Carla Lockhart Portrait

Carla Lockhart

Democratic Unionist Party - Upper Bann

Carla Lockhart has no previous appointments


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Wednesday 19th January 2022
Building Safety Bill
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 4 Democratic Unionist Party No votes vs 0 Democratic Unionist Party Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 181 Noes - 301
Speeches
Wednesday 19th January 2022
Rebated Fuel Rules: Construction Industry
Absolutely. The right hon. Gentleman is stealing my thunder, as I will go on to mention what he has just …
Written Answers
Monday 17th January 2022
Abortion
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Answer of 27 April 2021 …
Early Day Motions
Thursday 6th January 2022
Fuel prices for motorists
That this House recognises the challenging impact of high fuel costs on households and business across the UK; notes the …
Bills
None available
MP Financial Interests
Monday 10th February 2020
6. Land and property portfolio: (i) value over £100,000 and/or (ii) giving rental income of over £10,000 a year
Agricultural land in County Fermanagh, which I own jointly with my husband; (i). (Registered 03 February 2020)
EDM signed
Sunday 16th January 2022
Lord Castlereagh
That this House notes the programme of events at Mount Stewart Estate, Co Down to commemorate the life and death …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Carla Lockhart has voted in 222 divisions, and 1 time against the majority of their Party.

14 Dec 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Carla Lockhart voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 2 Democratic Unionist Party Aye votes vs 3 Democratic Unionist Party No votes
Tally: Ayes - 441 Noes - 41
View All Carla Lockhart 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
Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party)
Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights)
(14 debate interactions)
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
(13 debate interactions)
Robin Walker (Conservative)
Minister of State (Education)
(12 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Northern Ireland Office
(36 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(16 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(16 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Carla Lockhart's debates

Upper Bann 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 Government to commit to not rolling out any e-vaccination status/immunity passport to the British public. Such passports could be used to restrict the rights of people who have refused a Covid-19 vaccine, which would be unacceptable.

12 kids in the UK are diagnosed with cancer daily. 1 in 5 will die within 5 years, often of the deadliest types like DIPG (brainstem cancer) - fatal on diagnosis & other cancers on relapse. Yet there has been little, or no, funding for research into these cancers and little, or no, progress.


Latest EDMs signed by Carla Lockhart

17th January 2022
Carla Lockhart signed this EDM as a sponsor on Sunday 16th January 2022

Lord Castlereagh

Tabled by: Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party - Strangford)
That this House notes the programme of events at Mount Stewart Estate, Co Down to commemorate the life and death of Robert Stewart, Lord Castlereagh; further notes the chequered opinion on this man who considered himself to be Irish and an Ulsterman and was instrumental in the Act of Union …
6 signatures
(Most recent: 18 Jan 2022)
Signatures by party:
Democratic Unionist Party: 6
5th January 2022
Carla Lockhart signed this EDM as a sponsor on Monday 10th January 2022

Faith during addiction

Tabled by: Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party - Strangford)
That this House notes the disappointment at recent news that Alcoholics Anonymous leaders have branded meetings in one venue as too Christian focused and have removed this venue from the Organisations online directory; further notes the historical background of AA meetings which were started in the 1930s by Christians and …
3 signatures
(Most recent: 10 Jan 2022)
Signatures by party:
Democratic Unionist Party: 3
View All Carla Lockhart's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Carla Lockhart, 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.


Carla Lockhart has not been granted any Urgent Questions

1 Adjournment Debate led by Carla Lockhart

Thursday 10th December 2020

Carla Lockhart has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Carla Lockhart has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


273 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
3 Other Department Questions
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, when awards made in the first tranche of the Levelling Up Fund must be spent by.

On 27 October, the Government announced £1.7 billion of investment into 105 infrastructure projects across the UK. Funding provided from the Fund should be spent by 31 March 2024, and exceptionally, into 2024-25 for larger schemes.

Neil O'Brien
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, how many applications have been received from Northern Ireland for the UK Community Renewal Fund; and how many of those applications were successful.

The UK Community Renewal Fund received 83 applications from organisations to deliver projects in Northern Ireland and 31 applications were successful.

Neil O'Brien
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps he is taking to increase awareness of the Community Ownership Fund in Northern Ireland.

The first bidding round of the Community Ownership Fund has now closed and the successful bids have been announced. We are reviewing applications and uptake across the United Kingdom in each nation as part of our first round review and will consider how to increase awareness in the next round.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities officials worked closely with officials at the Northern Ireland Executive, the Northern Ireland Office and the Cities and Local Growth Unit Northern Ireland Area team during the first bidding round to ensure that communities were aware of the fund. They will continue to do this in future rounds.

Neil O'Brien
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what advice the Government has published on non-freight trade travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland after the transition period.

The Government has published a broad range of guidance for businesses moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021. This includes arrangements for non-freight trade. This is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trading-and-moving-goods-in-and-out-of-northern-ireland-from-1-january-2021

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to ensure there is a co-ordinated response to the covid-19 outbreak across the UK.

The Government is working closely with the devolved administrations.This includes their recent attendance at COBR to coordinate our response to Covid-19 across the UK.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster holds regular calls with the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales and the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, and ministers from the devolved administrations are invited to attend the Covid-Operations Committee on a weekly basis to consider those issues that require a coordinated response. This supplements wider joint working by ministers and officials. The purpose is to share best practice and data, coordinate action and work together as set out in the Joint Statement of 25 September, to achieve alignment in approach wherever it is appropriate and possible to do so.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what progress the Government is making on plans to make voting more accessible for people with sight loss.

It is right that provisions should be in place to ensure accessible, fair and secure elections so everyone who is eligible to vote can do so with confidence.The Government has been working with the Accessibility of Elections Working Group, and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to identify solutions to improve the accessibility of voting for people with sight loss.

This has included recent testing, in partnership with the RNIB, of potential solutions. Initial testing has been positive and we are looking to carry out further testing in due course.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many companies that availed of bounce back loans have (a) filed for bankruptcy and (b) indicated that they will not be in a position to repay their loans.

Data on the number of companies with a Bounce Back Loan that have entered formal insolvency procedures will be collected in due course.

It is too early to provide figures relating to repayments given many businesses have yet to begin repaying their Bounce Back Loan. Further information related to loan repayments for the Government’s Covid-19 loan schemes will feature in the BEIS 2020-21 Annual Report and Accounts, scheduled for publication later this year.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much has been lent to firms in Northern Ireland under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS); and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the repayment terms of CBILS borrowings.

As of 10th January 2021, businesses in Northern Ireland have been offered 1,501 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) facilities, with a value of £496,806,683.

Lenders are able to extend the repayment period for CBILS facilities beyond 6 years (up to a maximum of 10 years) where this is needed in connection with the provision of forbearance. CBILS term extensions are offered at the discretion of lenders.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many firms who received a Bounce Back Loan since the introduction of that scheme, have filed for insolvency.

The Department does not currently hold this data. Borrowers under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme are not required to make repayments for the first 12 months of their loan term.

When repayments begin, we will be able to monitor the rates of business failure among borrowers through assessing the number of claims by lenders under the guarantee agreement.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much was lent to borrowers in Northern Ireland under the Bounce Back Loan scheme in 2020.

A breakdown on the number of loans provided through the Bounce Back Loan scheme as of 4 January 2021 is in the table below.

Region

Value of Loans Offered (£)

Number of Loans Offered

Northern Ireland

1,166,015,199

37,947

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with the devolved regions on reducing levels of (a) carbon dioxide, (b) nitrous oxide and (c) methane in the atmosphere across the UK.

There are regular discussions between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and counterparts in the Devolved Administrations at official and ministerial level on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and these discussions will continue.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a scheme to provide financial support to small independent retailers to increase their online sales platform to help tackle a drop in footfall as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is committed to supporting the UK’s small independent retailers make better use of technology and trading online, expanding their customer base from the local high street to a national and international marketplace.

Retailers are able to access an unprecedented package of support including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme and Bounce Back Loans Scheme. Additionally, businesses in Northern Ireland can access https://www.enterpriseni.com/ for further support.

The Start Up Loans Company, a subsidiary of the British Business Bank, delivers the Government’s Start Up Loans programme providing finance and support for businesses who struggle to access other forms of finance.

Tech Nation, which receives grant funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, provides a range of resources to support the growth of digital businesses in the UK. This includes a Digital Business Academy that provides free online courses on starting and growing a digital business.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the timescale is for the accreditation of banks in Northern Ireland to enable those banks to provide Bounce Back loans to small businesses during the covid-19 outbreak.

Accrediting new lenders for the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) is a priority for the British Business Bank. The Bank is working at pace to accredit more lenders, including lenders operating in Northern Ireland, to further extend the Scheme’s reach and provide more choice for businesses.

The Bank has put substantial additional resources in place to create a streamlined process within the Bank to help onboard new lenders seeking accreditation as quickly as possible. For example, existing lenders accredited under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) may have an expedited accreditation process for the BBLS.

There are currently 16 accredited lenders for the BBLS, with three operating specifically in Northern Ireland.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many businesses have (a) applied to and (b) been approved for funding from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme in Northern Ireland; and what steps he is taking to ensure banks are showing flexibility to applicants in need of support.

As of 6 May, in total over £5.5 billion worth of loans have been issued under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to 33,812 businesses.

Lenders have received 62,674 completed applications.

We are working with the British Business Bank, HM Treasury and the lenders on regular and transparent data publication going forward and to ensure that companies receive the full benefits from the support being provided.

The Business Secretary continues to work with banks and other finance providers to help SMEs access the finance they need and has discussed with these organisations the alternative forms of support for businesses that they are offering. The Government welcomed the statement by UK Finance on behalf of the financial sector which announced that banks, building societies and credit card providers are committed to supporting their business customers in continuing to trade.

