had been appropriate. We repeatedly call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and have a regular dialogue with Israel on legal issues relating to the occupation. We continue to stress the importance of the Israeli security forces providing appropriate protection to the Palestinian civilian population and urge restraint in the use of live fire.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

The UK is one of the leading donors in supporting Lebanon to host both Syrian and Palestinian refugees. Since 2011, the UK has allocated over £780 million in humanitarian and development funding to Lebanon. Our humanitarian assistance will continue to promote access to education and provide those most in need with timely, flexible assistance and protection services to cover their basic survival needs and reduce gender-based violence, saving lives and reducing suffering. The UK is also a key supporter to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which provides vital services to Palestinian refugees across their five fields of operation including in Lebanon. Our annual contribution to UNRWA's programme budget helps UNRWA to provide basic education to more than 533,000 children a year (half of whom are girls), access to health services for 3.5 million Palestinian refugees and social safety net assistance for around 255,000 of the most vulnerable across the region.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the importance for the peace process of the government of Armenia releasing Azerbaijani prisoners of war; and what conversations they have had with the government of the United States of America on this issue.

During visits to Armenia and Azerbaijan in February, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and Americas urged both parties to work with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to expedite the return of all prisoners of war. In her most recent conversations with the Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers, on 14 June and 6 September respectively, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and Americas raised the importance of the return of all prisoners of war and detainees and welcomed the most recent exchanges that have taken place. The UK continues to work with partners, including the United States in its capacity as Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, to encourage Armenia and Azerbaijan to settle all matters related to last year's conflict including the return of all prisoners of war and detainees.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to ask the government of Azerbaijan to allow full access to all the parts of (1) Armenia, (2) Nagorno-Karabakh, and (3) Nakhchivan, that officials from UNESCO wish to visit.

The UK Government continues to urge the Governments of both Armenia and Azerbaijan to allow international organisations unrestricted access to all areas of the region. This includes pressing both sides to ensure UNESCO is able to undertake its crucial work in support of historical and cultural heritage. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas has raised this issue with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Governments, including during her visit to the region in February. Our Embassies in Baku and Yerevan continue to raise the question of access with both Governments.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the role of the OSCE Minsk Group in identifying peaceful solutions to the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh; and what plans they have to consider alternative mechanisms for seeking a peaceful resolution.

The UK Government fully supports the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group to settle all outstanding matters related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In her most recent conversations with the Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers, on 14 June and 6 September respectively, Wendy Morton MP, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and Americas, reinforced UK support for the efforts of Minsk Group Co-Chairs. Our Embassies in Baku and Yerevan continue to encourage both parties to engage with the Co-Chairs' renewed efforts. The UK Government believes the Minsk group remains the most appropriate mechanism to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict and has no plans to consider an alternative mechanism at this time.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ask the government of Israel (1) to freeze settlement building in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, (2) to enable the development of Palestinian-owned land in Area C, and (3) to increase trade and employment; and what plans they have to ask the Palestinian Authority to respond with confidence-building measures.

The UK regularly calls on Israel to end illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank and closely monitors reports of further settlement advancements. We also call bilaterally, and in international fora, for Israel to provide a clear, transparent route to construction for Palestinians in Area C.

We continue to stress to the Israeli authorities the damage that their restrictions on movement, access and trade are doing to the living standards of ordinary Palestinians.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the increased cross-border fighting in Gaza; and what representations they have made to the government of Israel to prevent any escalation and ensure adequate living conditions for the local population.

We have made clear our concern about the ongoing humanitarian situation in Gaza, including significant damage and destruction of civilian infrastructure including homes, schools, hospitals, and clinics. The UK priority now is ensuring timely humanitarian access into and out of Gaza, including for essential health services. We are urging the Government of Israel to ensure this access is maintained.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take in response to the president of Tunisia's suspension of the Tunisian parliament, including the immunity of its members.

The UK is closely monitoring the situation in Tunisia. We recognise the legitimate demands of its people for a better standard of living and honest, effective governance. We believe that the solution to Tunisia's challenges can only be achieved through the principles of democracy, transparency, respect for human rights, and free speech. Minister Cleverly spoke to Tunisian Foreign Minister Jerandi on 11 August. G7 Ambassadors in Tunis, led by the UK, issued a joint statement on 6 September setting out our joint position.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Egypt about children being given preliminary death sentences in that country.

The United Kingdom strongly opposes the death penalty in all countries and in all circumstances, as a matter of principle. This is especially the case for juveniles. This is in line with the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Arab Charter on Human Rights. We continue to raise human rights concerns, including the death penalty, with the Egyptian authorities, both privately and in forums such as the UN Human Rights Council. Following recent cases the Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa made clear to the Egyptian Government, at a senior level, our serious concern about the use of the death penalty.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the EU’s proposal to fund border controls at Turkey’s eastern border; and in particular, whether this would lead to victims of persecution being turned back.

We are aware of discussions between our close partners, Turkey and the EU, on the funding of border controls at Turkey's eastern border. We would expect any new border controls to comply with international law with respect to the protection of refugees.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Amnesty International Greece: Violence, lies, and pushbacks, published on 23 June.

The accounts in the report are concerning and illustrate the difficulties presented by irregular migration. As the report notes, Greece has denied using any illegal practices, while Frontex has conducted an internal investigation into the allegations, and the European Parliament has established a permanent standing committee in order to scrutinise Frontex activity in the Aegean. HMA Athens has raised this issue with Greek Migration Minister Mitarakis and we will continue to urge all parties to uphold international law and international human rights standards, and to avoid any actions that may endanger human life. More broadly, the UK is committed to engaging with European and other partners on a 'whole of route' approach to tackling the challenges of, and risks posed by, irregular migration.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement from Amnesty International on 23 June that there needs to be improvement to the (1) accountability, and (2) transparency, of Frontex's operations in (a) Greece, (b) Croatia, and (c) Hungary.

The accounts in the Amnesty International report are concerning. We welcome the fact that Frontex has conducted an internal investigation into the allegations, and the European Parliament has established a permanent standing committee in order to scrutinise Frontex activity in the Aegean. The UK co-operates closely with our European partners to manage migration and strengthen our collective borders. We are committed to upholding international law and international human rights standards and to avoiding any actions that may endanger human life.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of some (1) European, and (2) Middle-Eastern, states seeking to re-open diplomatic relations with the government of Syria; and in particular, whether they see this as a (a) pragmatic, and (b) realistic, step.

The UK closed the British Embassy in Damascus in 2012 and has no plans to re-open it. It is up to each sovereign state to make its own decisions on its representation in Syria, but we believe the Assad regime has lost its legitimacy due to its atrocities against the Syrian people and must now engage seriously with the UN political process.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the likely scale of emigration from Afghanistan over the next year given the advance of the Taliban in that country.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in coordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), conducts assessments of the likely scale of migration and internal displacement due to the situation in Afghanistan. They are currently preparing revised estimates to reflect the deteriorating situation and we will continue to work with OCHA, UNHCR, IOM and other donors and neighbouring countries to respond.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to add Turkey to their list of human rights priority countries.

The decision on whether a country is designated a Human Rights Priority Country (HRPC) is based on the human rights situation in the country; trajectory of change; and the UK's potential to work on human rights and have influence. The list of HRPCs is published in the Government's annual human rights report. As regards the list of HRPCs, we keep all countries, including Turkey, under regular review.

The UK has been consistently active and vocal in promoting human rights in Turkey through diplomatic and ministerial channels, and through support to civil society. We also use relevant multilateral institutions, such as the Council of Europe, to emphasise the importance of shared values and accountability. Respect for human rights are vital for the long-term health of Turkish democracy and will remain at the heart of our policy towards Turkey.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to discuss with the government of the Philippines the reported failures of internet service providers in that country to comply with anti-child pornography legislation RA 9775; and if not, why not.

The UK continues to work with international partners to improve the capability of the Philippine authorities to fight online sexual exploitation of children. This includes National Crime Agency (NCA) work with the Philippines authorities to feed in potential changes in procedures, structures and legislation that will assist in the investigation and prosecution of offences.

The UK supports the introduction of legislation by countries around the world to combat online sexual exploitation of children. The Philippines' Senate has recently passed a bill on Special Protections against Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children. The bill, which now passes to the Philippines House of Representatives, expands the scope of the Anti-Child Pornography Act from 2009 and addresses the duty and legal requirements of Internet Service Providers in the Philippines.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to assist the closure of refugee camps in (1) Syria, and (2) nearby countries; and what plans they have to help resettle refugees currntly in Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.

The UK's policy is that refugee returns must be voluntary, safe and dignified. Whilst we hope that Syrian refugees will, ultimately, be able to return home, we agree with the UN judgement that conditions in Syria do not currently allow this. Understandably, the key concern of the majority of Syrian refugees when considering returning home is personal safety and safety of their families. In the meantime, the UK has spent at least £1.99 billion since 2012 to support 5.5 million refugees in the region, as well as host communities in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to arrange (1) bilateral, and (2) multilateral, economic aid for Lebanon to support the Syrian refugees currently living in Lebanon.

Since 2011, the UK has allocated over £700 million in humanitarian and development funding to Lebanon, as well as funding for Syrian refugees there. The UK has spent £1.92 billion since 2012 to specifically support the over 5.5 million Syrian refugees in the region, including those in Lebanon. Our humanitarian assistance in Lebanon will continue to promote access to education and provide those most in need with timely, flexible assistance and protection services to cover their basic survival needs and reduce gender-based violence, saving lives and reducing suffering.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will meet the government of Israel to express concern about (1) house demolitions, and (2) forced evictions, of Palestinian communities.

The UK regularly raises the issue of demolitions and forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes with the Government of Israel. The Foreign Secretary raised ongoing evictions, demolitions and settlement activity with the Israeli Authorities during his visit to the region on 26 May. The UK is clear that in all but the most exceptional of circumstances, demolitions and evictions are contrary to International Humanitarian Law.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of refugees sheltered by (1) Lebanon, and (2) Jordan, relative to the (a) population size, and (b) economic resources, of those countries; and what plans they have to provide assistance to (i) the UNHCR, and (ii) refugee-hosting countries, to resettle refugees and close refugee camps.

The UK recognises the tremendous generosity Lebanon and Jordan have shown in hosting significant numbers of refugees. Lebanon currently hosts 1.7 million refugees, the highest concentration of refugees per capita anywhere in the world. Jordan hosts approximately 667,000 registered Syrian refugees, 90,000 non-Syrian refugees registered with UNHCR, and 2.2 million Palestinian refugees.

Recognising the substantial pressures both host countries face, the UK and international partners have provided significant assistance to the Lebanese and Jordanian governments to help manage this challenge. The UK is one of the leading donors in supporting Lebanon in hosting both Syrian and Palestinian refugee, and has contributed over £704 million in bilateral development assistance to Jordan since 2011. The UK's pledge of at least £205 million to the Syrian crisis in 2021 will ensure the UK continues to support the most vulnerable in Lebanon and Jordan, allowing refugees to live in safety and with dignity until they are able to return home.

On 25th February we completed our commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS). We continue to welcome refugees through the global UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS), as well as through the Community Sponsorship and Mandate Resettlement Schemes.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of refugee children in (1) Lebanon, (2) Jordan, (3) Turkey, and (4) Greece, who are not receiving primary education; and what assessment they have made of the steps necessary to improve (a) the availability, and (b) uptake, of education for these children.

The UK is committed to providing refugee children with access to quality education. In Lebanon, since 2011 we have provided education to over 280,000 children, and support to over 135,500 out-of-school boys and girls with nonformal education since 2016. In Jordan, the UK has supported over 130,000 Syrian refugee children access primary education. Approximately 85,000 Syrian refugee children remain without any type of learning. The Government does not hold figures for refugee children not receiving primary education in Turkey or Greece. As of March 2021, the EU Managed Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRIT), to which the UK is a leading contributor, had allocated €400 million to the "Promoting Integration of Syrian Kids into the Turkish Education System" project that has 627,582 Syrian students enrolled at public schools and 9,288 enrolled at Temporary Education Centres. In Greece, UK support has helped deliver educational programmes for vulnerable children and we will continue to work with Greek partners to identify opportunities to provide further support.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ask the government of China to release the Catholic priests and seminarians arrested in Xinxiang in May.

We are deeply concerned about restrictions on freedom of religion or belief in China, including the persecution of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners. The Foreign Secretary has personally raised our serious concerns with his Chinese counterpart, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on a number of occasions, most recently on 27 May. We are also aware of the concerning reports that Catholic priests were arrested in Xinxiang in May, and will continue to monitor developments. We remain committed to working with our international partners to stand up for the rights of all religious minorities in China.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) media reports that the government of Belarus is ‘weaponising’ migration by sending migrants to Lithuania, and (2) the government of Lithuania’s response to such action; and what plans they have to support the government of Lithuania with (a) technical aid, or (b) resettlement.

The Government is aware of media reports of an increase in people irregularly crossing the border from Belarus into Lithuania. We are also aware of the steps that the Lithuanian Government have taken to respond, including increasing funding to the Lithuanian State Border Guards, and expanding capacity at the border with Belarus to process those arriving across the border. The Foreign Secretary discussed the issue with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on 28 June, and officials are currently evaluating how best we can support the Lithuanian Government in response to these developments. We collaborate closely with the Lithuanian Government and Lithuanian State Border Guards, and stand ready to provide appropriate support. The UK remains committed to future close co-operation with the EU and our European partners on all issues including migration.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) number, and (2) treatment, of refugees in Indonesia, in particular those in Java; and what steps they are taking to support the government of Indonesia with any such refugees.

There are 13,700 refugees registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Indonesia. Whilst the refugees are spread across the archipelago, including 81 Rohingya that landed by boat in Sumatra this year, up to half are based in the Jakarta area. We are working with international partners in Indonesia, including UNHCR, International Red Cross and the International Organisation for Migration, in support of refugees. We have made official representations to the Governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and other Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states on the Rohingya, including at Ministerial level. We are clear that Rohingya refugees should be granted the appropriate protection status and humanitarian assistance within these countries.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they intend to have with the government of Turkey about moves to ban the Peoples’ Democratic Party in that country; and what plans they have to raise the issue at (1) the Council of Europe, and (2) NATO.

We have made it clear to Turkey that we expect the government to undertake any legal processes or actions against opposition parties, as well as human rights defenders and journalists, fairly, transparently and with full respect for the rule of law. We are aware that the government is seeking to ban the People's Democratic Party (HDP). Our Embassy meets regularly with the HDP leadership, as it does with other opposition parties, to discuss their concerns, including the arrests of HDP MPs. We will continue to engage closely with Turkey, including at Ministerial level, to insist that it fulfils its international legal obligations to secure the human rights of all people, regardless of their legitimate political affiliations, particularly in the areas of freedom of expression and assembly, press freedom and the treatment of detainees. We will hold Turkey to account using established international mechanisms, and look for opportunities to raise these issues with our international partners.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made as to whether Azerbaijan has withdrawn all its forces from the territory of the Republic of Armenia; what is their position on the withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops; and what plans they have (1) to discuss the withdrawal of troops with the government of Azerbaijan, and (2) work with the governments of France, Canada, Belgium and the USA to support that withdrawal.

The UK Government is closely monitoring the situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border following an increase in tensions. 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.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide help to the government of Lithuania to support refugees entering that country from Belarus.

The Government is aware of the situation regarding the influx of refugees from Belarus to Lithuania and we are monitoring the situation closely. The UK collaborates closely with the Lithuanian Government and Lithuanian Border Guards and we will continue to do so.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to vote at the United Nations Security Council (1) to keep open the crossing point at Bab-al-Hawa on the Turkey–Syria frontier for relief supplies, and (2) to re-open three closed crossings between Turkey and Syria.

The UK is urging members of the UN Security Council to vote in favour of renewing UN Security Council resolution 2533 in July to maintain current crossing point, Bab-al-Hawa, as well as re-open additional border crossings.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had, or plan to have, with the government of Turkey on their unilateral military operations in the Dohuk province of Iraq and, in particular, whether they raised, or intend to raise, in any such discussions the reports of (1) the bombing of civilian areas in Metina, Zap and Avashin, and (2) the use of white phosphorus weapons.

The UK has not made representations to Turkey following recent airstrikes in northern Iraq but we continue to follow the situation closely. We reiterate the importance of dialogue and cooperation between Iraq and Turkey to combat terrorism, ensure regional security, and protect civilians. We welcome recent discussions between Iraqi and Turkish Defence Ministers regarding Ankara's military operations against the PKK in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports (1) that the government of Israel has removed health insurance benefits from Palestinian prisoners on their release from custody, and (2) that such persons have been deported from East Jerusalem and banned from the city; and what representations they made to that government about such reports.

We have a regular dialogue with Israel, including on the treatment of Palestinian prisoners. We remain committed to working with Israel to secure improvements to prison conditions and detention practices, including the provision of essential healthcare services upon release. In instances where there have been accusations of ill-treatment, we advocate swift, transparent investigation.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the government of Israel has  issued a ban on the further construction of Palestinian developments near Yatta; and what assessment they have made of the impact of such a ban on any possible peace process in the region.

We are looking into these reports. The UK and international partners will continue to call bilaterally, and in international fora, for Israel to provide a clear, transparent route to construction for Palestinians in Area C. These issues are complex. They will only be resolved via dialogue and agreement between the parties. We will continue to encourage all parties to try and find a sustainable solution through discussion.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations, if any, they have made to the government of Turkey about the attack on Maxmur Refugee Camp and villages in northern Iraq on 5 June.

We are following the situation closely. We reiterate the need for dialogue and cooperation between Iraq and Turkey to combat terrorism, ensure regional security, and protect civilians. We welcome recent discussions between Iraqi and Turkish Defence Ministers regarding Ankara's military operations against the PKK in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan regarding the release of Armenian prisoners, following recent fighting at the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

During visits to Armenia and Azerbaijan in February the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas urged both parties to work with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to expedite the return of all prisoners of war. Through the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and bilateral engagement in Baku and Yerevan, UK officials continue to urge the Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities to prioritise this issue, alongside other unresolved issues following hostilities last year.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan about the clearance of mines from the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

During visits to both Armenia and Azerbaijan in February the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas highlighted UK concern over the large amount of unexploded ordnance across the region. The UK Government is deeply concerned by the ongoing loss of civilian life along the border as a result of unexploded ordnance. We continue to urge both Governments to work together to ensure that humanitarian organisations have unimpeded access to the region.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the publication by Martin Geiger and Antoine Pécoud The International Organization for Migration, published in 2020, and (2) the focus of the International Organization for Migration on addressing human rights in its operations.

The book 'International Organization for Migration: The New 'UN Migration Agency' in Critical Perspective' published in February 2020 is a collection of viewpoints and thoughts from a selection of academics on IOM and migration more generally. The UK government duly takes note of the publication and the various points of view expressed.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), is the leading intergovernmental organisation in the field of migration, committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society; by supporting migrants across the world. IOM works to the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, including upholding human rights for all.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to call on the government of Israel to meet the cost of repairing (1) health centres in Gaza that have been damaged by recent air and artillery attacks, (2) the central laboraty for COVID-19 testing, and (3) schools supported by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

The UK priority is ensuring timely humanitarian access into and out of Gaza; we are urging the Government of Israel to ensure this access is maintained. We have made clear our concern about the ongoing humanitarian situation in Gaza, including significant damage and destruction of civilian infrastructure including homes, schools, hospitals, and clinics. We have not made representations to the Government of Israel on the issue of reconstruction.

The United Kingdom is also providing an initial £3.2 million of UK aid to UNRWA's emergency flash appeal, which launched on 19 May 2021. This appeal will address the immediate humanitarian needs of vulnerable Palestinians living in Gaza. We understand that 47,000 displaced people are currently seeking shelter in schools run by UNRWA. We remain in close contact with UN agencies and key partners on the ground and will monitor the situation closely.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to discuss with the government of Eritrea the case for releasing Abune Antonios from house arrest.

We remain concerned about the human rights situation in Eritrea, including the arrests of religious figures such as Patriarch Abune Antonios of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewadho Church who has been detained for over 15 years. The Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief raised Patriarch Abune Antonios' case with the Eritrean Ambassador on 20 May, and our Ambassador in Asmara tweeted to call for the Patriarch and others detained for their faith to be released.

The UK Government takes every opportunity to voice our concern about arbitrary arrests and detentions in Eritrea on the basis of religion or belief, and have called for release of such worshippers. We have done so directly with the Government of Eritrea and publicly - through our annual reporting on human rights and at the UN Human Rights Council. The UK raised Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in Eritrea in a statement by the UK's International Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, at the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council. We also encouraged Eritrea to make progress on their commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process including the promotion of FoRB. Eritrea remains a priority country under our annual human rights reporting, and we will continue to monitor the situation there. I raised human rights when I met the Eritrean Ambassador to the UK on 16 March.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will call for clemency for Abdullah al Howaiti in Saudi Arabia.

The United Kingdom strongly opposes the death penalty in all countries and in all circumstances, as a matter of principle. The Saudi authorities are well aware of the UK's opposition to the use of the death penalty. We reiterated our opposition to the death penalty in Saudi Arabia in a joint statement at the UN Human Rights Council on 15 September.

We regularly raise our concerns about the use of the death penalty, including individual cases with the Saudi Arabian authorities and we will continue to do so. The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa raised the use of the death penalty with the Human Rights Commission during his visit to Saudi Arabia on 24 May 2021.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the World Peace Foundation Starving Tigray, published on 6 May; and what plans they have to raise the humanitarian situation in Tigray at the next UN Security Council meeting.

The UK shares the call made in the World Peace Foundation report for all parties to the conflict to place the survival and welfare of the affected people above political and military goals. We also share concerns about a continued lack of information about the humanitarian situation and lack of access. The UK has been consistent in calling for the protection of civilians in Ethiopia, unfettered humanitarian access, and respect for human rights. We are deeply concerned about the impact of the conflict on food security and nutrition in Tigray, including reports of people dying from hunger. To date the UK has provided £22 million of badly needed support to people in Tigray. UK-funded aid agencies in Tigray are delivering support in challenging circumstances, including food, shelter, water and healthcare. A joint humanitarian and political team from the British Embassy in Addis Ababa visited Tigray 4-5 March, 4-7 April and the week of 19 April.

We have spoken about the situation in Tigray in the five 'AOB' discussions on that subject at the UN Security Council and will do so again in the upcoming open debate on Protection of Civilians. We will continue to support discussion in the UN on this pressing matter.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of concerns expressed by non-governmental and humanitarian organisations on the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The UK welcomes the announcement of a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza on 20 May. As the Prime Minister has made clear, leaders in the region must now work to find a durable solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict that prevents terrorism, ends the cycle of violence, and delivers a sustainable and just peace based on a two state solution.

It is also important now for Israel to facilitate rapid humanitarian access in and out of Gaza. The UK will provide £3.2m of UK aid to the UN agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, responding to UNRWA's emergency flash appeal, launched on 19 May. The funding will help provide food, water, and emergency shelter to Palestinians affected by the recent escalation in violence in Gaza.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the government of Greece has (1) sentenced a Syrian man to 52 years in prison for driving a refugee boat, and (2) charged an Afghan man and an Afghan woman with various offences at sea; and what representations they have made to the government of Greece (1) about such reports, and (2) the treatment of refugees.

The UK recognises the challenges faced by Greece in dealing with the difficulties presented by irregular migration. We have not made specific representations with regard to the cases you refer, however we regularly engage Greek ministers and senior officials on these issues. The Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts met the Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum on 26 March to discuss respective priorities on irregular migration and asylum, and we will continue to work with Greek and international partners to identify opportunities to further support improved conditions for migrants in Greece.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to send observers to the trial in Turkey of 108 politicians for involvement in protests that occurred in 2014; and if not, why not.

The Government is closely monitoring this trial, and consistently reminds Turkey that we expect its government to undertake any legal processes or actions against members of opposition groups fairly, transparently and with full respect for the rule of law.

Whilst the British Embassy in Ankara regularly sends representatives to attend high-profile trials in Turkey, joining representatives from like-minded countries, we are not planning to do so on this occasion because of restrictions due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. We will continue to raise our human rights concerns with the Turkish government. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas did so most recently with her Turkish counterpart on 21 April.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of journalists (1) killed, (2) arrested, and (3) imprisoned, in the course of their work in the last five years; and what steps they will take to protect freedom of journalists to report.

Far too many journalists have been killed, arrested and imprisoned over the last five years. The situation appears to have deteriorated during this time, including the number of journalists threatened, abused or attacked. This is why the former Foreign Secretary launched a global media freedom campaign in November 2018, to shine a spotlight on media freedom and increase the cost to those abusing media freedom and persecuting journalists. The Media Freedom Coalition was one initiative created under the campaign. The Coalition is a partnership of countries working together to advocate for media freedom and safety of journalists and hold to account those who harm journalists for doing their job. It continues to expand, and consists of 47 members who have pledged to improve media freedom at home and abroad. It has issued a number of statements including, this year, on cases related to Uganda, China, Belarus and Myanmar, as well as to mark World Press Freedom Day. Another initiative of the campaign was the establishment of the Global Media Defence Fund, managed by UNESCO. Following its first project round in 2020, over 40 projects, aimed at enhancing journalists' legal protection and access to specialised legal assistance, as well as supporting investigative journalism, were selected for funding. The projects are reported to be benefitting over 1100 journalists and 65 media lawyers. Three years after the launch of the campaign, media freedom and the defence of journalists remains a priority for this office. We have used our presidency of the G7 this year to promote media freedom, securing strong language in the G7 Foreign Ministers' communique committing members to champion media freedom, support the work of the Media Freedom Coalition and lead by example in undertaking measures to improve media freedom.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Cyprus about the killing of migrant birds.

The UK Government opposes the illegal trapping of birds, which is a widespread issue across the whole of Cyprus. Whilst songbirds are a protected species under Cypriot law, trapping and eating song birds unfortunately remains a practice in some Cypriot communities, and substantial profits can still be made by those who organise and control this activity. The Government has conveyed the strength of UK public concern to the Government of Cyprus, including during a May 2019 visit by the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey. The UK and the Republic of Cyprus will continue to work together on the issue.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the opposition of the Roman Catholic bishops of Kenya to the closure of the (1) Dadaab, and (2) Kakuma, refugee camps; and what assessment they have made of whether the government of Kenya is entitled to close those camps unilaterally, in particular if there are no proposals for improved voluntary repatriation.

The UK has long provided support to refugees in Kenya and appreciates the hospitality that the Government of Kenya has for decades shown to refugees and asylum seekers. We are aware of their recent decision to close the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps and are working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other development partners to find solutions that are durable, safe and in line with Kenya's national and international obligations. We acknowledge, as the Roman Catholic Bishops of Kenya have, that full closure of the camps in a short timeframe would pose an significant challenge. We will continue to press for solutions that are designed collaboratively and in line with International Refugee Law.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Denmark about reports (1) that it plans to remove the residence permits of Syrian refugees currently residing in Denmark, and (2) that such refugees have been mistreated in deportation camps.

When we have concerns about humanitarian issues and conditions in a country, we raise these directly with the government concerned. Denmark is party to both the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the 1951 Refugee Convention and we are confident that Denmark has a robust legal rationale to demonstrate this approach and is in compliance with its obligations under both Conventions.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of plans to restore peace in north-east Mozambique following the impact of the insurgency linked to Islamic State.

The UK is deeply concerned by the deteriorating security situation in the north-east of Mozambique, and the increasing attacks by groups with links to Islamic extremism. As the Minister for Africa made clear publicly on 26 and 28 March, we condemn the recent appalling attacks in Palma, Cabo Delgado and we stand with the people of Mozambique against terrorism. To date, the insurgency has claimed over 2,000 lives and displaced over 700,000 people.

We are working with the Government of Mozambique to address the root drivers of conflict and instability, including through engagement with the Government of Mozambique's regional development authority in Cabo Delgado, and by providing targeted assistance under the framework of a Defence Memorandum of Understanding. The UK also co-chairs, with Ireland, the International Community Crisis Taskforce. This brings together the Mozambican government and the international community in high-level discussion about humanitarian and other crises, including the ongoing crisis in Cabo Delgado. UK Aid has provided £20m of humanitarian and development support to people in the north-east of Mozambique, ensuring they have access to food, shelter and basic healthcare.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to cooperate with Chatham House and Imperial College on the development of an interactive complex model of the nuclear arms control system; and if not, why not.

The Government continues to work for the preservation and strengthening of effective arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation measures, taking into account the prevailing security environment. To that end, we will continue our engagement with civil society and academia. The Government welcomes this project and will follow it with interest.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance they are providing in the current financial year to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees; and whether they will publicise the needs of Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

The UK is a longstanding supporter of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). We are clear that a fair settlement for Palestinian refugees must be agreed as part of a wider negotiated peace settlement. Until that time, the UK remains firmly committed to supporting UNRWA and Palestinian refugees across Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. In Financial Year 2020/2021, the UK provided £63.6m to UNRWA, which includes £7m to the Syria Emergency Appeal and £3.8m to the OPTs Emergency Appeal. Decisions on UK aid to UNRWA in Financial Year 2021/2022 are currently being considered in the context of a temporary overall reduction in Overseas Development Assistance, as announced by the Foreign Secretary on 26 November.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have assessed, or plan to assess, the extent to which (1) refugee child labour, (2) child labour by Syrian refugees, and (3) discrimination against trade union members is taking place in Turkey.

