Lord Jones of Cheltenham Portrait

Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Liberal Democrat - Life peer

High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill Select Committee (Lords)
30th Oct 2019 - 5th Nov 2019
High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill Select Committee (Lords)
5th May 2016 - 15th Dec 2016
Information Committee (Lords)
7th Jun 2005 - 12th Nov 2009
Crossrail Bill
17th Jan 2008 - 26th Nov 2008
Public Accounts Committee
15th May 2002 - 11th Apr 2005
International Development Committee
1st Nov 1999 - 11th May 2001
Science and Technology Committee
14th Jul 1997 - 15th May 2000
Science and Technology Committee (Commons)
14th Jul 1997 - 15th May 2000
Standards and Privileges
23rd Oct 1996 - 21st Mar 1997


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Thursday 21st October 2021
Skills and Post-16 Education Bill [HL]
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 55 Liberal Democrat Aye votes vs 0 Liberal Democrat No votes
Tally: Ayes - 169 Noes - 147
Speeches
Thursday 21st October 2021
COVID-19: Type 2 Diabetes

In addition to the link between Covid and weight gain, some people can develop diabetes after an acute Covid-19 infection. …

Written Answers
Tuesday 12th October 2021
Influenza: Vaccination
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the reasons for the reported delays in this year's flu vaccination programme.
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 Jones of Cheltenham has voted in 171 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Lord Jones of Cheltenham Division Votes

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
Lord Bethell (Conservative)
(14 debate interactions)
Baroness Williams of Trafford (Conservative)
Minister of State (Home Office)
(8 debate interactions)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative)
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
(8 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(8 debate contributions)
Home Office
(5 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(4 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
Legislation Debates
Lord Jones of Cheltenham has not made any spoken contributions to legislative debate
View all Lord Jones of Cheltenham's debates

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Lord Jones of Cheltenham, 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 Jones of Cheltenham has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Lord Jones of Cheltenham has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Lord Jones of Cheltenham has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Lord Jones of Cheltenham 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
20th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the letter in The Lancet ‘Mass infection is not an option: we must do more to protect our young’, published on 7 July, arguing against relaxing COVID-19 restrictions; and what assessment they have made of how their policy on lifting restrictions meets their objective of “following the science”.

The Government made a full assessment of the epidemiological and other relevant data ahead of taking the decision to move to step 4 of the roadmap on 19 July and assessed that the four tests had been met. The success of the vaccination rollout has paved the way for the safe and gradual lifting of restrictions. However, the Government has been clear that the pandemic is not over and that the public should continue to practice cautious behaviours.

The risks of hospitalisation and intensive care admission in children due to infection is very low (approximately 8 per 100,000 population under 18 are admitted to hospital). Therefore, from step 4, the Government changed the controls that apply in early years, schools, colleges and higher education institutions to maintain a baseline of protective measures while maximising attendance and minimising disruption to children and young people’s education.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
20th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reported description by Dr Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organisation’s emergencies programme, of the policy of relaxing COVID-19 restrictions on 19 July as “epidemiological stupidity”.

The Government made a full assessment of the epidemiological and other relevant data ahead of taking the decision to move to Step 4 of the roadmap on 19 July. The Government is clear that the pandemic is not over and that the public should continue to behave cautiously.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
14th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to introduce measures so that MPs and Peers are (1) covered by, and (2) liable to, regulations made under the Equality Act 2010.

The Government does not have plans to change the Act’s coverage as it relates to Parliamentarians. The constitutional position is affirmed by Parliament in Schedule 3 of the Act.

The conduct of Parliamentarians is a matter for each House. Codes of conduct set out the standards of behaviour expected of Members of Parliament in all aspects of their public life. Both Houses are advised by the Commissioners for Standards in each House.

Where MPs and peers recruit or employ staff, these aspects are covered by the Equality Act 2010, including the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
8th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the letter signed by scientists published in The Lancet on 8 July, which calls the planned relaxation of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic on 19 July a “dangerous and unethical experiment”.

On Monday 12 July, the Prime Minister confirmed that the Government’s four tests for easing COVID-19 restrictions had been met and England proceeded to Step 4 of the roadmap on Monday 19 July. A range of data was considered, including from Public Health England, the NHS, and the ONS, as well as modelling from SAGE, to inform this decision. In June, the move to Step 4 was delayed by four weeks so more adults could be vaccinated, and more than 7 million vaccines were administered during this period.

The Government will continue to monitor the data on a regular basis to ensure there is no danger of the NHS facing unsustainable pressure. The Government will maintain contingency plans for reimposing economic and social restrictions at a local, regional or national level if evidence suggests they are necessary to suppress or manage a dangerous variant. Such measures would only be re-introduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
29th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what penalties apply to ministers who are found to have breached paragraph 1.7 of the Ministerial Code.

Ministers are personally responsible for deciding how to act and conduct themselves in the light of the Code and for justifying their actions and conduct to Parliament and the public.

The Prime Minister is the ultimate judge of the standards of behaviour expected of a Minister and the appropriate consequences of a breach of those standards.

As the Prime Minister noted in his letter to the Committee on Standards in Public Life on 28 April 2021, he agreed with the Committee's suggestion that the appropriate sanction should depend on the circumstances of the case, and that the expectation that has arisen over time - that any breach should lead automatically to resignation - is disproportionate.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to require the Conservative Party to reimburse the full costs of re-running the election of the Police and Crime Commissioner in Wiltshire.

Statutorily independent Returning Officers are responsible for running Police and Crime Commissioner elections. Legislation provides for costs that are necessary for the efficient and effective running of a poll to be reimbursed to Returning Officers; the statutory mechanism is for these to be reimbursed from the Consolidated Fund on submission of a claim for such expenditure. There is no statutory mechanism for these costs to be recovered from elsewhere by the Government.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord True on 2 February (HL12298), whether they will now (1) answer the question put, namely whether they have made any assessment of the possible competitive disadvantages to (a) England, (b) Wales, and (c) Scotland, of not being in the EU Single Market; and if so, what was the result of any such assessment, and (2) over whom Northern Ireland has a "competitive advantage" by being in the EU Single Market for goods.

The UK has left the EU Single Market and Customs Union with a deal that means the UK can now regulate in a way that suits the UK economy and UK businesses – doing things in a more innovative and effective way, without being bound by EU rules.

The Northern Ireland Protocol protects the territorial integrity of the UK by safeguarding Northern Ireland’s place in the UK’s customs territory and internal market, ensuring unfettered access to Great Britain for Northern Ireland businesses, while also facilitating the free flow of goods between Northern Ireland and the EU.

The questions of the advantages of relationships with the EU single market and customs union have been extensively debated over the last four years. I note that the Liberal Democrats campaigned to reverse Brexit in the last General Election, but the people of the United Kingdom voted to Get Brexit Done, endorsing the Conservative commitment to leave the Single Market and Customs Union.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
19th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks made by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 6 January that Northern Ireland has “a competitive advantage” because it is in the EU Single Market for goods, whether they have made any assessment of the possible competitive disadvantages to (1) England, (2) Wales, and (3) Scotland, of not being within the EU Single Market; and if so, what was the result of any such assessment.

On 24 December 2020, the Government secured an agreement with the EU that takes back control of our laws, borders, money, and fisheries.

This is the first free trade agreement the EU has ever reached based on zero tariffs and zero quota. Businesses will be able to continue to trade on that basis, selling to their customers in the EU, and people will be able to continue to buy goods from Europe tariff-free, protecting consumer prices.

This is good news for families and businesses in every part of the UK, as it means the whole of the UK can make the most of the freedoms that have come with the end of the transition period.

In addition, the UK is now free to strike its own trade deals worldwide to the general benefit of all.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish in full the details of the reported offer made by the EU that would have allowed the UK's creative artists freedom of movement throughout the EU for up to 90 days; and their reasons for rejecting the EU's offer.

In negotiations with the EU, the Government sought a mutually beneficial agreement that would have allowed artists and musicians to continue performing across the continent without the need for work permits. The EU turned down this proposal. The draft legal text published by the EU on their website on 18 March contained proposals regarding visa-free travel. These only covered ad-hoc performances, which were non-binding, and did not address technical staff or the issue of work-permits. These proposals would not have addressed the sector's concerns.

This Government recognises the importance of the UK’s world-leading cultural and creative industries. We recently demonstrated that commitment by providing an unprecedented £1.57 billion package of support to help them through the covid-19 pandemic. During the negotiations with the EU, we pushed for ambitious arrangements allowing performers and artists to work across Europe.

The Government also recognises the importance of touring for UK musicians and other creative professionals, and has engaged extensively with the creative industries and arts sector since the announcement of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement to ensure they are aware of the new requirements.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government why analysis of the number of (1) school workers, and (2) other key workers who had COVID-19, has not been included in ONS infection surveys since 6 November 2020; and what plans they have to publish such analysis for the period since 6 November 2020.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

14 January 2021

Dear Lord Jones,

As National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, I am responding to your Parliamentary Question asking why analysis of the number of (1) school workers, and (2) other key workers who had COVID-19, has not been included in Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection surveys since 6 November 2020; and what plans there are to publish such analysis for the period since 6 November 2020 (HL11748).

The ONS is committed to providing statistics for the public good and produce analysis which covers as many of our users’ needs as possible.

Understanding occupational risk across all sectors is vitally important. As such we are conducting analysis across all occupations to gain a deeper understanding of all professions. This will include occupations within the education sector which we have previously published analysis on. We will publish this analysis in our monthly articles.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Sir Ian Diamond

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
1st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer from Baroness Scott of Bybrook on 30 September (HL8064), what penalty they expect to incur if the UK Internal Market Bill is enacted unamended.

Under the Withdrawal Agreement the European Commission can bring infringement proceedings against the UK within the transition period, where it considers that the UK has not met its obligations under the Agreement. The infringement procedure is a frequently used and common mechanism.

The Commission has sent a preliminary letter under this procedure concerning the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill. We are considering the letter.

We are committed to working through the Joint Committee process under the Agreement to find a satisfactory outcome for both sides.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
29th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to amend the law on impartiality in the Civil Service.

Part 1 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (CRAGA) provides the statutory basis for the Civil Service Code, and states that the Code must require civil servants to carry out their duties with impartiality. As set out in section 7(5), this requirement does not extend to Special Advisers. The Government has no plans to amend this.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
19th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many UK scientists are working on (1) the James Webb Space Telescope, and (2) the Extremely Large Telescope European project under construction in Chile.

The UK’s role in James Webb Space Telescope, leading the Mid-Infrared Instrument known as MIRI, involved scientists, engineers, researchers and technicians from 46 organisations across the UK – supported by approximately £20M investment from UK Space Agency and the Science and Technology Facilities Council. At its peak, the instrument’s development programme was staffed by 25-30 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) per year. Approximately 360 UK scientists will be working with JWST scientific data following its launch in November 2021, through privilege access programmes for the first mission data, and guest observer programmes. When factoring in post docs and PhD students, who will support this research, this figure can be expected to effectively double.

We expect that when operational 200-400 UK researchers will seek time on the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) to support their science programmes. During the current construction phase a large proportion of UK scientists are working under commercial contract and we do not have access to staffing within those. When it starts operating in late-2020s, UK scientists will be able to use ELT to study the earliest evolution of stars and galaxies and to characterise and image other planets, possibly like our own.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of any increase in labour costs as a result of shortages of skilled workers in their cost predictions for the construction of large-scale infrastructure projects.

On 1 January 2021, the UK implemented a points-based immigration system that treats EU and non-EU citizens equally. The Government has introduced greater flexibility for businesses and migrants, while supporting the economic need of the country. A Skilled Worker visa route is open to all nationals who wish to come to the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. A range of skilled occupations in construction are included in the list of eligible occupations.

The Government is supporting the construction sector in its drive to increase investment in skills development, and to equip workers with the skills that they will need for the future. On 1 June 2020, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) published its Industry Recovery Plan. Employment and skills in the construction sector are identified as a priority, and a focus of the ‘Restart’ phase of the Plan is to maximise employment opportunities.

The Government has welcomed the Plan and is collaborating with the CLC and industry to ensure that the proposals are implemented.

The Government has been making strong progress against the ambition to build at least 1 million new homes in England by the end of this Parliament. Last year alone, around 244,000 homes were delivered – the highest number of new homes for over 30 years, and the seventh consecutive year that net supply has increased.

We have not assessed the specific issues set out in these questions.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of staff shortages on (1) the construction of HS2, (2) the construction of Hinckley Point C, and (3) their housing targets, as a result of construction workers leaving the UK ahead of the EU Settlement Scheme deadline on 30 June.

On 1 January 2021, the UK implemented a points-based immigration system that treats EU and non-EU citizens equally. The Government has introduced greater flexibility for businesses and migrants, while supporting the economic need of the country. A Skilled Worker visa route is open to all nationals who wish to come to the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. A range of skilled occupations in construction are included in the list of eligible occupations.

The Government is supporting the construction sector in its drive to increase investment in skills development, and to equip workers with the skills that they will need for the future. On 1 June 2020, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) published its Industry Recovery Plan. Employment and skills in the construction sector are identified as a priority, and a focus of the ‘Restart’ phase of the Plan is to maximise employment opportunities.

The Government has welcomed the Plan and is collaborating with the CLC and industry to ensure that the proposals are implemented.

The Government has been making strong progress against the ambition to build at least 1 million new homes in England by the end of this Parliament. Last year alone, around 244,000 homes were delivered – the highest number of new homes for over 30 years, and the seventh consecutive year that net supply has increased.

We have not assessed the specific issues set out in these questions.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reduce (1) the production, and (2) the use, of plastic in the United Kingdom

We have a strong manufacturing base in the UK with the rubber & plastics industry employing over 160,000 people. The UK Government continues to support UK businesses whilst tackling our priority to reduce plastic waste in line with our net zero ambitions.

The Government's 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. In 2018 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) published our Resources and Waste Strategy, which sets out how to achieve this, move towards a circular economy and keep resources in the system for longer. Resource efficiency measures introduced by Defra have included the single-use carrier bag charge, which recently increased to 10p and extended to all retailers; and the ban of plastic straws, plastic drink stirrers, and plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

The Environment Bill will enable us to significantly change the way that we manage our waste and will include powers to create Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes such as a scheme for packaging meaning that producers will pay the full costs of dealing with the waste packaging that they produce; introduce Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) such as a scheme for single use drinks containers which will include those made from glass, plastic and metal; and give us the power to set new charges for other single-use plastic items.

The Government has put together a package of £100 million for research and innovation to tackle the issues that arise from plastic waste. £38 million has been set aside through the Plastics Research and Innovation Fund and the Resource Action Fund including £10 million specifically to pioneer innovative approaches to boosting recycling and reducing litter. The Government has also announced £60 million of funding through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, alongside a £149 million investment from industry, to drive research and innovation to develop more smart, sustainable plastic packaging.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have the power to issue deep sea mining licences in UK Overseas Territories’ waters; and if so, whether they plan to issue any such licences.

The Deep Sea Mining Act 1981 (as amended by the Deep Sea Mining Act 2014) sets out the Government’s powers in relation to issuing deep sea mining licences, including the relationship with contracts granted by the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

The 1981 Act (as amended) extends to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but may be extended by Order in Council to the Channel Islands, Isle of Man or any British overseas territory. To date, no such Order in Council or Statutory Instrument has been taken forward, and there are no current plans to do so.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment, if any, they have made of the debate by Japanese politicians over proposals for a three-day weekend to address 'karoshi' (death by overwork); and what consideration they are giving to the introduction of a three-day weekened.

The Government currently has no plans to introduce a mandated four-day working week in the UK.

The UK has one of the most flexible labour markets in Europe and this flexibility enables workers to participate in the labour market in a way that suits their circumstances. Working hours are ultimately a contractual matter to be agreed between a worker and their employer, and our existing legal framework provides a statutory right for all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service to request flexible working, where employees can request a change to their hours, working patterns or working from home.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment, if any, they have made of the Prime Minister of New Zealand's request to businesses in that country to consider a four-day week; and what plans, if any, they have to make a similar request to UK businesses.

The Government currently has no plans to introduce a mandated four-day working week in the UK.

The UK has one of the most flexible labour markets in Europe and this flexibility enables workers to participate in the labour market in a way that suits their circumstances. Working hours are ultimately a contractual matter to be agreed between a worker and their employer, and our existing legal framework provides a statutory right for all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service to request flexible working, where employees can request a change to their hours, working patterns or working from home.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the proposed three-year pilot project for a 32-hour working week in Spain; and what plans, if any, they have for a similar pilot project to be conducted in the UK.

The Government currently has no plans to introduce a mandated four-day working week in the UK.

The UK has one of the most flexible labour markets in Europe and this flexibility enables workers to participate in the labour market in a way that suits their circumstances. Working hours are ultimately a contractual matter to be agreed between a worker and their employer, and our existing legal framework provides a statutory right for all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service to request flexible working, where employees can request a change to their hours, working patterns or working from home.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding in the report by Gleeds Charting the Course: Winter 20/21 UK Market Report, published on 3 February, that 80 per cent of respondents to Gleeds' Autumn 2020 survey believe that tighter immigration controls will worsen labour shortages and lead to higher construction costs.

On 1 January 2021, the UK implemented a points-based immigration system that treats EU and non-EU citizens equally. The Government has introduced greater flexibility for business and migrants, while supporting the economic need of the country. A Skilled Worker visa route is open to all nationals who wish to come to the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. A range of skilled occupations in construction are included in the list of eligible occupations.

The Government is supporting the construction sector in its drive to increase investment in skills development, and to equip workers with the skills that they will need for the future. This will be achieved through a joint commitment to implement reforms to the Construction Industry Training Board to make it more strategic and industry-led, and to enable the sector to make best use of funding from the Apprenticeship Levy.

On 1 June 2020, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) published its Industry Recovery Plan. Employment and skills in the construction sector are identified as a priority, and a focus of the ‘Restart’ phase of the Plan is to maximise employment opportunities.

The Government has welcomed the Plan and is collaborating with the CLC and industry to ensure that the proposals are implemented.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding in the report by Gleeds Charting the Course: Winter 20/21 UK Market Report, published on 3 February, that the number of EU citizens employed in the construction industry has fallen by 28 per cent in the past year.

On 1 January 2021, the UK implemented a points-based immigration system that treats EU and non-EU citizens equally. The Government has introduced greater flexibility for business and migrants, while supporting the economic need of the country. A Skilled Worker visa route is open to all nationals who wish to come to the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. A range of skilled occupations in construction are included in the list of eligible occupations.

The Government is supporting the construction sector in its drive to increase investment in skills development, and to equip workers with the skills that they will need for the future. This will be achieved through a joint commitment to implement reforms to the Construction Industry Training Board to make it more strategic and industry-led, and to enable the sector to make best use of funding from the Apprenticeship Levy.

On 1 June 2020, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) published its Industry Recovery Plan. Employment and skills in the construction sector are identified as a priority, and a focus of the ‘Restart’ phase of the Plan is to maximise employment opportunities.

The Government has welcomed the Plan and is collaborating with the CLC and industry to ensure that the proposals are implemented.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding in the report by Gleeds Charting the Course: Winter 20/21 UK Market Report, published on 3 February, that there is a shortage of skilled labour available to the UK construction industry.

On 1 January 2021, the UK implemented a points-based immigration system that treats EU and non-EU citizens equally. The Government has introduced greater flexibility for business and migrants, while supporting the economic need of the country. A Skilled Worker visa route is open to all nationals who wish to come to the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. A range of skilled occupations in construction are included in the list of eligible occupations.

The Government is supporting the construction sector in its drive to increase investment in skills development, and to equip workers with the skills that they will need for the future. This will be achieved through a joint commitment to implement reforms to the Construction Industry Training Board to make it more strategic and industry-led, and to enable the sector to make best use of funding from the Apprenticeship Levy.

On 1 June 2020, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) published its Industry Recovery Plan. Employment and skills in the construction sector are identified as a priority, and a focus of the ‘Restart’ phase of the Plan is to maximise employment opportunities.

The Government has welcomed the Plan and is collaborating with the CLC and industry to ensure that the proposals are implemented.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to set a target for eliminating the use of fossil fuels by the UK; and if not, why not.

The Government is committed to acting on climate change by reducing our emissions to net zero by 2050. As part of this we must move away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner energy sources. This is why we are one of the first countries to commit to ending unabated coal generation, which we intend to do by 2024, subject to consultation. Closing our remaining coal plants by this date would mean that in 10 years we have reduced our reliance on unabated coal generation from almost a third of our electricity supply to zero.

Our Energy White Paper, published last December set out plans for the transformation of our energy system as we move towards fully decarbonised electricity generation by 2050, including working with the oil and gas sector to transform the UK Continental Shelf to be a net zero basin by 2050. As these fossil fuels play a smaller role in our energy mix over time, the government will agree a North Sea Transition Deal to deliver new business opportunities, jobs and skills and protect the wider communities which rely on the sector. My Rt hon Friend the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan further demonstrates the government’s commitment to investing in clean technologies as we move away from fossil fuels.

Ahead of COP26, we will set out further plans for decarbonising key sectors across the economy, culminating in a Net Zero Strategy which sets out our vision for the transition to 2050.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact that ceasing to use fossil fuels would have on (1) controlling climate change, and (2) preventing the extinction of species.

Ceasing emissions from the use of fossil fuels would substantially reduce future warming, however continued emissions from other sectors, including agriculture, cement and waste, would still result in rising temperatures, albeit at a slower rate of warming. If we reach net zero carbon dioxide emissions across all sectors, and stabilise or reduce emissions of short lived greenhouse gases such as methane, then at that point, our best current understanding is that warming would cease.

There is a strong scientific consensus that climate change is impacting on biodiversity, including contributing to species extinction, and that tackling global warming would have significant benefits for the natural world. Those impacts are predicted to grow substantially without action to limit future warming.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to meet any funding shortfall as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on charitable donations for research projects into brain tumours.

The Government demonstrated its ambitions for research, committing £14.6 billion to R&D next year.  This funding will support the life sciences sector within which Medical Research Charities operate alongside other research areas including brain tumours. BEIS and DHSC regularly discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on charity-funded research with the Association of Medical Research Charities and we are continuing to engage with them.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether employers can pro-rate company premiums for private medical cover for short-term employees; if so, by how much; and whether employers can pro-rate other benefits such as holiday pay.

Fixed-term employees must not be treated less favourably than a comparable permanent member of staff without an objective justification. Beyond this protection, the terms and conditions of employment, except where they are subject to statutory minimum standards such as the national minimum wage, are a contractual matter for negotiation and agreement between employers and employees (or their representatives). Provided they do not discriminate unlawfully, for example on grounds of race, sex or disability, employers are free to offer the terms and conditions of employment which best suit their business needs.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what advice they have published for employers and employees seeking assistance from ACAS in relation to employment contracts and tribunals.

Guidance on employment law and employment tribunals is published on GOV.UK for employees and employers. GOV.UK also signposts users to Acas for more detailed guidance on employment issues, including on employment contracts and the process to resolve disputes.

Acas provide free and impartial advice to employers, employees, and their representatives on employment rights; best practice and policies; and resolving workplace conflict. Acas also publish guidance on different aspects of employment law and employment relationships, and a list of these topics can be found on the Acas site: https://www.acas.org.uk/advice.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that the UK has a high level of protection for (1) copyright, and (2) other performers’ rights, online.

The UK is widely acknowledged as one of the best places in the world in which to protect and enforce copyright and related rights.

Now that we have left the EU, we intend to maintain these high standards of protection, and to promote them globally, including through future trade agreements.

Our future trade agreements should achieve positive outcomes for owners and users of copyright and related rights, including effective cooperation on tackling online copyright infringement.

The Government takes the enforcement of IP rights very seriously, and is taking forward various initiatives including the development of a new enforcement strategy, continued funding for the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), strategic coordination of enforcement activity and continuing support for voluntary initiatives with intermediaries and others in the online world.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further (1) to the speech by the Prime Minister on the economy on 30 June in which he pledged they would “build, build, build”, and (2) to the rate of retirement rate of skilled workers in the construction sector, how they intend to ensure there are sufficient (1) quantity surveyors, (2) bricklayers, (3) plasterers, (4) masons, and (5) welders, in that sector.

The Government is supporting the construction sector in its drive to increase investment in skills development, and to equip workers with the skills that they will need for the future. This is a cross-industry drive which includes organisations delivering training to quantity surveyors, bricklayers, plasterers, masons, and welders. This will be achieved through a joint commitment to implement reforms to the Construction Industry Training Board to make it more strategic and industry-led, and to enable the sector to make best use of funding from the Apprenticeship Levy.

On 1 June, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) published its Industry Recovery Plan. Employment and skills in the construction sector are identified as a priority, and a focus of the ‘Restart’ phase of the Plan is to maximise employment opportunities.

The Government has welcomed the Plan and is collaborating with the CLC and industry to ensure that the proposals are implemented.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether people on maternity leave beyond the period of 39 weeks' statutory maternity pay are able to return to work before the intended end of their leave and then be furloughed; if so, whether they would need to give eight weeks' notice to return to work early in order to qualify for furlough arrangements; and if not; what assessment they have made of the disparity in circumstances for these women compared to those still in receipt of maternity pay who have to give eight weeks' notice before returning to work in order to be furloughed.

Employed mothers are required to take at least two weeks Statutory Maternity Leave (or four weeks of they are a factory worker) immediately after giving birth. Generally speaking, if an employed mother wishes to return to work before the end of her Maternity Leave (which is 52 weeks), she is required to give at least 8 weeks’ notice of the date that she intends to return to work, irrespective of whether she is on paid or unpaid Maternity Leave. However, the employer can agree to the employee returning on shorter or no notice.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, an employer and employee must enter into a written agreement reducing the employee’s salary before the first reduced payment is made.

Employers should discuss the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract in writing as part of the furlough agreement. This includes agreement to any reduction in pay.

In order to be eligible for the scheme, employers must confirm in writing to their employee that they have been furloughed. If this is done in a way that is consistent with employment law, that consent is valid for the purposes of claiming through the scheme. Collective agreement reached between an employer and a trade union is also acceptable for the purpose of such a claim. There needs to be a written record, but the employee does not have to provide a written response. A record of this communication must be kept for five years.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance is available to those who received firm job offers including start dates before lockdown was announced on 23 March but whose start dates have subsequently been postponed because of the lockdown.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to retain their employees and protect the UK economy. If an individual was on their former employer’s payroll as of 28 February 2020, their employer can re-employ them and put them on furlough. This applies even if an employee is not re-employed until after 19 March.

However, the scheme is not an employment right and it is up to the employer to decide who to furlough, and whether to re-employ a member of staff they have made redundant or who has resigned from their employment.

There is a package of support available for those who are not eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, including an increase in the amount of Universal Credit, three-month mortgage holidays and support for renters.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance is available to those who received firm job offers including start dates before lockdown was announced on 23 March but whose start dates have subsequently been postponed because of the lockdown.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to retain their employees and protect the UK economy. If an individual was on their former employer’s payroll as of 28 February 2020, their employer can re-employ them and put them on furlough. This applies even if an employee is not re-employed until after 19 March.

However, the scheme is not an employment right and it is up to the employer to decide who to furlough, and whether to re-employ a member of staff they have made redundant or who has resigned from their employment.

There is a package of support available for those who are not eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, including an increase in the amount of Universal Credit, three-month mortgage holidays and support for renters.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect of changes to physical distancing on businesses that have been ordered to remain closed and therefore have no income.

On 11 May the Government published its COVID-19 recovery strategy which sets out our plan for moving to the next phase of our response. The strategy sets out a cautious roadmap for easing existing measures in a safe and measured way. The roadmap will be kept constantly under review, and we will continue to work hard to support business and workers as the situation evolves.

Detailed guidance has been published for various working environments to help businesses make workplaces as safe as possible. We continue to work with stakeholders on developing sensible guidance for businesses that will give UK workers the utmost confidence on their return to work and will now focus on sectors that are not currently open to help them plan for when they can open.

Employers are responsible for taking all reasonably practical steps to address health and safety risks, which would be identified by carrying out a risk assessment. Nevertheless, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced unprecedented support for business and workers, including a Bounce Back Loans scheme.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support is available to businesses that have not been ordered to close but are reliant on those that have, such as ticket agents, 73 per cent of whose staff have been furloughed according to the Entertainment Agents' Association; and whether they expect that these businesses and their staff will need continued support to prevent large job losses.

The Government is aware that businesses are facing?many challenges during this?unprecedented?time?and?we are doing everything at our disposal to support?businesses through this crisis and beyond.

The Government has been clear that it is essential that businesses that experience increased costs and disrupted cash flow as a result of coronavirus are supported, and my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency. These measures include the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), and Bounce Back Loan Scheme, which are designed to help businesses across the UK impacted by the coronavirus crisis to access funding they need and the Self-Employed income support scheme. Guidance on all these schemes can be found on the Government website.

In addition, to help firms to continue to keep people in employment, the Government has introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The scheme has protected over 7 million workers and almost 1 million businesses so far through this crisis. This scheme has been extended in full until end July 2020 and after July we will introduce more flexibility to the furlough scheme so that we move out of it in a measured way that protects people’s incomes and helps support furloughed employees as they return to work. This will run for three months from August through to the end of October.

The Government recognises that some firms will be affected longer than others by Coronavirus. Through this period, the Government will continue to monitor developments in the public health and wider economic situation, and engage with affected sectors, to ensure that the support provided is right for these sectors and for the economy as a whole.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support (1) Airbus, and (2) other aerospace companies to (a) ensure the survival of such companies, and (b) protect high-skilled jobs in the aerospace industry, during, and after, the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government regularly speaks with Airbus, as well as other aerospace companies and the Aerospace Growth Partnership, to assist the sector through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department has discussed the immediate challenges of the crisis with representatives from the sector, including how to help companies survive, and what will be needed to assist recovery in the aerospace sector after the pandemic.

Aerospace companies are also accessing the unprecedented package of support measures the Government has put in place, including loans, flexibilities with tax bills, and financial support for employees.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to request that the British Museum (1) de-accession 11 Ethiopian altar tablets (tabots) which they have held since 1868, and (2) return them to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The British Museum operates at arm’s length and independently of HM Government. Decisions relating to the care and management of the objects in their collections are therefore a matter for its trustees. This responsibility of the trustees is set out in the museum’s legislation, the British Museum Act 1963, which also describes the limited circumstances under which the museum may deaccession items from its collections.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
20th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to discuss with the National Lottery Community Fund ways to assist small sports clubs with fundraising events after the COVID-19 lockdowns.

HMG have worked closely with the Fundraising Regulator and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising to produce guidance to support safe and effective fundraising, in line with restrictions under each step of the COVID-19 roadmap. Current guidance is available on the Fundraising Regulator’s website.

The National Lottery Community Fund is a non-departmental public body (NDPB), which means that it operates at ‘arm’s length’ from government. As a distributor of Lottery money, rather than of government funds, it makes its individual funding decisions independently, within the framework of the policy directions set by the Secretary of State for DCMS. The government cannot, therefore, intervene in or influence the Fund’s decision-making process or support individual applications for funding.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to agree an emergency compensation package with the creative sector.

The Government recognises the significant challenges that the pandemic has created for our creative industries and our support to the sector has been unwavering throughout.

We know the move to Step 4 will come as welcome news to our creative sectors but we also recognise that many organisations are still in need of emergency support. This is why we recently announced the final £300 million of the Government’s £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) in late June. In particular, portals are currently open for the Emergency Resource Support element of this round, which will provide further support for organisations in need of urgent funding as the cultural, heritage and creative sectors move towards reopening at full capacity.

This extra support is on top of the £1.2 billion that has already been awarded to over 5,000 individual organisations and sites in previous rounds of the CRF. Throughout the pandemic, we have introduced an unprecedented package of pan-economy support including generous employment schemes, grants, loans, a reduction in VAT and business rate relief, in addition to other sector specific support such as the Film and TV Production Restart Scheme. Our Plan For Jobs has also supported jobs and businesses with over £400 billion of economic support – one of the most generous and comprehensive packages in the world.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to conclude bilateral agreements with European Union member states on work permit exemptions.

We have always acknowledged that the end of freedom of movement would have consequences for touring musicians and performers. Member States are principally responsible for deciding the rules governing what work UK visitors can undertake in the EU, and we have spoken to every Member State.

We have established that musicians and performers do not require visas or work permits for short-term tours in at least 19 out of 27 Member States without needing visas or work permits. This includes France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and many more.

We are now working with the remaining countries to encourage them to match the UK’s generous arrangements, which allow creative professionals to tour here easily. The Government’s door also remains open if the EU is willing to revisit the proposals made during the negotiations.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the decision by EE to impose roaming charges on new UK mobile phone users when using their phones in Europe, what plans they have to negotiate a deal with the EU to eliminate roaming charges for UK customers.

Since the end of the Transition Period the UK is no longer part of Roam Like at Home so surcharge-free roaming for UK consumers in the EU is no longer guaranteed.

During negotiations for the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU, the UK proposed continuation of reciprocal agreements between the UK and EU for surcharge free roaming, or a review clause to consider the need for these should roaming surcharges return for consumers. The EU did not agree to either of these proposals. Therefore, mobile operators are now able to impose a surcharge on UK consumers travelling abroad to the EU for their mobile phone usage. We advise that consumers check with their operators before travelling.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have received from touring creative service companies regarding the arrangements in the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement; and what assessment they have made of those representations.

