Tip: To match a phrase, use quotation marks around the search term. eg. "Parliamentary Estate"

Written Question
Schools: Standards
14 Jan 2022

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that local agencies have the required powers to (a) visit, (b) check and (c) close unsafe schools.

Answered by Robin Walker

The Department for Education is the regulator for independent schools in England and sets the Independent School Standards (ISS) that registered schools must meet, including those in the important area of safeguarding. The department commissions Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) to carry out inspections of registered schools on a regular cycle to assess their compliance with the ISS. Where an inspection finds that a school has not met the ISS, the department may issue a statutory notice requiring an action plan to bring about rapid improvement. It also has powers to take enforcement action. Enforcement action is the strongest step the department can take to achieve compliance with the ISS. This can take one of two forms. The department can either impose a ‘relevant restriction’ on the proprietor of the school, or where appropriate, remove a school from the register of independent schools. This has the effect of requiring it to cease operating as a school.

There are approximately 2,500 registered independent schools in England of which, 143 are currently failing to meet the legal requirements set out in the ISS. Of the 143 schools, 135 are in regulatory action and the remaining 8 are under enforcement action.

It is a criminal offence under section 96 of the Education and Skills Act 2008 to conduct an unregistered independent school. All unregistered schools are unsafe since they are not regulated or subject to regular inspection against agreed standards. The department and Ofsted continue to investigate schools believed to be operating as unregistered schools. As set out in section 97 of the Education and Skills Act 2008, Ofsted can carry out inspections without notice where it has reasonable cause to believe that an unregistered school is being operated on the premises. Evidence gathered through these investigations is used to support the prosecution of those responsible for running such schools.

The department has committed to introducing legislation to bring measures to make it easier for Ofsted to investigate and gather evidence of breaches of section 96 of the 2008 Act and prosecute those responsible for running unregistered schools.


Written Question
Schools: Standards
14 Jan 2022

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the current number of schools that fail to meet legal standards is.

Answered by Robin Walker

The Department for Education is the regulator for independent schools in England and sets the Independent School Standards (ISS) that registered schools must meet, including those in the important area of safeguarding. The department commissions Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) to carry out inspections of registered schools on a regular cycle to assess their compliance with the ISS. Where an inspection finds that a school has not met the ISS, the department may issue a statutory notice requiring an action plan to bring about rapid improvement. It also has powers to take enforcement action. Enforcement action is the strongest step the department can take to achieve compliance with the ISS. This can take one of two forms. The department can either impose a ‘relevant restriction’ on the proprietor of the school, or where appropriate, remove a school from the register of independent schools. This has the effect of requiring it to cease operating as a school.

There are approximately 2,500 registered independent schools in England of which, 143 are currently failing to meet the legal requirements set out in the ISS. Of the 143 schools, 135 are in regulatory action and the remaining 8 are under enforcement action.

It is a criminal offence under section 96 of the Education and Skills Act 2008 to conduct an unregistered independent school. All unregistered schools are unsafe since they are not regulated or subject to regular inspection against agreed standards. The department and Ofsted continue to investigate schools believed to be operating as unregistered schools. As set out in section 97 of the Education and Skills Act 2008, Ofsted can carry out inspections without notice where it has reasonable cause to believe that an unregistered school is being operated on the premises. Evidence gathered through these investigations is used to support the prosecution of those responsible for running such schools.

The department has committed to introducing legislation to bring measures to make it easier for Ofsted to investigate and gather evidence of breaches of section 96 of the 2008 Act and prosecute those responsible for running unregistered schools.


Written Question
NHS and Social Services: Staff
14 Jan 2022

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to (a) recruit and retain NHS and social care workers, (b) tackle the staffing shortage in the NHS and social care services.

Answered by Edward Argar

Workforce statistics for October 2021 show that there are over 1.2 million full time equivalent staff working in the National Health Service or over 1.3 million, headcount. We are on schedule to deliver 50,000 more nurses by the end of this Parliament and ensure a sustainable long-term workforce supply in the future. We have funded an additional 1,500 undergraduate medical school places each year for domestic students in England - an increase of 25% over three years. This expansion was completed in September 2020 and has delivered five new medical schools in England. The NHS People Plan aims to retain staff by assisting organisations to provide ongoing support to staff to improve their health and wellbeing.