We have regular discussions with Turkish counterparts, including ministers, about human rights issues, where we encourage Turkey to take greater steps to improve its human rights record. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas raised a range of human rights issues on 21 April with her Turkish counterpart. We welcomed the publication of Turkey's human rights action plan on 2 March 2021 and urge Turkey to ensure its prompt and thorough implementation.

Through the UK's Conflict, Stability and Security Fund we have provided capacity building partnerships, and promoted human rights standards, with Turkish government institutions involved in migration management and the labour market, which includes trade unions. This work is supporting an evidence-based approach on tackling child and labour trafficking; fostering the protection of vulnerable migrants in the workplace; and promoting greater access to opportunities in formal labour sectors.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the bipartisan letter signed by 170 members of the US House of Representatives in March, urging the government of the United States of America to address alleged human rights violations in Turkey; and what actions the UK Government will take in response to those allegations.

We share many of the concerns highlighted in the US House of Representatives' letter to Secretary of State Blinken, not least around freedom of expression and political debate. We are clear in our expectation that Turkey, like all countries, should live up to its human rights obligations towards all its citizens. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas raised a range of human rights issues on 21 April with her Turkish counterpart and urged swift implementation of the Human Rights Action Plan published in March. Working with the US and other international partners, we will continue to encourage Turkey, including at Ministerial level, to act in line with the conventions of the Council of Europe and to make greater progress on wider human rights reforms.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they plan to put in place to enable more than 20% of the population in the West Bank and Gaza to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. The Minister will write directly to the Member with a response shortly.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for blocking (1) the government of China, and (2) Chinese companies, from acquiring British infrastructure in view of that government's (a) oppression of the Uighur people in Xinjiang, (b) breaches of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, and (c) tactics in relation to Taiwan and elsewhere.

As the Integrated Review sets out, the UK as an open economy needs to engage with China. We will continue to pursue a positive economic relationship while at the same time increasing protection of our critical national infrastructure, institutions and sensitive technology, and strengthening the resilience of our critical supply chains, so that we can engage with confidence. In November 2020, the Government introduced the National Security and Investment Bill to Parliament, which represents a significant upgrade to the UK's powers to intervene in transactions from any country that would undermine national security.

The UK has responded to China's actions in Hong Kong by creating a new immigration route for British Nationals (Overseas) and their eligible family members and dependents, suspending the extradition treaty with Hong Kong and extending the arms embargo applied to mainland China to include Hong Kong.

In respect of Xinjiang, the UK has announced measures to help ensure that no British organisations, whether government or private sector, deliberately or inadvertently, are profiting from or contributing to China's human rights violations in the region and, in March, we imposed Global Human Rights sanctions on four Chinese officials and an entity responsible for those violations, alongside the EU, US and Canada.

We are clear in our discussions with China that our longstanding policy on Taiwan has not changed: we consider the Taiwan issue one that should be settled peacefully by the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait through constructive dialogue. We have made clear our concern at any activity by China and Taiwan that risks destabilising the status quo.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to uphold the human and political rights of parliamentarians in (1) Myanmar, (2) Turkey, (3) Venezuela, and (4) other member countries of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

The UK has a long-standing commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights internationally and defending democratic freedoms is fundamental to our foreign policy. On Myanmar, we have used our presidencies of both the G7 and the UN Security Council to secure strong statements to uphold the human and political rights of parliamentarians. The Minister for Asia formally summoned the Myanmar Ambassador twice and stressed that State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and others who had been arbitrarily detained should be released. In Turkey, we continue to make clear that we expect the government to undertake any legal processes or actions against opposition MPs fairly, transparently and with full respect for their human rights and the rule of law. In Venezuela, we are concerned at reports of the detention of opposition MPs and continue to call on all Venezuela's leaders to support the restoration of democracy. We will continue to support democracy and the work of parliamentarians worldwide.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support free and fair elections (1) in Palestine, and (2) in Israel.

We have welcomed President Abbas' announcement of dates for legislative and Presidential elections in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the first time since 2006. We encourage the Palestinian leadership to work toward strong, inclusive, accountable and democratic institutions, based on respect for the rule of law and human rights. Free and fair elections are an important and necessary step. The UK will work closely with the Palestinian Authority and international partners to support this, including encouraging the Government of Israel to allow elections in East Jerusalem, in keeping with the Oslo Accords. The Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa spoke to the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 19 April to reiterate the importance of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem being permitted to vote in Palestinian Legislative Council elections. We also look forward to maintaining excellent relations with the new Israeli government, when formed, and working closely together.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that (1) the government of Turkey has taken steps to ban the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in that country, and (2) members of the HDP have been arrested and imprisoned.

We are concerned by the legal action taken against the People's Democratic Party (HDP) and its officials, including MPs and mayors, accused of alleged terrorist links. If those links are proved to be accurate, we urge the HDP to distance itself entirely from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its ongoing terrorist activity. We have made it clear to Turkey that we expect the government to undertake any legal processes or actions against opposition parties, MPs, party officials, elected mayors, human rights defenders and journalists, fairly, transparently and with full respect for the rule of law. My colleague the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and Americas raised these issues with the Turkish Ambassador on 30 March. Officials from the British Embassy in Ankara also regularly meet members of the HDP to discuss their concerns. Working with our international partners, we will continue to encourage Turkey, including at Ministerial level, to make greater progress on wider human rights reforms.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that refugees have been prevented from reaching the EU by the Frontex border agency, in particular refugees travelling from Turkey; and what steps they intend to take in response to such reports.

The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas, Wendy Morton MP, is aware of the allegations of "pushbacks" conducted by Frontex in the Aegean Sea and is monitoring the situation via the British Embassy in Athens. Greece has denied using any illegal practices. Minister Morton understands that Frontex has conducted an internal investigation into the allegations, and that the European Parliament has established a permanent standing committee in order to scrutinise Frontex activity in the Aegean. HMA Athens raised this issue with Greek Migration Minister Mitarakis on 10 March 2021 and we will continue to urge all parties to uphold international human rights standards in respect of the migrants and to avoid any actions that may endanger human life.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision adopted in March by the Inter-Parliamentary Union at the 164th session of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians in relation to Turkey.

We are aware of the decisions adopted at the 164th session of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians of the Inter- Parliamentary Union and are considering its findings on the human rights situation in Turkey. We regularly engage bilaterally with Turkey on human rights, including at Ministerial and ambassadorial level, to discuss our concerns. We are also active participants in Council of Europe discussions on Turkey. We have encouraged Turkey to implement swiftly and fully its newly published human rights action plan as a positive step in improving the situation.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the extent to which the government of Syria has (1) restricted aid (a) supplies, and (b) personnel, seeking to enter Syria, and (2) manipulated these to serve its purposes, since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.

Over the last ten years, the Assad regime has consistently and deliberately undermined the pursuit of peace and caused untold suffering for Syria. The UN's 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview has reflected a sharp increase in requirements, with over 13 million people in need of aid; 5.9 million are in need of shelter, 12.4 million are food insecure and 2.4 million children are out of school.

Delivering results in Syria, in a wide range of geographic areas and sectors, with a constantly evolving situation on the ground, is extremely complex and challenging. In regime-held areas, regime officials regularly limit or delay issuing visas to humanitarian workers inhibiting their ability to effectively deliver aid, and also restrict some operations such as the transport of medical supplies.

It is unacceptable that the Assad regime continues to deny aid access to millions of people in Syria. The UK continues to call upon all parties to the conflict to engage constructively, increase aid access, uphold International Humanitarian Law and protect civilians.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they (1) have taken, or (2) plan to take, to achieve the re-opening of former crossing points into Syria for humanitarian supplies at (a) Bab al-Salam, (b) Yarubiyah, and (c) al-Ramtha.

Securing aid cross-border aid access into Syria is a top priority for the UK. The UK regularly raises the issue of UN-mandated cross-border access, and we are using our position at the UN Security Council, and in bilateral discussions, to push for greater aid access into Syria and to urge renewal of Resolution 2533. Russia, backed by China, has reduced cross-border aid access into Syria, placing political support for the Assad regime above lifesaving support for the Syrian people.

The UK is clear that assistance via Damascus alone will not sufficiently meet the needs across the whole of Syria and so remains committed to the delivery of aid to those most in need in Syria, through all mechanisms. After a decade of conflict, it is essential to renew the resolution to avoid further humanitarian disaster.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the government of Turkey about the reported arrest and mistreatment of Dr Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu.

We are aware of reports of the arrest of Mr Gergerlioğlu, MP for the People's Democratic Party (HDP). We have made it clear to Turkey that we expect the government to undertake any legal processes or actions against opposition parties, MPs, party officials and elected mayors, as well as human rights defenders and journalists, fairly, transparently and with full respect for the rule of law. Our Embassy meets regularly with the HDP leadership, as it does with other opposition parties, to discuss their concerns, including the arrest of HDP MPs. We will continue to engage closely with Turkey to encourage the full protection of fundamental rights of all peoples, regardless of their legitimate political affiliations, particularly in the areas of freedom of expression and assembly, press freedom and the treatment of detainees. We expect Turkey to treat detainees in accordance with International standards, including access to lawyers and medical care.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much aid have they provided to support (1) the government of Bangladesh, and (2) agencies operating in Bangladesh, with the arrival of Rohingya refugees; and what plans they have to lead international efforts to find permanent settlement for Rohingya refugees.

The UK has been a leading donor to the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh, having committed £293.5 million since August 2017. This has been channelled through UN agencies and NGOs, working alongside the government of Bangladesh. UK aid has been instrumental in improving the lives of the 890,000 refugees and the vulnerable local Bangladeshi communities in Cox's Bazar district. Our funding has provided lifesaving support including food, healthcare, nutrition, education, clean water and sanitation, and targeted support for women and girls. The UK continues to lead international efforts to maintain attention on the Rohingya crisis and seek durable solutions and accountability for atrocities committed. This includes work through the UN Security Council and the international conference hosted in October 2020 alongside the US, EU and UN.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union in Case C-441/17 Commission v Poland (Białowieża Forest) in April 2018, what representations they have made to the government of Poland about deforestation in that country.

HMG are monitoring the management of the Bialowieza forest and acknowledge the statement by Poland's National State Forest on 15 March concerning Poland's implementation of the 2018 judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union. We will continue to work with Poland, building on the successes of COP24 held in Katowice, while we look ahead to a successful COP26 in Glasgow later this year.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the compatibility of lifting the cap on the number of Trident nuclear warheads the UK can stockpile with their obligations under Article 6 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; and what effect they expect this action to have on nuclear disarmament.

Maintaining and renewing elements of the UK's nuclear deterrent capability is fully consistent with our international legal obligations, including those under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The UK remains committed to the step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament under the framework of the NPT, and the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Zimbabwe about (1) the release, or (2) the trial, of Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova.

The UK is deeply concerned by the recently reported rearrests of Joanna Mamombe MP, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova. We also understand that Ms Mamombe and Ms Chimbiri's applications for bail have been denied. When the Minister for Africa wrote to late Foreign Minister Moyo on 12 August 2020, following a telephone call with him on 8 June 2020, he raised specific human rights concerns, including the treatment of Ms Mamombe, Ms Chimbiri, and Ms Marowa. Our Ambassador in Harare reinforced these messages when she met representatives of the Government of Zimbabwe on 24 November 2020. On 5 February, the Minister for Africa tweeted urging authorities to focus on investigating the women's claims.

The UK will continue to monitor developments in the case of Ms Mamombe, Ms Chimbiri, and Ms Marova closely and continue to call on the Government of Zimbabwe to uphold the rule of law. This includes respecting the Zimbabwean Constitution which clearly prohibits enforced disappearances, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. We admire the bravery of civil society activists in Zimbabwe who aspire to a better future for Zimbabwe.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Bulgaria about reports of (1) police assaults, and (2) valuables being confiscated, from Afghan and Pakistani migrants near the border with Turkey.

The UK Government is aware of recent reports of a small number of alleged cases of mistreatment of migrants upon arrival in Bulgaria. The number of irregular migrants transiting Bulgaria has reduced in recent months and, although these cases have not been raised specifically, our Embassy in Sofia regularly engages with the government of Bulgaria and international partners on the need to address irregular migration and the challenges it presents.

While the UK fully supports the right of States to control their borders, we also expect States to fulfil their international obligations and protect and promote the human rights of migrants, including by investigating reports of alleged mistreatment and by putting appropriate procedures in place to ensure that migrants are treated fairly and appropriately, in line with international standards.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the call by the UN Refugee Agency and the International Organisation for Migration on 20 August 2020 to strengthen the search and rescue capacity of refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean to prevent further loss of life.

Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean continues to have an important role in saving lives at sea. The UK Government remains concerned about the continued high number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean and the number of fatalities.

Since October 2015, the UK has allocated over £175 million of humanitarian assistance in response to the Mediterranean migration crisis. Any assistance assigned to Libyan search and rescue entities should be made conditional on no one being arbitrarily detained, ill-treated or subjected to human rights violations post-disembarkation.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the re-opening of the Rafah Border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, what discussions they have had with the governments of (1) Egypt, (2) Jordan, (3) France, and (4) Germany, about action to support the Middle East Peace Process.

We welcome the decision by Egypt to open the Rafah crossing. The UK will continue to urge the parties to prioritise progress towards reaching a durable solution for Gaza and to take the necessary practical steps to ensure Gaza's reconstruction and economic recovery.

The UK is committed to making progress towards a two state solution. We believe that negotiations will only succeed when they are conducted between Israelis and Palestinians, supported by the international community. The UK has regular discussions with the Governments of Egypt, Jordan, France and Germany on the Middle East Peace Process, including at Ministerial level. UK officials in Cairo, Amman, Paris and Berlin have discussed the Middle East Peace Process with their respective host governments in March 2021.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all adult Palestinians in East Jerusalem are able to vote in the upcoming Palestinian elections; and what plans they have for the independent observation of the elections in all the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

We have welcomed President Abbas' announcement of dates for legislative and Presidential elections in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the first time since 2006. We encourage the Palestinian leadership to work toward strong, inclusive, accountable and democratic institutions, based on respect for the rule of law and human rights. Free and fair elections are an important and necessary step. The UK will work closely with the Palestinian Authority and international partners to support this. This includes encouraging the Government of Israel to allow elections in East Jerusalem. We are supportive of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation attempts, and of the Palestinian Authority returning to resume government functions in Gaza, helping to improve the dire humanitarian and economic situation and restore effective and accountable governance.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to provide assistance to Palestinian refugees in poverty in Syria.

The UK is a longstanding supporter of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). We recognise UNRWA's unique mandate from the UN General Assembly (UNGA), to protect and provide protection and core services to Palestinian refugees across Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The UK provided £51m to UNRWA in 2020. This includes £6m to the Regional Syria Emergency Appeal. Our support will help provide life-saving assistance for the 438,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria, 95% of whom need sustained humanitarian assistance

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, if any, to work with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees to support (1) distance learning for refugee children, and (2) families in economic hardship in Lebanon.

In 2020, the UK provided £51 million in funding to UNRWA to support its unique role providing protection and core services to Palestinian refugees across Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

In response to the pandemic, UNRWA has strengthened remote learning, which includes a virtual learning environment, television broadcasts and websites for accessing links to learning materials.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Palestinian Investment Fund, Consolidated Contractors Company and the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company on the development of off-shore gas near Gaza; and what plans they have to contribute UK (1) technical expertise, and (2) funding, to this endeavour.

This issue is being discussed with the parties at international level in the context of how to facilitate a sustainable and long-term solution to the energy crisis in Gaza.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the responsibilities of the government of Israel in relation to the provision of COVID-19 vaccinations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; and what plans they have to make representations about this matter to the government of Israel.

The UK Ambassador in Tel Aviv raised the issue of vaccines with the Israeli Authorities on 24 February, encouraging the Government of Israel to continue to facilitate the transfer of vaccines to the PA when required. The British Embassy in Tel Aviv and the British Consulate-General in Jerusalem will continue to raise timely and appropriate access to COVID-19 vaccines and medical equipment.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) reports that at least 15 children have been arrested in Bahrain since 7 February, and (2) the health of those reportedly detained; what discussions they have had with the government of Bahrain about their release.

We are following the detention of a number of juveniles including Sayed Hasan Ameen, who were arrested for arson, endangering the lives and property of others, and preparing and possessing Molotov cocktails. We understand these cases are pending legal proceedings, and are being supervised by social work specialists. We will continue to monitor and raise these cases if and when appropriate. The Government of Bahrain has been clear that access to medical care for those in detention is provided in line with the constitution of Bahrain.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to impose targeted sanctions against (1) ministers of the government of Turkey, and (2) commanders of the Turkish Armed Forces, for any breaches of international law.

We do not speculate about possible future sanctions designations. We regularly raise human rights concerns with the Turkish government at Ministerial and senior official level. We will continue to encourage Turkey to adopt reforms, such as the next phase of the current reform process aimed at strengthening the role of the judiciary, and to sustain democracy, respect the rule of law and protect fundamental freedoms, in line with its international commitments.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the establishment of a Turkish–Russian joint  monitoring centre in Aghdam.

The UK Government welcomes the 10 November peace deal, and is closely following developments including the establishment of the joint monitoring centre. We continue to urge the Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan to engage with the OSCE Minsk Group to settle all outstanding matters; both Russia and Turkey are members of this group.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all UN-authorised crossings into Syria are reopened permanently for the safe entry of humanitarian goods; and whom they plan to consult on this matter.

The UK regularly raises the issue of UN-mandated crossborder access, including most recently on 25 February, at the UN Security Council. We continue to use our position at the UN Security Council and in bilateral discussions, informed by regular consultation with UN agencies, United Nations Under-SecretaryGeneral for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock, human rights organisations and others, to push for greater aid access into Syria and to urge renewal of Resolution 2533.

We are appalled that Russia, backed by China, has twice sought to block cross-border aid access into Syria, placing political support for the Assad regime above lifesaving support for the Syrian people. The UK remains committed to the delivery of aid to those most in need in Syria, through all mechanisms. We strongly support the renewal of UNSCR 2533 and are urging members of the UN Security Council to vote in favour of renewing the resolution to avoid further humanitarian disaster.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan about its failure to release prisoners of war from the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region; whether this and other ceasefire violations were raised by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for European Neighbourhood on her recent visit to Baku; and if not, why not.

During her recent visits to Armenia and Azerbaijan the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas underlined the importance of returning of all prisoners of war and urged both parties to work closely with the ICRC to expedite the returns where relevant. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas also encouraged both sides to abide by the 10 November trilateral peace deal and settle all outstanding matters through talks under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group. The UK Government welcomes the most recent exchange of prisoners of war on 10 February.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of the total overseas aid provided by the UK has gone to (1) Greece, (2) Cyprus, and (3) Malta, in each year since 2015.

0 per cent of Official Development Assistance (ODA) has been provided to Greece, Cyprus and Malta as they have been non-ODA eligible countries since 1995, 1997 and 2003 respectively as defined by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the European Anti-Fraud Office about its investigation into allegations of harassment, misconduct and migrant pushback.

Where the UK has concerns about human rights we raise them directly with governments concerned. We have not received any request from the European Anti-Fraud Office to contribute to its investigation, nor have we made any representations.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support efforts to close detention centres in Libya for refugees and migrants.

The UK has repeatedly raised its concerns with the Libyan authorities about the treatment of migrants and continues to press for a better functioning migration system that respects human rights.

We support the UN's call for detention centres across Libya to be closed, and call on all parties to engage with the UN and the humanitarian community so that all migrants and refugees can be evacuated safely in accordance with international human rights law.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reported use of 'targeted killings' by the government of the United States during its operations in Yemen between 2013 and 2016.

HMG has not made any such assessment. US operations are a matter for the US Government.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the benefits to the rural populations of the Sahel of planting acorn varieties with regard to reducing (1) internal violence, (2) external migration and (3) desertification, and what plans they have to publicise any such benefits.

The UK Government is committed to tackling the root causes of fragility in the Sahel, including through supporting families affected by food insecurity with humanitarian aid (we are the 4th largest humanitarian donor in the region). Through the FCDO's charity appeal, UKAID match, we also support a project in Mali that helps women to grow trees, providing food and an income for households.

The UK Government has not made an assessment of the benefits of planting different acorn varieties for rural populations in the Sahel.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the evacuation of foreign military forces from Libya began on 23 January, as scheduled in the ceasefire agreement of 23 October 2020; and if they have made no such assessment, what assessment they have made of how this process of evacuation may begin.

The UK fully supports the ceasefire brokered by the UN in October 2020, has consistently called for its implementation, and is closely monitoring the situation. The UK, jointly with partners, recently urged Libyan political leaders to take all necessary measures to accelerate the implementation of the ceasefire, prioritising the opening of the Coastal Road between Abu Grein and Sirte. The UK continues to press all external actors to withdraw their foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya, as required by the ceasefire agreement and to abide by the UN arms embargo. There is no military solution to the challenges that Libya faces.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, what discussions they plan to have with the government of (1) Azerbaijan, and (2) Armenia, about (a) the number of prisoners of war still held as a result of the recent conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and (b) continuing the exchange of such prisoners which began on 14 December 2020.

In her recent conversations with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas underlined the importance of abiding by the 9 November peace agreement, and of addressing all outstanding issues under the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. This includes working with humanitarian agencies on the return and exchange of prisoners. We will continue to urge progress on this crucial issue.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of access the International Committee of the Red Cross has had to the Nagorno-Karabakh region and adjoining territories; and what steps, if any, they are taking to increase such access.

The UK Government is aware that humanitarian organisations have had difficulties in gaining access to the Nagorno Karabakh region. The challenges they have faced include ongoing questions around political status and the winter weather. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas has continued to raise the importance of all humanitarian agencies, including the ICRC, having access to the region in her engagements with both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that (1) Turkish forces shelled the Ain Issa district of Syria on 4 January, (2) a Turkish military base is being built near Ain Issa, and (3) the government of Turkey is reinforcing its existing forces in north and north-west Syria; and what representations they have made to the government of Turkey about those reports.

Ministers and officials maintain regular contact with the Turkish Government and frequently discuss the situation in Syria, including to welcome Turkey's continued efforts to protect civilians in Idlib from a further regime offensive. Most recently, the UK Ambassador in Ankara spoke with Turkey's Director General for Syria on 20 January, when they discussed the situation in north-east Syria, including a recent increase in activity around Ain Issa. In conversations with all actors in Syria we make clear the importance of abiding by their obligations under international law. We welcome the fact that the ceasefires in north-east and north-west Syria are broadly holding and we urge all parties to continue adherence.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they intend to have with the government of (1) Albania, and (2) North Macedonia, about the repatriation of (a) Albanian, (b) North Macedonian, and (c) British, citizens held in camps in north-east Syria.

We regularly discuss countering violent extremism (CVE) with National CVE Coordinators and other officials in Albania and North Macedonia, including through our embassies in the region. We have no plans to discuss repatriation of British citizens from camps in north east Syria with Albania or North Macedonia but will continue to cooperate closely with both countries on a range of security-related issues.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that EDO MBM Technology Ltd supplied Hornet bomb-racks and fuel pumps for the Bayraktar TB2 drones used by the government of Turkey in the Nagorno-Karabakh region; and if so, what action they have taken in response to such reports.

We consider all our export applications thoroughly against a strict risk assessment framework and keep all licences under careful and continual review as standard. The UK complies with the OSCE arms embargo relating to the NagornoKarabakh region, which is considered as part of our export licensing process, and HMG has not issued licences contrary to the arms embargo.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to investigate reports that the government of Turkey has used drones against Turkish citizens in 11 regions of that country since 2016; and what representations they have made to the government of Turkey to request an explanation for the deaths of Zehra Berkel, Hebun Mele Xelil and Amina Waysi in June 2020.

We regularly discuss with the Turkish Government the need to respect human rights and avoid civilian casualties during military activities within Turkey. Regarding reports of Turkish military operations causing civilian casualties in Kobane in Syria, where the three named individuals died in June 2020, we expect all sides to the Syrian conflict to respect their obligations towards civilians under international humanitarian law. We will continue to engage with Turkey on this important issue.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support the proposal by the United Nations for the provision of monitors for the ceasefire in Libya, and in particular to oversee the withdrawal of foreign forces.

The UK supports the comprehensive ceasefire brokered by the UN in October 2020, and welcomes the recent commitment shown by Libyans to engage constructively in the UN-led political process. The UN has a central role to role to play in supporting implementation of the ceasefire, including the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries, a key step towards a sustainable political settlement for all Libyans.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the remarks by the Executive Director of UNICEF on 10 December 2020 at the Averting famine in Yemen: What can we do now and in 2021 event in New York; and what plans they have to coordinate international action for (1) disease prevention, (2) child nutrition, and (3) peace building in Yemen.

The UK is extremely concerned about increased levels of food insecurity and risk of famine in Yemen with 7 million people, including 2 million children, requiring treatment for acute malnutrition. We are playing a leading role in combating hunger in Yemen by committing £214 million this financial year (2020/21), £200m of which has already been disbursed.

Our support will provide over 600,000 medical consultations, train 1,500 healthcare workers to work safely in a COVID-19 environment and enable nearly 600 health centres to continue providing existing health services. This financial year (2020/21), UK aid to UNICEF has already helped to screen 450,000 children for malnutrition and enrolled over 25,000 children on Severe and Acute Malnutrition treatment programmes.

The UK will continue to urge the international community to step up, including by urgently disbursing humanitarian funding. As penholder at the UN Security Council we are leading efforts to encourage all parties to the conflict to engage in new peace talks led by UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, if any, to support the provision of COVID-19 vaccines (1) to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and (2) Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

The UK will deliver on its commitment to global equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (AMC). The UK has supported the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) to be included in the COVAX. I most recently discussed this with the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki on 10th December and provided assurances that the UK will continue to coordinate closely with the Palestinian Authority (PA) so that vaccines are rolled out across the OPTs.

UK officials regularly engage in dialogue with the Government of Israel, including on issues affecting Palestinian prisoners in Israel and to discuss co-operation with the PA. We have not yet raised the issue of vaccine provision to Palestinian prisoners but will monitor the situation accordingly.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on 22 December that Selahattin Demirtas must be released from prison, what representations they intend to make to the government of Turkey about his release.

We regularly raise human rights issues with the Turkish authorities. My colleague the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas did so last month with her Turkish counterpart. With regard to this specific ruling, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will supervise the implementation of the judgment in Demirtaş (No.2) v Turkey, a process in which the United Kingdom actively participates. We will continue to encourage Turkey, including at Ministerial level, to act in line with the conventions of the Council of Europe and to make greater progress on wider human rights reforms.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government which states were fellow signatories to the General Framework for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995; whether those states have a duty to assess whether that agreement is still appropriate to the needs of that country; whether they have made any such assessment; and if so, what steps they intend to take in response.

The signatories of the General Framework for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (GFAP) are Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Representatives from the UK, USA, France, Germany, Russia and the European Union signed the document as witnesses. The United Kingdom remains committed to supporting BiH's security, democracy and prosperity, underpinned as necessary by constitutional reform. The international community will offer support, but it is essential that the authorities in BiH themselves make reforms based on broad consensus and for the greater good of all citizens. This path forward requires compromise and cooperation from all sides. All BiH citizens must have the right to participate equally in their country's future.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to call for a review of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, reached on 21 November 1995, in order to find new consitutional arrangements for Bosnia–Herzegovina; and what plans they have to stipulate, as part of any such review, that the population of Bosnia–Herzegovina be consulted in any such review.

The importance of the General Framework Agreement for Peace, which brought an end to the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in the 1990s, cannot be overstated. However, it was not intended to be set in stone and was worded to enable local actors to make changes in the future. The United Kingdom remains committed to supporting BiH's security, democracy and prosperity, underpinned as necessary by constitutional reform. The international community will offer support, but it is essential that the authorities in BiH themselves make reforms based on broad consensus and for the greater good of all citizens. This path forward requires compromise and cooperation from all sides. All BiH citizens must have the right to participate equally in their country's future. The Foreign Secretary called on BiH's leaders to focus on a peaceful future and democratic rights for all in his statement to mark the anniversary of the Dayton Agreement on 21 November.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide more polymerase chain reaction machines and swabs to Gaza.

We remain concerned about the capacity of the Palestinian health system to cope with the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. We are aware of the temporary cessation of COVID-19 testing in Gaza on 6 December and welcome reports from the World Health Organisation that further testing kits arrived in Gaza on 7 December and testing resumed.

We have already delivered vital support to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Occupied Palestinian Territories through £1.25 million in funding (World Health Organisation with £630,000 and United Nations Children's Fund with £620,000). This funding helped to provide over 20,000 testing kits, mainly in Gaza.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking with international partners to reduce the number of refugees and migrants in Greece.

