Alyn Smith Portrait

Alyn Smith

Scottish National Party - Stirling

First elected: 12th December 2019

Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe)

(since December 2022)

Shadow SNP Spokesperson (EU Accession)

(since December 2022)

1 APPG membership (as of 24 Jan 2024)
University
Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Bill
1st Mar 2023 - 8th Mar 2023
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
7th Jan 2020 - 12th Dec 2022


Oral Question
Tuesday 27th February 2024
11:30
Department for Energy Security & Net Zero
Oral Question No. 17
What steps her Department is taking to help reduce energy costs for households.
Save to Calendar
Oral Question
Wednesday 28th February 2024
12:00
Cabinet Office
Oral Question No. 6
If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 28 February.
Division Votes
Tuesday 20th February 2024
Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 39 Scottish National Party No votes vs 0 Scottish National Party Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 286 Noes - 221
Speeches
Monday 19th February 2024
Oral Answers to Questions
I appreciate that the UK Government’s attitude to PESCO is to take each project on a case-by-case basis, but may …
Written Answers
Monday 12th February 2024
Voluntary Contributions: British National (Overseas)
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will allow British National (Overseas) visa holders to back pay voluntary …
Early Day Motions
Wednesday 7th February 2024
Hospitality and VAT
That this House recognises the immense challenges facing the hospitality sector during the cost of living crisis; notes that the …
Bills
Thursday 25th March 2021
Scottish Parliament (Disqualification of Members of the House of Commons) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to amend the Scotland Act 1998 to provide that Members of the House of Commons may not be …
MP Financial Interests
Monday 30th October 2023
8. Miscellaneous
From 22 January 2024, Honorary Vice President of the European Movement in Scotland. This is an unpaid role.
EDM signed
Thursday 22nd February 2024
No confidence in the Speaker
That this House has no confidence in Mr Speaker.
Supported Legislation
Tuesday 6th February 2024
Social energy tariff Bill 2023-24
A Bill to require the Secretary of State to publish proposals for a social tariff for energy.

Division Voting information

During the current Parliament, Alyn Smith has voted in 575 divisions, and 1 time against the majority of their Party.

25 Jan 2022 - Judicial Review and Courts Bill - View Vote Context
Alyn Smith voted No - against a party majority - in line with the party majority and in line with the House
One of 4 Scottish National Party No votes vs 4 Scottish National Party Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 187 Noes - 315
View All Alyn Smith 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
Lindsay Hoyle (Speaker)
(43 debate interactions)
Dominic Raab (Conservative)
(32 debate interactions)
Nigel Adams (Conservative)
(26 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
HM Treasury
(20 debate contributions)
Department for International Trade
(16 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
Legislation Debates
Fisheries Act 2020
(1,546 words contributed)
Nationality and Borders Act 2022
(1,037 words contributed)
View All Legislation Debates
View all Alyn Smith's debates

Stirling Petitions

e-Petitions are administered by Parliament and allow members of the public to express support for a particular issue.

If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.

If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).

Petition Debates Contributed

We want the UK to be neutral in the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and withdraw offers of support for Israel.

We want the Government to seek a ceasefire and also seek to address the root cause of the current conflict by promoting dialogue and advocating for the end of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The UK Government should urge the Israeli Government to stop the blockade of Food, Fuel and Electricity to the already impoverished city of Gaza

Ensure any ban fully includes trans people and all forms of conversion therapy.

Recognise the state of Palestine to help stop the conflict from Israel. Not recognising the Palestinian state allows Israel to continue their persecution of the Palestinians.

The Government should introduce sanctions against Israel, including blocking all trade, and in particular arms.

I would like the Government to:
• make running conversion therapy in the UK a criminal offence
• forcing people to attend said conversion therapies a criminal offence
• sending people abroad in order to try to convert them a criminal offence
• protect individuals from conversion therapy

The Government should explore using the new sanctions regime that allows individuals and entities that violate human rights around the world to be targeted, to impose sanctions on members of the Nigerian government and police force involved in any human rights abuses by the Nigerian police.


Latest EDMs signed by Alyn Smith

21st February 2024
Alyn Smith signed this EDM on Thursday 22nd February 2024

No confidence in the Speaker

Tabled by: William Wragg (Conservative - Hazel Grove)
That this House has no confidence in Mr Speaker.
70 signatures
(Most recent: 23 Feb 2024)
Signatures by party:
Conservative: 40
Scottish National Party: 29
Independent: 1
8th January 2024
Alyn Smith signed this EDM on Tuesday 20th February 2024

Pension restitution for women born in the 1950s

Tabled by: Kim Johnson (Labour - Liverpool, Riverside)
That this House welcomes the positive interventions from so many hon. Members from across the House on behalf of women born in the 1950s who have suffered pensions loss through the targeting of their pension rights; pays tribute to constituents and campaigners in their ongoing fight for justice; recalls that …
87 signatures
(Most recent: 21 Feb 2024)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 41
Scottish National Party: 25
Democratic Unionist Party: 7
Independent: 5
Plaid Cymru: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Alba Party: 2
Green Party: 1
Liberal Democrat: 1
Alliance: 1
Conservative: 1
View All Alyn Smith's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Alyn Smith, 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.


1 Urgent Question tabled by Alyn Smith

Alyn Smith has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

2 Bills introduced by Alyn Smith


A Bill to amend the Scotland Act 1998 to provide that Members of the House of Commons may not be Members of the Scottish Parliament; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading
Thursday 25th March 2021

A Bill to make provision about enabling arms exports oversight by the United Kingdom Parliament and the devolved Parliaments and Assemblies; to prohibit the use of lethal autonomous weapons; to make requirements about transparency in arms exports and the use of drones and other remote weapons; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading
Wednesday 16th December 2020
(Read Debate)

216 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 Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he plans to respond to the letter from the hon. Member for Stirling of 11 August 2020, ref: AL2637, on the procurement of PPE.

This letter was transferred to DHSC, who will be issuing a response as they are responsible for policy regarding PPE procurement. May I apologise for the delay in considering and responding to the issues the hon. Member has raised.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the UK Government holds data on the number of former senior crown servants who (a) have and (b) have had in the last five years business relationships with Russian state-backed organisations.

Some information on former senior officials taking up appointments is published by ACOBA and available online.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans he has to improve oversight and transparency of the financial and business interests of Members of the House of Lords.

As has always been the case, this is a matter for the House itself and the Code of Conduct for the House of Lords sets out that there is a duty on peers to declare their interests.

19th Dec 2019
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he will confirm the appointment of a new Member of the European Parliament for Scotland.

The European Parliamentary Elections (EPE) Regulations 2004 set out the procedure to be followed when an MEP vacancy arises in the United Kingdom.

14th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what discussions his Department has had with industry stakeholders on tackling (a) misrepresentation and (b) aggressive sales of holiday timeshares.

The Timeshare, Holiday Products, Resale and Exchange Contracts Regulations 2010, as amended in 2018, provide consumers with robust protections relating to the sale, marketing and content of timeshare contracts. We keep the system under review and engage with industry representatives as appropriate.

Furthermore, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008), which prohibit unfair commercial practices, are being restated in the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, currently in Parliament. Unfair commercial practices include misleading actions and omissions which are likely to persuade consumers into taking decisions they otherwise would not have.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
14th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what steps his Department is taking to help prevent consumers being mis-sold timeshare agreements.

The Timeshare, Holiday Products, Resale and Exchange Contracts Regulations 2010, as amended in 2018, provide consumers with robust protections relating to the sale, marketing and content of timeshare contracts. We keep the system under review and engage with industry representatives as appropriate.

Furthermore, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008), which prohibit unfair commercial practices, are being restated in the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, currently in Parliament. Unfair commercial practices include misleading actions and omissions which are likely to persuade consumers into taking decisions they otherwise would not have.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
14th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what recent steps he has taken with Cabinet colleagues to help protect consumers from being mis-sold timeshare arrangements.

The Timeshare, Holiday Products, Resale and Exchange Contracts Regulations 2010, as amended in 2018, provide consumers with robust protections relating to the sale, marketing and content of timeshare contracts. We keep the system under review and engage with industry representatives as appropriate.

Furthermore, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008), which prohibit unfair commercial practices, are being restated in the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, currently in Parliament. Unfair commercial practices include misleading actions and omissions which are likely to persuade consumers into taking decisions they otherwise would not have.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
19th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if she will encourage energy companies to reduce standing charges on (a) electricity and (b) gas.

Setting the level of standing charges falls within the remit of Ofgem. I regularly meet with Ofgem to discuss the energy retail market, including standing charges. Ofgem’s recent Call for Input (CfI) on standing charges closed on January 19th 2024. The Call for Input seeks to gain greater understanding on how standing charges are applied to energy bills and what alternatives could be considered. Government welcomes this and looks forward to Ofgem’s conclusions.

Further information on the CfI may be found online at: www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/launch-review-standing-charges-energy-bills

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
11th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether it is his Department’s policy to become a full member of the North Seas Energy Cooperation.

The UK is working closely with North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC) states following my signing of the MOU in December. The UK is not seeking to become a full member.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
11th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether it is his Department’s policy to seek closer collaboration with the North Seas Energy Cooperation beyond the terms of the NSEC-UK Memorandum of Understanding, published on 18 December 2022.

The UK is working closely with North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC) states following my signing of the MOU in December. The UK is not seeking to become a full member.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
19th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what recent assessment she has made of the potential impact of increasing the cost of (a) the immigration health surcharge and (b) student visas on the (i) global influence of UK-based science and (ii) ability to attract international (A) researchers and (B) innovators.

The Science & Technology Framework sets out the government’s plan to cement the UK as a Science and Technology superpower by 2030 and the government is committed to ensuring the UK’s immigration system supports economic growth and remains competitive in attracting and retaining the best international researchers and innovators.

As announced on 13 July, increases to student visa fees and the immigration health surcharge will help to cover the cost of the migration and border system and help to improve it, as well as cover the genuine cost to the NHS of providing healthcare to those who use it.

5th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what support her Department has provided to businesses to support the rollout of improved broadband services in (a) urban, (b) rural and (c) semi-urban areas.

Currently, 97.6% premises across the UK have access to a superfast connection (>=30 Mbps) and 76.4% have gigabit-capable coverage. In Scotland, these figures are 95.7% and 70.2% for superfast and gigabit-capable respectively. Through Project Gigabit the Government aims to reach at least 85% gigabit-capable coverage across the UK by 2025 and then to reach near-universal coverage as soon as possible.

For urban areas, a key part of the Government’s approach is to promote increased competition in broadband delivery. We have made it as easy and attractive as possible for firms to build their networks in the UK, and we now have a thriving market of over 80 providers investing nearly £35bn rolling out gigabit broadband all over the UK.

To support coverage in rural areas, 31 local and regional procurements have now been launched within England, with 12 of these now in the contract delivery stage.

Within Scotland, the Scottish Government undertook a Public Review during March and April 2023 to seek responses from broadband suppliers and other interested parties on current and planned commercial coverage of gigabit broadband. The Scottish Government has also undertaken initial market engagement with suppliers on their potential interest in Project Gigabit contracts in Scotland, prior to procurements commencing later this year.

The Scottish Government’s Reaching 100% (R100) project is also providing gigabit broadband coverage to 115,000 premises that do not have access to superfast broadband, with £49.5 million funding from the UK government. This project has covered over 24,000 premises to date.

Premises in Scotland can also benefit from support through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which provides up to £4,500 towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable infrastructure for homes and businesses, while remaining sub-superfast premises are also eligible for support from the Scottish Government’s Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
5th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what recent discussions her Department has had with (a) the Scottish Government and (b) local government on improving broadband speeds in semi-rural areas.

Currently, 97.6% premises across the UK have access to a superfast connection (>=30 Mbps) and 76.4% have gigabit-capable coverage. In Scotland, these figures are 95.7% and 70.2% for superfast and gigabit-capable respectively. Through Project Gigabit the Government aims to reach at least 85% gigabit-capable coverage across the UK by 2025 and then to reach near-universal coverage as soon as possible.

For urban areas, a key part of the Government’s approach is to promote increased competition in broadband delivery. We have made it as easy and attractive as possible for firms to build their networks in the UK, and we now have a thriving market of over 80 providers investing nearly £35bn rolling out gigabit broadband all over the UK.

To support coverage in rural areas, 31 local and regional procurements have now been launched within England, with 12 of these now in the contract delivery stage.

Within Scotland, the Scottish Government undertook a Public Review during March and April 2023 to seek responses from broadband suppliers and other interested parties on current and planned commercial coverage of gigabit broadband. The Scottish Government has also undertaken initial market engagement with suppliers on their potential interest in Project Gigabit contracts in Scotland, prior to procurements commencing later this year.

The Scottish Government’s Reaching 100% (R100) project is also providing gigabit broadband coverage to 115,000 premises that do not have access to superfast broadband, with £49.5 million funding from the UK government. This project has covered over 24,000 premises to date.

Premises in Scotland can also benefit from support through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which provides up to £4,500 towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable infrastructure for homes and businesses, while remaining sub-superfast premises are also eligible for support from the Scottish Government’s Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
5th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what recent assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of the rollout of broadband services in semi-rural areas in (a) the UK and (b) Scotland.

Currently, 97.6% premises across the UK have access to a superfast connection (>=30 Mbps) and 76.4% have gigabit-capable coverage. In Scotland, these figures are 95.7% and 70.2% for superfast and gigabit-capable respectively. Through Project Gigabit the Government aims to reach at least 85% gigabit-capable coverage across the UK by 2025 and then to reach near-universal coverage as soon as possible.

For urban areas, a key part of the Government’s approach is to promote increased competition in broadband delivery. We have made it as easy and attractive as possible for firms to build their networks in the UK, and we now have a thriving market of over 80 providers investing nearly £35bn rolling out gigabit broadband all over the UK.

To support coverage in rural areas, 31 local and regional procurements have now been launched within England, with 12 of these now in the contract delivery stage.

Within Scotland, the Scottish Government undertook a Public Review during March and April 2023 to seek responses from broadband suppliers and other interested parties on current and planned commercial coverage of gigabit broadband. The Scottish Government has also undertaken initial market engagement with suppliers on their potential interest in Project Gigabit contracts in Scotland, prior to procurements commencing later this year.

The Scottish Government’s Reaching 100% (R100) project is also providing gigabit broadband coverage to 115,000 premises that do not have access to superfast broadband, with £49.5 million funding from the UK government. This project has covered over 24,000 premises to date.

Premises in Scotland can also benefit from support through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which provides up to £4,500 towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable infrastructure for homes and businesses, while remaining sub-superfast premises are also eligible for support from the Scottish Government’s Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether (a) he or (b) any other ministers in his Department have met with any Russian-based companies since 24 February 2022.

Ministers regularly meet with external stakeholders. Details of ministerial meetings with external organisations are published quarterly and can be found on GOV.UK at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/beis-ministerial-gifts-hospitality-travel-and-meetings.

Data for January to March 2022 will be published shortly.

21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department has taken to ensure the UK has a strong disaster risk disclosure for UK licenced companies that work internationally.

The UK has responded to the growing demand for non-financial information in UK corporate reporting, by introducing measures to increase and improve the public disclosures entities make. In 2013, the UK introduced the requirement for certain entities to produce a strategic report, an ambitious change which required directors and boards to take a broad range of issues into account in the running of their company, including on social and environmental matters.