The adult social care reform white paper, ‘People at the Heart of Care’, sets out an investment of at least £500 million in the adult social care workforce. This aims to deliver a rewarding career with opportunities to develop and progress, where social care staff are recognised and their wellbeing prioritised. On 10 December we announced £300 million for local authorities and care providers to recruit and retain care staff through the winter. This funding will enhance the existing £162.5 million Workforce Recruitment and Retention Fund. On 24 December, we announced that care workers, care assistants and home care workers will be eligible for the Health and Care Visa for a 12-month period. These roles will also be added to the Shortage Occupation List.


Written Question
Economic Situation: Environment Protection
14 Jan 2022

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the state of the economy in respect to the environmental impact of businesses and individuals.

Answered by Helen Whately

Since 1990 the UK has reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 44%, while growing our economy by over 75%.

The Net Zero Strategy sets out our long-term plan to end the UK’s domestic contribution to man-made climate change by 2050. However, the government recognises that sustainable economic growth goes further than tackling climate change.

Our response to the Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity recognises that nature sustains our economies, livelihoods and well-being, and commits to a nature positive future in which we leave the environment in a better condition than we found it. The world leading Environment Act 2021 supports this ambition.


Written Question
Telelvision Licences: Fees and Charges
14 Jan 2022

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many (a) people in total and (b) women were sent to prison for the non-payment of a magistrates’ court fine arising from a conviction for evasion of payment of TV licence fees in 2019.

Answered by James Cartlidge

The number of people admitted to prison for failing to pay magistrates’ court fines in respect of the non-payment of a TV licence in 2019 was two or fewer (the actual number has not been released in order to protect against personal identification), none of whom were women.


Written Question
Compassionate Leave: Perinatal Mortality
13 Jan 2022

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending entitlement to parental bereavement leave and pay to parents of babies miscarried or stillborn during early pregnancy.

Answered by Paul Scully

The Government recognises that losing a child at any age is deeply upsetting, and in April 2020 we legislated to give parents who lose a child under the age of 18 a right to take up to two weeks off work in the 56 weeks following the death of their child. This right extends to parents of babies stillborn after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy. In the Explanatory Memorandum published alongside the legislation, we committed to taking forward a review of the scheme’s impact in 2025.

Individuals who do not feel able to return to work following a miscarriage before 24 weeks may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay while off work. All employees are also entitled to 5.6 weeks of Annual Leave a year and many employers also offer ‘Compassionate Leave’. We encourage employers to respond sensitively to each individual’s specific needs.


Written Question
Channel Four: Privatisation
13 Jan 2022

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what progress her Department has made on the Government consultation on whether to privatise Channel 4; and what her timetable is for announcing a decision on that matter.

Answered by Julia Lopez

The Government has consulted on the best ownership model to support Channel 4 for years to come. We have received around 60,000 consultation responses, and we are in the process of carefully considering all the views and evidence we have received to inform the government’s policy-making and final decision.

The Government’s response will be published in due course.


Written Question
Internet: Children
13 Jan 2022

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to ensure that children are protected online.

Answered by Chris Philp

Please refer to the answer for PQ 91839.


Written Question
Armed Forces: Coronavirus
13 Jan 2022

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to prevent outbreaks of covid-19 in the armed forces.

Answered by James Heappey

The Armed Forces have adopted a multi-layered approach to reducing the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks by following national recommendations and guidelines throughout the pandemic. This has included encouraging vaccination and booster uptake, social distancing, the wearing of face coverings, workplace testing, and proactive efforts to trace and contain COVID-19 whenever it has arisen.


Written Question
Taxation: Voluntary Work
11 Jan 2022

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has plans to increase the mileage allowance permitted for volunteer activities in future tax years.