UK performers and artists are of course still able to tour and perform in the EU, and vice versa. However, we understand the concerns about the new arrangements and we are working with the creative and cultural sectors to help them get to grips with the changes to systems and processes.

As the Secretary of State has said, we have moved at pace and with urgency on plans to support the creative sectors to tour in Europe. We have engaged with touring creative service companies, including through the DCMS-led working group. Sector representatives on the working group are encouraged to reach out to others to ensure the working group hears and understands the views and concerns of organisations and individuals right across the cultural and creative sectors. Engagement with the sector has been extremely helpful and we are grateful for the cooperation of numerous organisations.

Through our bilateral discussions with EU Member States, we have established that in at least 17 out of 27 Member States some touring activities are possible without visas or work-permits. The UK has significantly more generous arrangements for touring professionals than many Member States, and should they be willing to change their rules to match ours we will have those discussions and encourage them to do so.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to negotiate a new arrangement with the EU for those involved in the creative industries sector, particularly in relation to arrangements for touring musicians.

The Government recognises the world-leading position of the UK performing arts sectors and the rich breadth of artistic talent across the UK.

UK performers and artists are of course still able to tour and perform in the EU, and vice versa. However, we understand the concerns about the new arrangements and we are committed to supporting the sectors as they get to grips with the changes to systems and processes.

As the Prime Minister has said, we're working flat out with the industry, including through the DCMS-led working group, on plans to support the creative sectors to tour in Europe. Through our bilateral discussions with EU Member States, we have established that in at least 17 out of 27 Member States some touring activities are possible without visas or work-permits. The UK has significantly more generous arrangements for touring professionals than many Member States, and should they be willing to change their rules to match ours we will have those discussions and encourage them to do so.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the potential additional costs since 1 January 2021 to a five-member musical troupe of touring in three countries in the EU.

The Government recognises the importance of international touring for UK cultural and creative practitioners, and their support staff.

We know that while leaving the EU will bring changes and new processes to touring and working in the EU, it will also bring new opportunities. In all circumstances, we expect the UK’s creative output to continue to be an export that is as highly valued in the European Union as it is across the world.

Estimated costs are likely to vary depending on a number of factors that will be specific to each tour. Additional costs, for example, are likely to change depending on whether the performances are paid or unpaid; which EU Member States are visited and for how long; whether equipment is taken and the value of that equipment, as well as the mode of transportation.

Leaving the EU has always meant that there would be changes to how practitioners operate in the EU. DCMS has engaged with the sector extensively throughout negotiations and since the announcement of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement to understand the diverse circumstances of companies, organisations and individual practitioners and how they may need to adapt as they plan activity across the European Union.

Going forward we will continue to work closely with the sector, including with representative organisations, to assess impact and to ensure businesses and individuals have the advice and guidance they need to meet new requirements.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on grassroots cricket of allowing golf clubs to reopen while retaining restrictions on cricket clubs.

Sports and physical activity, including golf and cricket, are incredibly important for our physical and mental health, and are a vital weapon against coronavirus.

On Monday 4 January the Prime Minister announced a national lockdown and instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives. The National Restrictions are designed to get the R rate under control through limiting social contact and reducing transmissions. All decisions made by the Government relating to the pandemic and sport have been based on advice and guidance from health and scientific experts.

You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, in a public outdoor place and you should not travel outside your local area. You should maintain social distancing. Indoor and outdoor sports facilities, including golf courses and cricket pitches, must close.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made on any new arrangements required for the transportation of goods for musical events when touring in Europe following the end of the transition period for the UK's departure from the EU.

We understand the importance for musicians to be able to tour and to take their equipment with them. Whilst we are unable to comment on the outcome of negotiations with the EU, we have advised businesses to prepare for a new set of requirements when temporarily moving goods between the UK and EU after the end of the Transition Period.

There are several options currently available which allow certain goods to be imported temporarily into the UK from outside the EU without payment of duties, subject to certain conditions. At the end of the Transition Period, ATA Carnets, Returned Goods Relief and Temporary Admissions will all become options for temporarily moving musical instruments and equipment between the UK and EU.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce reciprocal arrangements for musicians from the UK to tour the EU following the end of the transition period for the UK's departure from the EU.

DCMS has engaged extensively with union bodies, companies, orchestras, individual musical practitioners and cultural organisations. We understand the importance of being able to tour. We recognise that this depends on musicians and crew being able to move quickly and easily between countries, taking necessary equipment with them.

Recognising the depth of the UK-EU relationship, the Government has proposed that we seek to agree reciprocal mobility arrangements with the EU. These will support businesses to provide services and to move their talented people. On temporary entry for business purposes (Mode IV), a reciprocal agreement based on best precedent will mean that UK citizens will be able to undertake some business activities in the EU without a work permit, on a short-term basis. The same would apply for EU citizens making business visits to the UK. The precise details, including range of activities, documentation needed, and the time limit, will be negotiated.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they expect to publish an indicative date for the re-opening of (1) music venues, and (2) festivals.

We recognise the importance of giving the sector clarity for reopening with larger audiences and we are committed to supporting the sector during this time. However we have always been clear that the activity permitted would be in line with the latest public health context.

From 2 December, in tiers 1 and 2 areas, socially distanced indoor audiences are permitted provided capacity in a venue is maintained at maximum 50% capacity or 1000 people, whichever is lower. In addition, the venue needs to follow the appropriate guidance and advice to ensure they are Covid secure.

DCMS has established a Venues Steering Group and a sector-led sub-group on Outdoor Events and Festivals looking at how music venues and festivals can reopen safely. We are committed to continue working with music venues and festivals to understand the challenges they face and to enable events to take place in line with the latest regulations and guidance.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure the retention of highly skilled workers in the creative industries.

We recognise the crucial role that highly skilled workers play in making our creative industries world-leading, and the Government is providing extensive support to workers in these sectors. The £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund provides targeted support to critical cultural, arts and heritage organisations to help them, and the skilled workers that work in them, survive and recover from the Covid pandemic. In addition Arts Council England has made £119 million available to individuals (including freelancers) and in July, the Government also announced a UK-wide £500m Restart scheme to support film and TV production companies that have been unable to film due to the lack of insurance covering Covid-related risks. As of 19 November, the scheme is supporting over 4,500 jobs.

The Government also recently announced the extension of both the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until March 31 2021. This generous support will help creative businesses across the country to protect their employees’ jobs during this difficult winter period.

Government continues to engage regularly with stakeholders such as the BFI, the Creative Industries Federation and the Creative Industries Council to ensure we understand the impact of Covid-19 on the skills and talent needed to keep the UK’s creative industries a global success.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the commercial music industry about the challenges of procuring insurance for live music events.

We are aware of the concerns which have been raised about the potential challenges associated with securing insurance for live music events.

Officials have been working closely with the affected sectors to understand the challenges faced. This includes work to build an evidence base on whether there is a clear market failure that demonstrates insurance coverage is the only barrier to live music events taking place.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the strategic importance of (1) live music venues, and (2) festivals, to the UK's future economic growth.

The Government recognises the importance and significant growth potential of the live music venue and festival sectors to the UK economy.

Before the Covid pandemic, the live music sector showed strong growth in GVA of 17% in 2019 to £1.3bn, up from £1.1bn in 2018. This growth follows an increase in GVA of 10% in 2018. Similarly, the number of full-time jobs sustained by music tourism has grown from 39,728 jobs in 2016 to 45,633 jobs in 2019. These live music sector jobs cover a broad range, from promoters and sound engineers, to security and bar staff employed at events.


Live music venues and festivals are essential to the music industry’s talent pipeline, providing a stage to showcase and export great British talent. More broadly, the sectors play a considerable role in the UK's economy by generating jobs across the country and driving music tourism. The Government is committed to continuing to work with live music venues and festivals to help them access support through these challenging times and through recovery, allowing the music sector to continue to grow in the future.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take in the next financial year to support music tourism in the UK.

VisitBritain research shows that in 2017, over 2.6m international visitors attended a live music event while visiting the UK, representing 7% of the total visitors received.

VisitEngland’s £45m Discover England Fund has promoted innovative bookable tourism products to international audiences, including music-related itineraries in the North West. VisitBritain continues to make use of the UK’s renowned cultural assets within its global marketing material.

Music sector organisations and tourism businesses have benefited from the unprecedented pan-economic measures that Government has put in place during COVID-19, including the VAT cut for tourism and hospitality activities, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, various grant and loan schemes, as well as business rates relief for the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.


We will continue to engage with a range of stakeholders to assess how we can most effectively support all aspects of the tourism and music sectors’ recovery from COVID-19.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
11th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking (1) to provide financial assistance to Football League clubs that are unable to benefit from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and (2) to encourage Premier League clubs to assist such clubs.

Football clubs are often the bedrock of our local communities and it is vital they are protected. That is why the Government has provided an unprecedented financial support package for businesses, which many football clubs have benefitted from, including the furlough scheme and business rates relief.

The government was pleased to see the welcome announcement of an agreement in principle between the Premier League and EFL for a financial support package for League One and Two clubs. It is clear the money exists within the game for it to support itself: we urge the Premier League and EFL to finalise both this deal and one that protects Championship clubs also.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of workers who have left the (1) music, (2) performing arts, and (3) creative sectors, since March.

We recognise that businesses and workers in the creative industries have been severely impacted by Covid-19.

The Government has not made an assessment of the number of workers who have left the music, performing arts and creative sector since March. We have worked closely with music and cultural sector representative bodies to maximise the survival of businesses and employee retention in the sector, through the extensive range of support the Government has provided to businesses and the self-employed.

We are committed to continuing to work with the music and cultural sectors to understand the difficulties they face and help them access support through these challenging times and through recovery.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support live music venues to operate in a COVID-19 secure way; and what steps they are taking to share best practice for operating safely within the music industry.

The Performing Arts guidance was developed in collaboration with the live events sectors to help venues put on live events in a covid secure manner.

The Secretary of State announced an unprecedented £1.57 billion support package for the cultural sector which will benefit the music sector by providing support to venues and many other cultural organisations to stay open and continue operating. So far, over £500 million has been announced from the Culture Recovery Fund for over 2,000 cultural organisations across England, almost a fifth of which has, so far, gone to the music sector. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations including venues, festivals and theatres.

As part of this, £3.36 million was shared between 136 grassroots music venues across England which had successfully applied for emergency support in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. These emergency grants of up to £80,000 enabled venues to cover ongoing running costs incurred during closure, such as rent and utilities but also allowed them the chance to adapt to become covid secure for socially distanced live audiences when permitted.

In order to propagate best practice across the industry, the Entertainment and Events Working Group gathers key industry bodies to help produce detailed guidance and ensure that the latest updates to that guidance are shared with their sectors.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government to what level new COVID-19 infection cases must fall before they allow sports venues to reopen to spectators.

The Government fully understands the decision not to reopen stadia on October 1 is frustrating for sports fans. But in the face of rising infections and further restrictions it would not have been possible. The decision was taken on advice from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and the Chief Scientific Officer (CSA) and takes into account travelling to and from games held in stadia, where there may be further social interaction and the risk of virus spread. The safety and security of players and spectators remains of paramount importance.

I am grateful to those clubs who have piloted the return of spectators so far. Work continues at pace to find solutions that will allow crowds safely back into stadia as soon as possible. The Government will continue to work closely with the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) and a whole range of sports to understand the latest thinking that might allow spectators to return. This includes the creation of a new Sports Technology Innovation Working Group of sporting bodies and health experts to analyse new technologies which might support this. Spectators will return to stadia when it is safe to do so, and we will keep this under review. The decision to do so will involve a wider set of metrics than just the level of infections.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the Cheltenham Playhouse was not included in their recent award of support for arts venues.

The Culture Recovery Fund is an unprecedented investment, but the scale of the crisis we are facing means that it will still not be able to support everyone.

We know that this means some organisations will be disappointed with the decision they have received, but we are confident Arts Council have scrutinised all organisations against the strict criteria set for this fund by Government. We can’t discuss specific details of why a particular organisation has or hasn’t been awarded funding.

Although we can’t comment on individual applications, there are a number of reasons why an organisation may have been unsuccessful – for example they may not have been able to show that they were at risk of no longer being financially viable this year, or they may not have sufficiently demonstrated that their work is culturally significant. As well as the funding criteria, the balance of organisations supported were considered, taking into account geographical areas, range of artform and disciplines and size and type of organisations.

For all revenue grant applications of £1m or less, DCMS asked its Arm’s Length Bodies (Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England and the British Film Institute) to make decisions on whether organisations were successful. Any applicant who is concerned about the way their application was handled, or the service they received, should consult the Complaints Procedure published by the relevant body.

We will continue to do all we can to support creativity and culture in England. Unsuccessful organisations can still apply to other funding programmes, including Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants, which has a budget of £77.9million until March 2021.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
16th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by President of the United States that he influenced them to remove Huawei from the UK’s telecommunications infrastructure.

The Government’s decision on the status of Huawei in the UK’s 5G network was in response to the consequences of the US sanctions against Huawei and was based on the independent, technical and evidence-based advice of the National Cyber Security Centre.

The Government has previously stated that it is our ambition that no one should need to use a high risk vendor for 5G at all. To achieve this, we have taken decisive action to commit to a timetable for the removal of Huawei 5G equipment from our 5G network by 2027.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have provisional dates for the return of (1) socially distanced, and (2) non-socially distanced, indoor live performances.

We are committed to reopening creative businesses, including live entertainment venues, in line with the latest Government regulations and advice.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport recently set out a five stage roadmap that the government will work through to get the performing arts and live entertainment sectors back up and running as soon as possible:

  • Stage One - Rehearsal and training (no audiences)

  • Stage Two - Performances for broadcast and recording purposes

  • Stage Three - Performances outdoors with an audience and pilots for indoor performances with a limited socially-distanced audience

  • Stage Four - Performances allowed indoors and outdoors (but with a limited socially-distanced audience indoors)

  • Stage Five - Performances allowed indoors / outdoors (with a fuller audience indoors)


We moved to Stage Three on the 11th July. DCMS will work with sector representative bodies to select a number of pilots for indoor performances with a socially distanced audience, as we look to move into Stage Four.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to bring forward sector-specific support for the commercial live music sector.

The Government appreciates that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to many of DCMS’ sectors including the live commercial music sector, which is why we announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency.

The Government’s response has been one of the most generous and comprehensive in the world, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and the Bounceback Loan Scheme and business rates reliefs. The Government has adapted the welfare system so that the self-employed can access Universal Credit in full, to help people get quicker and more generous support when they need it most.


In addition, on Sunday 5 July 2020, the Secretary of State announced a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors, including the live music sector. We will publish detailed guidance on eligibility as soon as possible in July.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of jobs that will be lost in the live commercial music sector without further Government support.

The Government has not made such an assessment. However, the Government appreciates that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to the live commercial music sector, which is why we announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency.

In addition, on Sunday 5 July 2020, the Secretary of State announced a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors, including the live commercial music sector.

To ensure we are assisting the live commercial music sector as effectively as possible, regular ministerially-chaired roundtables are held with business representative organisations as well as trade associations from across the sector.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what feedback stakeholders have given on the economic viability for live music venues to operate under social distancing guidelines.

We appreciate that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge for live music venues. We are committed to reopening creative businesses, including live music venues, as soon as it is safe to do so.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport recently set out a five stage roadmap that the government will work through to get the live entertainment and outdoor events sectors back up and running as soon as possible. The ministerially-chaired Events and Entertainment Working Group was established to support the Secretary of State’s Cultural Renewal Taskforce, and it focuses on developing Covid-19 secure guidance to enable the safe reopening of the live entertainment and outdoor events sectors.

However, the Government recognises some live music venues will have difficulty operating financially under social distancing guidelines. On Sunday 5 July 2020, the Secretary of State announced a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors, including live music venues.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made any assessment of international examples of sector-specific support for live music during the COVID-19 pandemic; and, if so, whether they intend to provide similar support.

While we are aware of examples of sector-specific support made available in other countries, the Government’s response has been one of the most generous and comprehensive in the world.

On Sunday 5 July 2020, the Secretary of State announced a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors, including the live music sector.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the music and entertainment sectors in comparison to other sectors.

No such assessment has been made. However, we appreciate that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to many of DCMS’ sectors including the music and entertainment sectors, which is why the Government has announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency.

DCMS is engaging with a range of departments to support the economic response, and ensuring that the needs of its sectors, and those who work in them, are fully understood. DCMS will continue to work with these valuable sectors to understand the difficulties they face and help them access support through these challenging times and through recovery.

To ensure we are assisting all our sectors as effectively as possible, regular ministerially-chaired roundtables are held with business representative organisations as well as trade associations from across music and entertainment. In addition, officials are in regular contact with stakeholders from these sectors, and we continue to speak with HM Treasury colleagues to ensure that the full spectrum of government support reaches the UK's world-leading music and entertainment.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
17th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to assess the efficacy of their employment and business support measures for (1) workers, and (2) businesses, in the music sector.

Whilst we have not completed a specific survey for the music sector, we have analysed the wider Creative Industries sector through the DCMS Coronavirus Impact Business Survey, which provides information on the effects of the pandemic on DCMS’ sectors. Results for DCMS sectors as a whole are published on gov.uk and further analysis of the responses will be available in the coming weeks. As the music industry is a vital part of the UK’s creative economy, the Government has put in place an unprecedented support package for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency including:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

  • The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

  • The Bounceback Loan Scheme

  • Expanding eligibility for the business rates reliefs

We continue to speak with HM Treasury colleagues to ensure that the full spectrum of government support reaches the UK's world-leading music industry. To support the safe re-opening of cultural and creative sectors, DCMS has launched the Cultural Renewal taskforce. This includes several working groups to develop practical guidance on how the music production and performance sectors can operate safely with social distancing measures in place. As well as establishing these working groups, we will continue to work with the music industry to understand the difficulties they face and help them access support through these challenging times and through recovery.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the COVID-19 emergency funding that Arts Council England made available was accessible to (1) commercial musicians, and (2) music businesses who had not previously engaged with that organisation.

The £160 million Arts Council England funding was allocated across three programmes as follows:

  • £20 million available for individual practitioners, including £4 million distributed by seven benevolent funds supporting individuals working in arts and culture

  • £50 million made available for organisations outside the Arts Council’s National Portfolio

  • £90 million made available for the Arts Council’s National Portfolio Organisations and Creative People and Places organisations.

Individuals and organisations outside the Arts Council’s National Portfolio, including those from the commercial music sector were eligible to apply for the first two programmes. Applicants were required to have a track record of working in the publicly-funded culture sector within the last three years, but were still eligible even if they did not have prior direct contact with Arts Council England.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to measure whether COVID-19 related Government support, and in particular the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, is protecting jobs and businesses in the music industry.

While we have not completed a specific survey for the music sector, we have analysed the wider Creative Industries sector through the DCMS Coronavirus Impact Business Survey, which provides information on the effects of the pandemic on DCMS’ sectors. Results are published on gov.uk and further analysis of the responses will be available in the coming weeks.

We appreciate that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to the music industry and we know that freelancers and individual artists are facing enormous difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. The Government’s response has been one of the most generous and comprehensive in the world, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and the Bounceback Loan Scheme business rates reliefs. In addition, the Government has adapted the welfare system so that the self-employed can access Universal Credit in full, to help people get quicker and more generous support when they need it most.

We continue to speak with HM Treasury colleagues to ensure that the full spectrum of government support reaches the UK's world-leading music industry.

The Secretary of State has recently received the open letter signed by numerous artists and performers, in support of the “#Let the Music Play” campaign. We are committed to continuing to work with the music industry to understand the difficulties they face and help them access support through these challenging times and through recovery.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of international examples of sector-specific support for (1) the live music sector, and (2) the music sector, particularly examples of good practice.

We are aware of, and monitor, examples of support for the music industry in other countries. The UK Government has put in place an unprecedented support package for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency including:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

  • The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

  • The Bounceback Loan Scheme

  • Expanding eligibility for the business rates reliefs

As well as this, to support the safe re-opening of cultural and creative sectors, DCMS has launched the Cultural Renewal Taskforce. This includes several working groups to develop practical guidance on how the music production and performance sectors can operate safely with social distancing measures in place. As well as establishing these working groups, we will continue to work with the music industry to understand the difficulties they face and help them access support through these challenging times and recovery.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether live music venues that cannot comply with physical distancing and therefore have no income will continue to be supported for the duration of physical distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We continue to work closely with the live music sector to understand the impact of Covid-19 on their activities and provide the necessary support.

We have announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency. Support packages have been improved upon and further have been introduced as a result of continued sector engagement with Government, including: the introduction of the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, which has benefited businesses unable to access CBILS; the removal of a rateable value link for business rates relief for all eligible properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector; and the extension of the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
18th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance, if any, they plan to provide to (1) musicians, and (2) actors, whose work has been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chancellor has been clear on strengthening the safety-net for the self-employed and has announced a range of measures from which they will benefit. The next Income Tax Self-Assessment payments, due in July, will be deferred for that month. Self-employed individuals in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and who are unable to pay their tax on time or have existing liabilities are also eligible for Time to Pay. HMRC have set up a dedicated helpline to enable those eligible to get practical help and advice which can be reached by calling 0800 0159 559.

Freelancers and the self-employed may also benefit through the welfare system, including the £1,000 per annum increase in the Universal Credit standard allowance, the equivalent increase in the basic rate of Working Tax Credit and the uprating of Local Housing Allowance.

We are also temporarily relaxing the Minimum Income Floor for all self-employed Universal Credit claimants for the duration of the outbreak. This means a drop in earnings due to sickness or self-isolation or as a result of the economic impact of the outbreak will be reflected in claimants’ awards. Universal Credit can be claimed online or via phone, meaning self-employed claimants will not be required to attend the jobcentre for this.

Additionally, self-employed people unable to work because they are directly affected by Covid-19 or self-isolating will also be eligible for Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. As announced at Budget, this is now payable from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
18th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to support those who work in the creative industries during the shutdown of theatres, cinemas and other venues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced additional measures to support businesses and organisations that have been impacted by the pandemic.

This includes the Government stepping in to help pay people’s wages – a scheme which is one of the most generous of any in the world – paying grants to support as many jobs as necessary. Any employer in the country who promises to retain their staff, can apply for a grant to cover most of the cost of paying people’s wages. Government grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month, with this limit set well above the median income. The cost of wages will be backdated to 1st March and will be open for at least three months. The Government will consider extending the scheme for longer if necessary.

We are also deferring the next three months of VAT, a direct injection of £33 billion of cash to employers which means no business will pay any VAT in March, April or May; and they will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will now be interest free for twelve months, an extension from the initial announcement of six months. We have already introduced and announced an extension to the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which is for small and medium-sized businesses. On Tuesday, the Chancellor expanded the amount that can be borrowed from £1.2 million to £5 million.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
18th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to support individuals who work in theatres, cinemas, and other entertainment venues which do not have pandemic insurance cover.

Last week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced additional measures to support businesses and organisations that have been impacted by the pandemic.

This includes the Government stepping in to help pay people’s wages – a scheme which is one of the most generous of any in the world – paying grants to support as many jobs as necessary. Any employer in the country who promises to retain their staff, can apply for a grant to cover most of the cost of paying people’s wages. Government grants will cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month, with this limit set well above the median income. The cost of wages will be backdated to 1st March and will be open for at least three months. The Government will consider extending the scheme for longer if necessary.

We are also deferring the next three months of VAT, a direct injection of £33 billion of cash to employers which means no business will pay any VAT in March, April or May; and they will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will now be interest free for twelve months, an extension from the initial announcement of six months. We have already introduced and announced an extension to the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which is for small and medium-sized businesses. On Tuesday, the Chancellor expanded the amount that can be borrowed from £1.2 million to £5 million.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to respond to the recommendation of the Co-op report The Ghosted Generation, published on 9 September, to appoint a Youth Minister.

At the end of 2020, 57.2% of 16 to 24 year olds were in education and training, the highest proportion on record. Whilst 11.5% of this age group were not in education, employment, or training (NEET), at the end of 2020, it is one of the lowest rates on record, the lowest being 11% at the end of 2017.

Ministers at the Department for Education are aware of, and addressing, the issues highlighted by the Co-op report. The Department for Education and the Department for Work and Pensions are working jointly to monitor NEET rates, considering ways to support young people to continue developing the skills they will need for the future.

Local authorities have a statutory duty to identify and support young people who are NEET. All 16 and 17 year olds are entitled to an offer of a suitable place in education or training under the September Guarantee, regardless of qualifications gained.

A range of provision is available for young people aged 16 to 24 to equip them with the skills and experience they need to progress. This includes traineeships that prepare young people for apprenticeships and work through a combination of sector-focused skills development and work experience, and supported internships offering tailored support for young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

The Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge for Schools and Colleges programme provides targeted local and regional support on NEET prevention, to raise aspirations of young people in areas of disadvantage and support their post-education progression. It also offers support for local authorities to help them support young people during this time. This includes support activities for staff, teachers, and careers advisors to engage young people, and training workshops to develop knowledge.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of research into young people's views on COVID-19 conducted by the Co-op, The Ghosted Generation, published 9 on September, which found that (1) two-thirds said job competition had increased during the pandemic, and (2) almost one third felt less likely to continue with futher education due to it; and what steps they intend to take to reverse this trend.

At the end of 2020, 57.2% of 16 to 24 year olds were in education and training, the highest proportion on record. Whilst 11.5% of this age group were not in education, employment, or training (NEET), at the end of 2020, it is one of the lowest rates on record, the lowest being 11% at the end of 2017.

Ministers at the Department for Education are aware of, and addressing, the issues highlighted by the Co-op report. The Department for Education and the Department for Work and Pensions are working jointly to monitor NEET rates, considering ways to support young people to continue developing the skills they will need for the future.

Local authorities have a statutory duty to identify and support young people who are NEET. All 16 and 17 year olds are entitled to an offer of a suitable place in education or training under the September Guarantee, regardless of qualifications gained.

A range of provision is available for young people aged 16 to 24 to equip them with the skills and experience they need to progress. This includes traineeships that prepare young people for apprenticeships and work through a combination of sector-focused skills development and work experience, and supported internships offering tailored support for young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

The Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge for Schools and Colleges programme provides targeted local and regional support on NEET prevention, to raise aspirations of young people in areas of disadvantage and support their post-education progression. It also offers support for local authorities to help them support young people during this time. This includes support activities for staff, teachers, and careers advisors to engage young people, and training workshops to develop knowledge.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay on 22 March (HL14145), what plans they have to assess the annual cost of removing interest payments from the student loans of (1) health, and (2) social care, workers.

There are no current plans to assess the annual cost of removing interest payments from the student loans of health or social care workers.

The student loans system is designed to protect borrowers, including those who are employed in health and social care. Repayments are made based on a borrower’s monthly or weekly income, not the interest rate or amount borrowed. Only those who earn above the repayment threshold are required to make repayments. The repayment threshold is £27,295 per year from April 2021, or its monthly or weekly equivalent. Any outstanding debt, including interest accrued, is written off after 30 years with no detriment to the borrower.

The vast majority of students who do not fully pay back their loans (an estimated 75% of Plan 2 loans given out in the 2019/20 academic year) would see no reduction in their lifetime repayments, because this part of their borrowing is already written off: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/student-loan-forecasts-for-england/2019-20.

Our income-based repayment system means that those who benefit the most from their education repay their fair share. The repayment system also helps to ensure that costs are split fairly between borrowers and the taxpayer. In total, the government subsidises around 50% of the overall cost of higher education, making a conscious investment in the skills and people of this country.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the annual cost of removing interest payments from the student loans of health and social care workers.

The student loans system is designed to protect borrowers, including those who are employed in health and social care. Repayments are made based on a borrower’s monthly or weekly income, not the interest rate or amount borrowed, and no repayments are made for earnings below the repayment thresholds. Any outstanding debt, including interest accrued, is written off at the end of the loan term with no detriment to the borrower.

The people who would benefit most from an interest rate reduction are those high-earning borrowers who pay back all, or very nearly all, their student loans. The vast majority of those people who do not fully pay back their loans would not benefit because this part of their borrowing is written off. The government has not produced costings for the specific proposal to reduce student loan interest rates for health and social care workers.

In total, the government subsidises around 50% of the overall cost of higher education, making a conscious investment in the skills and people of this country. From September 2020, all eligible new and continuing nursing, midwifery and many allied health students on pre-registration courses at English universities are able to receive at least £5,000 per academic year of additional maintenance grant funding that they will not need to pay back.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their timetable for the introduction of a new national plan for music education.

To gather views on how the National Plan for Music Education could be refreshed and strengthened, the Department launched a Call for Evidence on 9 February 2020, which then closed on 13 March 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, analysis of the Call for Evidence and the refresh of the National Plan is currently on hold. The results of the Call for Evidence, the department’s response to it, and the refreshed Plan will be published in due course.

19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of male teachers; and what plans they have to encourage men to enter the teaching profession.

As of November 2019, there were over 117,000 full time equivalent male teachers in the state funded sector.

One of our top priorities is to ensure that we continue to attract the high-quality teachers we need, regardless of their gender. We have announced plans for salaries for new teachers to rise to £30,000 by academic year 2022/23. This will make starting salaries significantly more competitive in the graduate labour market.

In addition, we are continuing to offer bursaries, worth up to £24,000, to encourage graduates to train to teach high priority subjects, such as chemistry, computing, mathematics and physics. Candidates with (or expecting) a 2:2 or above, in all subjects, can also access free one-to-one support throughout their journey into teaching from our Teacher Training Advisers.

Our ‘Teaching – Every Lesson Shapes A Life’ recruitment campaign is targeted at audiences of students, recent graduates and potential career changers inclusive of all genders, and the department takes every effort to ensure that our advertising is fully reflective of this across the full range of marketing materials we use.

We are also working to increase the diversity of the existing teaching workforce. That is why, in October 2018, we published our Statement of Intent, setting out our commitment to increasing the diversity of the teaching workforce alongside ten key sector co-signatories who also pledged supporting activity.

24th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government why colleges were not included in the £1 billion student catch-up programme.

Many further education providers are already open for 16 to 19 learners on the first year of a two-year study programme and all learners under 19 years old can be offered a face-to-face meeting before the end of the summer term - subject to the required safety measures being met. Our guidance on how to phase the return of learners in further education is underpinned by our latest understanding of COVID-19 and we will continue to be led by the scientific evidence.

From Autumn 2020, all learners, including those who are 16 to 19 and adults will return to a full high-quality education programme delivered by their college or post 16 learning provider. This is as well as continuing to re-introduce face to-face support for 16 to 19 learners who are:

  • in their first year of a study programme
  • taking their exams next year

Colleges should plan on the basis that, from September 2020, all learners will return to a full high-quality education programme.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will continue to pay grant funded providers their scheduled monthly profiled payments for the remainder of the 2019/20 funding year and for 2020/21 which should give colleges the security of their agreed funding allocations. For colleges that are experiencing significant financial difficulties, the existing support arrangements remain in place, including short-term emergency funding. The further education commissioner and his highly experienced team are able to talk through plans, concerns and issues as are local ESFA teams.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister announced a £1 billion support package for schools to help pupils catch up on lost teaching time. It is our ambition that all students have the chance to make up for lost education and where breaks in learning have been required, we want to ensure learners can resume their ‘classroom’ learning and continue to a successful completion. We will continue to work with the sector to establish the best way to support students to make up for the disruption due to COVID-19.

24th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to enable colleges to reopen safely; and what assessment they have made of the remarks by the Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges that colleges face a £2 billion income loss next year and some will go bankrupt unless they receive emergency help.

Many further education providers are already open for 16 to 19 learners on the first year of a two-year study programme and all learners under 19 years old can be offered a face-to-face meeting before the end of the summer term - subject to the required safety measures being met. Our guidance on how to phase the return of learners in further education is underpinned by our latest understanding of COVID-19 and we will continue to be led by the scientific evidence.

From Autumn 2020, all learners, including those who are 16 to 19 and adults will return to a full high-quality education programme delivered by their college or post 16 learning provider. This is as well as continuing to re-introduce face to-face support for 16 to 19 learners who are:

  • in their first year of a study programme
  • taking their exams next year

Colleges should plan on the basis that, from September 2020, all learners will return to a full high-quality education programme.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will continue to pay grant funded providers their scheduled monthly profiled payments for the remainder of the 2019/20 funding year and for 2020/21 which should give colleges the security of their agreed funding allocations. For colleges that are experiencing significant financial difficulties, the existing support arrangements remain in place, including short-term emergency funding. The further education commissioner and his highly experienced team are able to talk through plans, concerns and issues as are local ESFA teams.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister announced a £1 billion support package for schools to help pupils catch up on lost teaching time. It is our ambition that all students have the chance to make up for lost education and where breaks in learning have been required, we want to ensure learners can resume their ‘classroom’ learning and continue to a successful completion. We will continue to work with the sector to establish the best way to support students to make up for the disruption due to COVID-19.

17th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will continue the provision of food vouchers for children in need beyond the summer period.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

During this period, we are asking schools to support children who are eligible for and claiming benefits-related free school meals at home, by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children, and we encourage this approach where it is possible. Where this is not possible, we have introduced a national voucher scheme to provide headteachers with additional flexibility to decide what is best for families at their schools. Edenred has reported that over £183 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme as of Wednesday 24 June.