These requirements were expanded in 2016, through the introduction of additional disclosure requirements for all large Public Interest Entities (PIEs), to require a description of the principal risks relating to social and environmental matters. In addition to this, and where relevant, the entity must also include a description of the business relationships, products and services which are likely to cause adverse impacts on risks relating to social and environmental matters, and provide a description of how the entity manages those risks.

More recently, in 2022, the UK became the first country in the G20 to mandate large public and private businesses to report their climate-related financial disclosures in line with the framework set out by the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosure, including their exposures to climate change-based risks.

1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many communications staff are employed (a) full time (b) part time and (c) with flexible working arrangements in his Department.

The number of staff working in BEIS to deliver the communications functions currently is 104. Eighty seven are employed on full time contracts, 14 are employed on part time. 3 have flexible working arrangements.

1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much his Department spends on the employment of communications staff annually.

The pay cost of communications staff for the financial year 2021 to 2022 is £6.86m. This covers all areas of the Communications team – Press Office, Strategic Comms, External Affairs, Digital Comms, Marketing, Internal Comms, administrative support and the BEIS public enquiry contact centre.

26th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the role of HMRC reference numbers was in the delivery of coronavirus Bounce Back Loans.

Working with government, the British Business Bank introduced a turnover check for the Bounce Back Loan Scheme which used HMRC data to enable lenders to voluntarily verify whether turnovers provided by businesses on BBLS application forms were accurate. This was put in place from December 2020 and was one of a number of additional checks introduced after the launch of the scheme.

10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department consulted representatives from the night time economy sector on the effect of covid-19 restrictions on that sector; and if he will make a statement.

The Government recognises the impact COVID-19 has had on night time economy businesses. Both BEIS and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have worked closely with the sector throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have introduced an extensive package of support accessible to night time economy business, including the furlough scheme, which has been extended until March 2021, Local Restrictions Support Grants of up to £3000 per month, as well as loans, business rates relief and imposing a moratorium on the forfeiture of a lease for non-payment of rent until 31 December in England and Wales. In addition, so far over £500m of direct grants from the £1.57bn Cultural Relief Fund have helped 3000 cultural organisations, including nightclubs such as Ministry of Sound, Fabric and MADE Festival.

19th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the impact of increases in visa costs for international students and researchers on the higher education sector.

The department has been successful in delivering the International Education Strategy ambition of hosting at least 600,000 students per year by 2030 for the last two years, and the government fully expects the UK to continue to be an attractive destination for international students.

We are increasing fees across a range of immigration routes, including for people coming here to live, work and study, at a time of record high migration numbers. It is the government’s policy that those who use and benefit most from the immigration system should contribute towards the cost of operating the system, reducing the burden on the UK taxpayer.

Our visa fees are competitive globally and there is little evidence that fee increases to date have significantly affected demand on work, study and tourism routes.

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
25th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether her Department has taken steps with Cabinet colleagues to help tackle national security concerns arising from the work of the Confucius Institute in (a) British academia and (b) wider society.

The government continuously assesses threats posed to the UK. As a matter of longstanding policy, we are unable to release information regarding threat assessments, on the grounds of national security.

The government is clear that any challenges to our core values, whatever their origin, will not be tolerated. Departmental officials will continue to work closely with their counterparts across government to strengthen protective measures.

The National Security Bill currently before Parliament brings together vital new measures to protect our national security. The new Foreign Influence Registration Scheme (FIRS) has now been added to the Bill, which has been created to tackle covert influence in the UK. The scheme is designed to strengthen the integrity of our politics and institutions, and protect the UK from state threats.

The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill will ensure that lawful freedom of speech is fully supported in English higher education (HE), regardless of where the challenge comes from. It will require and empower registered HE providers, colleges and students’ unions to push back on freedom of speech related threats from overseas. The Bill will also address concerns about the possible influence of overseas money in English HE. These new measures will help the Office for Students (OfS) understand the possible impact of overseas income on freedom of speech and academic freedom, and monitor any trends and patterns of concern. The Bill will allow the OfS to take appropriate action, including issuing penalties, if there is evidence that an HE provider has breached its freedom of speech duties.

The department continuously strengthens protective measures, and expects universities to do the same. Universities UK, with government support, continues work to increase the understanding and awareness of the threat from interference within the HE sector. A key output of this is the publication of two sets of guidelines and a set of case studies, which can be found at the following links: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/what-we-do/policy-and-research/publications/managing-risks-internationalisation, https://www.ukri.org/publications/managing-risks-in-international-research-and-innovation/ and: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/universities-uk-international/insights-and-publications/uuki-insights/case-studies-how-universities-are.

With regards to Confucius Institutes, like all similar bodies they should operate transparently, and with a full commitment to our values of openness and freedom of expression. Universities have a responsibility to ensure that any partnership with a Confucius Institute is managed appropriately, and the right due diligence is in place. The government encourages any providers with concerns to contact the government.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
25th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to help counter the potential undue influence of Confucius Institutes on universities’ wider relationships with China.

The government continuously assesses threats posed to the UK. As a matter of longstanding policy, we are unable to release information regarding threat assessments, on the grounds of national security.

The government is clear that any challenges to our core values, whatever their origin, will not be tolerated. Departmental officials will continue to work closely with their counterparts across government to strengthen protective measures.

The National Security Bill currently before Parliament brings together vital new measures to protect our national security. The new Foreign Influence Registration Scheme (FIRS) has now been added to the Bill, which has been created to tackle covert influence in the UK. The scheme is designed to strengthen the integrity of our politics and institutions, and protect the UK from state threats.

The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill will ensure that lawful freedom of speech is fully supported in English higher education (HE), regardless of where the challenge comes from. It will require and empower registered HE providers, colleges and students’ unions to push back on freedom of speech related threats from overseas. The Bill will also address concerns about the possible influence of overseas money in English HE. These new measures will help the Office for Students (OfS) understand the possible impact of overseas income on freedom of speech and academic freedom, and monitor any trends and patterns of concern. The Bill will allow the OfS to take appropriate action, including issuing penalties, if there is evidence that an HE provider has breached its freedom of speech duties.

The department continuously strengthens protective measures, and expects universities to do the same. Universities UK, with government support, continues work to increase the understanding and awareness of the threat from interference within the HE sector. A key output of this is the publication of two sets of guidelines and a set of case studies, which can be found at the following links: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/what-we-do/policy-and-research/publications/managing-risks-internationalisation, https://www.ukri.org/publications/managing-risks-in-international-research-and-innovation/ and: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/universities-uk-international/insights-and-publications/uuki-insights/case-studies-how-universities-are.

With regards to Confucius Institutes, like all similar bodies they should operate transparently, and with a full commitment to our values of openness and freedom of expression. Universities have a responsibility to ensure that any partnership with a Confucius Institute is managed appropriately, and the right due diligence is in place. The government encourages any providers with concerns to contact the government.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
25th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential influence of Confucius Institutes on UK universities.

The government continuously assesses threats posed to the UK. As a matter of longstanding policy, we are unable to release information regarding threat assessments, on the grounds of national security.

The government is clear that any challenges to our core values, whatever their origin, will not be tolerated. Departmental officials will continue to work closely with their counterparts across government to strengthen protective measures.

The National Security Bill currently before Parliament brings together vital new measures to protect our national security. The new Foreign Influence Registration Scheme (FIRS) has now been added to the Bill, which has been created to tackle covert influence in the UK. The scheme is designed to strengthen the integrity of our politics and institutions, and protect the UK from state threats.

The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill will ensure that lawful freedom of speech is fully supported in English higher education (HE), regardless of where the challenge comes from. It will require and empower registered HE providers, colleges and students’ unions to push back on freedom of speech related threats from overseas. The Bill will also address concerns about the possible influence of overseas money in English HE. These new measures will help the Office for Students (OfS) understand the possible impact of overseas income on freedom of speech and academic freedom, and monitor any trends and patterns of concern. The Bill will allow the OfS to take appropriate action, including issuing penalties, if there is evidence that an HE provider has breached its freedom of speech duties.

The department continuously strengthens protective measures, and expects universities to do the same. Universities UK, with government support, continues work to increase the understanding and awareness of the threat from interference within the HE sector. A key output of this is the publication of two sets of guidelines and a set of case studies, which can be found at the following links: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/what-we-do/policy-and-research/publications/managing-risks-internationalisation, https://www.ukri.org/publications/managing-risks-in-international-research-and-innovation/ and: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/universities-uk-international/insights-and-publications/uuki-insights/case-studies-how-universities-are.

With regards to Confucius Institutes, like all similar bodies they should operate transparently, and with a full commitment to our values of openness and freedom of expression. Universities have a responsibility to ensure that any partnership with a Confucius Institute is managed appropriately, and the right due diligence is in place. The government encourages any providers with concerns to contact the government.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether licences from the Rural Payments Agency will be required for ethyl alcohol imported from the EU after the transition period.

Yes, under retained EU law, amended by the Import and Export Licences (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, any import of ethyl alcohol into the UK after the end of the transition period will need to be accompanied by an import licence issued by the Rural Payments Agency.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
17th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether she has had discussions with Cabinet colleagues on the ethical implications of supplying weapons and military support to the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.

I can assure you that HM Government takes its export control responsibilities very seriously. We assess all applications against the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria, which take into account our obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty and other relevant rules of international law. They provide a thorough risk assessment framework and require us to think hard about the possible impact of providing equipment and its capabilities.

In making our decisions on the exports of arms, we take advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Ministry of Defence.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how much his Department spends on the employment of communications staff annually.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has an annual budget of £7.5m for the employment of Communication and Marketing staff in 2021/22.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many communications staff are employed (a) full time, (b) part time and (c) with flexible working arrangements in her Department.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) employed 100 Civil Servants within the Communications and Marketing directorate as of 31 January 2022. In addition to the usual communications functions, DIT also has a crucial role in driving and generating business, trade and investment for UK business. Marketing campaigns led by the department in the UK and around the world promote British goods and services, and secure investment into the UK.

DIT is committed to supporting a variety of flexible working patterns, meaning that staff work several different patterns including full-time, part-time, flexitime and job-sharing. As part of DIT’s Smarter Working approach, hybrid working is also available to DIT employees.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
10th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, with reference to the Government’s Strategic Export Licensing Criteria, whether she has conducted a review of relevant licences following the 19 January 2022 bombings of the C-Plas and the Ibn Sina Hospitals in Amanat Al Asimah, Yemen; and whether any licences have been suspended or revoked as a result of that review.

All licences – to all markets – are kept under careful and continual review and we are able to suspend, refuse or revoke licences as circumstances require. An export licence will not be granted (or, if extant, it would be revoked) if it is incompatible with any of the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria. This includes Criterion 2c, whether there is a clear risk that the items might be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

15th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, with reference to the Written Statement of 8 December 2021, HCWS449, on Trade Policy Update, what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of new arms licensing criteria in preventing (a) internal repression and (b) the commission of violations of international humanitarian law.

The revised Criteria announced in the Written Statement of 8 December 2021, HCWS449, reflect the UK’s policy considerations and take into account a full range of factors including our international legal obligations including the Arms Trade Treaty.

HM Government is satisfied that the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria provides a thorough risk assessment framework for assessing all export licence applications. With regard to internal repression and the commission of violations of international humanitarian law, the key tests are Criterion 2a and Criterion 2c. These criteria have not substantially changed; indeed they have been made stronger by the addition of “facilitation” within their scope.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
13th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, with reference to Written Statement of 8 December 2021, HCWS449 on Trade Policy Update, whether her Department has made an assessment of the impact of new licensing criteria on the likelihood of UK arms to be used in humanitarian contexts.

HM Government takes its arms export responsibilities seriously and assesses export licence applications in accordance with the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria.

These Criteria provide a thorough risk assessment framework for assessing export licence applications and require us to think hard about the impact of providing equipment and its capabilities. They maintain the high standards we and European partners share on internal repression, international humanitarian law and the upholding of international obligations more generally.

We will not license the export of equipment where to do so would be inconsistent with these Criteria.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment the Government has made of the potential merits of the amended proposal by the South African and Indian Governments to the World Trade Organisation to waive certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of covid-19.

I refer the Hon. Gentleman for Stirling to the answer given to the Hon. Gentleman for Dundee West on 19th July (UIN: 31441)

15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if the Government will support the South African and Indian Governments' amended proposal to the World Trade Organisation to waive certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of covid-19.

I refer the Hon. Gentleman for Stirling to the answer given to the Hon. Gentleman for Dundee West on 19th July (UIN: 31441)

8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what the value was of exports of arms and military equipment to (a) Afghanistan, (b) Bahrain, (c) Bangladesh, (d) Belarus, (e) Central African Republic, (f) China, (g) Colombia, (h) Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, (i) Democratic Republic of Congo, (j) Egypt, (k) Eritrea, (l) Iran in 2020.

Such exports require an export licence, which are assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the “Consolidated Criteria”).

HM Government publishes Official Statistics (on a quarterly and annual basis) on export licences granted, refused and revoked to all destinations on GOV.UK containing detailed information including the overall value, type (e.g. Military, Other) and a summary of the items covered by these licences. The most recent publication was on 13th July 2021.

8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what the value was of exports of arms and military equipment to (a) Iraq, (b) Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, (c) Libya, (d) Mali, (e) Myanmar, (f) Nicaragua, (g) Pakistan, (h) Russia, (i) Saudi Arabia, (j) Somalia, (k) South Sudan, (l) Sri Lanka, (m) Sudan, (n) Syria, (o) Turkmenistan, (p) Uzbekistan, (q) Venezuela, (r) Yemen and (s) Zimbabwe in 2020.

Such exports require an export licence, which are assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the “Consolidated Criteria”).

HM Government publishes Official Statistics (on a quarterly and annual basis) on export licences granted, refused and revoked to all destinations on GOV.UK containing detailed information including the overall value, type (e.g. Military, Other) and a summary of the items covered by these licences. The most recent publication was on 13th July 2021.

19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to improve reporting on open licences.

The United Kingdom operates one of the most robust and transparent export control regimes in the world. We rigorously examine each export licence application on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.

HM Government publishes Official Statistics on a quarterly and annual basis on export licences (including open individual licences) granted, refused and revoked. We also provide information on registrations and de-registrations of open general licences. This information is publicly available at: gov.uk/government/collections/strategic-export-controls-licensing-data

We have made public the ability to search and run reports on published licensing data too. This is available at: exportcontroldb.trade.gov.uk

My Department has explored further increasing transparency on open licence usage, whilst being mindful of administrative burdens on industry and will continue to do so.

19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia have been denied since 2015.

Arms exports require an export licence, and all export licence applications are assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the “Consolidated Criteria”).

HM Government publishes Official Statistics (on a quarterly and annual basis) on export licences granted, refused and revoked to all destinations on GOV.UK containing detailed information including the overall value, type (e.g. Military, Other) and a summary of the items covered by these licences. This information is available at: gov.uk/government/collections/strategic-export-controls-licensing-data and the most recent publication was on 13th October 2020, covering the period 1st April – 30th June 2020.

We are able to place conditions on how goods are used in situations where goods remain under an exporter’s control following export, such as temporary exports. We rigorously examine all applications on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated Criteria, which takes into account our obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty and other relevant rules of international law. Whilst no Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) have been refused since 2015, 11 Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs) have been rejected for arms exports to Saudi Arabia. This shows the Consolidated Criteria provide a thorough risk assessment framework and require us to think hard about the possible impact of both providing equipment and its capabilities.