We have?a?long standing?and strong relationship with Greece and?are committed to supporting Greece's efforts to manage migration effectively. On 22 April, the UK? and Greece signed a bilateral migration action plan to reaffirm our commitment to cooperation and to establish a strategic migration dialogue.? The Plan?includes a UK-Greece exchange of expertise on asylum and returns processes and organised immigration crime. This also forms part of our regional and international cooperation response, as part of a 'whole of route' approach to tackling the challenges of, and risks posed by, irregular migration. For example, our co-operation with Turkey is key to effectively managing migratory flows and preventing people risking their lives while attempting to cross the Aegean. We are actively engaging to help shape the international response on migration further up the route, working through an increasingly diverse set of partners and source and transit countries.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that the provision of aid for the education of boys and young men overseas is conditional upon the inclusion of teaching on the importance of respect and understanding for girls and women.

The UK is committed to standing up for the right of every girl to access 12 years of quality education. Girls' education matters because it is one of the greatest tools for addressing discrimination against women and girls. It initiates a virtuous circle, giving women and girls a greater voice to advocate for changes in their own lives and the lives of others. Between 2015 and 2019 the UK supported 14.3 million children to gain a decent education, of which at least 5.8 million were girls.

Through its programmes, the FCDO works with whole communities, including boys and men, to change their attitudes and behaviours towards girls and women. However, gender bias and discrimination is widespread within and across education systems, from teacher recruitment and training to curriculum and material development, to gender-based violence in and around schools. FCDO staff ensure that the teaching and learning materials we fund are inclusive and reflect gender equality. Staff do this by working closely with experts to develop gender-friendly materials with strong role models, ensuring that text and visuals are independently quality assured and vetted, supporting inclusive and learner-focused teaching methods and funding student clubs that facilitate discussions around gender equality.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Spain about the number of migrants and refugees arriving in the Canary Islands; whether that government has requested any assistance with this matter; and what plans they have to offer support (1) to aid that government's assessment and resettlement of those migrants, and (2) to prevent the establishment of permanent camps.

The UK Government, through our Embassy in Madrid, discusses a range of issues related to migration with the Spanish authorities. Our Embassy monitors closely the recent rise in migrant crossings from West Africa to the Canary Islands which, according to Spain's Ministry of the Interior, increased by 1,019% between 1 January and 15 November compared with the same period in 2019. The Government of Spain has not requested assistance in managing this increase in arrivals and the UK Government, whilst committed to working with Spain to achieve safe and properly managed migration, has no plans to intervene.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of prisoners still held by the governments of (1) Azerbaijan, and (2) Armenia; and what steps they intend to take to support the release of all prisoners and detainees in those countries who were held as a result of recent fighting.

The UK Government has not made an estimate on the number of prisoners held by the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan as a result of recent fighting. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas recently spoke to both the Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers where she highlighted the importance of return of prisoners of war and reinforced support for the International Committee of the Red Cross as the primary mediator through which prisoner exchanges should take place. We continue to monitor the situation carefully.

30th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Egypt about the use of capital punishment.

It remains a long-standing policy of the United Kingdom to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. We continue to raise human rights concerns, including the death penalty, with the Egyptian authorities, both privately and in forums such as the UN Human Rights Council. Most recently, on 18 November, our Ambassador in Cairo raised our concerns over the death penalty with the President of Egypt's National Council for Human Rights.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 24 January (HL454), what further representations they have made to the government of Egypt about the indefinite detention and access to medical care of (1) Essam El-Haddad, and (2) Gehad El-Haddad.

We continue to raise our human rights concerns with the Egyptian authorities, particularly around detention and prison conditions. Most recently, our Ambassador in Cairo raised concerns over detention conditions with the President of Egypt's National Council for Human Rights during a meeting on 18 November. We continue to urge the authorities to ensure that all detainees are treated in accordance with relevant international human rights standards.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what evidence they have of the mistreatment of (1) civilian, and (2) military, prisoners, (a) during, and (b) following the conflict between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces; and what plans they have to assist with the exchange of all remaining prisoners.

The UK Government welcomes the ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The UK Government is aware of reports that both sides have mistreated civilians and military prisoners of war during the conflict and afterwards. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas has been in regular contact with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers since the outbreak of hostilities in September. She has urged investigation of these reports, condemned the targeting of civilian settlements and pressed both sides to prioritise the return of prisoners of war. The UK Government continues to support the work of the ICRC in this regard.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to provide emergency aid for refugees in (1) Armenia, and (2) the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

On 30 October the Foreign Secretary announced £1 million in funding to the ICRC to support their humanitarian efforts in the region. We are working with international partners and NGOs to understand needs in the region and what further support we can provide, and will keep the situation under review.

27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Turkey about the opening of Turkish airspace for flights to (1) Armenia, and (2) Georgia.

The UK Government has not made representations to the Government of Turkey regarding the opening of Turkish airspace for flights to Armenia and Georgia.

27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to provide emergency funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East in light of the call by its Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini on 9 November for humanitarian assistance.

The UK is a long-term supporter of the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), and we recognise UNRWA's unique mandate from the UN General Assembly to protect and provide protection and core services to Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. We are providing £51 million to UNRWA in 2020/2021. Reports that UNRWA may not be able to pay the salaries of its staff in full are very worrying. To that end, the UK is working with UNRWA and other donors to improve UNRWA's financial viability. This includes broadening UNRWA's donor base, encouraging the full disbursement of pledges and support through multi-year funding.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the agreement to allow travel between Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania using only identity cards, and (2) the deal to bypass Visoki Decani Monastery.

The October 2019 agreement on ID Card travel between Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia was part of a wider initiative to promote economic cooperation between the three countries. We welcome increased regional economic cooperation in principle but believe that it should involve all six Western Balkans countries. At a Berlin Process meeting on 16 October 2020, Interior Ministers of the Western Balkans endorsed a proposal to develop an agreement to travel using identity cards among all six countries of the Western Balkans. The UK supports this inclusive regional integration and information exchange, although we have cautioned on the need to analyse and mitigate security risks to prevent Organised Crime Groups from exploiting the new arrangements.

The Government welcomes the agreement on the construction of a bypass and rehabilitation of roads in the Deçan/Decane municipality, endorsed by the Implementation and Monitoring Council on 9 November. Our Ambassador in Pristina visited the site in August, and issued a joint statement with international partners calling for adherence to the 2008 law on Special Protective Zones, and subsequent constitutional court decisions regarding the Deçan/Decane land dispute. We are pleased a solution has been found that respects the rule of law, and ensures the ongoing protection of cultural and religious heritage in Kosovo.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to discuss the proposed closure of camps for displaced people in seven Iraqi provinces with the government of Iraq; and what assessment they have made of the impact of these closures on homelessness during (1) the winter, and (2) the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK is concerned by the recent consolidation and closure of camps for internally displaced people in Iraq. The speed of these camp closures makes it very challenging to ensure people are able to return home voluntarily, safely and in a sustainable manner. These challenges are exacerbated by the winter, COVID-19, and the economic crisis.

The UK is coordinating advocacy efforts with international partners to raise our concerns at the highest levels with the Government of Iraq and slow the rate of unplanned camp closures. Since 2014 the UK has provided £272 million in humanitarian support to millions of vulnerable Iraqis including shelter kits, upgrades to camps and household items. The UK is also the largest donor to the Iraq Humanitarian Fund which will respond to the most urgent needs including both shelter and COVID related support for displaced persons as they face harsh winter conditions.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the position of (1) UNHCR, and (2) the International Organization for Migration, on the designation of Libya as a safe third country for the purpose of returns.

We note the UNHCR's position set out in its September report "UNHCR position on the designations of Libya as a safe third country and as a place of disembarkation following rescue at sea". We also note the International Organization for Migration's (IOM) position on this issue, set out in recent IOM communications.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to repatriate British nationals held by Kurdish forces in north-east Syria.

We do not comment on individual cases. Each request for consular assistance is considered on a case-by-case basis and the support we can offer is tailored to the individual circumstances.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Norwegian Refugee Council Raided and Razed: Attacks on West Bank Education, published on 12 November; and what plans they have to raise this subject with the government of Israel in a joint démarche with other European countries.

We are concerned by the findings of the report by the Norwegian Refugee Council, 'Raided and Razed: Attacks on West Bank Education', published on 12 November. The right to education is basic, and it is essential to have a strong and thriving Palestinian education system in order to provide opportunities for the next generation. This is why the UK is committed to providing support to education workers in the West Bank, and UNRWA education in the West Bank and Gaza. The Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa raised UK concerns about the demolition of Palestinian infrastructure, including potential demolition of schools, with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 29 October. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv also raised our concern about the demolition of schools with the Government of Israel on 13 October, alongside European partners. In all but the most exceptional of circumstances demolitions are contrary to International Humanitarian Law. We repeatedly call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and have a regular dialogue with Israel on legal issues relating to the occupation, including the treatment of Palestinian children.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria about the report from its National Bureau of Statistics, published on 23 April, which found that more than 70 per cent of that country's prison population is on remand without sentence.

The UK Government shares the concern about the findings in the report by the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics. Although we have not discussed this specific report with the Nigerian authorities, officials at our High Commission have raised the issue of the large numbers of prisoners awaiting trial and the need for due process to be followed in a timely manner in all cases. It is important that the federal and state governments take steps to reduce the number of prisoners on remand without sentence. Our High Commission will continue to engage with the Nigerian Ministry of Justice on this subject.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to discuss (1) arms control, and (2) arms trade limitation, with the government of Saudi Arabia, including at the next G20 summit.

The UK participated in the G20 Summit, where the Prime Minister set out his priorities of a coordinated global health response to the pandemic, a sustainable economic recovery, and ambitious action against climate change. As current G20 President, Saudi Arabia played a vital role in delivering a communique agreement on affordable and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The UK strongly supports the various arms control instruments to which it is a party, as such we regularly call on all States which have not yet done so, to accede to these instruments as soon as possible. The UK takes its export control responsibilities and obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty extremely seriously. We assess all export licences in accordance with strict licensing criteria. The UK regularly raises the importance of International Humanitarian Law and of conducting thorough and conclusive investigations into alleged violations with Saudi Arabia, including at senior levels.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of the Philippines about (1) the murder of journalist Jobert Bercasio, (2) the alleged killing of 85 other journalists in the Philippines since 1991, and (3) the deaths of 116 political activists, environmentalists, and human rights defenders on the island of Negros between July 2016 and August 2019.

The UK Government regularly raises concerns about a range of human rights issues with the Government of the Philippines, including the treatment of human rights defenders, land rights defenders and the deteriorating media freedom space. We consistently call on the Government of the Philippines to ensure a safe environment for human rights defenders and the prioritisation of the passage of a Human Rights Defenders Bill.

The Minister for Asia and the Pacific raised our concerns with the Philippine Ambassador to the UK on 21 September. The UK supported the Iceland-led Resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in July 2019 which led to the June 2020 report on the human rights situation by the High Commissioner for Human Rights. We agree with the recommendations of the report and will continue to work with like-minded countries to highlight the report's concerns. The UK supports the provision of UN technical assistance to the Philippines, as set out in the UN Human Rights Council resolution adopted in October 2020.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations, if any, they are making to the governments of Turkey and Iraq about the agreement between the government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government for (1) the governance of Shengal, and (2) the appointment of a mayor of Shengal, without (a) consultation with, or (b) the agreement of, Yazidi communities or their representatives.

The UK continues to closely monitor the recent agreement between the Government of Iraq (GoI) and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over governance sharing in Sinjar. We are committed to supporting the rights of the Yazidi community and other minority groups in Iraq. HMA Baghdad has recently discussed this matter with GoI and KRG leadership, as well as senior representatives of the Yazidi community, urging for representation of minority groups. The UK will continue to engage closely with all relevant parties in order to support the rights of the Yazidi community and other minority groups through this agreement.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of the Philippines about progress in implementing the Republic Act No. 9775 (the Anti-Child Pornography Act 2009); what were the outcomes of these discussions; and what plans they have to make further representations on this matter to the government of the Philippines.

The UK is at the forefront of work with international partners to improve the capability of the Philippine authorities to fight online sexual exploitation of children. The National Crime Agency (NCA) works closely with Philippine law enforcement to tackle this issue, and has supported the creation and ongoing operations of the Philippines Internet Crimes against Children Centre (PICACC).

The UK also works closely with the Philippines Department of Justice via a Technical Working Group on online sexual exploitation of children. This group brings the international community and the Philippine Government together to share best practice. The UK has not had specific consultations with the Philippines with regards to the Anti-Child Pornography Act, but supports the introduction of legislation by countries around the world to combat online sexual exploitation of children.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to reports of breaches of ceasefires, what assessment they have made of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The UK Government is clear that there can be no military solution to the current conflict. We are deeply concerned that three humanitarian ceasefires have failed to hold. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood spoke to the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers on 28 October. She urged both parties to abide by the humanitarian ceasefires and condemned the continued targeting of civilian settlements and infrastructure. The UK Government continues to urge both parties to undertake substantive negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group.

27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan (1) to investigate, and (2) to report on, on whether white phosphorous was used as a result of considering samples of skin tissue from victims of Turkish military operations in east and north east Syria in 2019 to 2020; and if not, why not.

Her Majesty's Government strongly supports efforts to pursue accountability for the most serious crimes committed in Syria, including the UN Commission of Inquiry and the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism. These mechanisms provide a more appropriate channel to investigate and report on allegations of violations or breaches of international law in Syria.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the government of Israel about reports that that government has refused to provide new visas for the staff of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

We are aware of the difficulties officials of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have faced in renewal of the visas necessary to remain in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). The UK, alongside international partners, raised our concern with the Government of Israel on 26 October. The UK also raised this issue with the Mission of Israel to the UN in Geneva on 8 September. We call upon the Government of Israel to fully respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of human rights defenders and organisations and to allow them to freely operate in Israel and OPTs. We continue to make clear that a strong, vibrant civil society is in Israel's own interest. As a friend of Israel, we would be concerned by any developments that may undermine this commitment.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the request by the Executive Council of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, for the repatriation of foreign nationals in Al-Hol camp; and whether they raised the number of British nationals in any related discussions.

The UK Government is clear that those individuals who have fought for, or supported Daesh, whatever their nationality, should face justice and accountability through prosecution in the most appropriate jurisdiction: often in the region where the crimes took place. Officials have reiterated this position in routine discussions with the local authorities in north-east Syria, including in relation to individuals who have travelled from the UK. We are aware that some British nationals are living in displaced persons camps in Syria but due to the circumstances on the ground we are not in a position to make an accurate estimate of the number.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the number of migrants arriving in the Canary Islands from West Africa, and (2) the case for agreed European policies.

According to the Spanish Ministry of the Interior, 8,102 people have arrived in the Canary Islands via sea so far this year, representing a significant increase on 2019. The dangers have been highlighted before, with an estimated 140 fatalities during an attempted crossing from Senegal to the Canary Islands on 24 October.

The EU Commission published proposals for a new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum on 24 September. This will be for EU Member States to agree. We will welcome balanced and holistic European approaches that mirror the UK's commitment to a 'whole of route' approach.

26th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel for the release on medical and compassionate grounds of Maher al-Akhras.

Officials in Tel Aviv have raised this case with the Government of Israel. We remain concerned about Israel's extensive use of administrative detention which, according to international law, should be used only when security makes this absolutely necessary rather than as routine practice and as a preventive rather than a punitive measure. We continue to call on the Israeli authorities to comply with their obligations under international law and either charge or release detainees.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to make representations to the government of Turkey to restore the supply from Alouk water station on a permanent basis; and what plans they have to seek the support of other countries on this matter.

The UK remains concerned by persistent disruption to water supply from Alouk water station to Hasakeh and other parts of North East Syria. Officials have raised this with the Turkish Government, including most recently on 22nd October. They continue to reassure us on their commitment to finding a workable solution. The UK discusses the situation regularly with the UN and UN member states, including at the Humanitarian Task Force in Geneva. Inconsistent electricity provision to pump water is an additional impediment and we welcome recent attempts by UNICEF to begin installing voltage stabilisers. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

26th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review (1) al-Hol camp, and (2) other displaced persons camps in north-east Syria and Iraq, with regard to (a) the work of government authorities, (b) the work of the UN and other voluntary agencies, (c) the return home of displaced persons, (d) the resettlement elsewhere of displaced persons, and (e) the most effective use of aid.

The UK regularly tracks the situation at Al Hol and other internally displaced persons' (IDP) camps, and we are aware of the Syrian Democratic Council's (SDC) announcement on 4 October, regarding reintegrating Syrians from Al Hol camp into local communities. We understand these transfers will take place gradually, and are raising with the SDC the need to ensure returns are voluntary, informed and in line with International Humanitarian Law. The UK continues to support IDP/refugee camps in North East Syria, funding UN agencies and NGO partners to provide life-saving aid such as food, water and shelter. The UK has committed £33 million to help humanitarian agencies respond to the COVID-19 threat in Syria, including in IDP camps where cramped, challenging conditions make social distancing and cleaning measures difficult to implement. The FCDO has rigorous and robust checks to ensure aid goes to the people that need it, delivers value for money and protects against aid diversion. We also use third-party independent monitors to support our delivery partners and verify that aid is being delivered as intended.

In Iraq, there are up to 252,000 people living in IDP camps, which we continue to support with shelter, medical care and clean water. We are concerned about recent camp closures in Baghdad, and continue to raise this with the authorities and UN leadership. We are working closely with the Government of Iraq and the UN to support durable solutions for those displaced by conflict which are safe, voluntary, sustainable, and non-discriminatory.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they intend to make to the government of France about its ban on the distribution of food or drink in Calais.

Local decrees, such as Arrete CAB-BRS of 10 September 2020, issued by the prefecture of France's Pas-de-Calais department, are a domestic matter for French authorities. We understand that this decree intends to prevent gatherings in around twenty specific streets in Calais city centre and to allow for social distancing but that it does not amount to a total ban on the distribution of food and drink in Calais.

21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have provided any funds to support the Union Election Commission in Myanmar; if so, why; and what assessment they have made of reports that it has forbidden Rohingya people from standing as candidates.

The UK is not providing any direct financial support to the Union Election Commission (UEC). We are very concerned at the exclusion of candidates on spurious citizenship grounds, this includes Rohingya and Muslim candidates. The right to stand as a candidate for all people in Myanmar is a key part of achieving effective democracy. Decisions made by the election commission must be transparent and clearly communicated. We are clear that the Rohingya, who have lived in Myanmar for generations, should be granted full citizenship and the associated rights. The Rohingya should not be excluded from Myanmar's elections. The Minister for Asia raised this issue with the Myanmar Minister for International Cooperation in June. We also raised this at the UN Security Council in September.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they, and the OSCE Minsk Group, are taking to implement and verify the latest ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia; and whether the UK will provide observers.

Although the UK is not a member of the OSCE Minsk Group, we continue to support the work of the Group and its Co-Chairs of France, the United States and Russia. The UK has delivered four statements at the OSCE urging a return to negotiations and for the ceasefire to be adhered to. The UK also supports the calls by the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to agree on a verification mechanism. The UK continues to support the relevant OSCE mechanisms working on this conflict, including through our secondment of qualified personnel. There has not yet been any request for international observers to be deployed to the region. Although we will continue to monitor the situation closely, the UK does not have plans to deploy any at this time.

20th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the number of casualties, and (2) the damage to houses, schools and infrastructure, in (a) the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and (b) Azerbaijan, and (2) the appeal for funds by the International Committee of the Red Cross to help address the COVID-19 pandemic in that region.

We have not made an assessment of the number of casualties, damage to houses, schools and infrastructure outside of the information that has been provided by both parties. We continue to evaluate what support the UK provides to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Kurdistan Regional Government about the arrest of Sherwan Amin Sherwani on 7 October.

We are aware of reports concerning the detention of Sherwan Sherwani and are monitoring his case closely. We condemn acts of intimidation by security forces against journalists and media organisations, and the suppression of information including the internet. We raise this regularly with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they intend to have with (1) the government of Iraq, and (2) the Kurdistan Regional Government, about the installation of another pontoon bridge over the river Tigris at Faysh Kharbur.

British officials regularly discuss the issue of refugee crossings into the Kurdistan region of Iraq with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government. We understand that at present, aid and people are still able to cross at Fishkabour (although this is of course restricted due to COVID-19 measures), but we continue to monitor the situation and keep in regular contact with the UN, NGOs and international partners on the issue.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk of default on national debt in Zambia and other states which are receiving temporary relief; and what steps they are taking to limit the damage caused by any such defaults.

The UK is strongly supportive of work to safeguard debt transparency and sustainability in lower-income countries. The UK conducts regular assessments of macro-stability in lower-income countries, informed particularly by the debt sustainability analyses carried out by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In line with the classification arrived at by the IMF and World Bank in 2019, the UK currently assesses Zambia's debt to be on an unsustainable path. The Minister for Africa discussed the issue of debt with the President of Zambia and the Minister of Finance during his visit to Zambia on 8 and 9 October.

In April 2020, the G20 and Paris Club of official creditors announced a historic joint Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) for the least developed countries. The DSSI has supported 43 countries, including Zambia, which have requested suspensions, freeing up a total of US$5 billion in fiscal space to fund the countries' COVID-19 responses. Given the depth of liquidity needs in these countries, the UK supports an extension of the DSSI into 2021.We expect further debt relief to be required. This should be on a case-by-case basis in the context of an IMF programme to ensure it is tailored to need, with equitable burden sharing among all official and private creditors. To ensure this process is efficient and effective, on 25 September the Chancellor met with his G7 counterparts to discuss a future Common Framework for debt relief between the G20 and Paris Club, as well as possible extension to the DSSI. A joint statement detailing this discussion is available on the US Treasury website.

5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that Syrian opposition fighters have been killed in Azerbaijan; and what information they have received about (1) how any such fighters arrived in that country, and (2) who was paying them.

The UK is aware of media reporting that Syrian opposition fighters have been killed in Azerbaijan. We have received no specific information regarding these claims. The UK continues to urge all actors to use their influence to ensure an end to the hostilities and a return to the negotiating table.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of Syrian fighters reportedly deployed to Libya by the government of Turkey.

We are aware of reports of foreign fighters being transferred from Syria to engage in armed conflict in Libya - on both sides of the conflict.

The UK is clear that external involvement in the Libyan conflict, including the use of mercenaries and foreign fighters, is undermining UN efforts to secure a lasting ceasefire and restart political dialogue. We have expressed our concern to the Turkish Government, as we have to all other external actors whose activity continues to fuel the conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they will make to the government of Azerbaijan about the alleged bombardment of civilian targets in Nagorno-Karabakh; what discussions they have had with the OSCE Minsk Group about its work to prevent further violence in the area; and what steps they plan to take to help the governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia to secure a ceasefire and encourage a full peace process.

The Government is deeply concerned by the recent military escalation along the Line of Contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and reported shelling into civilian areas. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and Americas raised UK concerns over civilian casualties and fatalities with both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers on 28 September. On 29 September the UK alongside other OSCE Permanent Council members delivered strong statements urging de-escalation and a resumption of dialogue to reach a peaceful settlement. We will continue to engage with key partners on this issue and continue to support the OSCE Minsk Group in their aims of securing a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

28th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they will make to the government of Turkey about the detention warrants issued, including to members of the HDP party, concerning a protest that occurred in 2014.

The Government is aware that the Ankara Prosecutor's Office has begun new investigations into the 2014 protests, and we are monitoring developments. Officials from the British Embassy in Ankara regularly meet members of the HDP (People's Democratic Party) to discuss their concerns. We expect Turkey to undertake any legal processes against detainees, including MPs, other party officials, human rights defenders and journalists, fairly, transparently and with full respect for the rule of law.

25th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they contributed to EU funding used to train and support the Libyan Coastguard in each of the last three years; and what estimate they have made of the total amount spent by the EU on that purpose in each of those years.

EU training support to the Libyan Coastguard and Navy (LCGN) was provided through EU naval Operation Sophia, to which the UK made a voluntary contribution of €595,000 on 12 May 2017. No contributions were made by the UK to EU training of the LCGN after that date. LCGN training was funded out of voluntary contributions from Member States and we estimate the total amount to be approximately €3 million. The operation formally closed on 31 March 2020. It was succeeded by EU Operation IRINI, to which the UK has not contributed.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of people held in indefinite detention in centres in Libya.

The UK remains deeply concerned by the conditions faced by migrants and refugees in Libyan detention centres. We continue to urge the Libyan authorities to pursue alternatives to detention and implement a better functioning migration system that respects human rights. On 18 September, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that more than 2400 refugees and migrants were held in these centres.

The UK has not provided any direct funding to detention centres in Libya. These centres are the responsibility of the Libyan authorities. Any UK assistance in detention centres has been limited to official centres to improve humanitarian conditions, such as improving water, sanitation and hygiene conditions and providing non-food items and emergency food distribution. No funding has been provided to their wider operation, day-to-day operations or management. This humanitarian assistance is part of our wider 'whole of-route' approach to protecting migrants and refugees who are travelling along the Central Mediterranean Route, which also includes work to crack down on people smuggling, support to assisted voluntary returns and intensive work to end the conflict in Libya.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what funding, if any, they have provided to be used (1) to inspect, (2) to improve, and (3) to close, detention centres in Libya.

The UK remains deeply concerned by the conditions faced by migrants and refugees in Libyan detention centres. We continue to urge the Libyan authorities to pursue alternatives to detention and implement a better functioning migration system that respects human rights. On 18 September, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that more than 2400 refugees and migrants were held in these centres.

The UK has not provided any direct funding to detention centres in Libya. These centres are the responsibility of the Libyan authorities. Any UK assistance in detention centres has been limited to official centres to improve humanitarian conditions, such as improving water, sanitation and hygiene conditions and providing non-food items and emergency food distribution. No funding has been provided to their wider operation, day-to-day operations or management. This humanitarian assistance is part of our wider 'whole of-route' approach to protecting migrants and refugees who are travelling along the Central Mediterranean Route, which also includes work to crack down on people smuggling, support to assisted voluntary returns and intensive work to end the conflict in Libya.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they intend to have with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees about speeding up the evacuation process of women and other vulnerable people among the registered refugees in Libya

The UK is supportive of UNHCR's work to evacuate vulnerable migrants through the Emergency Transit Mechanisms (ETMs). The UK works closely with UNHCR to provide support to vulnerable refugees in Libya through the FCDO Safety, Support and Solutions Phase II (SSSII) Programme and through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF). UK officials are regularly in contact with UNHCR on delivery of both programmes.

Through our contribution to the EUTF, the UK supports UNHCR indirectly to conduct life-saving evacuations of targeted groups of extremely vulnerable people who have been subject to serious violations of their human rights.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to EU member states about policies controlling the migration of refugees and migrants from north Africa; and what discussions they have had with those states about (1) the impact of such policies on the safety of women, and (2) how those policies correspond with commitments to uphold the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

The UK continues to engage with EU members states in support of a 'whole of route' approach to reduce irregular migration and maintains a dialogue on a range of issues, including upstream intervention to reduce push factors, protecting vulnerable migrants on the move including women and children, and supporting those who want to return home. Amongst EU member states in the region, most recently, the Minister for Europe and the Americas and the Maltese Foreign Minister discussed migration on 27 July. The UK continues to champion the ethos of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), through our National Action Plan (NAP) on WPS (2018-2022). Ensuring that women's and girls' needs are more effectively met by humanitarian actors and promoting the meaningful participation and leadership of women in our humanitarian response is a strategic outcome in our NAP.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) control, and (2) use, of water and hydro-electric resources in (a) Turkey, (b) Syria, and (c) Iraq, by (i) the government of Syria, (ii) the government of Turkey, (iii) ISIS, and (iv) the Democratic Union Party in Syria.

We remain concerned about the ongoing water and electricity shortages in Hasakeh province, north-east Syria, and Iraq, and have raised the humanitarian issue of water and hydro-electric supplies with all relevant parties in the region.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Iran about the case of Zara Mohammadi; and what response they have received.

We are aware of reports concerning the detention of Zara Mohammadi and are monitoring her case closely. Iran's Kurdish population face significant and ongoing discrimination and harassment. A substantial proportion of Iran's political prisoners are Kurdish. Iran's human rights record remains of serious and longstanding concern to the UK and we regularly raise human rights with the Iranians at all levels.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of China about (1) the location, and (2) the well-being, of Andy Li and eleven other young detainees who are citizens of Hong Kong.

We have raised our concerns about these cases with the Chinese authorities in Hong Kong. It is essential that due process is followed. The UK remains fully committed to upholding Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms, including freedom of speech and assembly, which are guaranteed under the Joint Declaration.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Malta about migrants and refugees alleged to be detained on ill-equipped ferries in Maltese waters.

The FCDO is aware of reports that irregular migrants rescued in Malta's Search and Rescue Zone have been kept aboard vessels outside Malta's territorial waters. The Government of Malta has said that keeping irregular migrants aboard vessels at sea has been a precaution to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas raised the importance of protecting the rights of irregular migrants with Malta's Foreign Minister during the UK-Malta migration dialogue on 27 July.

14th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Greece about reports that that government has expelled over one thousand refugees.

We are in close touch with the Greek Government on migration issues and the UK Government remains committed to supporting Greece's efforts to manage migration effectively. Greece has rejected allegations of conducting pushback operations against migrant vessels seeking to reach its territory. We urge all those involved to?uphold?international?human rights standards in respect?of migrants and?to avoid any actions that may endanger human life.