More information about the national voucher scheme is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term time only. However, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer. To reflect this, we will be providing additional funding for a COVID Summer Food Fund which will enable families with children who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals to receive food vouchers covering the 6-week holiday period.

Our guidance on the COVID Summer Food Fund is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-summer-food-fund.

Through the COVID Summer Food Fund, schools can support eligible pupils with a £90 voucher to cover the 6-week holiday period. Schools must order the vouchers at least one week before their school term ends. If a school receives a claim for an eligible child during the final week before the school’s summer holidays, it will be possible for the school to place an exceptional order for that child via our supplier Edenred.

We are working to ensure all children can return in September, allowing them to have their free school meal at school. The department will be setting out more detail on plans for September in due course.

15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to add the history of the slave trade to the school curriculum.

The history curriculum gives teachers and schools the freedom and flexibility to use specific examples from history to teach pupils about the history of Britain and the wider world. Schools and teachers can determine which examples, topics and resources to use to stimulate and challenge pupils and reflect key points in history.

There are opportunities within the themes and eras of the history curriculum for teachers and schools to teach the history of the slave trade at key stages 1 to 3. Schools can teach it at key stage 1, when teaching about events beyond living memory that are significant nationally or globally or the lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements; at key stage 2, when teaching about the Roman Empire and its impact on Britain, or a study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066 ; and at key stage 3, where within the theme “ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain, 1745-1901” a specific example is given of “Britain’s transatlantic slave trade: its effects and its eventual abolition”. The local history study element within each key stage offers opportunities to teach about the slave trade in relation to Britain. The slave trade also falls within the scope of the subject content set out for GCSE History.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whey they suspended the Regulating Independent Educational Institutions consultation, rather than extending the timeframe for submissions; and what steps they are taking to ensure the (1) safety, and (2) education, of pupils who attend these institutions.

It is an important principle that consultations take account of the groups being consulted and are conducted in a way that enables interested parties to express their view. We were concerned that completing the consultation while many stakeholders had their operation disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak may not fairly provide all stakeholders with an opportunity to respond as they would like, undermining the value of the consultation. The department therefore suspended the consultation before it was due to end. The department intends to reopen the consultation when stakeholders are less likely to be significantly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Responses received to date will be combined with responses received after the consultation reopens and fully reviewed after the consultation finally closes.

It is not yet appropriate to set a date for reopening the consultation as the situation in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak continues to change. Similarly, the consultation was not extended because it was not clear what date would be reasonable to conclude the consultation at this stage.

Ofsted continues to investigate potential illegal schools including consideration of new intelligence. Where appropriate, Ofsted have liaised with local authorities and other statutory bodies to consider whether there is appropriate action that should be taken, for example, to close settings where people are gathering illegally during the COVID-19 outbreak.

18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether disciplinary measures (1) can, and (2) will, be instigated against teachers who refuse to return to work on the grounds that they fear contracting COVID-19.

The department’s guidance on implementing protective measures explains who should and should not attend nurseries and schools, and sets out the measures that should be followed for staff that are either clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable, or who live with someone in either of these groups. This guidance can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings.

Whilst other staff should be able to come into school, it is natural that some staff will be worried about doing so even if the risks for them are very low. In agreeing the best approach for their schools, headteachers and school leaders should work closely with employees and unions, where appropriate. School leaders will be in the best position, knowing their staff and school circumstances, to decide how to proceed in individual cases.

18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to ask schools to stay open during what is normally regarded as the summer holiday period.

There are no plans to open schools during the summer holidays.

The department understands that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused disruption to young people’s education as teachers and parents have had to adapt to remote education. We are doing everything possible to make sure every child, whatever their background, has the support they need to deal with the impact of coronavirus on their education and wellbeing and are working with partners to consider the best ways to deliver this ongoing support.

14th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk of teachers infecting each other with COVID-19 when schools reopen.

Children, young people and teachers’ safety is our top priority. This is why we are taking a phased approach to opening for more children, to limit the risk of increasing the rate of transmission. We have issued guidance to childcare settings, schools and colleges on the protective measures they should put in place to reduce risk further.

This guidance includes advice to reduce the risk of transmission to and between teachers and other staff, for example, by keeping the same staff and teachers with the same class or groups, where possible, and staggering the use of staff rooms and offices to limit occupancy. Schools should talk to staff about plans for wider opening, including discussing whether training to implement protective measures would be helpful.

School teachers and staff are already eligible for testing, and all staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus. Where a child, young person or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class or group within their setting should be sent home and told to self-isolate for 14 days.

14th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what reassurance they can give to teachers, parents and children that they will be safe from contracting COVID-19 when schools reopen; and what financial and other support will be provided should anyone in those categories catch the virus.

We want to get children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to be educated and learn. We will only do this provided that the five key tests set by Government justify the changes at the time.

Children, young people and teachers’ safety is our top priority. This is why we are taking a phased approach to opening for more children, to limit the risk of increasing the rate of transmission. We have also issued guidance to childcare settings, schools and colleges on the protective measures they should put in place to reduce risk further. These include children and young people staying within their new, smaller, classes wherever possible and limiting contact between different groups. We have also set out a range of additional protective measures including frequent cleaning, encouraging good hand and respiratory hygiene, reducing ‘pinch points’ (such as parents dropping children off at the start and end of day), and using outdoor space.

Staff and pupils in all settings will be eligible for testing if they become ill with coronavirus symptoms, as will members of their households. A negative test will enable children and young people to get back to childcare or education, and their parents to get back to work. A positive test will ensure rapid action to protect their classmates and staff in their setting.

With regard to financial support, schools will continue to receive their core funding allocations – as determined by the local authority for maintained schools and through the general annual grant for academies. In addition, we have announced a fund for schools to cover specific additional costs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak; this remains open and should be used by schools as appropriate.

15th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the quantity of (1) brassicas, (2) salad foodstuffs, (3) fruit, and (4) vegetables, that remain unpicked due to a shortage of workers; and what impact they expect this to have on (a) food prices, and (b) the Consumer Price Index.

The Government recognises the importance of a reliable source of labour for crop picking and packing, and that it is a key part of bringing in the harvest for the horticultural sector. Defra is working closely with industry and other Government departments to understand labour supply and demand, and to help our world-leading growers access the labour they need to ensure our crops are picked and not wasted.

On 22 December 2020, the Government extended the Seasonal Workers Pilot into 2021, with up to 30,000 visas available, granted for workers to come to the UK, from EU or non-EU countries, for a period of up to 6 months to pick and package fruit and vegetables on our farms.

In 2021 and beyond, agricultural and food businesses continue to be able to rely on EU nationals living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status. Over 5.3 million EU citizens and their families have been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme and EU nationals who have settled status can continue to travel to the UK to do seasonal work in the horticulture sector in 2021.

Defra is working with industry and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to raise awareness of career opportunities within the food and farming sectors among UK workers. All horticultural and agricultural businesses are encouraged to advertise roles through DWP’s Find A Job website, where they can upload and manage their vacancies. The DWP does not charge for this service and it is available across the United Kingdom.

Defra is leading on a review of automation in horticulture, which will cover both the edible and ornamental sectors in England. The review will work alongside the extended and expanded Seasonal Workers Pilot - and Defra’s efforts to attract more UK residents into agricultural work – to support the overall aim of reducing the sector’s dependency on seasonal migrant labour.

Defra monitors both wholesale fruit and vegetable prices, and food prices on a weekly basis using the Office for National Statistics’ experimental food price indices, as well as on a monthly and annual basis using Consumer Price Index (including Housing Costs). Consumer food prices depend on a range of factors including agri-food import prices, domestic agricultural prices, domestic labour and manufacturing costs, and Sterling exchange rates. Changes in food prices are dependent on changes in any of these factors.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to assist local authority waste and recycling departments with driver shortages.

We are aware of some current impacts driver shortages are having on local authorities. We continue to work with the Department for Transport and the other departments to resolve this.

The Government recently announced a significant package of measures, including plans to streamline the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence, and increased capacity for HGV driving tests. As driver shortages across Europe demonstrate, this is a widespread problem caused by a range of factors, including an ageing workforce.

We are moving to a high wage, high skilled economy and the government is encouraging all sectors to adapt and make employment more attractive to UK domestic workers through offering training, careers options and wage increases. The waste sector is already making good strides in this, highlighting that many rounds can be conducted close to home with defined hours, promoting a healthy work/life balance.

More information about the measures we are taking to tackle the haulier shortage is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/more-support-to-help-people-to-become-hgv-drivers-among-package-of-government-measures-to-ease-risk-of-shortages

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to meet their target for planting trees outlined in the Queen’s Speech.

The Government has committed to increasing tree planting in the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by the end of this Parliament. The England Trees Action Plan (ETAP), which was published in May, sets out our target of trebling woodland creation in England to reflect its contribution to that target. The ETAP is supported through £500 million from the Nature for Climate Fund. This funding will support tree planting and protection during this Parliament.

We also continue to work closely with the Devolved Administrations to ensure we are on track collectively to deliver the commitment.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reported comments made by the Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations that the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement is a “betrayal” of the fishing industry.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement sets our future relationship with the EU as an independent coastal State and reflects the UK’s regulatory autonomy to manage fisheries within our waters.

The agreement also provides for an uplift in UK shares of quota equal to 25% of the value of the average annual EU catch from UK waters, and will be phased in over five years with the majority of this value (15%) being transferred in the first year (2021). Based on Total Allowable Catch and prices at the time the negotiations concluded, it is estimated that the full quota uplifts in 2026 could provide around £146 million more quota than the UK had as a Member State.

The agreement provides for an adjustment period in which there will be continued access to fish in UK and EU waters. From 1 July 2026, access will be a matter for negotiation as is normal for coastal States.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure the supply of fresh UK grown cauliflowers in shops.

Cauliflower is an important field vegetable for the UK, worth £57m at farmgate in 2019[1]. Defra is taking a number of steps to ensure our delicious home-grown cauliflowers are supplied to shops in both the short- and longer-term.

On 22 December 2020, the Government extended the Seasonal Workers Pilot into 2021, with up to 30,000 visas available, granted for workers to come to the UK, from EU or non-EU countries, for a period of up to six months to pick and package fruit and vegetables on our farms.

In 2021 and beyond, agricultural and food businesses will continue to be able to rely on EU nationals living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status. Over 5.1 million EU citizens and their families have been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

Defra is working with industry and the Department for Work and Pensions to raise awareness of career opportunities within the food and farming sectors among UK workers.

We will also explore the potential for automation to meet future labour demands of the sector. Defra is leading on a review of automation in horticulture, which will cover both the edible and ornamental sectors in England. The review will support the overall aim of reducing the sector’s dependency on seasonal migrant labour.

Defra is aware of the impact haulier shortages could have on the supply chains, including for horticulture products like cauliflower. We are working closely with the sector to understand these impacts. Overall, the UK’s food supply is highly resilient. The food industry is well versed in dealing with scenarios that can impact food supply.

[1] Provisional statistic Latest horticulture statistics - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the current state of the sugar beet industry.

Defra's reach and engagement with the agri-food sector is extensive and well-established. This includes regular contact with producers and processors in the UK sugar industry, including British Sugar.

Through the UK Agricultural Market Monitoring Group, we monitor UK agricultural markets, including for sugar beet, looking at price, supply, and trade. This provides forewarning of any atypical market movements or shocks.

The NFU is recognised by Defra to represent all sugar beet growers in the UK due to the nature of the UK Market with British Sugar the sole processor and buyer of Sugar beet. NFU Sugar negotiates on UK Sugar beet growers’ collective behalf to ensure fair contract terms and prices.

Current issues for sugar beet growers include the control of pests (aphids) and yellow virus, along with weather related problems - such as dry springs affecting crop establishment and wet conditions during the campaign harvests. We welcomed British Sugar's work with Rothamsted to predict levels of yellow virus early in the growing season. This meant that emergency use of neonicotinoid seed treatment was not needed in 2021.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the Food and Drink Federation Trade Snapshot: Q1 2021, published on 18 June, what assessment they have made of whether the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement is connected to a 47 per cent reduction in UK food exports to the EU between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021.

The latest published data from HM Revenue & Customs shows that exports of food, feed and drink to the EU totalled £2.1 billion in the first three months of 2021. This is 33% lower than the same period in 2020. There are many factors that cause fluctuations in export volumes and values, with the impacts of COVID-19 and businesses adapting to EU import requirements contributing over the last year.

We recognise that for some of our sectors EU import requirements are challenging and the Government is committed to supporting businesses in understanding and complying with the new processes that apply. We are also supporting businesses to capitalise on export opportunities across the world created through Free Trade Agreements. The Department for International Trade’s ‘open doors’ campaign provides exporters with market intelligence and a range of tools and resources to boost export capability.

We have produced guidance and supporting resources such as webinars to help businesses understand the new rules. These set out import requirements and the steps businesses need to take to comply with them. This includes a particular focus on tailored support for SMEs. We recognise that a key issue is a lack of consistency of how EU requirements are being applied at different border posts. Defra officials hold regular technical meetings with their counterparts in EU Member States to address this and ensure the process is as smooth and consistent as possible for exporters and importers.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what assessment they have made of the increase in the rat population in the UK, and (2) what steps they are taking to ensure that environmental health officials have sufficient resources to deal with this issue.

Defra does not hold data on the UK’s rat population. However, in 2018 Natural England published A Review of the Population and Conservation Status of British Mammals. This provides an estimate of the British population of brown rats to be around seven million. While this suggests a potential 7% increase since 1995, owing to the lack of data on the size or density of brown rat populations, it should not be used to confirm any view on recent changes in the population.

Under The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949, local authorities have a duty to deal with infestations of rats and mice. Local authorities have the flexibility to allocate resources to address local priorities, based on an assessment of risk. The Government is supporting regulatory services teams, which includes environmental health teams, through the Regulatory Services Task and Finish Group, which was established to help coordinate central government’s expectation of regulatory services teams in local government and to propose short and long-term options to support these essential services.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they are taking to reduce ocean pollution.

The UK Government is committed to leading efforts to protect the marine environment from all human-induced stressors. Marine litter is one of the greatest environmental challenges we face with 80% of marine plastic litter originating from land-based sources, and predictions of a threefold increase in the amount of plastics in the ocean between 2015 and 2025.

Domestically, assessments in the UK Marine Strategy Part One (published in October 2019) show that Good Environmental Status for contaminants in UK waters has largely been achieved, though not yet for marine litter. The UK Marine Strategy Part Three (published in December 2015) sets out the comprehensive list of actions that the UK Government is taking to reduce contaminant concentrations in the marine environment to acceptable levels. Existing measures include various pollution reduction requirements for emissions and discharges from industry, and measures for coastal waters that are set out in the River Basin Management Plans. We intend to publish an update to Part Three this year, outlining the programme of measures that will continue to move us towards Good Environmental Status in our seas.

Our 25 Year Environment Plan also establishes our target of reducing all forms of marine plastic pollution where possible, with our Resources and Waste Strategy setting out how we will achieve this. The Strategy includes a commitment to review and consult on measures such as Extended Producer Responsibility for fishing gear by 2022.

Given the trans-boundary nature of the marine environment, we work closely with other countries to tackle pollution, for example through the OSPAR Convention. The UK also contributes to and implements the obligations of several global initiatives, including the London Protocol and the London Convention, to protect the marine environment from mercury, persistent organic pollutants, hazardous wastes, hazardous chemicals, pesticides and marine litter.

In 2018, the UK and Vanuatu launched the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, a Blue Charter Action Group, now comprising 34 countries, each pledging action on plastic pollution. To support this work, the UK has committed up to £70 million to tackle plastics pollution entering our ocean. This includes boosting global research, supporting developing countries to address ambitions under the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, as well as testing and finding alternative ways in which plastics can be reduced, reused or recycled and making efforts to transition to more sustainable forms of manufacturing.

The UK has also launched a £500 million Blue Planet Fund, financed from Official Development Assistance, to help eligible countries protect their marine resources from key human-generated threats including climate change, marine pollution such as marine litter, overfishing and biodiversity loss.

Due to the scale of the marine litter challenge, the UK believes it is also time to start negotiations on a new global agreement on marine litter and microplastics at the United Nations Environment Assembly. This would build on the important work we are doing to tackle marine litter both domestically and internationally and support our commitments to eliminate plastic entering the ocean.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the study Capsar Hallmann et al 'Declines in insectivorous birds are associated with high neonicotinoid concentrations', published in Nature on 9 July 2014; and in particular its finding that the impact of pesticides on insects could have consequential effects on other animals which rely on them for food.

Pesticides can only be used if they are authorised and this process addresses the issues identified in these studies. Authorisation of each pesticide product depends on the outcome of a detailed risk assessment which includes impacts on people, animals and the environment. If there are found to be unacceptable risks to, for example, pollinators and aquatic invertebrates, the product is not authorised. A specific pesticide which posed unacceptable risks to non-target organisms would not be authorised. This process considers effects on local populations of insects and so limits the risks to other animals such as birds that feed on them.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) lies at the heart of our approach to maximise the use of non-chemical control techniques and minimise the use of chemical pesticides. IPM means that pesticide users can reduce the associated risks (including indirect effects), combat pest resistance, and support agricultural productivity. This includes increasing the use of nature-based, low toxicity solutions and precision technologies, with potential to enhance biodiversity, including to benefit pollinators.

Our approach is detailed in the draft revised ‘National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides’ (NAP), which sets out the ambition to improve indicators of pesticide usage, risk and impacts. This was the subject of a recent public consultation, with over 1500 responses now being analysed. The summary of responses will be published by the end of summer 2021 and the revised NAP later this year.

Furthermore, our new schemes that reward the delivery of environmental benefits ‘The Sustainable Farming Incentive’, the ‘Local Nature Recovery scheme’ and the ‘Landscape Recovery scheme’ will encourage actions that support IPM and biodiversity, including conserving and enhancing habitats for bees and other pollinators.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they are taking to improve publicly available data on pesticide use, in order to reverse global wildlife diversity decline.

The Government is developing a Pesticide Load Indicator which takes account of both the chemical properties of pesticides used and the weight applied. Additionally, further research is being conducted to improve the long-term monitoring of the environmental effects of pesticides, including work on honey and soil monitoring. Much of this research will be published later this year.

We are also working with the Health and Safety Executive to make improvements to the availability of data from the Pesticide Usage Survey.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made towards fulfilling their promise to improve the current monitoring system for pesticides beyond measuring the weight of chemicals.

The Government is developing a Pesticide Load Indicator which takes account of both the chemical properties of pesticides used and the weight applied. Additionally, further research is being conducted to improve the long-term monitoring of the environmental effects of pesticides, including work on honey and soil monitoring. Much of this research will be published later this year.

We are also working with the Health and Safety Executive to make improvements to the availability of data from the Pesticide Usage Survey.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the research by Professor Ralf Schulz of the University Koblenz and Landau 'Applied pesticide toxicity shifts towards plants and invertebrates, even in GM crops', published in Science in April, which shows that as pesticides become more specific, they become more toxic to ‘non-target organisms’ like pollinators and aquatic invertebrates.

Pesticides can only be used if they are authorised and this process addresses the issues identified in these studies. Authorisation of each pesticide product depends on the outcome of a detailed risk assessment which includes impacts on people, animals and the environment. If there are found to be unacceptable risks to, for example, pollinators and aquatic invertebrates, the product is not authorised. A specific pesticide which posed unacceptable risks to non-target organisms would not be authorised. This process considers effects on local populations of insects and so limits the risks to other animals such as birds that feed on them.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) lies at the heart of our approach to maximise the use of non-chemical control techniques and minimise the use of chemical pesticides. IPM means that pesticide users can reduce the associated risks (including indirect effects), combat pest resistance, and support agricultural productivity. This includes increasing the use of nature-based, low toxicity solutions and precision technologies, with potential to enhance biodiversity, including to benefit pollinators.

Our approach is detailed in the draft revised ‘National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides’ (NAP), which sets out the ambition to improve indicators of pesticide usage, risk and impacts. This was the subject of a recent public consultation, with over 1500 responses now being analysed. The summary of responses will be published by the end of summer 2021 and the revised NAP later this year.

Furthermore, our new schemes that reward the delivery of environmental benefits ‘The Sustainable Farming Incentive’, the ‘Local Nature Recovery scheme’ and the ‘Landscape Recovery scheme’ will encourage actions that support IPM and biodiversity, including conserving and enhancing habitats for bees and other pollinators.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the 2021 study in the Netherlands which found that the impact of pesticides on insects could have knock-on effects on other animals such as birds which rely on them for food.

Pesticides can only be used if they are authorised and this process addresses the issues identified in these studies. Authorisation of each pesticide product depends on the outcome of a detailed risk assessment which includes impacts on people, animals and the environment. If there are found to be unacceptable risks to, for example, pollinators and aquatic invertebrates, the product is not authorised. A specific pesticide which posed unacceptable risks to non-target organisms would not be authorised. This process considers effects on local populations of insects and so limits the risks to other animals such as birds that feed on them.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) lies at the heart of our approach to maximise the use of non-chemical control techniques and minimise the use of chemical pesticides. IPM means that pesticide users can reduce the associated risks (including indirect effects), combat pest resistance, and support agricultural productivity. This includes increasing the use of nature-based, low toxicity solutions and precision technologies, with potential to enhance biodiversity, including to benefit pollinators.

Our approach is detailed in the draft revised ‘National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides’ (NAP), which sets out the ambition to improve indicators of pesticide usage, risk and impacts. This was the subject of a recent public consultation, with over 1500 responses now being analysed. The summary of responses will be published by the end of summer 2021 and the revised NAP later this year.

Furthermore, our new schemes that reward the delivery of environmental benefits ‘The Sustainable Farming Incentive’, the ‘Local Nature Recovery scheme’ and the ‘Landscape Recovery scheme’ will encourage actions that support IPM and biodiversity, including conserving and enhancing habitats for bees and other pollinators.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, what assessment they have made of (1) the use of paraquat in agriculture in the United States of America and Australia, and (2) the use of neonicotinoids in Australia; and what consideration they will give to the use of such chemicals in the negotiation of trade deals with those countries.

We now have full responsibility for regulation of pesticides, alongside the Devolved Administrations in Great Britain. EU pesticides legislation continues to apply in Northern Ireland, under the terms of the NI Protocol.

We believe it is essential that the use of actives that are known to be hazardous to human health or the environment should be subject to scientific risk assessment, mitigation and regulatory protections. This is why we support the listing of paraquat under the Rotterdam convention. We also believe in evidence based international policy making, through the use of scientific committees, such as the Chemical Review Committee, and support the strengthening of the international science:policy interface for chemicals and pesticides to support global decision making.

Furthermore, as part of the UK ambition to be a global leader to protect and restore biodiversity and ecosystems, we continue to work through UN multilateral environmental agreements and frameworks, the wider Defra group and other agencies, to actively promote the widespread use of Integrated Pest Management to minimise the risks and impacts posed by pesticide use.

As we committed to in our manifesto, in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards. Our trade agreements will respect the regulatory autonomy of both the UK and our trading partners, and decisions on standards will remain a matter for the UK Government and Devolved Administrations, including on pesticides.

We will ensure decisions on the use of pesticides are based on careful scientific assessment and will not authorise pesticides that may carry unacceptable risks to people or the environment. All agri-food products imported into the UK under existing or future free trade agreements will, as now, comply with our import requirements.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the population of native bees; and what assessment they have made of the extent to which any such plans will (1) improve pollination, and (2) boost production of UK farming crops.

Pollinators are a priority for this Government. The National Pollinator Strategy sets out actions we are taking, with our many partners, to improve the status of bees and other pollinators in England on farmland and other areas.

Our actions include restoring and creating habitat for bees and other wild and managed pollinators to thrive; acting on the pressures that impact on pollinators, including by supporting Integrated Pest Management (IPM); providing advice and raising awareness across society so that they can take action themselves; and supporting new monitoring and research. The Healthy Bees Plan 2030 sets out further action to improve honeybee health, alongside beekeeping associations and other stakeholders.

In 2019 we published a synthesis of the evidence on the status of UK pollinators and pollination services. This assessment found evidence of declines or range contractions in wild bees and other insects but trends in the pollination service are less well understood. For this reason, it is also difficult to make predictions about changes in crop yield.

We do know however that insect pollination directly increases the quantity and quality of yield in many crops in the UK. We also know that impacts of sub-optimal pollination have been identified in UK fruit crops. Boosting pollinator numbers therefore increases resilience and protects against risks to yield and maintains their crucial role in wild plant pollination.

Research in this area is ongoing. For example, the publicly-funded Global Food Security programme’s ‘Resilient Pollinators’ project is looking at the implications of future land use change for the resilience of pollination services to UK agriculture.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they are taking to ensure that this year’s agricultural crops do not go to waste.

Defra is working closely with industry and other Government departments to understand labour supply and demand, and to help our world-leading growers access the labour they need to ensure our crops are picked and not wasted.

The Seasonal Workers Pilot has been expanded for one year, with 30,000 visas granted for workers to come to the UK, from EU or non-EU countries, for a period of up to six months to pick and package fruit and vegetables on our farms.

In 2021 and beyond, food and farming businesses will continue to be able to rely on EU nationals living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status. Over 4.9 million EU citizens and their families have been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and the application deadline is 30 June 2021. EU nationals who have settled status can continue to travel to the UK to do seasonal work in 2021.

The Government is encouraging the horticulture sector to make employment more attractive to UK domestic workers through offering training, careers options, wage increases and to invest in automation technology.

To help with these efforts, Defra will build on the success of last year’s domestic recruitment campaign, working with industry and the DWP to raise awareness of career opportunities within the horticulture sector among UK workers. We will also explore the potential for automation to meet future labour demands of the sector.

Defra is leading a Government review of automation in horticulture to understand what is required to accelerate the development and uptake of automation technologies in both the edible and ornamental sectors, in England, with the view to reducing the sector’s long-term dependency on seasonal migrant labour. The review’s final report will be published in the summer of 2021 and inform a range of policy decisions regarding automation and seasonal labour from 2022 onwards.

Lord Benyon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of South Africa about the banning of hunting of (1) lions, and (2) other so-called "trophy” animals.

This Government takes the conservation of endangered species in the UK and internationally very seriously, which is why we will be banning the import of hunting trophies from endangered species. Officials have engaged with a range of stakeholders to inform our approach on this matter, including officials from the Government of South Africa. Our approach will be comprehensive, robust and effective, and we will deliver the change we promised to deliver to help protect thousands of species worldwide. We will be setting out our detailed plans soon.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to establish a register of those convicted of cruelty to animals; and if so, when such a register will be established.

The Government takes the issue of animal welfare very seriously. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 (the Act) was granted Royal Assent on the 29 April 2021. This realises the Government’s manifesto commitment to increase the sentences available to our courts for the most serious cases of animal cruelty. The Act will come into force on the 29 June 2021 increasing the maximum custodial penalty for animal cruelty offences to five years’ imprisonment, providing one of the toughest sanctions in Europe and strengthening the UK's position as a global leader on animal welfare. The strengthened penalty sends a clear message that animal cruelty is not tolerated in this country.

All relevant information relating to prosecutions for animal cruelty offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is stored on the Police National Computer. Certain organisations have access to this information, where appropriate to fulfil their public functions. This allows this important information to be securely protected from misuse, and also for it to be available for organisations with a justified need to access this information. In light of this, there are no current plans to establish a public register of those convicted of cruelty to animals.

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 HS2's application to the Environment Agency to tunnel the Mid Chilterns aquifer below the River Misbourne and Shardeloes Lake; and when a decision will be made on the application.

The Environment Agency (EA) has been reviewing the application submitted by HS2 Ltd to tunnel the Mid Chilterns aquifer (including supporting risk assessments undertaken by HS2 Ltd) on a technical basis, using information and data to form judgements. As part of this review, the EA is ensuring that HS2 Ltd have identified and assessed any potential impacts on the environment, and will be making a decision on the application before 7 May 2021. If consent is issued, then it will contain appropriate conditions to protect against any impacts identified.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance they provide to organisations which seek to reduce plastic pollution in oceans.

The UK is committed to protecting the marine environment from all stressors and recognises the importance in involving all actors to tackle the urgent issue of plastic pollution of the ocean.

The Government has funded a package of over £100 million for research and innovation to tackle the issues that arise from plastic waste. This includes £60 million of funding through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, alongside a £150m investment from industry, towards the development of smart, sustainable plastic packaging, which will aim to make the UK a world-leader in sustainable packaging for consumer products.

In 2018, the UK launched the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (CCOA) with its co-chair, Vanuatu, calling on Commonwealth countries to pledge action on plastic pollution. Alongside the CCOA, we have committed up to £70 million to tackle plastic pollution, which supports organisations and initiatives to tackle ocean plastic pollution globally.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the cost per hectare of (1) prime arable land, (2) new woodland, and (3) mature woodland.

Defra purchased arable land price data until 2018, sourced from the Royal Agricultural University Rural Land Market Survey, run by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Defra has also sourced RICS transaction-based data (that include a residential component) for 2019, which is the latest available data set. The data covers the UK and includes regional estimates.

Data for “prime” arable land is not available, and the data is for all classifications of arable land.

The table below shows the latest available arable land price estimates (£/hectare) for the six months to the end of 2018 for survey and the first 6 months of 2019 transaction data respectively:

Country

2018 RICS Survey price (£/ha)

2019 RICS Transaction price (£/ha)

England

20,650

22,258

Scotland

14,826

(Not Available)

Wales

22,857

20,059

Northern Ireland

28,934

28,280

Regional prices in England (2018 RICS survey estimates) range from £19,151 to £22,610 per hectare.

Currently there is no assessment on the cost per hectare of new woodland, and mature woodland as the cost of these woodlands vary significantly depending on location and quality, with many factors contributing to their value.

The general consensus is that established woodland has a typical value of around £10 - 15k per hectare with significant variation around this range depending on size of wood, species composition and volume of timber standing.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of any trend in the number of novel zoonotic diseases that have occurred over the past 30 years; and what steps, if any, they intend to take in response to any such assessment.

There are a number of published studies on the emergence of zoonotic diseases (such as Jones et al. (2008) Nature 451: 990-993), and Defra has contributed to the peer review of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report, an expert opinion of the role of biodiversity and pandemic emergence.

Defra works within a ‘One Health’ approach. This means working across a range of disciplines, recognising that people, animals and plants share one environment and are all interconnected.

Defra’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) routinely carries out surveillance on farms for zoonotic pathogens. It has significant surveillance programmes for tuberculosis, avian influenza, salmonella, brucellosis and anti-microbial resistance.

We respond promptly to outbreaks to minimise the impacts of zoonotic disease associated with farming and farmed products.

The Human Animal Infections & Risk Surveillance group is a cross-government technical group who analyse and assess the risks for new and emerging zoonotic diseases.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of any correlation between the conditions in which livestock used for meat are kept and the emergence of novel zoonotic diseases.

The Government’s assessment is that different types of farming systems can be managed in a professional way as long as they have good biosecurity plans and housing systems to reduce disease transmission.

11th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further (1) to the objections of the Wildlife Trust, and (2) to the statements from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization, about the reported harmful effects of the pesticide neonicotinoid thiamethoxam, what plans they have reverse their decision to allow the use of products containing that pesticide.

The Government continues to support the existing restrictions on neonicotinoids. The Government has always been clear that it can consider applications for emergency authorisations, as defined by the legislation. An emergency authorisation will only be granted where the relevant statutory requirements are met. These are that use of the pesticide is necessary because of a danger which cannot be contained by any other reasonable means, that use is limited and controlled and that there are special circumstances. If these requirements are met, the Government considers whether the benefits of use outweigh any risks to people or to the environment.

After careful consideration of all the issues, the Government has decided to grant an application for emergency authorisation to allow use of Cruiser SB (containing the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam) for the treatment of sugar beet seed in 2021. The authorisation has been issued for the 2021 sugar beet crop only. Use of Cruiser SB or a similar product in any subsequent years would require the submission of a further application. If any further applications are made in the future, they will be fully assessed against the regulatory framework for emergency authorisations.

Sugar beet is a non-flowering crop and the risks to bees from the sugar beet crop itself were assessed to be acceptable. Risks to bees were identified arising from soil residues taken up by flowering weeds or following crops. Mitigation measures were therefore built into the requirements of the emergency authorisation. These included a reduced application rate, effective control of weeds and minimum periods set between the planting of treated sugar beet and a subsequent flowering crop. For most crops this period was set at 22 months but a longer period of 32 months was chosen for oilseed rape as it is particularly attractive to bees.

Under EU legislation Member States may grant emergency authorisations in exceptional circumstances. The UK’s approach to the use of emergency authorisations has not changed as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU. Ten EU countries including Belgium, Denmark and Spain have granted emergency authorisations for neonicotinoid seed treatments since 2018.

23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Indonesia about the treatment of animals, in particular the treatment of endangered species, including the slow loris, in pet markets in that country.

We are proud of our world-leading animal welfare standards, which are backed by a rigorous legislative framework. The Government takes seriously reports of animal cruelty throughout the world and the UK is at the forefront of international efforts to protect endangered animals and plants from poaching and illegal trade.