19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what conditions on arms use her Department has placed on Saudi Arabia.

Arms exports require an export licence, and all export licence applications are assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the “Consolidated Criteria”).

HM Government publishes Official Statistics (on a quarterly and annual basis) on export licences granted, refused and revoked to all destinations on GOV.UK containing detailed information including the overall value, type (e.g. Military, Other) and a summary of the items covered by these licences. This information is available at: gov.uk/government/collections/strategic-export-controls-licensing-data and the most recent publication was on 13th October 2020, covering the period 1st April – 30th June 2020.

We are able to place conditions on how goods are used in situations where goods remain under an exporter’s control following export, such as temporary exports. We rigorously examine all applications on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated Criteria, which takes into account our obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty and other relevant rules of international law. Whilst no Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) have been refused since 2015, 11 Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs) have been rejected for arms exports to Saudi Arabia. This shows the Consolidated Criteria provide a thorough risk assessment framework and require us to think hard about the possible impact of both providing equipment and its capabilities.

13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, pursuant to the Answer of 22 September 2020 to Question 91155 on Georgia: Freedom of Expression, what assessment the Government has made of the investment climate in the Republic of Georgia.

Georgia is ranked seventh in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ index, as she has an open business environment and a strong investment climate.

At the recent United Kingdom-Georgia Wardrop Dialogue, opportunities for British business were identified in areas such as renewable energy, business services and light manufacturing. The Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between both countries – signed on 21st October 2019 – will allow businesses to continue to trade on preferential terms following its entry into force at the end of the Transition Period.

2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to ensure that UK-exported weapons are not used in attacks that breach international (a) humanitarian and (b) human rights law.

Weapons exported from the UK require an export licence. All export licence applications are considered on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (known as the Consolidated Criteria), based on the most up-to-date information and analysis available, including reports from NGOs and our overseas network. The Consolidated Criteria provides a thorough risk assessment framework and requires us to assess the impact of providing equipment and its capabilities.

Licensing decisions take into account international humanitarian and human rights law. We will not issue any export licences where we assess there is a clear risk that the goods might be used for internal repression or in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the backlog of driving theory tests.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is aware that demand for theory tests in Scotland is currently high and it is doing all it can to offer more tests at centres by increasing opening hours and running tests on extra days where possible. The provision of additional testing is dependent upon the availability of venues and agreements with landlords. The DVSA is working with its theory test provider, Pearson VUE, to explore further ways in which it can further increase theory test capacity.

The DVSA is continuing to work with the Scottish Government but as a result of the 2 metre physical distancing restrictions in Scotland, as required by the Scottish Government, it is unable to increase the number of desks used to take tests. This has reduced capacity at most theory test sites by 50%.

The DVSA and its theory test contract provider, Pearson VUE, have explored the possibility of delivering the theory tests outside of existing sites, but this was found to be not suitable as it is dependent upon a physical infrastructure within the Pearson VUE network.

27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the timeliness of the next available date for a practical driving test for a (a) car, (b) HGV, (c) motorcycle and (d) tractor in Stirling.

As of 24 May 2021, the next available date to take a practical driving test in Stirling is:

(a) 6 weeks for car

(b) 10.5 weeks for HGV (nearest centres: Livingston - 10 weeks, Perth - 11 weeks, Glasgow - 10 weeks)

(c) 6 weeks for motorcycle (nearest centres: Glasgow Shieldhall module one - 11 weeks / module two -1 week, Edinburgh Musselburgh module one - 1 week, module two - 1 week, Livingston module two only - 1 week)

(d) 13 weeks for tractor

19th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of legislation on private pension schemes for (a) support for pensioners during the cost-of-living crisis and (b) introducing an ethics code in the decision of payments.

Employers have legal obligations to provide minimum levels of pension provision for certain groups of employees. As long as they comply with those obligations it is up to the individual employer to decide on the nature of the scheme and the exact benefits which are provided.

Laura Trott
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
19th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what comparative assessment his Department has made of the merits of pension regulatory regimes of EU member states.

We continually engage and learn from international work, including on the latest developments and findings on the pension regimes in EU member states. This routinely informs policy development in the UK.

Laura Trott
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 7 July 2021 to Question 25157, for what reason a change in earnings for a period of two months is deemed a permanent change and a change in contact arrangements for 14 months is deemed a temporary change by the Child Maintenance Service; and what her Department’s policy is on the length of time that constitutes a (a) temporary and (b) permanent change for the purposes of the Child Maintenance Service.

There are multiple factors considered when taking into account a Paying Parent’s income for a Child Maintenance assessment. The scheme is designed so that liabilities remain consistent over the year, with limited changes to the assessment allowing both parents to budget. Time frames will vary depending on what is being assessed and legislation requires that factors which affect income should be expected to last for the “foreseeable future”.

The Child Maintenance Service follows guidance on when changes should be considered temporary or permanent. These decisions are discretionary and considered on a case by case basis. If a customer is unhappy with the outcome of the decision, they may appeal through a mandatory reconsideration.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will provide a definition of the term temporary as used by the Child Maintenance Service.

The Child Maintenance Service uses the term temporary as a definition of a measure which lasts for a limited time. This is opposed to something which is permanent.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department may issue National Insurance numbers for (a) EU (b) EEA or (c) Swiss nationals who already have settled or pre-settled status.

The department continues to allocate National Insurance Numbers, however, at present this service is currently limited to specific customer groups.

DWP started testing a partial digital solution, on a small scale, in mid-October, to support the issuing of National Insurance Numbers, which is still ongoing. This solution enables collection of the applicant’s data, but not the online verification of their identity.

For those customer groups, where a face to face identity check is required, we are developing and testing alternative identity verification solutions. We recently included EU/EAA and Swiss nationals, who have been granted settled or pre-settled status as part of their EU Settlement Scheme, into the test, as their identity will have been verified, through this process, by the Home Office.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many workplace spot checks the Heath and Safety Executive has carried out in each of the last six months.

The numbers of workplace spot checks the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has carried out in each of the last six months is in the table below:

Year

Month

No. of Proactive Inspections

2019

Dec

624

2020

Jan

898

2020

Feb

1041

2020

Mar

587

2020

Apr

78

2020

1st – 20th May

62

The above data was extracted from HSE’s operational database on 21st May 2020 and is subject to change e.g. the administrative process of recording the information in the database can take up to 10 days.

In March, HSE temporarily suspended proactive visits to sites to allow social distancing measures to be put in place to protect visiting staff. It has since developed plans for resuming proactive site inspections.

The above data excludes investigations of workplace concerns including those relating to COVID-19, where checks have been made to ensure that measures have been put in place to comply with the law.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what additional support her Department is providing to the Heath and Safety Executive to ensure effective regulation of SARS-CoV-2 in workplaces throughout the UK.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is playing a crucial role in the Government’s response to covid-19, including its continued work with trade unions, employers and stakeholders to help ensure workplaces are safe environments.

The Government has already announced it has made up to £14 million additional funding available to HSE for extra call centre employees, inspectors and equipment to support their work. HSE working with the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy published guidance on 11th May 2020 on working safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

HSE is funded to deliver its wide-ranging regulatory functions and has also redirected resource to this activity as a priority. In addition, HSE continues to address reported workplace concerns with employers, including those relating to employees with a heighted risk from Covid-19.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many reports relating to covid-19 the Heath and Safety Executive has received in each of the last three months.

RIDDOR places duties on employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises (the Responsible Person) to report certain serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences (near misses). Reports relate to incidents occurring within Great Britain.

Under RIDDOR, duty-holders are obliged to report cases of Covid-19 when:

  • an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to Covid-19 (reportable as a ‘biological agent’ dangerous occurrence under Regulation 7, Schedule 2 – Section 10);
  • a worker has been diagnosed as having Covid-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work (reportable as an ‘exposure to a biological agent’ case of disease under Regulation 9(b));
  • a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to Covid-19 and this is confirmed as the likely cause of death by a registered medical practitioner (reportable as a ‘death due to exposure to a biological agent’ case of disease under Regulation 6(2)).

The attached Tables 1 and 2 provide numbers of all Covid-19 related reports i.e. reports of incidents under the RIDDORs (Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) which fall to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Local Authorities (LA) as enforcing authorities. Table 3 shows the number of Covid-19 workplace concerns reported to HSE.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps have been taken to increase the server capacity for her Department during the covid-19 oubreak.

We regularly monitor capacity of servers and storage and have not had any issues provisioning additional capacity due to COVID-19.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps her Department is taking to secure supplies of medicines for (a) diabetes, (b) cancer and (c) mental health treatments.

The Department has well-established tools and processes to manage supply issues whenever they arise, helping to prevent shortages and mitigate risks to patients. We work with industry, NHS England, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, devolved administrations and other stakeholders to help ensure patients continue to have access to the treatments they need.

The Department has been working with industry to help boost supplies of medicines for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and the position is improving as a result. Some supply issues remain, but we are continuing to work hard to resolve these as quickly as possible. We have issued guidance to all healthcare professionals on how to manage patients requiring these medicines whilst supply is disrupted. Our guidance is clear that medicines licensed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes should only be used for this purpose.

Regarding cancer medicines, we are aware of an issue with the supply of letrozole tablets from one supplier. We have been working with alternative suppliers, who have confirmed that they have the stock available to meet demand. A supplier of tamoxifen tablets is also experiencing supply issues, but again we have worked with alternative suppliers to help ensure they can support the market at this time.

Regarding medicines for mental health treatments, the Department has been working with manufacturers of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medicines and a number of issues have now been resolved. Work continues to resolve the remaining supply issues by April 2024. We have issued a National Patient Safety Alert and worked with clinicians to develop helpful guidance on how to manage patients during this time.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his timescale is for publishing the findings of the second phase of independent review into drug misuse by Professor Dame Carol Black, announced by his Department on 2 July 2020.

Publication is expected in summer 2021.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the National Audit Office report entitled Investigation into government procurement during the covid-19 pandemic, published 18 November 2020, what the names are of the 144 companies that were introduced by the private offices of Ministers and processed via the high priority lane for the procurement of personal protective equipment.

The Government issued a public call to action to support the increased requirements of personal protective equipment (PPE). This resulted in over 15,000 suppliers offering their help and support.

The cross-Government PPE team considered that leads referred by Government officials, Ministerial private offices, Parliamentarians, senior National Health Service staff and other health professionals were possibly the more credible and needed to be initially reviewed with more urgency. This was commonly referred to as a ‘priority’ or ‘VIP’ channel.

At the point of being prioritised these offers went into the same due diligence, technical assurance, closing or contract negotiation and contract award process as all the other offers. About one in ten suppliers were processed through this channel - 47 out of 493 - obtained contracts. We do not intend to publish the list of these suppliers as there may be associated commercial implications.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the (a) value and (b) purpose is of his Department's contracts with TAEG Energy Ltd to date.

The Department has two contracts with TAEG Energy Ltd for the delivery of hand sanitiser products. The first has a value of £5 million; the second £53 million.

TAEG Energy Ltd were evaluated by Departmental officials on their financial standing; compliance with minimum product and technical specifications; and ability to perform the contract. Contracts are awarded by the appropriate Departmental accounting officer in line with Departmental terms and conditions.

The Department’s procurement records show that the Department has had no contracts with TAEG Energy Ltd over the last five years prior to the award of the contracts for hand sanitiser.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what due diligence was undertaken by his Department before the award of contracts to TAEG Energy Ltd.

The Department has two contracts with TAEG Energy Ltd for the delivery of hand sanitiser products. The first has a value of £5 million; the second £53 million.

TAEG Energy Ltd were evaluated by Departmental officials on their financial standing; compliance with minimum product and technical specifications; and ability to perform the contract. Contracts are awarded by the appropriate Departmental accounting officer in line with Departmental terms and conditions.

The Department’s procurement records show that the Department has had no contracts with TAEG Energy Ltd over the last five years prior to the award of the contracts for hand sanitiser.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the total value of personal protective equipment public procurement contracts in the financial year 2020-21 to date.

Contracting authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances under the Public Contract Regulations 2015. These include a direct award under which authorities may enter into contracts without competing or advertising the requirement. The great majority of contracts placed by the Department were awarded under this route.

As of the beginning of November 2020, 937 contracts worth an estimated £17.8 billion have been awarded by the Department and its executive agencies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic for a wide range of products and services including personal protective equipment (PPE), the Test and Trace initiative, ventilators, IT, logistics and medicines etc.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the tendering process is for recruiting consultants to the NHS Test and Trace programme.

Call off contracts from the Crown Commercial Framework which contain a preselected list of suppliers with standard terms and conditions have been used in the majority of awards.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much the Government has spent on external consultants on the NHS Test and Trace programme to date.

For the 2020/21 financial year, the NHS Test and Trace programme has budgeted £438 million for professional services, which includes external consultants. Actual expenditure on professional services will be published when annual accounts have been audited.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many contracts his Department has awarded to companies without a tendering process in the last 12 months; which companies those contracts were with; and what services those contracts were for.

Contracting authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances under the Public Contract Regulations 2015. These include a direct award under which authorities may enter into contracts without competing or advertising the requirement. The great majority of contracts placed by the Department were awarded under this route.

As of the beginning of November 2020, 937 contracts worth an estimated £17.8 billion have been awarded by the Department and its executive agencies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic for a wide range of products and services including personal protective equipment (PPE), the Test and Trace initiative, ventilators, IT, logistics and medicines etc.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Stirling sent on 19 August 2020, ref: AL2706, on the implications for his Department of the UK leaving the EU.

We are working rapidly to provide all Members and external correspondents with accurate answers to their correspondence, as well as supporting the Government’s response to the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hon. Member’s letter will be answered as soon as possible.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the document entitled, Review: does the use of face masks in the general population make a difference to spread of infection, that was presented to SAGE on 9 April 2020, if he will (a) publish that review and (b) the evidence for it.

Transparency, including on the evidence informing the views of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), is important in helping to maintain the public’s trust and helping to grow understanding of the disease, while also helping to explain how advice to the Government is being formed. The Government is working to publish evidence documents and studies which have formed the basis of SAGE’s discussions and advice to Ministers regularly and will publish more evidence in the coming weeks.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the potential merits of introducing collective passports for educational groups visiting the UK.

The Foreign Secretary regularly speaks to his counterparts on a range of issues.

The UK is a signatory to the 1961 Council of Europe treaty which provides for collective passports for young people. Continued acceptance of these passports from those who have ratified the treaty is current practice. The UK has not left the Council of Europe.

Whilst it remains current policy to continue to accept collective passports issued by signatories to the treaty, as part of our Points Based Immigration System, it is our intention to move to a position where everyone obtains an individual permission from the Home Office in advance of travel and so in the future we are likely to require individual documents.

It should be noted several EU countries have declared they will no longer accept a collective passport issued by the UK under this treaty.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he has had discussions with the Secretary of State for (a) Education and (b) the Home Department on reducing (i) barriers and (ii) costs of obtaining visas for EU students studying at UK universities.

International students make a significant economic and cultural contribution to the UK's higher education sector. They enrich the university experience for all students, including those from the UK themselves. They bring greater diversity to university and college campuses adding an international dimension. For both international and domestic students, this cultural exchange helps build life-long friendships, future networks, and important business, political and diplomatic bridges.