Answered by Lucy Frazer

The Government set the Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAPs) rates to minimise administrative burdens.

Organisations are not required to use the AMAPs rates. Instead, they can agree to reimburse volunteers a different amount that better reflects their volunteers’ circumstances. However, tax is charged on any payment received by volunteers which exceeds their out-of-pocket expenses.

This policy is kept under review by the Government.


Written Question
Offences against the Person Act 1861
5 Jan 2022

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals to update the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861.

Answered by James Cartlidge

Although the Government has no current plans for a comprehensive update to the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, it has introduced several measures in connection with offences against the person including: filling a gap in the law on non-fatal strangulation by creating a new offence and clarifying that a person has no defence if they claim a victim consented to behaviour intended to cause serious harm in the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, and supported a Private Members Bill to create a new form of assault with an increased maximum penalty where the victim is an emergency worker carrying out their duties. The Government also proposes in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to create a statutory requirement to consider, as an aggravating factor in sentencing, an assault on a public facing worker serving the public.


Written Question
Religious Freedom
22 Dec 2021

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations she is making to countries in which Christians and other religious minorities face persecution on upholding freedom of religion or belief.

Answered by James Cleverly

The UK is committed to defending freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) for all, and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. Promoting the right to FoRB is one of the UK's longstanding human rights priorities. Bilaterally, Ministers and officials regularly raise specific cases of concern, and do not shy away from challenging publicly or in private those we believe are not meeting their obligations.

Multilaterally, we work with the UN, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Council of Europe, G7 and other fora to promote FoRB. Lord Ahmad hosted a successful Arria meeting in the margins of the Security Council in March 2021, raising awareness on persecution of religious minorities in conflict. In May this year, we secured the inclusion of language on FoRB in the G7 communique for the first time, ensuring FoRB remains firmly on the international agenda.

The UK will host an international Ministerial conference on FoRB in 2022 to energise collective efforts on this agenda.


Written Question
Afghanistan: Asylum
21 Dec 2021

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps she is taking to help ensure that Afghan Christians and religious minorities are provided with safe and accessible routes to claim asylum in the UK.

Answered by James Cleverly

The Government is pressing the Taliban to respect human rights in Afghanistan, including the rights of Christians and religious minorities, and to allow safe passage for Afghans to travel abroad. The Government has also doubled its aid to Afghanistan. Resettlement in the UK can be a solution for only a small minority of Afghanistan's people. During Operation Pitting the Government evacuated more than 15,000 people from Afghanistan to the UK, including some in the groups referred to. The Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme has resettled thousands of at-risk Afghans who have worked with or alongside the UK Government, and their families. The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) will provide further protection for people at risk identified as in need. The scheme is not yet open and further details will be announced in due course.


Written Question
Social Services: Fees and Charges
21 Dec 2021

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the potential effect of not including means-tested council funded support within the £86,000 cap on care costs on the number of people that will be unable to pay for social care without selling their home.

Answered by Gillian Keegan

The Government’s reforms to the social care charging system will ensure that fewer people will be unable to pay for social care without selling their home, compared to the existing system. This is the case irrespective of whether means-tested council funded support is included in the cap.

In designing these reforms, we have prioritised a more generous means-testing system, which benefits those with moderate to low wealth. From October 2023, those with less than £100,000 of chargeable assets are now likely to receive financial help from the state. This is more than four times the current threshold of £23,250.


Written Question
UN Climate Conference 2021
20 Dec 2021

Questioner: Barry Sheerman (LAB - Huddersfield)

Question

To ask the President of COP26, how many discussions he has had with foreign delegations since the closing of the COP26 summit to encourage signatories to implement the Glasgow Climate Pact in full.

Answered by Alok Sharma

Since the COP26 summit, I have written to over 40 governments and have spoken to or met ministers from 19 countries, and continue to meet others. In these conversations, I have been thanking countries for their role in securing the Glasgow Climate Pact and encouraging them to implement its commitments as well as discussing how we work together to encourage all countries to deliver on the commitments made.