In 2018, the UK convened the largest ever global IWT conference at which 65 countries signed up to the London Declaration, committing to take urgent, coordinated action against illegal wildlife trade. The IWT Challenge Fund has committed over £26m to 85 projects around the world, including working in Indonesia to building law enforcement capacity and helping communities to protect their wildlife.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether UK musicians will need a CITES permit or an ATA Carnet for musical instruments being transported from Great Britain to Northern Ireland following the end of the transition period for the UK's departure from the EU.

After the Transition Period, controls implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will apply to the movement of CITES specimens between Great Britain (GB) and Northern Ireland (NI). This is as a result of our international obligations under CITES, and the operation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. If a musical instrument contains CITES-listed species (and is not exempted) then CITES documents will be required for movements from GB to NI after 31 December. ATA Carnets cannot be used as an alternative to CITES documentation.

However, after the Transition period, ATA Carnets will become an option for temporarily moving goods between GB, EU and NI. Use of an ATA Carnet is optional and is a commercial decision whether it is the most cost-effective method in each specific circumstance.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the merits of legislating to establish an animal offenders’ register, which could be accessed by the police, animal welfare charities, and pet breeders in England and Wales.

The Government takes the issue of animal welfare very seriously and supports increasing the maximum custodial penalty for animal cruelty offences from six months to five years.

The Police National Computer already records convictions for animal cruelty offences. Certain organisations have access to this information, where appropriate to fulfil their public function. This allows us to securely protect this important information from misuse, and also for it to be available for organisations with a justified need to access this information. If anyone, including animal welfare charities or pet breeders, has concerns about whether someone is keeping animals in contravention of a disqualification order they should report it to the police who can investigate.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the exemptions included in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020 relating to organised outdoor sports on species at risk of extinction.

The Government has exempted over 30 types of sport, exercise and physical activity such as football, rugby and other outdoor pursuits from the gatherings limit. Outdoor activity is safer from a transmission perspective, and it is often easier to social distance. Just as it did before the coronavirus outbreak, the government recognises it is vital that wildlife and habitats are respected and protected, and we ensure a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between outdoor sports and conservation.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have (1) to prevent species extinction, and (2) to work with other nations and international organisations to implement worldwide measures to protect species at risk of extinction.

In England, the 25 Year Environment Plan (YEP) marked a step-change in ambition for wildlife and the natural environment. We are already taking action to fulfil this ambition. We have brought forward the first Environment Bill in over 20 years with ambitious measures to address the biggest environmental priorities of our age, including restoring and enhancing nature. The Bill will set the framework for at least one legally binding target for biodiversity.

Natural England’s Species Recovery Programme supports the recovery of threatened and declining species in partnership with a number of stakeholder organisations. Natural England is also working with conservation organisations on the Back from the Brink programme. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and partners, it aims to save 20 of England’s most threatened animals and plants from extinction, and benefit over 200 other species.

The UK is party to a number of international conventions and agreements aimed at protecting species and ecosystems. Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UK is committed to playing a leading role in the development of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework containing ambitious and practical targets to protect species. The UK is leading the Global Ocean Alliance of countries in support of ambitious ocean action, in particular protecting at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030. We are also investing over £66 million between 2014 to 2024 to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade and we continue to work within the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to ensure that any trade in wildlife is sustainable.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the environmental impact of the disposal of single-use face masks once the wearing of face coverings in shops is made compulsory on 24 July.

We have not carried out an assessment on the environmental impact of the disposal of single-use face masks.

Waste management, including disposal, is regulated through the environmental permitting system in England, which seeks to protect the environment and human health.

Face coverings that will be required in shops are not the same as the single-use surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of their PPE. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace. Instead, the latest Government advice on face coverings provides instructions on how people can make and care for reusable face coverings at home using scarves or other washable textiles, and is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering.

Reusable cloth face coverings are also available to buy from a wide range of retail outlets, including online.

The Government has published guidance on the disposal of face coverings and other PPE during the coronavirus pandemic. This is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-disposing-of-waste

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are providing to (1) zoos, and (2) animal welfare organisations, to enable animals to continue to be looked after throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; and whether furloughed staff from these organisations are still able to provide support to animals on their premises.

We recognise that zoos and other animal welfare organisations are undertaking very valuable work at this time to ensure that the health and welfare needs of the diverse range of animals they care for are well met.

The Government has provided a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support businesses, including zoos and other animal welfare organisations, through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. They are eligible to apply for a range of support schemes including the Job Retention Scheme, VAT deferral, Business Rates Relief, the Business Interruption Loan schemes, the option to reclaim the costs of Statutory Sick Pay and grant funding of up to £25,000.

In addition, specifically for zoos in severe financial distress, the Government has introduced a Zoos Support Fund for licensed zoos in England. Similar support will be provided by the Devolved Administrations. Where a zoo in England is in severe financial distress and has fully explored and exhausted all other reasonable avenues to generate income and reduce costs, then they can apply for this fund. Defra has already written to all licensed zoos in England to make them aware of the COVID-19 support schemes available as well as the new Zoo Support Fund. More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-zoos-and-aquariums

We are in discussion with the animal welfare sector about the issue of support for the organisations working with companion animals and to understand the severe impacts on the sector and their needs.

Defra officials have also been engaging with some of the largest zoos to discuss additional concerns which are arising including over a longer time frame, and active consideration of these is ongoing.

Government guidance states that individuals who are furloughed can volunteer for any organisation that is not their employer.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the remarks made by the United Nations’ poverty expert that (1) their response to COVID-19 has been “utterly hypocritical”, and (2) “the pandemic could push more than half a billion people into poverty globally”.

COVID-19 is the biggest threat this country has faced in a generation – and we are not alone. All over the world we are seeing the devastating impacts of this pandemic – to global health, economies and also more broadly. The UK is a global leader in supporting international efforts in the COVID-19 response, having already pledged £744 million in UK aid. The UK Government is taking decisive and co-ordinated action based on the science and evidence, to mitigate COVID-19’s primary and secondary impacts, both in the UK and in support of the poorest and most vulnerable in developing countries.

The UK Government’s domestic package of support in response to COVID-19 is one of the largest in the world. It provides a cash investment of £7 billion into the welfare system alone to support UK citizens through the current crisis – the biggest ever in Universal Credit.

The UK is also using its foreign aid budget and British expertise to stop the spread of COVID-19 internationally, build resilience in vulnerable countries, find a vaccine, new drugs and therapeutics as well as support the economic response. We are helping to prevent the poorest countries – which represent a quarter of the world’s population - from collapse by supporting their economies and access to skills and education.

By preventing the virus from spreading in the poorest countries, we will save millions of lives and reduce the risk of future waves of infection that could come to the UK.

8th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of making protection of freedom of religion or belief one of the criteria which must be met for the UK to enter into a trade deal; and whether they have plans to introduce such a measure.

HM Government is committed to defending freedom of religion or belief for all. HM Government regularly reports on violations of these freedoms, including in an annual report published by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

We are clear that more trade does not have to come at the expense of rights and responsibilities. We will continue to take a balanced approach with our partners, delivering the best outcome for the United Kingdom, maximising the benefits of trade and upholding our values.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, not to follow the provisions of the UK–Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, agreed on 11 September.

We have no plans not to follow the provisions of the UK–Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, agreed on 11 September. After the agreement is signed, we will lay the full text in parliament. We will also publish a parliamentary report, setting out in detail any areas where there are material differences between the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
14th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to exclude products which are not sustainably produced from future trade deals; and if not, why not.

While the detail of free trade agreements (FTAs) are reserved for formal negotiations, the United Kingdom has publicly committed to negotiating agreements that protect and maintain our high standards on labour and environment. HM Government has been consistently clear in our published outline approaches to FTAs with the US, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia that we will seek strong provisions on sustainability. We will continue to work closely with international partners and business to ensure that future trade is sustainable and upholds the United Kingdom’s high standards.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
14th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the draft trade agreement with Japan differs from that which the European Union already has in place with Japan.

The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement locks in the benefits of the EU-Japan deal, and goes even further in a number of areas, including;

  • Cutting-edge digital & data provisions,

  • Improved market access for UK financial services,

  • More generous rules of origin provisions for some goods, and

  • Opening the door for more British products to be protected in Japan by geographical indications.

We will publish a parliamentary report for the UK-Japan agreement prior to ratification, clearly highlighting areas where there are specific material differences between the EU Economic Partnership Agreement and this deal.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in negotiating a deal on future trade relations with the government of Mauritius.

The United Kingdom concluded negotiations and signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) states in January 2019. Mauritius is a member of ESA and one of the signatory states. This agreement will provide preferential trading arrangements for both the United Kingdom and Mauritius once it has entered into force.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
17th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to ensure that the UK music sector remains internationally competitive during, and after, the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department for International Trade consistently champions the British music industry and the incredible talent which makes the sector such a great success story for the UK.

The Government has put in place unprecedented support for businesses and workers to protect them against the economic impact of COVID-19. In 2020/21, the Government is providing export support of around £1 million to UK music companies. Most of this is grant support offered to the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the UK’s music sector through the International Showcase Fund and the Music Export Growth Scheme.

During the pandemic, the Government has provided support for digital events so music companies can continue to do business with international customers. The Government is working closely with the Creative Industries Trade and Investment Board, which includes music representatives, to develop a creative industries ‘Bounce Back’ strategy which will enable the UK music sector to maintain its strong international position.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consultations they are carrying out with (1) local authorities, and (2) the food sector, over trade talks with the government of the United States; and what plans they have to respond to the call by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health on 21 May for such talks to be slowed down "as many of the relevant stakeholders and food organisations are busy helping their communities get through the COVID-19 crisis".

The Government is committed to a transparent trade policy and will continue engaging with stakeholders, including the food and drinks industry, throughout negotiations.

Our Strategic Trade Advisory Group (STAG) and Expert Trade Advisory Groups (ETAGs), including a dedicated Agri Food ETAG set up jointly with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, regularly discuss the proposed UK-US Free Trade Agreement.

Our trade talks with the US have been based on our negotiating objectives, published on 2 March 2020. The public consultation supporting these objectives was one of the largest in UK Government’s history, receiving nearly 160,000 responses.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that their policies of ensuring clear labelling of food to support people to make informed healthy choices, enabled by using food labelling to avoid foods high in sugar, salt, and fat, are not compromised by any trade agreement reached with the government of the United States.

The Government has been very clear that any future trade deals must work for UK consumers, not compromising on our standards. The Government will continue to support healthy choices through clear labelling, while respecting our WTO obligations to ensure that technical regulations do not create unnecessary obstacles to international trade.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to maintain food safety standards in the course of their negotiations for a trade agreement with the government of the United States; and what plans they have (1) to ban food washed with chlorine, and (2) to ensure that people are protected from food-borne illnesses.

The UK will decide how we set and maintain our own standards and regulations and we have been clear that we will not compromise on our high environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards now that we have left the European Union.

Any future deal with the US must work for UK consumers, farmers and companies. Without exception, imports into the UK will meet our stringent food safety standards.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to protect (1) animal welfare, and (2) environmental, standards in their negotiations with the government of the United States for a trade agreement; what assessment they have made of the impact that imports of food from the US may have on the working practices of UK livestock farmers; and what plans they have to ban such imports.

The UK will decide how we set and maintain our own standards and regulations and we will not compromise on our high standards of food safety and animal welfare.

The UK’s food regulators will continue to provide independent advice to ensure that all food imports into the UK comply with those high safety standards.

Any future deal with the US must work for UK consumers, farmers and companies. Without exception, imports into the UK will meet our stringent food safety standards.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) local authorities, and (2) the food sector, about trade talks with the US; what assessment they have made the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health's call to slow down trade talks with the US to allow for proper consultation with (a) relevant stakeholders, and (b) food organisations, that are currently occupied with supporting communities to get through the COVID-19 crisis.

The Government is committed to a transparent trade policy and will continue engaging with stakeholders, including the food and drinks industry, throughout negotiations.

Our Strategic Trade Advisory Group (STAG) and Expert Trade Advisory Groups (ETAGs), including a dedicated Agri Food ETAG set up jointly with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, regularly discuss the proposed UK-US Free Trade Agreement.

Our trade talks with the US have been based on our negotiating objectives, published on 2 March 2020. The public consultation supporting these objectives was one of the largest in UK Government’s history, receiving nearly 160,000 responses.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government with which countries they (1) have made trade agreements since 1 January, and (2) are currently engaged in trade negotiations.

HM Government launched negotiations on a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United Kingdom and the United States of America on 5th May 2020. We plan to launch negotiations with Japan this month and with Australia and New Zealand shortly after. We also continue to work to secure continuity agreements with all remaining countries that had a trade agreement with the EU on 31st January 2020. To date, HM Government has signed 20 agreements with 48 countries.

Agreements Signed to Date:

• Switzerland
• Liechtenstein
• Iceland, Norway
• Israel
• the Palestinian Authority
• Chile
• the Faroe Islands
• Eastern and Southern Africa states (Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zimbabwe)
• The Pacific states (Fiji and Papua New Guinea)
• A series of CARIFORUM countries?(Barbados, Belize, The Commonwealth of Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, The Republic of Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago)
• Andean countries (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru)
• Central American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama)
• South Korea
• Lebanon
• Tunisia
• SACU+M
• Georgia
• Morocco
• Jordan
• Kosovo

Agreements yet to be Signed

• Algeria
• Albania
• Bosnia and Herzigovina
• Cameroon
• Canada
• Cote d’Ivoire
• East African Community (EAC)
• Egypt
• Ghana
• Mexico
• Moldova
• Montenegro
• North Macedonia
• Serbia
• Singapore
• Ukraine

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
8th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any substance which is considered to be hazardous to (1) pollinator populations, (2) aquatic life, (3) animals, or (4) humans, is being used in the construction of the Chilterns Tunnel as part of the HS2 development.

All construction projects use substances that have the potential to cause harm if not used or controlled appropriately. All substances HS2 consider using (whether hazardous or not) are permissible within UK law and are subject to detailed risk assessment to assess the potential risk they pose.

With respect to construction of the Chilterns Tunnel, substances are reviewed by the Environment Agency and Affinity Water who are required to provide their consent before use. Their use is also subject to appropriate site management and monitoring regimes to avoid adverse impacts. This includes assessment of groundwater to determine if any substances are present at a concentration that could represent a risk.

All substances have been selected based on their suitability for their primary purpose and the specific environmental sensitivities of this location. Risks are assessed as being low because of how and where the substances or materials will be used. There is no pathway from the substances used during tunnelling activity to pollinators, whether or not a substance being used is deemed hazardous to them. No significant risks have been identified to aquatic life or animals with the substances to be used.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
13th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce the adverse impact of the new road haulage rules.

To provide immediate relief to the shortage of HGV drivers, we granted a temporary and limited relaxation to the drivers’ hours rules to allow additional flexibility to operators. Any changes to weekly rest patterns that results in reduced rest periods must be compensated for in the normal way.

The temporary relaxations of rules are to be used only where necessary, and operators must notify the Department if this measure is used. Driver safety must not be compromised, and drivers should not be expected to drive whilst tired. Employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
24th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many taxpayer-funded apprentices are due to begin work in the next six months on (1) HS2, (2) Hinkley Point C, and (3) CrossRail.

Major projects such as HS2, Hinkley Point C and Crossrail are vital in helping the Government meet its ambitions of driving up the number of apprentices across the construction and transport sector.

  1. The HS2 programme has a commitment to creating a minimum of 2,000 apprenticeships over the lifetime of the programme. Since Royal Assent in 2017, HS2 Ltd and its supply chain has started 650 apprenticeships, of which 91 are within HS2 Ltd and 559 are within the supply chain. For the financial year 2021/22 HS2 forecast starting a further 289 apprenticeships.
  1. EDF have reported that so far 756 apprentices trained on Hinkley Point C to date and are on track to meet the target of 1,000 apprenticeships during the construction phase.
  1. MTR Crossrail forecast between 60-70 apprenticeships required in the next six months and between 15-20 existing employees undertaking apprenticeship training as part of the Crossrail operator concession programme. Alongside this there will also be 3 new apprentices starting at Old Oak Common in the next 6 months with Alstom as part of the Crossrail rolling stock programme.
Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they are having to ensure that HS2 Ltd and any of its sub-contractors meet their commitment to engage fully with the public.

The HS2 Community Engagement Strategy, published in 2017, explains how HS2 Ltd and its contractors will engage with communities and sets out its community commitments on public engagement. HS2 Ltd reports publicly on how well they are performing against these commitments. Five reports have been published to date and all are available on the HS2 website.

The Department for Transport regularly monitors how HS2 Ltd is performing against its community engagement commitments. In his most recent six-monthly report to Parliament on 23 March 2021, the HS2 Minister provided an account of the activities that HS2 Ltd and the Department are deploying to strengthen its community handling approach. The Department continues to review this area to ensure that HS2 Ltd delivers on its commitments and is prepared to take further action as necessary.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest estimate of the improvement in UK productivity that will result from building the HS2 railway.

The Department for Transport published the Phase 1 HS2 business case in April 2020. Paragraph 2.85 and Figure 2.2 of this document set out the breakdown of the total GDP impacts (£82bn at 2015 prices) of the HS2 programme. Whilst total productivity impact has not been formally estimated, the constituent parts of the GDP benefits provide estimated impacts which are important sources of productivity gains.

The £60bn of business user benefits could be translated as direct gains from productivity improvements to business users. Similarly, the impacts from agglomeration (£14bn) due to HS2 captures the impact from improved productivity through urbanisation, and some labour supply impacts (£2bn) through positive labour market dynamics.

HS2 is expected to be transformational, and the wider impacts are likely to be much more significant than currently estimated in the business case. Some of these impacts have been explained in the Strategic Case, regarding skills and employment impacts, innovation and technological changes etc. However, the wider economic impact has not been fully quantified in the economic case.

This lack quantification of important and significant wider benefits was reflected in Conclusion 49 of the Oakervee Review. Also, given that the significance of investments entailing HS2, it will likely have macro-economic impacts on labour and other markets, that may drive up productivity gains. Combining the change to economic geography, dynamic agglomeration and improving access to higher productivity jobs, with the wider macro-economic impacts of the scheme, the productivity impact is likely to be significant.

The Department is working with its arm’s length bodies to develop the evidence on transformational impacts and will aim to incorporate some such evidence, when assured, in future business cases.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
17th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will require HS2 to publish (1) the number of trees they have removed, (2) the number of trees they have planted, and (3) the areas where these changes have been made.

(1) HS2 Ltd does not specifically record or count individual trees removed or required for clearance, as recording is undertaken on an area basis (measured by hectare).

(2) As part of Phase One alone, HS2 Ltd will plant up to seven million trees and shrubs. Over 700,000 of those trees have already been planted. The area of new woodland will be well in excess of that which is lost. HS2 is creating more than 3300 hectares (33 square kilometres) of new woodland, wildlife and river habitats alongside the line from the West Midlands to London.

(3) Woodland areas to be lost as a result of HS2’s construction, and also those sites to be used for woodland creation, are described in the relevant Environmental Statement, published alongside the relevant legislation for each phase of the project.

Further updates on HS2 Ltd’s environmental performance, including with respect to the loss of ancient woodland and associated compensation response, will be published in the autumn.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to charter aircraft for tourists wishing to visit (1) St Helena, (2) Ascension, (3) Falkland Islands, and (4) any other 'green list' territories which have no current regular air services, in order to boost the tourism sector in those territories.

The Government has no plans to charter additional aircraft for tourists wishing to visit St Helena, Ascension, the Falklands Islands or any other current 'green list' territories.

The destinations which airlines fly to is a commercial decision for the airline.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk of (1) damage, or (2) pollution, to (a) the Mid Chilterns aquifer, (b) the River Misbourne, and (c) Shardeloes Lake, caused by HS2's work in the area.

HS2 Ltd’s construction activities in the area have been the subject of comprehensive and detailed risk assessments. This reflects HS2 Ltd’s commitment to Parliament to protect the water environment. The risk assessments have been produced with oversight and advice of technical experts from the Environment Agency and Affinity Water. HS2 Ltd will not commence construction within the aquifer until the Environment Agency and Affinity Water are satisfied that required mitigation measures are in place for any identified potential risks.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to remove Mauritius from the 'red list' of countries from which entry to the UK is banned; and if they have no such plans, when they expect to review that country's position on the list.

The decision to place Mauritius on the red list on 9 January was in direct response to scientific and medical data, which represents an increased risk to UK public health and an increased risk of community transmission of COVID-19 variants of concern identified in other countries. These are intended to be temporary measures and the Government keeps data for countries and territories under constant review.

The Government has made it consistently clear that it will take decisive action to contain the virus, including adding further countries to the red list, or keeping countries on the red list, if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country without self-isolating becomes too high.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they are planning, if any, to ensure that aviation is safe if and when the UK leaves the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.

UK aviation has an excellent safety record and reputation and safety will continue to be a priority at the end of the transition period.

It is paramount that the safety and security of all passengers travelling in the UK and EU is not compromised under any circumstances and to make sure there is continuity and stability for passengers and industry.

The Prime Minister has been clear that our future relationship with the EU must not entail any application of EU law in the UK or CJEU jurisdiction. Continued UK participation in the EASA system would have been inconsistent with this approach.

The EU’s negotiating mandate does not allow for UK participation in EASA but does set out their ambition to agree cooperative aviation safety arrangements with the UK.

To this end, we want an aviation safety agreement with the EU that minimises regulatory burdens for the industry. Such an agreement will facilitate the recognition of aviation safety standards, maintain high safety outcomes and enable continued regulatory cooperation between the UK and EU.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority currently oversees most aspects of civil aviation safety in the UK. After the transition period the CAA will take on some additional functions from EASA and will continue to ensure that the UK has world-leading safety standards. The Department for Transport is closely monitoring the CAA’s progress to assume its new responsibilities and receives regular updates to ensure preparations are on track.

The CAA has been preparing for the possibility of leaving the EASA system since the EU referendum in 2016, including recruiting new staff across the organisation.

Outside of the EASA system, the UK will have the autonomy to regulate in a proportionate manner that effectively meets the needs of industry.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
29th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether those arriving into England from the United States must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival; and if not, why not.

Currently, all arrivals from the US must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
29th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what countries and territories are currently under consideration for removal from their list of travel corridor exemptions in England.

We keep the list of Travel Corridors under regular review.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the ability of consumers to cancel and claim refunds for flights booked before the COVID-19 pandemic because one or more of their party have developed mental health difficulties resulting from the restrictions put in place to address the pandemic.

The Government recognises the challenges businesses and consumers are experiencing regarding refunds for cancelled holidays and flights. Airlines are working hard to answer the high call volumes and to process the very large number of applications for refunds.

The Government appreciates the frustration consumers may be experiencing. We have been clear with industry that when consumers are entitled to a refund and ask for one, refunds must be paid. The Department for Transport is in regular conversation with UK airlines and wider membership bodies, and is working closely with the sector, the regulator and consumer groups to help ensure airlines deliver on their commitments.

The safety and well-being of consumers is paramount. However, where a consumer had made the decision to cancel their flight, any refunds or rearrangement of travel would be a matter for the airline in question and its policy in relation to refunds and/or booking amendments. In addition, the consumer’s travel insurance or credit card provider may also be able to provide assistance in such cases. Consumers are advised to check with their travel insurance or credit card providers as they may be able to seek redress.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the offer from the government of Greece to waive the 14-day quarantine for British tourists; and what discussions they have had with airlines about this offer.

On Wednesday 20th May, Greek PM Mitsotakis announced that Greece envisions a two-stage relaxing of measures for travellers wishing to enter Greece. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials have been in regular contact with the Greek government throughout the COVID19 crisis including about future arrangements and those talks will continue.

Department for Transport officials continue to work closely with their international counterparts, and the aviation sector, as they respond to the crisis and discuss all aspects of restart and recovery.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to backdate the six months extension period for vehicle MOT tests to 23 March.

The Government has no plans to amend the period set out in the Motor Vehicles (Tests) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what advice they have given to (1) airlines, and (2) shipping companies, operating out of the UK on preventative measures they should take to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

DfT is working closely with the transport sector and PHE to ensure that Port Health measures and health advice reflect the needs of the sector. DfT is in regular contact with Public Health England to ensure that the latest health guidance is made accessible to the transport sector.

PHE and their counterparts in the devolved administrations are responsible for determining and publishing health advice in relation to Covid-19. On 14th February PHE published guidance for staff in the transport sector which was made available on the GOV.UK website. DfT will continue to work with PHE to ensure this remains up to date.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to take the Consumer Price Index into account when calculating the state pension for 2022–23.

The Government has introduced the Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Bill which will enable State Pensions (the basic State Pension, the new State Pension and Pension Credit) to be uprated for 2022/23 only by at least the higher of the increase in prices or 2.5%.

Decisions on up-rating for all pensions and benefit rates are made in the Autumn as part of the up-rating review by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and announced ahead of the up-rating of benefits in April 2022. The conventional measure of price increases used for up-rating is September to September Consumer Price Index, this is released in October.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect of rising wages on the feasibility of re-introducing the "triple lock" on pensions in 2022.

The Government has introduced the Social Security (Uprating of Benefits) Bill which will suspend the earning linked measure of the Triple Lock for up-rating for 2022/23 only. The Government remains committed to implementing the Triple Lock in the usual way for 2023/24 and the remainder of the Parliament.

Decisions on the rates for State Pensions are made each Autumn as part of the Up-rating review by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. These are normally informed by earnings and prices data published in October each year. We will review the 2022 earnings growth figures at the appropriate time.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the cost savings that will be achieved through the suspension of the “triple lock” on state pension payment increases.

Our latest estimates are that the difference between maintaining the Triple Lock in the face of the earnings spike and the double lock could be £4-5 billion. But we will not know the final numbers until later in the autumn.

Since 2010, we have increased the value of the full yearly basic State Pension by over £2,050, in cash terms. We now spend over £129 billion a year on pensioners in 2021/22.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to produce an equivalent list to the EU Restricted Substance List for the UK.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), as the Agency for the UK Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals, publishes a list of those chemicals subject to restrictions on their own, in mixtures or in articles. This list can be found on the HSE website at https://www.hse.gov.uk/reach/restrictions.htm.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the cost savings that will be achieved through the suspension of the "triple lock" on state pension payment increases.

Our latest estimates are that the difference between maintaining the Triple Lock in the face of the earnings spike and the double lock could be £4-5 billion. But we will not know the final numbers until later in the autumn.

Since 2010, we have increased the value of the full yearly basic State Pension by over £2,050, in cash terms. We now spend over £129 billion a year on pensioners in 2021/22.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and KPMG Report on Jobs, published on 8 July; in particular, the finding that the availability of workers to fill vacancies fell at the quickest rates on record; and what steps they intend to take as a result.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) monitors a wide range of statistics and surveys on the labour market.

We want everyone to be able to find a job, progress in work and thrive in the labour market, whoever they are and wherever they live. Through Plan for Jobs, the government announced over £33 billion in measures to create, support and protect jobs, which includes £2.9 billion funding for Restart and £3 billion investment in the Kickstart programme alongside other measures focussed on boosting work search, skills and apprenticeships.

Alongside measures in Plan for Jobs, DWP is leading cross-government collaboration to identify and remove barriers to working in sectors with immediate or growing demand for jobs. We continue to work closely with these departments and sector bodies to identify and address barriers facing DWP customers and to ensure the provision is available to support individuals to access opportunities in these sectors. We work closely with a range of departments to shape skills support to enable individuals to develop the skills needed in order to move to roles in different sectors

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent meetings they have had, if any, to discuss the future of health and safety regulation.

The Government is committed to taking a proportionate approach to health and safety regulation to support economic recovery and enable innovation while maintaining levels of protection for workers.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Minister for Employment meet regularly with senior officials from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to discuss current priorities, for example the new post EU Chemicals regime, the Building Safety Regulator and Covid-19 responses, and discuss potential developments and future priorities.

HSE’s Annual Business Plan 2020/21 details key priorities, taking account of the ongoing response to Covid-19 while helping to support the economy.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce and eliminate child poverty in the United Kingdom.

This Government is wholly committed to tackling child poverty. Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to protect family incomes by spending £407 billion to protect jobs, keep businesses afloat and help families get by. Including spending an additional £7.4 billion last year to strengthen the welfare system for those most in need, taking our total expenditure on welfare support for people of working age to an estimated £112bn in 2020/21.

In December 2020 we introduced our Covid Winter Grant Scheme providing funding to Local Authorities in England to enable them to support people with food and essential utility bills during the coldest months. It will now run to the 20th June as the Covid Local Support Grant, with a total investment of £269m.

As the economy recovers, our ambition is to help parents move into and progress in work as quickly as possible based on clear evidence around the importance of parental employment, particularly where it is full-time, in substantially reducing the risks of child poverty. We are investing over £30 billion in our ambitious Plan for Jobs which is already delivering for people of all ages right across the country.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision by the government of Canada to grant annual state pension increases to Canadian pensioners living in the UK; and what plans they have to provide annual state pension increases to UK pensioners living in Canada.

The Government has had no discussions with the Canadian Government, regarding the up-rating of the UK State Pension for recipients living in Canada, and has made no assessment of the Canadian Government’s up-rating policy.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Canada about frozen UK pensions for UK pensioners in Canada.

The Government has had no discussions with the Canadian Government, regarding the up-rating of the UK State Pension for recipients living in Canada, and has made no assessment of the Canadian Government’s up-rating policy.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Stedman-Scott on 6 April (HL14577), why there has been a departure from the policy to agree reciprocal social security arrangements, despite the agreements with (1) Bermuda in 1969, and (2) Gibraltar in 1974.

The policy on entering into new reciprocal social security agreements has been in place since 1996.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Stedman-Scott on 6 April (HL14579), why they have not responded yet to the request on 16 December 2020 by members of the Canadian Parliament for a reciprocal agreement on the uprating of pensions for UK state pension holders residing in Canada; and what assessment they have made of the impact the delay in responding could have on the negotiations for new trade agreements.

As indicated in my answer on 6 April 2021 (HL14579), an official request was received from the Government of Canada, to which the Government has now responded.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the request on 16 December 2020 by members of the Canadian Parliament to establish a reciprocal agreement on the uprating of pensions for UK state pension holders residing in Canada.

A request has been received from the Government of Canada and, as indicated in my previous answer on 10 March 2021, the Government intends to respond to this letter in due course.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when reciprocal social security arrangements were made with (1) Bermuda, and (2) Gibraltar, whereby UK state pension holders resident in those territories receive the annual uprating of their state pensions.

The UK entered into a reciprocal social security agreement with Bermuda in 1969 and with Gibraltar in 1974.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of progress on implementing the request by the governments of British Overseas Territories during the December 2015 Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council on the uprating of pensions for UK state pension holders residing in those territories.

The policy on up-rating UK State Pensions overseas is longstanding and has been supported by successive Governments for over 70 years. Annual index-linked increases are paid to UK State Pension recipients where there is a legal requirement to do so, for example where recipients are living in countries where there is a reciprocal agreement that provides for up-rating.

This Government continues to take the view that priority should be given to those living in Great Britain when drawing up expenditure plans for additional pensioner benefits.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the annual cost of uprating the state pensions of all citizens of British Overseas Territories that (1) have reciprocal agreements with the UK on state pensions, and (2) do not have such agreements.

The estimated annual cost of up-rating state pensions is calculated at UK level.

The department has not made an estimate.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many citizens resident in each of the British Overseas Territories that has a reciprocal agreement on state pensions with the UK qualify for an annual uprating of their pensions.

The UK has reciprocal agreements with Bermuda and Gibraltar that cover state pensions.

Territory

Number of UK state pension recipients

Bermuda

716

Gibraltar

1,770

Source: StatXplore, August 2020

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Stedman-Scott on 10 March (HL13814), what action does a British Overseas Territory without a reciprocal agreement on state pensions need to take to open negotiations on securing such an agreement.

The Government has not received any recent representations for reciprocal social security agreements from British Overseas Territories without such an agreement.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to respond to the request from the government of Canada for a reciprocal agreement on state pensions.

The Department for Work and Pensions plans to respond to the request from Canada in due course.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government why reciprocal agreements on state pensions are in place for some but not all of the British Overseas Territories; and when they plan to have agreements in place for all.

The UK has reciprocal social security agreements covering state pensions with two British Overseas Territories – Bermuda and Gibraltar.

The distribution of existing agreements with British Overseas Territories were based on a number of factors considered at the time those agreements were concluded.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the government of Canada's request for a reciprocal social security agreement covering the uprating of pensions.

The Department for Work and Pensions plans to respond shortly on this issue.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to reports of ‘long’ COVID-19, what plans they have to make changes to statutory sick pay.

This government has a strong safety net that helps people who are facing hardship and are unable to support themselves financially and we have taken steps to strengthen that safety net as part of the government’s response to the pandemic.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) provides a minimum level of income for employees when they are sick or incapable of work. Employers are legally required to pay SSP to eligible employees who are off work sick or incapable of work, where employees meet the qualifying conditions. Some employers may also decide to pay more, and for longer, through Occupational Sick Pay.

To receive SSP employees must tell their employer that they are off sick before the deadline the employer has set (or within 7 days if they have not set one). Individuals can self-certify for the first 7 days of an absence, without the need to provide their employer with any medical evidence. Where an employee cannot work for 7 or more days’ employers can request medical evidence of their employee’s sickness.

SSP is payable for up to 28 weeks per sickness absence. Sickness absences which are less than 8 weeks apart count as the same period of sickness. In a new period of sickness, employees are eligible for 28 weeks of SSP. As such, where individuals remain sick or incapable of work as a result of coronavirus, they will be eligible for SSP, subject to the usual qualifying conditions.

