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Written Question
Horizon IT System: Convictions and Prosecutions
Thursday 23rd May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Business and Trade:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether they commissioned one or more independent legal opinions before deciding not to quash the convictions and prosecutions of sub-postmasters by the Department of Work and Pensions in relation to the Post Office Horizon IT scandal.

Answered by Lord Offord of Garvel - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)

I can confirm that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) instructed Counsel to advise on its duty of post-conviction disclosure and that advice included a consideration of the nature of its prosecutions.

The advice considered cases that had been brought before the Court of Appeal in which DWP evidence was scrutinised.


Written Question
Water Companies: Nationalisation
Thursday 23rd May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

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

To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have made for the nationalisation of water companies.

Answered by Lord Douglas-Miller - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Water companies are commercial entities. However, as you would expect, the Government prepares for a range of scenarios across its regulated industries – including water – as any government would.

The Defra Secretary of State and Ofwat (with consent of the Secretary of State) have the power to request the court to place a company in Special Administration Regime so that its business can either be rescued or transferred as a going concern to new owners.


Written Question
Water Companies: Investment
Thursday 23rd May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

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

To ask His Majesty's Government what is their assessment of Ofwat giving water companies a return on capital invested based on an assumed level of equity even if they do not hold that level of assumed equity.

Answered by Lord Douglas-Miller - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

When providing company determinations, Ofwat set a sector wide allowed return, on the basis of the notional capital structure. The notional capital structure provides clear signals about the allocation of risk. It protects customers from bearing much of the risk of companies' actual financing decisions and provides strong incentives on companies to raise finance efficiently. This approach is consistent with other UK sectors that are subject to regulatory price controls and is recommended by the UK Regulators’ Network.

The actual achieved equity return for any company will depend on the company's unique actual capital structure and company performance. Considerations about the actual capital structure are matters for each company and its investors to manage, consistent with the clear allocation of risk and responsibility for a company's actual financing and capital structure.


Written Question
Water Companies and Sewage: Investment Income
Tuesday 21st May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

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

To ask His Majesty's Government on how many occasions OFWAT has blocked or reduced dividend payments by water and sewage companies.

Answered by Lord Douglas-Miller - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The Government is clear the overall performance of the water sector is unacceptable. That is why we have given Ofwat increased powers under the Environment Act to hold companies to account for poor performance and ensure dividends are linked to delivery for customers and the environment.

Furthermore, under the “Cash Lock-Up" licence condition, companies must not make a dividend payment where it would pose a risk to their financial resilience. We are confident Ofwat will not hesitate to act when a company has failed to meet these requirements.


Written Question
Poverty: Children
Tuesday 21st May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the two-child benefit cap on child poverty.

Answered by Viscount Younger of Leckie - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

It is not possible to produce a robust estimate of the effect of the impact of the two-child limit on the number of children in poverty.


Written Question
Water Companies: Debts
Tuesday 21st May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

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

To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Douglas-Miller on 26 April (HL3909), why the calculation of  Regulatory Capital Value is not accompanied by a calculation of regulatory equity.

Answered by Lord Douglas-Miller - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The value of regulatory equity is publicly accessible for each water company. Regulatory equity on the basis of a company's actual structure is Regulatory Capital Value less net debt.

Notional regulatory equity is published annually for each company by Ofwat. Ofwat also presents company gearing levels against actual structures in its annual monitoring financial resilience report.


Written Question
Hospitals: Construction
Monday 20th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask His Majesty's Government how many of the 40 new hospitals confirmed by the then Prime Minister on 2 October 2020 have been completed and are operational.

Answered by Lord Markham - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)

The New Hospital Programme has opened six hospitals, listed as follows:

- the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, for the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust;

- the Royal Liverpool Hospital, for the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust;

- stage 1 of the 3Ts Hospital, for the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust;

- the Northgate Hospital and Ferndene Hospital, specifically phase 1 and phase 2 of the Care Environment Development and Re-provision Programme, for the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust;

- the Dyson Cancer Centre, for the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust; and

- the Greater Manchester Major Trauma Centre, for the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust.

Two more hospitals are due to open this financial year, listed as follows:

- the Midland Metropolitan University Hospital, for Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust; and

- the National Rehabilitation Centre, for Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.


Written Question
Revenue and Customs: Pay
Thursday 16th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask His Majesty's Government, further to oral evidence by officials on the work of HMRC given to the Treasury Select Committee on 24 April, how many HMRC employees on 1 January had earnings at or below the national minimum wage.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton - Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)

HMRC complies with the statutory requirement and all colleagues are paid the National Living Wage rate or above.


Written Question
Mental Health Services: Children
Thursday 16th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask His Majesty's Government how many children under the age of 11 are currently being provided with help with their mental health.

Answered by Lord Markham - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)

At the end of February 2024, there were 222,448 people aged under 11 years old who had an open referral, of which: 93,385 have had at least one direct care contact, with a direct contact being defined as a contact recorded in the MHS201 Care Contact table of the Mental Health Services Dataset (MHSDS); 90,942 have had at least one attended direct care contact, with an attended direct contact being defined as a contact recorded in the MHS201 Care Contact table of the MHSDS, where the person was either recorded as attending on time and being seen, or attending late but still being seen.


Written Question
Company Liquidations
Wednesday 1st May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Business and Trade:

To ask His Majesty's Government how many liquidations began (1) five, (2) 10, and (3) 15, years ago but are still not finalised.

Answered by Lord Offord of Garvel - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)

Time Period (years)

Number of Companies in Liquidation

0 - 5

56,363

5 - 10

10,042

10 - 15

8,189

15 +

20,822

The figures show when the most recent liquidation process began for distinct entities. These figures include liquidations notified to the Registrar of Companies up to 31 December 2023.

These figures are being provided as management information and are unaudited and are subject to change. They should only be used for indicative purposes.

Further information about companies in liquidation is available in the statistical tables published by Companies House on a quarterly basis.