We fully anticipate the UK continuing to be an attractive destination for EU students and for students from across the globe.

The Foreign Secretary speaks to his counterparts on a range of collective issues.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he has had discussions with the (a) Home Secretary and (b) Secretary of State for Education on improving access to UK universities for students from EU countries.

International students make a significant economic and cultural contribution to the UK's higher education sector. They enrich the university experience for all students, including those from the UK themselves. They bring greater diversity to university and college campuses adding an international dimension. For both international and domestic students, this cultural exchange helps build life-long friendships, future networks, and important business, political and diplomatic bridges.

We fully anticipate the UK continuing to be an attractive destination for EU students and for students from across the globe.

The Foreign Secretary speaks to his counterparts on a range of collective issues.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he has held discussions with the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero on the installation of additional interconnectors to EU countries, including in the North Sea.

The Foreign Secretary and Minister for Europe work closely on energy issues with colleagues in the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. At present, three interconnector projects to Denmark, Ireland and Germany are in construction. A further two interconnector projects to France hold regulatory approval in Great Britain. On 24 April 2023, the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero attended the North Seas Summit in Ostend where the UK signed a declaration for the coordinated development of the North Seas with neighbouring North Seas countries.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department has taken steps to consult the devolved Administrations on the negotiating objectives for the upcoming review of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement in 2026.

The UK Government is committed to maximising the potential of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement for the benefit of UK citizens, businesses and civil society.

The government regularly consults the Devolved Administrations on implementing the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of negotiating a universal declaration of ocean rights.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides the overarching legal framework for the governance of the ocean. Numerous other agreements at a global and regional level add greater detail. These cover issues including shipping and safety, fishing, and environmental protection. The draft text of an international legally binding instrument under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction - the BBNJ Agreement - was agreed at the UN in March. This is a landmark agreement for biodiversity and will mean much greater protection for over 60 per cent of the global ocean. It is unclear what added value a universal declaration of ocean rights would achieve.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in Pakistan on the operation of free, fair and safe elections in that country.

We have frequent contact with the Government on Pakistan on a wide range of issues. We respect Pakistan's democratic system and do not interfere in its internal political affairs. We will continue to engage regularly with the Government of Pakistan to advance our shared priorities and interests, including on human rights, freedom of expression and upholding democratic norms.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made for the implications of its policies of the Chinese-British Business Council’s work with Confucius Institutes and their potential links with the United Front Work Department and the Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party.

The UK Government is committed to supporting UK businesses and academia to engage with China in a way that reflects the UK's values and takes account of national security concerns. The UK is a world-leading destination for international students and we have robust procedures in place to protect against any undue foreign influence.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made for the implication of its policies of the Chinese-British Business Council and its ties to the United Front Work Department and the Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party.

The UK Government is committed to supporting UK businesses and academia to engage with China in a way that reflects the UK's values and takes account of national security concerns. The UK is a world-leading destination for international students and we have robust procedures in place to protect against any undue foreign influence.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential relationship between Confucius Institutes in the UK and the (a) United Front Work Department and (b) Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party.

The Government is committed to supporting the UK education sector to engage with China in a way that reflects the UK's values and takes account of national security concerns. Where we have clear evidence of behaviours that threaten our national security, we will of course act accordingly. However, as a matter of long-standing policy we will not comment on intelligence matters.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department has taken recent steps to help reduce the ability of the Myanmar military to carry out airstrikes.

We remain very concerned by the horrific tactics used by the Myanmar military, including indiscriminate airstrikes against civilians. The UK frequently raises these issues in international statements, including at the UN Security Council (UNSC) and UN Human Rights Council.

On 28 February 2022, the UK updated its Overseas Business Risk Guidance to make it clear that UK businesses should conduct thorough supply chain due diligence to ensure that commodities, such as aviation fuel, do not reach the Myanmar military. The UK is also using targeted sanctions against those who provide weapons and parts to the Myanmar Air Force.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his department has set out human rights conditions to the Federal Government of Somalia relating to the provision of UK armed forces training to security forces in that country.

The UK is a major security partner of Somalia, working with international partners to counter al-Shabaab, build capacity of Somali forces and support the transition to Somali-led security. The UK has trained 1,771 Somalis in 2022. We cannot yet give figures for 2023. Protection of human rights is central to our security engagement and interventions, including through engagement with the Somali Government, as well as incorporating human rights language into UN resolutions in our role as penholder and mandating pre-deployment human rights training for the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and Somali security forces personnel. The UK also advocates at all levels of Government that military planning for security operations against Al-Shabaab should look to minimise humanitarian impacts and that all security actors should respect International Humanitarian Law which includes the protection of civilians. This approach aligns with the recently published UK humanitarian framework.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
12th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he has had recent discussions with his Somalian counterpart on the protection of (a) civilians and (b) human rights during the Somali military offensive against al-Shabaab.

The UK is a major security partner of Somalia, working with international partners to counter al-Shabaab, build capacity of Somali forces and support the transition to Somali-led security. The UK has trained 1,771 Somalis in 2022. We cannot yet give figures for 2023. Protection of human rights is central to our security engagement and interventions, including through engagement with the Somali Government, as well as incorporating human rights language into UN resolutions in our role as penholder and mandating pre-deployment human rights training for the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and Somali security forces personnel. The UK also advocates at all levels of Government that military planning for security operations against Al-Shabaab should look to minimise humanitarian impacts and that all security actors should respect International Humanitarian Law which includes the protection of civilians. This approach aligns with the recently published UK humanitarian framework.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
12th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, how many Somalia National Army soldiers are due to be trained by UK armed forces in (a) 2022 and (b) 2023.

The UK is a major security partner of Somalia, working with international partners to counter al-Shabaab, build capacity of Somali forces and support the transition to Somali-led security. The UK has trained 1,771 Somalis in 2022. We cannot yet give figures for 2023. Protection of human rights is central to our security engagement and interventions, including through engagement with the Somali Government, as well as incorporating human rights language into UN resolutions in our role as penholder and mandating pre-deployment human rights training for the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and Somali security forces personnel. The UK also advocates at all levels of Government that military planning for security operations against Al-Shabaab should look to minimise humanitarian impacts and that all security actors should respect International Humanitarian Law which includes the protection of civilians. This approach aligns with the recently published UK humanitarian framework.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
24th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, how many staff in his Department speak at least one of the following languages (a) Cantonese, (b) Hokkien, (c) a Turkic language spoken in China, or (d) Tibetan.

The FCDO currently has fewer than 5 UK based staff with valid FCDO qualification in Cantonese. We have no UK based staff with valid FCDO qualifications in Hokkien, Turkic languages spoken in China or Tibetan. We do not hold figures on staff who speak languages to a lower level, who qualified outside of the FCDO, or those whose qualification has lapsed. Our embassies across the world also employ staff locally who are fluent in their native language.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when he plans to respond to the letter of 8th of September 2022 from the hon. Member for Stirling on the location of the UK Embassy in Israel.

We are grateful to the Honourable member for bringing this matter to our attention. We apologise for the delay. A response will be issued in due course.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he has had discussions with representatives from civil society organisations on the updated (a) Integrated Review and (b) Arctic Policy Framework.

The UK Government will make a decision on whether to proceed with updating the Integrated Review in due course. If we proceed, we will engage with external experts and wider stakeholders with an interest in our nation's security and prosperity as part of the process of updating the Integrated Review.

FCDO officials have engaged with relevant experts and representatives from the Non-Government Organisation community as part of the development of a refreshed UK Arctic Policy Framework.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the Ministry of Defence paper entitled The UK's Defence Contribution in the High North published on 29 March 2022, when he plans to publish the UK's updated Arctic Policy Framework.

We are looking to publish an updated UK Arctic Policy Framework later this year.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to implement individual sanctions against officials from (a) Hong Kong and (b) China who are complicit with violations of (i) human rights violations and (ii) civil and democratic rights.

The UK is clear that China remains in an ongoing state of non-compliance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Whilst we keep potential sanctions designations under close and regular review, it is not appropriate to speculate who may be designated in the future. To do so could reduce their impact.

Under the UK's Global Human Rights sanctions regime, the UK has imposed asset freezes and travel bans against four Chinese Government officials as well as an asset freeze against one entity responsible for enforcing the repressive security policies across many areas of Xinjiang. We will continue to act with our likeminded partners to ensure that those responsible for gross human rights violations, both in China and across the globe, are held to account.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether (a) she or (b) any ministers in her Department have met with Russian=based companies since 24 February 2022.

Neither the Foreign Secretary, nor any other Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office ministers, have met with Russia-based companies since the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. The former Minister for Europe had an interview with TV Rain on 21 June, an independent media company forced out of Russia by the Kremlin's crackdown on media freedom.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
11th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if she will make it her policy to ban lobbying of UK government officials by firms based in Russia.

We do not have a policy to ban lobbying by firms based in specific countries. We do however have robust measures to provide transparency and powerful tools to deter illicit or harmful activity when that arises. The National Security Bill, currently before Parliament, will provide a range of additional tools and powers to tackle state threats, including activity which amounts to foreign interference in UK public life.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
23rd May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, how much of the £220 million allocated by the Government for humanitarian assistance and support in Ukraine has been disbursed to date.

To date we have disbursed approximately £85 million of the £220 million, in line with agreements reached with partners. Disbursements include £20 million to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), £25 million to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, £10 million to International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and £10 million of our £25 million in matched funding to the Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal, which is being delivered by UK NGOs. It is standard practice for payments to partners to be spread over time to ensure a sustained response.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
29th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, which Minister within her Department has responsibility for the UK’s Atrocity Prevention policy.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's (FCDO) Minister of State for South Asia, North Africa, the United Nations and the Commonwealth, has oversight of work on atrocity prevention policy. He is also the Prime Minister's Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict. The FCDO works closely with other government departments to formulate policy on atrocity prevention.

29th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether her Department plans to formulate and publish a UK atrocity prevention strategy in response to human rights violations in Ukraine.

We are closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine and have already dedicated significant resources to conflict prevention. The UK has pledged military, policing and financial support to the International Criminal Court (ICC)'s investigation into the situation in Ukraine. We will hold accountable those responsible for the atrocities that have been and are being committed in Ukraine, including both military commanders and individuals in the Putin regime.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps their Department is taking to prevent international companies incorporated in the UK from committing human rights abuses and causing environmental damage both domestically and internationally.

The Government is clear that it expects all businesses that carry on a business, or part of a business, in the UK to respect human rights throughout their operations, in line with the UN Guiding Principles. In response to the Guidelines, the UK was the first State to produce a National Action Plan and we continue to develop our approach in line with Modern Slavery Act 2015. Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act places a requirement on businesses with a turnover of £36 million or more, to publish an annual modern slavery statement setting out the steps they have taken to prevent modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. Additionally, financial penalties will be introduced to drive compliance with this reporting requirement. This requires primary legislation and will be introduced when parliamentary time allows.

The UK is signatory to the 1976 OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multi-National Enterprises, which adopted the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (the Guidelines). The Guidelines are a set of voluntary principles and standards for businesses to encourage responsible business practices, including human rights, labour standards and environment.

We have introduced world-leading due diligence legislation through the Environment Act to tackle illegal deforestation in UK supply chains. We consulted from 3 December 2021 to 11 March 2022 to seek views on the detail of regulations that will implement the Environment Act provisions. The Government will publish a summary of responses within 12 weeks of the consultation's close.

21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that corporations licenced in the UK do not (a) abuse human rights and (b) cause environmental damage.

The Government is clear that it expects all businesses that carry on a business, or part of a business, in the UK to respect human rights throughout their operations, in line with the UN Guiding Principles. In response to the Guidelines, the UK was the first State to produce a National Action Plan and we continue to develop our approach in line with Modern Slavery Act 2015. Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act places a requirement on businesses with a turnover of £36 million or more, to publish an annual modern slavery statement setting out the steps they have taken to prevent modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. Additionally, financial penalties will be introduced to drive compliance with this reporting requirement. This requires primary legislation and will be introduced when parliamentary time allows.

The UK is signatory to the 1976 OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multi-National Enterprises, which adopted the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (the Guidelines). The Guidelines are a set of voluntary principles and standards for businesses to encourage responsible business practices, including human rights, labour standards and environment.

We have introduced world-leading due diligence legislation through the Environment Act to tackle illegal deforestation in UK supply chains. We consulted from 3 December 2021 to 11 March 2022 to seek views on the detail of regulations that will implement the Environment Act provisions. The Government will publish a summary of responses within 12 weeks of the consultation's close.

21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of considering the principle of free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous communities as a legal requirement for companies incorporated in the UK but operating overseas in and around indigenous lands.

The Government is fully committed to promoting and protecting human rights for all individuals, including indigenous people. The Government is clear that it expects all UK businesses to respect human rights throughout their operations, in line with the UN Guiding Principles. In response to the Guidelines, the UK was the first State to produce a National Action Plan and we continue to develop our approach in line with Modern Slavery Act 2015. Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act places a requirement on businesses with a turnover of £36 million or more, to publish an annual modern slavery statement setting out the steps they have taken to prevent modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. To further bolster our commitment to tackle modern slavery, in January 2021, the UK Government announced that financial penalties will be introduced for organisations who fail to meet their statutory obligations to publish annual modern slavery statements. We have also enhanced Companies Act reporting (2013, 2016) and the UK is signatory to the 1976 OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multi-National Enterprises, which adopted the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to protect human rights around the world from negligence and malpractice of transnational mining corporations incorporated in the UK.

The UK Government works through a number of international mechanisms including supporting the OECD's Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains which enables businesses to operate responsibly in conflict affected and high risk areas and as a member of the Kimberley Process to help stem the flow of conflict diamonds.

The UK is also a member of the Voluntary Principles for Security and Human Rights which promote a set of principles to guide companies in the extractives sector to maintain the safety and security of their operations in a manner that reduces the risk of human rights abuses including in local communities.

More broadly, the Government expects all UK businesses to respect human rights throughout their operations, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The UK is signatory to the 1976 OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multi-National Enterprises, which adopted the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of the efforts of British incorporated company, BHP, to compensate the victims of the 2015 Fundão disaster in Brazil.

It would not be appropriate to comment as this matter is the subject of ongoing litigation.

16th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether she has issued advice against the recommendation of lawyers or officials in her Department to the Department for International Trade on the issuance of arms licences for export of arms and services to Saudi Arabia.

The Government takes its strategic export control responsibilities very seriously. The Government will not grant an export licence if to do so would be inconsistent with the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria, including respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.  All licences are kept under careful and continual review as standard.

Amanda Milling
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
16th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to help (a) support human rights in Brazil and (b) tackle the effects on Brazilians of the exploitation of natural resources by private companies in that country.

The UK regularly engages with the Brazilian government, civil society organisations and other partners to monitor human rights developments and respect for the rule of law in Brazil. We consider human rights issues in the development and implementation of projects supported by our Embassy in Brazil.

16th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether she has had recent discussions with her Brazilian counterpart on support provided to Brazil to help with recovery from the Mariana dam disaster in 2015.

British diplomats have, in partnership with UN Environment Programme, been promoting the new Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM) that brings together key stakeholders in the mining sector including Brazil's Federal and State Government, academia, UK specialists and civil society to address and discuss the safety of Brazilian dams. The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs has not raised the 2015 Mariana dam disaster with her Brazilian counterpart.