For those who are sick, self-isolating or shielding due to coronavirus, SSP is now payable from the first day of work missed, rather than the fourth

SSP is just one part of our welfare safety net and our wider government offer to support people in times of need. Where an individual’s income is reduced while off work sick and they require further financial support, for example where they are not eligible for SSP, they may be able to claim Universal Credit and new style Employment and Support Allowance, depending on their personal circumstances.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Frozen British Pensions 2020 inquiry, published on 16 December, and (2) the finding of the report that the governments of Australia and Canada wnt to cooperate with them to end their policy of freezing state pension payments to British pensioners residing in those countries.

The Government has not made an assessment of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Frozen British Pensions 2020 inquiry or its findings. The UK State Pension is payable worldwide to those who meet the qualifying conditions. It is up-rated where there is a legal requirement to do so, for example, where recipients are living in countries where there is a reciprocal agreement that provides for up-rating. The Government has no plans to change the policy on up-rating UK State Pensions overseas; the policy is longstanding and has been supported by successive Governments for over 70 years. The Government understands that people move abroad for many reasons and that this can have an impact on their finances. However, the decision to move abroad remains a personal choice. Advice that the UK State Pension is not up-rated overseas except where there is a legal requirement has been provided to the public for many years. Information is provided in leaflets and on gov.uk.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding of the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Frozen British Pensions 2020 inquiry, published on 16 December, that half of pensioners residing abroad whose state pension payments are frozen receive a UK state pension of £65 per week or less.

The Government has not made an assessment of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Frozen British Pensions 2020 inquiry or its findings. The UK State Pension is payable worldwide to those who meet the qualifying conditions. It is up-rated where there is a legal requirement to do so, for example, where recipients are living in countries where there is a reciprocal agreement that provides for up-rating. The Government has no plans to change the policy on up-rating UK State Pensions overseas; the policy is longstanding and has been supported by successive Governments for over 70 years. The Government understands that people move abroad for many reasons and that this can have an impact on their finances. However, the decision to move abroad remains a personal choice. Advice that the UK State Pension is not up-rated overseas except where there is a legal requirement has been provided to the public for many years. Information is provided in leaflets and on gov.uk.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding of the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Frozen British Pensions 2020 inquiry, published on 16 December, that a majority of pensioners emigrating to countries where a freeze on state pension payments applies were not informed that their pension would be frozen before they left the UK.

The Government has not made an assessment of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Frozen British Pensions 2020 inquiry or its findings. The UK State Pension is payable worldwide to those who meet the qualifying conditions. It is up-rated where there is a legal requirement to do so, for example, where recipients are living in countries where there is a reciprocal agreement that provides for up-rating. The Government has no plans to change the policy on up-rating UK State Pensions overseas; the policy is longstanding and has been supported by successive Governments for over 70 years. The Government understands that people move abroad for many reasons and that this can have an impact on their finances. However, the decision to move abroad remains a personal choice. Advice that the UK State Pension is not up-rated overseas except where there is a legal requirement has been provided to the public for many years. Information is provided in leaflets and on gov.uk.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to end the freeze on state pension payments to UK pensioners residing in countries where this policy applies.

The Government has not made an assessment of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Frozen British Pensions 2020 inquiry or its findings. The UK State Pension is payable worldwide to those who meet the qualifying conditions. It is up-rated where there is a legal requirement to do so, for example, where recipients are living in countries where there is a reciprocal agreement that provides for up-rating. The Government has no plans to change the policy on up-rating UK State Pensions overseas; the policy is longstanding and has been supported by successive Governments for over 70 years. The Government understands that people move abroad for many reasons and that this can have an impact on their finances. However, the decision to move abroad remains a personal choice. Advice that the UK State Pension is not up-rated overseas except where there is a legal requirement has been provided to the public for many years. Information is provided in leaflets and on gov.uk.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the reasons for the reported delays in this year's flu vaccination programme.

Due to the nature of the production of the flu vaccine, short delays in production, manufacturing and delivery are common and as a result, contingency is built into supply timetables. One manufacturer, Seqirus, reported a delay of one to two weeks as a result of logistical issues. The Department is working closely with Seqirus and other vaccine manufacturers to assess the impact of any delays on the delivery of flu vaccinations.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many management consultants have been employed by the NHS at annual equivalent salaries exceeding £100,000 in each of the last five years.

This data requested is not held centrally.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the occurrence of patients suffering from Guillain-Barré syndrome following their COVID-19 vaccination; and which vaccines were involved in each case.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has been closely monitoring and assessing all reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) during the COVID-19 vaccination program. GBS has occurred very rarely in individuals following vaccination in the United Kingdom. Whilst it was not possible to establish a causal association between any of the vaccines and GBS based on the available data, there was sufficient evidence to warrant a precautionary statement about these very rare reports in the AstraZeneca vaccine Product Information (PI) in order to alert patients and healthcare professionals of the signs and symptoms so that adequate supportive care and treatment can be sought and provided. This was included in the PI for the AstraZeneca vaccine in August 2021.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on UK citizens who wish to travel overseas of any new (1) travel, (2) entry, and (3) quarantine, limitations introduced as a result of the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions on 19 July.

There has been no assessment carried out of the impact on UK citizens who wish to travel overseas, as no new travel, entry, or quarantine limitations have been introduced as a result of the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions on 19 July.

13th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether UK passport holders and their spouses who live in the UK travel red list countries of (1) South Africa, (2) Botswana, or (3) Zambia, and who have both received two coronavirus vaccinations, are able to visit the United Kingdom without the need to go into quarantine.

All international arrivals who travel from or transit through a ‘red-list’ country, including South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia, in the preceding 10 days must quarantine in a managed quarantine facility, irrespective of their vaccination status.

8th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of any recommendation from SAGE regarding continued mask-wearing after the lifting of other pandemic restrictions; and what assessment they have made of the effect of (1) mask wearing on the spread of disease, and (2) increased mortality on UK greenhouse gas emissions.

The Government has reviewed the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies’ (SAGE) advice in relation to face coverings. This advice states that in determining what measures to retain, a choice must be made in terms of the epidemiological risks and the societal and economic impacts of measures. In April 2021, SAGE concluded that face coverings could help with decreasing the transmission risk from a potentially infectious person. However, they should be used in combination with other measures to be fully effective and mitigate risk.

Following the success of the vaccination programme, the Government has decided to move away from legal restrictions, including the requirement to wear face coverings, towards personal responsibility and informed judgement. In line with SAGE’s advice, the Government’s guidance remains that wearing a face covering can reduce the risk of transmission. We recommend that people continue to wear face coverings particularly where the risk of transmission is likely to be greater, such as indoor and crowded enclosed or poor ventilated spaces.

The Department has not made a specific assessment of increased mortality on the United Kingdom’s greenhouse gas emissions.

24th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reasons for the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Cornwall.

Mobility reporting data has shown a large increase in visitors to Cornwall and a rise in the dominance of the more transmissible delta variant of the virus during the same time period. In particular, there has been an increase in case rates in the 15 to 24 year old age group, which is in line with national trends on higher case rates in unvaccinated age groups and age groups yet to acquire full immunity from the vaccine.

7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many NHS patients discharged from hospitals into (1) care homes, and (2) hospices, subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 in each month since February 2020.

Data on the number of National Health Service patients discharged from hospitals into care homes who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 is not currently held in the format requested. Data on the number of patients discharged into hospices who subsequently tested positive is not held centrally.

26th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to add Mauritius to the list of islands being considered for the Green List of destinations to which tourists can travel without isolating on return to the UK.

Decisions to place countries on ‘red/amber/green list(s)’ are taken by Ministers informed by evidence, including the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s risk assessments alongside other wider public health factors.

A summary of the methodology used to inform these decisions is published on GOV.UK. The methodology consists of 4 parts: variant assessment; triage; risk assessment; and outcomes that inform ministerial decisions. All countries and territories that pass triage for green or red indicators undergo a more comprehensive risk assessment using additional quantitative and qualitative information (for example, from publicly available platforms such as the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data and the World Health Organization, host government websites, United Kingdom mandatory testing data and travel data), taking into account data availability, limitations and biases.

Available and relevant sources of information for each country or territory are used to provide an overall assessment on genomic surveillance capability, COVID-19 transmission risk and Variant of Concern/Variant Under Investigation transmission risk.

12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to announce improvements in funding for hospices; and if so, when.

The Government recognises the importance of palliative and end of life care services, including hospices. The sector has played a vital role in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is reflected by the provision of up to £280 million of additional funding from March 2020 to March 2021 to secure capacity and free up acute care as part of the National Health Service’s response. Additionally, the Government has either funded directly or committed to reimburse all known personal protective equipment requirements since the start of the pandemic until March 2022.

As independent, charitable organisations, hospices receive some statutory funding mainly from clinical commissioning groups for providing services in their local area. However, alongside NHS England and NHS Improvement, we proactively engage with the whole sector on an ongoing basis to understand the issues they face and their views of upcoming needs and challenges.

11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to place (1) Mauritius, (2) Turks and Caicos Islands, and (3) Bermuda, onto the 'green list' for tourists using direct flights from the United Kingdom, given the low local infection rates from COVID-19 in these destinations.

Decisions to place countries, including Mauritius, Turks and Caicos Islands and Bermuda on the ‘green list’ are taken by Ministers informed by evidence including the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s analysis, as well as other relevant information about the risk of the spread of variant. The advice, evidence and methodology which informs these decisions relates to on-going development of Government policy and therefore cannot be published at this time.

12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that those who have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine receive the second dose within 12 weeks.

To ensure the dosing schedule is maintained, vaccine supplies have already been set aside to ensure that everyone who has already received their first dose will receive their second dose within 12 weeks of their first. There are currently no delays in the administration of the second dose of the vaccine.

The National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) is the centralised service for the management of both the COVID-19 and seasonal flu vaccination programmes established by NHS England. If an individual is invited for a COVID-19 vaccination via a general practitioner (GP) this information is entered onto to the patients’ GP record after vaccination and on the NIMS. A second vaccination appointment can then be offered to the patient in the following 12-week period. Where a patient has been invited to book their own appointment, they will also be required to book their second appointment 11 to 12 weeks after the first.

12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what advice they have made available to those who do not receive an appointment for a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine within 12 weeks of receiving a first dose.

In some exceptional circumstances, people may not receive their invitation for their second dose, for example if they had their first dose overseas or they have changed their address between doses. If a full 11 weeks has passed since the first dose and a second appointment has not been offered, they should contact the national booking system online or by calling 119.

16th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the estimate in the report by Sue Ryder Modelling demand and costs for palliative care services in England, published on 1 February, that the cost of providing palliative care services may reach £947m per year by 2031.

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

16th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by Sue Ryder Modelling demand and costs for palliative care services in England, published on 1 February, what assessment have they made of the risk of the independent hospice sector collapsing due to a lack of funding; and what assessment have they made of the cost of the NHS providing palliative care services instead of indepedent palliative care providers over the next 10 years.

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

16th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by Sue Ryder Modelling demand and costs for palliative care services in England, published on 1 February, what plans they have to implement a long-term funding package for hospices.

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

16th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding in the report by Sue Ryder Modelling demand and costs for palliative care services in England, published on 1 February, that independent hospice services may be withdrawn unless statutory funding of services increases from 37 per cent to 70 per cent.

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

16th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether funding for palliative care services will meet predicted future demand.

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

12th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial viability of the UK hospice sector.

The Government recognises the funding challenges facing the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between March 2020 and March 2021 £280 million of additional funding has been made available to hospices to secure capacity and free up acute care as part of the National Health Service response to COVID-19. Alongside this, hospices have benefitted from the financial support offered by HM Treasury to all charities, such as paying no business rates for their shops next year and applying for a Business Interruption Loan.

No assessment has been made of the financial viability of United Kingdom hospices. Most hospices are independent, charitable organisations that receive some statutory funding, mainly from clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) for providing local services. CCGs are responsible for the planning and commissioning of high-quality services that meet the needs of their local population.

12th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the Sue Ryder charity, published on 31 January, on the funding challenges facing the UK hospice sector.

The Government recognises the funding challenges facing the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between March 2020 and March 2021 £280 million of additional funding has been made available to hospices to secure capacity and free up acute care as part of the National Health Service response to COVID-19. Alongside this, hospices have benefitted from the financial support offered by HM Treasury to all charities, such as paying no business rates for their shops next year and applying for a Business Interruption Loan.

No assessment has been made of the financial viability of United Kingdom hospices. Most hospices are independent, charitable organisations that receive some statutory funding, mainly from clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) for providing local services. CCGs are responsible for the planning and commissioning of high-quality services that meet the needs of their local population.

8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of concerns that the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine provides limited protection for the elderly; and what advice they are giving to elderly people who have already had their first dose of this vaccine.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has advised that current evidence does not suggest any lack of protection against COVID-19 in people aged 65 years old or over who receive COVID-19 Oxford/AstraZeneca Vaccine. Their data shows that the vaccine produces a strong immune response in the over 65 year olds and that it is safe. Therefore we are confident in the decision to authorise the vaccine in this age group.

This decision is in line with that made by the European Medicines Agency, who have authorised COVID-19 Oxford/AstraZeneca Vaccine in people from 18 years of age, including those aged 65 years old and above. On 10 February, the World Health Organization have also stated that the benefits of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh any risks and the shot should be recommended for use, including in people aged 65 years old and over.

The Department has also been working closely with Public Health England and NHS England and NHS Improvement to provide authoritative information to the public on COVID-19 vaccination, including an information pack for healthcare professionals and the public about the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the number of novel infectious diseases in humans that have resulted from industrial animal farming practices over the past 10 years, and (2) the risk of future human pandemics emerging from zoonotic diseases.

In the past decade, approximately 75% of newly emerging infections have been of zoonotic origin. While this does not identify the exact number of novel infectious diseases in humans that have resulted from industrial animal farming practices, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the Health and Safety Executive conduct routine surveillance on farms for zoonotic pathogens.

The Government has procedures in place to risk assess novel pathogens and their potential impact on human health. This is led by specialist groups, such as the Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance group and the Advisory Committee for Dangerous Pathogens, who produce and publish expert-authored risk assessments. These risk assessments support the United Kingdom’s response system for infectious disease outbreaks, which focuses on minimising the impact of infectious diseases, including zoonotic diseases associated with farming and farming products, on human health and consequently the risk of future human pandemics.

20th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to make the UK a global leader in addressing brain tumours.

The Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission (TJBCM) is a national convening body of stakeholder organisations established in February 2018 to take forward Baroness Jowell’s requests to improve research and care for people with brain cancer. The Department is an active contributor, including the announcement in May 2018 of £40 million over five years for brain tumour research via the National Institute for Health Research.

TJBCM is about to launch a major initiative to designate within the National Health Service the first Tessa Jowell Centres of Excellence. These will comprise a world-class network of brain tumour treatment and research centres which provide optimal care, share freely best practice standards, rapidly translate research knowledge into patient benefit, and thereby provide patients with access to the very best treatment.

20th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on (1) patients, (2) care homes, and (3) hospices, of brain tumour operations which have been delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on services will not be known for some time. Cancer services remain a priority for the National Health Service and thanks to the efforts of staff, have been maintained throughout the pandemic.

In order to ensure that cancer treatment can continue during the pandemic, the NHS has established COVID-19 secure cancer hubs, consolidating cancer surgery and centralising triage to prioritise based on clinical need, and drawing on the independent sector (IS) to increase capacity. Regions are drafting plans on how to maximise IS use over the next six weeks to cope with COVID-19 surges. Urgent cancer surgery patients are the first priority for accessing IS services. In local escalation plans, any decision to reschedule cancer treatment will be a last resort.

18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether employers can insist that employees have a COVID-19 vaccine; what actions an employer can take in respect of (1) employees who refuse to have a COVID-19 vaccine, and (2) employees who refuse to work with employees who have refused the vaccine other than on medical grounds; and, in such circumstances, what are employers' health and safety obligations to their employees (a) individually, and (b) collectively.

The United Kingdom operates a system of informed consent for vaccinations. Employers are bound by a range of legal obligations to their staff including under employment, equalities, data protection and health and safety law and they will need to ensure that any vaccination policy is consistent with those legal duties.

8th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government why only 975 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are scheduled for delivery to Newbury Racecourse; and what plans they have to increase the number of such doses (1) delivered to, and (2) administered at, Newbury Racecourse.

No specific assessment on the delivery of COVID-19 vaccine to Newbury Racecourse has been made.

Each Primary Care Network receives their own supply and work has been carried out with local clinical commissioning group colleagues to ensure that vaccine supply aligns with the number of registered patients in the priority cohort groups. NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with vaccination sites across the country to ensure that supplies are replenished as required to ensure an adequate and consistent supply of vaccine.

5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to vaccinate patients who are in hospital for reasons other than for treatment for COVID-19.

Hospital hubs will typically vaccinate eligible inpatients or eligible outpatients due to attend hospital where clinically appropriate.

16th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that a suspect, accompanied by police officers, was required to wait three hours for treatment at Gloucester Royal Hospital; and what discussions they have had with Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to ensure such incidents do not reoccur.

Patients are treated in order of clinical priority. Therefore, whilst there is a need to not delay police officers in accident and emergency departments (A&E) any longer than is necessary, patients with non-urgent needs may have to wait during busy times.

The national A&E performance target is target is for 95% of patients to be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours. Therefore, a three hour wait is within the national guidelines.

16th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many patients awaiting transfer to wards have died in (1) corridors, (2) nurses’ stations, and (3) cubicles, at Gloucester Royal Hospital in the last six months.

The information is not available in format requested.

16th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, if any, to prevent ambulances from being unable to access Gloucester Royal Hospital Accident and Emergency Department due to congestion; and what plans they have to reopen Cheltenham General Hospital Accident and Emergency Department to ease ambulance congestion at Gloucester Royal Hospital.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust continues to manage combined pandemic and urgent care pressures. The Trust is not aware of traffic congestion causing delays in ambulance access.

The temporary closure of the accident and emergency department at Cheltenham General Hospital was agreed until 31 March 2021, when services are planned to resume.

23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether UK students can travel abroad to undertake essential voluntary work under current COVID-19 restrictions provided that they self-isolate upon return; whether they intend to publish advice on that issue; and, if so, when.

Students can travel abroad to undertake paid or unpaid work which includes volunteering. If students do travel overseas, they should consider the restrictions on entry to the country in question, such as whether they would need to undertake a period of self-isolation in that country, and whether they would need to self-isolate when they return. Returning students travelling from countries not on the exemption list will need to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days.

Different rules apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Based on where a person lives, these rules must be followed.

10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial viability of the hospice sector.

We have provided over £150 million in additional funding to the hospice sector to date during the pandemic. Alongside this, hospices have benefited from the financial support offered by HM Treasury to all charities, such as paying no business rates for their shops next year and applying for a Business Interruption Loan. Charities, alongside other sectors, can also access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the replacement Job Support Scheme.

We continue to keep funding for hospices under review.

10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure patients continue to receive palliative care in the event that the hospice in which the patient is receiving treatment is forced to close due to its financial situation.

For this winter, recognising the exceptional challenges across health and social care and the specific challenges faced by hospices, significant additional funding is being made available. The COVID-19 Winter Plan set out additional funding of £125 million for hospices. This funding will be used to allow hospices to provide more beds for step down and community care through to March 2021.

If despite this, a hospice should become financially unviable, the relevant clinical commissioning group (CCG) would be responsible, if closure resulted, for ensuring that alternative palliative care was in place for those populations it is responsible for. Most National Health Service funded hospice care is commissioned through CCGs. They are best placed to understand the needs of local populations and allocate funding for services to meet those needs from the overall resource allocations they receive.

4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what additional funds they plan to provide for the hospice sector to handle the rising death rate (1) during, and (2) beyond, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hospices have been provided over £150 million in additional funding to the hospice sector to date during the pandemic.

Alongside this, hospices have benefited from the financial support offered by HM Treasury to all charities, such as paying no business rates for their shops next year and applying for a Business Interruption Loan. Charities, alongside other sectors, can also access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the replacement Job Support Scheme.

The Department regularly assesses the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on the hospice sector, and through NHS England and NHS Improvement, are in regular discussions with stakeholders in the sector about the challenges they face. We continue to keep funding for hospices under review.

4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the increase in demand for hospice care due to delays in the diagnosis of terminal illnesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and what steps are they taking to address that increase.

No specific assessment has been made. The Department has been working with NHS England and NHS Improvement to monitor the availability and use of hospice capacity since April.

We are aware of an overall increase in demand, but it is currently too early and complex to provide detailed information on how much, if any, is currently due to delays in diagnosis.

Since April, the hospice sector has worked hard to re-design service in response to the pandemic by shutting day services that cannot run in line with COVID-19 guidance and increasing community services, enabling an overall increase in available capacity.

We regularly assess the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on the hospice sector, and through NHS England and NHS Improvement are in regular discussions with stakeholders in the sector about the challenges they face. We continue to keep the situation under review as further information becomes available.

4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to increase the level of financial support available for hospices to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have provided over £150million in additional funding to the hospice sector to date during the pandemic and have made up to £200 million available to the sector for additional capacity between April and July, and we continue to work closely with hospices to support their essential work. alongside this, hospices have benefited from the financial support offered by HM Treasury to all charities, such as paying no business rates for their shops next year and applying for a Business Interruption Loan. Charities, alongside other sectors, can also access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the replacement Job Support Scheme and charity shops, which are already eligible for 80% charitable rate relief, will benefit from the new enhanced retail rate relief at 100%. We continue to keep the financial impact of COVID-19 on hospices under review.

4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of funding for hospices.

The Department recognises that the hospice sector has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that subsequent social distancing measures have affected some aspects of community fundraising. We regularly assess the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on the hospice sector and through NHS England and NHS Improvement are in regular discussions with stakeholders in the sector about the challenges they face. A range of steps have been taken to support hospices.

We have provided over £150 million in additional funding to the hospice sector to date during the pandemic. Alongside this, hospices have benefited from the financial support offered by Her Majesty’s Treasury to all charities, such as paying no business rates for their shops next year and applying for a Business Interruption Loan.

We continue to keep funding for hospices under review.

4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure the future sustainability of the hospice sector.

The Department recognises that the hospice sector has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that subsequent social distancing measures have affected some aspects of community fundraising. We regularly assess the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on the hospice sector and through NHS England and NHS Improvement are in regular discussions with stakeholders in the sector about the challenges they face. A range of steps have been taken to support hospices.

We have provided over £150 million in additional funding to the hospice sector to date during the pandemic. Alongside this, hospices have benefited from the financial support offered by Her Majesty’s Treasury to all charities, such as paying no business rates for their shops next year and applying for a Business Interruption Loan.

We continue to keep funding for hospices under review.

4th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what additional funding they plan to allocate to (1)hospice, and (2) palliative, care services in the next five years.

The Department recognises that the hospice sector has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that subsequent social distancing measures have affected some aspects of community fundraising. We regularly assess the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on the hospice sector and through NHS England and NHS Improvement are in regular discussions with stakeholders in the sector about the challenges they face. A range of steps have been taken to support hospices.

We have provided over £150 million in additional funding to the hospice sector to date during the pandemic. Alongside this, hospices have benefited from the financial support offered by Her Majesty’s Treasury to all charities, such as paying no business rates for their shops next year and applying for a Business Interruption Loan.

We continue to keep funding for hospices under review.

19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether under the COVID-19 tier rules a person can move from a primary residence in a high-risk tier to a secondary residence in a lower-risk tier in order to attend medical, dental and ophthalmic appointments; and if not, how they intend to enforce those rules.

People must comply with the restrictions and guidance in place in the area that they are currently residing. Those residing in areas that are under additional restrictions above the medium level should not be travelling to other areas. Similarly, we expect that inhabitants of medium restriction areas should not travel to other areas with greater restrictions.

The National Health Service continues to provide healthcare services in all parts of the country, and there are exemptions to the rules in areas of increased restrictions that allow patients to attend medical, dental and ophthalmic appointments in other areas. There are no specific restrictions relating to travel and transport. However, people should keep their journeys to a minimum.

19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to clarify the COVID-19 tier rules for those with two or more places of residence; and whether someone whose primary residence is subject to one tier must abide by that tier's rules if moving to a secondary residence in a different tier.

People must comply with the restrictions and guidance in place in the area that they are currently residing. Those residing in areas that are under additional restrictions above the medium level should not be travelling to other areas. Similarly, we expect that inhabitants of medium restriction areas should not travel to other areas with greater restrictions.

The National Health Service continues to provide healthcare services in all parts of the country, and there are exemptions to the rules in areas of increased restrictions that allow patients to attend medical, dental and ophthalmic appointments in other areas. There are no specific restrictions relating to travel and transport. However, people should keep their journeys to a minimum.

19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to bring forward pay reviews for those nurses and other medical staff who were not included in the pay award for some public sector workers from 2021 to the end of this year.

Pay in 2020/21 for Agenda for Change staff and doctors and dentists in training had already been determined due to existing multi-year deals agreed in partnership with the National Health Service trades unions.

We will to ask the independent NHS Pay Review Body for recommendations on pay for Agenda for Change staff including nurses for 2021/22, and the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration for pay recommendations for medical and dental staff not already within a multi-year deal.

As per the established process, the Government will begin the pay round with a remit letter to the Pay Review Bodies, which we expect to issue in the coming weeks. We then expect both Pay Review Bodies to report to Government in the coming spring and as ever, the Government will carefully consider the Review Bodies’ recommendations, taking into account value for the taxpayer and affordability whilst also ensuring we can recruit, retain and motivate the dedicated and compassionate staff the NHS needs.

19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the turnover rate of NHS medical staff; and what steps they are taking in response.

NHS Digital publishes Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS) workforce statistics, including information on staff turnover. These include staff working in hospital trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), but not staff working in primary care, local authorities or other providers.

The following table shows the annual numbers and rates of leavers for doctors, including staff who left the National Health Service. Leavers data includes people leaving active service temporarily, this would include those going on maternity leave or career break.

HCHS Doctors (excluding junior doctors)

Leavers

Leaver Rate

Stability Index

June 2010 to June 2011

4,415

8.3%

91.6%

June 2011 to June 2012

4,630

8.6%

91.4%

June 2012 to June 2013

4,720

8.7%

91.3%

June 2013 to June 2014

4,189

7.6%

92.3%

June 2014 to June 2015

4,129

7.3%

92.6%

June 2015 to June 2016

4,313

7.4%

92.5%

June 2016 to June 2017

4,242

7.1%

92.8%

June 2017 to June 2018

4,431

7.2%

92.7%

June 2018 to June 2019

4,263

6.7%

93.2%

June 2019 to June 2020

4,272

6.5%

93.4%

Source: NHS Digital Workforce Statistics – Annual HCHS doctor leavers from the staff group, in NHS trusts and CCGs in England, June to June each year, 2010 to 2020, headcount and rates.

The retention rate has increased from 91.6% to 93.4% between June 2010 and June 2020.

We are nonetheless taking action to improve the experience of doctors and further increase retention. For example, the Enhancing Junior Doctors’ Working Lives programme, led by Health Education England, is delivering a range of initiatives to improve the quality of life of doctors in training.

13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to reinstate 24-hour opening of Cheltenham General Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department.

The temporary closure of the accident and emergency (A&E) department at Cheltenham General Hospital has been agreed until 31 March 2021.

Any temporary closures that have been put in place for the pandemic are just that – temporary – and the One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System are committed to the future restoration of the A&E department in Cheltenham. Once reinstated, the service will remain consultant-led and with no change to its pre-COVID-19 opening hours.

30th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the evidence base for regulations permitting six people to sing in public houses but banning six people from singing in churches and other places of worship.

The regulations place specific obligations on business premises to stop customers from singing on the premises in groups of more than six. Singing in general within hospitality premises is advised against in guidance due to the increased risk of transmission. This is in line with the guidance on churches.

21st Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to reclaim monies paid to private sector companies involved in COVID-19 test and trace projects which have failed.

Performance and quality assurance standards and processes are included in all Government contracts. If the company does not meet required service levels, the contracts may be terminated and only receipted goods and services will be paid for.

3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they have not implemented testing for COVID-19 at airports and other ports of entry for those entering the UK.

We are taking clear and decisive action to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. To keep the number of transmissions in the United Kingdom as low as possible, international arrivals from non-exempt countries are required to supply their contact and accommodation information, and self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days, unless they are exempt.

Work is ongoing with clinicians, the devolved administrations, the testing and travel industries to consider if and how testing could be used in the future to reduce the self-isolation period. Any potential introduction of testing for international arrivals at airports or other ports of entry would need to be robust in order to minimise the chance that positive cases are missed.

29th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how self-isolation is enforced in England; and what checks are carried out to ensure that those who are required to self-isolate do so.

Given the high levels of compliance we have seen to date with the self-isolation guidance, we expect that the majority of people will continue to do the right thing and abide by these measures.

However, we will take enforcement action against the minority of people who endanger the safety of others in breaching the self-isolation requirement for those arriving into England from non-exempt countries. Those who fail to comply with the mandatory conditions could face enforcement action. A breach of self-isolation would be punishable with a £1,000 fixed penalty notice in England or potential prosecution and unlimited fine. Self-isolation is enforced in communities by local police. Border force will undertake spot checks at the border and may refuse entry where the individual is neither a British citizen nor a non-British citizen resident in the United Kingdom and refuses to comply with these regulations. Failure to complete the contact locator form is punishable by a £100 fixed penalty notice.

29th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what COVID-19 testing is carried out (1) at airports, and (2) at other points of entry into England.

International arrivals are required to supply their contact and accommodation information, and self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days, unless they are arriving from an exempt country or covered by another exemption.

National Health Service testing capacity is currently reserved for testing symptomatic people in the United Kingdom, with any spare capacity being used to where most clinically effective.

The Government continues to consider a range of options to manage the risk of imported cases.

29th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how those entering England who are required to self-isolate are permitted to travel from their port of entry to their places of residence; and what measures are being taken to ensure that they do not infect others whilst travelling.

International arrivals to England who are required to self-isolate must travel directly from their port of entry to the location where they intend to self-isolate. Information about how passengers can travel safely is available online at GOV.UK. Passengers should only use public transport if they have no other option and must wear face coverings when travelling on public transport, unless exempt from the requirement to wear a face covering on public transport. Where a passenger is assessed as symptomatic, they will be advised not to use public transport. If necessary, transport will be arranged for them.

27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their announcement on 21 July that public sector workers will receive above inflation pay rises, what assessment they have made of the impact of that announcement on the morale of those public sector healthcare workers who will not be in receipt of such a pay rise.

Over one million National Health Service staff continue to benefit from the three-year Agenda for Change pay and contract reform deal agreed in partnership with NHS trade unions and employer representatives. The reforms that were agreed were not just about headline pay but introduced changes to help improve the working lives of dedicated staff. The deal introduced policies to support staff to balance their working lives with family and personal commitments and maintain their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

This deal has delivered year on year pay increases for all Agenda for Change NHS staff and has seen the lowest starting salary in the NHS increase by over 16% and the starting salary for a newly qualified nurse increase by over 12%. The NHS reward offer also includes benefits that go well beyond those offered in other sectors, for instance, a generous holiday allowance and access to the world-class NHS Pension Scheme.

The nature of the multi-year pay deal means that pay rises have already been determined for those public sector healthcare workers employed on the Agenda for Change contract and have been implemented throughout the course of the three years of the deal. The deal has seen the pay of those below the top of their pay band increase by at least 9% and pay for most staff at the top of their pay band increase by 6.5%, resulting in pay increases above Consumer Price Index inflation over the last three years.

The established mechanism for deciding pay increases in the NHS is through the independent Pay Review Body process. The NHS Pay Review Body will make pay recommendations for Agenda for Change staff in 2021 once the current pay deal ends and the Government will carefully consider these recommendations when we receive them.

27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government on what date the COVID-19 lockdown began in the UK; and under what circumstances they would impose a similar such lockdown in the future.

The Government implemented restrictions and behavioural advice throughout March. Self-isolation guidance was published online at GOV.UK on 12 March. The statement of 16 March, Official Report, columns 1347-1349, advised those who had symptoms and those who lived in a house with someone with symptoms, to stay at home for 14 days.

On 16 July, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care outlined that we are moving from blanket national measures, to targeted, local measures, supported by the NHS Test and Trace system. Often this will be a very small scale, such as an individual factory, but when necessary we will also act on a broader basis as we have done in Leicester. However, in the event that local response is not sufficient to contain outbreaks and prevent the virus returning to general circulation, the Government remains ready and prepared to act rapidly and implement a national lockdown if deemed necessary to protect lives and the National Health Service.

16th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the government of France's decision to allocate eight billion euros for a pay increase for healthcare workers who have worked during the COVID-19 pandemic; whether they plan to do the same; and if not, why not.

This Government has already invested the largest cash settlement in the National Health Service’s history by backing the NHS Funding Act 2020 as well as clearing billions of pounds worth of NHS debt for NHS trusts, and the Government is committed to ensuring the NHS will continue to receive whatever it needs to respond to COVID-19.

Over one million NHS staff are already benefitting from multi-year pay and contract reform deals which have seen the starting pay for a nurse rise by over 12% and the lowest paid in the NHS increase by over 16%.