10th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of (1) recent large-scale arrests and alleged disappearances in Ethiopia, (2) violence against the Tigre people, and (3) intercommunal violence in Oromia; what representations they have made to the government of Ethiopia; and  what discussions they have had with (1) the African Union, and (2) the United Nations, about those bodies involvement in peace building work in Ethiopia.

The UK is concerned by reports of violence between ethnic groups in Ethiopia, reports of arrests and abuses by security services. The Minister for Africa visited Ethiopia from 27 - 29 July and was able to discuss these issues with the President, Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and the President of Oromia Region. He pushed for full and transparent investigations on the violence and that those detained are afforded due process and their cases heard promptly. The Minister for Africa also expressed the need for more peaceful dialogue between different ethnic groups in Ethiopia and for space to be given for political debate.

While in Addis Ababa, the Minister for Africa called on Commissioners at the African Union. They discussed a wide range of issues, including peace and security matters.

The UK supports the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia to strengthen accountability and has been encouraged by the opening of the political space - in particular the release of thousands of political prisoners and the reform of legislation which constrained civil and political rights. We support civil society organisations in Ethiopia so that they can play an increasing role in monitoring human rights. The UK is also working closely with international partners including the African Union and the UN to promote a peaceful and stable Ethiopia [and has contributed over £15 million to UNDP support for the National Elections Board of Ethiopia]. The UK is watching carefully developments and reactions to the elections held in the Tigray region on 9 September.

10th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide (1) ventilators, and (2) any other urgently required medical supplies, to Gaza; and what steps they are taking to encourage (1) parties in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, (2) the government of Israel and (3) the governments of other neighbouring states to Gaza, to cooperate to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK Government remains deeply concerned by the rising number of COVID-19 cases Gaza.

We have provided over £3.5million to the?World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF?and the World Food Programme (WFP) to purchase and co-ordinate the delivery of medical equipment, treat critical care patients, train frontline public health personnel, scale up laboratory testing capacity and support vulnerable households.?The British Consulate General also recently supported the delivery of 15 respirators to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Nine more respirators will soon be shipped for hospitals in Gaza.

In his recent visit to the region, the Foreign Secretary encouraged both Israel and the Palestinians to resume cooperation, including with regards to COVID-19.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement signed by 76 faith leaders calling for action in response to alleged atrocities against Uyghurs over the past three years in Xinjiang; and what plans they have to set up an impartial investigation into those allegations.

We are aware of the joint statement from faith leaders about Xinjiang. The evidence on the range and extent of human rights violations in Xinjiang is well-established, including evidence from the Chinese authorities' own publicly-available government documents and satellite imagery. The UN has made clear recommendations to China, including to release those arbitrarily detained in camps. We have repeatedly called on China to urgently implement those recommendations and to allow unfettered access to the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN experts.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Turkey about (1) the curfews in the Sur neighbourhood of Diyarbakir City and imposed on 19 villages in Bitlis Province, and (2) reports of unlawful killings in north Istanbul and near Mardin.

We are aware that curfews have been put in place across Diyarbakir province as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, whereas those in Bitlis province are security-related. We follow the security situation?in?Turkey closely, especially in the south-east. We regularly emphasise to the Turkish Government the need to respect human rights, and to support the rule of law in any security operations. We will continue to engage the Turkish Government on these issues and be clear in our expectation that Turkey live up to its human rights obligations, which is essential to the long-term health of Turkish democracy.

3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have (1) to sign the UN’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and (2) to submit that Treaty to Parliament for ratification.

The UK is committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons, in line with our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The Government firmly believes that the best way to achieve a world without nuclear weapons is through gradual multilateral disarmament negotiated using a step-by-step approach under the NPT. The UK will not sign or ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) as we do not believe that this treaty will bring us closer to a world without such weapons. The TPNW fails to address the security obstacles that must first be overcome to achieve lasting global nuclear disarmament. It will not improve the international security environment or increase trust and transparency, and risks undermining the NPT.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the provision medical and other aid to Gaza for COVID-19 prevention during the latest ceasefire.

The UK Government remains deeply concerned by the situation in Gaza. Our recent £840,000 funding contribution has enabled the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF to purchase and co-ordinate the delivery of medical equipment, treat critical care patients, train frontline public health personnel and scale up laboratory testing capacity. The Foreign Secretary also recently announced a further £2.7m of funding to UN agencies to provide food assistance, medical supplies and personal protection for the most vulnerable Palestinians. We welcome the recent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and continue to monitor the situation closely.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reported use of banned cluster weapons in Yemen; and what progress, if any, has been made towards a ceasefire in that country.

The UK welcomed Saudi Arabia's commitment in 2016 that it would no longer use BL-755 cluster munitions, which were exported from the UK, with the last delivery being in 1989. We have no evidence that this assurance has been breached and have not seen evidence of any recent use of cluster munitions in Yemen since 2016. We continue to monitor the situation closely. We regularly emphasise to Saudi Arabia the importance of conducting thorough and transparent investigations into alleged International Humanitarian Law violations. UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths is continuing to seek the parties agreement to a permanent ceasefire and a resumption of the UN-led political process. We fully support these efforts and urge the parties to engage constructively with the Special Envoy.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Brazil about reports of the killing of Paulo Paulino Guajajara and the wounding of Laercio Souza Silva by illegal loggers in the Arariboia reservation of Maranhao State.

The UK is committed to promoting and defending the human rights of all individuals including indigenous peoples. Brazil has a robust and independent justice system that tackles cases such as this one. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and to raise critical issues such as this in our dialogue with the Government.

2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made, and intend to make, to the government of China about upholding the "one country, two systems" principle, in respect of Macao, in particular regard to maintaining freedom of religion or belief and freedom of speech.

We have no specific plans to raise Macao with the Government of China, but will continue to raise a range of human rights issues with the Chinese authorities, including freedom of religion and belief, media freedom and freedom of speech more broadly. On 8 June and 28 July the Foreign Secretary set out our concerns about Hong Kong and Xinjiang to State Councillor/Minister for Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, and if so, when, they received a request from the family and friends for the repatriation of the body of Anna Campbell, who was killed near Afrin in Syria in March 2018; what reply they sent; whether any subsequent action was taken; and if not, why not.

We are bound by strict confidentiality rules under the Data Protection Act. We cannot pass on any information about Anna Campbell without her families consent.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they, and international fora, have (1) to address climate change and pollution, and (2) to prevent violent conflict and communicable diseases.

Tackling climate change is a priority issue for the UK, which is why we bid to host COP 26 in partnership with Italy. We have committed to doubling the UK's International Climate Finance funding to at least £11.6 billion between 2021/22 and 2025/26. To ensure ambitious climate action across the world, the UK has around 180 diplomats engaged globally on climate issues, and the Climate and Energy Attaché Network expanded by 50 local staff in FY19/20 to help deliver COP26. The FCO has also recently appointed four Regional Ambassadors to support global engagement.

The UK takes a holistic, coordinated approach to preventing violent conflict bilaterally and in international fora. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the UK takes its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and the prevention of violent conflict seriously and is active in preventive diplomacy, peacebuilding, and peacekeeping. In addition to ongoing defence, diplomatic and development engagement in key fragile and conflict affected areas, we are monitoring the increased risks as a result of Covid-19.

The Prime Minister hosted the Global Vaccine Summit on 4 June, raising $8.8 billion to support Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance's work to immunise a further 300 million children and save up to 8 million lives from vaccine preventable diseases by 2025. In June 2019 the UK pledged up to £1.4 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria for 2020-22 to contribute to the distribution of 92 million mosquito nets, treat over 2 million people suffering from TB and provide life-saving anti-retroviral therapy for more than 3.3 million people with HIV. In 2019, the UK announced a £400m commitment to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to continue efforts towards eradicating the disease. The UK Government will continue to work with all our international partners in global efforts against communicable diseases.

23rd Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the potential (1) of creating new, and (2) of improving current, channels for détente and dialogue to prevent violent conflict and foster harmonious development globally.

Dialogue is an essential part of efforts to prevent violent conflict. We continue to prioritise preventive diplomacy and mediation through the UN and push for greater collaboration on peacebuilding amongst international organisations. The evidence is also clear that women's meaningful participation in conflict prevention through to conflict resolution is key to securing sustainable peace. In the 20th anniversary year of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, we are prioritising promoting women's meaningful inclusion in peace processes; and increasing support and protection for women resolving conflict, countering violent extremism and building peace at the grassroots level.

23rd Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the case for, and (2) the feasibility of, creating a new institution for détente and dialogue in the Middle East and North Africa; and what plans, if any, they have to make proposals for that purpose.

A stable Middle East and North Africa is in every nation's interests. The UK engages regularly, at all levels, with the countries of the Middle East and North Africa and a wide range of external experts; this includes on regional issues. We are willing to consider any efforts to promote dialogue.

23rd Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to discuss the case for creating new permanent Commonwealth specialist agencies at the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

The UK has no plans to discuss the creation of new specialist agencies at the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). We are focused on strengthening and delivering through the existing institutions, organisations and networks of the Commonwealth. Those include the three inter-governmental organisations (the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Foundation and the Commonwealth of Learning) and their many programmes; several intergovernmental fora of ministers and senior officials; and over 80 Commonwealth-accredited organisations. We look forward to the postponed CHOGM being held in Kigali next year. The UK will continue as Commonwealth Chair-in-Office until then.

22nd Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have seen recent proposals for ending violence in Libya put forward by (1) some members of the Libyan House of Representatives and (2) the Speaker of that House; and what plans they have to facilitate further negotiations.

We remain deeply concerned by the situation in Libya and we welcome all efforts which support the UN-led peace process. We have been clear that we support an inclusive political settlement for Libya. We welcome the engagement of the Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army in the UN-led 5+5 military talks. It is essential that both sides engage fully with this process. The UK is actively engaged in diplomatic efforts to end the conflict and we continue to work closely with international partners towards peace in Libya. We continue to call on all parties to de-escalate, commit to a lasting ceasefire and return to UN-led political talks which is the only means of achieving the peace and stability that the Libyan people crave.

22nd Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have (1) to support the work of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission towards a ceasefire in Libya, and (2) to take steps to limit any further inflow of weapons to that country.

The UK is playing an active role in international diplomatic efforts to promote a ceasefire, humanitarian access and a return to a UN-led process in Libya. As 'penholder' on Libya at the UN Security Council, we tabled UN Security Council 2510 which demands an end to foreign military interference in Libya. Most recently, at the 8 July UN Security Council meeting, the Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa reiterated that external backers must stop sending arms to Libya, adhere to the Berlin conference commitments made in January, and support the parties to achieve a ceasefire and reach an inclusive political solution. The UK has also continued to urge all Libyan parties and the key international players to engage fully with the UN-led political process, including the 5+5 military dialogue convened in Geneva.

21st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the proposal for Lebanon to become a permanently neutral state, as advocated by the Rt Rev Bechara Boutros Al-Rai.

It is for Lebanon to decide on its foreign and security policy. We continue to urge the Government of Lebanon to fully implement its policy of disassociation from regional conflicts, and abide by the provisions of all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, including 1559 and 1701. The Minister for Middle East and North Africa stressed this point again to key Lebanese politicians during his virtual visit to Lebanon on 23 July.

21st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to discuss with the government of Turkey that country's military commitments in Libya, Syria and Iraq; and in particular the compatibility of those commitments with NATO membership.

Turkey is a key NATO ally - one of the largest contributors of military personnel - and sits on the frontline of some of the most difficult and serious challenges we face. We will continue to work closely with Turkey within NATO on challenges to peace and security.

The UK does not support Turkish military activity in Libya, which risks aggravating the conflict and worsening regional tensions. We have expressed our concerns to the Turkish Government, as we have with other external actors whose activity continues to fuel the conflict. All parties to the Libyan conflict must de-escalate, commit to a ceasefire and return to UN-led political dialogue. The Foreign Secretary delivered this message to Turkish Foreign Minister Çavusoglu during his visit to London on 8 July.

The Foreign Secretary also discussed Syria with the Foreign Minister; Ministers and officials regularly discuss the situation in northern Syria with the Government of Turkey. The UK made clear our opposition to the unilateral Turkish intervention in north-east Syria in October 2019. We welcome the ceasefire currently in place in the north-east and also acknowledge the important role Turkey has played in recent months to secure a ceasefire in Idlib.

Regarding Turkish military actions in northern Iraq, the British Ambassador in Ankara has spoken to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including on reports of civilian casualties. We continue to urge dialogue and cooperation between Iraq and Turkey to combat terrorism, ensure regional security and protect civilians.

21st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made, or intend to make, representations to the government of Turkey about the release from prison of Mr Deniz Yildirim of the People's Democratic Party.

Although we have not made specific representations on behalf of Mr Yildirim, we regularly raise our human rights concerns with the Turkish authorities at the highest level, particularly around detentions, freedom of expression and association. We continue to urge the authorities to ensure that all detainees are treated in accordance with relevant international human rights standards, such as access to legal representation and medical care. We will continue to engage the Turkish Government on these important issues. We are clear in our expectation that Turkey should live up to its human rights obligations towards all its citizens.

21st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to discuss with the government of Turkey (1) the reported reduction in the flow of Euphrates river, (2) its impact on northern Syria, (3) how the present situation accords with the 1977 Agreement on Water Sharing, and (4) the current situation with the Allouk Water Station in Heseke Canton, Syria.

The UK is deeply concerned by the persistent disruption to water supply from Alouk water station to northern Syria and has raised the humanitarian issue of Alouk with all parties in the region. When officials raised with the Government of Turkey on 23 July, including the impact on northern Syria and the current operational situation of the station, they were assured the Government of Turkey was also looking for a solution to these concerns.

2nd Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they intend to make to the government of Turkey about reports of attacks by Turkish armed forces on settlements in Iraq and the subsequent deaths of Kurdish civilians living there.

The UK is closely following the situation in northern Iraq. Our Ambassador in Ankara has spoken to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including on reports of civilian casualties. We continue to urge dialogue and cooperation between Iraq and Turkey to combat terrorism, ensure regional security and protect civilians.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to discuss with the government of Turkey (1) the implications for prisoners awaiting trial of Articles 2 and 10 of the Turkish Constitution, and Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and (2) the release of Mr Deniz Yildirim.

We regularly raise our human rights concerns with the Turkish authorities at the highest level, particularly around detentions, freedom of expression and association. Although we have not made specific representations on behalf of Mr Yildirim, we continue to urge the authorities to ensure that all detainees, (including former parliamentarians,) are treated in accordance with relevant international human rights standards, such as access to legal representation and medical care. We will continue to engage the Turkish Government on these important issues. We are clear in our expectation that Turkey, like all countries, should live up to its human rights obligations towards all its citizens.

25th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they last discussed with the government of Israel reports of cases of married couples, or parents and children, not being permitted to live under the same roof, because of residency or other requirements, particularly in and near Jerusalem; what was the outcome of those discussions; and what plans they have to continue to raise such issues with that government.

Whilst we have not raised this specific issue with the Government of Israel, we regularly make clear our concerns about the restrictions on movement imposed by the Israeli authorities on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. In East Jerusalem, the UK Government supports Palestinians to uphold their residency rights through the provision of legal aid services delivered through our legal aid programme.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about the number of permits granted to Christians from Gaza to visit holy sites in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, or to visit family in the West Bank during Easter and Christmas holidays; and what responses, if any, they have received.

Whilst we have not made representations on this particular issue, our Embassy in Tel Aviv and Consulate-General in Jerusalem do raise issues of religious freedom with the Israeli Government and Palestinian Authority. The Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa also met with representatives of the Holy Land Coordination Group, Bishop Declan Lang and Bishop Christopher Chessun, on 22 June to discuss the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and their work with the Christian community there. The UK recognises that the holy sites of Jerusalem hold particular significance for many groups around the globe, especially the three Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. We are committed to working with all parties to maintain calm, avoid provocation and uphold the Status Quo in order to ensure the safety and security of the holy sites and all who worship and visit there.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Turkey about the reported persecution of Christians in Cyprus.

The UK is committed to defending freedom of religion or belief, and promoting respect between communities of different religions and those of no religion. The UK has supported the work of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage in the northern part of Cyprus. This committee was created under the auspices of the United Nations and works to promote and protect the cultural heritage of the island of Cyprus. This includes preservation of religious sites in the north of Cyprus.

18th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made, and intend to make, to the governments of Turkey and Iraq, about assisting the reunion of Yazidis in those countries with family members currently living in territory under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government; and what responses they have received.

We are committed to supporting the rights of the Yazidi community, like other minority groups, in Iraq and assisting them to reunite their families and overcome the appalling suffering they faced from Daesh. We continue to engage with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government on this issue.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to call for the release of Musa Farisogullari, and other political prisoners, following the release of Leyla Guven in Turkey.

We regularly raise our human rights concerns with the Turkish authorities at the highest level, particularly around detentions, freedom of expression and association. We continue to urge the authorities to ensure that all detainees, including former parliamentarians, are treated in accordance with relevant international human rights standards such as access to legal representation and medical care. We will continue to engage the Turkish Government on these important issues. We are clear in our expectation that Turkey, like all countries, should live up to its human rights obligations towards all its citizens.

15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Turkey about reports that Turkish forces and associates in Afrin Canton of Syria set fire to farm and woodland, destroying 3000 olive trees.

Ministers and officials regularly discuss the situation in Syria with the Government of Turkey. In those discussions we make clear the importance of all parties to the Syrian conflict abiding by their obligations under international law. We have not raised the specific report of fires in Afrin.

8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to (1) end visa-free entry to the UK for Israeli citizens, and (2) consider other sanctions, in response to the annexation of new areas of land by Israel.

We will not discuss possible responses to hypothetical situations. The Foreign Secretary made clear our concerns about reports that the new Israeli Government coalition has reached an agreement, which may pave the way for annexation of parts of the West Bank, during a call with the Israeli Foreign Minister on 2 June. We also reiterated our concerns at the UN Security Council remote meeting on the Middle East Peace Process on 20 May. The UK position is clear: any unilateral moves towards annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel would be damaging to efforts to restart peace negotiations and contrary to international law.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Eritrea about the house arrest of Patriarch Antonios of the Eritrean Orthodox Church; and what responses they have received

We remain concerned about the human rights situation in Eritrea, including the arrests of religious figures such as Patriarch Abune Antonios who has been detained for over 12 years. On 25 July 2019, we issued a tweet specifically calling attention to his apparent excommunication and his ongoing detention. We also raised his case in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 2018 Annual Human Rights Report. There has been no response from the Government of Eritrea.

The UK Government, along with partners in the international community, have taken every opportunity to voice our concern about arbitrary arrests and detentions in Eritrea, and have called for their release. On 26 February, the UK's International Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, delivered a statement during the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council expressing concern at continuing human rights abuses. Although welcoming Eritrean acceptance of Universal Periodic Review recommendations and offering UK assistance in support of their implementation, she said that the UK would continue to press for the release of arbitrarily detained individuals, and call for respect for freedom of religion or belief, especially for worshippers of unregistered religions.

Our Ambassador in Asmara raised arbitrary detentions of members of the Christian community with the Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 20 May 2019 and with the President's senior adviser on 14 August 2019. During visits to Eritrea, the FCO's Head of East Africa Department, in November 2019, and the Home Office International Director, in February, both raised human rights issues with senior members of the Eritrean government. Eritrea remains a priority country for the FCO under our annual human rights reporting, and we will continue to monitor the situation there.

3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Saudi Arabia following the reported arrest of the brother and two adult children of Saad al-Jabri, who is in exile.

We are aware of reports concerning the detention of Saad Al-Jabri's brother and two of his children. We remain concerned over the detention of a number of individuals in Saudi Arabia. We continue to raise our concerns about individual cases and are monitoring this case closely.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to propose a joint UK–EU initiative to protect the Ibrahimi Mosque, following reports that the government of Israel is planning renovations and improvements to the building, without prior consultation or agreement and which could involve some expropriation of Palestinian land.

The holy sites of East Jerusalem and the West Bank hold particular significance for many groups around the globe, especially the three Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. In our meetings with the Israeli authorities we regularly raise the need to respect the status quo of the holy sites in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. We continue to urge the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to avoid actions that make it more difficult to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the government of Israel following the recent judgment handed down by the Israeli Central Court to deduct 450 million Israeli shekels from Palestinian tax revenues

We are aware of this case and are following developments as the legal process is still ongoing. It is important that economic and fiscal agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue to be fully implemented.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Turkey about reports of discrimination against religious groups and places of worship, other than those recognized in 1923, in that country; and whether, in such discussions, they raised that any such discrimination is contrary to (1) the Turkish constitution, (2) international agreements on Freedom of Religion and Belief, and (3) the principles of NATO.

The Turkish constitution provides for freedom of conscience and religion, regardless of an individual's citizenship. We regularly discuss with Turkey issues concerning freedom of religion and belief and encourage Turkey to live up to its international obligations. We will continue to engage the Turkish Government at all levels on these issues and to urge respect for Freedom of Religion or Belief, which are essential to the long-term health of Turkish democracy. Defending persecuted Christians, and persecuted individuals of all faiths or beliefs, remains a long-standing priority for the British Government.

18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Turkey about reports that it is attempting to change the ethnic demography in northern Syria by moving people from west to east across the Euphrates river; and what assessment they have made of reports that houses are being demolished and equipment is being stolen in Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ain by Turkish backed forces.

We have raised concerns with the Turkish Government over reports of human rights violations by Turkish backed forces in Syria, and have made clear that any attempt at demographic change would be unacceptable. We are aware of the reports relating in Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn but are not in a position to assess their validity. We consistently reiterate the importance of all parties to the Syrian conflict abiding by their obligations under international law.

18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they plan to have with the Turkish Ambassador about the existence of safeguards to (1) prevent the abuse of constitutional rights by state agencies, and (2) uphold the intended purpose of Law No 7242, passed by the Parliament of Turkey on 14 April.

We have regular discussions with the Turkish Government, including with the Turkish Ambassador to the UK, about the situation in Turkey including on human and constitutional rights. The amendments under law 7242 include provisions that are aimed both at lowering the prison population generally and, in response to COVID-19, a temporary release provision for convicts that are serving or have the right to serve time in a minimum security institution and those under supervised release. We encourage Turkey to ensure that these provisions are met.

18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Serbia about reports that more than 4,000 Albanians in Medvegja and Bujanoc have been removed from the civil registry in Serbia, consequently rendering them stateless with no voting and other civil rights.

The UK is aware of recent reports of the removal of ethnic-Albanians in southern Serbia from civil registries. Verifying these reports is complicated by high levels of migration and lack of agreed population statistics, but our Embassy in Belgrade is monitoring closely. Our Ambassador, with like-minded partners, has discussed with the Serbian Government the importance of fundamental rights and freedoms in the context of the forthcoming elections. We will continue to pursue this issue in the course of discussions with relevant national and local authorities in Serbia, as part of our ongoing work to promote and protect human and minority rights.

12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support calls for a global truce and ceasefire to support international cooperation in regard to COVID-19 and its impact on countries with no welfare systems and the urban poor.

The UK supports the UN Secretary-General's call for a global ceasefire in armed conflicts. We are deeply concerned about the impact that Covid-19 will have on vulnerable countries, particularly those tackling extreme poverty. We continue to work within the UN Security Council to promote initiatives which will build on the global ceasefire and marshal support for UN efforts to take forward peace processes and mitigate risks of conflict escalation. To give a specific example, the UK and Germany are leading on negotiations in the Council to establish a new UN mission in Sudan which, within its support for ongoing political transition, will also have a mandate to support the peace process and implementation of any future peace agreement.

The UK is leading with partners and allies to support an effective and co-ordinated global health response led by the World Health Organisation, reinforce the resilience of vulnerable countries, pursue a vaccine and support the global economy. The UK is working together with international partners to achieve these objectives, including with the G7, G20, the UN and other multilateral institutions, in order to ensure a stronger global effort.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Turkey about the steps it is taking to protect (1) prisoners awaiting trial, and (2) those convicted of political offences, from contracting COVID-19.

We speak regularly to Turkey about our concerns relating to the risks posed by COVID-19 in Turkey. Ministers and our Ambassador to Turkey continue to engage the Turkish Government on Covid risks and future work to tackle the disease.

We support the call made by the UN Secretary-General in his message of 22 April that human rights must be at the front and centre of the COVID-19 response and recovery. We continue to be clear in our expectation that Turkey, like all countries, should live up to its human rights obligations towards all its citizens. We support all efforts by the UN to minimise long-term damage to global economies, societies, politics and freedoms.

6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps, if any, they are taking following threats by the government of Iraq to withhold federal budget payments to the Kurdistan Regional Government.

The UK encourages the Government of Iraq (GOI) and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to work together to resolve all issues in line with the Iraq Constitution. Following the appointment of new Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, we will continue to encourage strong GOI-KRG cooperation, including on issues relating to federal budget payments to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of serious fighting in Ras al-Ain, Syria, between two militias aligned with Turkey on 22 April; what steps they are taking to prevent similar violence; and whether such steps include the use of verifiable ceasefires.

We are aware of reports of renewed violence in Ras al-Ain, Syria, including on 22 April. Implementation of the ceasefire agreements in north-east Syria is the responsibility of the parties to those agreements but we have made clear our expectation that all sides abide by the agreed ceasefire and by their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of international sanctions on the rise in food prices in Syria over one year.

We assess that the rise in food prices in Syria over the past year is primarily a result of the deteriorating economic situation in neighbouring Lebanon, whose economy is intrinsically linked to Syria's; the corresponding loss in the value of the Syrian pound; damage to agricultural areas and productivity due to war and fires in summer 2019; and latterly border closures related to COVID-19. We do not assess international sanctions to be a major factor: EU sanctions are carefully targeted on specific sectors and individuals, in order to minimise their impact on ordinary Syrians, and do not apply to the food sector. More generally, the ongoing conflict combined with mismanagement and corruption by the Assad regime explain most of the problems of the Syrian economy.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of any progress towards a truce from Yemen, Libya and North and South Sudan; and what steps they are taking to promote a renunciation of the use of force by all states and other militant entities

We continue to work closely with international partners towards peace in Yemen, Libya, Sudan and South Sudan, amongst other countries in conflict.

We fully support the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and the UN Special Envoy's call for all parties to engage in urgent political talks and de-escalate the conflict in Yemen. Now that Saudi Arabia have extended their unilateral ceasefire it is more important than ever that all parties seize this opportunity for progress in Yemen. A permanent ceasefire and co-operation with the UN-led political process is the best defence we have against a potentially devastating outbreak of COVID-19.

We are also deeply concerned by the continuing fighting in Libya. All the signs are that, despite calls for a humanitarian truce, hostilities are continuing on all sides. UK leadership helped secure UN Security Council Resolution 2510, which demands full compliance with the UN arms embargo and an end to foreign military interference in Libya. We continue to urge all parties to agree a ceasefire and return to UN-led political talks, which is the only means of achieving the peace and stability that most Libyans crave.

We welcome recent progress made in both Sudan and South Sudan towards resolving their long-running conflicts. Through our membership of the Troika, we have engaged their governments and international partners to support their respective peace processes. At the UN Security Council on 28 April, the UK urged both governments to continue to focus on building sustainable peace. In South Sudan, conflict between the parties to the September 2018 Peace Agreement has reduced. In February this year, the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity marked a significant step forward in implementing the deal, bringing opposition leaders into the government. Although implementation of the Peace Agreement has slowed since the COVID-19 outbreak, we continue to urge all sides to ensure momentum is maintained. The Minister for Africa reiterated this point with 1st Vice President Machar on 29 April.

On Sudan, the UK supports Prime Minister Hamdok's commitment to secure a sustainable peace agreement to end conflicts in the county. We welcome initial progress in peace negotiations and agreement of a cessation of hostilities. We continued to urge all sides to engage constructively and swiftly to reach a comprehensive and inclusive peace agreement; at the UN Security Council on 24 April we urged all Sudanese stakeholders to remain fully committed in the efforts to achieve lasting peace.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of people resident in Makhmur refugee camp in Northern Iraq; what assessment they have made of reports that the camp (1) was hit by a Turkish drone strike on 15 April, and (2) has been subject to three such attacks since December 2017; and what representations, if any, they have made to (a) the government of Turkey about any such attacks, and (b) the Kurdistan Regional Government about its blockade of that camp.

We understand around 12,000 people are resident in Mukhmur refugee camp in northern Iraq. We closely monitor reports of Turkish airstrikes in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which Turkey has said were targeting members of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). We share concerns about restrictions imposed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on the movement of camp residents. Our Consulate General in Erbil discussed these concerns with the KRG authorities in April.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they intend to have with the government of Turkey about reports that it (1) has erected fences around Bilbile district and elsewhere in Afrin canton of north Syria, and (2) has attempted to change the demography of that canton.

Ministers and officials regularly discuss the situation in Syria with the Government of Turkey. In those discussions we and our international partners have made clear that any attempt at demographic change in Afrin or other areas under Turkish control would be unacceptable. We have not raised the specific report of fences being erected in Afrin.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support the UN’s proposal for a ceasefire throughout Syria until the COVID-19 pandemic is over; and if so, what discussions, if any, they have had with the governments involved in that conflict about that proposal.