16th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department is taking with international counterparts to protect global populations from damage caused by negligent exploitation of natural resources by private companies.

Good governance is essential if national economies and local communities in developing countries are to benefit from the exploitation of natural resources, such as mineral reserves and timber. This is necessary to ensure that revenues from natural resources are invested to support education, health and economic development and to ensure that natural resources provide jobs and benefits to local communities. For example, in the forest sector, the UK supports efforts to tackle illegal logging and promote trade in legal timber in global timber markets. UK support provided through the Forest Governance, Markets and Climate programme (£280 million, 2011-23) ensures that illegal timber is eliminated from supply chains in countries with valuable forest resources, that the rights of local forest-dependent communities are respected and that companies in the timber industry are held accountable for their actions.

The UK also works to promote reform in industries which are closely associated with the destruction of natural resources, such as forests and encourage companies to operate in ways that reflect best practice. For example, through Partnerships for Forests (£120 million, 2015-23), the UK supports public-private partnerships with companies operating in the palm oil, rubber, cocoa, coffee, soya and cattle industries, which are helping to protect and restore forests, provide local jobs and livelihoods and ensure recognition and respect for local community rights. This work is helping to drive bad practice out of these industries and protect local communities and global populations from the damage caused by deforestation.

2nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if she will take diplomatic steps to encourage the 119 countries who signed the United Nations General Assembly resolution on the 18 June 2021, which calls upon all member states to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar, to put unilateral arms embargoes in place.

The UK is a longstanding supporter of an arms embargo on Myanmar. The UK helped secure an EU arms embargo on Myanmar following the 2017 Rohingya crisis. On 18 June 2021, the UK worked to secure an unprecedented UN General Assembly Resolution, signed up to by 119 countries, which committed to preventing the flow of arms to Myanmar.

We coordinated a joint statement on the one year anniversary of the February 2021 coup with 36 signatories which reiterated support for Myanmar's democratic transition, called for an end to violence and to cease the sale and transfer of arms. We also have extensive targeted sanctions on the military and its business interests, including on multiple institutions responsible for procuring weapons from abroad. We are working closely with partners on next steps, including securing further commitments from the international community on the transfer of arms, equipment and spare parts to the military.

Amanda Milling
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, how many communications staff are employed (a) full time (b) part time and (c) with flexible working arrangements in her Department.

The number of staff working in FCDO to deliver the communications functions currently is between 90 and 99 full time and fewer than 10 part-time staff. Data about individual staff members working patterns are not held centrally.

1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, how much her Department spends on the employment of communications staff annually.

Expenditure on communications staffing in this financial year is expected to be £9 million.

31st Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if she will publish the total cost of all air travel during her visit to Australia between 18 and 23 January 2022, including internal flights within that country.

In accordance with the Ministerial Code, the FCDO publishes the costs related to all overseas Ministerial travel as part of the regular Cabinet Office Transparency Return https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/minister-data#2020.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of establishing a Peace Institute associated with the work of her Department.

As outlined in the Integrated Review (IR), the UK is committed to working to reduce the frequency and intensity of conflict and instability. The FCDO's Conflict Directorate, formed in response to this IR commitment, will support a more integrated HMG approach, and include provision of a specialist capability on peace process and mediation support. The UK has a vibrant and expert community of peacebuilding organisations, academics and practitioners. In line with the IR, the FCDO will seek to draw upon expertise from across this UK-based community and the wider sector globally.

Amanda Milling
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether she has requested an investigation into the recent attack on water reservoirs in Sa'ada city in Yemen to assess whether UK-licenced weapons were used.

We are looking into reports of airstrikes affecting water infrastructure in Sa'ada governorate, Yemen, on 11 January. We urge all parties to the Yemen conflict to exercise restraint and avoid further civilian impact and suffering. The Government takes its strategic export control responsibilities very seriously. The Government will not grant an export licence if to do so would be inconsistent with the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria, including respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.  All licences are kept under careful and continual review as standard.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what additional measures her Department is implementing to ensure that UK arms are not licensed or exported to contexts where they could be used to commit violations of international law.

The Strategic Export Licensing Criteria provide a thorough risk assessment framework and require us to consider the possible impact of providing equipment and its capabilities.  We examine every application on a case-by-case basis against strict criteria. Risks around human rights and international humanitarian law violations are a key part of our assessment. The Government will not grant a licence for items where we determine there is a clear risk that the items might be used to commit or facilitate internal repression or a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
19th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the development of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems; and whether her Department will support a global ban on the development of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems at the meeting of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons on 2 December 2021.

The UK - alongside many other states - is unconvinced of the utility of a global ban on the development of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. Existing International Humanitarian Law provides a robust, principle-based framework ideally suited to the regulation of new technologies. The UK believes that efforts within the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons are better focused on the establishment of a set of positive obligations to ensure autonomy is used responsibly, ethically and in compliance with international law.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to her Department's news story, UK announces £274m boost to climate resilience across Indo-Pacific, published on 8 November 2021, from which budgets that funding will be provided; whether that funding has been previously announced; and whether her Department plans to distribute that funding in the form of grants or loans.

The funding for the Climate Action for a Resilient Asia (CARA) programme comes from the UK's Official Development Assistance budget. This is a new programme providing adaptation finance and was announced for the first time at COP26 on the 8th November 2021. It will contribute to the UK's existing commitment to provide £11.6 billion in International Climate Finance, announced in 2019, including £3 billion towards protecting nature and biodiversity.

The Department will provide funding for CARA in the form of grants. Our partners will then deploy a mix of technical assistance and capital investments to achieve the programme objectives.

20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when she will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Stirling of the 23 September 2020 on the the arbitrary detention of journalists, activists and protesters in Kurdistan, Iraq.

The reply to your letter was issued on the 25 October.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions she has had with her counterparts on the UN Security Council on the Burmese military troop build-up and increasing military attacks in Myanmar’s Chin State, Sagaing Region and Magwe, North-Western Myanmar.

The UK is deeply concerned about the situation in Chin, Sagaing and Magwe, particularly the significant troop movements by the Myanmar Armed Forces and reports of multiple civilian casualties. Current clashes have created mass displacement, with thousands of people now fleeing across the Indian border into Manipur and Mizoram state. This not only exacerbates the crisis in Myanmar but causes further regional instability. On 15 October, the British Embassy in Yangon released a statement urging the military to end their campaign of violence and flagging our concern for communities, their livelihoods, property and places of worship. We are monitoring developments closely and are in discussion with our international partners in the UN Security Council.

Amanda Milling
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what his priorities are for nutrition in the context of the Department’s seven priority areas for international development set out in his oral contribution of 26 November 2020, Official report, column 1018.

Addressing malnutrition is important for wider UK objectives to alleviate poverty and to improve health and education in the poorest regions of the world. Our funding in areas such as health and humanitarian response will contribute to this effort. By shifting our focus to empowering partner governments and maximising how multilaterals support nutrition, we will strengthen the health and food systems needed to ensure people are well-nourished now and into the future.

Malnourished people are likely to be more severely affected by COVID-19 and the indirect impacts of COVID-19 are expected to increase malnutrition across Africa and Asia in particular. Prevention and treatment of malnutrition is part of FCDO's response to address the indirect impacts of COVID-19 in countries such as Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what meetings he has held with international nutrition aid organisations on changes to the level of funding for international development in 2021 to date.

Due to the seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy, the government has had to take tough but necessary decisions, including the temporary reduction in the aid budget from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of national income.

The Foreign Secretary and Ministers have met with a range of organisations, including those that work on nutrition, to discuss funding for international development at a strategic level. Officials have been in touch with FCDO partners to let them know the detail of revised budget allocations for this financial year and will continue to work with them to deliver on our shared objectives.

8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what impact assessment his Department has undertaken on reductions in nutrition aid funding on (a) international malnutrition and (b) the Government’s aims for girls’ education globally.

The FCDO's aid budget has been allocated in accordance with UK strategic priorities as set out in the Strategic Framework for ODA. Officials considered any impact on women and girls, the most marginalised and vulnerable, people with disabilities and people from other protected groups, when developing advice to Ministers on ODA allocations for this financial year.

8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will provide details of the reduction in funding to nutrition based aid programmes, including the Technical Assistance for Nutrition (TAN) Programme.

Information about our nutrition spend in financial year 2021-22 will be publicly available through Development Tracker in due course.

As agreed by the Foreign Secretary, FCDO will focus its ODA investment and expertise on issues where the UK can make the most difference and achieve maximum strategic coherence, impact, and value for money.

16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the UK Government’s Protection of Civilians policy.

Ministerial responsibility for the Protection of Civilians (PoC) agenda is shared across Government departments. HMG's approach paper, published in August 2020, was drafted in collaboration between the former Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the former Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence. In line with the breadth and complexity of PoC issues, ranging from humanitarian access to urban warfare, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Ministry of Defence continue to work closely on this agenda.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, which Minister in his Department is responsible for the implementation of the UK Government’s Protection of Civilians policy; and whether that postholder has a counterpart in the Ministry of Defence.

Ministerial responsibility for the Protection of Civilians (PoC) agenda is shared across Government departments. HMG's approach paper, published in August 2020, was drafted in collaboration between the former Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the former Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence. In line with the breadth and complexity of PoC issues, ranging from humanitarian access to urban warfare, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Ministry of Defence continue to work closely on this agenda.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the relevance of (a) the Responsibility to Protect doctrine and (b) the UK Government’s Protection of Civilians policy to the ongoing situation in Tigray.

The UK Government has been at the forefront of the international response throughout the conflict in Tigray, engaging directly with the Government of Ethiopia, and that of Eritrea, to press for protection of civilians, unfettered humanitarian access and an end to the conflict, in line with our approach to protection of civilians and commitment to Responsibility to Protect. We have continued to engage core international partners and raise concerns in international fora, most recently through the G7 leaders' communique of 13 June. We have also raised the issue in UN Security Council open discussions on conflict and famine, the annual Open Debate on Protection of Civilians, in five 'AOB' items on the UNSC agenda, and the Interactive Dialogue of the UNSC of 16 June. The UK's longstanding position is that any determination of genocide is an issue for competent courts, rather than governments. Our focus is always on securing an end to violence and protecting civilians.

12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the US Administration's imposition of global Magnitsky sanctions and visa restrictions against Chen Quanguo in response to his role in perpetrating human rights violations against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang; and what plans he has to impose Magnisky sanctions on Chen Quanguo.

The situation in Xinjiang is one of the worst human rights crises of our time. On 22 March, the Foreign Secretary announced that the UK has imposed, under the UK's Global Human Rights sanctions regime, asset freezes and travel bans against four Chinese government officials, as well the Public Security Bureau of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, the organisation responsible for enforcing the repressive security policies across many areas of Xinjiang.

These measures were taken alongside the US, Canada and the EU. By acting with our partners we are sending the clearest message to the Chinese Government that the international community will not turn a blind eye to such serious and systematic violations of basic human rights. We continue to keep all evidence and potential listings under the Global Human Rights regime under close review.

10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the (a) African Union and (b) Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on joining the UK in imposing arms embargoes on Myanmar.

The UK is a longstanding supporter of an arms embargo on Myanmar. We are clear that countries including those in the African Union and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation should not sell arms to the Myanmar military. The UK autonomous Myanmar sanctions regulations prohibit the provision of military related services, including the provision of technical assistance, to or for the benefit of the Tatmadaw. We will work closely with partners to pressure those who sell arms to the military.

10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what advice the UK government is providing to UK companies in Myanmar involved in (a) oil, (b) gas, (c) timber, (d) gems and (e) other extractive industries on the payment of revenue and loyalties to the military-controlled government.

The Foreign Secretary and the International Trade Secretary have written to British Companies active in Myanmar to make clear our expectation that they do nothing to support the military. We are clear that the military must pay the price for their actions, that is why we are exploring all options to put pressure on their economic interests, this includes sanctions.

We remain committed to the principle of 'do no harm' with sanctions, and therefore wish to ensure that any measures balance the risk of disproportionately affecting poor people in Myanmar and imposing a cost on the military. In addition, as set out in the written ministerial statement of 25 February, we are reviewing our approach to Trade and Investment in Myanmar, and while that review takes place have suspended all trade promotion activity including the resources listed.

5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he plans to make to the Government of Bahrain regarding reports that at least 15 children have been detained in that country in recent weeks.

We understand that ten juveniles had been detained by the authorities in Bahrain for crimes ranging from obstructing traffic to preparing and possessing Molotov cocktails. The Government of Bahrain has since confirmed that seven 13 and 14-year-olds have since been released into the custody of their legal guardians. We understand that the remaining juveniles are awaiting legal proceedings, . We understand that they have access to medical care and that their cases are supervised by social work specialists. We will continue to monitor and raise these cases if and when appropriate. We encourage the Government of Bahrain to follow due process in all cases and meet its international and domestic human rights commitments, including in the case of juveniles.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the request for urgent action by Amnesty International dated 3 March 2021, which reports that Bahrain is in violation of its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child following the arrest, interrogation and detention of four minors and due process violations in at least two of those minors' cases, and to 16-year old Sayed Hasan Ameen who is severely unwell and suffers from sickle cell anaemia, what urgent representations the Government plans to make to secure the immediate release of Sayed Hasan Ameen.

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

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the capacity of the Palestinian Ministry of Health to sustain a response to the covid-19 pandemic in the long term.

We remain in regular, close contact with the Palestinian Authority (PA) to discuss their ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will work closely with key partners, including the PA to support a coherent strategy to support recovery. The UK has provided £20 million in funding for this financial year to support the salaries of teachers, nurses and doctors. This will help the PA support its health workers who have been on the frontline battling coronavirus and who deliver life-saving medical services.

We are pleased that the OPTs will be among the first to benefit from the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) - the international initiative to support global equitable access to vaccines, with delivery of a first batch of 37,000 doses of the of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine anticipated in mid-February. This is a positive step towards tackling COVID-19 in the OPTs.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Israeli counterpart on ensuring that Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory have (a) equitable, (b) comprehensive and (c) timely access to covid-19 vaccines.

The UK regularly engages with both the Government of Israel and Palestinian Authority (PA) and will continue to raise timely and appropriate access to COVID-19 vaccines. We welcome steps both parties have taken so far to coordinate the response, including the recent delivery of 2,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine from the Israeli Authorities to the PA for Palestinian health workers. We continue to encourage further cooperation between the two parties.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Belarusian counterpart on the arrest of former FCDO Chevening alumnus and journalist Andrei Aliaksandrau and its wider implications for media freedom in Belarus.

The Government is deeply concerned by the continuing attacks on media freedom in Belarus. There have been more than 400 reported incidents of persecution of media figures in Belarus. In 2020, Belarusian journalists spent over 1200 days in prison for simply doing their job. The Government has repeatedly raised its concerns with the Belarusian authorities, including the case of Mr Aliaksandrau and condemned the actions of the Belarusian authorities in international fora. We have increased financial support to independent media organisations in Belarus and have recognised their courage by presenting the inaugural Canada-UK Media Freedom Award to the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department has received representations on reported threats to life of UK citizens made in the Belarusian newspaper Sovietska Belarus; and what steps he plans to take in response to those reports.