The Government has responded to feedback to ensure that companies feel the full benefits of available support through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) by:

  • Extending the scheme so that all viable small businesses affected by Covid-19;
  • Removing previous restrictions on the following groups to enable them to access the CBILS, subject to other eligibility criteria being met: Employer, professional, religious or political membership organisations and trade unions;
  • Removing the ability for lenders to ask for personal guarantees for loans under £250,000, and reducing the personal guarantee for loans over £250,000 to 20% of the outstanding balance after recoveries;
  • Introducing technical changes to ensure that applications will be processed faster;
  • Removing the forward-looking viability test; and
  • Removing the per lender portfolio cap.
Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions officials in her Department have had with representatives of social media platforms on tackling the use of anonymous accounts to abuse people.

Officials have regular meetings and discussions with social media platforms on a range of issues, including the use of anonymous accounts.

The Online Safety Bill will require companies in scope to manage the risk of online anonymous abuse. Companies will need to remove and limit the spread of illegal content and prevent children from harmful abuse. Major platforms will also need to set out clearly what legal content is acceptable for adult users on their services and enforce their terms and conditions consistently and transparently. This applies whether a user is anonymous or not.

If platforms fail in their duties under the Bill, they will face tough enforcement action including fines of up to 10% of global annual qualifying turnover.

The draft Bill has been subject to pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee which reported its recommendations on 14 December. We are considering the Committee’s report and will introduce the Bill as soon as possible.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to encourage and promote participation in sport by children and young people with autism.

As set out in the government’s recent autism strategy (“The National Strategy for Autistic Children, Young People and Adults: 2021 to 2026”), the government is working to enable more people, including autistic children and young people, to be physically active.

Sport England, the government arm’s length body for community sport, launched its new strategy, “Uniting the Movement”, in January 2021. In line with this, they are working to tackle the inequalities and barriers that exist within sport and physical activity, and to unlock the benefits of being active for everyone, regardless of background or ability. As part of this effort, Sport England will be working with key partners to engage autistic people at all levels and in all forms of sport and physical activity, including across volunteering and coaching.

The Department for Education also recently announced funding for “Inclusion 2024”, being led by the Youth Sport Trust, which will improve physical education and school sport for young people with special educational needs and disabilities in thousands of schools across England.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what representations her Department has made to TikTok, the social networking service, in relation to videos posted on that platform that target teachers with abuse; and what steps she plans to take in the Online Safety Bill to help tackle that issue.

Online abuse is unacceptable and the government is liaising with TikTok on how it is protecting its users in this matter.

Under the draft Online Safety Bill, companies in scope will need to minimise and remove illegal content including criminal online abuse targeted at teachers.

Major platforms will also need to address legal but harmful content for adults.These companies will have to set out clearly what legal content is acceptable on their platforms and enforce their terms and conditions consistently and transparently.

If platforms fail in their duties under the Bill, they will face tough enforcement action including fines of up to 10% of global annual qualifying turnover.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to strengthen child protection measures in the draft Online Safety Bill.

The strongest protections in the draft Online Safety Bill are for children. Services in scope will need to prove children are not accessing their service, or they will need to conduct a child safety risk assessment and provide safety measures for child users. Those safety measures will protect children from inappropriate and harmful content.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he has had discussions with representatives of any of the English football clubs who signed up to the European Super League since the announcement of the formation of that league on 19 April 2021.

Neither DCMS Ministers nor officials have had discussions with representatives of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City or Manchester United football clubs since the European Super League (ESL) announcement.

After the announcement, I spoke briefly with a representative of Tottenham Hotspur and discussed the possibility of a meeting with the 6 clubs to allow them to express their position on the ESL. That meeting did not take place though and I have had no further contact with the clubs on this matter.

The full list of Ministerial meetings can be found on gov.uk.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of different content ratings systems on different streaming platforms which are not aligned with standards for cinema or DVD releases nor based on research into the expectations of UK audiences.

As the designated body for age classification of film content, the government has great trust in the British Board of Film Classification’s best practice age ratings. While adoption of the BBFC’s age ratings by online platforms is currently voluntary, we welcome their usage by Video on Demand platforms.

This includes Netflix who on December 1st announced that they have become the first platform to achieve complete coverage of their content under the BBFC’s ratings.

According to recent BBFC research, nearly nine in ten parents find BBFC age ratings on Netflix useful in helping them to choose content well for their family. To build on this success, we will continue to engage with industry to encourage other platforms to adopt the same ratings, and will keep the evidence for legislation in this area under review.

10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he plans to use British Board of Film Classification age verification guidance in setting standards to restrict the most harmful content from access by children under legislative proposals on online harms.

It is vital that children are protected from accessing age-inappropriate, harmful content online. The government’s Online Harms legislation will establish in law a new ‘duty of care’ on companies towards their users. The ‘duty of care’ will ensure companies have robust systems and processes in place to keep their users safe and will deliver a higher level of protection for children than for the typical adult user. Details of how the online harms legislation will protect children from harmful content will be published later this year in the Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation.

10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he plans to include in legislative proposals on online harms provisions that (a) protect children from online pornography and (b) apply to all pornographic sites accessible from the UK regardless of where they are based and whether their content is user-generated.

Our Online Harms proposals will deliver a higher level of protection for children than for the typical adult user. We expect companies to use a proportionate range of tools, including age assurance and age verification technologies, to prevent children accessing age-inappropriate content, such as online pornography, and to protect them from other harms. The new regulatory framework will cover social media companies, where many children access pornography, and all sites on which there is user-generated functionality, including pornography sites, regardless of where they are based. Further details of how the online harms legislation will protect children from harmful content, including online pornography, will be published later this year in the Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation.

14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what progress the Government has made on its plans to review the Gambling Act 2005.

The government has committed to review the Gambling Act 2005 to ensure it is fit for the digital age. Further details will be announced in due course.

Operators are required both by law and by the conditions of their licence from the Gambling Commission to prevent underage gambling. In May 2019 the Commission strengthened requirements for age verification so that operators must verify a customer’s age before they are able to deposit money, place a bet, or access free-to-play games. According to the Gambling Commission’s Young People and Gambling Survey 2019, 7% of 11-16 year olds said they had ever gambled online (a category including both National Lottery games and commercial sites), 5% had used a parent’s account with the parent’s permission and 2% had used a parent’s account without permission, showing that parents also have an important role to play in controlling children’s access to gambling. For further detail, the full survey report can be found at: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/PDF/Young-People-Gambling-Report-2019.pdf

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether his Department has assessed the effectiveness of safeguards in place to prevent underage gambling via smartphone apps.

The government has committed to review the Gambling Act 2005 to ensure it is fit for the digital age. Further details will be announced in due course.

Operators are required both by law and by the conditions of their licence from the Gambling Commission to prevent underage gambling. In May 2019 the Commission strengthened requirements for age verification so that operators must verify a customer’s age before they are able to deposit money, place a bet, or access free-to-play games. According to the Gambling Commission’s Young People and Gambling Survey 2019, 7% of 11-16 year olds said they had ever gambled online (a category including both National Lottery games and commercial sites), 5% had used a parent’s account with the parent’s permission and 2% had used a parent’s account without permission, showing that parents also have an important role to play in controlling children’s access to gambling. For further detail, the full survey report can be found at: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/PDF/Young-People-Gambling-Report-2019.pdf

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
6th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent progress he has made in discussions with Ofcom on the regulation of online harms.

In February this year, the government announced that it was minded to give Ofcom the role of the online harms regulator. We are committed to working closely with Ofcom as we continue to develop the regulatory framework.

The government will set out the final details of the policy in a full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation.

29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of subsidising newspapers to provide online copy to people self-isolating on medical grounds during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises the vital role of newspapers in supporting communities and isolated individuals by ensuring the provision of reliable, high-quality information throughout the current pandemic. Safeguarding the UK’s news media at this time of financial instability is a key priority for Government and we are in constant dialogue with publishers to ensure that our response to the challenges they are facing is as effective as it can be.

With schools closed and the nation confined to their homes during lockdown, millions have been relying on e-publications to help home school their children, keep up to date with the latest news and to pass the time. To support this, the Chancellor has brought forward the zero rating on e-publications. The zero rate of VAT will now apply to all e-publications from the 1st May - seven months ahead of schedule. The Government expects the tax relief to be passed on to consumers in the form of reduced prices for online copies.

The Government will continue to consider all possible options in the interests of promoting and sustaining high-quality news journalism. Never have the activities of journalists been more popular and critical; providing quality news to all, including those self-isolating, and binding communities together, a fundamental function of our modern day democracy.

24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many knife possession orders have been issued in relation to (a) primary schools, (b) secondary schools and (c) higher educational establishments in the last five years.

The Department does not hold data on the number of children found in possession of a knife at school. However, the School Snapshot Survey from winter 2019 showed that 29% of schools were actively dealing with knife crime as a safeguarding issue: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-snapshot-survey-winter-2019. Secondary schools were 4 times more likely to be actively dealing with knife crime than primary schools.

Schools and colleges have a duty and responsibility to protect pupils and staff. We support them with a range of guidance to help them fulfil their responsibilities, including advice on health and safety and school and college security. The school and college security guidance includes a suite of resources to assist schools and colleges with the development of policies and culture to help address a wide range of security related issues.

Relationships, Sex and Health Education is now compulsory, and schools can build on the core content to address local issues such as gang activity and recognising and avoiding exploitative relationships. In serious violence hotspot areas, schools, alternative provision settings and colleges are working with police and health through Violence Reduction Units to run interventions to tackle serious youth violence.

5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he is having with Education Ministers in each of the devolved Administrations to manage the effects of covid-19 on (a) GCSE and (b) A-Level exams to be sat in 2021.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has met the Education Ministers from all devolved administrations to discuss arrangements for 2021 GCSE, AS and A level examinations. Ministers and departmental officials will continue to engage regularly with their counterparts from the devolved administrations in preparing for next summer’s examination series.