We support the UN call for an immediate, lasting, and nationwide ceasefire in Syria to enable complete focus on countering COVID-19. The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa discussed this with Geir Pedersen, UN Special Envoy for Syria, on 1 April and we have expressed our support for this initiative at the UN Security Council and in bilateral discussions with some of the countries involved in the Syrian conflict. However, we have not discussed this proposal with the Assad regime since we have had no diplomatic relations with them since 2012.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the government of Greece has detained and mistreated migrants at secret extrajudicial sites before deporting those migrants to Turkey; and what representations they have made to the government of Greece about refoulement.

The UK Government is aware of reports of the detention and mistreatment of migrants in Greece and remain in close contact with the Greek Government. We recognise that the Greek authorities are under considerable pressure and we remain committed to supporting Greece's efforts to manage migration effectively. The Minister for Immigration at the Home Office, and Greek Alternate Minister for Migration Mr George Koumoutsakos, signed the UK-Greece bilateral action plan on 22 April to this end. While the UK fully supports the right of States to control their borders, we also expect States to fulfil their international obligations and protect and promote the human rights of migrants. This includes with regard to the principle of non-refoulement. As part of the EU-Turkey Deal of 2016 Turkey is considered a safe country to which to return migrants who have entered Greece illegally.

21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the government of Turkey has submitted proceedings to withdraw parliamentary immunity from 28 opposition MPs of the Republican People’s Party, the People’s Democratic Party and the Democratic Regions Party; and what representations they intend to make, if any, to that government about such reports.

This is a matter for the Turkish Parliament. We will continue to follow closely developments on this. As a modern democracy, we expect Turkey to undertake any subsequent legal processes transparently and to fully respect the rule of law. We consistently encourage the Turkish government to uphold the rule of law, to respect fundamental freedoms and to adhere to its international obligations.

21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether all or any of the 180 Palestinian children reportedly detained by the Israeli Authorities have been released since 5 April; and if not, what steps they intend to take.

The UK has serious concerns about the continued reports of ill-treatment of Palestinian minors in Israeli military detention. We remain committed to working with Israel to secure improvements to the practices surrounding children in detention in the country. We welcomed progress made with recent Israeli policy amendments. We continue to fund projects providing legal aid to minors and capacity building to local lawyers. Specifically, we advocate for the Israeli authorities to inform more consistently detainees of their legal rights. We continue to make representations to the Israeli authorities on this issue. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv did so most recently on 16 December 2019.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the government of Israel about the repeated arrests of the Palestinian Authority Governor of East Jerusalem and reports of beatings and maltreatment of another Palestinian Authority official.

While we have not made representations on the arrests of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Governor of East Jerusalem, the British Consul General in Jerusalem, alongside a number of other representatives, met the PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs by videoconference on 7 April. They expressed concern at the 3 April raid by Israeli police on his home, his detention and questioning about his work to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in East Jerusalem. We remain concerned about Israel's extensive use of administrative detention which, according to international law, should be used only when security makes this absolutely necessary rather than as routine practice and as a preventive rather than a punitive measure. We continue to call on the Israeli authorities to comply with their obligations under international law and either charge or release detainees.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to discuss with the government of Israel the health needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic of the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

We are deeply concerned about the impact of a COVID-19 outbreak in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). The British Embassy in Tel Aviv and the British Consulate-General in Jerusalem are in regular contact with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities respectively. Both report good cooperation in response to COVID-19 though we continue to call on both parties to avoid any provocative action which might undermine the cooperation that is so critical. UN agencies, the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government are working together to ensure that essential medical supplies and staff reach the OPTs. The UK's $1 million funding contribution will enable the World Health Organisation and UNICEF to purchase and co-ordinate the delivery of medical equipment, treat critical care patients, train frontline public health personnel and scale up laboratory testing capacity.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Turkey about the reported closure of the water treatment facility at Alok in north east Syria by the Turkish Armed Forces.

Department for International Development officials raised the need to protect water supply in Syria, including the Alok facility, with the Government of Turkey during Operation Peace Spring in October 2019. After some disruption to the water supply recently, we understand that the facility has now been re-opened. The British Government continues to support UN and INGO partners to help those in need in north east Syria.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 2 March (HL1754), whether their discussions with the government of India have included the establishment of independent inquiries into the deaths of at least 28 people involved in protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019; if so, what response they received; and if not, why not.

We welcome that India's Upper House of Parliament will debate the recent violence in Delhi on 12 March, and await details of next steps the Government of India will take. We will continue to raise our concerns about the impact of the Citizenship Amendment Act with the Government of India where we have them.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 2 March (HL1754), whether they discussed with the government of India the possibility that independent inquiries be established into the deaths of the people involved in protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019; if so, what reply they received; and if not, why not.

We welcome that India's Upper House of Parliament will debate the recent violence in Delhi on 12 March, and await details of next steps the Government of India will take. We will continue to raise our concerns about the impact of the Citizenship Amendment Act with the Government of India where we have them.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that refugees are being helped to leave Turkey and then denied entry to Greece at the land border; what steps they will take to assist such refugees; and what discussions they have had with international organisations about this issue.

We are aware of reports that migrants are being encouraged to leave Turkey and then denied entry to Greece at the land border with Turkey. The British Government remains committed to supporting Greece and Turkey's efforts to manage migration effectively and is working both bilaterally and with our international partners to this end. The Prime Minister discussed the matter with the Turkish President on 3 March, as did the Foreign Secretary on the same day with the Turkish Foreign Minister, and our Ambassador in Athens spoke with the Greek Foreign Minister, also on 3 March. We continue to urge dialogue to resolve the situation.

26th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with governments of countries that require religious affiliation to be stated on identity cards or other official documents about such a requirement.

The UK opposes the requirement that religious affiliation should be stated on identity cards or other official documents. In Myanmar for example, the UK has supported the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission's to reform the 1982 Citizenship Law, and has urged the Myanmar Government to fully implement them. This would ensure that citizenship, and ID cards, are not linked to ethnic or religious status. Defending and promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) is a longstanding human rights priority for the British Government. We actively promote the importance of FoRB and tackling discrimination on the basis of religious identity through our diplomatic activity both bilterally, and through multilateral fora such as the UN.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of India to establish independent inquiries into the (1) repression of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, (2) attacks by police on students in the Jami Millia University and the Aligarh Muslim University on 15 December 2019, and (3) killing of at least 28 protesters.

The British High Commission in New Delhi and our network of Deputy High Commissions across India are following reports on the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens, as well as the Government of India's response. We raise our concerns with the Government of India where we have them. Most recently, I discussed the CAA with India's Ministry of External Affairs on 25 February. The British High Commission in New Delhi also raised our concerns about the Act, and the police response to protests, with the State Government of Uttar Pradesh on 7 February.

The UK has long regarded protest as a key part of democratic society. Democratic governments must have the power to enforce law and order when a protest crosses the line into illegality; yet we encourage all states to ensure their domestic laws are enforced in line with international standards. Any allegation of human rights abuses is deeply concerning and must be investigated thoroughly, promptly, and transparently.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the article by Thomas L. Friedman in the New York Times Mother Nature scoffs at Trump's mideast peace plan, published on 4 February, on water resources and ecology in the Middle East; and what plans they have to seek to establish permanent institutions for dialogue and action on those issues.

While we have not made an assessment of this article, the impacts of climate change are already being felt across the Middle East, including in the marine environment, and will become much worse over time. That is why climate change and the implementation of the Paris Agreement is such a high priority for this Government. We have raised concerns over access to water in the Occupied Palestinian Territories with the Israeli authorities, including stressing the urgent need for Israel to take immediate and practical measures to improve the current situation and ensure fair distribution of water in the West Bank and Gaza. These resources are limited and therefore require the effective co-operation from all parties to manage them in such a manner that ensures there will be enough for all. The UK is more than tripling our spending on economic development programming - providing £58 million between 2018 and 2023. This includes helping to improve water and energy supply, particularly in Gaza.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to consult the governments of Oman and Pakistan, together with Chatham House and the American Council on Foreign Relations and similar institutions, on the best ways to promote dialogue and detente in the Middle East and specifically around and across the Persian-Arabian Gulf.

A stable Middle East is in every nation's interests. The UK engages regularly, at all levels, with the countries of the Gulf and other partners, including Oman, Pakistan and a wide range of external experts; this includes on regional issues. We are willing to consider any efforts to promote dialogue.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to work towards a Council of Europe démarche regarding the issue of prisoners, both convicted and untried, in Egypt.

Egypt is not a member state of the Council of Europe and the decisions of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers generally focus on the Council of Europe membership. Nevertheless, the organisation plays a prominent role in promoting the humane treatment of offenders and decent prison conditions. The treatment of prisoners, both convicted and untried, in Egypt is an important concern of the UK. We regularly urge the Egyptian authorities to ensure that all detainees are treated in accordance with international human rights standards. During Egypt's Universal Periodic Review in the United Nations Human Rights Council in November 2019, we called upon the Egyptian government to ensure access to medical care and family visits in prisons, and to release all those detained for exercising the right to freedom of expression. The Foreign Secretary recently raised human rights issues with his Egyptian counterpart at the UK-Africa Investment Summit.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 29 January (HL690), how much of the £120.3 million paid or allocated in 2018 and 2019 for the benefit of refugees and migrants, including detainees, in Libya, has so far been spent; and who is holding any unspent balances.

In 2018 the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) held $555.3 million for global responses. The UK contribution to the 2018 CERF was US$114.3million, or £89 million. Information is published through the UN-managed Financial Tracking Service. The UK's £75 million migration programme is still in operation, running from 2018 to 2021. Details of our allocations to partners and spend to date, including those operating in Libya, are available on Development Tracker. All funds have been committed to our partners and will be spent by 2021.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about its announcement that it intends to create seven new nature reserves in Area C of the occupied West Bank; and what assessment they have made of who is likely to be affected (1) positively, and (2) negatively, as a result.

We are aware of Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett's announcement on 15 January. We would be concerned by any measures taken that would damage the Palestinian presence and development in Area C. We are encouraging both sides to maintain calm and avoid taking actions which make peace more difficult to achieve.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what reply they received from the government of Egypt when the British Ambassador in Cairo raised concerns about the imprisonment of Essam and Gehad el Haddad.

?Our Ambassador to Cairo raised concerns over the cases of Dr Essam El Haddad and his son Gehad El Haddad with the Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister for Human Rights in July 2019. He responded that he would convey these to the relevant authorities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 22 January (HL455), how many exemptions and licences have been issued for British exports to Syria in the last two years; and whether those were granted to (1) commercial, or (2) other, groups.

For the most recent two-year period for which data is available (1 October 2017 – 30 September 2019), eight Single Individual Export Licences were issued for Syria of which none were provided to commercial end-users. All the licences were for humanitarian purposes. No licences were granted to the Syrian regime or armed opposition groups.

In addition, one Open Individual Export Licence was issued in this period, covering goods for humanitarian end use. Information about licences granted between 1 October 2019 – 31 December 2019 is due to be published on GOV.UK on 14 April 2020. The British Government does not grant 'exemptions' for export licences.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of individuals who were prosecuted by courts and tribunals for rape committed during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

?The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has reported that between 2004 and 2018, 137 Conflict Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) cases were completed in BiH Courts. This amounts to around a quarter of all completed war crime cases in BiH. There are an additional 47 open CRSV cases (2018).

As of September 2016, across the region, including BiH, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had charged 78 individuals with crimes of sexual violence as defined under Article 7(1) of the ICTY Statute.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) psychological, and (2) social, support they have funded through (a) official, and (b) voluntary, groups to children born as a result of rape during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

As part of our extensive support under the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, our Embassy in Sarajevo has provided public support for organisations helping children born out of wartime sexual violence, in particular, one non-governmental organisation, "Forgotten Children of War" (FCoW). In 2014 the United Kingdom also provided financial support to Medica Zenica to help establish the first free telephone service to inform and counsel both survivors of conflict related sexual violence and children born out of wartime sexual violence. The British Government works closely with other organisations, such as the International Organization for Migration, including providing funding, which provides help for children born of wartime sexual violence.

We continue to support FCoW and Medica Zenica politically, and look forward to welcoming their representatives to the PSVI Conference later this year.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of conditions in detention centres in or near Tripoli, in particular in terms of (1) food, (2) water, and (3) hygiene; and what representations they have made to the government of Libya to improve conditions in such detention centres.

The UK remains deeply concerned by the conditions faced by migrants and refugees in Libyan detention centres. We continue to urge the Libyan authorities to pursue alternatives to detention and implement a better functioning migration system that respects human rights. The UK supports the UN's call for detention centres across Libya to be closed, and for the migrants and refugees within them to be evacuated to safety.

We have repeatedly called for urgent humanitarian access for the UN and international humanitarian actors, and for all parties to adhere to International Humanitarian Law. The UK provided £1 million to the 2019 UN Flash Appeal, and was the first country to respond to the appeal. In April 2019, the UN released $2 million from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to provide life-saving assistance to civilians caught up in the escalating fighting in Libya, including vulnerable migrants and refugees. The UK was the biggest donor to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in 2018, providing £ 89 million. As part of our current £75 million migration programme along the Central Mediterranean Route, we have allocated up to £5 million to humanitarian assistance and protection for migrants and refugees in Libya, including targeted healthcare provision.

These efforts form part of the UK's comprehensive, 'whole-of-route' approach to protecting migrants and refugees who are travelling along the Central Mediterranean Route. This includes humanitarian assistance and protection for migrants and refugees, cracking down on people smuggling, supporting assisted voluntary returns and working intensively to end the conflict in Libya. To this end, the Prime Minister attended the Berlin Conference on 19 January, where attendees agreed to support the current ceasefire and UN-led political talks, and pledged to respect the UN arms embargo. The UK is clear that the human rights situation in Libya can only be improved under the stability of a united and representative government, facilitated by the UN-led political process.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to undertake, and report on, an investigation into the government of Russia's alleged (1) use of poisoning and assassination, (2) media manipulation, (3) abuse of Interpol procedures, and (4) efforts to undermine international law and institutions in ways that are harmful to UK security.

We continue to challenge Russia's malign activity and abuse of the international rules-based system and remain at the forefront of those opposing that abuse.

In response to the attack in Salisbury, together with our allies, we coordinated the largest ever collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers, fundamentally degrading Russian intelligence capability for years to come. We also challenge Russia's actions in Ukraine, in Syria, the Western Balkans and in cyber space. The United Kingdom is committed to playing a leading role in continuing sanctions against Russia. Sanctions are one of a range of measures we have taken, in concert with others, to defend our security and enhance our capabilities against Russia's malign activity.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they last made representations to the government of Egypt about the indefinite detention and access to medical care of (1) Essam El-Haddad, (2) Gehad El-Haddad, and (3) other prisoners held without charge or trial in Egypt; and what response they received.

​We regularly raise our human rights concerns with the Egyptian authorities, particularly around detentions and prison conditions. We continue to urge the authorities to ensure that all detainees are treated in accordance with relevant international human rights standards. For example, during Egypt's Universal Periodic Review in November 2019, we called upon the Egyptian Government ensure access to medical care and family visits in prisons and to release all those detained for exercising the right to freedom of expression. Our Ambassador in Cairo last raised the specific cases of Essam El Haddad and Gehad El Haddad at senior level in July 2019.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to seek evidence on whether the existing sanctions on Syria impede the reconstruction of essential civilian infrastructure and services.

​We keep our Syria sanctions under regular review and actively seek to minimise their impact on ordinary Syrians, engaging regularly with non-governmental organisations to understand the practical impact of the sanctions on the population. Exemptions and licences already apply to the sanctions regime in order to minimise any detrimental effects on ordinary Syrians. The sanctions are aimed at ending the violent repression of the civilian population in Syria by the Assad regime and pressing the regime to engage seriously with the political process.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about reports of assaults on Palestinian growers, thefts of olives and vandalism of olive trees and farm equipment in 2019.

​We are troubled by reports of assaults on Palestinian farmers, the vandalism of olive trees, and the stealing of produce. The UK condemns any incidence of violence by settlers against Palestinians. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised the increase in settler violence with the Israeli authorities on 17 December 2019. Under international law, Israel, as the occupying power, has an obligation to take all measures in its power to protect the Palestinian population from acts of violence. We continue to stress the importance of the Israeli security forces providing appropriate protection to the Palestinian civilian population. We welcome the efforts of Israeli authorities to address settler violence, and urge them to thoroughly investigate every instance and bring those responsible to justice.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reported attacks by Israeli police on Muslim worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on 7 January.

​The UK remains concerned by incidents on Haram Al-Sharif / Temple Mount, including altercations inside the al-Aqsa Mosque. We have stressed the importance of the Israeli security forces providing appropriate protection to the Palestinian civilian population. In our meetings with the Israeli authorities we regularly raise the need to respect the status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised this issue with the Israeli authorities on 16 October 2019.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take in response to the publication of data by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on the demolition of structures and displacement in Area C of the West Bank in 2019, including the finding that 507 persons have been displaced and 394 structures have been demolished.

​We are deeply concerned by the continued demolition of Palestinian property by the Israeli authorities. Demolitions and evictions of Palestinians from their homes cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians; call into question Israel’s commitment to a viable two-state solution; and, in all but the most exceptional of cases, are contrary to International Humanitarian Law. We have repeatedly made clear to the Israeli authorities our serious concern at the increase in demolitions of Palestinian properties in Area C of the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, most recently on 17 December 2019. The UK and international partners will continue to call bilaterally, and in international fora, for Israel to abandon demolition plans entirely, and instead provide a transparent route to construction for Palestinians in Area C. The British Government supports Bedouin communities and Palestinians facing demolition or eviction in Area C of the West Bank through our legal aid programme, which helps residents challenge decisions in the Israeli legal system. The UK has also allocated £1.1 million to support essential infrastructure for vulnerable Palestinians in Area C.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the vote in the Israeli Security Cabinet on 29 December 2019 to withhold $43 million of tax funds from the Palestinian Authority, based on claims that the money has been used to promote violence.

​We have repeatedly raised with the Government of Israel our concerns about Israel's decision to withhold tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority (PA), most recently on 17 December 2019. It is important Israel carries out the regular monthly transfer of tax revenues it collects on behalf of the PA in line with its international obligations. We expect economic and fiscal agreements between Israel and the PA to continue to be fully implemented.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel about its decision to allow Israeli citizens to register land deeds in Area C of the West Bank; and what assessment they have made of that decision.

​We are very concerned about the granting of further rights and privileges to Israelis living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We recognise that Palestinians face severe difficulty in securing building permissions for homes and infrastructure in East Jerusalem and Area C. Practically, this leaves Palestinians with little option but to build without permission, placing their homes at risk of demolition on the grounds they do not have a permit. We continue to urge the Government of Israel to develop improved mechanisms for zoning, planning and permitting in Area C for the benefit of the Palestinian population, including by facilitating local Palestinian participation in such processes. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv did so most recently on 10 December 2019.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what programmes they run, or intend to run, in (1) the Middle East, (2) North Africa, (3) Turkey, (4) Iran, and (5) Afghanistan, to work with young adults from those areas; and what plans they have for ministerial visits to focus on issues which affect such young adults.

Her Majesty's Government supports a wide-range of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) funded programmes benefitting young adults. For example, in Turkey we have helped train young politicians and civil society representatives in democratic participation. In Tunisia and Egypt, we have helped young people build skills to access jobs. In Jordan we have supported implementation of the Government’s Youth Strategy. In Afghanistan we have supported economic development and job creation. More information can be found on the gov.uk website. We do not comment on future Ministerial visits for security reasons but Ministers raise these issues with their international partners on a regular basis.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to prevent children in Egypt from being included in mass trials and sentenced to death.

It remains a long-standing policy of the United Kingdom to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. We have regularly made our position clear to the Egyptian Government.

We have particular concerns in Egypt regarding Article 122 of the Child Law in Egypt and cases involving the death penalty and juveniles. Our Embassy in Cairo has raised our concerns with the Egyptian authorities and asked them to take action to release political detainees who remain imprisoned and to review mass judicial decisions.

I raised our concerns in my interim Autumn Statement on Human Rights Priority Countries on 22nd October 2019. Our ambassador in Cairo repeated these concerns in a meeting with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 23 October 2019.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of the Philippines about the four Roman Catholic bishops and four priests charged with sedition, cyber libel, libel and obstruction of justice in that country; and what steps they are taking to ensure that due process is followed.

​The UK remains concerned about reports of arbitrary arrest in the Philippines. We have not had discussions with the Philippine authorities on these specific cases, however, the Government continues to call for the promotion and protection of freedom of speech and the British Embassy in Manila continues to follow developments closely.

Freedom of speech, and wider human rights issues, in the Philippines, were raised by senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials with the Philippines Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Enrique Manalo, during the UK - Philippine High Level Talks in London in November 2019.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they last discussed indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay with the government of the United States; what was the outcome of that discussion; and whether they discussed the failure to release prisoners who have been cleared.

The British Government has made numerous representations to the United States Government over a number of years about indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay, most recently in September 2019. The United Kingdom's long-standing position remains that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay should close. We continue to engage with the US Government on this issue, as we do on a range of national security issues.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Israel about (1) the convictions of 4,519 persons during the five years ending in June 2019 for failing to comply with military orders declaring closed military zones, and (2) the use of regulations dating from the time of the League of Nations Mandate.

As part of our frequent engagement with Israel with respect to its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention, officials in our Embassy in Tel Aviv have raised with the Israeli authorities both the issue of closed military zones being declared by the Israel Defence Force, and their implementation of specific laws and regulations, including ones dating from the mandate period, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take, including in conjunction with other countries, to ensure that the first Palestinian elections in 13 years are held; and in particular, that Palestinians in East Jerusalem are able to vote.

Along with EU partners, we have encouraged the Palestinian leadership to work toward strong, inclusive, accountable and democratic institutions, based on respect for the rule of law and human rights.

We welcome work towards genuine and democratic national elections for all Palestinians. We consider this to be crucial in view of the establishment of a viable and sovereign Palestinian State. To this end, we call on all Palestinian factions to seek common ground and to work together to pursue a positive path towards new elections.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the conditions under which migrants detained in Libya and Niger are held; and in particular, what steps they intend to take to ensure that those on boats who are stopped by the EU-funded Libyan coastguard are not subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment.

​We remain concerned by the appalling conditions faced by migrants in detention centres, particularly in Libya. We continue to urge the Libyan authorities to pursue alternatives to detention and implement a better functioning migration system that respects human rights.

The EU does not directly fund the Libyan coastguard. The training support to the Libyan Coastguard and Navy (LCGN), which is provided through the EU naval Operation Sophia to which the UK currently contributes common funding, aims to increase Libyans' ability to secure their own maritime borders and to manage search and rescue activities properly in a human rights compliant way. We expect all vessels to operate in accordance with international maritime law, including the exercise of restraint in the use of force, and adherence to established human rights norms. All Libyan trainees are screened to ensure that we are not training anyone previously found to have been involved in human rights violations. The EU training package (which includes International Humanitarian Law and human rights components) aims to equip the Libyan Coastguard with the skills required to manage search and rescue activities properly, in a human rights compliant manner. As part of Her Majesty's Government's human rights policy, we keep this training programme under continual review.

The UK, through bilateral and EU programming, is protecting and supporting migrants along the Central Mediterranean Route, including in Niger. This includes provision of humanitarian assistance and information on risks along the route, as well as facilitating Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration and refugee resettlement. These return and resettlement activities have led to thousands being moved from Libya to safe countries.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Paris negotiations between Russia and Ukraine; how they reached any such assessment; and what consideration they have given to modifying the Minsk guidelines to support such negotiations.

​The United Kingdom welcomes the commitments made at the Normandy Summit on 9 December. These commitments, which include comprehensive implementation of the ceasefire and prisoner exchange, are key to securing a diplomatic solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. We fully support France and Germany in their efforts towards securing the implementation by all parties of the Minsk Agreements. In this regard, we applaud President Zelenskyy’s clear commitment and determined actions to end the conflict and repeat our call on Russia to fulfil its obligations.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reported agreement between Turkey and Libya concerning undersea resources in the Mediterranean; and what plans they have to propose that any such agreement is submitted for international arbitration.

​We are aware that Turkey and Libya signed a Memorandum of Understanding in late November on the "delimitation of maritime jurisdictional areas in the Mediterranean". It has been our consistent position that maritime boundary disputes should be resolved in accordance with international law as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent British financial institutions from (1) knowingly, or (2) unknowingly, (a) investing in, or (b) facilitating, the destruction of rainforest in the Amazon basin.

The UK is taking clear steps to ensure that financial decisions take the environment into account. This includes plans to introduce economy-wide Sustainability Disclosure Requirements for businesses and investment products to report on their impact on climate and the environment – and the risks/opportunities these pose to their business. This builds on and streamlines existing sustainability reporting requirements such as our commitment to reporting aligned with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, where the UK is already a world-leader.

Further to this, Defra is supporting the scoping of a Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), which will develop guidance for the finance sector in relation to biodiversity and nature-related risks. TNFD will provide a framework for corporates and financial institutions to assess, manage and report on their dependencies and impacts on nature.

The Government convened the Global Resource Initiative (GRI) Taskforce in July 2019, bringing together representatives from business, finance and civil society. This Taskforce investigated what more the UK can do to reduce our footprint on the global environment by enhancing sustainability and reducing the impacts of supply chains on the world’s forests and other ecosystems. The Taskforce’s report in March 2020 included 14 recommendations addressing a range of areas, including finance. The Government has responded to the Taskforce’s initial report and has funded Phase 2 of the GRI’s work through 2021 to help take forward practical actions to reduce deforestation-linked finance in the UK.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they intend to have with the most economically developed countries, the World Bank, and the IMF, about effective cooperation to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences; and whether they intend to include conditional debt relief in any such discussions.

The UK Government continues to engage very closely and regularly with the international community, the World Bank, and the IMF, to respond to the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. G7 Finance Ministers continue to convene on a regular basis to work together on critical economic issues, and G20 Finance Ministers will next meet on 19 July to continue to coordinate the international response to the pandemic.

The UK recently led the development of the G20 Action Plan, which brings together ambitious and wide-ranging commitments to address the economic impact of the virus. As part of this, the Chancellor and his G20 counterparts, in close consultation with the World Bank and the IMF, agreed to a temporary suspension on debt service repayments from the poorest countries. We are working closely with G20 partner countries and international organisations (including the IMF and World Bank) to monitor the implementation of the Action Plan and ensure it maintains efficacy. The UK Government will also work through the G20 and Paris Club of official creditors to monitor sovereign debt vulnerabilities in developing countries closely.

To ensure that the most vulnerable are able to successfully respond to the crisis, the UK has also committed up to £150m to the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust. This will suspend upcoming IMF obligations for the poorest countries, allowing them to better respond to Covid-19.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
26th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether existing and new freeports will be required to maintain the rules and precautions on plant and animal hygiene that now apply in all other ports; and if not, why not.

Freeports will be subject to the same high standards for plant and animal hygiene that apply in other UK ports.

We are currently consulting on the policy model underpinning Freeports. However, any eventual Freeport policy model will maintain the UK’s high standards for security, safety, workers’ rights, and the environment.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
15th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to amend the Nationality and Borders Bill (1) to protect children who have been trafficked twice or more, (2) to support children who may have committed offences while suffering exploitation, and (3) to protect exploited foreign children by providing leave to remain of sufficient length to guard against further harm.

Within the Nationality and Borders Bill, we are proposing modern slavery measures to deliver a decision-making process and support system that is fair and provides support for those who genuinely need it.

We recognise that some victims of modern slavery may have had periods of high vulnerability and can have multiple, complex needs, with some individuals experiencing multiple forms of exploitation at different points in time. The proposed measures within the Bill therefore rightly allow for protection and support for individuals subject to repeated exploitation, including child victims whilst seeking to ensure that further support is only provided where needed.

We remain committed to tackling exploitation in all its forms. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 gives law enforcement agencies the tools to tackle modern slavery, including a maximum life sentence for perpetrators and enhanced protection for victims. Where children are found to be potential victims of human trafficking or modern slavery their safety and welfare are addressed as a priority. Local authorities are responsible for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children in their area, including child victims of modern slavery. In addition to this statutory support, the Government has rolled out Independent Child Trafficking Guardians (ICTGs), an additional source of advice and support for all potentially trafficked children, in two thirds of all local authorities in England and Wales.

We will seek to put into legislation for the first time the commitment that all confirmed victims, including children, without immigration status will be considered for a grant of temporary leave to remain in line with specific criteria.

This will bring clarity to decision makers and victims on the process for temporary leave to remain. We will continue to comply with our duties under Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship, and Immigration Act 2009 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the establishment of a European Union Agency for Asylum.

We note the provisional agreement between the Portuguese Presidency of the EU Council and the European Parliament on a Regulation to create an EU asylum agency.

We will monitor further developments in relation to implementation of this legislation.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions, if any, they have had with the Internet Watch Foundation about obliging internet service providers (1) to block child pornography, and (2) to help prevent the sexual abuse of children.

As set out in the Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy, the Internet Watch Foundation is a vitally important partner and plays a crucial role in tackling online child sexual exploitation and abuse, including blocking access to child sexual abuse material.

The Government routinely engages the Internet Watch Foundation including recently on addressing self-generated indecent imagery where we strongly support the joint Internet Watch Foundation and NSPCC ‘Report Remove’ initiative. The Home Office has also funded the Internet Watch Foundation to deliver a campaign helping both children and parents to understand the risks which can be posed online, specifically around youth-produced sexual imagery.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to change their practice of detaining and deporting EU citizens visiting family in the UK who do not possess the correct documentation.