The Government condemns the intimidation and persecution of political opposition figures and activists by Lukashenko's regime. Although we have not been directly approached by the persons concerned, we are aware of certain articles in a Belarusian state owned newspaper. These articles have made false claims about our Embassy in Minsk and made threats towards British nationals in the UK, who have spoken out against Lukashenko's regime. We have raised our concerns about this newspaper directly with the Belarusian authorities and to the Belarusian Ambassador in London. Any person in the UK who believes they are at risk are able to contact their local police in the UK.

13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the decision by the US Secretary of State to designate the Houthis as a terrorist organisation on humanitarian access in Yemen.

We are deeply concerned by assessments from the UN and NGOs that the US Administration's decision to designate the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation is likely to disrupt the humanitarian response and stop vital food supplies getting in to Yemen. We have already engaged with the US to urge them to ensure that the vital humanitarian response, including food supplies, are not disrupted.  Ministers and officials will continue to engage closely with the UN and other donors, including the US, to ensure life-saving humanitarian aid reaches the millions of Yemenis in need.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the China Tribunal's report entitled Independent Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting from Prisoners of Conscience in China Final Judgement and Summary Report, published on 17 June 2020.

We have carefully considered the report produced by the "China Tribunal" initiated by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC). The report contains numerous, disturbing allegations of serious human rights abuses, including sexual violence, torture, forced DNA testing, and false imprisonment. The testimonies also add to the growing body of evidence about the disturbing situation that Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs and other minorities are facing in China. The Government's position remains that, if true, the practice of systematic, state-sponsored organ harvesting would constitute a serious violation of human rights. Officials attended public hearings organised by the International Coalition, as well as its final session in which its preliminary findings were announced. The report is one of a number of sources of information that we are taking into account when considering this issue.

26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Chinese counterpart on the findings of the China Tribunal's report entitled Independent Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting from Prisoners of Conscience in China Final Judgement and Summary Report, published on 17 June 2020.

We have discussed the allegations of organ harvesting with the World Health Organization, international partners, and international human rights NGOs. The Minister for Human Rights met with the Chair of the Tribunal in November 2019. The Minister has also written to the WHO in Geneva to encourage them to give careful consideration to the findings of the China Tribunal report. We regularly raise our human rights concerns with China, including on the treatment of religious and ethnic minorities. The Foreign Secretary has personally raised our serious concerns around human rights with his Chinese counterpart on a number of occasions.

9th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he (a) has had and (b) plans to have with the Scottish Government prior to the publication of the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

Senior Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Cabinet Office officials have held discussions with the Devolved Administrations since the start of the Integrated Review. Most recently, at Ministerial level, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, as lead Minister for engagement with Devolved Administrations on the Integrated Review, met with the Scottish Minister for Justice Humza Yousaf, alongside colleagues from the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, to discuss the Review.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when he plans to respond to the letter from the hon. Member for Stirling of 2 September 2020 on human rights in Saudi Arabia.

A response has now been sent.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when he plans to respond to the letter from the hon. Member for Stirling of 10 July 2020 on MENA civil society.

A response has now been sent.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when he plans to respond to the letters from the hon. Member for Stirling of 1 July 2020 on Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

I responded to both letters in July 2020. We have resent your responses.

22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Saudi counterpart on (a) Loujain al-Hathloul and (b) other women’s rights campaigners who are on trial in Saudi Arabia.

We remain concerned about the continued detention of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia. We have raised the detention cases, including Loujain al-Hathloul, at senior levels with the Saudi authorities. We regularly raise areas of concern with the Saudi authorities through Ministers, our Ambassador and Embassy in Riyadh. The UK, along with other embassies in Saudi Arabia, consistently attempt to attend the trials of women's rights defenders, and have been denied access since October 2018. The UK signed a statement at the UN Human Rights Council on 15 September, calling for the release of women's rights defenders. Lord Ahmad raised the women's rights defenders during his call with Dr Awwad al-Awwad, the President of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, in June. The Foreign Secretary also raised their cases in March when he visited Riyadh.
James Cleverly
Home Secretary
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the detainment of human rights campaigners by Saudi authorities on the (a) UK-Saudi diplomatic relationship and (b) sale of British arms to that country.

The UK's relationship with Saudi Arabia is one of great importance, covering a broad range of UK national security and economic interests. Our close relationship with Saudi Arabia allows us to raise our concerns about human rights, including on human rights defenders, in private and in public. Saudi Arabia remains a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office human rights priority country. The Foreign Secretary, Lord Ahmad and I regularly discuss human rights concerns with the Saudi authorities, and the UK signed a statement at the UN Human Rights Council on 15 September noting our concerns in Saudi Arabia. The Government takes its export responsibilities seriously and assesses all export licences in accordance with strict licensing criteria. We will not issue any export licences where to do so would be inconsistent with these criteria.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations the Government has made to the Government of Georgia on (a) proposed updates to the law on electronic communications in that country and (b) the importance of maintaining that country's commitments to (i) freedom of speech and (i) rule of law.

Through our Embassy in Tbilisi we are assessing the implications of the Georgian Parliament's recent amendment to the electronic communications law, giving more authority to the communications regulator, on Georgia's media and telecommunications sector.

In our engagement with the Government of Georgia we have raised the importance of continued democratic and economic reforms in Georgia that support freedom of speech and the rule of law, most recently at the 7th UK-Georgia Wardrop Dialogue which took place on 9 September.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Russian counterpart on alleged Russian intervention in Syria; and whether he has taken diplomatic steps in response to that alleged intervention.

We have repeatedly condemned Russia and the Syrian regime's targeting of schools, hospitals and emergency first responders in north-west Syria, as described by the UN Commission of Inquiry and the UN Board of Inquiry. On 19 August we expressed our deep concern to the UN Security Council at further airstrikes by Russian and regime forces and again called on all parties to respect agreed ceasefires and international humanitarian law. We continue to support UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which calls for a nationwide ceasefire as part of a political process, as the only way to end the Syrian conflict. UK Government officials also continue to raise these concerns with their Russian counterparts.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what (a) security, (b) justice and (c) policing support his Department provided to Saudi Arabia in (i) 2018, (ii) 2019 and (iii) 2020.

Saudi Arabia is an important strategic partner to the UK in tackling potential security and terrorist threats to the UK and other countries. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not currently run any security, justice or policing support in Saudi Arabia. The British Government has worked with the Government of Saudi Arabia on a range of mutually beneficial security and policing priorities. All of our cooperation is subject to individual rigorous human rights risk assessments (Overseas Security and Justice Assistance assessments), to ensure all work meets our human rights obligations.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to his Saudi Arabian counterpart on the (a) application of the Royal Decree announced 26 April 2020 to (i) Ali al Nimr, (ii) Dawood al Marhoon, (iii) Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher and (iv) all other child defendants facing the death penalty and (b) subsequent commutation of their death sentences.

We welcome the decision by Saudi Arabia to end the use of the death penalty as a discretionary punishment for minors, including those under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged crime.

We remain concerned about the cases of Ali al Nimr, Dawood al Marhoon and Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher, and continue to follow them closely.

The Saudi authorities understand our position that we oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and especially in cases that involve child defendants. This position is in line with the minimum standards set out in the 2008 EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty; the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and, the Arab Charter on Human Rights.

The former Minister for the Middle East and North Africa raised our concerns about the death penalty with Deputy Justice Minister HE Abdullah Al Sulaimi on 11 February. The Foreign Secretary also raised our human rights concerns with Saudi Arabia during his visit in March this year.

We will continue to raise our concerns with the Government of Saudi Arabia to promote the protection of all child defendants against the death penalty regardless of the crime committed. We will encourage the authorities to review death penalty judgements for all minors, or individuals who were minors when the crime was committed.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how many Overseas Security and Justice Assistance (OSJA) assessments were undertaken in respect of security, justice and policing support to Saudi Arabia in (a) 2018, (b) 2019 and (c) 2020; how many of those OSJA assessments were approved; and which Ministers approved each of those OSJA assessments.

HMG currently has 10 Overseas Security and Justice Assistance assessments (OSJAs) for ongoing security activity in Saudi Arabia. Collecting information on historic OSJAs across Government will take more time. OSJAs are owned by several departments. Due to the confidential nature of our cooperation we cannot share information beyond this. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2020 is not leading any programmes, and therefore has no OSJAs.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assistance the Government is providing to the Greek Government to ensure the safety of refugees in Greece.

The British Government remains committed to supporting the Greek Government's efforts to manage migration effectively. Current UK support includes the provision of search and rescue operations in the Aegean, as well as over £500,000 of humanitarian supplies.

2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he is taking steps to investigate attacks against Oxfam infrastructure and projects in Yemen.

The Government is deeply concerned by attacks against Oxfam infrastructure and projects in Yemen. We urge all parties to the conflict to respect and act in accordance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Whenever we receive reports of alleged violations of IHL, including any attacks against Oxfam, we routinely seek information from all credible sources, including from Non-Governmental Organisations and international organisations.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
6th Feb 2024
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will allow British National (Overseas) visa holders to back pay voluntary National Insurance contributions.

British National (Overseas) visa holders who live or work abroad (or have previously) are usually able to pay voluntary National Insurance contributions for the previous six tax years where they have either previously lived in the UK for three years in a row or paid at least three years of contributions.

For the tax years 2016 to 2017 and 2017 to 2018 the government has extended the deadline for paying voluntary contributions to 5 April 2025.

The deadline has also been extended to 5 April 2025 for eligible customers to pay voluntary contributions for the tax years 6 April 2006 to 5 April 2016. Further guidance on eligibility and deadlines for paying voluntary contributions, including for those living or working abroad is published online at: https://www.gov.uk/voluntary-national-insurance-contributions.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
25th Jan 2024
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the impact of increases in the cost of living on rural households.

The Government is committed to helping people who need it the most, wherever they are. Distributional analysis published at Autumn Statement 2023 shows that low-income households will receive the largest benefit as a percentage of income from government decisions.

Taken together, cost of living support to households is worth £104 billion, or £3,700 per household on average, across 2022-25.

Laura Trott
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
14th Dec 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has had recent discussions with the (a) Financial Ombudsman and (b) Financial Conduct Authority on mis-sold time shares.

Timeshare arrangements are direct investments in property and are expressly carved out of regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Activities that are outside the remit of the FCA are also outside the compulsory jurisdiction of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

However, both lenders that provides credit to purchase a time share, and firms that make introductions to a lender, need to be authorised by the FCA and comply with relevant FCA rules. The FCA requires firms to have a complaints process in place for regulated activities, which customers should use in the first instance. If they are not satisfied with the firm’s response to their complaint, they may raise a complaint with the FOS.

There are no plans for timeshare investment schemes to be brought within the scope of FCA regulation.

Bim Afolami
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Dec 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent steps his Department has taken with the Financial Conduct Authority to tackle mis-sold holiday timeshares.

Timeshare arrangements are direct investments in property and are expressly carved out of regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Activities that are outside the remit of the FCA are also outside the compulsory jurisdiction of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

However, both lenders that provides credit to purchase a time share, and firms that make introductions to a lender, need to be authorised by the FCA and comply with relevant FCA rules. The FCA requires firms to have a complaints process in place for regulated activities, which customers should use in the first instance. If they are not satisfied with the firm’s response to their complaint, they may raise a complaint with the FOS.

There are no plans for timeshare investment schemes to be brought within the scope of FCA regulation.

Bim Afolami
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
14th Dec 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the consistency of decision-making processes at the (a) Financial Conduct Authority and (b) Financial Ombudsmen Service.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) are independent non-governmental bodies.

Both the FCA and the FOS operate within the framework set by Parliament, and they are directly accountable to Parliament for how they discharge their statutory functions.

This accountability includes a requirement for the FCA and the FOS to produce annual reports and accounts which are laid before Parliament by the Treasury. Both bodies are subject to full audit by the National Audit Office and to scrutiny through committee hearings, including the Public Accounts Committee and the Treasury Committee.

Both organisations maintain arrangements for the independent investigation of complaints against them.

The FOS regularly commissions independent reviews of its service. Most recently, a review carried out by Oaklin Consulting in 2021 found that the FOS is widely respected and viewed as reaching fair and impartial outcomes in the majority of cases.

The FOS and the FCA are operationally independent from one another, but engage extensively on a range of issues through the Wider Implications Framework. The Financial Services and Markets Act 2023 introduced a statutory duty for the FCA, the FOS and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme to co-operate on issues which have or are likely to have significant implications for each other, or for the wider financial services market.

Bim Afolami
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Jan 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the role of National Insurance numbers was in the delivery of the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme.

In the context of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, National Insurance Numbers (NINO) were, and are, used for additional verification of employees, including to help protect against fraud.

Employers were required to provide the NINO of an employee they wished to place on furlough at the stage of making a claim.

In exceptional cases where an employee did not need or have a NINO, employers were able to contact HMRC to claim for them. Further exception procedures were applied to larger employers.

Lucy Frazer
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has plans to establish an independent quality assurance review of RBS Global Restructuring Group's treatment of SMEs.

It would be inappropriate for the Government to comment on or intervene in the independent redress process overseen by Sir William Blackburne.

The Government believes that the financial services industry has changed significantly since the challenging period leading up to and following the financial crisis. For example, all of the major SME lenders have signed up to the Standards of Lending Practice (SLP), which are overseen by the independent Lending Standards Board and contain clear guidance on best practice.

The Government has always been clear that the fact that there were areas of widespread inappropriate treatment of firms by RBS GRG is unacceptable. RBS has rightly apologised for these mistakes and as stated above, has set up a scheme to compensate victims. The redress scheme has paid out over £130 million so far and the Government continues to monitor how much redress is being paid out.

There are currently no plans to undertake a review of RBS Global Restructuring Group's treatment of SMEs.

John Glen
Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many people have Government Gateway accounts for (a) personal and (b) business use.

There are currently 73.1 million active credentials/accounts registered with Government Gateway; a single unique user may hold several accounts for use in interactions with HMRC and/or other Government departments.

69.4 million credentials are linked to HMRC services and are profiled across the user types below:

  • Tax Agents: 1.0 million
  • Individuals: 20.9 million
  • Organisations: 47.5 million

The remaining 3.7 million credentials are associated to OGDs (not HMRC) and HMRC do not hold a record as to whether these are used for personal or business use.

1st Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to ensure (a) Trading 212, (b) Robinhood and (c) other stock trading companies protect consumer rights to buy and sell stocks.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the UK’s financial markets conduct regulator and is responsible for protecting consumers, ensuring market integrity and promoting effective competition. As set out in the FCA’s statement of 29 January, broking firms are not obliged to offer trading facilities to clients and may withdraw or suspend services if it is necessary or prudent to do so. The FCA’s statement also said that they would take appropriate action wherever they see evidence of UK firms or individuals causing harm to UK consumers or markets.

The Government recognises that the pace and creativity of innovation in UK financial services creates new opportunities for businesses and consumers to participate in markets through technologies such as app-based platforms. However, investors should be aware that investing in securities comes with risks. The FCA’s statement of 29 January warned consumers that any losses that result from such investments are unlikely to be covered under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

John Glen
Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which debt collection agencies are being used to send final opportunity letters on his Department's behalf.

As part of their overall collections strategy, debt collection agencies (DCAs) provide HMRC with additional capacity. The department keeps under review the cost effectiveness and value for money that using DCAs provides to the Exchequer and UK citizens. There are no current plans to move away from using agencies to send final opportunity letters.

The table below sets out the total expenditure on DCAs by HMRC and the amount spent instructing them to issue final opportunity letters.