21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to increase Government funding for physical education programmes in schools to help tackle (a) inactivity among children during the covid-19 lockdown and (b) childhood obesity.

Physical education (PE) is an important part of a broad and balanced curriculum and remains a national curriculum foundation subject at all Key Stages 1-4. The Department is working to ensure that schools are fully supported, as they welcome more children back to school, to give pupils opportunities to take part in physical education and be physically active during the school day.

Schools have the flexibility to decide how physical education, sport and physical activity will be provided whilst following the measures in their system of controls. It is important that children continue to remain fit and active and, wherever possible, have the 60 minutes of daily physical activity recommended by the Chief Medical Officers.

To support effective curriculum delivery, schools’ core funding is rising by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20 funding levels. The Government has also announced an additional £650 million ‘catch up’ premium, as part of our wider £1 billion COVID catch-up package, to be shared across all state-funded schools over the 2020-21 academic year.

The Government is also providing funding specifically for PE and school sport and recently confirmed that the PE and sport premium will continue to provide £320 million for primary school PE and sport in the coming academic year. The Department for Education is working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Health and Social Care to implement the School Sport and Activity Plan. We are also looking at further action to deliver on manifesto commitments to help schools make good use of their sports facilities and to promote physical literacy and competitive sport, in light of the budget announcement earlier in the year.

While schools have been closed to some pupils, steps have been taken to support those who have had restricted opportunity to exercise while at home. As part of its guidance on remote education provision, the Department has published online educational resources approved by subject experts for schools and parents to help children to take part in PE and physical activity.

6th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of school closures on the education of children with a statement of special education needs; and what steps his Department plans to take in response to that assessment.

The Department for Education (DfE) is committed to minimising the effects that school closures have on all children and young people, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). That is why we have asked educational settings to remain open to a limited number of children and young people, such as those with an education, health and care (EHC) plan, where a risk assessment has determined that their individual needs can be better supported at their school or college than at home.

Where children and young people have stayed at home following a risk assessment, DfE has asked local authorities, schools and colleges and parent/carers to consider whether moving either equipment or services into a child or young person’s home would enable them to be better supported there. For access to the full risk assessment guidance:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-send-risk-assessment-guidance.

DfE is assessing and carrying out research and surveys to help understand the impacts of COVID-19 on children and young people with EHC plans. We will use this information, alongside intelligence from engagement with key stakeholders, to inform the ongoing and future provision of support for children.

Decisions on the return to school of pupils with EHC plans will be informed by existing risk assessments, which should be kept up to date. These risk assessments will also be used to phase any increase in attendance of children and young people with EHC plans while maintaining preventative measures so that they can be safely catered for in their setting.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with travel insurance companies on the reimbursement of monies paid for school trips that are have been cancelled as a result of covid-19.

The Government is in continual dialogue with the insurance sector regarding their response to the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak. Travel insurance typically applies only for losses that cannot be recovered from elsewhere, that is, after any refunds from tour operators, airlines, travel, or hotels.

Although insurance against travel disruption due to pandemics is typically included in travel insurance policies, schools should first contact travel agents or hotels for reimbursement. If there is still no recoverable cost from these sources, a travel insurance claim may be applicable. Some policies will only cover foreign travel, but more comprehensive policies will also cover UK travel. Travel insurance policies differ, so if in doubt, schools and tour providers should speak to their insurer or check the terms and conditions of their policy.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has produced information on school trip and travel insurance implications following the COVID-19 outbreak. The ABI’s Q&A on the subject is available here:
https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/coronavirus-hub/insurance-for-schools/.

Schools that are members of the Risk Protection Arrangement (RPA) should submit their claims as per the RPA membership pack.

11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to increase the provision of disabled toilets in schools.

All new school buildings must have an accessible toilet as required by building regulations. In addition, the Department’s guidance requires a hygiene (sanitary changing) room for pupils who require extra support.

The Equality Act 2010 also places a duty on all schools to support disabled children and young people. Local authorities must prepare an accessibility strategy for disabled children and schools must prepare and act upon an accessibility plan for their premises. Both strategies and plans must include how buildings will be improved over time to enable disabled pupils to have better access to education. They should be regularly revised if necessary, and the local authority or school must consider the need to allocate adequate resources for their implementation.

Local authorities must ensure there is an appropriate school place for all pupils, including those with SEN and disabilities. The Department is investing a total of £365 million through the Special Provision Capital Fund from 2018-19 to 2020-21. This funding will help local authorities create new places and improve facilities for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. We also recognise the importance of providing a safe and effective environment for pupils. Since 2015, we have provided over £7.4 billion in condition funding to schools and those responsible for maintaining and improving school buildings.

5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress he is making on introducing a GCSE in British Sign Language.

?The Department is currently working with subject experts to develop draft subject content for a potential British Sign Language GCSE. We are working with Ofqual, the independent qualifications regulator, to ensure that the subject content can be assessed appropriately and will be working with stakeholders to ensure that a wide range of views is reflected. Subject to being able to develop subject content which meets the rigorous requirements which apply to all GCSEs, we are aiming to consult publicly on draft content later this year.

Once final subject content has been published, individual exam boards can develop a specification if they wish. Ofqual would need to accredit any such specification before it could be taught in schools.

9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to enable the Woodland Trust to send trees to Northern Ireland to allow local groups to fully participate in The Queen’s Green Canopy to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) is a unique tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 which invites people from across the United Kingdom to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee”.

The QGC is encouraging schools and communities to get involved in planting Jubilee trees, with free tree packs available in Scotland, Wales and England through the Woodland Trust. In Northern Ireland, free tree packs for schools and communities are available through the Conservation Volunteers.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the impact of the rise in fertiliser prices on UK farms; and what steps his Department is taking to help support farms in finding options for reducing bought-in fertiliser.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury on 28 October 2021, PQ UIN 62654.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to support research on methods to mitigate or reduce emissions in farming.

While emissions in farming is a broad topic, the question is assumed to concern greenhouse gas emissions only, and I am responding accordingly.

The Prime Minister has been clear that tackling climate change is a priority for this Government. Since 1990 emissions from agriculture have reduced by 13%.

The Government is investing to unlock innovation and translate our world leading research into practical farmer-led solutions that improve the productivity, sustainability and resilience of agriculture. This includes reducing emissions from farming.

Our £90 million investment in the ‘Transforming Food Production’ (TFP) challenge, launched in 2018, is supporting ground breaking research and development so farmers will be able to harness the latest technology to produce high quality food, increase their productivity and move towards net zero emission farming systems by 2040. This will put the UK at the forefront of advanced sustainable agriculture and food production while reducing emissions, pollution, waste and soil erosion.

This initiative is enhanced by a recently launched Defra-funded collaborative agricultural Research and Development competition ‘Farming Innovation Pathways’) with an additional £12 million of funding targeting existing and new farm focused innovation, which will also be delivered through the TFP initiative.

From 2022 a new Research and Development funding programme for England will build on the success of TFP as part of the proposed measures to stimulate innovation and boost productive, sustainable, low emissions agriculture as we move away from the CAP system of farming subsidy payments.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help increase the number of bees and other pollinators in the UK.

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

Pollinators are a priority for this government and we are committed, with our many partners, to taking action to conserve bees and other pollinators, as set out in our National Pollinator Strategy. Our actions include: restoring and creating habitat for bees and other wild and managed pollinators to thrive; acting on the pressures that impact on pollinators, including by supporting Integrated Pest Management (IPM); providing advice and raising awareness across society so that they can take action themselves; and supporting new monitoring and research.

We are introducing new schemes that reward farmers and land managers for producing public goods. These will encourage actions that support IPM and conserve and enhance habitats for bees and other pollinators. We have introduced a national pollinator monitoring scheme with trend estimates published annually, and we provide advice and guidance to landowners and the public through our Bees’ Needs campaign.

Through the Healthy Bees Plan 2030, Defra works with beekeeping associations and other stakeholders to maintain a healthy honey bee population. We fund an extensive programme of apiary inspections, as well as education and training for beekeepers to maintain and improve husbandry standards. The number of honey bee colonies recorded on the National Bee Unit’s BeeBase website has increased from around 108,000 in 2009 to 224,000 in 2020. This increase may be due in part to greater numbers of beekeepers choosing to register, rather than representing additional colonies or beekeepers.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what resources his Department provides to help check and validate the welfare and legitimacy of puppies being transported between Great Britain and the Northern Ireland.

Pet travel is a devolved matter. Pet checking and welfare in transport regulations are undertaken and enforced by the relevant UK administration.

In Great Britain, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) works collaboratively with Border Force and other operational partners at ports, airports and inland, sharing intelligence to enforce the pet travel regulations which apply, disrupt illegal imports and seize non-compliant animals. Any animals found to be non-compliant with the pet travel regulations which apply may be refused entry or detained until compliant.

When animals are transported for a commercial purpose, their transportation must comply fully with legal requirements aimed at protecting their welfare. APHA takes an intelligence-led approach at the GB border towards tackling the illegal trade in dogs. As part of this activity APHA identifies and acts to safeguard the welfare of animals where transport is non-compliant with legal requirements.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans the Government has to bring forward legislative proposals to ensure domestic food standards are applied imported products.

The UK Government will not compromise on our standards. Our manifesto is clear that in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards. We remain firmly committed to upholding our high environmental protection, food safety and animal welfare standards outside the EU. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 retains our standards on environmental protections, animal welfare, animal and plant health and food safety at the end of the transition period. This includes existing import requirements and provides a firm basis for maintaining the same high level of protection for both domestic and imported products.

These import standards include a ban on using artificial growth hormones in domestic and imported products and set out that no products, other than potable water, are approved to decontaminate poultry carcasses. Any changes to existing food safety legislation would require new legislation to be brought before this Parliament.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when his Department plans to issue guidance on labelling requirements for products after the transition period ends to agri-food firms in Northern Ireland.