Now freedom of movement has ended, EU Citizens can continue to visit the UK, without a visa, for short trips such as holidays, job interviews and to visit family.

Individuals without the necessary immigration permission for the activities that they intend to undertake in the UK, or where Border Force staff do not believe they meet the requirements for entry as a visitor, may be refused permission to enter at the border, which makes them liable for detention.

Due to COVID-19, the removal of an individual who has been refused may be delayed by a lack of flight availability or the need for an individual to provide a negative COVID test to meet the relevant EU Member State entry requirement.

The Home Office has issued a clarification to frontline officers to favour immigration bail where the imminent removal of an individual is impacted by the above.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment have they made of the benefits of the government of Germany’s policies for integrating approximately two million refugees since 2015; and what conclusions have they drawn from any such assessment in adapting their policies for refugee integration.

The Home Office regularly engage with our international counterparts and seek to incorporate their findings into our evidence base, and this has informed our work to date.

We have already committed £14 million for a cross-government Refugee Transitions Outcomes Fund to offer greater support to refugees with a focus on employment, housing and wider integration.

Building on this programme and other schemes available, we will develop a package of tailored support - such as language training, skills development and work placements – to help refugees build their lives in the UK.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
4th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to strengthen the National Referral Mechanism for identifying and referring potential victims of modern slavery; and if so, how.

We have introduced a series of reforms to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) since 2017 to improve the identification and support of potential victims of modern slavery.

To achieve quicker and more certain decision-making a new Single Competent Authority (SCA) was launched in April 2019 to handle all NRM cases and provide high quality, timely decisions for victims. Independent Multi-Agency Assurance Panels were also set up to review all negative conclusive grounds decisions on cases referred directly to the SCA, adding an additional level of scrutiny to such cases.

A new digital referral system was also launched in 2019 to support the NRM process, making it easier for those on the front line to refer victims into support by providing a single point for referrals across the UK.

In July 2020, the Home Office produced an e-learning module to help First Responders identify potential victims of modern slavery and make referrals into the NRM when appropriate to do so. We are committed to working with First Responder Organisations to ensure they have the right training and tools to identify potential victims.

Building on the successes of this work, we are now taking a fresh look at the system to ensure it delivers on its objectives through the NRM Transformation Programme. This Programme will introduce a series of changes to ensure victims have their cases settled promptly, receive support tailored to their recovery needs from the outset, and are empowered to move on with their lives. We also intend to streamline the decision-making process through operational improvements so that victims are identified at the earliest stage and receive the right kind of support at the right time, ensuring decisions taken are robust, effective and meaningful.

Additionally, we are seeking to test an alternative decision-making model for children, to empower local authorities with responsibility for children’s social care to make decisions about whether children are victims of modern slavery in conjunction with local safeguarding partners.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent the statelessness of the 150 British nationals who have had their citizenship removed since 2010.

Section 40(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981 (BNA) allows the Secretary of State to deprive any person of British citizenship, should they deem it conducive to the public good to do so.

In every decision taken under section 40(2), the Secretary of State was satisfied that the individual was a dual national at the point of deprivation and so would not be not left stateless by the decision. This is in accordance with UK’s commitments under the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

Where a person has acted in a manner which is seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the UK, section 40(4A) of the BNA provides that deprivation can proceed even where it would make a person stateless. To date this power has not been used.

Separate provisions exist where individuals have employed fraud or false representations, these decisions are made under s40(3) of the British Nationality Act 1981.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they aim to have decided on all asylum applications within six months; and how they will ensure that such decisions comply with international law.

We are fixing a broken asylum system and creating a new one which will be fairer and firmer and compassionate towards those who need our help.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the length of time to process asylum claims but we are determined to clear the backlog, speed up decisions and prevent people becoming stuck in the system for long periods of time.

We are working to streamline cases and have already made significant progress in prioritising cases with acute vulnerability, those in receipt of the greatest level of support including, Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children, and those that require a reconsideration.

Asylum Operations has developed a recovery plan focused on returning interviews and decisions back to pre-COVID-19 levels as soon as possible. We are also seeking to secure temporary resources to assist from within the Home Office and other government departments, along with other potential options.

The Home Office publishes wide-ranging Asylum Instructions and Country Policy Information Notes which provide guidance on how asylum and human rights claims should be handled. All Decision-Making staff undergo comprehensive training and their work is regularly quality-assured to ensure that all decisions comply with International Law.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many unaccompanied asylum-seeking children reached Britain in each of the last three years; and what plans they have to ensure the (1) identification, (2) safety, and (3) wellbeing, of these children.

The number of unaccompanied children who make asylum claims is published in the quarterly immigration statistics. The latest statistics can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/asylum-and-resettlement-datasets#asylum-applications-decisions-and-resettlement

Protecting vulnerable children is a key priority for the Government and the Home Office takes its responsibility for the welfare of children very seriously. Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 requires the Secretary of State to make arrangements for ensuring that immigration, asylum and nationality functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are in the UK.

All Home Office staff with responsibility for interviewing and making decisions on asylum claims from children will have received specific training as a precursor to considering claims from children.

In line with our published guidance on handling asylum claims from children, once a child is encountered, the relevant local authority children’s services will be contacted and informed of the arrival and a referral made. Any modern slavery or urgent welfare concerns must be dealt with as a matter of priority.

Thereafter Home Office staff have an ongoing obligation to escalate any welfare concerns they have to the local authority children’s services throughout the course of the asylum process. In 2019, the UK received more asylum applications from unaccompanied children than any other country in Europe.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 2 February (HL12281), whether they publicise the availability of Family Reunion Visas in (1) Europe, (2) the Middle East, and (3) North Africa; and if so, whether they advertise such availability (a) at embassies, (b) through the UNHCR, or (c) through other organisations.

UKVI do not publicise visa services outside of GOV.UK, although it may raise awareness of specific routes via stakeholders and partners. Those who are granted asylum and humanitarian protection are informed of the Family Reunion visa.

All information on visa routes to the UK, including Family Reunion, are available on GOV.UK. Customers are able to check what visa type they may be eligible for and access guidance on applying.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide financial relief to those in the UK who have no recourse to public funds but cannot return to their countries of origin during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of the wide-ranging COVID-19 measures the Government has put in place have been made available to migrants with no recourse to public funds (NRPF).

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-employed Income Support Scheme, which have been extended into Spring 2021, are not classed as public funds so can be accessed by those with NRPF.  Statutory sick pay and some other contribution-based benefits, such as contributory employment support allowance, are also not classed as public funds and are available to all who are eligible and unable to work during this difficult time, including those with NRPF status.

The Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme in England provides a £500 payment to people on low incomes who cannot work from home and have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.  Support is also available for those who are not in receipt of one of the seven means-tested benefits that are part of the eligibility criteria for the main scheme, but who will still face hardship if they have to self-isolate, in the form of a £500 discretionary payment, paid by local authorities.  This payment is available to those with NRPF, provided they meet the criteria set by the local authority for discretionary payments in their area.  Further information on this scheme can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/test-and-trace-support-payment-scheme-claiming-financial-support/claiming-financial-support-under-the-test-and-trace-support-payment-scheme.

Local authorities may also provide basic safety net support, regardless of immigration status, if it is established that there is a genuine care need that does not arise solely from destitution, for example, where there are community care needs, migrants with serious health problems or family cases where the wellbeing of a child is in question.  The Government has provided an unprecedented package of support to councils to help their communities through this pandemic.

We have also temporarily extended the eligibility criteria for free school meals in England to support some families with NRPF, in recognition of the difficulties they may be facing during these unique times.

Migrants with leave under the Family and Human Rights routes can apply to have their NRPF condition lifted to enable them to access public funds.  They do this by making a ‘change of conditions’ application if they are destitute or at risk of destitution, if the welfare of their child is at risk due to their low income, or where there are other exceptional financial circumstances.

Further guidance and support for migrants affected by COVID-19 can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-get-support-if-youre-a-migrant-living-in-the-uk.

Migrants may also be able to seek help from their embassy.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the merits of only permitting deportation following a recommendation to do so by the courts.

We have an established process whereby all foreign national offenders sentenced to imprisonment are referred to Immigration Enforcement for deportation consideration, and a statutory duty under the UK Borders Act 2007 to deport any offender serving a custodial term of 12 months or more. Those falling outside that category may be considered liable to deportation under the Immigration Act 1971.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the letter sent on 6 November by homelessness organisations about making homelessness and rough-sleeping a discretionary ground for deportation; and what steps they intend to take in response to the representations they have received.

The new Immigration Rule which makes provision for the refusal or cancellation of permission to stay in the UK on the basis of rough sleeping, will be used sparingly and only where individuals have refused support offers such as accommodation and are engaged in persistent anti-social behaviour.

A person is expected to leave the UK if their leave is cancelled or refused. If they do not choose to leave voluntarily the Home Office may enforce their removal. They will not be subject to deportation action which is reserved for foreign national offenders with serious and persistent criminality as well as for reasons of national security.

The new rule will not be used until guidance for decision-makers has been published.

The Home Office and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government are working together to encourage local authorities and approved charities to resolve the immigration status of eligible rough sleepers and unlock access to any benefits and entitlements that rough sleepers may be eligible for.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many women and children who have been detained in the al-Hol or al-Roj camps at any point since 25 November they (1) have withdrawn, and (2) plan to withdraw, British citizenship from; whether those people were subject to specific charges or received a hearing before any such withdrawal; whether any of those people are now stateless; and what duty of care they have to such people.

We do not comment on individual cases.

Figures for conducive deprivation orders, which are made under Section 40(2) of the 1981 British Nationality Act, have been published as part of the HM Government Transparency Report: Disruptive and Investigatory Powers. Four reports have been published to date in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2020.

Figures are provided on an annual basis and a breakdown for other time periods or for deprivations linked to specific locations is not available.

Deprivation of citizenship will only be used when it is necessary and proportionate and is a serious step that is not taken lightly. Criminal charges or proceedings are not a pre-requisite for deprivation.

When seeking to deprive a person of their British citizenship on the basis that to do so is ‘conducive to the public good’, the law requires that this action only proceeds if the individual concerned would not be left stateless.

Requests for consular assistance made by individuals abroad, are considered on a case by case basis.

Those who remain in the conflict zone include some of the most dangerous, choosing to stay to fight, or otherwise support Daesh. These individuals often pose a greater threat to the UK than individuals who returned earlier in the conflict.

It is important that we do not make judgements about the national security risk someone poses based on the gender or age. Women can pose as significant risk to our national security as returning male fighters.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
30th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Change.org petition Stop The Deportation Of Vulnerable Autistic Man Osime Brown!, started on 17 March; and what steps they are taking to improve Osime Brown's (1) mental, and (2) physical, health while he remains in prison.

We only ever return foreign national offenders who we and, where applicable, the courts are satisfied do not need our protection and have no legal basis to remain in the UK. No action would be taken to deport an individual while there are outstanding legal barriers that would prevent their removal from the UK and until all outstanding representations have been considered.

Mr Brown is no longer serving a custodial sentence and has been released on Immigration Bail to be managed in the community.

It would be inappropriate to comment further on his case while legal proceedings are ongoing.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have (1) to reopen the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and the Community Sponsorship programme, (2) to provide safe and legal routes for refugees to reach the UK, and (3) to support UK sponsor groups to receive refugees.

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) related restrictions and pressures, both overseas and in the UK, it is not currently possible to undertake any refugee resettlement activity. We continue to evaluate how to respond given these restrictions and pressures, but we expect to resume refugee resettlement activity, including Community Sponsorship, when safe to do so.

Safe and legal routes are a core part of our proposed reforms to the asylum system to ensure it is both firm and fair. As made clear in the answer on 21 October (HL Deb, col 1598), as an integral part of that work, the Government will conduct a review of safe and legal routes to the UK for asylum seekers, refugees and their families.

We are continuing to support Community Sponsor groups via Reset, our grant funded support organisation. This support includes virtual drop in sessions, online resources, newsletters and more tailored advice and support as required.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to improve the management of temporary accommodation for asylum applicants in Glasgow; whether they intend to consult (1) the Scottish Refugee Council, and (2) Glasgow MPs, on this matter; and whether any such consultation will incorporate (a) mental health provision, and (b) the use of contractors.

Glasgow provides a safe haven and welcome to Asylum Seekers and we are very grateful for the support the city provides.

We are committed to ensuring that the services provided to the people we support are of the required quality. The Home Office has commissioned an evaluation of the accommodation and support services offered to asylum seekers in Glasgow during COVID-19 – seeking feedback from MPs and the voluntary sector.

Meanwhile the Home Office continues to work with Glasgow City Council (GCC) LA and the Scottish Government via the Glasgow Partnership Board and the Regional Delivery and Procurement Group regular (currently bi weekly meetings) to explore all accommodation procurement options available and ensure appropriate support is provided.

However, the Home Office does not directly commission health services. These are provided through the Asylum Health Bridging Team, part of the Glasgow City Council Health and Social Care Partnership.

It should also be noted that the reduction of contingency accommodation in Glasgow is dependent upon both LA sign off for accommodation procurement requests and the progressing those cases that are in the LAs remit including working with Home Office to process cases that have had their asylum application concluded.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many enforced returns they are in the process of carrying out because of a breach of asylum or immigration rules; and whether those subject to those returns have been informed.

Numbers of those liable to removal can be found online (and attached) in our published statistics in table ASY_03 at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-protection-data-august-2020 and tables Pre_MRP_01 and Post_MRP_01 at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-enforcement-data-august-2020

The notification of liability to removal, including changes brought in by the Immigration Act 2014; single power of removal; appeal rights; administrative reviews; and curtailment. More detail can be found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/ uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/606982/GI-Non-EEA-admin-removal-v3.pdf

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
20th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the petition to stop the deportation of Osime Brown  receiving over 250,000 signatures, what plans they have (1) to assess the compassionate factors relating to his case, and (2) to review his deportation.

We only ever return those who we and, where applicable, the courts are satisfied do not need our protection and have no legal basis to remain in the UK. No action would be taken to deport an individual while there are outstanding legal barriers that would prevent their removal from the UK and until all outstanding representations have been considered.

It would be inappropriate to comment further while legal proceedings are ongoing.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
1st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have abandoned any proposals to move applicants for asylum in the UK to Ascension Island; what other proposals for the movement of such applicants to other countries are still under consideration; and whether they will place a copy of any documentation relating to such proposals in the Library of the House.

The UK has a long and proud history of providing protection to those who need it, in accordance with our international obligations. Tens of thousands of people have rebuilt their lives in the UK and we will continue to provide safe and legal routes for the vulnerable to do so in the future.

Meanwhile, we have seen unprecedented numbers of journeys to the UK by small boat in 2020, which are both dangerous and facilitated by criminals, and so we are determined to render these journeys unviable.

The Department has been developing plans to reform our illegal migration and asylum policies to ensure we are able to provide protection to those who need it whilst preventing abuse of the system and the criminality associated with it.

As part of this, we have explored likeminded states’ responses to similar situations in order to consider the various options that exist for deterring people from undertaking these dangerous journeys, exploring a range of options, including those that have been employed by other countries in similar situations. No decisions have been made by Ministers and we continue to work to find the right approach for the UK.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review (1) their policy towards, (2) the operation of, and (3) the methods used to assess the performance of, immigration enforcement; and what steps they are taking to ensure that such enforcement (a) delivers value for money, and (b) is effective.

Enforcing the UK’s immigration laws is critical to a functioning immigration system and effectively implementing the Government’s policies.

As the public would expect, we continually review all of the different methods we use to prevent illegal migration, ensure compliance with the Government’s policies and enforce the UK’s immigration laws, to ensure that they are effective and deliver value for money.

Many of the challenges we currently face in seeking to delivering an effective and efficient enforcement capability, in addition to logistical constraints relating to COVID 19, are due to the rigid nature of the Dublin Regulations and last-minute litigation challenges and will be addressed by the Government’s plans to deliver reform to the entire system within the Sovereign Borders Bill.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the work on family reunion for refugees by the Families Together coalition; and what has been their response.

The Government provides a safe and legal route to bring families together through its refugee family reunion policy. This allows a partner and children under 18 of those granted protection in the UK to join them here, if they formed part of the family unit before the sponsor fled their country. Under this policy, over 29,000 family reunion visas have been issued in the last 5 years.

The Government is familiar with the calls for an expansion of eligible family members for the purposes of refugee family reunion. However, amending the policy without careful thought could significantly increase the numbers who could qualify to come here, not just from conflict regions but any country from which someone is granted protection. This would mean extended family being able to come here who themselves do not need protection – which risks reducing our capacity to assist the most vulnerable refugees.

We also believe that if children were allowed to sponsor parents, this would risk creating incentives for more children to be encouraged, or even forced, to leave their family and risk hazardous journeys to the UK. This plays into the hands of criminal gangs who exploit vulnerable people and goes against our safeguarding responsibilities.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
9th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure (1) that removal planning starts at the beginning of sentences of imprisonment in cases where foreign offenders are recommended for removal by sentencing courts, and (2) that the removal of such offenders takes place at the end of imprisonment.

This Government puts the rights of the British public before those of criminals, and we are clear that foreign criminals should be deported from the UK wherever it is legal and practical to do so.

Foreign national offenders (FNOs) who abuse our hospitality should be in no doubt of our determination to deport them and since 2010 we have removed over 55,000.

In the period April 2019 to March 2020, we removed over 2,000 FNOs direct from prison under the Early Removal Scheme (ERS) many of whom were identified as FNOs who wanted to leave the UK. Those who wish to return home voluntarily are now fast tracked through the system to ensure a speedy removal.

We make every effort to ensure that an FNO’s deportation coincides, as far as possible, with their release from prison however the deportation of FNOs is complex. We are working with the Ministry of Justice on options to maximise the opportunities for early removal of FNOs under ERS.

All FNOs are referred to the Home Office by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service within ten days of being sentenced and five days when they have received a short prison sentence, so that deportation action can be considered and progressed. If an FNO meets the criteria for deportation, a notification of liability to deportation is served and deportation proceedings commence. The Home Office is now serving FNOs with notices of liability to deportation earlier in their sentence. This allows time to progress the case and remove barriers so that FNOs can be removed more quickly.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in reviewing their policy on the rights of asylum applicants to work in the UK as announced in the White Paper The UK’s future skills-based immigration system, published in December 2018; and when they intend to make an announcement about their progress and conclusions.

Asylum seeker right to work is a complex issue. A review of the policy is ongoing, and we are considering the evidence put forward on the issue. Details of the review will be announced in due course.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to promote World Day against Trafficking in Persons on 30 July; and what priority they give to trafficking in person in their serious and organised crime policies.

To promote World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on 30 July the Government used social media to raise awareness of the global scale of modern slavery and human trafficking and UK missions abroad hosted events to mark the day.

The Government is committed to tackling the heinous crime of modern slavery and bringing those individuals responsible to justice. This is a key part of the Government’s overall strategy to tackle serious and organised crime.

In May 2020 at the Prime Minister’s Virtual Summit on Hidden Harms, the Government reiterated the absolute priority that we place on preventing and protecting those at risk from hidden harms, including modern slavery.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that child refugees in (1) Greece, (2) France, and (3) other European countries, who have relatives in the UK can reunite with their families in the UK.

This Government is committed to the principle of family reunion and to supporting vulnerable children. The UK will continue to be bound by the Dublin Regulation provisions during the transition period, allowing us to continue to transfer family reunion cases to the UK throughout 2020, and we will continue to process all family reunion requests that have been submitted but not completed under Dublin before the end of the transition period.

The UK has presented a genuine and sincere offer to the EU on a future reciprocal arrangement for the family reunion of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children together with a draft legal text.

Protecting vulnerable children remains a key priority for the Government. In 2019 alone, the UK received more asylum applications from unaccompanied children than any country in the EU and accounted for approximately 20% of all reported asylum claims from unaccompanied children in the UK and the 27 EU Member States.

In 2016, the UK committed to a one-off relocation of 480 unaccompanied children from France, Greece and Italy to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016.?On the 21st May we announced that 478 children had transferred under the scheme. The UK welcomes the pledges made by other countries to support Greece and stand ready to offer advice and guidance to those developing their own schemes.

The UK provides a safe and legal route to bring families of refugees together through its refugee family reunion policy. This route will not be affected when we leave the EU. In the year ending March 2020, over 7,400 Refugee Family Reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those previously granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK.

Additionally, Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules provides for family members wishing to enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their relationship with a family member who is a British citizen or settled in the UK, and those who are post-flight family of a person granted protection in the UK.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to offer unaccompanied child refugees currently in (1) Greece, (2) France, and (3) other European countries, the option to live in the UK.

This Government is committed to the principle of family reunion and to supporting vulnerable children. The UK will continue to be bound by the Dublin Regulation provisions during the transition period, allowing us to continue to transfer family reunion cases to the UK throughout 2020, and we will continue to process all family reunion requests that have been submitted but not completed under Dublin before the end of the transition period.

The UK has presented a genuine and sincere offer to the EU on a future reciprocal arrangement for the family reunion of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children together with a draft legal text.

Protecting vulnerable children remains a key priority for the Government. In 2019 alone, the UK received more asylum applications from unaccompanied children than any country in the EU and accounted for approximately 20% of all reported asylum claims from unaccompanied children in the UK and the 27 EU Member States.

In 2016, the UK committed to a one-off relocation of 480 unaccompanied children from France, Greece and Italy to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016.?On the 21st May we announced that 478 children had transferred under the scheme. The UK welcomes the pledges made by other countries to support Greece and stand ready to offer advice and guidance to those developing their own schemes.

The UK provides a safe and legal route to bring families of refugees together through its refugee family reunion policy. This route will not be affected when we leave the EU. In the year ending March 2020, over 7,400 Refugee Family Reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those previously granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK.

Additionally, Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules provides for family members wishing to enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their relationship with a family member who is a British citizen or settled in the UK, and those who are post-flight family of a person granted protection in the UK.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the number of child refugees attempting illegal crossings to the UK from mainland Europe, and (2) the impact that providing safe and legal routes would have on this number.

This Government is committed to the principle of family reunion and to supporting vulnerable children. The UK will continue to be bound by the Dublin Regulation provisions during the transition period, allowing us to continue to transfer family reunion cases to the UK throughout 2020, and we will continue to process all family reunion requests that have been submitted but not completed under Dublin before the end of the transition period.

The UK has presented a genuine and sincere offer to the EU on a future reciprocal arrangement for the family reunion of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children together with a draft legal text.

Protecting vulnerable children remains a key priority for the Government. In 2019 alone, the UK received more asylum applications from unaccompanied children than any country in the EU and accounted for approximately 20% of all reported asylum claims from unaccompanied children in the UK and the 27 EU Member States.

In 2016, the UK committed to a one-off relocation of 480 unaccompanied children from France, Greece and Italy to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016.?On the 21st May we announced that 478 children had transferred under the scheme. The UK welcomes the pledges made by other countries to support Greece and stand ready to offer advice and guidance to those developing their own schemes.

The UK provides a safe and legal route to bring families of refugees together through its refugee family reunion policy. This route will not be affected when we leave the EU. In the year ending March 2020, over 7,400 Refugee Family Reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those previously granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK.

Additionally, Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules provides for family members wishing to enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their relationship with a family member who is a British citizen or settled in the UK, and those who are post-flight family of a person granted protection in the UK.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to introduce a system of independent legal guardianship of unaccompanied migrant children in England and Wales similar to that which exists in Scotland and Northern Ireland; and what assessment, if any, they have made of the impact the introduction of such provisions would have on the system of independent advocates.

This Government takes its responsibility for the welfare of migrant children very seriously and has stringent safeguards in place.

Local authorities are responsible for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all unaccompanied migrant children in their area. Unaccompanied migrant children looked after by local authorities are entitled to the same services as any other looked after child. Under these arrangements, they are assessed with regard to their individual needs and provided with access to education, accommodation and health services. They will be assigned a social worker; an independent reviewing officer responsible for overseeing their care arrangements; an independent advocate responsible for accurately representing the child’s wishes and feelings; and, in many cases, they will also benefit from support from a foster carer.

In addition, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children can access legal advice from qualified legal representatives and, in England, independent advice and assistance on the asylum process and in their interactions with government agencies, is available from the Refugee Council’s Children’s Advice Project.

We are confident that these comprehensive arrangements ensure unaccompanied children are provided with the support and advice that they need. Consequently, the Government has no plans at present to introduce a system of independent legal guardianship for all unaccompanied migrant children in England and Wales.vv

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish (1) a Green Paper or (2) a White Paper, on crime prevention.

The Government is committed to cut crime and ensure swift, fair and effective justice so that everyone enjoys the fundamental security that comes from living in safer streets and communities.

The Government is investing in prevention to ensure that every opportunity is taken to stop these unnecessary crimes from happening. This includes our manifesto commitment to launch a new Safer Streets Fund, which will support areas in England and Wales that are worst affected by acquisitive crime to invest in well evidenced crime prevention measures.

Further information on the Government’s evidence-based approach to crime prevention can be found in the published Modern Crime Prevention Strategy: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/509831/6.1770_Modern_Crime_Prevention_Strategy_final_WEB_version.pdf, which is constantly held under review. At present, there are no plans to publish a further Green Paper or White Paper on this area.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body whether the Strategic Review of the Restoration and Renewal Programme will be conducted by one person, or corporately by the Sponsor Body.

The strategic review is being led by the chief executives of the Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority, Sarah Johnson and David Goldstone, with support from infrastructure and programme management experts drawn from both organisations. The chairs of the Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority, Liz Peace and Mike Brown, will also provide input.

As the review progresses input and challenge will also be sought from a challenge group including representatives from both Houses and externally.

The review is expected to conclude in the autumn and its findings will be considered by the Sponsor Body Board and the Commissions of both Houses in the first instance.

30th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the next Strategic Migration Dialogue between the UK and Greece will take place; whether they will publish the agenda of that meeting in advance; and whether the agenda will include (1) the “best interests” of unaccompanied migrant children, and (2) speeding up the transfer of children and adults from the Aegean Islands to the mainland.

The UK-Greece Action Plan sets the strategic direction for future cooperation between our two governments on irregular migration. We will be working closely with the Greek Government to progress all actions under the Plan over the coming months.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
18th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all asylum applicants receive sensitive and fair hearings when interviews are resumed in remote form.

The Home Office remains committed to delivering a fair and humane asylum system that is sensitive to the needs of all asylum applicants, so that sufficient information can be obtained to facilitate fair and sustainable decisions on asylum claims.

The Home Office takes the wellbeing of asylum seekers extremely seriously and has already put in place a range of measures to support asylum applicants affected by the covid-19 outbreak.? In line with the Home Office’s commitment to protect the health and wellbeing of its staff and applicants as a top priority, Asylum Operations made the decision to cease face to face substantive asylum interviews with effect from Thursday 19th March 2020.

However,?it is crucial to our applicants that we restart processing their applications for protection as soon as it is safe to do so.? The Home Office has successfully used video technology to support remote interviewing for more than 2 years and has appropriate operating procedures that are designed to ensure participants are able to give the best account of their circumstances.

To keep people safe but allow the Home Office to gather the additional information needed to make a decision on their claim for protection, Asylum Operations have secured additional mobile digital and video interviewing kit that enables more applicants to be interviewed remotely. We remain committed to restarting substantive asylum interviews as soon we can establish a process that allows the participants - applicants, representatives, interpreters and interviewers - to do so safely.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
18th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Freedom from Torture Beyond Belief, published on 16 June, on asylum interviewing; and what measures are in place to prevent pre-judgment and a lack of compassion from harming the cases of vulnerable people, who claim to have suffered torture and severe maltreatment.

The Home Office remains committed to delivering a fair and humane asylum system that is sensitive to the needs of the claimants, so that sufficient information can be obtained to facilitate fair and sustainable decisions on asylum claims. We ensure that asylum seekers are given every opportunity to disclose information relevant to their claim before a decision is taken, even where that information may be sensitive or difficult to disclose.

The report published by Freedom from Torture acknowledges that there have been signs of progress within the Home Office. Improvements have been made to policy instructions to emphasise the importance of caseworker conduct during asylum interviews, in line with an earlier recommendation made by Freedom from Torture. The report also acknowledges the increase in asylum grant rates at initial decision stage, which is indicative of our efforts to improve asylum decision making.

Following the publication of the Freedom from Torture report entitled ‘Proving Torture’, a collaborative response to improving training for asylum caseworkers was initiated to develop a training package which directly addressed concerns raised in the report. This resulted in the training course ‘Assessing Evidence: Medical Legal Reports’, which has been rolled out to asylum caseworkers, senior caseworkers and technical specialists since December 2018. The training is now mandatory for any caseworker dealing with asylum claims where Medico-legal reports have been submitted.

We will continue to look at the themes raised in the report as part of our ongoing commitment to improve decision quality and the customer experience.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to expand the eligibility criteria for family reunion refugee status to include adult refugees sponsoring their (1) adult children, (2) parents,  and (3) siblings under the age of 25; and whether they will allow unaccompanied children now in the UK to sponsor their parents and siblings under the age of 25.