Total spend

Final opportunity letter spend

2017/18

£ 32,099,756.77

£1,714,901.62

2018/19

£ 26,021,351.78

£1,302,490.63

2019/20

£ 26,163,245.08

£1,242,984.66

Final opportunity letters are sent on HMRC’s behalf by some of the debt collection agencies that the department works with. These are:

  • Advantis Credit Ltd
  • Bluestone Credit Management
  • 1st Locate (UK) Ltd
  • Past Due Credit Solutions

The full list of debt collection agencies that HMRC work with can be found on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/if-you-dont-pay-your-tax-bill/debt-collection-agencies.

18th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has plans to review his Department's use of debt collection agencies to send final opportunity letters.

As part of their overall collections strategy, debt collection agencies (DCAs) provide HMRC with additional capacity. The department keeps under review the cost effectiveness and value for money that using DCAs provides to the Exchequer and UK citizens. There are no current plans to move away from using agencies to send final opportunity letters.

The table below sets out the total expenditure on DCAs by HMRC and the amount spent instructing them to issue final opportunity letters.

Total spend

Final opportunity letter spend

2017/18

£ 32,099,756.77

£1,714,901.62

2018/19

£ 26,021,351.78

£1,302,490.63

2019/20

£ 26,163,245.08

£1,242,984.66

Final opportunity letters are sent on HMRC’s behalf by some of the debt collection agencies that the department works with. These are:

  • Advantis Credit Ltd
  • Bluestone Credit Management
  • 1st Locate (UK) Ltd
  • Past Due Credit Solutions

The full list of debt collection agencies that HMRC work with can be found on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/if-you-dont-pay-your-tax-bill/debt-collection-agencies.

18th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much his Department has spent on instructing debt collection agencies to send final opportunity letters in each of the last three years.

As part of their overall collections strategy, debt collection agencies (DCAs) provide HMRC with additional capacity. The department keeps under review the cost effectiveness and value for money that using DCAs provides to the Exchequer and UK citizens. There are no current plans to move away from using agencies to send final opportunity letters.

The table below sets out the total expenditure on DCAs by HMRC and the amount spent instructing them to issue final opportunity letters.

Total spend

Final opportunity letter spend

2017/18

£ 32,099,756.77

£1,714,901.62

2018/19

£ 26,021,351.78

£1,302,490.63

2019/20

£ 26,163,245.08

£1,242,984.66

Final opportunity letters are sent on HMRC’s behalf by some of the debt collection agencies that the department works with. These are:

  • Advantis Credit Ltd
  • Bluestone Credit Management
  • 1st Locate (UK) Ltd
  • Past Due Credit Solutions

The full list of debt collection agencies that HMRC work with can be found on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/if-you-dont-pay-your-tax-bill/debt-collection-agencies.

18th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much his Department has spent on debt collection agencies in each of the last three years.

As part of their overall collections strategy, debt collection agencies (DCAs) provide HMRC with additional capacity. The department keeps under review the cost effectiveness and value for money that using DCAs provides to the Exchequer and UK citizens. There are no current plans to move away from using agencies to send final opportunity letters.

The table below sets out the total expenditure on DCAs by HMRC and the amount spent instructing them to issue final opportunity letters.

Total spend

Final opportunity letter spend

2017/18

£ 32,099,756.77

£1,714,901.62

2018/19

£ 26,021,351.78

£1,302,490.63

2019/20

£ 26,163,245.08

£1,242,984.66

Final opportunity letters are sent on HMRC’s behalf by some of the debt collection agencies that the department works with. These are:

  • Advantis Credit Ltd
  • Bluestone Credit Management
  • 1st Locate (UK) Ltd
  • Past Due Credit Solutions

The full list of debt collection agencies that HMRC work with can be found on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/if-you-dont-pay-your-tax-bill/debt-collection-agencies.

30th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reason ten pin bowling businesses were not included in the reduction in VAT that was extended to food outlets, cinemas and other competitor businesses in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The temporary reduced rate of VAT was introduced on 15 July to support the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and protect 2.4 million jobs in the hospitality and tourism sectors, which have been severely affected by COVID-19.

Hospitality for the purposes of this relief includes the supply of food and non-alcoholic beverages from restaurants, cafes, pubs and similar establishments for consumption on the premises. It also includes the supply of hot food and non-alcoholic hot beverages to take away.

Where a ten-pin bowling business provides such hospitality, that hospitality will benefit from the reduced rate, although admission to ten-pin bowling itself is not eligible. Further information can be found in VAT Guidance: reduced rate for hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/catering-takeaway-food-and-vat-notice-7091

20th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with the Scottish Government on financial support for tenants during the covid-19 outbreak.

The UK Government has been working closely with the Scottish Government on the response to the Covid-19 outbreak. To help prevent people getting into financial hardship or rent arrears, the UK Government has put in place an unprecedented support package, including support for businesses to pay staff salaries, as well as a strengthening of the welfare safety net with a nearly £7 billion boost to the welfare system. We have also increased Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates so that they are set at the 30th percentile of market rents in each area. These significant financial measures will help to support tenants to continue to pay their living costs, including rental payments.

Steve Barclay
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
20th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions he has had with the Scottish Government on financial support for students during the covid-19 outbreak over summer 2020 .

Education is a devolved matter. The UK Government has announced £3.7 billion of additional funding to the Scottish Government to support people, businesses and public services in Scotland in response to Covid-19. I am regularly in contact with my counterparts to discuss finances more broadly.

Steve Barclay
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
11th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps have been taken to increase the server capacity for his Department during the covid-19 oubreak.

There has been no requirement for additional steps to increase server capacity during the covid-19 outbreak.

HM Treasury retains an elastic, demand-driven infrastructure that is pro-actively monitored to scale as circumstances change.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
12th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of proposed changes to IR35 rules from April 2020 on SMEs in Scotland.

The off-payroll working rules are designed to ensure that an individual who works like an employee, but through their own limited company, pays broadly the same Income Tax and National Insurance contributions as other employees. The rules do not apply to the self-employed or stop anyone working through their own company.

The reform of the off-payroll working rules in April 2020 will apply only to medium and large-sized businesses, minimising administrative burdens for the vast majority of engagers. The existing rules will continue to apply to the smallest 1.5m businesses.

The Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) published in July 2019 sets out HMRC’s assessment that the reform to the off-payroll working rules is expected to affect 170,000 individuals. The TIIN can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/rules-for-off-payroll-working-from-april-2020/rules-for-off-payroll-working-from-april-2020. This is a UK-wide figure.

12th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department has taken to prepare SMEs for the proposed changes to the IR35 rules from April 2020.

The Government is committed to working with organisations to ensure changes to the rules are implemented correctly. HMRC are undertaking an extensive programme of education and support to help organisations prepare for the reform. This includes:

  • Offering one-to-one support to more than 2,000 of the UK’s biggest employers, and writing directly to 43,000 medium sized businesses and other organisations.
  • Providing large and medium sized businesses, public bodies, and charities with factsheets to share with their contractors, and publishing this factsheet on gov.uk.
  • Holding workshops with small tax agents, recruitment agencies, charities, and public bodies.
  • Holding at least weekly webinars, with small tax agents, recruitment agencies, charities, public bodies and contractors.
  • An enhanced version of the Check Employment Status for Tax online tool was published in November 2019 to help individuals and organisations make the right status determinations and apply the off-payroll rules correctly.

The reform of the off-payroll working rules in April 2020 will apply only to medium and large-sized businesses, minimising administrative burdens for the vast majority of engagers. The existing rules will continue to apply to the smallest 1.5m businesses.

12th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department has taken to advise people affected by proposed changes to the IR35 rules from April 2020.

The Government is committed to working with organisations to ensure changes to the rules are implemented correctly. HMRC are undertaking an extensive programme of education and support to help organisations prepare for the reform. This includes:

  • Offering one-to-one support to more than 2,000 of the UK’s biggest employers, and writing directly to 43,000 medium sized businesses and other organisations.
  • Providing large and medium sized businesses, public bodies, and charities with factsheets to share with their contractors, and publishing this factsheet on gov.uk.
  • Holding workshops with small tax agents, recruitment agencies, charities, and public bodies.
  • Holding at least weekly webinars, with small tax agents, recruitment agencies, charities, public bodies and contractors.
  • An enhanced version of the Check Employment Status for Tax online tool was published in November 2019 to help individuals and organisations make the right status determinations and apply the off-payroll rules correctly.

The reform of the off-payroll working rules in April 2020 will apply only to medium and large-sized businesses, minimising administrative burdens for the vast majority of engagers. The existing rules will continue to apply to the smallest 1.5m businesses.

13th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, on what evidential basis he has proposed a minimum income threshold of £38,700 for family and spousal visas.

The Government has proposed a minimum income requirement of £38,700 to align with the updated skilled worker salary threshold, to ensure fairness and consistency across immigration routes.

Analytical work has been undertaken across Government to support decision making in this process, and an Impact Assessment will be developed in due course.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
6th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to his Department's news story entitled Home Secretary unveils plan to cut net migration, published on 4 December 2023, whether he plans to introduce transitional protection measures for people whose existing visas do not meet the new threshold and require renewal after the increased threshold is introduced.

The Government will provide further details on what transitional arrangements will apply in due course.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
6th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to his Department's news story entitled Home Secretary unveils plan to cut net migration, published on 4 December 2023, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the planned increase in the earning threshold for overseas workers on (a) people whose existing work visas do not meet the threshold and (b) international students moving from graduate visas to work visas that do not meet the threshold.

The Government will provide further details on what transitional arrangements will apply in due course.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
6th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether the proposed changes to the minimum salary threshold for family visas include renewals to spousal visas.

The revised minimum income requirement will be implemented in spring 2024.

The Government will set out any transitional provisions associated with the increase in the minimum income requirement in January.

Any applications already submitted will be considered in line with the existing policy.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
6th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to his Oral Statement of 4 December 2023 on Legal Migration, Official Report, column 41, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the proposals announced in that Statement on the visa status of (a) Ukrainian refugees and (b) others who have claimed asylum in the UK.

Our Points Based System enables the Government to prioritise the skills and talent we need to help our economy grow and support our NHS, while encouraging investment in, and protecting, our own resident workforce.

In arriving at this package of measures, we have been mindful of the need to balance the impacts on economic growth and the needs of the labour market.

The Ukraine schemes are temporary visa schemes, all those who are granted permission to remain in the UK under them are provided 36 months leave, given access to benefits, healthcare and are able to work.

Asylum seekers who are in the UK asylum system and have had their asylum claim outstanding for 12 months or more, through no fault of their own, are allowed to work in jobs on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). The government will be commissioning the Migration Advisory Committee to advise on the future composition of the Immigration Salary List, the successor to the SOL.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
19th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what her planned timetable is for when increases in the cost of (a) works visas, (b) study visas and (c) the immigration health surcharge will come into effect.

We will lay regulations in the Autumn to amend the immigration and nationality fee and IHS levels and set out which immigration routes are impacted.

15th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of the use of collective passports for school visits to the UK.

The UK is a signatory to the 1961 Council of Europe treaty which provides for collective passports for young people. Continued acceptance of these passports from those who have ratified the treaty is current practice.

9th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many applications made by EU citizens to remain in the UK were refused by her Department in each of the last six months.

Statistics of immigration applications refused, by the applicant’s nationality, are published quarterly.

Data to 30 September 2022 is currently available. Data to 31 December 2022 will be published on 23 February 2023.

Refusals of applications to the EU Settlement Scheme are available in table EUSS_02 at EU Settlement Scheme quarterly statistics, September 2022 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Refusals under the general immigration rules for both asylum and non-asylum applications are available in the Asylum applications, initial decisions and resettlement and Extensions data sets.

12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that citizens of (a) Belarus and (b) other countries where people who oppose political regimes are at risk of human rights abuses will be offered the opportunity to renew their UK visas or UK immigration status without having to return to their home country to make the necessary application to her Department.

As part of the introduction of the points-based system, we have enabled applicants to switch between immigration routes without having to leave the UK. This applies to all nationals.


Information on those immigration routes, which must be renewed from the home country of the applicant, is available on our website at:

Application to extend stay in the UK: FLR(IR) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

There is also the option to make an asylum claim in person, whilst in the UK, at an application centre. Further information on the asylum process, as well as locations at which an asylum claim can be made, is available here:

Claim asylum in the UK - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what her target number is for refugees to be resettled in the UK under the global UK Resettlement Scheme.

Through the UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS) we continue to welcome vulnerable refugees in need of protection to the UK as well as through other safe and legal routes such as Refugee Family Reunion. Since 2015 we have resettled over 25,000 refugees through our resettlement schemes, in addition to granting over 29,000 Refugee Family Reunion visas in the last 5 years. The number of refugees we resettle every year depends on a variety of factors including local authorities’ capacity for supporting refugees and the extent to which Community Sponsorship continues to thrive. This year the recovery from the pandemic will clearly be a significant factor affecting capacity. We have been working closely with our partners to assess the capacity for resettlement in the months ahead and will continue to welcome those in need in the years to come.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of licencing of pill presses.

The Home Office has not yet made a formal assessment of the potential benefits of regulating or licensing pill presses. We are engaging with the Scottish Government at ministerial and official level on this issue and with the National Crime Agency as well international partners.

We continue to review the evidence on the scale of the threat posed by organised crime gangs using pill press machinery in the UK and the options for addressing that threat.

18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps the Government is taking to ensure the safety of hauliers at the (a) UK's borders and (b) ferry port and tunnel freight terminal at Coquelles.

The safety of hauliers within Border Force controls is a priority. Guidance can be found on the.gov.uk on securing your vehicle when entering the UK at

.gov.uk guidance Securing your vehicle when entering the UK

The Department for Transport is responsible for maintaining high standards of safety and security in transport and supporting the maritime sector by producing the overall strategy and planning policy for ports in England and Wales.

The safety of hauliers on French soil is a matter for the French authorities. The UK has though provided significant investment to improve physical security at the ports and approach roads in northern France.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, which Minister is responsible for (a) overseeing the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa and (b) ensuring the welcome and integration of BN(O) passport holders to the UK.

On 31 January the new Hong Kong BN(O) route launched. The route will enable BN(O) status holders and their eligible family members to come to the UK to live, work and study. This new route reflects the UK’s historic and moral commitment to those people of Hong Kong who chose to retain their ties to the UK by taking up BN(O) status at the point of Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997.

The Home Secretary continues to oversee the implementation of the immigration route.

Due to the cross-cutting nature of this policy, departments across the UK Government are working together, along with the devolved administrations given their responsibilities, to identify how support and guidance can be provided to ensure BN(O) status holders have every opportunity to thrive.

Further details will be set out in due course.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has to bring forward legislative proposals to amend the Official Secrets Acts 1911 to 1989.

As set out in the Queen’s Speech in December 2019, the Government is developing legislation to tackle hostile activity conducted by foreign states.

As part of this we will carefully consider the Law Commission’s recommendations for reform of the OSAs, within their report on the Protection of Official Data which was published on 1 September 2020.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the efficacy of Unexplained Wealth Orders in tackling financial crime in the UK.

Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) were introduced as part of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 and came into force from 1 January 2018. Whilst still relatively new legislation, the Home Office assesses that UWOs (and associated Interim Freezing Orders) are an important addition to existing powers which can result in the provision of critical information which could not be obtained in any other way. UWOs have been used in four cases so far, in relation to property worth an estimated £143.2m. The Home Office keeps the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Criminal Finances Act 2017 under review to ensure that all powers remain effective.