Ministers meet regularly with food manufacturers, and representatives of other parts of the supply chain from across the UK, to discuss preparations for the end of the transition period including for food labelling.

The GOV.UK website provides cross-UK guidance on these matters and is kept under review and updated as appropriate. The EU has set out its position on how food and drink should be labelled where EU rules apply.

We will provide a period of adjustment for labelling changes required at the end of the transition period, wherever this is possible. During this period, the changes that UK businesses need to make when selling between different markets will be minimised. We are working to determine the appropriate time industry needs to make changes and will provide guidance as soon as we can do so, to ensure that businesses have clarity and certainty.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much funding his Department has provided to agricultural shows in England in each of the last three years.

The information requested is not held centrally and to obtain it would incur disproportionate costs.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the article published in Science of the Total Environment in June 2020, entitled, London's river of plastic: High levels of microplastics in the Thames water column, by Rowley et al, what steps his Department is taking to tackle pollution in waterways.

Defra is working with the Environment Agency, academics and the UK water industry to understand the scale of the microplastic pollution problem and to establish detection methods. The aim is to identify, characterise and quantify the types of microplastics entering wastewater treatment plants, evaluate the efficiency of treatment processes for the removal of microplastics from domestic wastewaters and assess the fate and biological effects of microplastics in receiving rivers.

Although there has been substantive research reporting the presence and impacts of microplastics in the marine environment, little is known about their sources, release and impact on freshwaters or their ultimate transport to the marine environment. Defra recently commissioned three evidence reviews on analysis, prevalence & impact of microplastics in freshwater and estuarine environments to further understand these issues and will use the outcomes from these and other research to develop policy options to help mitigate the impact of microplastics in the aquatic environment. These evidence reviews can be found at the following link: http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&ProjectID=20192&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1&SearchText=WT15112&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder=Asc&Paging=10#Description

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th May 2020
Whether he plans to provide support to the devolved Administrations to help local (a) dairy and (b) beef producers that are facing reductions in farmgate prices.

This is a devolved matter and so will be for the Northern Ireland Executive to decide what support they provide to their sectors. I meet with Minister Poots regularly and we are working closely to share information and intentions to help develop coherent approaches, for example, a UK-wide campaign has recently been launched to encourage consumers to increase dairy purchases.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with supermarkets in the UK to encourage the promotion and sale of meat produced on UK farms.

The Secretary of State has regular discussions with supermarkets, retailers and other stakeholders in the food and drink industry covering a wide range of issues.

We are fortunate in the UK that we have the climate, the landscape, and entrepreneurial farmers and food producers that equip us to produce world-class food, and our farmers and growers are doing a fantastic job of feeding the nation during this challenging time.

Half of the food that the UK population consumes is home-grown and is renowned for its quality, and high standards of food safety, traceability, animal welfare and sustainability. We will always champion our farmers and producers; supporting them to grow more of our great British food, and to provide a reliable and sustainable food supply to the British public.

Supermarkets are already taking steps to promote and source British meat products. We are also working closely with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) as they develop consumer-facing marketing campaigns for the meat and dairy sectors. We will continue to engage with and support similar initiatives that highlight the qualities of British meat, dairy, and fruit and vegetable products.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department plans to take to address falling beef prices for UK producers; and what steps he is taking to promote UK beef to international markets during the covid-19 outbreak.

Beef producers, as with other sectors, have been directly impacted by the closure of the food service sector as a result of the lockdown measures taken in response to Covid-19. This has led to problems with carcass imbalance.

The Government has well established ways of working with the food and farming industry supply chain to address temporary disruption. Defra and the devolved administrations are sharing the latest stakeholder information and data to ensure we have an evidence base for what is happening in specific markets, or specific geographical regions during the Covid-19 outbreak. The Secretary of State is also having regular meeting with the NFU and representatives of the beef sector.

Covid-19 impacts are also manifesting in the loss of export markets which would normally give value to parts of the carcass for which there is little demand in the UK and the shift away from the hospitality and food service sector to the retail sector.

Prices for prime cattle are showing signs of stabilising as industry has adapted and evolved to the current climate. Prices are up 3%, which is a positive sign of recovery.

Defra maintains a regular watching brief on the beef price and monitors all UK agricultural markets to provide forewarning of any atypical market movements and have continued to do so throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

To help overcome the current imbalance in retail sales of beef, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Quality Meat Scotland and Meat Promotion Wales are launching a £1.2 million ‘Make It Steak’, promotion campaign. The EU funded Private Storage Aid scheme also opened to the UK beef industry on 7 May.

Defra’s Food is GREAT campaign is raising the international profile and reputation of food and drink from across the UK. It builds global demand, drives awareness and increases positive perceptions of UK food and drink products amongst international trade audiences and consumers. The campaign promotes excellent food and drink products from across the four nations of the UK. For instance, most recently the campaign showcased British beef, Northern Irish gin, Scotch Whisky, Welsh lamb, Scottish Salmon and English Sparkling Wine to Japanese consumers, trade and media in events coinciding with the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019. Defra also continues to work in partnership with industry and other Government departments to open new markets for the meat sector. This has included recently opening beef and lamb markets to Japan and progressing towards opening of the beef market to China for the first time in over 20 years.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much funding his Department has allocated to tackle wildlife crime in each of the last three years.

Under our four year funding agreement with the National Wildlife Crime Unit, Defra has contributed £165,000 a year between 2016-2020 to the Unit’s activities. We have committed to maintaining the Defra contribution in 2020/21.

Furthermore, we provide up to £6.3 million per year to support international action to counter poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support farmers and fishermen suffering from mental health problems.

The mental health of all sections of the population, including farmers and fishermen, is one of this Government’s top priorities. The Government is committed to transforming mental health services and has announced a further expansion in the NHS Long Term Plan funded by an additional £2.3 billion a year in real terms by 2023/24. Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are best placed to decide on how our investment in mental health services should be used locally to meet the needs of their populations living in rural and coastal areas. CCGs are responsible for ensuring adequate access to mental health services locally, including early interventions such as mental health first aid. Funding allocations to CCGs, including those covering rural areas, vary to meet the needs of local populations, including mental health need and the needs of remote or sparsely populated areas.

The Government takes the issue of farmers’ wellbeing very seriously and is committed to supporting the wellbeing of farmers, incorporating wellbeing into future agricultural policy. We recognise this is a time of uncertainty and are designing our farming reforms in collaboration with those who work in agriculture wherever we can, considering personal and business resilience issue. We meet regularly with representatives from the main farming and rural charities. We have launched a £1 million grant funding project to provide resilience support to farmers and land managers in England to help them prepare for the Agricultural Transition period that will take place from 2021-2027. A range of providers will work directly with farmers providing business and personal resilience support and we will learn lessons from this project, using the accumulated evidence and on-going feedback from the industry to help us develop any next steps for any future initiatives and support.

On fisheries, Defra is providing support to SeafarersUK in a research project called ‘The financial health and resilience of small-scale fishers, their families and communities’. Defra’s grant will help SeafarersUK to widen the scope of the research on this important topic in order to understand better the type of financial problems fishers experience, their underlying reasons and what could be done to support fishers become more financially/economically resilient. This will include consideration of the high levels of poor mental health among fishing communities.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what support the Government is providing to people affected by super cyclone Amphan in Bangladesh and India.

The UK has provided £800,000 of rapid release funding to international and local NGOs through the START Fund Bangladesh. This funding will provide water, sanitation and hygiene, healthcare, food, non-food items and shelter for more than 83,300 people for 45-days. The UK is also supporting BRAC Bangladesh, which has provided support to another 6,000 badly affected households, as well as the UN’s humanitarian coordination.

DFID has supported the Government of Bangladesh in disaster preparedness for many years. This has helped the Government to put in place an early warning, evacuation, and response system and build community resilience to repeated shocks.

DFID had previously funded technical assistance to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation to help build the first comprehensive city level flood forecasting and early warning system in India. This was launched in 2019 and helped ensure the government and people received timely warnings of Cyclone Amphan. Since 2004, the Indian Government has stated publicly it neither seeks nor accepts official international assistance ?from foreign governments for disaster relief.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment her Department has made of the potential effect on the UK agri-food industry of a tariff-free free trade deal with Australia.

The UK stands to gain from a trade agreement with Australia. The Government will secure reductions in tariffs on UK exports to Australia, saving UK businesses millions of pounds. For example, elimination of 5% tariffs on whisky could bolster Northern Irish Whiskey exports to Australia.

Any deals the Government signs will include protections for the agricultural sector and will not undercut UK farmers or compromise the UK’s high standards.

The Government carried out preliminary scoping assessments for each FTA negotiation, including Australia, which can be found on the Government’s website. A full impact assessment will be published prior to implementation.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many trade missions are planned by his Department in the next six months; and how businesses are identified for participation in those missions.

The Department for International Trade has 131 Trade Missions currently planned over the next six months. Businesses are identified through Trade Associations and our UK-wide business networks.

12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps are being taken to encourage people on Motability to choose electric vehicles; and if additional support is available for the installation of an electric charge point for those with a disability.

We are committed to ensuring an accessible electric vehicle (EV) charging network and that inclusively designed chargepoints are available for all consumers. That is why we are partnering with national disability charity Motability to commission the British Standards Institution (BSI) to develop accessibility standards for public EV chargepoints across the country. Guidance will consider aspects such as kerb height, adequate space between bollards and chargepoints being of a height suitable for wheelchair users. By ensuring consistent standards, drivers will be able to more easily identify which chargepoints are suitable for their needs.

We are consulting on introducing accessibility requirements at EV chargepoints via the Future of Transport Regulatory Review. Consultation will close on 22nd November.

Government is supporting consumers buying EVs through plug-in car grant which provides up to £2,500, or plug-in van grant of up to £3,000, towards an eligible vehicle.  Individuals with an eligible vehicle are also able to benefit from the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, a grant that provides a 75% (up to £350) contribution to the cost of one chargepoint and its installation.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many cars were seized and destroyed for non-payment of road tax in each of the last three years.