The Government already provides a safe and legal route to bring refugee families together through its family reunion policy. This allows a partner and children under 18 of those granted protection in the UK to join them here, if they formed part of the family unit before the sponsor fled their country.

Refugees can also sponsor adult dependent relatives living overseas to join them where, due to age, illness or disability, that person requires long-term personal care that can only be provided by relatives in the UK. There are separate provisions in the Rules to allow extended family to sponsor children to come here where there are serious and compelling circumstances.

Further, there is discretion to grant visas outside the Immigration Rules, which caters for extended family members in exceptional circumstances – including young adult sons or daughters who are dependent on family here and living in dangerous situations.

It is the Government’s view that if children were allowed to sponsor family, this would risk creating incentives for more children to be encouraged, or even forced, to leave their family and risk hazardous journeys to the UK. This plays into the hands of criminal gangs who exploit vulnerable people and goes against our safeguarding responsibilities.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to participate in discussions with UNHCR about the relocation of unaccompanied refugee children now in Europe, in particular those in Greece; and if not, why not.

The UK maintains an ongoing dialogue with UNHRC and has a strong and constructive relationship across a range of asylum and resettlement issues.

In 2016 Parliament agreed a one-off commitment to relocate 480 unaccompanied children from Europe to the UK under Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 (‘the Dubs amendment’). 478 children from Greece, Italy and France have now successfully transferred to the UK under this scheme and we remain committed to completing the final two transfers as soon as it is safe to do so.

Under the Dublin III Regulation, the UK will also continue to transfer children from Greece if they have family in the UK until the end of the transition period. The UK remains fully committed to meeting our obligations under the Dublin Regulation. Despite covid-19 restrictions, the UK is ready to accept transfers under Dublin whenever Member States are in a position to make those arrangements. Following close collaboration with the Greek Government, 50 asylum seekers arrived in the UK from Greece on 11 May in order to unite with family members who were already lawfully present in the UK.

Protecting vulnerable children is a key priority for the Government. In 2019, the UK received more asylum applications from unaccompanied children than any country in the EU and accounted for approximately 20% of all reported UASC claims made in the UK and the 27 EU Member States.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide temporary Leave to Remain to all asylum applicants, and others, with insecure refugee status.

The UK has a long and proud history of providing protection to those who need it and we will continue to uphold our obligations under the Refugee Convention during this time. Therefore, whilst ensuring that the Home Office is adhering to Public Health England’s advice in relation to the Covid-19 outbreak, decisions are continuing to be served on asylum claims on a case by case basis where there is sufficient evidence for us to make an accurate and well-informed decision in-line with published policy.

Even if an application is refused, measures we have implemented already guarantee that an individual can remain safely accommodated and be able to follow public health guidance, whilst maintaining access to financial support and healthcare until the end of June, and this will be kept under review.

As a result of this, there are no plans to provide temporary leave to remain to all asylum applicants or those with insecure status.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish the Joint Action Plan by the UK and Greece on migration in full; what assessment they have made of the impact of that Plan on bona fide refugees, even if those refugees are undocumented; and what plans they have to speed up the transfer of refugees and migrants from the Aegean Islands to the Greek mainland.

The UK-Greece Action Plan signed on 22 April 2020 has been published here:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-greece-migration-action-plan

This takes forward co-operation with Greece on tackling irregular migration in the Eastern Mediterranean and joint action to improve overall management of migration. It covers joint work on organised immigration crime; sharing of expertise on asylum processes and migrant returns; renewed deployment of a Border Force cutter to the Aegean to carry our search and rescue and save lives; facilitation of family reunification of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children where it is in their best interests as quickly as possible; and establishment of a strategic migration dialogue.

The UK Government continues to engage with Greece regarding the conditions on the islands where appropriate and necessary. At present the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum has enacted emergency measures to contain potential coronavirus outbreaks, including the provision of additional medical facilities and staff to the islands through the EU’s Emergency Support Instrument. We also understand that those most vulnerable to COVID-19 - the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions – have been moved to safer accommodation on the islands and the mainland. These measures have so far been effective and there are currently no reported cases of COVID-19 in the camps on the Greek islands.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
24th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what provision they are making for asylum applicants whose cases are pending where a decision may be affected by restrictions in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and in particular for applications from survivors of torture.

The Home Office has put in place a range of measures to support those in the asylum system who are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We are monitoring the situation closely and making adjustments to our processes and procedures where necessary and appropriate.

We will continue to provide accommodation and financial support to those who would otherwise be destitute.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
13th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many offers to receive vulnerable unaccompanied children who are currently in Europe have been received in (1) 2019, and (2) 2020, by the Home Office from (a) local authorities, (b) care and fostering agencies, and (c) private individuals.

The Home Office works closely with local authorities and third sector partners in order to identify suitable placements for unaccompanied children for transfer to the UK from Europe under our existing obligations. The Home Office also has regular engagement with a range of third sector partners.

The Government remains fully committed to relocating the specified number of 480 unaccompanied children to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 (the Dubs Amendment) as soon as possible. We will publish a full data set on the transfers once we have fulfilled this commitment.

Over 220 children were transferred to the UK under section 67 when the Calais camp was cleared in late 2016. Since then we have been making further progress with Greece and the other participating states, to transfer more eligible children to move closer to achieving this commitment

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
13th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what offer the Home Office received from TACT Care, a fostering charity, to place vulnerable unaccompanied children from Europe in appropriate homes in the UK.

The Home Office works closely with local authorities and third sector partners in order to identify suitable placements for unaccompanied children for transfer to the UK from Europe under our existing obligations.

The Government remains fully committed to relocating the specified number of 480 unaccompanied children to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 (the Dubs Amendment) as soon as possible. We will publish a full data set on the transfers once we have fulfilled this commitment.

Over 220 children were transferred to the UK under section 67 when the Calais camp was cleared in late 2016. Since then we have been making further progress with Greece and the other participating states, to transfer more eligible children to move closer to achieving this commitment

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
13th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect the Home for Good charity to receive the vulnerable unaccompanied children that it identified as having already been processed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Europe.

The Home Office works closely with local authorities and third sector partners in order to identify suitable placements for unaccompanied children for transfer to the UK from Europe under our existing obligations.

The Government remains fully committed to relocating the specified number of 480 unaccompanied children to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 (the Dubs Amendment) as soon as possible. We will publish a full data set on the transfers once we have fulfilled this commitment.

Over 220 children were transferred to the UK under section 67 when the Calais camp was cleared in late 2016. Since then we have been making further progress with Greece and the other participating states, to transfer more eligible children to move closer to achieving this commitment

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
13th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the comments by Compassion in Politics reported in The Guardian on 29 December 2019 about delays in accepting vulnerable unaccompanied children from Europe, particularly from Greece, for care in the UK.

The Home Office works closely with local authorities and third sector partners in order to identify suitable placements for unaccompanied children for transfer to the UK from Europe under our existing obligations.

The Government remains fully committed to relocating the specified number of 480 unaccompanied children to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 (the Dubs Amendment) as soon as possible. We will publish a full data set on the transfers once we have fulfilled this commitment.

Over 220 children were transferred to the UK under section 67 when the Calais camp was cleared in late 2016. Since then we have been making further progress with Greece and the other participating states, to transfer more eligible children to move closer to achieving this commitment

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people were held in immigration detention in the UK at the start of each of the last five financial years; how many were compulsorily deported in each year; and what proportion of deportations were of (1) people at the end of court sentences, and (2) unsuccessful asylum claimants.

The Home Office publishes data on people in detention in the ‘Immigration Statistics Quarterly Release’. Data on the number of people in detention on the last day of each quarter are published in table Det_D02. Data on people leaving detention every quarter by reason for leaving (including whether they were returned from the UK) are published in Det_D03 of the Detailed Detention datasets.

Information on how to use the dataset can be found in the ‘Notes’ page of the workbook. The latest data relates to the year ending December 2019. Additionally, the Home Office publishes a high-level overview of the data in the 'summary tables'. The ‘contents’ sheet contains an overview of all available data on detention.

Information on future Home Office statistical release dates can be found in the ‘Research and statistics calendar’. Q1 2020 figures will be released on 21st May 2020.

The term 'deportations' refers to a legally-defined subset of returns which are enforced either following a criminal conviction or when it is judged that a person’s removal from the UK is conducive to the public good. Information on those deported is not separately available and therefore the ‘returned from the UK’ category in the leaving detention by reason figures, refer to all enforced returns and voluntary departures.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many unaccompanied children, in addition to those admitted under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016, (1) have arrived in the UK since the passage of that Act from (a) Europe, and (b) outside of Europe; and (2) how many were received by (i) hospitals, (ii) local authorities, (iii) their own families, and (iv) other carers.

Information on the number of asylum claims lodged by unaccompanied children in each quarter, and the number of children resettled in the UK (not broken down by unaccompanied / accompanied) is available in the Home Office’s published immigration statistics - https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/848254/asylum-applications-datasets-sep-2019.xlsx.

These statistics include the nationality of asylum claimants but not the country from which they arrived, which would only be available at disproportionate cost. In addition, the exact location of where each child is first encountered is not recorded centrally. Irrespective of where unaccompanied children first present, a local authority will assess whether they need to be provided with support under the Children Act 1989.

The Home Office also publishes information on the number of asylum claimants transferred to the UK from EU Member States under the Dublin Regulation - https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/781310/asylum5-dec-2018-tables.ods

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
9th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of asylum cases were reversed on appeal in the last year for which figures are available.

The Home Office publishes data on asylum appeals determined in the ‘Immigration Statistics Quarterly Release’. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/immigration-statistics-quarterly-release

Data on the number of asylum appeals lodged and determined (allowed or dismissed) are published in tables Asy_D06 and Asy_D07 of the ‘asylum appeals lodged and determined datasets’.

Information on how to use the dataset can be found in the ‘Notes’ page of the workbook. The latest data relates to the year ending September 2019. Additionally, the Home Office publishes a high-level overview of the data in the ‘summary tables’. The ‘contents’ sheet contains an overview of all available data on asylum and resettlement.

Information on future Home Office statistical release dates can be found in the ‘Research and statistics calendar’https://www.gov.uk/search/research-and-statistics?keywords=immigration&content_store_document_type=upcoming_statistics&organisations%5B%5D=home-office&order=relevance

A summary of the data on appeals, taken from the summary tables, can be found in Annex A.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance they are providing to Greece to speed up the movement of refugees and migrants from camps on the Aegean islands to the mainland.

The UK has a strong bilateral relationship with Greece and continues to offer support and exchange expertise on effective migration management to alleviate the pressures on the islands. As part of this, the Home Office continues to provide interpreters to support the essential work of the Greek Reception and Identification Service alongside taking steps to strengthen joint efforts to tackle organised immigration crime.

Border Force also continues to deploy a Cutter in the Aegean to support vital search and rescue operations; since May 2015 Border Force Cutters deployed to the Aegean have rescued over 16,600 migrants attempting the dangerous journey to reach the islands.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the pledges by EU member states to re-settle 30,000 refugees in 2020, what steps they intend to take to encourage non-EU member states to make similar pledges.

The UK is strongly committed to supporting refugees, including through humanitarian assistance abroad and refugee resettlement to the UK. Nearly 23,000 refugees have been resettled under our schemes since the expansion of our efforts in September 2015.

The UK actively works to support other states, including non-EU member states, to participate in refugee resettlement through multilateral fora and by directly sharing technical expertise.

For instance, the UK chaired last year’s Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement where UNHCR’s 3-year strategy to increase resettlement and complementary pathways was launched; a key tool in encouraging more countries to increase the quantity and quality of resettlement. The UK also supports both EU and Non-EU states in developing community sponsorship schemes, including through co-chairing the community sponsorship ‘States Network’ launched at the Global Refugee Forum in December.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
24th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to (1) the government of Russia’s seizure of Crimea, and (2) the government of Azerbaijan’s attack on Nagorno-Karabakh, what plans they have to review their policies for (a) nuclear, and (b) other deterrence.

The international order is more fragmented, characterised by intensifying competition between states over interests, norms and values.

The UK's defence and deterrence policy is kept constantly under review to ensure that it reflects the current security environment. NATO remains the foundation of collective security in the Euro-Atlantic area, where our commitment to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty remains our most powerful deterrent. To respond to emerging security challenges, including sub-threshold activity, Her Majesty's Government applies modern deterrence: the application of all appropriate tools to deter actual or potential adversaries from attempting harm against the UK or our partners.

We continue to use the full spectrum of our capabilities to deter adversaries and to deny them opportunities to attack us or our allies. The UK's nuclear deterrent exists to deter the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to establish a permanent naval force in the (1) Indian, and (2) Pacific, oceans; if so, where they intend to establish dockyards to conduct repairs for those forces; and whether such forces would be protected by permanent air defences.

In support of the strategic tilt toward the Indo-Pacific announced by Her Majesty’s Government in the Integrated Review (CP 403) on 16 March 2021, the Ministry of Defence plans to establish a persistent maritime presence in the Indo-Pacific region. On 22 March 2021, the Secretary of State for Defence outlined a plan to Parliament (CP 411) to deliver this through Offshore Patrol Vessels from 2021, a Littoral Response Group from 2023 and a permanently assigned Frigate by the end of the decade. These forces will intentionally operate asymmetrically, without a nominated base. They will use existing UK, allied and partner facilities around the region enabled by our existing global support agreements. Consequently, no permanent air defences are required.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria they use to assess the effectiveness of the UK's nuclear deterrent; and what assessment, if any, they have made of its efficacy in preventing the government of China from breaching the terms of Joint Sino-British declaration.

The fact there has been no major conflict between Nuclear Weapons States, and that the United Kingdom has never needed to launch armed nuclear weapons, demonstrates the effectiveness of our nuclear deterrent.

The nuclear deterrent exists to deter the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life, which cannot be deterred by other means. It is not intended to deter or respond to all possible threats or situations.

For details on the Government's actions in response to the situation in Hong Kong, I refer the noble Lord to the reply given by the Minister of State, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, to Lord Alton of Liverpool in response to Question HL10654.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
13th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many Ministry of Defence dwellings are currently lying empty in each of (1) England, (2) Scotland, and (3) Wales; and what plans they have, if any, to modernise and re-let those dwellings.

As of 27 January 2020 the Ministry of Defence (MOD) currently has 8951 Service Family Accommodation (SFA) properties vacant in England (20%), 850 properties in Scotland (27%) and 274 properties in Wales (25%). These figures represent a snapshot in time as the occupancy rate varies on a daily basis as Service families move in and out. The Department is focused on reducing the number of empty properties in the UK from the current level of 20% overall to a 10% management margin by Autumn 2021. This is being achieved by handing back vacant properties in England and Wales to Annington Homes; widening eligibility to cohabiting couples and Service leavers; and accelerating the letting of temporarily empty properties to screened members of the public at prevailing market rates.

SFA are modernised as required to maintain them at a Decent Homes Standard (DHS). 97% of all SFA meet DHS as a minimum, and are, therefore, available for allocation to Service families. In the last financial year this resulted in approximately 3,800 homes receiving upgrades, including new kitchens and bathrooms.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to amend the regulations underpinning the new national COVID-19 restrictions in England from 5 November to allow churches and other places of worship to remain open for both private prayer and limited services; and if not, why not.

Regulations came into force on 5 November that places of worship in England must close for communal prayer. They are however permitted to open for individual prayer, and to record or stream to broadcast. In addition, funerals are also permitted and can be attended by a maximum of thirty people.

The regulations are in place until 2 December, at which point we hope to be able to ease restrictions.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they plan to have with (1) the Northern Ireland Executive, (2) the Scottish Government, and (3) the Welsh Government, about the scope for (1) new, or (2) expanded, towns to enable a better distribution of population within the UK.

The Department is in regular contact with the Devolved Administrations on a range of issues. However, there are no plans to meet in order to discuss changing the distribution of the population of the UK.

Planning is a devolved matter, and the Department has recently consulted on changes to planning practice guidance on the standard method for assessing local housing need. The standard method provides the starting point for planning for housing and the proposals relate to England only.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they intend to have with representatives of the British Society of Friends to discuss post COVID-19 pandemic recovery plans.

Faith leaders and communities continue to play a critical role in our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Government has been working closely with all major faith groups though Minister-led faith leader roundtables, as well as through the Places of Worship Taskforce. The roundtable engagement has directly fed into our decision making and has included representation from the British Society of Friends. This engagement will continue through our response to this pandemic.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
30th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for testing rough sleepers for COVID-19 when they come in off the streets; and what funds they will provide for such work.

We are continuing to work with the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) to explore the case for testing rough sleepers for COVID-19 when they come in off the streets. However, following the expansion of testing, anyone with symptoms of coronavirus can now access a COVID-19 swab test, including those being moved into and currently in emergency accommodation. This will enable us to control the risk of outbreaks amongst this vulnerable group.

We continue to recognise the challenges that people experiencing rough sleeping face and we are working with local authorities to consider how we can improve access to testing for vulnerable groups.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had, if any, with housing associations and local authorities about bringing forward proposals for building more (1) social, and (2) affordable, housing; and what plans they have, if any, to support small and medium sized businesses to bid for these contracts.

The Government is committed to increasing the supply of social housing and has made £9 billion available through the Affordable Homes Programme to March 2022.Building on this, we announced at Budget 2020 that we are investing £12 billion to build affordable homes between 2021/22 and 2025/26.

The Affordable Homes Programme is delivered nationally through Homes England and the Greater London Authority in London. Both agencies have continued dialogue with registered providers to ensure optimum delivery of housing under the programme.

We are firmly committed to supporting SMEs and strongly believe they can play a crucial role in reinvigorating the housing market and boosting housing supply. Our financial programmes to help SMEs grow and diversify include the £4.5 billion Home Building Fund, the Housing Growth Partnership and Housing Delivery Fund, and up to £1 billion of new guarantee support for SMEs to access.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to encourage housing authorities to (1) bring vacant houses into use, and (2) rehabilitate structurally sound buildings for social renting.

Local authorities are equipped with a range of powers and strong incentives to tackle empty homes. Through the New Homes Bonus, they earn the same financial reward for bringing an empty home back into use as for building a new one. This includes social housing and there is an additional premium for every affordable home delivered. Billing authorities have the discretion to charge up to 100 per cent extra council tax – on top of the standard bill – on properties that have been empty for at least two years.

In certain circumstances, local authorities can apply for an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) to temporarily take over the management of a property that has been empty for more than two years and bring it back into use. Local authorities have a variety of compulsory purchase powers which they can use to acquire and develop derelict or empty property, including for housing purposes. However, compulsory purchase is intended for use as a last resort and there must always be a compelling case in the public interest.

The Estate Regeneration National Strategy good practice guide (published December 2016) supports social housing landlords. It sets out the importance of assessing the estate, including over and under occupancy and opportunities for further development. We have also given local housing authorities the tools to deliver a new generation of council housing by removing the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap.

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 statutory help, if any, they have provided to Emmaus communities in England and Wales over the last 10 years.

The Government recently announced £422 million in funding to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in 2020/21, an increase of £54 million on 2019/20. We do not hold specific data on statutory help offered to Emmaus Communities, but this funding enables local authorities to work closely with charities and local organisations including through our faith communities.

Charities, and the thousands of people who volunteer with them, make a real difference to vulnerable people’s lives. We all need to work together to break the homelessness cycle.

The Homelessness Reduction Act, the most ambitious reform to homelessness legislation in decades, came into force on 3 April 2018. This new Act places statutory duties on local authorities and other public bodies to work together to actively prevent homelessness for people at risk. Local authorities must offer meaningful assistance to anyone who is threatened with homelessness, and to work with those who are already homeless to enable them to secure housing.

Acting earlier and for a broader range of people means more people will get the help they need before they face a homelessness crisis. Local authorities must now work with people at risk of losing their homes to develop personalised housing plans, tailored to focus on the needs and circumstances of the household.

We have overhauled the statutory homelessness data collection alongside the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act. This will give us better insights into the causes of homelessness and the support people need. The new statutory homelessness data collection is called H-CLIC.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
20th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the work of Habitat for Humanity in the UK and abroad; and what consideration they have given to using (1) self-build volunteer work, (2) revolving funds, and (3) interest-free mortgages, in parts of England and Wales where there are urgent housing needs.

I would like to take the opportunity to recognise the good work that Habitat for Humanity do through their community house building and renovation projects, both in the UK and abroad. MHCLG has considered a number of funding proposals for social investment organisations to help finance community-led housebuilding schemes.

While discussions are ongoing in some cases, no such investment has yet been made or agreed by MHCLG. Ministers are considering all budgets in the round and allocations for future years will be considered at the forthcoming Budget and Spending Review. While HM Treasury usually leads on mortgage policy and regulation , MHCLG keeps various approaches to increasing home ownership under review.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following their decision to call in the planning application for a UK Holocaust Memorial, whether all the evidence submitted to Westminster City Council will be fully considered.

Following the decision to call in the planning application for the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, the case will now proceed to a public inquiry overseen by an independent planning Inspector. The inquiry will consider evidence including that submitted to Westminster City Council, and is currently scheduled to begin on 27 May 2020.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
18th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that all HM Prisons provide a weekly chapel service.

Prison Service Instruction 05/2016, Faith and Pastoral Care for Prisoners, states that all prisoners may participate in the main religious observance of the week for the faith in which they are registered should they wish to - safety, security and other concerns permitting.

This requirement was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic because of infection prevention and control measures. Alternative arrangements were put in place, including making available in-cell faith resources and the use of technology. Chaplains continued to make themselves available to prisoners on a daily basis and chapels have remained open for individual worship and pastoral care throughout the pandemic.

Establishments are reintroducing weekly collective worship or meditation taking into account Covid safety measures and security considerations, as well as other factors, such as available staffing in multi-faith chaplaincy teams and the physical space available.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
13th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have (1) to improve awareness of restorative justice throughout the criminal justice system, and (2) to increase the capacity of (a) professional, and (b) volunteer, restorative justice practitioners.

The Government continues to support the provision of good quality, victim-focussed restorative justice to help victims cope and recover from the effects of crime.

Under the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (Victims’ Code), all victims have the right to receive information about how to access restorative justice services in their local area.

The new Victims’ Code, which was published in November last year and came into force on 1 April this year, includes information which explains what restorative justice is and how it works. As part of the launch of the new Code, the Ministry of Justice engaged in publicity to raise awareness of the Code and victims’ rights therein. Criminal justice agencies also used internal communications to raise awareness of victims’ rights among practitioners.

The Ministry of Justice funds Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to provide victim support services including commissioning restorative justice services to meet local need. Individual PCCs determine the capacity of restorative justice services required and the model of service appropriate for their area. PCCs are also able to utilise other funding streams outside of their MoJ grant for restorative justice.

In addition to the PCC commissioned schemes, the Government-funded national Homicide Service includes access to restorative justice services as part of the package of support it provides to families bereaved by homicide. Further restorative justice capacity is also made available in the youth justice system and by HM Prison and Probation Service.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
9th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to provide dedicated funding for restorative justice to provide equal access across the country and avoid discriminating against either (1) offenders, or (2) victims.

The Government recognises the value of restorative justice and the benefits it can bring to enable victims to cope and recover, and for offenders to be part of that process.

As part of the core funding provided to Police Crime and Commissioners (PCCs) for victim support services, they are able to commission restorative justice services according to their local need. This year, MoJ has allocated around £64.3m to PCCs for core funding. For information, in 20/21, PCCs spent around £3.7m from their core funding on restorative justice. PCCs are also able to utilise other funding streams outside of their MoJ grant for restorative justice.

In addition, the Government has provided £4.6m this financial year to fund the Homicide Service. This service provides practical and emotional support to families bereaved by Homicide, including access to restorative justice services

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
8th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they will ensure women prison leavers supported by the Ministry of Justice’s temporary accommodation service are supported into permanent accommodation.

We are investing more than £20m in supporting prison leavers at risk of homelessness into temporary accommodation. Individuals released from prison will be provided up to 12 weeks of temporary accommodation and will be supported into long-term settled accommodation before the end of that 12-week period. Initially launching in five national probation regions, the service will support around 3,000 offenders in its first year and will be commencing this Summer. It will be in operation during the financial year 2021-22, with a view to scaling up and rolling out nationally.

The service will take account of the needs of women, including those with complex needs and accommodation provision will be dedicated to single gender usage as required. Community Probation Practitioners, working together with local partners, will be responsible for ensuring that vulnerable female prison leavers receive appropriate support and are provided with housing beyond the 12 weeks’ emergency accommodation.

In 2020, Hestia Battersea was changed from a male to female Approved Premises to give better geographic spread of AP provision for women, becoming the first AP for women in London since 2008.

In addition, Eden House, the first new AP in over thirty years, will open in this month supporting female offenders.

HMPPS will work in conjunction with MHCLG’s announced funding to support both male and female prison leavers at risk of homelessness into private rental tenancies. Funded schemes to support women will be developed to recognise their specific needs and will be part of plans to secure settled accommodation by the end of the 12 weeks’ temporary accommodation provided by HMPPS.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have (1) to widen the criteria for, and (2) to increase the use of, the Home Detention Curfew scheme for individuals released from prison.

The Home Detention Curfew is a robust scheme which allows suitable, risk-assessed, prisoners to work towards rehabilitation in the community, while remaining subject to strict monitoring and other conditions. If they breach these conditions, they can be returned to custody. There are currently no plans to change the scheme.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
20th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many (1) prison staff, and (2) prisoners, have received their (a) first, and (b) second, COVID-19 vaccinations; and what progress they have made in restoring family visits to prisoners.

The total number of staff in Public Sector and Youth Custody Prisons who have declared that they have received their first COVID-19 vaccination, as at midday 21 May 2021, was 10,612. The total number of staff in Public Sector and Youth Custody Prisons who have declared that they have received their second COVID-19 vaccination, as at midday 21 May 2021, was 2,508.

For prisoners in England as at the end of 14 May 2021, the total number who had received their first COVID-19 vaccination was 25,655. The total number of prisoners of all ages who had received their second COVID-19 vaccination was 8,485.

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service strongly encourages all staff and prisoners who are offered the Covid-19 vaccine, to take it. We ask employees to let us know when they have had each dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by recording their vaccine status on our HR system. As the disclosure of their vaccine status is entirely voluntary, it means the self-declaration rates presented below will be lower than the actual number of staff who have been vaccinated. However, the data collected to date is still valuable in understanding staff vaccination take up and coverage.

We are acutely aware of the impact of the restrictions on family visits, and we have had to make some difficult decisions to protect both prisoners and staff. As of 20 May, 107 establishments have commenced delivery of Stage 3 of the National Framework for Prisons which allows for the delivery of social visits with social distancing and face coverings. We are also working with Public Health England and Public Health Wales to look at how we can take safe and incremental steps to improve the experience of such visits. As part of this work we are piloting lateral flow testing for visitors.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Prison Reform Trust No Life, No Freedom, No Future: The experiences of prisoners recalled under the sentence of Imprisonment, published on 3 December 2020; and what plans they have publish a response to that report.

The Government values the work of the Prison Reform Trust and, specifically, the ongoing dialogue with the Trust as to how best to support those serving the sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP), whether in prison or in the community.

The Government and officials acknowledge that recalling any offender to custody involves some disruption. However, we have not identified cases of “unnecessary” recalls of offenders subject to IPP licences. HM Chief Inspector of Probation found in a thematic review of the Probation Service’s culture and practice on recall, published on 10 November last year, that offender managers are considering, properly, public protection when deciding how to respond to evidence that offenders have breached their licence conditions in such a way as to indicate escalating risk. Thus, where an offender on an IPP licence is recalled to custody, it is because the Probation Service has concluded that the offender’s risk is now too high for it to be managed effectively in the community, even with the imposition of additional licence conditions.

However, offender managers must always consider whether there are safe alternatives to recall when responding to breaches of licence conditions and evidence of increased risk. Additionally, HM Prison and Probation Service is working to improve the quality and timeliness of its risk assessments following recall, so that the Parole Board may in some cases safely direct the re-release of recalled offenders on an IPP licence earlier than is currently the case.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to prioritise the use of videophones by prisoners with children while family visits are not possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and what plans they have for similar prioritisation for prisoners held at long-distance from their families when the restrictions in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic have ended.

We are committed to continuing to offer secure video calling after the current Covid-19 restrictions have ended, and are considering future options in line with the recommendations of Lord Farmer’s reviews for maintaining family ties. We will continue to be guided by public health advice, and we will work with our stakeholders to inform our longer-term planning.

Secure video calls are now running in all public and private prisons and Young Offender Institutions across England and Wales. This was introduced alongside other measures to support family engagement, such as additional mobile phone handsets and extra phone credit while social visits have been suspended. Social visits in the Youth Custody Service estate have continued and on compassionate grounds in the adult estate.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
12th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria need to be satisfied to allow family visits of prisoners to resume; what date they plan to resume family visits of prisoners; and what plans they have to provide more video-capable telephones in prisons.

Social visits in adult prisons have been suspended during the period of national lockdown, but will resume once it is safe to do so.

Decisions will be based on public health advice, assessments of local outbreaks and ability to safely facilitate visits, and so dates may vary between different sites. No sites will resume visits before the end of March when the ‘stay at home’ order is expected to be lifted under the government roadmap on easing restrictions.