20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many refugees below the age of 16 have been resettled in the UK in each of the last three months.

The Home Office is committed to publishing data in an orderly way as part of the regular quarterly Immigration Statistics, in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. These can be found at www.gov.uk/government/collections/migration-statistic

The next set of figures will be in the quarterly release on 21 May 2020. These figures will include the number of people resettled in the period January to March 2020 and will also include a breakdown of minors arriving under each scheme. We do not publish a breakdown of resettlement family reunifications.

The arrival of refugees under our schemes is currently impacted by travel restrictions globally. As a result, our current planned arrivals will not happen as originally scheduled. We are closely monitoring the situation and expect resettlements to resume when conditions allow.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many refugees have been resettled in the UK in each of the last three months.

The Home Office is committed to publishing data in an orderly way as part of the regular quarterly Immigration Statistics, in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. These can be found at www.gov.uk/government/collections/migration-statistic

The next set of figures will be in the quarterly release on 21 May 2020. These figures will include the number of people resettled in the period January to March 2020 and will also include a breakdown of minors arriving under each scheme. We do not publish a breakdown of resettlement family reunifications.

The arrival of refugees under our schemes is currently impacted by travel restrictions globally. As a result, our current planned arrivals will not happen as originally scheduled. We are closely monitoring the situation and expect resettlements to resume when conditions allow.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many refugees whose applications for resettlement in the UK have been granted by her Department have been reunited with their family in each of the last three months.

The Home Office is committed to publishing data in an orderly way as part of the regular quarterly Immigration Statistics, in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. These can be found at www.gov.uk/government/collections/migration-statistic

The next set of figures will be in the quarterly release on 21 May 2020. These figures will include the number of people resettled in the period January to March 2020 and will also include a breakdown of minors arriving under each scheme. We do not publish a breakdown of resettlement family reunifications.

The arrival of refugees under our schemes is currently impacted by travel restrictions globally. As a result, our current planned arrivals will not happen as originally scheduled. We are closely monitoring the situation and expect resettlements to resume when conditions allow.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her policy on checks at UK borders has changed since the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.

There will be no change to checks at the UK border for the duration of the transition period.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what guidance her Department provides to UK Border Force staff on when to initiate in-depth questioning of people arriving at airports who (a) hold and (b) do not hold a valid visa.

Under Schedule 2 to the Immigration Act 1971, Border Force staff appointed as Immigration Officers may examine any person arriving in the UK to establish their nationality and if they are not UK nationals, determine whether they require leave to enter and on what terms this leave should be given.

If the passenger is in possession of an entry clearance or visa, officers may examine the passenger to establish whether the purpose of the visit remains the same as that specified; there has been a change in circumstances since that leave was given; false information or material deception was used to obtain the visa; or there are medical grounds that should result in the cancellation of the visa. The passenger may also be examined by an immigration officer for the purpose of determining whether it would be conducive to the public good for their entry clearance or leave to be cancelled.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate her Department has made of the number of people holding a valid visa who were refused entry at airports in the last (a) month, (b) six months and (c)12 months.

Border Force does not routinely publish data that does not meet the Home Office standard for publication or that could impact its operational effectiveness.

However, Border Force transparency data can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/border-force-statistics

Border Force is committed to ensuring that passengers arriving in the UK receive an excellent service. But this must also be balanced with our responsibility to Border Security, checking 100% of passports and making sure that anyone or anything that might cause harm to the UK is properly dealt with.

21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many EU citizens have been questioned at UK airports and ferry ports whilst holding valid passports in the last (a) 12 months, (b) six months and (c) month, excluding people of interest to law enforcement authorities.

Border Force does not routinely publish data that does not meet the Home Office standard for publication or that could impact its operational effectiveness.

However, Border Force transparency data can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/border-force-statistics

Border Force is committed to ensuring that passengers arriving in the UK receive an excellent service. But this must also be balanced with our responsibility to Border Security, checking 100% of passports and making sure that anyone or anything that might cause harm to the UK is properly dealt with.

30th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the cost of the each service's contracts with Capita was in each of the last five years.

Over the last five years the Department has spent approximately 1.2 billion with Capita. These are held across all TLBs.

James Cartlidge
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
30th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that armed forces recruitment targets are met.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 19 January 2024 to Question 9841 to the hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis).

Andrew Murrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
30th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the performance targets are for his Department's recruitment contracts with Capita.

Capita’s main performance targets are set out in an annual “Demand Plan” which is issued to Capita by the Army each year.

The Demand Plan for Recruiting Year 2023-24 set out the following headline recruiting target for Capita:

Description

Recruiting Year 2023-24

Total Soldier

13,827

There are no targets for Officers.

Andrew Murrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
30th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the average processing time is for a Royal Navy engineering technician application.

Since the introduction of the new recruitment process in August 2023, the average time for Royal Naval Other Ranks roles from candidate application submission date to the date a Phase 1 training place is requested is 119 days.

Andrew Murrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
30th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the Royal Navy (a) staffing target and (b) actual number of staff was as of 30 January 2024.

I can confirm that it is the Government’s intention to announce an indicative planned strength for Regular Armed Forces personnel shortly which will provide further detail on planned future Armed Force strengths. However, currently, I can confirm that as of 1 October 2023, the total strength of the Naval Service was 37,960 (comprising of UK Regular Forces, Volunteer Reserve and other personnel), of which 32,130 were Regular serving Royal Navy personnel, including Royal Marines.

These figures are published on a quarterly basis for all His Majesty’s Armed Forces and can be found at the following website: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/quarterly-service-personnel-statistics-2023.

Andrew Murrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
9th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many of the Somalia National Army personnel trained in Somalia by the UK military received training in (a) human rights and (b) gender equality since 2017.

Since 2017 gender and human rights training has been delivered to over 2,700 Somali National Army personnel as part of UK Company Collective Training (through Op TANGHAM). Op TANGHAM has also supported training on gender/human rights with the African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

James Heappey
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)
12th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many Somalia National Army soldiers were trained in the UK in (a) 2018, (b) 2019, (c) 2020 and (d) 2021.

One member of the Somali Armed Forces underwent Human Rights training in the UK in 2018. The main focus of our training for the SNA has been in Somalia. Between 2017 and early 2023, we will have trained over 2700 Somali personnel.

James Heappey
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)
15th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the total cost was of administration and legal fees relating to all civilian harm compensation claims since 2001 in respect of (a) Afghanistan, (b) Iraq and (c) Syria.

In respect of Afghanistan, both the compensation and claimants' legal fees paid by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for unlawful detention and mistreatment claims by Afghan nationals are subject to a confidentiality undertaking between the MOD and the claimants' solicitors and we are unable to disclose the information at this time.

In respect of Iraq, the MOD has previously disclosed that £19.66 million was paid in compensation to an early tranche of claims by Iraqi nationals alleging unlawful detention and mistreatment. Further similar claims and the claimants' legal costs are subject to a confidentiality undertaking and we are unable to disclose the information at this time.

The MOD's legal and administration costs of dealing with these claims are not centrally recorded.

In respect of Syria, no claims have been received.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much the Government has paid in compensation for civilian harm since 2001 in respect of (a) Afghanistan, (b) Iraq and (c) Syria.

In respect of Afghanistan, both the compensation and claimants' legal fees paid by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for unlawful detention and mistreatment claims by Afghan nationals are subject to a confidentiality undertaking between the MOD and the claimants' solicitors and we are unable to disclose the information at this time.

In respect of Iraq, the MOD has previously disclosed that £19.66 million was paid in compensation to an early tranche of claims by Iraqi nationals alleging unlawful detention and mistreatment. Further similar claims and the claimants' legal costs are subject to a confidentiality undertaking and we are unable to disclose the information at this time.

The MOD's legal and administration costs of dealing with these claims are not centrally recorded.

In respect of Syria, no claims have been received.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much his Department spends on the employment of communications staff annually.

The Directorate of Defence Communications (DDC) in the Ministry of Defence Head Office currently has 81 staff employed in media relations and communications role, 17 of whom are military personnel. These roles include, for example, news, campaigns, strategy and planning, digital, and internal communications.

The average number of staff working in The DDC to deliver the communications functions in 2019-20 was 92, 2020-21 was 90 and 2021-22 was 87. Expenditure on communications staffing was £7.534 million in 2019-20, £7.872 million in 2020-21 and £6.891 million in 2021-22.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many communications staff are employed (a) full time, (b) part time and (c) with flexible working arrangements in his Department.

The Directorate of Defence Communications (DDC) in the Ministry of Defence Head Office currently has 81 staff employed in media relations and communications role, 17 of whom are military personnel. These roles include, for example, news, campaigns, strategy and planning, digital, and internal communications.

The average number of staff working in The DDC to deliver the communications functions in 2019-20 was 92, 2020-21 was 90 and 2021-22 was 87. Expenditure on communications staffing was £7.534 million in 2019-20, £7.872 million in 2020-21 and £6.891 million in 2021-22.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the Government's policy is on the UK developing systems that operate without human intervention in the weapon command and control chain.

The United Kingdom does not possess, and has no intention of developing fully autonomous systems which operate without human intervention in the weapon command and control chain.

When deploying autonomous weapon systems, we will always ensure meaningful and context-appropriate human involvement across the system lifecycle from development to deployment, ensuring human responsibility for outcomes.

20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what progress has been made on the Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence Collaboration (AAIC) Partnership Agreement signed with the US Air Force Research Laboratory in December 2020; and if he will place a copy of that agreement in the Library.

Thanks to this collaboration good progress has been made in developing AI and Autonomy tools for use against priority operational challenges and scenarios. The latest milestone event (along with a review conducted by the deputy principles) was held in October 2021, demonstrating how the UK and US can integrate AI technology to create an end-to-end machine learning research development and deployment ecosystem, enabling rapid data-sharing and algorithm development, evaluation and deployment: . A report was published and is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/us-and-uk-research-labs-collaborate-on-autonomy-and-ai.

We do not intend to place the Project Arrangement in the House Library. The hon. Member may also wish to be aware that the Project Arrangement would fall within the scope of the qualified exemption provided for at Section 27 (International Relations) of the Freedom of Information Act. I am therefore withholding the information as its disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and another State.

20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will publish a list of the systems and technologies that utilised autonomy and/or machine learning during the Contested Urban Environment (CUE) exercise with the five-eye nations in September and October 2021.

CUE2021 was a multi-national event to test the latest intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technology capabilities, working with US, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand allies. It comprised a series of experiments that were designed to explore new technologies that could help address some of the challenges faced by military personnel operating in overseas city environments.

The following technologies that attended CUE2021 employed either autonomy or machine learning:

Technologies and advanced sensors to enhance Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability:

  • Sensors for Asset Protection using Integrated Electronic Network Technology
  • WISDOM Research & Development Platform for Data/Information/Knowledge Integration, Fusion, and Analytics
  • Network Uncrewed Systems for Intelligence Preparation of the Environment
  • Command & Control for Uncrewed Vehicle Transfer of Tactical Control.

Systems to autonomously prioritise information that is presented to the human analyst, using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to identify threats:

  • RESTful Analytics
  • Artificial Intelligence for the detection of crowds
  • Sieve, Process, Forward
  • Track Analytics for Effective Triage of Wide Area Surveillance Data

Robotic and Autonomous Systems to remove human operators from dangerous tasks by supporting logistics re-supply:

  • Joint Tactical Autonomous Resupply and Replenishment.
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what plans he has for the UK to bring forward global measures to tackle the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems in response to the December 2021 Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

We were pleased that the Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons renewed the mandate of the Group of Government Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems. The UK will continue to play a leading and active role in that forum, working with the international community to agree norms and positive obligations to ensure the safe and responsible use of autonomy, balancing the legitimate security interest in these new technologies with humanitarian, ethical and legal concerns.

8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the UK provided police or military training to (a) Iraq, (b) Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, (c) Libya, (d) Mali, (e) Myanmar, (f) Nicaragua, (g) Pakistan, (h) Russia, (i) Saudi Arabia, (j) Somalia, (k) South Sudan, (l) Sri Lanka, (m) Sudan, (n) Syria, (o) Turkmenistan, (p) Uzbekistan, (q) Venezuela, (r) Yemen and (s) Zimbabwe in 2020.

The Ministry of Defence records information on International Defence Training (IDT) by financial year, rather than by calendar year. During FY 2020-21, personnel from the following countries have received some form of UK defence education or training:

Iraq; Israel; Occupied Palestinian Territories; Mali; Pakistan; Nicaragua; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; South Sudan; Sri Lanka; Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan

No training was provided to the other countries listed.

James Heappey
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the UK provided police or military training to (a) Afghanistan, (b) Bahrain, (c) Bangladesh, (d) Belarus, (e) Central African Republic, (f) China, (g) Colombia, (h) Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, (i) Democratic Republic of Congo, (j) Egypt, (k) Eritrea and (l) Iran in 2020.

The Ministry of Defence records information on International Defence Training (IDT) by financial year (FY), rather than by calendar year. During FY 2020/21, personnel from the following countries have received some form of UK defence education or training:

Afghanistan; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Belarus; Colombia; Egypt

No training was provided to the other countries listed.

James Heappey
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, which Minister in his Department is responsible for the implementation of the UK Government’s Protection of Civilians policy.

Within the Ministry of Defence, the Protection of Civilians policy is the responsibility of the Minister for the Armed Forces. This forms an important part of the Department's Human Security policy.

James Heappey
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the completeness of his Department's database of alleged breaches of international humanitarian law in Yemen.

I am unable to answer the hon. Member's question due to ongoing legal proceedings.

James Heappey
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of supporting a ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems.

The UK considers the extant international legal framework on the development, assurance and deployment of military systems as sufficient.

10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what plans the Government has to develop systems that operate without human intervention in the weapon command and control chain.

The United Kingdom has no intention of developing systems which operate without any human intervention in the weapon command and control chain.

16th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if his Department will extend the Homes for Ukraine scheme beyond its current timescales.

We remain steadfast in our support for Ukraine, the Ukrainians now living in the UK and are working closely with local authorities and the devolved administrations across the UK supporting them.

We continue to keep the scheme under review, and will set out updates in the usual way.

Felicity Buchan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, how many applications to the Homes For Ukraine scheme have been (a) accepted and (b) denied.

Visa applications for the Homes for Ukraine scheme are managed by the Home Office.

Updates on visa applications are published at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/homes-for-ukraine-sponsorship-scheme-numbers-of-visa-applications.

20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, how many applications have been made to the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Visa applications for the Homes for Ukraine scheme are managed by the Home Office.

Updates on visa applications are published at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/homes-for-ukraine-sponsorship-scheme-numbers-of-visa-applications.

20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what the average timescale is for a decision to be made for the Homes For Ukraine scheme.

Visa application decisions for the Homes for Ukraine scheme are managed by the Home Office.

20th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, how many civil servants are working on Homes for Ukraine scheme applications.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what the Government's policy is on ensuring that funding under the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is comparable to the funding provided under EU Structural Funds.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund will help to level up and create opportunity across the UK.

Funding for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will at least match receipts from EU structural funds, on average reaching around £1.5 billion per year. Its funding profile will be set out at the next Spending Review.

To help local areas prepare over 2021-22 for the introduction of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, we are providing additional funding through the UK Community Renewal Fund to support our communities to pilot programmes and new approaches.