In the last three financial years, 159,192 vehicles have been seized and 42,177 vehicles have been destroyed for non-payment of vehicle excise duty. The table below shows the figures for the last three financial years.

Vehicles seized

Vehicles destroyed

2020/21

24,660

7,109

2019/20

68,991

18,566

2018/19

65,541

16,502

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) ferries, (b) airlines and (c) other transport links are (i) available and (ii) affordable for people travelling between Northern Ireland and mainland UK over Christmas 2020.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department has worked to ensure that the lifeline air and sea routes across the Irish Sea remain open. We recognise the critical importance of maintaining this connectivity during the Christmas period and we will continue to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive, the other Devolved Administrations and operators to keep services running across the extended travel window for journeys to and from Northern Ireland, from 22 to 28 December.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many applications have been made to the Cycle to Work Scheme in each month of 2020.

The Government does not hold this data. The Cycle to Work Alliance, an industry body which represents four of the leading providers of bicycles and equipment under the cycle to work scheme, has informed the Department that weekly applications to their members increased between the period May-July 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to improve motorcyclist safety in relation to safety barriers installed on carriageways.

The provision and maintenance of safety barriers on carriageways, for the protection of all road users, is a matter for the relevant Highways Authorities within England and Devolved Administrations.

The Department promotes Motorcycle safety awareness more generally through the THINK! Campaign.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what support he is providing to the logistics industry to help secure ferry places for (a) empty lorries travelling to Great Britain from Northern Ireland and (b) full lorries travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has made available £330 billion of support through loans and guarantees to support UK businesses. Changes have been made to some of the schemes to ensure that more businesses, particularly those that are SMEs like many road haulage companies, can benefit from them.

The Department is aware of the issues faced by the logistics industry in Northern Ireland. That is why on 24 April we announced a package of funding to support the movement of critical goods on up to 31 RoRo freight routes, including between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Up to £17 million of funding will be available to support up to five routes over the next two months, with the Northern Ireland Executive contributing 40 percent. Officials continue to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive to gather evidence on the scale of the problem and any further support needed.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on (a) connectivity between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and (b) other regional connectivity.

Ministers and officials have been meeting frequently with their counterparts in Northern Ireland and the other Devolved Administrations to discuss matters of mutual concern and to develop plans as appropriate.

In line with guidance issued by government to avoid non-essential travel, domestic public transport networks have amended services to reflect lower demand whilst keeping vital services running for those who are unable to work from home.

24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the financial rationale is for the cost of MOT testing for class 4 vehicles.

The current MOT fee in Great Britain for class 4 vehicles was set by The Motor Vehicles (Tests) (Amendment) Regulations 2010, and the rationale for the fee level is set out fully in the relevant published impact assessment. The fee has been set to reflect the time taken to carry out an MOT and the costs of a garage in delivering that MOT. MOT garages often charge less than the set fee.

24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many appeals of an MOT test result the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency received in each of the last three years.

The table below shows the number of appeals in Great Britain of an MOT test result received by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in each of the last three years.

Year

Number of appeals of an MOT test result received

2017

595

2018

605

2019

609

12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of charging points for electric vehicles in rural areas.

Along with the private sector, the Government will invest £1 billion in charging infrastructure, ensuring that everyone is within 30 miles of a rapid charging station. We are already investing nearly £1.5bn? between April 2015 and March 2021 to support the transition to zero emission motoring and have put in place a range of grant schemes to support the installation of charging infrastructure, available in any urban or rural areas of the UK, including Northern Ireland.

Under the Government’s Go Ultra Low City Scheme, £22.9m has been allocated to support the installation of infrastructure in several UK cities and wider surrounding rural areas. Last year work commenced to determine a vision for a core rapid charger network on England’s strategic road network and we aim to report on this in Spring 2020. Our jointly funded £400 million Chargepoint Infrastructure Investment Fund’s first investment round, worth a total of £70 million, will ensure the delivery of a further 3,000 rapid charging devices by 2024, more than doubling the current number of rapid charging devices.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many flights have declared an emergency in UK air space in each of the last five years.

In accordance with Regulation (EU) No 376/2014, safety-related events which endanger or which, if not corrected or addressed, could endanger an aircraft, its occupants or any other person have to be reported to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The Regulation requires that the reporting, analysis and follow-up to such occurrences remain confidential. However, the Regulation does permit information to be released on request to interested parties that have a genuine safety related need for the information. An application can be made at www.caa.co.uk/srg1605.

Grant Shapps
Secretary of State for Transport
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many errors have been recorded in the payment of winter fuel payments by reason of (a) incorrect address (b) being paid into incorrect bank account, in each of the last three years.

The Department for Work and Pensions Is not required to retain this information. In the circumstances the information is only possible to obtain at disproportionate cost to the DWP.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when her Department plans to publish its review of how the welfare system supports terminally ill people; and for what reason that review has not yet been published.

The Department is committed to delivering an improved system for claimants that are nearing the end of their lives and is working at pace across government to bring forward proposals.

In July 2019, the Secretary of State announced an in-depth evaluation of how the benefits system supports people nearing the end of their life. The evaluation included 3 strands of research:

- hearing directly from claimants and charities about their first-hand experiences;

- considering international evidence to find out what works in other nations and the support they provide; and

- reviewing current DWP performance to better understand how our Special Rules for Terminal Illness process operates and performs.

6th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme backdated to 1 March 2020 will trigger universal credit over-payments for additional income for claimants encouraged to claim that benefit until the scheme is available.

Universal Credit takes into account any income received for the relevant assessment period (AP). In terms of the Self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the department has agreed that this will not be applied retrospectively to previous APs.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many people have died while waiting for their eligibility for personal independence payments to be determined; and what the main disabling condition was of those people.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is claimed by people with a range of health conditions and disabilities, many of which are degenerative or life limiting and the Department treats the death of any claimant sympathetically. Claims made under Special Rules for Terminal Illness (SRTI) are fast tracked and are being cleared in 6 working days on average (as at the end of October 2019, the latest available published data).

The cause of death of claimants to PIP is not collated centrally by the Department.

Between the introduction of PIP in April 2013 and 31st October 2019, the latest date for which published data is available, 4,617,990 decisions were made on claims to PIP. Of these, 20,830 (less than 0.5%) claimants died prior to a decision being made on their case.

The Department only records the disabilities of claimants who have reached the assessment stage. Therefore, the disabilities of claimants who passed away prior to the assessment stage appear under “Unknown or missing” in the table below.

Table: Disability of claimants who died prior to a decision being made on their PIP claim (Great Britain only).

Normal Rules (at registration)

Special Rules (at registration)

Total

Autoimmune disease

40

#

40

Cardiovascular disease

320

30

350

Diseases of the immune system

#

#

#

Diseases of the liver, gallbladder, biliary tract

320

90

410

Endocrine disease

70

#

70

Gastrointestinal disease

30

10

40

Genitourinary disease

120

30

150

Haematological Disease

10

#

10

Hearing disorders

#

#

#

Infectious disease

20

#

20

Malignant disease

1,740

4,510

6,250

Metabolic disease

10

#

10

Multisystem and extremes of age

#

#

#

Musculoskeletal disease (general)

200

#

210

Musculoskeletal disease (regional)

190

#

190

Neurological disease

450

40

490

Psychiatric disorders

820

10

830

Respiratory disease

500

40

540

Skin disease

30

#

30

Unknown or missing

10,460

700

11,160

Visual disease

30

#

30

Total

15,370

5,470

20,830

Please note that the DWP is only responsible for benefits in Great Britain. Social security benefits, including PIP, are a devolved matter in Northern Ireland. Questions about PIP claimants in Northern Ireland should be directed to the Department of Communities in Northern Ireland.

Notes:

  • These figures include claims made under Normal Rules or Special Rules for Terminal Illness and include new claims and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to PIP reassessment claims.
  • If a claimant dies before a decision is made on an outstanding claim, the Department establishes whether the claimant’s representative or next of kin wishes to proceed with the claim. If not, the claim is withdrawn.
  • It is possible for claims to transition between Normal and Special Rules during the course of the claimant journey.
  • This is unpublished data from the PIP computer system’s (PIP CS) management information. It should be used with caution and may be subject to future revision.
  • Figures cover claims on which a decision has been made and recorded on the PIP CS on or prior to 31st October 2019. Claims on which a decision has not been entered are excluded.
  • Claimants’ dates of death are as recorded on the system at 6th March 2020 and may be subject to retrospection.
  • Figures are rounded to the nearest 10, ‘#’ indicates a figure under 5 and individual numbers may not sum to the total because of rounding.
  • GB only.
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that hidden disabilities receive the same recognition as other disabilities in (a) car parks,(b) public (i) toilets, (ii) buildings and (iii) transport and (c) other public spaces.

The Cabinet Office Disability Unit is currently working with the British Standards Institute to support their development of an Invisible Disability sign, recognising that some disabled people face unfair criticism when trying to access facilities designed for disabled people.

The Government will publish a National Strategy for Disabled People in 2020 focusing on removing barriers to ensure disabled people can lead a life of opportunity and fully participate in British society. The strategy will be developed with disabled people, disability organisations and charities, and will support disabled people in all aspects and phases of their lives, including housing, education, transport and jobs.

9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking with the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland to ensure that no one who takes necessary public health precautions and is unable to attend work as a result of covid-19 will be unpaid.

In the Budget on 11 March, the Chancellor announced new measures to help people who are unable to work as a result of covid-19. The Department is working with colleagues in Northern Ireland to ensure the same arrangements are in place across the UK.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many times her Department has used its discretionary waiver on health grounds in relation to universal credit over-payments as a result of Departmental error.