Visits to children in the youth custody estate and compassionate visits to adult establishments have continued throughout national lockdown.

Secure video calls have now been introduced at all prisons across England and Wales, though there are no plans to provide video-capable telephones at this time. Currently 66% of prison cells have in-cell telephony. Additionally, within open prisons, mobile phones have been permitted as a transitional measure for family contact. Further considerations for their use are being made in line with regime recovery and availability of secure video calls across all open prisons.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
9th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reduce the average length of time that prisoners spend on remand awaiting trial.

Judges are prioritising the most urgent cases. We were one of the first among other comparable jurisdictions globally to resume jury trials, and Crown Courts currently list thousands of cases each week.

Our systems show that where a defendant is in custody and had a first hearing in February 2021, most cases are listed for trial in the Crown Court prior to September 2021.

In September 2020, Her Majesty’s Prison Probation Service (HMPPS) began a trial of a dedicated and proactive Bail Information Service (BIS) in several courts and prisons in the North West of England and Wales. This service provides the courts with timely information relating to the defendant and availability of alternative provisions, such as suitable accommodation, to help to reduce unnecessary remands and increase the appropriate use of bail and bail conditions. In tandem with this trial, HMPPS are rolling-out a Covid-19 response BIS in all public sector remand prisons. A key aim of both initiatives is to inform the design, resourcing and delivery of a future dedicated and proactive national BIS.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
9th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to recognise the work of the Governor of HMP Pentonville during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Justice is not able to comment on an individual employee’s specific recognition or reward.

We do however recognise that HMPPS staff in prisons, probation, headquarters and the Youth Custody Service have had an extraordinary and challenging year. There are recognition and reward procedures in place, and we offer a range of ways to recognise and thank individual members of staff for their particular efforts. This can take the form of personalised recognition, using performance recognition vouchers, or a gift. Special bonus payments may also be an appropriate recognition mechanism for exceptional performance contributions.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
9th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that best practices and lessons learned are (1) shared, (2) adopted, and (3) maintained, among prisons.

Throughout the pandemic HMPPS has been identifying and sharing lessons learned. We have been listening to different perspectives and have paid attention to the challenges for staff and prisoners. We have considered the many examples of positive practice and have focussed our efforts to do the best for both staff and prisoners in very difficult circumstances. Learning lessons is an ongoing process and we continue to gather and share a range of information, including feedback from scrutiny bodies, staff, those in our care and the voluntary sector.

We are feeding what we have learned into prison safety and wellbeing initiatives, regime redesign, planning and ongoing mitigations for prisoners. Prisons are also using lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic to prioritise resources to focus on safety and wellbeing, adapt provision, reinforce fair and decent behaviours and to show visible leadership. We are building on learning with a programme of events in the Spring which will be an opportunity for operational staff to share and reflect on learning from Covid to inform practice and both recovery and future reforms.

More routinely, bespoke service improvement and work developed in response to common issues uses best practice and lessons learned. This takes place through line management activity, between peers, and through central support such as the Prison Performance Support Programme.

HMPPS Scrutiny Intelligence unit routinely reviews all external scrutiny and internal assurance reports to draw out good practice and themes which are communicated to prisons and more widely across HMPPS. They also identify where lessons could be learned or implemented more effectively. Good practice and the areas requiring improvement are also reported each month to the Prison Performance Committee to ensure best practices and lessons learned are maintained among prisons.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of restorative justice; and what plans, if any, they have for encouraging its use.

The Government remains committed to the provision of good quality, victim-focused restorative justice to help victims cope and recover from the effects of crime. From April 2019 to March 2020, the Ministry of Justice provided about £76m to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), with about £3.9m spent on restorative justice services. PCCs also spent another £1.8m from other sources on restorative justice services. PCCs are responsible for evaluating victim services that they commission locally, including restorative justice.

In addition to the PCC funded schemes, restorative justice is also available in the youth justice system and provided by some probation Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs). From 26 June 2021, probation services delivery arrangements will change, bringing services together under 12 regional probation directors (RPDs) with responsibility and funding for commissioning specialist rehabilitative services from other sectors. The new commissioning framework includes a category for restorative justice services and has been designed to support local co-commissioning between PCCs, RPDs, health commissioners and local government. This is important for improving standards and ensuring safe and effective practice.

Under the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, all victims have the right to receive information about how to access restorative justice services in their local area to participate if they wish to do so. The revised Code was published in November 2020 and will come into effect on 1 April 2021 and will be widely communicated to victims and criminal justice practitioners. The revised Code includes information which explains what restorative justice is and how it works. The Government will work with criminal justice agencies and organisations providing support to victims of crime to raise awareness of victims’ rights under the Code.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
26th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that prisoners are given access to gardens, recreation and green spaces in prisons as frequently as possible.

All adult prisons are currently in a stage four regime, as outlined in the National Framework, to reduce contact between people and therefore reduce the chance of transmission of COVID-19. The regime restrictions we have implemented have brought new and different challenges across the prison estate and it is not currently practicable to provide as much access to open spaces as would ordinarily be the case for those in prisons where these facilities are available.

However, all prisons are required to deliver the essential elements of prison regime which includes daily access to exercise, wellbeing checks, domestics (e.g. phone calls, showers and cell cleans) and, in some cases, some structured on-wing activity.

The Ministry of Justice and HM Prison and Probation Service understand the importance of maintaining the safety, mental health and wellbeing of prisoners and this has remained a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
26th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether chapels in prisons are being used for religious services during the COVID-19 pandemic; and if not, why not.

Prison chapels and multi-faith spaces have remained open for private prayer and reflection in a COVID-19 secure manner during the pandemic. The spaces have also been used to help support family contact in cases of family illness and bereavement.

Chaplains of all faiths play a central role in supporting prisoners during the pandemic. Although group worship has been temporarily suspended to ensure the safety of staff and prisoners, Chaplains have continued to visit prisoners on a one-to-one basis providing pastoral care, spiritual support and resources for worship. We will resume group worship in prison chapels and multi-faith spaces gradually in line with public health guidance, when it is safe to do so.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the briefing by Women in Prison, A national plan for tackling coronavirus in prisons, published on 21 January, what plans they have (1) to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on female prisoners, and (2) to improve the rehabilitation of women who have been in prison.

We have taken quick and decisive action, backed by Public Health England and Wales, to limit the spread of the virus across all prison establishments, including the women’s estate. This has included restricting regimes, minimising inter-prison transfers and compartmentalising prisons into different units to isolate the sick, shield the vulnerable and quarantine new arrivals. A comprehensive regular testing regime of both staff and prisoners is in place and is key in helping to prevent the spread of the virus. Our evidence gathering indicates these measures have had a positive impact on limiting deaths and the transmission of the virus in prisons. We are now working closely with the NHS to support the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations for eligible groups in custody.

A women’s self-harm taskforce has been set up to coordinate and drive forward work aimed at reducing levels of self-harm in the women’s estate, which includes the introduction of wellbeing checks for women during COVID-19 restrictions.

A range of other measures have also been put in place across the women’s estate to reduce the impact of COVID-19, including:

  • every prisoner has received £5 free PIN phone credit per week, which has been doubled recently for those women who need it, in order that they can keep in touch with their support networks on the outside;
  • video visits continue to be available to women, and again recently their availability in the women’s estate was increased;
  • production of materials intended to support wellbeing, including a range of in-cell distraction activities, such as work books, puzzle books and information about relaxation techniques.
  • creation of a Wellbeing Plan with input from mental health charity Mind, and prison resident focus groups. This is a resident-owned self-help tool that can be used by residents to reflect on their triggers and coping strategies, as well as actions they could take to improve their mood and look after themselves at difficult times.
  • the Covid Special Purpose Licence Temporary Release (SPL ROTL) scheme for women who are pregnant and those who are in Mother & Baby Units, with the most recent release during January.
  • prison officers entering the service have been given an additional week’s training focused on female-specific issues to provide new officers with better understanding of the distinct needs of women prisoners. As women are a minority in the prison population, tailored training for officers working with this group will ensure they can be more responsive to their needs.

Through the Gate (TTG) providers continue to work to an Exceptional Delivery Model and offer remote phone support to all prisoners in their last 12 weeks of sentence. This includes signposting to relevant Third Sector providers in the community and other Government departments (e.g. completing the Duty to Refer under the Homelessness Reduction Act to Local Authorities and referring to local HPTs if they are without accommodation). TTG staff, community Offender Managers, HPTs and released women have written information about services they can access before, during and after release. Staff can make referrals to third sector services, such as women’s centres, as appropriate and women can self-refer if they wish.

To support its COVID-19 response, HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) has set up seven Homelessness Prevention Taskforces (HPT) to help find accommodation for offenders upon release. These have been very successful in securing improved accommodation outcomes. We are exploring how the regional HPTs might be a feature of the future landscape, ensuring that the specific needs of women are fully considered.

HMPPS has developed a national Accommodation Framework setting out how to work together with partners to ensure that offenders can access and maintain settled accommodation that is safe and appropriate for their needs. This framework contains specific aims in terms of women’s access to post release accommodation, including the provision of more places in Approved Premises (Aps) and more appropriate accommodation through the Bail Accommodation and Support Services (BASS) that are currently run by NACRO.

There are seven APs for women who have high risk complex needs covering England and Wales. We are working to the expand the geographical coverage of the provision and having opened a new women’s AP in London during 2020 we expect to open a further one in the South West during 2021.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
11th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many prisons, other than HMP Dartmoor, have used 24-hour lock-ups to address the transmission of COVID-19; and what measures are in place, or planned, to improve access to education and training throughout the prison estate.

HMP Dartmoor is delivering essential elements of prison regime even during the current restrictions. In each 24-hour period, prisoners are allowed phone calls (mobile phones when required for isolators), time in the open air, showers, meals and medication distribution. Even for those who are Covid-19 positive and in isolation, showers are facilitated in prisoner groups. Regime is additionally supplemented through access to gymnasium, keywork sessions and wellbeing checks, chaplaincy services, visits, video calls and other localised activities. Between 30 November 2020 and 11 January 2021, prisoners at HMP Dartmoor averaged 1.3 hours out of cell per day.

These measures are in line with the requirements of the National Framework for Prison Regimes and Services. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of 4 January, all prisons changed their regimes because of the growing rate of infection within the community. All adult prisons are currently in a stage four regime as outlined in the National Framework to reduce contact between people and therefore reduce the chance of transmission. All prisons are required to deliver the essential elements of prison regime as outlined above. We have also introduced a range of measures and products designed to manage prisoners with specific needs, including mental health needs. The National Framework also provides a roadmap for easing restrictions in prisons when it becomes appropriate, guided by public health advice, alongside an operational assessment of what can be achieved in custodial settings while keeping staff and those in our care safe.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
11th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any prisoners in HMP Dartmoor who have tested positive for COVID-19 are confined to cells for 24-hours per day without access to showers; if so, (1) how many prisoners are being so confined, (2) how long they expect that confinement to continue, and (3) what assessment they have made of the impact of any such confinement on the mental health of prisoners.

HMP Dartmoor is delivering essential elements of prison regime even during the current restrictions. In each 24-hour period, prisoners are allowed phone calls (mobile phones when required for isolators), time in the open air, showers, meals and medication distribution. Even for those who are Covid-19 positive and in isolation, showers are facilitated in prisoner groups. Regime is additionally supplemented through access to gymnasium, keywork sessions and wellbeing checks, chaplaincy services, visits, video calls and other localised activities. Between 30 November 2020 and 11 January 2021, prisoners at HMP Dartmoor averaged 1.3 hours out of cell per day.

These measures are in line with the requirements of the National Framework for Prison Regimes and Services. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of 4 January, all prisons changed their regimes because of the growing rate of infection within the community. All adult prisons are currently in a stage four regime as outlined in the National Framework to reduce contact between people and therefore reduce the chance of transmission. All prisons are required to deliver the essential elements of prison regime as outlined above. We have also introduced a range of measures and products designed to manage prisoners with specific needs, including mental health needs. The National Framework also provides a roadmap for easing restrictions in prisons when it becomes appropriate, guided by public health advice, alongside an operational assessment of what can be achieved in custodial settings while keeping staff and those in our care safe.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
11th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they estimate that transfers between prisons will resume, in particular transfers from closed to open prison conditions.

In March 2020 temporary restrictions were put in place to minimise movements between jails. As at 12th January 2021 inter-prison transfers (including transfers from closed to open prisons) have not been stopped entirely as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and we continue safely to undertake inter-prison transfers, where required. Transfers between prisons, particularly progressive transfers to open and resettlement prisons, are necessary in order to ensure that space remains within local/reception prisons to accept new receptions from court and to ensure prisoners are held in prisons providing an appropriate level of security.

In order to control the transmission of the virus, prisoners who are transferred to another prison are quarantined upon arrival in order to manage any risks they might bring and protect the rest of a prison’s population. As of 14th January 2021, we are also testing all new arrivals and transfers twice in the first 6 days in 109 prisons across the estate. We continue to explore testing technologies and opportunities in this area. Any prisoners with positive results or symptomatic prisoners are not transferred. This approach ensures that any infection that occurs amongst the arriving cohort is limited only to those with whom they have arrived.

Whilst transfers into the majority of prisons have not ceased, specific prisons may have temporarily to pause their transfers in/out in the event of a declared outbreak. The timeframes associated with this pause, as well as the recovery measures required, are monitored nationally by HMPPS and taken in close consultation with Public Health England.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) HMP Belmarsh, and (2) healthcare providers, about the provision of care for Julian Assange; and what assessment they have made of the case for reviewing his care.

The MoJ does not hold any information in relation to the provisions of health care to Mr Julian Assange. This is because NHS England and the Welsh Government have primary responsibility for the commissioning of healthcare services in public prisons. The commitment to working with health and justice partners is set out in the National Partnership Agreement for Prison Healthcare in England, which was published in April 2018. Prisoners do, however, receive the same healthcare and treatment as anyone outside of the prison. NHS practitioners use their professional judgement to ensure that a high level of care and confidentiality is provided to prisoners that is equal to that care given to patients in the wider community. HMPPS is committed through the National Partnership Agreement to safeguarding the public health of those in prison.

Responsibility for Mr Assange's healthcare rests with Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust. Healthcare providers work in close partnership with Prison Staff to deliver the best care possible to all Prisoners. Due to patient confidentiality, it would not be appropriate to comment on the care of individual Prisoners.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect family visits to prisoners in England and Wales to resume; and whether they intend to give priority to the most vulnerable (1) prisoners, and (2) families.

Following the reintroduction of national lockdown measures on 5 November, we have paused face-to-face social visits in prisons in England. There are exemptions for compassionate reasons, including visits to children in custody. Family visits in Wales are permitted, although in some establishments with active outbreaks they have been temporarily suspended on public health grounds. We will reintroduce face-to-face social visits as soon as safe to do so, guided by public health advice alongside an operational assessment of what can safely be implemented.

Prioritisation of visits is done locally, but we have instructed governors to consider the needs of vulnerable prisoners in their implementation plans.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the proposal of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales to extend the Early Conditional Temporary Release Scheme; and when they intend to make a decision on that matter.

In April we introduced the End of Custody Temporary Release (ECTR) scheme. It allowed for the early release of stringently assessed low-risk prisoners who were within two months of their release date. It freed up space across the estate so that all prisons could effectively control the spread of the virus by quarantining new arrivals, isolating those with symptoms and shielding vulnerable offenders. This was based on advice from Public Health England and was necessary to protect life and avoid thousands of prisoners becoming infected, overwhelming local NHS services.

The ECTR scheme was paused in August, as it was no longer a necessary part of our overall response. Throughout the pandemic our response has been based on public health advice, and this decision will be kept under constant review over the coming weeks and months.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to enable prisoners to submit claims for (1) Universal Credit, and (2) other benefits, as early as possible prior to their release.

We have been working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to improve access to financial support for prisoners and prison leavers. As part of the Government’s Covid-19 response, DWP established a bespoke telephony service to enable those released from prison to make a claim for Universal Credit. All prisoners receive information about the telephone line as part of the Discharge Pack that is issued to them as they leave prison. This service remains in place to assist prison leavers to make benefit claims quickly on release.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what actions they are taking to reduce mental ill health among prisoners by providing facilities for (1) exercise, (2) education, and (3) work; and how those facilities have been affected by COVID-19 precautions.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the necessary regime restrictions introduced in response to it have brought new and different challenges across the estate. Maintaining safety and the mental health and wellbeing of prisoners has remained a priority throughout. A range of products have been made available to support Governors in devising and implementing local safety and welfare plans designed to mitigate any risks. Governors are required to agree a health delivery plan which includes how mental health support will be delivered during COVID-19.

We have tailored guidance for supporting specific groups of people in prison whose wellbeing may be more impacted by the Covid-19 measures put in place, including older prison residents, those with learning difficulties and groups known to be at increased risk of self-harm, suicide, or violence.

We have piloted improvements to Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork (ACCT), which is the multidisciplinary case management approach used in prisons when someone is thought to be at risk of self-harm or suicide. Following a pause, due to the implementation of Covid-19 measures, we are currently planning the resumption of the roll-out of revised ACCT across the prison estate.

In addition, video health conferencing has been rolled out across the estate to support the delivery of mental health services by enabling contact with community and hospital services. Governors are also considering how mental health services can support people with the potential increased anxiety or other mental illnesses related to Covid-19, as well as ‘lockdown’ experiences and restrictions.

A range of internal initiatives have been developed, including the development of weekly national wellbeing content through HMPPS Psychology Services and prison radio content focussed on wellbeing. We have also been working with education providers to support prisons in the adult estate. This has allowed us to enable learning to continue via in cell activity, distraction material and learning packs. Within the Youth Secure Estate the delivery of education remains a particular priority as we seek to mirror the position taken for vulnerable children in the community, where it is possible to do so.It is our desire to continue to provide ‘face to face’ classroom-based education, notwithstanding local variations and the impact of potential outbreaks amongst staff or children.

In relation to exercise, since the beginning of the pandemic prisons have been authorised to use external exercise yards for access to the open air and to deliver external physical education. All sites have also set out how they will provide prisoners with time out of cell, and the safe equivalent of association time.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many prisoners in England and Wales are on remand awaiting trial; and what steps they are taking to reduce that number.

As at 30 September 2020, there were 8,444 prisoners in England & Wales held on remand awaiting trial. This information is included in Table 1.1 of prison population statistics which can be found at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/930646/Population_30Sep2020.ods

The decision to remand someone is a matter for the independent judiciary. Defendants can be remanded where there is a risk they may abscond or commit offences if released on bail.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government by how much the prison population of England and Wales would decrease if prisoners (1) over 65 years old, (2) over 70 years old, and (3) over 75 years old, were released.

Based on prison population data as at 30 June 2020, the prison population of England and Wales includes (1) 2,660 prisoners over 65 years old, (2) of whom 1,497 prisoners are over 70 years, and (3) 671 prisoners are over 75 years old.

20th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of additional prison sentences likely to be imposed if the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill is passed in its present form; and how many longer sentences are likely to be imposed as a result.

We conducted and published an impact analysis for the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill, which is based on historical volumes of convictions and assumes that trends in sentencing remain stable. The Bill will not increase the overall number of sentences, but will increase sentence lengths for terrorist offenders. We assess that this will result in increased sentence lengths resulting in a maximum of 50 additional offenders in prison at any given time.

15th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they plan to end the restrictions in place in prisons to address the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular (1) 23-hour daily cell confinement, and (2) the ban on family visits.

As a result of the strong but necessary measures we introduced in prisons, including suspending social visits, lives have been saved and the NHS is being protected from the impact of widespread local outbreaks.

Some prisons have already started to ease restrictions, including re-starting social visits with appropriate social distancing and hygiene arrangements, and enabling more time out of cell. More prisons will do so over the coming weeks, guided by public health advice and with safety remaining the absolute priority.

Individual prisons and the youth estate will progress at their own speed, taking full account of their specific local circumstances.

A temporary video call service to support prisoners maintaining contact with family and friends has also been introduced. This is intended for use whilst contact is limited and we are considering the benefits of maintaining these digital solutions in the longer term, in line with the recommendations of Lord Farmer’s reviews.

7th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to extend the End of Custody Temporary Release scheme in prisons in England and Wales, in particular to allow for the release of elderly prisoners.

On 4 April, the government announced the End of Custody Temporary Release scheme (ECTR). This scheme enables risk-assessed prisoners, who are within two months of their release date, to be temporarily released from custody, as part of the national approach to managing public services during the pandemic. The government does not plan to extend the scheme.

25th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government which Women’s Centres for women who have offended, or who are at risk of offending, are currently functioning; where those centres are located; who provides funds to those centres; and what assessment they have made of the success of such centres in preventing (1) offending, and (2) re-offending.

The Government recognises the important role played by women’s centres regarding women in contact with or at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system. These holistic services work to support women to address the often complex needs that underlie their offending behaviour.

Women’s centres are spread across England and Wales and receive funding from different sources. Following the publication of the Female Offender Strategy, the Government invested £5.1 million over two years in women’s community sector organisations, including women’s centres. Thirty different organisations across England and Wales received funding, which included the creation of six new women’s centres. On 5 May, the Government announced further funding of £2.5 million for the sector.

However, the detailed information requested about the number of women’s centres that are currently functioning and how they are funded is not held or collected centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the work of Recycling Lives, in particular in regard to the steps it has taken in relation to (1) training and employment for ex-offenders, and (2) food poverty; and what plans they have to extend such schemes to more prisons.

The New Futures Network, which brokers partnerships between prisons and employers, supports Recycling Lives to build partnerships with prisons, with the objective of securing work opportunities for individuals serving sentences in custody and those leaving prison. Sustainable employment and suitable educational opportunities are key factors to reducing reoffending and in turning offenders’ lives around.

The potential for any extension of such schemes will be dependent on a positive assessment of their practicality and contractual feasibility.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reintroduce legal aid for refugee family reunion cases.

Legal aid for refugee family reunion may be available under the Exceptional Case Funding (ECF) scheme, where failure to provide legal aid would mean there is a breach or a risk of breach of the individual’s human rights, and subject to means and merits tests.

Last year we amended the scope of legal aid so that separated migrant children are able to receive civil legal aid for applications by their family members and extended family members. This includes entry clearance, leave to enter, or leave to remain in the UK, made under the immigration rules or outside the rules on the basis of exceptional circumstances or compassionate and compelling circumstances.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to release all (1) remand prisoners, and (2) prisoners over the age of 70, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Government is not going to release all remand prisoners or all prisoners over the age of 70, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 4 April, this Government announced the End of Custody Temporary Release scheme (ECTR). This scheme enables risk-assessed prisoners, who are within two months of their release date, to be temporarily released from custody, as part of the national approach to managing public services during this challenging period. No high-risk offenders, including those convicted of violent or sexual offences, anyone of national security concern or a danger to children, will be considered for release, nor any prisoners who have not served at least half their custodial term. This scheme only applies to prisoners serving standard determinate sentences with an automatic release point and those committed to custody for fine default or contempt, which also excludes remand prisoners. However, good progress has been made in reducing the number on remand and we are grateful to the Judiciary in their assistance in prioritising these cases.

For those who remain in custody, including prisoners over the age of 70, further operational guidance has been issued across the prison estate updating national policies on regime management following the Government steer on social distancing, shielding and household isolation. We have introduced cohorting arrangements in prisons endorsed by Public Health England to create safe environments for social distancing and household isolation. This involves isolating those with symptoms, shielding those most at vulnerable and quarantining new admissions in isolation from the rest of the prison for 14 days in Reverse Cohort Units to reduce the risk of infection.

In addition, pregnant women, prisoners living in Mother and Baby Units and those identified as ‘extremely vulnerable’ as defined in the NHS guidelines will merit consideration for release on temporary licence on compassionate grounds during the Covid-19 pandemic.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many prisoners were transferred to (1) psychiatric hospitals, (2) psychiatric wings of prisons, and (3) other hospitals, in each of the last 12 months.

From the data held centrally, we are unable to differentiate between transfers to (1) psychiatric and (3) other hospitals. Further, for (2) prisons do not have psychiatric wings, and data on occupancy of dedicated residential healthcare facilities in prisons are not collected centrally.

We can provide the total number of prisoners who have been transferred to hospital under sections 47 (sentenced prisoners) or 48 (remand prisoners/immigration detainees) of the Mental Health Act 1983 in the last 12 months and this is set out below:

Month

Total

Jun-2019

94

Jul-2019

81

Aug-2019

74

Sep-2019

72

Oct-2019

91

Nov-2019

73

Dec-2019

72

Jan-2020

66

Feb-2020

83

Mar-2020

79

Apr-2020

71

May-2020

75

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Information is collected on the number of transfers, not the number of individual prisoners who are transferred. An individual prisoner may be transferred more than once in any given time period.

We take the mental health of prisoners extremely seriously, which is why we have increased the support available to vulnerable offenders - especially during the first 24 hours in custody - and invested more in mental health awareness training for prison officers.

12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to safeguard the physical and mental health of prisoners, in particular those subject to (1) long periods of being locked in cells, (2) the suspension of all visits, and (3) overcrowded cells.

The Government takes the health and wellbeing of prisoners very seriously. We work closely with health partners to provide a standard of healthcare in prisons equivalent to that available in the community. COVID-19, however, presents a unique set of challenges that we must address to keep prisoners safe. To mitigate these, we are operating a National Response Model in prisons, and working very closely with public health authorities to ensure our approach is based on the best scientific advice available.

This does, unfortunately, mean that visits have been suspended and people in prison are spending more time in their cells. They are, however, being given access to services including telephone contact with loved ones, access to health services and where possible time in the open air. Additionally, following a successful trial at HMP Berwyn, we are rolling out secure video calling to 10 prisons with a wider roll out in the coming weeks. We continue to make the Samaritans phone service available, and are working with the Samaritans to ensure that the Listener peer support scheme continues to function effectively. We are also providing distraction packs and in cell activities to support mental and physical wellbeing.

We are continuing to provide care and support to people at risk of self-harm or suicide through ACCT (Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork) case management. For those with severe mental health issues, we are doing everything we can to ensure that the process for transfer to hospital continues in as normal a way as possible.

Measures are also being taken to safeguard prisoners with particularly vulnerable physical health from COVID-19 and to satisfy requirements for social distancing. Since February, we have managed to move 4,000 people out of double cells, and work is being taken forward to create extra cells and increase the capacity of the prison estate. Meanwhile, prisoners identified in accordance with NHS guidance as being ‘extremely vulnerable’ to COVID-19 are being proactively considered for release from custody under existing Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) provisions. Where a prisoner falling within this category is considered not suitable for release, they will continue to be appropriately shielded within custody.

12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to safeguard the well-being and rehabilitation of young offenders in custody

The safety and wellbeing of the children and young people in custody remains our priority during this unprecedented period. The Youth Custody Service (YCS) has been adapting its approach to delivery in order to meet the needs of children whilst complying with wider guidance around physical distancing. There is a focus on delivering essential activities and ensuring that children remain engaged and stimulated. This includes regular phone calls (additional phone credit has been allocated), access to showers and education materials and time in the fresh air. Establishments are working to create activities that children can undertake in small groups or in their rooms, including workouts and greater access to television, entertainment and in room activity material.

‘Secure Stairs’ is the framework for integrated care jointly led by NHS England, NHS Improvement and the YCS, which provides the foundations as to how youth secure establishments work with children. An enhanced ‘Secure Stairs’ team has come together to support staff and children, focusing on an approach that encourages interaction and protects the physical and mental health of young people whilst ensuring compliance with physical distancing requirements.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) recently published a report following short scrutiny visits to Cookham Wood, Parc and Wetherby Young Offender Institutions on 21 April. The report was acknowledged by HMIP as being generally positive, referencing the ‘swift actions taken to keep children safe, as well as the creativity of staff and managers in providing opportunities for children to receive meaningful interaction’. They also noted that all the sites were calm and well ordered, with self-harm reduced at Parc and Wetherby and stable at Cookham Wood.

Separately, the YCS conducted the internal review of safeguarding across youth custody, ‘Youth Custody Service Safeguarding Review’ which was published on Gov.uk last October. The recommendations of this report are being considered and taken forward by the newly-created ‘YCS National Head of Safeguarding’ to further enhance safeguarding of children within secure settings.

6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 4 May (HL3394), whether any prisoners have yet been tested for COVID-19; when they expect testing will begin in a systematic way; what plans they have to prioritise the most overcrowded prisons; and how many COVID-19 (1) cases, and (2) deaths, have been reported among (1) prison staff, and (2) prisoners.

COVID-19 testing is ongoing in prisons and is being conducted by internal or external healthcare practitioners on some symptomatic prisoners on site. The testing capacity is dependent on local commissioning services, therefore the numbers of those tested varies by establishment. However, prisoners that require hospital care are being transferred to hospital and may also be tested there. We are working with the Department of Health and Social Care to consider next steps for testing in prisons.

As of 17:00 on Sunday 17 May, 411 prisoners and 540 prison staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. This is an accumulative total and does not represent the number of live cases. Some of those that previously tested positive will have now made a full recovery.

Sadly, as of Friday 15 May, 21 prisoners and 8 members of prison staff have died. These figures represent cases where it was known that the individual had tested positive for the virus. It is a matter for coroners to determine a cause of death.

HM Prison and Pr