On 21 July, the Government announced that it had accepted in full the recommendation of the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration for a 2.8% pay rise, back dated to April 2020 for consultants, specialty doctors, salaried general practitioners and dentists.

For 2020/21 we expect to rely on the independent Pay Review Bodies. The Review Body process is the established independent mechanism for pay recommendations for public sector workforces. The NHS Pay Review Body will return to making pay recommendations for NHS staff within its remit group in 2021 and the Government will carefully consider these recommendations when we receive them.

8th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the cost of granting (1) free parking, and (2) free public transport, to (a) NHS, and (b) care, workers.

An assessment has been made of the cost of granting free parking to the National Health Service. The assessment has been done using the most current figures available from the ERIC Estates Return Information Collection data 2018-19 with this figure being £86.2 million per annum.

No assessment has been made by the Department on the cost of providing free parking to care workers and free public transport to NHS and care workers. This does not fall under our remit.

30th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the warning from the director-general of the World Health Organisation that the “worst” of the COVID-19 pandemic “is yet to come”, and what steps they are taking to follow the World Health Organisation’s advice to test, trace, isolate and quarantine those with COVID-19.

To prepare the National Health Service for winter, the Government is providing an additional £3 billion of funding. This includes funding to allow the NHS to maintain the Nightingale surge capacity and continue to use the extra hospital capacity available within the independent sector.

Effective local management of any outbreaks is the first line of protection against a second wave that might overwhelm the NHS. To support local authorities, we made £300 million available and they already have robust plans in place to respond to outbreaks.

We have also made significant strides in our Test and Trace service. We have established one of the world’s largest testing programmes, with capacity at around 350,000 tests every day and we have already traced around 250,000 people who may have unknowingly spread the virus.

NHS winter preparations include delivering a very significantly expanded seasonal flu vaccination programme for priority groups.

29th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the number of mental health specialists who can treat post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health impacts suffered by (1) health and care staff, and (2) patients who have recovered from COVID-19; and what plans they have to provide 24-hour access to mental health support for health and care staff through a dedicated helpline.

Growing the psychological professions is a priority for this Government and is essential to fulfilling the vision set out in the NHS Long Term Plan for mental health services in England. Health Education England and NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with employers and professional bodies to ensure we continue to have the pipeline of staff we need to support patients and to accommodate any increase in demand.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have put in place a support package for all National Health Service staff during the COVID-19 outbreak including helplines that offer counselling and help with bereavement. It incorporates learning from past traumatic events and will help NHS staff to recover long after the COVID-19 response has subsided.

29th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the scale of the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is broad consensus that there is the potential for an increase in demand and we are working with the National Health Service, Public Health England and others to gather evidence and assess the potential longer-term mental health impacts and plan for how to support mental health and wellbeing throughout the ‘recovery’ phase.

We have released tailored online guidance to help people deal with their mental health at GOV.UK and Every Mind Matters.

NHS mental health services have remained open for business, offering support using digital, telephone and face-to-face approaches as appropriate. We have provided £5 million of additional funding for mental health charities to support adults and children and we have announced a further £4.2 million for mental health charities as part of the Government’s UK-wide £750 million package of support for the voluntary sector.

17th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to issue guidance to GPs to routinely prescribe dexamethasone to patients who have underlying lung and heart conditions; and when they intend to issue any such guidance.

General practitioners who routinely prescribe dexamethasone for conditions other than COVID-19 should continue to do so. There is no current or anticipated strain on the supply of dexamethasone in the United Kingdom.

Based on findings from the RECOVERY trial, UK Chief Medical Officers recommend that clinicians consider dexamethasone for the management of hospitalised patients with COVID-19 who require oxygen or ventilation. The RECOVERY trial found no benefit for patients who did not require oxygen and the trial did not study patients outside the hospital setting.

16th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) when the immigration healthcare surcharge for health and care workers and their families will be removed, (2) whether those who have already paid the surcharge in the current year will receive a refund, and (3) whether any such refund will be backdated to the day on which the Prime Minister made the announcement that the surcharge would be removed.

The Department of Health and Social Care and the Home Office are working at pace to deliver this exemption. Any National Health Service or care worker that has paid the surcharge since the Prime Minister’s announcement on 21 May will receive a refund. We will announce further details on the scope of the arrangements shortly.

16th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether future health and social care workers and their families will be required to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge.

The Department of Health and Social Care and the Home Office are working at pace to deliver this exemption. Any National Health Service or care worker that has paid the surcharge since the Prime Minister’s announcement on 21 May will receive a refund. We will announce further details on the scope of the arrangements shortly.

8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government on what basis the decision was taken to temporarily close Cheltenham General Hospital's Accident and Emergency department; and when this temporary closure will be reviewed.

On 2 June 2020 the Board of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust gave its support to temporary service changes, proposed by its clinical teams, as part of the next phase of its pandemic response. The changes separate COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 services, as much as possible, in order to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus to patients and staff. As a result, Cheltenham General Hospital’s accident and emergency department will operate as a minor injuries and illness unit, operating 8am to 8pm. The changes will be reviewed on a three-monthly basis.

8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 3 June (HL4782), what assessment they have made of the research referenced in the original question; and what assessment they have made of the impact a cycle of a 50-day lock down followed by a 30-day relaxation would have on (1) the UK’s COVID-19 infection rate, and (2) the UK’s public finances.

No specific assessment has been made of the research by Dr Rajiv Chowdhury et al. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has reviewed and considered papers that look at the concept of, and different thresholds for, reimplementing lockdown. SAGE provides Ministers and officials with evidence-based scientific advice in emergencies based on a range of sources.

As stated in my previous answer of 3 June, we have published the statements and the accompanying evidence to demonstrate how our understanding of COVID-19 has continued to evolve as new data emerges. At all times, we have been consistently guided by scientific and medical advice.

20th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are purchasing hydroxychloroquine and if so, for what purpose; and what is the total cost of the purchase of hydroxychloroquine to date.

Clinical trials are currently under way to assess whether existing medicines are safe and effective for treating COVID-19, with more than 10 drugs being tested in the United Kingdom in this way, including hydroxychloroquine. In order to support a number of those trials, there are centrally procured and managed supplies of hydroxychloroquine.

The Department is also securing additional supplies of a number of medicines as part of our COVID-19 response, which could be deployed for population use if required and considered safe and effective to do so. We continue to review supply requirements as further evidence becomes available. To date, we have placed orders for hydroxychloroquine worth around £5 million, of which medicine to the value of £1.9 million has already been delivered (exclusive of VAT).

20th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the research by Dr Rajiv Chowdhury et al., Dynamic interventions to control COVID-19 pandemic: a multivariate prediction modelling study comparing 16 worldwide countries, published on 19 May, which found that a cycle of a 50-day lock down followed by a 30-day relaxation may reduce new infections and deaths; and what impact they estimate that such a policy would have on (1) the UK’s COVID-19 infection rate, and (2) the UK’s public finances.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies provides Ministers and officials with evidence-based scientific advice in emergencies based on a range of sources.

We have published the statements and the accompanying evidence to demonstrate how our understanding of COVID-19 has continued to evolve as new data emerges. At all times, we have been consistently guided by scientific and medical advice to ensure that we do the right thing at the right time.

The work of the Joint Biosecurity Centre will support the wider Test and Trace system to identify outbreaks of COVID-19 infections and help decision makers respond rapidly to any outbreak.

19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to waive the medical fees for Taitusi Ratucaucau.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with the provider concerned and the Department to ensure the veteran continues to receive the best possible treatment and care from the National Health Service whilst the issue of his eligibility for free NHS care is resolved.

19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of taking hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19; and what plans they have to supply hydroxychloroquine to members of the Cabinet.

Clinical trials are currently under way in the United Kingdom and internationally to test whether existing medicines, including hydroxychloroquine, are safe and effective for treating COVID-19. An assessment of the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine will be made following the conclusion of the trials.

There are no plans to supply hydroxychloroquine to members of the Cabinet.

18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by Professor Tim Spector on 18 May that up to 70,000 people in the UK with COVID-19 are not being told to self-isolate.

Following scientific and medical advice, the list of symptoms was updated on 18 May to include loss or change to sense of smell or taste. We continue to be guided by the scientific and medical evidence.

14th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the capability of dental practices to continue to operate after the COVID-19 pandemic; and what steps they intend to take to ensure that the public have access to full dental services when COVID-19 restrictive measures are relaxed to allow routine dental treatment to resume.

National Health Service dentistry was reorganised in late March along with other NHS primary care services to minimise face to face care to contain the spread of COVID-19 during the peak of the pandemic. Dentists were asked to suspend all routine treatment and instead to offer urgent advice and, where required, prescriptions for antibiotics by telephone. Urgent treatment was made available through urgent dental centres (UDCs) set up in each NHS region.

As of 25 May, there are currently over 550 UDCs open. Patients are triaged into UDCs by their own dentistry or through NHS 111. The UDCs are expected to provide, where urgently needed, the full range of dental treatment normally available on the NHS.

NHS England and NHS Improvement announced on 28 May that NHS dentistry outside UDCs will begin to restart from 8 June with the aim of increasing levels of service as fast as is compatible with maximising safety.

6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports by researchers at the Lazzaro Spallanzani Hospital in Rome that they have developed a vaccine that can neutralise COVID-19 in human cells; and what plans they have to encourage scientists in the UK to be involved in the clinical trials of that vaccine .

As the Prime Minister has said, the hunt for a vaccine will be a truly global endeavour – no one country or company will be able to do this alone. The Government is closely monitoring the progress of vaccines being developed outside the United Kingdom, including at the Lazzaro Spallanzani Institute in Rome. The development of a COVID-19 vaccine is at the early stages but progressing rapidly. We will continue to support the two leading UK academic groups at present and connect key companies in the vaccines landscape. We are also working with regulators to facilitate rapid but well-supervised clinical trials in the UK, building on the UK’s world-leading expertise in this area.

29th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many patients who were discharged from hospitals to care homes in each week since 1 February were not tested for the COVID-19 virus before that transfer.

The Government does not hold data on the number of patients who were discharged from hospitals to care homes in each week since 1 February and were not tested for COVID-19 before transfer. We are working closely with local authorities, the care sector and NHS England to understand the impact of COVID-19 on care homes and ensure everyone has access to the right care, in the most appropriate setting for their needs.

This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we will continue to work closely with the sector to keep our policies and data under review as the pandemic goes on.

28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the suggestion by the President of the United States of America that injecting or ingesting disinfectant might be a cure for COVID-19; and what scientific advice they have received about the impact such treatment would have on patients so treated.

No assessment has been made.

28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the advice from the World Health Organisation that evidence shows that patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are not necessarily immune from reinfection; and what impact that advice will have on their policy regarding easing the lockdown in the UK.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is responsible for ensuring that timely and coordinated scientific advice is made available to decision-makers, to support United Kingdom cross-Government decisions. In fulfilling this role, SAGE considers a wide range scientific evidence, including from the World Health Organization. Our approach has been, and will continue to be, guided by the evidence and latest advice from medical experts.

The Government has been clear throughout the pandemic that it is vital to take the right steps at the right time. Decisions on when to adjust lockdown measures are guided by scientific advice and based on the following five tests that need to be met:

- The National Health Service is able to provide sufficient care, facilities and treatment across the United Kingdom to meet demand;

- A sustained fall in the death rate;

- The rate of infection has decreased across all settings;

- Confidence that operational challenges, such as increasing our testing capacity and having enough personal protective equipment, are in hand; and

- Confidence that any changes will not lead to a significant second peak of infections.

23rd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to undertake an inquiry into the numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Gloucestershire; and what assessment they have made of the impact of the Cheltenham Festival race meeting in March on those numbers.

The Department has no plans to undertake an inquiry specifically into the numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Gloucestershire. No assessment has been made centrally of the impact of the Cheltenham Festival race meeting in March on numbers of deaths related to COVID-19 in Gloucestershire or the number of people who attended the race meeting who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

At all times during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government’s response has been guided by the latest scientific advice. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) provides scientific advice to support United Kingdom decision-makers during emergencies. In recognition of the importance of transparency in these unprecedented times, SAGE has been publishing the statements and the accompanying evidence it has reviewed online on GOV.UK to demonstrate how the scientific understanding of COVID-19 has continued to evolve as new data emerges, and how SAGE’s advice has quickly adapted to new findings that reflect a changing situation. It will be updated as SAGE releases papers from recent and future meetings.

23rd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate, if any, they have made of the number of people who attended the Cheltenham Festival race meeting in March who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

The Department has no plans to undertake an inquiry specifically into the numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Gloucestershire. No assessment has been made centrally of the impact of the Cheltenham Festival race meeting in March on numbers of deaths related to COVID-19 in Gloucestershire or the number of people who attended the race meeting who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

At all times during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government’s response has been guided by the latest scientific advice. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) provides scientific advice to support United Kingdom decision-makers during emergencies. In recognition of the importance of transparency in these unprecedented times, SAGE has been publishing the statements and the accompanying evidence it has reviewed online on GOV.UK to demonstrate how the scientific understanding of COVID-19 has continued to evolve as new data emerges, and how SAGE’s advice has quickly adapted to new findings that reflect a changing situation. It will be updated as SAGE releases papers from recent and future meetings.

18th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to prioritise the testing of all health and care workers in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Our priority is to make sure that we carry out tests on those who need them most. Currently this is possible for COVID-19 cases in hospitals and care homes. As capacity for testing expands, we will increase the range of people who can be tested. In future key workers, such as health workers, and clinically high priority cases will be prioritised for testing.

18th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust about the reinstatement of a consultant-led all-hours A&E service at Cheltenham General Hospital.

There are no plans to close Cheltenham General Hospital’s (CGH) accident and emergency (A&E) service and NHS England and NHS Improvement are clear that any potential solution developed as part of One Gloucestershire’s Fit for the Future public engagement programme will not include any such plans.

There have been no formal proposals developed which include removing the consultant-led A&E service at Cheltenham.

Discussions have taken place between the Secretary of State and the Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Following these discussions, the Secretary of State confirmed on 23 October 2019 that no proposals to close Cheltenham A&E would be included in the forthcoming consultation.

CGH’s A&E department is consultant-led from 8am-8pm and overnight (8pm – 8am) the service is led by specialist emergency nurse practitioners. This arrangement, which has been in place since 2013, was in response to a lack of middle grade doctors and has preserved and ensured the continuation of high-quality care for patients in Gloucestershire 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what training programmes are in place to equip healthcare professionals in England with the necessary skills to (1) test, and (2) treat, patients for Coronavirus.

We practise and prepare our response to disease outbreaks and follow tried and tested procedures, following the highest safety standards possible for the protection of National Health Service staff, patients and the public. Specific guidance on handling people with COVID-19 has been shared with NHS staff. Public Health England has also published online guidance for first responders and others who may have close contact with people with potential COVID-19.

The Government has published an Action Plan which outlines the steps the Government will take to manage COVID-19 if there turns out to be a sustained United Kingdom epidemic.

24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the (1) number, and (2) pay, of care workers.

Through our continued funding of Skills for Care, the Government provides a range of resources and practical toolkits for social care providers to help them attract, train and retain staff. This includes distributing £12 million annually through the Workforce Development Fund, which employers can bid to for financial support towards the training and development of their staff. Over the past two years we have also run a national recruitment campaign, designed to reduce the turnover and vacancy rate in the sector by raising the profile of adult social care, encouraging potential applicants to apply for job vacancies, and highlighting opportunities for career development and progression.

Levels of pay for social care jobs are generally a matter for individual employers. However, local authorities, as commissioners of adult social care also have market shaping duties by virtue of the Care Act 2014. They must work with care providers to determine a fair rate of pay for fair work based on local market conditions.

19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to reinstate a 24-hours a day, seven days a week consultant-led Accident and Emergency at Cheltenham General Hospital; and if so, when.

There are no plans to close Cheltenham General Hospital’s (CGH) accident and emergency (A&E) and NHS England and NHS Improvement is clear that any potential solution developed as part of One Gloucestershire’s Fit for the Future public engagement programme will not include any such plans.

NHS England and NHS Improvement envisages the same workforce in the department and this includes a consultant-led service at Cheltenham’s A&E department.

Options for public consultation have not been drawn up at this stage. There are no formal proposals developed which include removing the consultant-led A&E service at Cheltenham.

Discussions have taken place between the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Following these discussions, the Secretary of State confirmed on 23 October 2019 that no proposals to close Cheltenham A&E would be included in the forthcoming consultation.

CGH’s A&E department is consultant-led from 8am-8pm and overnight (8pm – 8am) the service is led by specialist emergency nurse practitioners. This arrangement, which has been in place since 2013, was in response to a lack of middle grade doctors and has preserved and ensured the continuation of high-quality care for patients in Gloucestershire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Options for public consultation have not yet been drawn up due to the pre-consultation engagement phase, which is ongoing.

19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the option of removing Accident and Emergency consultants from Cheltenham General Hospital during the day will be included as part of their forthcoming consultation.

There are no plans to close Cheltenham General Hospital’s (CGH) accident and emergency (A&E) and NHS England and NHS Improvement is clear that any potential solution developed as part of One Gloucestershire’s Fit for the Future public engagement programme will not include any such plans.

NHS England and NHS Improvement envisages the same workforce in the department and this includes a consultant-led service at Cheltenham’s A&E department.

Options for public consultation have not been drawn up at this stage. There are no formal proposals developed which include removing the consultant-led A&E service at Cheltenham.

Discussions have taken place between the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Following these discussions, the Secretary of State confirmed on 23 October 2019 that no proposals to close Cheltenham A&E would be included in the forthcoming consultation.

CGH’s A&E department is consultant-led from 8am-8pm and overnight (8pm – 8am) the service is led by specialist emergency nurse practitioners. This arrangement, which has been in place since 2013, was in response to a lack of middle grade doctors and has preserved and ensured the continuation of high-quality care for patients in Gloucestershire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Options for public consultation have not yet been drawn up due to the pre-consultation engagement phase, which is ongoing.

19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and (2) the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, about the consultant-led Accident and Emergency service at Cheltenham General Hospital; and what was the outcome of any such discussions.

There are no plans to close Cheltenham General Hospital’s (CGH) accident and emergency (A&E) and NHS England and NHS Improvement is clear that any potential solution developed as part of One Gloucestershire’s Fit for the Future public engagement programme will not include any such plans.

NHS England and NHS Improvement envisages the same workforce in the department and this includes a consultant-led service at Cheltenham’s A&E department.

Options for public consultation have not been drawn up at this stage. There are no formal proposals developed which include removing the consultant-led A&E service at Cheltenham.

Discussions have taken place between the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Following these discussions, the Secretary of State confirmed on 23 October 2019 that no proposals to close Cheltenham A&E would be included in the forthcoming consultation.

CGH’s A&E department is consultant-led from 8am-8pm and overnight (8pm – 8am) the service is led by specialist emergency nurse practitioners. This arrangement, which has been in place since 2013, was in response to a lack of middle grade doctors and has preserved and ensured the continuation of high-quality care for patients in Gloucestershire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Options for public consultation have not yet been drawn up due to the pre-consultation engagement phase, which is ongoing.

19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to include the option of retaining a consultant-led Accident and Emergency department at Cheltenham General Hospital in their forthcoming consultation.

There are no plans to close Cheltenham General Hospital’s (CGH) accident and emergency (A&E) and NHS England and NHS Improvement is clear that any potential solution developed as part of One Gloucestershire’s Fit for the Future public engagement programme will not include any such plans.

NHS England and NHS Improvement envisages the same workforce in the department and this includes a consultant-led service at Cheltenham’s A&E department.

Options for public consultation have not been drawn up at this stage. There are no formal proposals developed which include removing the consultant-led A&E service at Cheltenham.

Discussions have taken place between the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Following these discussions, the Secretary of State confirmed on 23 October 2019 that no proposals to close Cheltenham A&E would be included in the forthcoming consultation.

CGH’s A&E department is consultant-led from 8am-8pm and overnight (8pm – 8am) the service is led by specialist emergency nurse practitioners. This arrangement, which has been in place since 2013, was in response to a lack of middle grade doctors and has preserved and ensured the continuation of high-quality care for patients in Gloucestershire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Options for public consultation have not yet been drawn up due to the pre-consultation engagement phase, which is ongoing.

19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to retain a consultant-led Accident and Emergency service throughout the day at Cheltenham General Hospital; and if so, for how long.

There are no plans to close Cheltenham General Hospital’s (CGH) accident and emergency (A&E) and NHS England and NHS Improvement is clear that any potential solution developed as part of One Gloucestershire’s Fit for the Future public engagement programme will not include any such plans.

NHS England and NHS Improvement envisages the same workforce in the department and this includes a consultant-led service at Cheltenham’s A&E department.

Options for public consultation have not been drawn up at this stage. There are no formal proposals developed which include removing the consultant-led A&E service at Cheltenham.

Discussions have taken place between the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Following these discussions, the Secretary of State confirmed on 23 October 2019 that no proposals to close Cheltenham A&E would be included in the forthcoming consultation.

CGH’s A&E department is consultant-led from 8am-8pm and overnight (8pm – 8am) the service is led by specialist emergency nurse practitioners. This arrangement, which has been in place since 2013, was in response to a lack of middle grade doctors and has preserved and ensured the continuation of high-quality care for patients in Gloucestershire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Options for public consultation have not yet been drawn up due to the pre-consultation engagement phase, which is ongoing.

19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what factors led to their consideration of removing the consultant-led Accident and Emergency service at Cheltenham General Hospital.

There are no plans to close Cheltenham General Hospital’s (CGH) accident and emergency (A&E) and NHS England and NHS Improvement is clear that any potential solution developed as part of One Gloucestershire’s Fit for the Future public engagement programme will not include any such plans.

NHS England and NHS Improvement envisages the same workforce in the department and this includes a consultant-led service at Cheltenham’s A&E department.

Options for public consultation have not been drawn up at this stage. There are no formal proposals developed which include removing the consultant-led A&E service at Cheltenham.

Discussions have taken place between the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Following these discussions, the Secretary of State confirmed on 23 October 2019 that no proposals to close Cheltenham A&E would be included in the forthcoming consultation.

CGH’s A&E department is consultant-led from 8am-8pm and overnight (8pm – 8am) the service is led by specialist emergency nurse practitioners. This arrangement, which has been in place since 2013, was in response to a lack of middle grade doctors and has preserved and ensured the continuation of high-quality care for patients in Gloucestershire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Options for public consultation have not yet been drawn up due to the pre-consultation engagement phase, which is ongoing.

14th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many doses of all makes of COVID-19 vaccines they have donated to countries in Africa; and how many doses each country has received.

The UK is one of the largest donors to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), that has delivered more than 57 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 42 African AMC countries to date. In addition to the £548m donation to COVAX, the UK has donated 5,624,440 doses to countries in Africa. Of this, 5,214,400 doses were donated through COVAX and 410,040 doses through bilateral donations. All the UK donated vaccines were produced by AstraZeneca.

African countries have received 5,138,680 doses (91%) of UK donated COVID-19 vaccines while 485,760 (9%) doses are yet to be delivered. Recipient countries are: Angola (128,640), Democratic Republic of Congo (51,840), Egypt (299,680), Ethiopia (1,520,640), Ghana (249,600), Kenya (817,080), Malawi (119,040), Niger (105,600), Nigeria (1,287,680), Senegal (140,160), Uganda (299,520) and Zambia (119,200).

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision by Sierra Leone on 23 July to abolish the death penalty; and whether they have any plans to increase bilateral aid to that country.

We welcome the decision by Sierra Leone's Parliament on 23 July to abolish the death penalty. The Foreign Secretary and Minister for Africa congratulated President Bio and the people of Sierra Leone on this important milestone and we hope President Bio will soon give Presidential assent to make the bill into law. The UK will remain a strong supporter of democracy, development, and the promotion and protection of human rights in Sierra Leone.

We have had to take difficult decisions about Official Development Assistance (ODA) spending in all countries as a result of the pandemic. The UK remains a significant global aid partner, with plans to spend more than £10 billion in ODA this financial year, and we continue to have a strong development partnership with Sierra Leone. The Minister for Africa will continue to work with the Government of Sierra Leone to advance our shared priorities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they most recently discussed (1) human rights, and (2) the death penalty, with the governments of (a) China, (b) Iran, (c) Saudi Arabia, and (d) the United States of America.

We regularly engage with the governments of China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United States of America and other partners on a wide range of issues, including Human Rights and the Death Penalty.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to implement the recommendations of the report of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic, published on 5 May; and in particular, what plans they have to support a political declaration on pandemic planning at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

It is vital to learn lessons from a global health emergency, particularly one as complex and far-reaching as COVID-19, so that we can be better prepared for future pandemics. We need to take this moment to deliver concrete improvements that allow the international system to respond better in the future. The findings and bold recommendations of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response, as well as the other reviews into this pandemic, will play an important role in this process. We are carefully considering these recommendations as we approach key discussions, including at the G20, the United Nations General Assembly, and the World Health Assembly Special Session later this year.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the British Council regarding the decision to reduce funding to that organisation; what assessment they have made of the impact of the closures of British Council offices that have resulted from the funding cuts; and what assessment they have made of the compatibility of their decision with their Global Britain policy.

The government remains committed to the British Council. As the Integrated Review made clear, the Council is one of the vital instruments of our influence overseas. We agreed a 2021/22 Spending Review settlement totalling £189m, a 27% increase on funding for 2020/21. The Council will continue to operate in over 100 countries promoting the English language, UK arts and culture, and education. Our commitment to Global Britain is clear through our hosting of the G7 last month, and the UK continues to be a soft power superpower.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Ethiopia about the alleged use of starvation as a weapon of war in Tigray.

The Government is deeply concerned about the grave humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and combatants, including Eritrean armed forces, denying access to humanitarian agencies. Over 350,000 people are assessed to be in famine-like conditions - more than anywhere else in the world. The UK's Special Envoy for Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs, Nick Dyer visited Tigray in May and concluded that region-wide famine in Tigray is now likely if conflict intensifies and impediments to the delivery of humanitarian aid continue.

The UK has consistently called for protection of civilians and unfettered humanitarian access, including in our joint statements with the G7 and directly with Prime Minister Abiy. The Minister for Africa raised this with the Minister of Peace in her visit to the UK in July. The UK Ambassador to Ethiopia has also raised our concerns on multiple occasions to the Government. We continue to push for those responsible for atrocities to be held to account including at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) where I set out on 2 July our concerns at the continued lack of progress in delivering humanitarian access to Tigray.

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 link between climate change and population growth; and what plans they have, if any, to weaken this link to reduce the impact caused by population growth.

Evidence shows that while population growth has an impact on the environment and global emissions, the bigger factor is consumption levels per capita. For example, it takes the average UK citizen five days to emit the same amount of carbon as the average Rwandan does in a full year. Voluntary family planning programmes are one of the most powerful enablers of sustainable development and prosperity. Effective and voluntary family planning programmes can positively change population trends and the overall development trajectory of communities and whole countries, by empowering women and bringing down fertility rates.  Good investments in health and education can also enable communities to adapt and respond to climate change.

Key UK aid investments include support for voluntary family planning and for provision of 12 years of quality education for girls in low income countries. This year, we are supporting the launch of FP2030, the new global partnership to accelerate progress on voluntary family planning. This November, the UK is hosting the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26 and is committed to delivering an ambitious and inclusive COP26.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the UK's withdrawal from the EU, whether the Overseas Territories can still apply for grants from the InvestEU Fund.

The UK has not entered into an agreement covering the participation of the UK or the British Overseas Territories in InvestEU, which launched in 2021 and is supported by the EU's budget. We remain unwavering in our commitment to safeguarding the Overseas Territories' interests and we are providing support to the Overseas Territories, following the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of plans by the governments of the United States and Russia to allow test drilling for (1) gas, and (2) oil, on land in the Arctic or in the Arctic Ocean, and (3) the compatibility of these plans with those nations’ commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Decisions on oil and gas activities, including Arctic drilling, are matters for the relevant national authorities. We recognise the global impacts the changes in the Arctic environment will have, such as global sea-level rises and threatening our shared biodiversity. As such, we are committed to halting and reversing biodiversity loss and protecting nature. The UK welcomes President Biden's recent announcement to suspend oil and gas leases in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, pending an environmental review as a step in the right direction.

The implementation of ending the UK's support for new fossil fuels projects overseas demonstrates the UK's international leadership on climate. It is a proactive way to pivot support to clean energy and drive down global emissions. The G7 has now committed to phasing out international fossil fuel finance, starting with coal, and to bend the curve of biodiversity loss by 2030. Ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, we welcome the United States' updated Nationally Determined Contributions target of 50-52% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction in 2030 below 2005 levels. We are encouraging Russia as a G20 economy to also commit to reductions in line with the Paris Agreement Commitments.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House a list of projects which will receive reduced funding because of the reduction in overseas development assistance.

FCDO Officials are continuing to work through the implementation of the budget changes set out in the Foreign Secretary's WMS, with partners and suppliers. Given we are in a one-year spending settlement, FCDO's 21/22 planned budget allocations will be published in our Annual Report later this year. We will also continue to publish our spend information by project on DevTracker as always (updated monthly).

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to reinstate spending of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on international aid.

The Government is committed to returning to spending 0.7 per cent of GNI on official development assistance as soon as the fiscal situation allows.

The economic situation is difficult to predict. We are therefore monitoring the situation and planning accordingly.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have received from other governments in relation to their decision to cut Official Development Assistance to 0.5 per cent of Gross National Income.

We have been discussing the UK's ODA decision and commitments with our development donor partners. The UK remains a development superpower. We will spend £10 billion on ODA in 2021.

That means, this year (2021) the UK will be the third largest ODA donor in the G7 as a percentage of GNI, based on OECD 2020 data, and will spend a greater percentage of our GNI on ODA than the US, Japan, Canada or Italy. Of the countries that also meet the NATO 2% target, as a percentage of GNI the UK will be the most generous aid spender. Collectively, across aid and defence, the UK will spend £56 billion in 21-22. Even at 0.5% GNI, the UK's 2021 spend is above the preliminary 2020 average of OECD Development Assistance Committee member states - at just 0.41%.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the legality of reducing the percentage of Gross National Income spent on Official Development Assistance without introducing new legislation to do so.

The Government is committed to returning to spending 0.7 per cent of GNI on official development assistance when the fiscal situation allows. The Government is acting in line with the International Development Act 2015, which explicitly envisages that there may be circumstances where the 0.7% target is not met.

The Act also provides for the Secretary of State's accountability to Parliament through the requirement to lay a statement before Parliament and, if relevant, make reference to economic and fiscal circumstances. The Foreign Secretary has already committed to doing that.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on the international reputation of the UK of their decision to reduce Official Development Assistance to 0.5 per cent of Gross National Income.

The UK remains a development superpower. We will spend £10 billion on ODA in 2021. That means, this year (2021) the UK will be the third largest ODA donor in the G7 as a percentage of GNI, based on OECD 2020 data, and will spend a greater percentage of our GNI on ODA than the US, Japan, Canada or Italy. Of the countries that also meet the NATO 2% target, as a percentage of GNI the UK will be the most generous aid spender. Collectively, across aid and defence, the UK will spend £56 billion in 21-22. Even at 0.5% GNI, the UK's 2021 spend is above the preliminary 2020 average of OECD Development Assistance Committee member states - at just 0.41%.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to restore the level of Official Development Assistance to 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income.

The Government is committed to returning to spending 0.7 per cent of GNI on official development assistance when the fiscal situation allows. The economic situation is difficult to predict therefore we are monitoring the situation. But the PM, Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary are all in agreement that they want the UK to return to 0.7 as soon as the situation allows. This is reflected in the Integrated Review.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to invite Belarus opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to the forthcoming G7 summit hosted by the United Kingdom.

It was not possible to invite further national participants to the G7 summit. However G7 Leaders discussed current global issues including the Lukashenko regime's reckless and dangerous behaviour and this was reflected in the official communique. The Foreign Secretary discussed the political situation in Belarus with the opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on 2 June and made it clear that Mrs Tikhanovskaya was welcome to visit the UK as soon as conditions allow. Until that becomes possible, officials are in regular contact with civil society and opposition groups and most recently spoke to members of the Belarus National Anti-Crisis Management on 7 June.

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 the reported estimate by MSI Reproductive Choices that thousands of deaths could result from cuts to the UK Overseas Development Assistance budget; whether they have made their own estimate in this regard; and if so, what is their projected number.

MSI Reproductive Choices is a major partner in the UK's flagship multi-country Women's Integrated Sexual Health (WISH) Programme which is on track to prevent an estimated 29,000 maternal deaths by end August 2021, through expanding access to modern methods of family planning. The UK remains committed to this programme and an extension to the timeframe will enable the implementing partners to contribute to averting up to an estimated further 1700 maternal deaths.

The FCDO's aid budget has been allocated in accordance with UK strategic priorities against a challenging financial climate of COVID. Officials considered the impact on women and girls, the most marginalised and vulnerable, people with disabilities and people from other protected groups, when developing advice to Ministers. The FCDO carried out a central Equalities Impact Assessment which looked at our bilateral country spending. Standalone impact assessments were not carried out, given the multiple overlapping scenarios.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 3 June (HL275), what assessment they have made of the formation of a new unity government in Israel; and what assessment they have made of the implications of such a development for the possibility of UK recognition of Palestine as a sovereign nation.