Waivers can only be granted by the Secretary of State where the recovery of an overpayment is causing substantial medical and/or financial hardship, and clear evidence of this can be provided. The discretion to waive benefit overpayments can only be exercised in line with Her Majesty’s Treasury’s guidance on ‘Managing Public Money’.

Prior to the start of 2019/20, the reason that the overpayment occurred (fraud, claimant error or Departmental error) was not recorded on waiver requests. Therefore, for the years 2017/18 and 2018/19, I have instead provided the total number of successful waivers. It is important to note that these may not all have been for overpayments arising as a result of Departmental errors.

In 2017/18, there were no waivers granted for Universal Credit overpayments. In 2018/19, there were 5 waivers granted for Universal Credit overpayments, of these, 4 were granted on medical grounds. In 2019/20 year to date, there were 3 waivers granted for Universal Credit overpayments, these were all granted on medical grounds.

*The data in this response has been sourced from internal management information and was not intended for public release. It should therefore not be compared to any other, similar data subsequently released by the Department.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department takes to monitor health and safety compliance by approved MOT centres.

In Great Britain, MOT test centres are predominantly located within motor vehicle repair premises, and regulation of health and safety compliance falls to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Such premises are not a current priority for HSE’s inspection activity and HSE only inspect these businesses where there is evidence that significant risk is not being managed, for example where concerns have been raised or following an incident. HSE promotes health and safety compliance via a number of industry stakeholders and provides specific relevant information to the industry through a range of communications channels. Further information on the sector plan for health and safety in the manufacturing industry can be found here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/strategiesandplans/sector-plans/manufacturing.pdf.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what measures are in place to ensure that home abortions taking place after the legal limit of ten weeks are reported to the police; and which health bodies are responsible for ensuring that that reporting is undertaken.

The Department continues to work with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to monitor the temporary approval of home use of both early medical abortion pills up to 10 weeks gestation. This includes sharing information between the CQC and Department where serious incidents related to the temporary approval take place. Concerns relating to a potential breach of abortion legislation should be reported to the police. Decisions to bring a prosecution in relation to the law on abortion are for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Answer of 27 April 2021 to Question 179697, on Abortion, whether his Department has plans to investigate illegal abortions occurring over the ten week limit for medical abortion at home.

The Department continues to work with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to monitor the temporary approval of home use of both early medical abortion pills up to 10 weeks gestation. This includes sharing information between the CQC and Department where serious incidents related to the temporary approval take place. Concerns relating to a potential breach of abortion legislation should be reported to the police. Decisions to bring a prosecution in relation to the law on abortion are for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many rapid lateral flow kits have been dispatched to addresses in Northern Ireland since the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

To 26 November 2021, 19,472,441 lateral flow devices have been dispatched to addresses in Northern Ireland.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to assess the effectiveness of personal protective equipment used by front line health workers in protecting them from transmission of covid-19.

The infection prevention and control guidance sets out the appropriate personal protective equipment for frontline health workers. An expert group of clinicians regularly review the available evidence to ensure that the guidance and recommendations continue to be effective and reflect current understanding on how to prevent and control COVID-19 infection.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Answer of 14 December 2020 to question 128881, Abortion: Drugs, what measures are in place to ensure that abortion pills sent by post are used by no-one other than the intended recipient.

The clinic will supply medicines obtained through the regulated supply chain, appropriately labelled for individual patients to be safely used only by those patients. The pills are only supplied following the patient’s consultation. Abuse of the temporary measures by the passing on or selling of abortion pills remains unlawful and subject to criminal sanctions.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to review the accuracy and objectivity of the Abortion and Abortion Care Factsheet produced by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare in 2019; and what comparative assessment his Department has made of the information in that leaflet that current evidence suggests that the fetus is unable to feel pain under 24 weeks and the Government confirmation in February 2019 that pain relief for unborn babies would be delivered intra-operatively for those undergoing spinal surgery for spina bifida between 20 and 26 weeks of gestation.

The Abortion and Abortion Care Fact Sheet for schools was produced and published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, therefore no assessment has been made.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the prevalence of cancer diagnosis among children and young people.

In 2018, the most recent data available, there were 25,312 children and young people living with a cancer diagnosis in England. This data is available by cancer type, sex and other demographic factors and is available at the following link:

https://www.cancerdata.nhs.uk/prevalence

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to inform people of the dangers of (a) exposure to the sun and (b) the use of sunbeds.

Public Health England (PHE) contributed to the sun safety message published on the National Health Service website which is available at the following link:

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/sunscreen-and-sun-safety/

PHE also publishes near real-time solar ultraviolet radiation index values from its measurement sites across the United Kingdom to inform people of the current levels in addition to guidance on when protection is needed. PHE discourages the use of sunbeds and has published guidance on the dangers from the use of sunbeds which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sunbeds-safety-advice/sunbeds-safety-advice

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to prevent young people from taking up smoking.

Later this year, we will publish a new tobacco control plan which will outline further plans to protect young people from smoking and to support our ambition to become smoke-free by 2030.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the prevalence rate of autism amongst the compulsory school age population in England in the latest period for which that data is available.

The Children and Young People Mental Health Survey dataset for 2017 reports an estimated autism prevalence rate of 1.5% amongst children aged five to 10 years old and 1.2% amongst children aged 11 to 16 years old.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many completed admitted pathways there were in each month during the covid-19 outbreak.

The number of completed admitted pathways since January 2020 is shown in the following table.

Date

Total completed admitted pathways

January 2020

304,888

February 2020

285,918

March 2020

207,754

April 2020

41,121

May 2020

54,550

June 2020

94,354

July 2020

142,818

August 2020

155,789

September 2020

209,562

October 2020

232,487

November 2020

222,810

December 2020

190,604

January 2021

139,378

February 2021

152,642

March 2021

220,349

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support the Government is providing to people with fragile X syndrome.

On 9 January 2021, the Government published the United Kingdom Rare Diseases Framework, outlining four key priorities to improve the lives of those living with rare diseases such as fragile X syndrome. These include helping patients get a final diagnosis, increasing awareness of rare diseases among healthcare professionals, better coordination of care and improving access to specialist care, treatment and drugs. The Framework will be followed by nation-specific action plans, detailing how each nation of the UK will meet the shared priorities of the Framework. In addition, the NHS Long Term Plan sets out commitments for improving the health of people with a learning disability, including people with fragile X syndrome. Genomic testing for fragile X syndrome is included in the National Genomic Test Directory and is available in England via the NHS Genomic Medicine Service.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress his Department has made on its proposals to introduce the mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid.

The Department published a UK-wide consultation on the proposed mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid which ran from 13 June to 9 September 2019. A post consultation update was published on GOV.UK. Publication of the consultation response has been delayed due to the pandemic. We will publish the response as soon as possible.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with professional bodies representing General practitioners to encourage the resumption of face to face consultations in General practice as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Ministers and officials regularly meet with stakeholders on issues related to general practice.

On 25 March 2021, NHS England and NHS Improvement published its 2021/22 priorities and operational planning guidance which sets the priorities for the year ahead. This included, as part of restoring and increasing access to primary care services, that all practices should offer face to face consultations, alongside continuing to increase the use of online consultations as part of embedding total triage.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support his Department is providing to research on the causes and treatment of brain tumours.

In May 2018 the Government announced £40 million over five years for brain tumour research as part of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Brain tumours is a difficult research area with a relatively small research community. We are taking actions to grow the field, such as workshops for researchers and research training for clinicians.

The NIHR released a public announcement to the research community in April 2018, making clear our desire to receive brain tumour research funding applications. We are relying on researchers to submit high-quality research proposals. All applications that were fundable in open competition have been funded. The NIHR welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including brain tumours.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 19 December 2017 to Question 118932 on Abortion: Childbirth and the response that information on the number of live births following termination of pregnancy is not collected centrally, how data is recorded on the number of babies born live after abortion; and if his Department will publish the data on that matter that is available.

The information requested is not collected centrally. The Department acknowledges that there are limitations with the data currently collected on serious incidents and complications that occur after an abortion. We are planning to examine, with partner organisations, how well these systems are working in relation to recording incidents and complications arising from abortions and whether improvements can be made.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how long a medical practitioner is required to wait before submitting an HSA4 form after dispensing medical abortion pills by post or through a clinic for patients to take at home; how complications as a result of taking those pills can be reported after an HSA4 form has already been submitted; and whether in the event that such complications are later reported there is a process in place to ensure that that HSA4 form is amended to record those complications.

In accordance with the Abortion Act and the Abortion Regulations 1991, all abortions performed in England must be notified to the Chief Medical Officer within 14 days of the procedure. There is no requirement for the practitioner to wait until day 14 to notify the abortion.

Any complication known to the practitioner terminating the pregnancy, at the time the notification is submitted, should be recorded on the Abortion Notification (HSA4) form. All serious incidents should be reported by the provider to their commissioner, the Care Quality Commission and other relevant organisations in line with the serious incident framework published by NHS England and NHS Improvement which is available at the following link:

https://improvement.nhs.uk/resources/serious-incident-framework/

We acknowledge that there are limitations with the data provided on HSA4 forms as complications that occur after treatment may not be known to the registered medical practitioner and may not be reported. We are planning to examine, with partner organisations, how well these systems are working in relation to recording complications arising from abortions and whether improvement is required.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether medical practitioners are required to wait until 14 days have elapsed before submitting the HSA4 form following an electronic consultation to dispense home medical abortion pills or whether that form can be submitted at any point within the 14-day period of those pills having been dispensed.

In accordance with the Abortion Act and the Abortion Regulations 1991, all abortions performed in England must be notified to the Chief Medical Officer within 14 days of the procedure. There is no requirement for the practitioner to wait until day 14 to notify the abortion.

Any complication known to the practitioner terminating the pregnancy, at the time the notification is submitted, should be recorded on the Abortion Notification (HSA4) form. All serious incidents should be reported by the provider to their commissioner, the Care Quality Commission and other relevant organisations in line with the serious incident framework published by NHS England and NHS Improvement which is available at the following link:

https://improvement.nhs.uk/resources/serious-incident-framework/

We acknowledge that there are limitations with the data provided on HSA4 forms as complications that occur after treatment may not be known to the registered medical practitioner and may not be reported. We are planning to examine, with partner organisations, how well these systems are working in relation to recording complications arising from abortions and whether improvement is required.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the his Department's response of 1 October 2020 to Freedom of Information request FOI-1250644, whether the Government has plans to prosecute abortion providers for enabling women to take abortion pills beyond the 10-week gestation period limit.

The Abortion Act 1967 permits termination of a pregnancy by a registered medical practitioner subject to certain conditions. Decisions to bring a prosecution in relation to the law on abortion are for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, not the Government.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the Irish Government on the sharing of passenger locator form information for people arriving into the Irish Republic from high risk covid-19 areas.

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

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a screening programme for prostate cancer for people over 50.

The United Kingdom National Screening Committee UK NSC) reviewed the evidence during the consultation of prostate cancer screening in men over the age of 50 years old in 2020 and recommended that a population screening programme should not be introduced.

The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is not accurate enough to detect the aggressive prostate cancers that need treatment. It can identify men as having prostate cancer when in fact they do not and miss some aggressive cancers. Many men may then undergo unnecessary tests and treatments and risk long term health problems. It is still not clear whether other tests such as a magnetic resonance imaging scan, with or without the PSA, are accurate enough.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what criteria his Department uses to determine good faith security research, as outlined in his Department’s Vulnerability Disclosure Policy.

The Department has two Vulnerability Disclosure Policies (VDPs) - the NHS COVID-19 App VDP, specifically for the NHS Test and Trace App and its supporting infrastructure and the NHSX VDP supporting the COVID-19 'Test, Track and Trace' programme of work.

The intention behind the reference to 'in good faith' is to support a mechanism for cooperation with security researchers with the aim to identify and quickly remediate reported vulnerabilities. As such, the research/ vulnerability disclosure must be carried out in an honest and sincere way with the intention of improving security and without affecting the safety, security and continuity of any data or service in accordance with the disclosure policy and consistent with the law.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Answer of 19 December 2017 to Question 118932 on Abortion: Childbirth, whether there is a requirement for babies born in cases of live birth following attempted termination of pregnancy in the UK before 21 weeks and six days of gestation to be provided with (a) life-saving treatment and (b) palliative care; and whether his Department has issued guidance on that matter.

Data on how many infants have been born after a failed abortion is not held centrally.

As set out in the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ guideline on Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Abnormality, a fetus born alive after termination for a fetal abnormality is deemed to be a child and must be treated in his or her best interests and managed within published guidance for neonatal practice. A fetus born alive with abnormalities incompatible with long-term survival should be managed to maintain comfort and dignity during terminal care.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Answer of 19 December 2017 to Question 118932 on Abortion: Childbirth, what procedures medical professionals would follow in cases of live birth following attempted termination after 21 weeks and six days of gestation, in circumstances where the parents did not want the baby's life to be saved.

Data on how many infants have been born after a failed abortion is not held centrally.

As set out in the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ guideline on Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Abnormality, a fetus born alive after termination for a fetal abnormality is deemed to be a child and must be treated in his or her best interests and managed within published guidance for neonatal practice. A fetus born alive with abnormalities incompatible with long-term survival should be managed to maintain comfort and dignity during terminal care.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Answer of 19 December 2017 to Queston 118932 on abortion: childbirth, how many infants having been born alive after a failed abortion were (a) provided care and died and (b) provided care and lived in each year since 2006.

Data on how many infants have been born after a failed abortion is not held centrally.

As set out in the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ guideline on Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Abnormality, a fetus born alive after termination for a fetal abnormality is deemed to be a child and must be treated in his or her best interests and managed within published guidance for neonatal practice. A fetus born alive with abnormalities incompatible with long-term survival should be managed to maintain comfort and dignity during terminal care.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support children with autism and food aversions to improve their diet.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines entitled ‘Autism spectrum disorder in under 19s: support and management’ describes the support, treatment and help that health and care professional can provide to autistic children and young people. We advise commissioners to follow these guidelines. The guidelines do not currently advise on food aversion although guidelines are updated periodically.

The NHS Long Term Plan aims to tackle the causes of morbidity and preventable deaths in people with a learning disability and for autistic people. As part of this, NHS England will pilot the introduction of a specific health check for autistic people aimed at improving health outcomes.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve dental health among children.

National Health Service dental practices are continuing to provide face to face care. The Department is working closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Chief Dental Officer for England to increase levels of service, as fast as is safely possible, taking into account Public Health England’s guidance and continued infection risks. Over 600 urgent dental centres remain open to support the provision of urgent and emergency face to face care.

Public Health England’s Child Oral Health Improvement Programme Board and the Adult Oral Health Oversight Group have continued to meet and provide strategic oversight for oral health improvement during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to HSA4 Abortion Notification forms received since 1 January 2020, how many women who underwent abortions had previous pregnancies ending in (a) livebirths and stillbirths over 24 weeks, (b) spontaneous miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, and (c) abortion.

The information is not available in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 20 October 2020 to Question 96229 on Abortion: Disability, what annual assessment his Department makes of the named medical condition for abortions under Ground E of the statutory grounds for abortion provided in his Department's annual statistical release on abortion; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the category of disabilities that may be regarded as constituting a serious handicap for the purposes of Ground E is not unreasonably extended.

There is no official definition of seriously handicapped. In 1990, when the grounds for abortion were amended, Parliament decided that doctors were best placed to make these decisions with the woman and her family. It is for Parliament to decide the circumstances under which abortions should take place. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists issued guidance to doctors ‘Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Abnormality in England, Scotland and Wales’ in May 2010. The guidance is intended to assist doctors and other health professionals to support women and their families when a fetal abnormality is diagnosed and to help women to decide, within the constraints of the law, whether or not to have the pregnancy terminated. The guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/terminationpregnancyreport18may2010.pdf

There is clinical input to the coding of the named medical conditions for abortions under Ground E of the statutory grounds for abortion provided in the annual abortion statistical release.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many positive cases of covid-19 there have been in the UK where the person was not in the UK 72 hours before the test was conducted.

This information is not held in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the definition of seriously handicapped in Ground E of the Statutory Grounds for Abortion.

There is no official definition of seriously handicapped. In 1990, when the grounds for abortion were amended, Parliament agreed that doctors were best placed to make these decisions with the woman and her family. It is for Parliament to decide the circumstances under which abortions should take place.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential implications for his policies on suicide prevention of the ONS's estimates of suicide among higher education students, published in January 2018; and if he will make a statement.

As laid out in ‘Fourth progress report of the cross-government outcomes strategy to save lives’, the Department asked Public Health England (PHE) to lead a project to analyse and publish data on student suicides in England. PHE worked with the Office for National Statistics to link higher education data to suicide mortality data, for the period 2000/01 to 2016/17. The report ‘Estimating suicide among Higher Education students, England and Wales’ was published in June 2018.

In January 2019, we published the first Cross-Government Suicide Prevention Workplan, setting out an ambitious programme across national and local government and the National Health Service. It includes a commitment to analyse the suicide rates of people at university to explore any lessons to be learned and increase awareness of suicide risk and mental wellbeing in universities.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to review the effectiveness of the temporary approval of home use for both stages of early medical abortion.

The Department is carefully monitoring the impact of and compliance with the temporary approval of home administration of both sets of abortion medication during the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials have regular meetings with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Care Quality Commission and abortion service providers.

The Government has committed to undertake a public consultation on making permanent the COVID-19 measure allowing for home use of both pills for early medical abortion up to 10 weeks gestation for all eligible women. The current COVID-19 measure will be kept in place until the public consultation concludes and a decision has been made.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of allowing abortion after 24 weeks following the diagnosis of cleft lip, cleft palate, or clubfoot on how people with those conditions are treated in society.

No such assessment has been made by the Department. However, the Government wants all children to lead happy and healthy lives to reach their full potential and is committed to improving everyone’s health. The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help ensure that the societal contribution of people with cleft lip, cleft palate, or clubfoot are recognised.

No such assessment has been made by the Department. However, the Government wants all children to lead happy and healthy lives to reach their full potential and is committed to improving everyone’s health. The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the effect of lockdown on the wellbeing of people with autism; and what steps the Government plans to take to meet the needs of people with autism over the coming months during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises that social distancing and self-isolation are likely to increase the risk of loneliness and mental health issues for everyone, including for autistic people and their families and carers.

We have provided funding to and are working with a range of charities to boost their online and helpline capacity so that they are able to provide advice, support and signposting to services to a greater number of autistic people and their parents and family carers.

We have commissioned research to improve our understanding of the impacts of COVID-19 on autistic people and their families as a result of the pandemic and we are identifying any new actions that could be included in the refreshed autism strategy in response to the pandemic.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent discussions he has had with the devolved administrations on tackling obesity; and whether he plans to allocate additional funding to help tackle obesity in the devolved regions.

Officials in the Department have regular discussions with their counterparts in the devolved administrations on improving the health and wellbeing of the nation, including on reducing obesity. Discussions include domestic strategies and the delivery of United Kingdom-wide measures in our obesity strategy, such as front of pack nutrition labelling on food and drink.

There are no plans to change the current funding arrangements.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that covid-19 home antibody tests (a) are safe to use and (b) provide accurate results.

The Government is working to develop solutions for at-home testing (lateral flow tests) as well as lab-based testing (lab-based serology / immunoassay testing) to assess whether a person has had the virus which causes COVID-19. The desired ‘profile’ or characteristics of these tests including their intended use, target populations and safety and performance-related characteristics can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-tests-and-testing-kits-for-coronavirus-covid-19-work/target-product-profile-antibody-tests-to-help-determine-if-people-have-recent-infection-to-sars-cov-2-version-2

Since the end of May, lab-based antibody tests have been available to all National Health Service staff that want one using assays provided by several commercial providers. The results of Public Health England’s assessment of these assays can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-laboratory-evaluations-of-serological-assays

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help ensure that people born with a cleft lip, cleft palate, or clubfoot are valued equally in society.