We look forward to maintaining excellent relations with the new Israeli government, when formed, and working closely together. The UK will recognise a Palestinian state at a time when it best serves the objective of peace. Bilateral recognition in itself cannot end the occupation. Without a negotiated settlement the occupation and the problems that come with it will continue. We continue to work closely with international partners to strongly advocate for a two-state solution and encourage a return to meaningful negotiations between both parties.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 25 May (HL48), whether they plan to provide funding for the St Helena Government to charter aircraft in order to improve prospects for the tourism industry on the Island towards the aim of economic self-sufficiency.

The UK Government has recently confirmed its contribution to the St Helena Government's budget for 2021/22. St Helena Government will provide funding for charter flights that maintain essential access to and from the Island. The UK Government continues to work with the St Helena Government in their efforts to stimulate the economy and encourage tourists to visit the Island in future.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to recognise Palestine as a sovereign nation.

The UK will recognise a Palestinian state at a time when it best serves the objective of peace. We remain committed to a negotiated two-state solution that protects the peace and security of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they intend to make to the government of Zimbabwe about reports that human rights abuses have been committed against Joanna Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri.

We regularly engage with the Government of Zimbabwe to urge adherence to their human rights obligations and to respect the freedoms and rights enshrined in the Zimbabwean Constitution. The Minister for Africa has followed the cases of Joanna Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri closely. He publically registered his concern over their arrests on 5 February 2021, and on 29 March he highlighted the continued harassment of the political opposition, calling for all to be treated equally under law. The British Embassy in Harare remains in contact with Ms Mamombe and Ms Chimbiri and their lawyers.

We remain clear that the Government of Zimbabwe must meet its international and domestic obligations by respecting the rule of law, safeguarding human rights, and committing to genuine political and economic reform for the benefit of all Zimbabweans. Her Majesty's Government will continue to speak out, both privately and in public, where we have concerns and we will work alongside the international community to support a better future for all Zimbabweans.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 9 March (HL13597), (1) whether, and (2) if so, why, the Falkland Islands have been excluded from the definition of the South Atlantic Overseas Territories; and whether the Falkland Islands have benefited from the Blue Belt programme.

The Falkland Islands are geographically part of the South Atlantic UK Overseas Territories region, but they have so far chosen not to be part of the Blue Belt initiative. The Blue Belt programme remains open to all Overseas Territories, and the UK is keen to offer support to any Territory wishing to enhance marine protection in its waters. Over the past five years, the Blue Belt programme has also contributed funding to the Darwin Plus scheme, which has funded marine environment projects in Overseas Territories which are not currently participating in the programme.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of their decision to reduce humanitarian aid to Yemen; and why they decided to reduce such aid.

The UK is facing the worst economic contraction in over 300 years, and a budget deficit of close to £400 billion. As announced last year, given the impact of this global pandemic on the economy and, as a result, the public finances, we will move to a target of spending 0.5% of Gross National Income as Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2021.

On 1 March, the Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa announced that the UK will provide at least £87 million to Yemen over the course of our next financial year (2021/22), making us the 5th largest donor; with the UK contributing over £1 billion since the conflict began. Our funding will feed an additional 240,000 of the most vulnerable Yemenis every month, support 400 healthcare clinics and provide clean water for 1.6 million people. We will also provide one-off cash support to 1.5 million of Yemen's poorest households to help them buy food and basic supplies.

An inclusive political settlement is the only way to bring long-term stability to Yemen and to address the worsening humanitarian crisis. We fully support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to secure a lasting political settlement to the Yemen conflict. The Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa spoke with him on 1 March to discuss how the UK can best support the UN-led peace process.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much has been spent as part of the Blue Belt programme on each of the South Atlantic Marine Protected Areas; and what has been achieved through that funding so far.

The Blue Belt programme supports the UK Overseas Territories to enhance marine protection in their waters. Protection has now been put in place across more than 4 million km of ocean around the Overseas Territories. The programme has been supported by nearly £25m to date. Of this, around £3.7m has been spent specifically on St Helena, around £3m on Tristan da Cunha, and around £2.6m on Ascension. The programme has supported the three South Atlantic Overseas Territories to design and designate marine protection strategies for their waters, and to put the required legislation and management plans in place, with ongoing scientific monitoring and enforcement. Further details on the programme achievements can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/934959/Blue_Belt_Programme_2016_to_2020_programme_highlights_brochure.pdf

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the government of St Helena Strategic Plan for the SHG Capital Programme 2020-2030, published on 12 May; and what plans they have to draw up a new compact to change their relationship with that government from a donor-recipient to a development partnership.

The St Helena Strategic Plan for the St Helena Government's Capital Programme 2020-2030 has helped shape UK Government's funding of a multiyear capital investment programme. The UK Government continues to work with St Helena to build a strong a partnership this including: jointly agreeing priority capital investments; support with governance reform and continued COVID 19 support which includes ongoing deliveries of personal protective equipment, testing equipment and a supply of vaccines for the adult population.

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 assist the government of St Helena to improve its economy.

The UK Government continues to provide funding for a range of activities that assists St Helena Government improve the local economy. UK Government's funding makes up over 70% of St Helena's budget and therefore has a significant impact on the economy and local revenues generated. The UK Government is also funding infrastructure projects in St Helena under an Economic Development Investment Programme (EDIP) to support the island's economic development and improve opportunities for the local private sector. Current projects include the development of a container port at Rupert's Bay. This year, the UK Government provided an additional funding to St Helena's budget Government to protect the economy from the impacts of COVID 19.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of permitting the Falkland Islands to negotiate with the EU to seek to remove tariffs on Falkland Islands exports of fish and meat products to the EU

The UK Government is fully committed to supporting the Overseas Territories, and we will continue to do all we can to protect their interests. During negotiations of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, we made clear to the EU from the outset that we were negotiating on behalf of the Overseas Territories. However, the European Commission refused to negotiate a future relationship that included the Overseas Territories. We sought to change the Commission's position, but it declined to engage. As a result, tariffs now apply on exports from the Overseas Territories to the EU, in particular exports from the Falkland Islands. We are working with the Falkland Islands Government to agree the appropriate actions to mitigate against the impact of tariffs on their exports to the EU.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to negotiate with the EU on behalf of the Falkland Islands to remove tariffs on the export of fish and meat products from the Falkland Islands to the EU.

The UK Government is fully committed to supporting the Overseas Territories, and we will continue to do all we can to protect their interests. During negotiations of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, we made clear to the EU from the outset that we were negotiating on behalf of the Overseas Territories. However, the European Commission refused to negotiate a future relationship that included the Overseas Territories. We sought to change the Commission's position, but it declined to engage. As a result, tariffs now apply on exports from the Overseas Territories to the EU, in particular exports from the Falkland Islands. We are working with the Falkland Islands Government to agree the appropriate actions to mitigate against the impact of tariffs on their exports to the EU.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the impact to the Falkland Islands economy of the introduction of tariffs on Falkland Islands exports of fish and meat products to the EU.

The UK Government is fully committed to supporting the Overseas Territories, and we will continue to do all we can to protect their interests. During negotiations of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, we made clear to the EU from the outset that we were negotiating on behalf of the Overseas Territories. However, the European Commission refused to negotiate a future relationship that included the Overseas Territories. We sought to change the Commission's position, but it declined to engage. As a result, tariffs now apply on exports from the Overseas Territories to the EU, in particular exports from the Falkland Islands. We are working with the Falkland Islands Government to agree the appropriate actions to mitigate against the impact of tariffs on their exports to the EU.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the export of fish and meat products from the Falkland Islands to the EU.

The UK Government is fully committed to supporting the Overseas Territories, and we will continue to do all we can to protect their interests. During negotiations of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, we made clear to the EU from the outset that we were negotiating on behalf of the Overseas Territories. However, the European Commission refused to negotiate a future relationship that included the Overseas Territories. We sought to change the Commission's position, but it declined to engage. As a result, tariffs now apply on exports from the Overseas Territories to the EU, in particular exports from the Falkland Islands. We are working with the Falkland Islands Government to agree the appropriate actions to mitigate against the impact of tariffs on their exports to the EU.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide regular assessments of the risks of climate change to the British Overseas Territories.

The environment is a devolved responsibility for the Overseas Territories (OTs), however the UK Government offers its support to tackle climate change in several ways. The Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) has funded projects including the Joint Nature Conservation Committee which supported OTs in the Caribbean and Bermuda to assess the value of their natural capital and build resilience against hurricane related flood risks. This will enable them to have a detailed understanding of the risks hurricanes pose to their OT, and develop long term adaptation strategies. Defra have funded a project with the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership, focusing on the challenges faced by OTs from marine climate change impacts. This project will engage directly with regional experts across the UKOTs, to provide a consensus view on the key issues, and how OTs are responding to them. The work will culminate in a series of summaries for decision makers in the UKOTs. Through the UK Government funded Darwin and Darwin Plus Initiatives, the UK continues to support the ability of the OTs to increase their resilience and ability to adapt in the face of climate change by funding individual projects. The UK Government continues to have regular discussions with the OTs about potential climate change risks, to ensure this is adequately monitored.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will provide the funding to the government of St Helena for a new reservoir; and if so, when such funding will be provided.

The UK Government has financed major water infrastructure investments over the last 10 years, including reservoir enlargements. The UK is currently funding a capital investment programme on the island, and the St Helena Government are responsible for proposing and prioritising the list of individual projects. The St Helena Government is currently developing its long term water management strategy, which will identify potential water infrastructure needs.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the UK’s membership of the World Trade Organization includes the British Overseas Territories.

The United Kingdom's membership of the WTO does not currently include the Overseas Territories. The UK Government is constitutionally responsible for the international relations of the Overseas Territories, and should an Overseas Territory wish to participate in the WTO, the United Kingdom Government would look to assist in exploring the processes and options available.

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 the government of Tristan da Cunha in any future negotiations for a trade agreement with the EU.

The Government is fully committed to supporting the Overseas Territories and we will continue to do all we can to protect their interests. The impact of the UK's departure from the EU is different for each territory, including the introduction of tariff on exports from the Overseas Territories. Tristan da Cunha's primary export of rock lobster to the EU is currently not subject to tariffs. Fish and coffee exports from St Helena are not significantly impacted. The Government will continue to work with the territories to mitigate against the impact of tariffs, as well as taking up the benefits of the UK's independent trade policy.

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 the government of Saint Helena in any future negotiations to secure market access for the export of (1) fish, and (2) coffee products to the EU.

The Government is fully committed to supporting the Overseas Territories and we will continue to do all we can to protect their interests. The impact of the UK’s departure from the EU is different for each territory, including the introduction of tariff on exports from the Overseas Territories. Tristan da Cunha’s primary export of rock lobster to the EU is currently not subject to tariffs. Fish and coffee exports from St Helena are not significantly impacted. The Government will continue to work with the territories to mitigate against the impact of tariffs, as well as taking up the benefits of the UK’s independent trade policy.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the renewal of the licence for supplying communication services to the government of St Helena, what plans they have for competitive tendering in the process of granting the new licence.

The St Helena Government is responsible for the island's telecommunications policy as this is a devolved matter. Telecommunications on St Helena are currently governed under a 10-year licence issued to a service provider in 2012 which expires on 31 December 2022.

The St Helena Government is responsible for negotiating the new licence and has appointed technical consultants to assist in a review of the new licence and the future procurement exercise. The St Helena Government's tender process for the new licence holder has commenced and the deadline date for proposals is 26 February 2021.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that the extension of the Equiano subsea cable project to St Helena provides (1) a universal, and (2) a cheap, internet connection, in line with the EU’s conditions for a grant for the extension.

The St Helena Government was granted funding by the 11th European Development Fund in February 2018 for a sub-marine fibre optic cable to the island and is responsible for managing the project. It signed a contract with Google in December 2019 for the construction of the cable that will branch off the main Equiano cable running between Portugal and South Africa. The St Helena Government owns the branch and is responsible for developing the cable landing station. Its key objective is to ensure all residents on St Helena have access to reliable, high capacity bandwidth at affordable prices and plans to introduce a regulator to enforce Key Performance Indicators which will be provided for in the new telecoms licence that will come into force on 1 January 2023. It is also working towards earth stations, digital businesses and digital nomads being located on the island, and for this additional demand for services to assist in the lowering of prices for residents. The cable, along with the associated high speed internet, is scheduled to be operational in 2022.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the departure of the UK from the EU, what assessment they have made of the impact on exports to the EU of (1) fish from St Helena, (2) crayfish from Tristan da Cunha, and (3) squid and meat from the Falkland Islands.

The UK Government is fully committed to supporting the Overseas Territories. The impact of the UK's departure from the EU is different for each territory, including the introduction of tariff on exports from the Overseas Territories. Fish exports from St. Helena are not significantly impacted. Tristan da Cunha does not export crayfish to the EU, and exports of rock lobster are currently not subject to tariffs. Exports from the Falkland Islands to the EU are now subject to tariffs. We will continue to work with the Overseas Territories to take the necessary steps in mitigating the impact of the UK's departure from the EU.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the electoral process in the United States; and whether they have made representations to the current President of the United States about those processes.

We send our warm congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on winning this election, with more votes than any candidate in US history. The US Presidential election was a hard fought campaign, but the turnout of over 150 million American voters shows the strength of US democracy. As the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have said, it is not the place of foreign governments to tell candidates in a US election how they should react to these results. We have confidence in the checks and balances of the US system to resolve any disputes.

13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what meetings they plan to hold with the government of the United States in November and December 2020.

Regardless of who wins the election, the Government will continue to work closely with the current US Administration in these months, as we would normally do, on a variety of issues.

30th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with local authorities on Ascension and St Helena over the islands’ suitability as asylum processing centres.

As the Foreign Secretary told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on 6 October 2020, the Government is developing plans to reform policies and laws around illegal migration and asylum to ensure we are able to provide protection to those who need it, while preventing abuse of the system and the criminality associated with it. As part of that work the Government has looked at what other countries do to inform a plan for the UK.

21st Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much was spent on the wars in Iraq; and how much has been spent subsequently on assisting (1) translators who helped the UK during the wars, and (2) refugees from Iraq displaced by the wars to settle in the UK.

The costs of Operation TELIC, under which all UK military operations in Iraq were conducted from 2003-2011, were £8.164 billion. Operation SHADER, which is working to ensure the lasting defeat of Daesh in Syria and in Iraq cost £1.899 billion to 2019/20. The scheme that we had in place to assist Iraqis who worked for our forces during the conflict - and in certain cases relocate them to the UK - closed in 2010. It is difficult to quantify how much was spent on assisting refugees displaced by the wars in Iraq to settle in the UK. Iraq was the second most common nationality of resettled refugees in the UK between 2010-2019- with 1,876 Iraqi refugees resettled.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports from the World Health Organisation and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme that (1) 785 million people do not have access to clean water close to home, (2) two billion people do not have a decent toilet, and (3) three billion people do not have basic handwashing facilities at home; and what plans they have to work with other governments to tackle those issues, particularly in view of the importance of sanitation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FCDO takes the data in these reports very seriously, and we are proud to support the WHO and UNICEF to produce them. If current trends continue, Sustainable Development Goal 6 targets for water supply, sanitation and hygiene will not be achieved. This will undermine the achievement of many other global goals, and our own commitment to end the preventable deaths of mothers, infants and children. Progress on hygiene and sanitation is needed to tackle COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Over the last five years, the UK has helped 62 million people gain access to water and sanitation services. We are working with Unilever and other partners to promote hand hygiene for up to a billion people in response to the current pandemic. We also need longer-term solutions. To maximise the impact of aid, we are shifting our focus to strengthen national health systems which can deliver and sustain access at a far greater scale - and which can attract additional financial resources.

18th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Sugg on 17 September (HL7786), whether the reference in that answer to emergency support having been provided to the Mauritian Wildlife Fund should have been to the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.

I thank the Noble Lord for highlighting this error to me.

A correction has now been made to question HL7785 and HL7786 to correctly identify the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation in my previous replies

14th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance they provide to developing countries for family planning services.

The UK is a global leader on family planning and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The UK is a founding member of the FP2020 partnership, established at the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning to support governments in developing countries to make and deliver on commitments to family planning. We accelerated progress towards these goals at the 2017 London Family Planning Summit and we are now working closely with the global community to shape the post-2020 family planning partnership.

The UK is the second largest bilateral donor to family planning; this assistance is delivered through a range of programmes, including our flagship SRHR programme 'WISH' and as the largest donor to UNFPA Supplies. In 2017/18 alone, the UK spent £241.5 million of UK aid on family planning, reaching 30.9m total users of contraception, preventing 10.7 million unintended pregnancies. .

3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the fairness of recent elections in Belarus.

The Foreign Secretary has been clear that the UK does not accept the results of the fraudulent Presidential elections in Belarus of 9th August. The UK is calling for a thorough independent investigation by the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) into the conduct of the elections and the violent crackdown that followed. The Government supports the call for constructive political dialogue between the regime in Belarus and opposition leaders to find a way forward that is supported by the Belarusian people.

3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the oil spill caused by the shipwreck of MV Wakashio, what assistance they are providing to the government of Mauritius to clean the area and save wildlife, particularly the endangered species in and around the national park of Ile aux Aigrettes.

Following the oil spill, the Government of Mauritius requested urgent assistance from the international community. As part of this response, we deployed three ecology experts from the UK's Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. These experts are assessing the scale of the damage and are helping Mauritius identify the best ways to restore its coastline and protect the species now at risk of oil pollution. In addition, a package of legal and technical advice has been provided to assist with the safe disposal of the stricken ship. We also deployed a marine expert to the scene and have put in place a team of lawyers and marine consultants who are also helping the Mauritian Government while working remotely from the UK.

Finally, the UK has committed £10,000 of new emergency support for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation to support its urgent work to help the local nature reserves directly impacted by the oil spill, including Ile aux Aigrettes. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and assist the Mauritian Government to limit the impact of the spill.

3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the actions of the government of Mauritius following the shipwreck of, and subsequent oil spill caused by, MV Wakashio.

Following the oil spill, the Government of Mauritius requested urgent assistance from the international community. As part of this response, we deployed three ecology experts from the UK's Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. These experts are assessing the scale of the damage and are helping Mauritius identify the best ways to restore its coastline and protect the species now at risk of oil pollution. In addition, a package of legal and technical advice has been provided to assist with the safe disposal of the stricken ship. We also deployed a marine expert to the scene and have put in place a team of lawyers and marine consultants who are also helping the Mauritian Government while working remotely from the UK.

Finally, the UK has committed £10,000 of new emergency support for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation to support its urgent work to help the local nature reserves directly impacted by the oil spill, including Ile aux Aigrettes. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and assist the Mauritian Government to limit the impact of the spill.

10th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures, if any, they are taking following the excessive use of force by authorities in the United States; and what plans they have to suspend exports of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields to that country.

The violence we have seen in the US is clearly very alarming. Peaceful protest remains a vital part of a democratic society and people must be allowed to protest peacefully.

We consider all our export applications thoroughly against a strict risk assessment framework and keep all licences under careful and continual review as standard.

8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision by the UN to update World Map 4170 to show the Chagos Archipelago as Mauritian territory; and what plans they have to comply with UN General Assembly resolution 73/295 on the withdrawal of the UK administration of the Chagos Archipelago.

The UK notes that the designation of the British Indian Ocean Territory has been modified on maps produced by the UN, following UN General Assembly Resolution 73/295. This resolution is not legally binding and the UK voted against its adoption.

This modification by the UN does not alter, or determine, sovereignty of the Chagos Archipelago and it makes no difference to the UK's position, which we have consistently made clear. The UK has no doubt about our sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago. Mauritius has never held sovereignty, so we do not recognise its claim. We have, however, made a long-standing commitment to cede sovereignty of the territory to Mauritius when it is no longer required for defence purposes. We stand by that commitment.

6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what assistance they have given to the Overseas Territories to help cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) which Overseas Territories have introduced testing for COVID-19.

The Government is firmly committed to supporting the Overseas Territories in dealing with the various impacts of COVID-19. I am in regular contact with the political leaders and Governors of the Territories, to understand the situation on the ground, discuss their needs and identify how we can best support them. I am overseeing a cross-Whitehall Unit, led by officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development, to support the Territories on four key areas - healthcare, economy, security, and access (for transport and supplies). We have provided essential medical equipment, medical advice and facilitated the recruitment of healthcare professionals where needed. We have boosted testing capabilities in all the inhabited Territories, except Tristan da Cunha and Pitcairn where there are no cases of COVID-19. The testing capabilities will not only benefit the response to COVID-19 but will also support the testing of other diseases. We are also providing financial support to mitigate the economic impacts in the most vulnerable Territories.

30th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Iran about its COVID-19 policies and the (1) infection, and (2) death, rates in that country.

We routinely discuss with Iran their response to COVID-19. The UK is taking a key role in the global response to the virus. Our support is directed to help the most vulnerable across the globe, which is why we have provided up to £2m of financial aid and funding for technical expertise to UN agencies in Iran, to combat the rapid spread of the disease.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 19 February (HL1487), whether they intend to prohibit Gibraltar from applying to join the EU Schengen open border area.

As Lord Ahmad stated in his response to question HL1487, the United Kingdom will be negotiating the future relationship with the EU on behalf of the whole United Kingdom family, including Gibraltar. The United Kingdom, including Gibraltar, is not part of the borderless Schengen zone.

24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps Gibraltar would need to take to rejoin the borderless Schengen zone.

The United Kingdom will be negotiating the future relationship with the EU on behalf of the whole United Kingdom family, including Gibraltar. The United Kingdom, including Gibraltar, is not part of the borderless Schengen zone.

10th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to prohibit Gibraltar from applying to join the EU Schengen open borders area.

After we leave, the United Kingdom will be negotiating the future relationship with the EU on behalf of the whole United Kingdom family, including Gibraltar. The United Kingdom, including Gibraltar, is not part of the borderless Schengen zone.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the anticipated impact on the Falkland Islands fishing industry when the UK leaves the EU.

​The United Kingdom Government and Government of the Falkland Islands have worked together to conduct relevant analysis on the impact of Brexit on the Falkland Island economy and fishing industry in particular.

The United Kingdom Government understands the importance of preferential access to the EU market to the prosperity of the Falkland Islands. The average EU Most Favoured Nation tariff on products caught by United Kingdom and Falkland-flagged vessels and exported to the EU would be just over 6%.

Ministers and officials have worked with counterparts across the British Overseas Territories (OTs) as they prepare to trade with the EU as non-EU associated territories, and the UK Government has been clear about its commitment to reflecting OT interests in the negotiations for the future UK-EU relationship.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following reports that Gibraltar is considering joining the EU Schengen area, what assessment they have made of the (1) advantages, and (2) disadvantages, of such a move for (a) Gibraltar, and (b) the UK.

After we leave, the United Kingdom will be negotiating the future relationship with the EU on behalf of the whole United Kingdom family, including Gibraltar. Working closely together, the United Kingdom and Gibraltar Governments have always supported arrangements at the border with Spain which promote fluidity and shared prosperity in the region. The United Kingdom, including Gibraltar, is not part of the borderless Schengen zone.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of any (1) advantages, and (2) disadvantages, that are likely to be experienced by each of the Overseas Territories after the UK’s departure from the EU.

The Government is working closely with the leaders of all the Overseas Territories (OTs) on matters relating to Brexit. After we leave the European Union, the UK will negotiate the future relationship with the EU on behalf of the whole UK family, including the OTs.

The Government has been addressing concerns over funding and citizens' rights for all OTs. Most non-European OTs, save the Falkland Islands and Tristan da Cunha, have little substantive trade with the EU.

Brexit represents an opportunity to pursue the OTs' interests in the UK's new, independent trade policy, including seeking improved market access around the world for OT-originating goods and services. Officials are in discussions with OT Representatives about their specific interests in particular markets.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, for a permanent cut in Value Added Tax for the hospitality and tourism sector.

In order to support the cash flow and viability of about 150,000 businesses and to protect over 2.4 million jobs, the Government has applied a temporary reduced rate of VAT (5 per cent) to goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors, which will now end on 30 September 2021. On 1 October 2021, a new reduced rate of 12.5 per cent will be introduced for these goods and services to help affected businesses manage the transition back to the standard rate. The new rate will end on 31 March 2022.

The reduced rate of VAT has been designed as a temporary measure. As restrictions are lifted and demand for goods and services in the tourism and hospitality sectors increases, this relief will be reduced and eventually removed in order to rebuild and strengthen the public finances. This policy will cost the Exchequer over £7 billion. While the Government keeps all taxes under review, there are no plans to make the reduced rate of VAT permanent.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
8th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made, if any, of the cost of reducing Value Added Tax for the hospitality and tourism sector to five per cent.

In order to support the cash flow and viability of about 150,000 businesses and to protect over 2.4 million jobs, the Government has applied a temporary reduced rate of VAT (5 per cent) to goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors, which will now end on 30 September 2021. On 1 October 2021, a new reduced rate of 12.5 per cent will be introduced for these goods and services to help affected businesses manage the transition back to the standard rate. The new rate will end on 31 March 2022.

The reduced rate of VAT has been designed as a temporary measure. As restrictions are lifted and demand for goods and services in the tourism and hospitality sectors increases, this relief will be reduced and eventually removed in order to rebuild and strengthen the public finances. This policy will cost the Exchequer over £7 billion. While the Government keeps all taxes under review, there are no plans to make the reduced rate of VAT permanent.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
28th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the UK's economic performance.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) is the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas and the largest bilateral trade deal in the world, by volume of goods trade. Alongside the TCA’s other provisions, this helps businesses to continue to trade smoothly.

The Treasury does not prepare forecasts for the UK economy and public finances, as this is the duty of the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). The latest forecasts from the OBR were published alongside the Budget on 3 March 2021,[1] and include an assessment of the impact of EU exit.

[1] https://obr.uk/efo/economic-and-fiscal-outlook-march-2021/

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the tax treaty between the UK and Canada overrides the legislation and HMRC guidance which advises that MPs and peers should be domiciled in the UK for tax purposes.

The tax treaty between the UK and Canada does not override the provision of UK law that treats members of the House of Commons and House of Lords as domiciled in the UK for tax purposes.

UK law also treats members of the House of Commons and House of Lords as resident in the UK for tax purposes. Where an MP or peer was also resident in Canada for tax purposes under Canadian law, a tie-breaker in the tax treaty would determine the state in which the member was considered to be resident for the purposes of applying the tax treaty.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the start date of the new IR35 regulations for large or medium companies which do not meet the simplified test conditions; and what plans they have to ensure that the start date is clearly stated on their IR35 website.

The reform of the off-payroll working rules will come into effect for large or medium-sized organisations outside the public sector from 6 April 2021. Organisations will need to consider whether they meet the conditions of a large or medium-sized organisation in the financial year relevant to the tax year 2021/22.

In order to help businesses prepare and apply the rules, HMRC have published guidance on the definition of a large or medium-sized organisation.[1] The simplified test conditions apply to non-corporate entities only. HMRC’s online guidance reflects the 6 April 2021 implementation date.

HMRC are committed to supporting organisations and individuals in the run up to, and beyond the reform being implemented. HMRC are providing webinars, workshops and one-to-one calls, as well as publishing updated guidance and factsheets to enable organisations to prepare.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/april-2020-changes-to-off-payroll-working-for-clients

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the decision to stop allowing claims under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for furloughed employees serving statutory and contractual notice periods from 1 December 2020, what support is available to employers who have been forced to close and are now obliged to give employees notice for redundancy.

The Government has spent over £280 billion to put in place a substantial package of support measures which are carefully designed to complement each other to provide businesses and individuals with certainty over the coming months. The objective of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus to retain their employees and protect the UK economy.

Employers which have been forced to close due to national restrictions – although not eligible to claim Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) grants for employees entering a contractual redundancy period – may still be eligible for other elements of the Government’s support package. This package of measures includes Government-backed loans, tax deferrals, Business Rate reliefs, and general and sector-specific grants. The Government urges businesses to visit the online Coronavirus Business Support Finder Tool for tailored information on how to access support available to them.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to extend the furlough scheme beyond 30 April.

As the Chancellor announced on 17 December 2020, the Government will provide a further update on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme at the Budget on 3 March.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on consumers of EU-based companies suspending deliveries to the UK because of documentation and taxation requirements for imported goods following the end of the transition period for the UK’s departure from the EU.

As with all new tax measures the Government includes its assessment of the impacts of the changes in Tax Information and Impact Notes. Notes for measures recently legislated for in the Taxation (Post-transition Period) Act were published alongside that legislation.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the total daily cost of their COVID-19 financial support packages.

In their November 2020 forecast, the Office for Budget Responsibility estimated that costs associated with COVID-19 related support was approximately £280 billion. The OBR will publish a new estimate when they release their next forecast at the Budget on the 3 March.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide financial support to those registered as self-employed who were excluded from previous COVID-19 financial support schemes.

The Government has provided, and will continue to provide, generous support to the self-employed during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). The third grant, combined with up to £14,070 worth of support for each individual from the first and second grants, makes the SEISS one of the most generous schemes for the self-employed in the world. The Government continues to take a flexible approach and keeps all impacts and policies under review. Details of the fourth SEISS grant will be available in due course.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is one part of a substantial package of support available for the self-employed. Those ineligible for the SEISS Grant Extension may still be eligible for other elements of the support available. The Universal Credit standard allowance has been temporarily increased for 2020-21 and the Minimum Income Floor relaxed for the duration of the crisis, so that where self-employed claimants' earnings have fallen significantly, their Universal Credit award will have increased to reflect their lower earnings. In addition to this, they may also have access to other elements of the package, including Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, self-isolation support payments, and other business support grants.
Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
11th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to exempt research councils from the one-year spending review so they can fund long-term projects.

To provide certainty to the research community, we are providing a multi-year settlement for UK Research and Innovation science.

This includes increasing funding for core UK Research and Innovation science by 9% next year and £400 million on average per annum until 23-24. By 23-24, the government will be investing £1.4 billion more per annum in core funding for its world-leading research base compared to 20-21.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
11th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reasons for the reduction in the number of people who are self-employed; and what steps, if any, they are taking to reverse the downward trend.

The UK has one of the most generous self-employed coronavirus support schemes in the world. The SEISS Grant Extension continues this critical support to the self-employed. The grant will be limited to self-employed individuals who are currently eligible for the SEISS and are actively continuing to trade but are facing reduced demand due to COVID-19. The extension will be in the form of two taxable grants. The first grant will cover a three-month period from the start of November until the end of January. This initial grant will cover 80% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits for 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2020, and capped at £7,500 in total. The second grant will cover a three-month period from the start of February until the end of April. The Government will review the level of the second grant and set this in due course.

Nonetheless, ONS data suggests the number of self-employed people dropped by 502,000 (a 10.0% drop) between December-February and July-September 2020.

The Government continues to provide additional support to help people start their own business, or develop their business if they are already self-employed. The New Enterprise Allowance provides support including mentoring and an allowance. In order to be eligible, claimants must be aged over 18 and either they or their partner must receive Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance, or they must receive Income Support and be a lone parent, sick or disabled.

Those on the New Enterprise Allowance have a mentor who gives them advice and support to help them set up their business and start to trade. Once their mentor has approved their business plan they may get a weekly allowance worth up to £1,274 over 26 weeks and they can apply for a loan to help with start-up costs.

Those who are already self-employed but not earning enough to move off Universal Credit completely can also benefit from the scheme. They may be able to get a mentor to give them advice and support to help them develop their business and apply for a start-up loan if their business is less than two years old.

New Enterprise Allowance contracts are set to end in 2021. The Government is looking into a replacement offer, and hopes to announce more details in due course.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
10th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether an employer who has served notice on an employee can leave them on furlough for their notice period and continue to claim a grant under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, an employer can claim for a furloughed employee who is serving a statutory notice period; however, grants cannot be used to substitute for redundancy payments. HMRC will continue to monitor businesses after the scheme has closed.

Further guidance on employee rights and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
10th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to shorten the response time for calls to the COVID-19 helpline for businesses and the self-employed.

HMRC continue to prioritise COVID-19 schemes. Following Government guidelines, HMRC have reduced their telephony service times to ensure staff safety and to provide greater flexibility with available resource. HMRC have increased the level of availability on their webchat service and provided staff working from home with the technology to answer calls from home. HMRC continue to monitor all call volumes to ensure they have the available resource with the appropriate expertise to meet demand.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether an employer can claim a grant under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for those employees who were furloughed for three weeks prior to 30 June, who have since returned to work full-time, but where the employer wants them to work part-time from 1 July.

From 1 July 2020, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed, for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim a CJRS grant for their usual hours not worked. This includes employees who have previously returned to work full-time but where the employer wants them to work part-time from 1 July. From this date, only employees that an employer has successfully claimed a previous grant for will be eligible for more grants under the scheme. This means employees must have previously been furloughed for at least three consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March and 30 June 2020.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
15th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to issue guidance on whether people previously furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and now back in work full-time can be moved onto flexible furlough.

From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for the hours not worked.

On 12 June, the Government issued public guidance that provided details of how employers can use flexible furloughing.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Agnew of Oulton on 20 May (HL4003), whether "until July" indicates that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be in place in its current form up to and including 30 June; and whether "after July" indicates that they will introduce more flexibility to the furlough scheme from 1 July.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain in its current form until 30 June, with flexible furloughing introduced from 1 July.

From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim a CJRS grant for their normal hours not worked. From 1 July, employers will also be able to agree any working arrangements with previously furloughed employees.

The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June, and from 1 July the scheme will only be available to employers that have previously used the scheme in respect of employees they have previously furloughed. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June. This means that the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time was 10 June, in order for the current three-week furlough period to be completed by 30 June.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Agnew of Oulton on 26 May (HL4404), what support they will offer those people who have not been furloughed but have taken a voluntary temporary reduction in pay; whether they expect those for have taken voluntary temporary pay reductions to have entered into written agreements with their employers; and if not, what evidence they will require before these people can access any support.

Workers whose earnings fall due to a reduction in their work hours may become eligible for support through the welfare system, including through Universal Credit (UC). Existing UC claimants will normally receive a higher award as a result of a fall in earnings. For employed claimants this will be updated automatically using information from the PAYE system.

The Government has announced a significant package of temporary welfare measures to support those on low incomes through the COVID-19 outbreak, including increasing the UC standard allowance by £20 per week.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that both HMRC and the Treasury agree the wording of ministerial directions before they are issued to (1) avoid confusion, and (2) obviate the need to subsequent corrections.

The Treasury has recently issued a number of Directions under Section 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020. These set out that HMRC are responsible for the payment and management of the amounts paid out under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). These are distinct from Ministerial Directions, which are formal instructions from Ministers to proceed with a spending proposal where the Permanent Secretary has written to their Secretary of State expressing their concerns.

In relation to the recent CJRS and SEISS Treasury Directions, as with all other aspects of tax policy, Treasury and HMRC officials work closely to deliver the priorities of Ministers.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, HMRC will tax the employee on their full salary and not the reduced one if an employer and employee have not entered into a written agreement reducing the employee’s salary before the first reduced payment is made.

The CJRS is available to support employees paid via PAYE across the UK. When an employee has been furloughed, HMRC will tax the furlough salary in accordance with PAYE.

However, in order to be eligible for the grant employers must confirm in writing to their employee that they have been furloughed. If this is done in a way that is consistent with employment law, that consent is valid for the purposes of claiming the CJRS. Collective agreement reached between an employer and a trade union is also acceptable for the purpose of such a claim. There needs to be a written record, but the employee does not have to provide a written response. A record of this communication must be kept for five years.

If the employee has not received written notice confirming they are furloughed, the employee is not considered to be furloughed.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme does not require an employee to sign up to a salary reduction in order for the employer to make a claim for the grant, whether HMRC expect employers and employees to have entered into written agreements either for those who have been furloughed on 80 per cent of their pay or those who are still working but have voluntarily taken a temporary reduction in pay; and, if not, what evidence HMRC will require.

In order to be eligible for the grant, employers must confirm in writing to their employee that they have been furloughed. If this is done in a way that is consistent with employment law, that consent is valid for the purposes of claiming the CJRS. Collective agreement reached between an employer and a trade union is also acceptable for the purpose of such a claim. There needs to be a written record, but the employee does not have to provide a written response.

Those who have voluntarily taken a reduction in pay and are still working do not meet the eligibility requirements of the CJRS and therefore are not furloughed according to the terms of the scheme.

As the scheme is administered through existing PAYE, the employee does not need to take further action.

Detailed step by step guidance for employers is available on GOV.UK.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government for how long they plan to keep the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant at a rate that covers 80 per cent of wage costs and what plans they have, if any, to lower that rate.

The Government has extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until October 2020. Extending the scheme in its current form until July will provide workers, businesses and the economy with clarity on this vital support. After July, the Government will introduce more flexibility to the furlough scheme in a measured way that protects people’s incomes and helps support furloughed employees as they return to work. From August through to the end of October, employers currently using the scheme will have more flexibility to bring their furloughed employees back to work part-time while still receiving support from the scheme. Employers using the scheme will start contributing some of the costs of their workers’ salaries, substituting in part the contribution that the Government is currently making. The Government will outline more details of how this will work by the end of May.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of weeks they can continue to fund the financial support schemes for individuals and businesses that have been put in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government has announced unprecedented support for public services, business and workers to protect against the current economic emergency. Our economic response is one of the most generous and comprehensive globally.

The Office for Budget Responsibility note that the measures taken should help limit the long-term damage to the economy and public finances – and the costs of inaction would have been higher.

Precise costs will depend on a range of factors including the impact of the crisis on the wider economy and the level of take-up for each scheme. However, it is clear that the impact on the economy and the government's necessary response will lead to an increase in borrowing in the short-term.

The government intends to finance the additional borrowing through its normal debt management operations. HM Treasury, the Debt Management Office and the Bank of England are cooperating closely to support the orderly functioning of the gilt and sterling money markets

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to begin addressing the increase in national debt that has occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and what assessment they have made of the measures that will be needed.

The work of the last ten years in bringing borrowing and debt back under control has ensured that the public finances are well placed to deal with the challenges posed by COVID-19. However, it is clear that the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the government's necessary response to it will lead to an increase in borrowing and debt this year.

The government has provided a comprehensive policy package to do whatever it takes to support businesses, households and our vital public services through this difficult period. Not taking these steps would result in the temporary effects of COVID-19 permanently damaging our economy, which would weaken the fiscal position over the longer-term; as the independent Office for Budget Responsibility have said, “the costs of inaction would certainly have been higher.”

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of any discrepancies between the Coronavirus Act 2020 Functions of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) Direction, published on 15 April, and the guidance available on the HMRC website; and where there are discrepancies, which rules will be followed when processing a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was introduced in extraordinary circumstances and at unprecedented pace in order to provide vital support to employers and their employees. The scheme was announced by the Chancellor on 20 March and launched on 20 April. In its first day of operation, applications were received from over 140,000 employers, in respect of over 1,000,000 jobs.

HMRC will act at all times in accordance with the HM Treasury Direction. HMRC’s interpretation of the Direction is set out in their published guidance, and it is HMRC’s view that the published guidance is consistent with the Direction. It is HMRC’s expectation that employers should consider the guidance in the first instance when seeking to understand the operation of the scheme and HMRC’s interpretation of the Direction.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether employees who were made redundant, or stopped working for their employers, after 19 March can be claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they are now re-employed.

Employees who were made redundant or stopped working for their employers after 19 March can be claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if their employer agrees to re-employ them and place them on furlough. The employer will still be able to claim a grant to cover 80% of the employee’s regular wages from the date they were placed on furlough, up to a cap of £2,500 a month. This applies if the employees were made redundant or stopped working for their employer after 19 March 2020, as long as the employees were employed by them on 19 March 2020 and on their payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means an RTI submission to HMRC notifying payment in respect of the employee must have been made on or before 19 March 2020.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether employers can claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for employees who (1) were furloughed as of 28 February and (2) were transferred under TUPE between 28 February and 19 March.

A new employer is eligible to claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in respect of the employees of a previous business transferred after 28 February 2020 if either the TUPE or PAYE business succession rules apply to the change in ownership. Further guidance on the CJRS has been published on GOV.UK.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what plans they have, if any, to issue guidance on whether employers can direct employees to take holiday during furlough and (2) whether employers and employees can agree to vary holiday pay entitlement during furlough.

The Government has published detailed guidance on managing holidays during Covid-19. The Government encourages employers to engage with their workforce before requiring them to take holiday during furlough.

The employer and employee can agree to vary holiday entitlement as part of the furlough agreement, but almost all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks of statutory paid annual leave each year. The Working Time Regulations require holiday pay to be paid at the employee’s normal rate of pay or, where the rate of pay varies, calculated on the basis of the average pay received by the employee in the previous 52 working weeks.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the weekly total cost of the financial support being provided to individuals and businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government has announced unprecedented support for public services, business and workers to protect against the current economic emergency. These steps are necessary to ensure that the country, economy and public finances are stronger in the longer-term.

Precise costs will depend on a range of factors including the impact of the crisis on the wider economy and the level of take up for each scheme.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) published a coronavirus reference scenario on 14 April which provides insight into the potential fiscal costs under a particular set of economic circumstances and updated their policy costings table on 30 April. In their scenario, the OBR estimate the direct cost of Government decisions to be £103.7 billion in 2020/21. The OBR note that the measures taken should help limit the long-term damage to the economy and public finances, and that the costs of inaction would have been higher.

A full assessment of the economic and fiscal position will be made at the next Budget alongside an updated OBR forecast.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
9th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of deaths which could be caused by their policy of turning back boats of refugees in the Channel; and what assessment they have made of the implications of this policy for the UK’s international reputation.

These crossings are dangerous, illegal and unnecessary. Lives have been lost through them and we will do everything to deter such crossings and so ultimately reduce the risk to life.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to reports that the United Nations regards their planned asylum overhaul as “almost neo-colonial”.

The UK has a long history of supporting refugees in need of protection. Our resettlement schemes have provided safe and legal routes for tens of thousands of people to start new lives in the UK.

The UK is a global leader in resettlement and resettled more refugees from outside Europe than any EU member state every year between 2016 and 2019.

Overall, since 2015, we have resettled more than 25,000 refugees through safe and legal routes direct from regions of conflict and instability - around half of whom were children.

The UK continues to welcome refugees through the global UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS), as well as through the Community Sponsorship and Mandate Resettlement Schemes. This commitment, alongside a fair and firm asylum system, will ensure we continue to offer safe and legal routes to the UK for vulnerable refugees in need of protection. Our focus will remain on helping people directly from regions of conflict and instability.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to reported comments by the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that the UK appeared to be trying to "wash its hands" of its international responsibilities for refugees.

The UK has a long history of supporting refugees in need of protection. Our resettlement schemes have provided safe and legal routes for tens of thousands of people to start new lives in the UK.

The UK is a global leader in resettlement and resettled more refugees from outside Europe than any EU member state every year between 2016 and 2019.

Overall, since 2015, we have resettled more than 25,000 refugees through safe and legal routes direct from regions of conflict and instability - around half of whom were children.

The UK continues to welcome refugees through the global UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS), as well as through the Community Sponsorship and Mandate Resettlement Schemes. This commitment, alongside a fair and firm asylum system, will ensure we continue to offer safe and legal routes to the UK for vulnerable refugees in need of protection. Our focus will remain on helping people directly from regions of conflict and instability.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
13th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to conclude a bespoke visa waiver agreement with the EU for the creative sector.

UK citizens going to the EU for shorts stays and EU, EEA and Swiss citizens visiting the UK are already visa free. Musicians and performers can already undertake short-term touring without visas and permits in at least 18 Member States.

EU visa waiver agreements are also subject to the provisions of Article 6 (3) of REGULATION (EU) 2018/1806 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL which sets out an individual Member State may still decide to require a visa for short stays for people carrying out a paid activity during their stay.

The EU’s draft text for the Trade and Cooperation Agreement included a visa waiver agreement, which would have prohibited the parties from introducing visa requirement on visitors from the other party unless those visitors were carrying out a paid activity (i.e. service supply or performance) during their stay. In the event they were carrying out a paid activity individual Member States could apply a visa requirement to this category of service suppliers. The ability of the UK to apply visas would have been restricted only to reciprocating by applying a visa requirement to the same category supplier for the individual member state.

The EU’s proposal would also have prevented the UK from introducing or maintaining visit visas on any future EU Member State, not just on existing ones. In effect handing to the European Union the ability to make a country a non-visa national for travel to the UK without the consent or approval of the UK.

The Government is now focusing on bilateral engagement with Member States to encourage them to more closely align with the UK's generous regime.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
19th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many Biometric Residence Permit cards confirming that the holder has been granted indefinite leave to remain have been sent to an address other than the latest address on the successful applicant's record; and what plans they have to ensure that such Permits go to the correct addresses in future.

Based on the most recent data available, lost or mis-delivered Biometric Residence Permits account for less than 0.04% of Biometric Residence Permits produced for all applications granted further leave of greater than 6 months or indefinite leave to remain within the UK between 1st July 2020 and end December 2020. We are not able to break this figure down by leave type.

It should be noted this data may be subject to minor change as we were actively working with FedEx to reconcile lost and mis-delivered Biometric Residence Permit deliveries between 1 July 2020 and end December 2020 by the end of May 2021.

Where a customer reports a Biometric Residence Permit has been mis-delivered to either our delivery partner FedEx, or directly to UKVI, it is investigated. Where possible FedEx will attempt to recover the package and re-deliver to the correct address. Where it is not possible to recover, the BRP will be cancelled and re-issued at no cost to the customer where the mis-delivery was down to a UKVI or a FedEx error.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the annual cost of each Police and Crime Commissioner; and what assessment they have made of the value added to policing from the election of Police and Crime Commissioners.

On 4 February 2021, the Government published a total police funding settlement of up to £15.8 billion in 2021/22. Individual costs associated with PCC offices are available via individual Statement of Accounts online.

PCC salaries are set by the Home Secretary, taking into account a recommendation from the Senior Salaries Review Body, and reflect the size of the police force they oversee. As a locally elected and democratically accountable individual, it is up to them how they decide to balance their expenditure on their policing and crime priorities and on their office functions.

Since their inception, PCCs have brought real accountability to how Chief Constables and their forces perform. They are supporting hundreds of local community groups, charities and partnerships by funding innovative projects to cut crime, intervene early and make people safer.

Overall, PCCs have presided over a reduction in crime to record lows with crimes traditionally measured by the Independent Crime Survey for England and Wales down by well over a third since 2010.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the current time delay from application to granting indefinite leave to remain for those who qualify for this status.

We are deciding cases within published service standard, unless there is a specific reason we cannot, in which case we will contact the customer. Our service standard for the processing of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) cases remains six months.

Performance against service standards for ILR applications are included in the Migration Transparency data which is published here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/migration-transparency-data#uk-visas-and-immigration

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many applications for indefinite leave to remain from spouses of UK citizens are outstanding; and what is the target response time for such applications.

The normal service standard for applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications is six months.

The Home Office publishes transparency data on the number of outstanding applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain under the spouse/partner route, the Home Office also publish transparency data on the performance against service standards for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications under the spouse/partner route. This can be found in our transparency data:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visas-and-citizenship-data-february-2021

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
4th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, (1) to review the immigration criteria for construction industry specialists, and (2) to amend the shortage occupation list to include (a) bricklayers, (b) plasterers, (c) plumbers, (d) carpenters, and (e) quantity surveyors.

Given the wider economic impact of the global pandemic and the number of UK based workers facing uncertainty about their employment or the need to find a new job at this time, the Government believes it is right our global points-based systems encourages employers to look to domestic recruitment and skills training in the first instance, rather than immigration,

In March 2020, the Government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to advise on the composition of the Shortage Occupation Lists (SOL) in light of the expanded skills threshold of the new Skilled Worker route, which came into effect on 1 December.

The MAC published its findings and recommendations on 29 September. The Government welcomed the MAC’s comprehensive advice, which included a recommendation to add bricklayers and masons; however, we do not consider changes to the immigration rules or the SOLs should be made at this time, before assessing how the UK labour market develops post-Covid 19 and in response to the introduction of the new Points-Based Immigration System. Immigration policy should be considered alongside the strategies for the UK Labour Market not in isolation to them.

As published on 22 October, the Immigration Rules for the new Points-Based Immigration System include an Appendix Shortage Occupation Lists. This replaces the existing lists under Appendix K. The contents are the same.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
28th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the cyber-attack on the Woodland Trust; and what assistance, if any, they have provided to that charity as a result.

We are aware of the cyber-attack on the Woodland Trust. The National Cyber Security Centre and National Crime Agency were notified of this incident through Action Fraud. The National Cyber Crime Unit within NCA provided direct liaison with the charity and offered guidance throughout the incident management phase.

The law enforcement response is being led by East Midlands Special Operations Unit with support from Lincolnshire Constabulary.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they did not close the UK’s borders in March 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic; and what assessment they have made of the impact of not closing the borders on the spread of COVID-19 in the UK.

HMG decisions throughout the pandemic have been guided by the science, including with measures taken at the border over the last year. We are now in a completely different position to where we were at the start of the pandemic in terms of our awareness of the disease and of the new variants identified across the globe, such as in Brazil and South Africa.

Any decisions on borders must also consider the need to keep vital supply routes open, especially freight traffic across the Short Straights and to the Republic of Ireland via the UK Land Bridge.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by the President of the United States about the outcome of the United States Presidential Election and following the riots at the United States Capitol on 6 January, what plans they have to prohibit Donald Trump from entering the UK in future.

All foreign nationals wishing to enter the UK must comply with UK Immigration Rules.

The Home Office does not comment on individual cases.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the section on the Northern Ireland Assembly in the Life in the United Kingdom: A guide for new residents states the correct number of Members of that Assembly; and if not, (1) when they intend to correct it, and (2) what plans they have to correct any life in the UK tests which contain questions on that number.

The Life in the UK handbook publisher, TSO (The Stationery Office) Ltd, intends to publish an updated impression of the current edition of the handbook early in the new year, which will update the number of Members of the Northern Ireland assembly.

The Life in the UK test is delivered by PSI on behalf of the Home Office. The test questions are not published or disclosed in order to protect the integrity of the test process. Nobody will be disadvantaged by the need to update the text.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to include key construction trades on the Shortage Occupation List to make it easier for migrants to apply for work visas to fill vacancies in that sector.

In March, the Government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to advise on the composition of the Shortage Occupation Lists (SOL) in light of the expanded skills threshold of the new Skilled Worker route, which will come into effect on 1 December.

The MAC published its findings and recommendations on 29 September. The Government welcomes the MAC’s comprehensive advice, which included a recommendation to add bricklayers and masons; however, we do not consider changes to the SOLs should be made at this time, before assessing how the UK labour market develops postCovid19 and in response to the introduction of the new Points-Based Immigration System.

As published on 22 October, the Immigration Rules for the new Points-Based Immigration System include an Appendix Shortage Occupation Lists. This replaces the existing lists under Appendix K. The contents are the same.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the introduction of Tier 2 and Tier 3 visas for workers in (1) live music venues, (2) theatres, and (3) other live performance venues.

Overseas musicians and performers make an important contribution to the UK's creative sector and remain welcome in the United Kingdom.

We have set out plans to introduce a future points-based immigration system, which together with our generous existing routes for visiting artists, entertainers and musicians, will continue to provide both a short-term and long-term route for workers within the creative sector, suited to their individual needs.

The Home Office continues to engage with the creative sector to ensure the future points-based immigration system will enable the UK’s cultural life to thrive.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
1st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have held with the governments of (1) Moldova, (2) Morocco, and (3) Papua New Guinea, about their suitability as UK asylum processing centres; whether each of these governments has indicated their willingness to agree to the establishment of a UK asylum processing centre; and what estimate they have made of the cost per asylum seeker of establishing and maintaining such a centre in each location.

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)
30th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) Steepholme, (2) Flatholme, (3) Canvey Island, (4) the Isle of Dogs, and, (5) Sark, as potential locations for asylum processing centres.

Illegal migration has been a complex issue for successive governments. For years people have risked their lives to enter our country illegally, like those crossing the Channel in dangerous small boats.

The Home Office will introduce a new system that is firm and fair, prosecuting criminals while protecting vulnerable individuals.

Officials have been looking at a whole host of measures other countries deploy to inform a plan for the UK and bring innovation into our system. As part of this they are consulting with stakeholders and ensuring those plans adhere to our Policy Assurance Framework, but no final proposals have been made and it would not be appropriate to comment on speculation.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the (1) target, and (2) anticipated, processing time for those applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

The normal service standard for applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications is six months. Immigrations case-working operations have been impacted by COVID-19 and we have continued to make decisions where we have been able to. The re-opening of case-working offices has commenced, and all teams are committed to decide applications as quickly as possible.

Information on processing times for visa applications is published as part of the Migration Transparency data, available at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/migration-transparency-data.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on the process for applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK; and what plans they have, if any, to ensure that the process for applying for such leave is adapted to reflect any such disruption.

The Home Office is committed to ensuring that all applications are considered without unnecessary delay. Immigration case-working operations have been impacted by COVID-19, with most locations going into lockdown at the end of March, although we have continued to make decisions where we have been able to.

As UK Visas and Immigration has now reopened the majority of its Visa Application Centres both in the UK and overseas, we are working closely with our partners to maximise the available capacity to service applicants in line with social distancing rules in each location.

The Home Office has put in place a range of measures to support those affected by the covid-19 outbreak to ensure people are not unduly affected by circumstances beyond their control.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
10th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they are planning to celebrate Windrush Day on 22 June; how the Immigration Bill will assist in dismantling the ‘hostile environment’ towards immigrants; and whether the Bill is designed to restore the UK’s reputation as a welcoming and friendly international nation.

The Government remains committed to ensuring that 22 June is a day of celebration and recognition for the Windrush generation and their descendants. 2020 saw the second provision of an annual £500,000 grant to support celebrations on 22 June as well as longer term projects to ensure a lasting legacy for the Windrush generation. Earlier in the year, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government approved funding to be allocated among 49 charities, community groups and local authorities. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, officials worked with grantees to deliver their project outcomes through online or virtual means to coincide with Windrush Day, and by postponing some delivery until later in the year where necessary.

The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) also worked with community stakeholders to mark Windrush Day appropriately online and in the media.

The Government is committed to a firm, fair and humane immigration policy which welcomes and celebrates those here lawfully, deters individuals from placing themselves at risk of harm and exploitation in the hands of people smugglers and protects the taxpayer.

In common with other comparable countries, the UK has in place a framework of laws, policies and administrative arrangements, introduced under successive governments ensuring access to work benefits and services is permitted for those with the right access to them.

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill is primarily focused on ending the EU’s rules on free movement of persons following the UK’s exit from the EU. It does not deal with general immigration matters.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 4 June (HL4833), what assessment they have made of the cost of removing the requirement to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for all workers from overseas and their families.

The purpose of the Surcharge is to benefit the NHS, help to care for the sick and save lives. It has raised approximately £900million since its introduction in 2015. This income goes to the NHS, funding life-saving work right across the UK.

An Impact Assessment was published alongside the laying of the latest SI. This can be found at the following link: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukia/2020/30/pdfs/ukia_20200030_en.pdf.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the cost of exempting (1) NHS and care workers, and (2) all workers, from overseas and their families from the immigration health surcharge; and what plans they have to review their policy on that surcharge.

As announced by the Prime Minister on 21 May, the Home Office and the Department of Health and Social Care are working through the detail of an exemption for NHS workers and health and social care staff from the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many additional customs officials they plan to hire after the end of the UK-EU transition period

Border Force has delivered a largescale recruitment and training exercise, which has seen an uplift of permanent staff, bringing the number of full-time equivalent Border Force staff to over 8,700 from 7,700 in March 2018. This includes a brand-new multi-disciplinary Readiness Task Force (RTF) of c.300 officers, which is available to deploy across the UK at short notice to deal with emerging issues and peaks in demand. We are continuing to build a pipeline of resource to flexibly respond to future requirements and are committed to ensuring we have the necessary staff in place to keep our borders secure.

The latest published staffing and finance figures for Border Force can be found in the Home Office Annual Report for 2018-2019 at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/home-office-annual-report-and-accounts-2018-to-2019

HM Revenue and Customs has overall responsibility for customs policy. HMRC is collaborating with partners across Whitehall to explore a range of mitigating actions to ensure continued preparations for the end of the transition period whilst maintaining core front line services and supporting the government response to Covid-19 and will be well staffed for the end of the transition period.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to designate care work as a skilled occupation under the new immigration system.

The classification of the skill level of jobs is based upon advice from the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

The MAC has been clear that immigration is not the solution to addressing staffing levels in the social care sector.

The Government is working alongside employers to ensure the workforce has the right number of people to meet increasing demands and have recently launched a national recruitment campaign for social care.

Senior care workers who meet the criteria will be able to come to the UK through the points-based system.

We are also providing councils with access to an additional £1.5 billion for adults and children’s social care in 2020-21.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish unredacted the report of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority into the Ajax Armoured Vehicle programme.

There are no plans to publish the IPA Assurance report of the Armoured Cavalry programme which contains commercially sensitive material. Such IPA reports are not intended for release. The current level of delivery confidence and the reasons behind such an assessment will shortly be published by the IPA in their Annual Report and accompanying transparency release.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assurances they have received from General Dynamics over (1) the overall cost of the Ajax Armoured Vehicle programme, and (2) the delivery of fully operational equipment under this programme.

The contract with GDLS-UK covering the 589 vehicles, training and support is a Firm Price contract. There are 5 Capability Drops as part of the incremental delivery of the programme, with Capability Drop 4 as the final build standard to which all vehicles will be retrofitted. Drop 1 commenced mid 2020 and Drop 4 is currently planned to complete by the end of 2024.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
19th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the proposal for a sand extraction quarry in the conservation area of Compton Bassett; and what plans they have to give local residents more powers to oppose such planning applications.

This proposal was considered by Wiltshire Council's strategic planning committee on 14 July. Government policy is that local planning authorities should, in general, be free to carry out their duties with regard to day-to-day planning control in their areas with the minimum of interference. Our proposed planning reforms will deliver a simpler, faster, more transparent process, giving communities certainty over what development is permitted through clear land allocations in local plans.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on the public of the 52 per cent decline in total net spend by local authorities in England on trading standards services between 2009 and 2019, as set out by Unchecked UK in their report The UK's Enforcement Gap, published in October 2020.

Councils have flexibility to use the funding they receive from the annual Local Government Finance Settlement for trading standards services. Funding provided through the Settlement is un-ringfenced to ensure local areas can prioritise based on their own understanding of the needs of their local communities. Resources made available through the 2020 Spending Review and annual Settlement allowed councils in England access to an overall increase in Core Spending Power from £49 billion in 2020-21 to up to £51.3 billion in 2021-22, a 4.6% increase in cash terms. This is in line with last year’s available increase. This recognises the resources councils need to meet their pressures and maintain current service levels.

Additionally, Government is supporting regulatory services teams, including trading standards teams, through the Regulatory Services Task and Finish Group, which was established to help coordinate central government’s expectation of regulatory services teams in local government and to propose short and long-term options to support these essential services.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to increase the level of resources within local authorities to undertake health and safety regulation; and whether any such funding is ringfenced.

The Government made available an increase in Core Spending Power in England from £49 billion in 2020-21 to up to £51.3 billion in 2021-22, a 4.6% increase in cash terms. This recognised the resources councils need to meet their pressures and maintain current service levels. The majority of this funding is un-ringfenced in recognition that local authorities are best placed to understand local priorities, such as undertaking health and safety regulation.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to establish a Chief Environmental Health Officer role (1) to ensure links to local government environmental health teams, and (2) to contribute to the pandemic prevention agenda and other pandemic-related work.

The Department convened the Regulatory Services Task and Finish Group in December 2020 to help coordinate central government’s expectation of regulatory services teams in local government and propose short and long-term options to support the sector. The Group consists of senior officials from government departments and senior representatives from the Local Government Association and local authorities.

The Group is now focussed on developing a suite of recommendations to address the immediate and systemic issues faced by regulatory services teams, which includes environmental health teams. These recommendations will address areas including the cross-government coordination of departments and the establishment of ongoing links with local authority experts.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
4th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of labour shortages in the construction industry on (1) their plans to support house building; and (2) costs in the construction sector.

The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government has regular contact with the housebuilding sector. Since the start of the year developers have not reported any significant labour shortages or cost increases. We continue to monitor as part of our engagements with the sector.

The construction industry is responsible for training the workforce it needs. The industry, via its Industry Recovery Plan, is currently focussing on measures to address the pandemic and ensure resilience in the sector as a priority.

There is a cross-Government programme to address the construction skills challenge, including the Construction Skills Fund and the new Construction T Levels, which launched in September 2020.

The Government has also introduced new financial incentives for employers to hire apprentices and provided £111 million for traineeships, so that firms can continue to provide opportunities for people starting out in their careers in construction and invest in upskilling their workforce.

This is in addition to the ongoing work to improve skills provision, support modernisation and increased productivity, and create a fair migration system.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to maintain the use of section 106 agreements to deliver affordable housing.

The Government’s White Paper, Planning for the Future proposes that a new ‘Infrastructure Levy’ will replace section 106 planning obligations and the Community Infrastructure Levy and be set in a way which delivers at least as much - if not more - onsite affordable housing than at present. It also proposes that the Levy will be payable on the completion of development. To better support the timely delivery of infrastructure, local authorities would be allowed to borrow against Infrastructure Levy revenues so that they could forward fund infrastructure.

The consultation on ‘Planning for the Future’ closed on 29 October. We are analysing the consultation feedback thoroughly and holding meetings with industry and local authority representatives to understand the impacts of our proposals. We will respond formally in due course.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on local authority resources of the proposals included in their White Paper Planning for the future, published on 6 August.

The White Paper commits to developing a comprehensive resources and skills strategy for the planning sector to support the implementation of our reforms – so that, as we implement our reforms, local planning authorities are equipped to create great communities through effective civic engagement and proactive plan-making.

We want to reduce the amount of resource-consuming bureaucracy and streamline or abolish assessments and other requirements that are burdensome and slow-down planning departments. Part of achieving this will be through modernising the planning process, so that routine tasks are automated and decision-making is improved by better access to data and digital services. This will allow local authorities to focus attention on plan making and place shaping. We are also exploring options to introduce a new planning fee structure to ensure that local planning authorities are properly resourced to improve the speed and quality of their decisions.

We will continue to work with local planning authorities, as well as professional bodies and the wider planning sector, as we develop our proposals.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on local authority finances of the proposed delay in the collection of the Community Infrastructure Levy until a building is in occupation.

The Government’s White Paper, Planning for the Future proposes that a new ‘Infrastructure Levy’ will replace section 106 planning obligations and the Community Infrastructure Levy and be set in a way which delivers at least as much - if not more - onsite affordable housing than at present. It also proposes that the Levy will be payable on the completion of development. To better support the timely delivery of infrastructure, local authorities would be allowed to borrow against Infrastructure Levy revenues so that they could forward fund infrastructure.

The consultation on ‘Planning for the Future’ closed on 29 October. We are analysing the consultation feedback thoroughly and holding meetings with industry and local authority representatives to understand the impacts of our proposals. We will respond formally in due course.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Senior Deputy Speaker, following the example of the government of New Zealand and to reflect the economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic being felt by the general public, whether there are plans to reduce the allowances paid to Members by 10 per cent.

On 6 May the House agreed that a reduced daily allowance, at 50% of the usual rate, would be paid for virtual and physical attendance. This change was retrospective and applied to attendances from 20 April. On 22 July the House agreed to a revised allowance scheme. This reinstated the full daily rate for physical attendance in the Chamber or Grand Committee, while retaining the reduced 50% rate for virtual attendance in both fora. The House of Lords Commission will continue to keep the situation under review.

24th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to honour their announcement on 18 March that “no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home”.

The Government has established an unprecedented package of support to protect renters whose income has been affected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This has included support for businesses to pay staff salaries with the Chancellor’s recent announcement of the Government’s Winter Economy Plan also setting out further measures to support jobs and businesses.

We have strengthened the welfare safety-net with a nearly £9.3 billion boost to the welfare system which includes an extra £1 billion to increase Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates so that they cover the lowest 30% of market rents. For renters who require additional support, there is also an existing £180 million of Government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments made available this year – an increase of £40 million from last year which is for councils to distribute to support renters with housing costs. In addition, we have introduced legislation that means, from 29 August 2020, landlords must give tenants six months’ notice before they can evict in most circumstances.

Where possession cases do go to court we understand that the judiciary will look to prioritise the most egregious cases such as those involving anti-social behaviour. New court rules have also been introduced requiring landlords to set out any information they are aware of in relation to how their tenant, or any dependant of their tenant has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Where this information is not provided, judges have the ability to adjourn proceedings. Finally, guidance will be issued to bailiffs highlighting that they should not enforce possession orders in places where local public health restrictions have been introduced by government through legislation or in England and Wales across 11 December 2020 to 11 January 2021.

Taken collectively, these measures ensure those most at risk are protected, providing time for tenants to agree a solution with their landlord to sustain the tenancy if they are unable to pay their rent or to consider moving to avoid building up unsustainable debt.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they are introducing to ensure that private renters whose income has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are at risk of eviction do not become homeless.

The Government has established an unprecedented package of support to protect renters whose income has been affected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We have supported businesses to pay staff salaries and strengthened the welfare safety-net with a nearly £9.3 billion boost to the welfare system. This includes an extra £1 billion to increase Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates so that they cover the lowest 30% of market rents. For those renters who require additional support, there is also an existing £180 million of Government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments made available this year, an increase of £40 million from last year and which is for councils to distribute to support renters with housing costs.

In addition, we have introduced legislation that means, from 29 August 2020, landlords must give tenants six months’ notice before they can evict in most circumstances. This ensures those most at risk are protected and provides time for tenants to agree a solution with their landlord if they are unable to pay their rent or consider moving to avoid building up unsustainable debt.

These measures enable renters to continue paying their rent and support landlords and tenants in sustaining tenancies. If renters do find themselves at risk of homelessness, the Homelessness Reduction Act places duties on local housing authorities to take reasonable steps to try and prevent a person’s homelessness.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scott of Bybrook on 30 September (HL8064), whether they plan to provide guidance to the courts on how to handle cases where a defendant cites the United Kingdom Internal Market Act as a precedent for breaking the law in a specific and limited way which should be acquitted without penalty.

The Government has no plans to issue guidance to the courts on this matter.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
14th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to produce a list of laws which can be broken in a specific and limited way without penalty; and if so, when such a list would be available.

There will be no such list.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)