The Government wants all children to lead happy and healthy lives to reach their full potential and is committed to improving everyone’s health. The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of establishing a dedicated helpline for the elderly in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Secretary of State and the Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann agreed to replace the Northern Ireland dedicated helpline with the well-known NHS 111 advice line to ensure that people in Northern Ireland have access to the same level of advice as citizens in England.

Our action plan published on 15 April 2020, www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-adult-social-care-action-plan supports care providers, the care workforce, unpaid carers, local authorities and the NHS for their ongoing hard work to maintain services and continue to provide high quality and safe social care to people throughout the pandemic

Where possible, the public (including older people, although we recognise internet usage is lower amongst this age group), are urged to seek guidance and advice on the COVID-19 outbreak via the government website www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, what additional mental health and well-being support is being made available for NHS employees.

Employers across the National Health Service are responsible for helping their staff maintain and improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing and the NHS’s ambition is to be a beacon of good practice, leading the way in how this can be achieved. The final NHS People Plan, places strong emphasis on ensuring an improved health and wellbeing offer for all NHS staff. NHS England also has an Employee Assistance Programme provider, offering a confidential health and wellbeing service to staff that offer the following services counselling – immediate access to 24-hour telephone counselling, legal information services, financial information services, medical support team and online health and wellbeing support.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the Government has put in place to (a) mark and (b) support world autism awareness week between 30 March and 5 April 2020.

The Government is committed to supporting autistic people to live healthy, independent lives and to participate in their local communities.

We are currently considering our plans to mark and support World Autism Awareness Week 2020.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress has been made on the development of a vaccine for covid-19.

The Government continues to work with The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, who provide expert medical scientific advice, as well as other medical professionals to actively review the situation as there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, for what reason flights are being allowed to continue between airports in northern Italy and the UK.

Flights are currently allowed to continue between the United Kingdom and Italy as there are many UK citizens in that area who may want to come home. Also, crucially, the evidence shows that banning flights from affected areas does very little to protect us.

Currently British Airways and Ryanair have made the decision to cancel all flights to and from Italy; these decisions were made by the companies themselves. The UK Government has not currently taken steps to restrict flights between the UK and Italy, but this remains under constant review.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all but essential travel to Italy, due to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 and in line with various controls and restrictions imposed by the Italian authorities on 9 March. The Foreign Office advice is available at the following link:

www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/italy

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what advice has been issued to health visitors and community nurses visiting (a) elderly patients and (b) people with underlying health conditions on reducing the risk of covid-19 transmission.

People returning from some areas of the world are being told to self-isolate depending on the location they have visited and their symptoms. People who have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 are also being advised by their local Health Protection Team to self-isolate. People who are self-isolating and have no symptoms do not pose a risk to others. They are self-isolating to allow closer monitoring in order to identify early symptoms, and to enable prompt medical action if required.

Social, community and residential care staff should ascertain if a person is in self-isolation and if they are asymptomatic or symptomatic prior to their visit. If they are self -isolating and a visit is deemed necessary, then a full risk assessment should be undertaken with managers and infection control specialist to decide the best course of action.

If during a telephone consultation with a patient or their representative to assess their suitability for a domiciliary visit, it is thought that COVID-19 is possible (based on the Public Health England criteria for a possible case), then a face-to-face assessment must be avoided. Instead, call NHS 111 and arrange for a clinical assessment to be made before proceeding.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to tackle antibiotic resistance.

In recognition of the global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the United Kingdom Government published its vision to contain and control AMR by 2040 in January 2019. The vision was supported by a five-year national action plan.

The national action plan takes a fully integrated and comprehensive One-Health approach to tackling AMR, with challenging five-year commitments across the spectrum of human and animal health, agriculture, the environment and food, both in the UK and internationally. It includes ambitions to reduce infections and our use of antimicrobials and to support further research to better help target interventions.

A UK cross-Government delivery board drives and oversees implementation of the national action plan. The NHS Long Term Plan includes the commitment to implement the human health aspects of the AMR national action plan.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will develop a national strategy for reducing health inequalities.

The Government is committed to levelling up the whole country. Every single person deserves to lead a long and healthy life, no matter who they are, where they live or their social circumstances.

The Prevention Green Paper reflected the need to reduce inequalities and to level up and we are considering how best this can be delivered.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many (a) doctors and (b) nurses have left the NHS in each of the last five years.

The information is not held in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the health risks posed by 5G roll out.

Public Health England (PHE) advises it is possible that there may be a small increase in overall exposure to radio waves when 5G is added to an existing network or in a new area. However, the overall exposure is expected to remain low relative to international exposure guidelines and, as such, there should be no consequences for public health.

Information about these guidelines and the evidence reviews supporting PHE’s position are provided at the following links:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/5g-technologies-radio-waves-and-health/5g-technologies-radio-waves-and-health

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mobile-phone-base-stations-radio-waves-and-health/mobile-phone-base-stations-radio-waves-and-health

PHE is committed to monitoring the evidence applicable to 5G and other radio technologies, and to revising its advice, should that be necessary.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in the devolved Administrations on coordinations of additional measures to respond to a potential covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has worked closely at Ministerial and official level with our partners in the devolved administrations since the beginning of the outbreak to formulate an effective response. Alongside this, Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, is working with his counterparts in the devolved administrations to ensure the response is effective across the whole United Kingdom.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits on introducing routine prostate cancer screening.

The United Kingdom National Screening Committee (UK NSC) has commenced work to review the evidence to offer population screening for prostate cancer as per its three-yearly cycle. A three-month public consultation will take place in summer 2020 where a recommendation will be made.

Further information and how to participate in the consultation will be available at the following link:

https://legacyscreening.phe.org.uk/screening-recommendations.php

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent discussions his Department has had with the devolved Administrations on the mandatory fortification of flour.

Departmental officials have been in regular discussions with their counterparts in each of the devolved administrations regarding the proposal to fortify flour with folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects in foetuses. The public consultation was a joint one with the devolved administrations who were equally involved in the formation of it. During the pre-election period in Westminster, preparation of the Government response was put on hold, but discussions are now continuing with the devolved administrations and further information will be announced in due course.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 29 January 2020 to Question 6150 on autism: diagnosis, how his Department monitors the autism diagnosis process in the absence of data relating to waiting times for diagnosis.

The Department recognises the importance of timely and effective diagnosis processes and that is why we have introduced the first ever collection and reporting of autism waiting times data.

On 14 November 2019, NHS Digital published statistics that present the number of new referrals to mental health services for which the referral reason was suspected autism, as well as their waiting times to first appointment. These are experimental statistics and have been published by NHS Digital to involve users and stakeholders in the future development of the data, including work to improve the quality of the data. The data is intended to give average time to diagnosis, but it will take some time before that information is ready for publication. The data is available at the following link:

https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/autism-statistics/autism-statistics

In addition, the NHS Long Term Plan has set out that over the next three years, autism diagnosis will be included alongside work with children and young people’s mental health services to test and implement the most effective ways to reduce waiting times for specialist services.

5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to amend regulations on the packaging of tobacco products.

The Government has a statutory obligation to conduct Post Implementation Reviews to assess the impact of tobacco regulations on both the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 by May 2021. The Department will also review the United Kingdom tobacco and e-cigarette regulatory framework so it continues to protect the nation’s health and support the prevention Green Paper ambition to make England smoke-free by 2030.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of women undertake a strep B test during pregnancy; and what plans his Department has to make that test compulsory for all pregnant women.

The test that is used currently to detect strep B during pregnancy is the Asymptomatic Bacteriuria test, which is generally used to detect more common bacterial infections such as E. Coli and Klebsiella. The data on the number of women who undertake an Asymptomatic Bacteriuria test to identify strep B specifically is not collected.

The UK National Screening Committees last reviewed the evidence to introduce screening for Group B Strep (GBS) at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy in 2017 and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that the benefits of screening would outweigh the harms.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has commissioned a clinical trial to compare universal screening for GBS against usual risk-based care. This £2.8 million trial (GBS3 trial) was launched in April 2019 and is due to report after four years. The UK NSC will review its recommendation in light of the evidence from the trial, after it reports in 2023.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the average waiting time is for an autism diagnosis.

We do not currently hold average waiting times for an autism diagnosis.

7th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of reports of the killing of at least 35 people by Myanmar’s military regime on Christmas Eve; and what steps she is taking with international partners in response to those reports.

The UK is deeply concerned by the increasing levels of violence across Myanmar. We are appalled by reports that the military killed at least 35 people, including four children and two staff of Save the Children, in Kayah State on 24 December. In response, the UK and international partners secured a United Nations Security Council press statement on 29 December condemning the killings and stressing the need to ensure accountability for this act, and calling for an immediate cessation of all violence and the protection of civilians. We continue to support the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar which investigates, collects, and preserves evidence of serious human rights violations for future prosecution.

The UK also remains committed to helping those most in need. Since the coup we have provided £18 million in humanitarian assistance in Myanmar. We will continue to provide humanitarian support to the most vulnerable and conflict-affected populations.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussion she has had with her Chinese counterpart on promoting freedom of religious expression and belief in China in response to the removal of a Bible and Quran from the Apple App Store in China.

We are aware of reports concerning the removal of Bible and Quran apps from the Apple App Store in China. We remain deeply concerned about restrictions on freedom of religion or belief in China, including the persecution of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners and others on the grounds of their religion or belief. The freedom to practise, change or share ones faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a human right that all people should enjoy. The Foreign Secretary personally raised our concerns about the human rights situation in China with her Chinese counterpart, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on 22 October.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government has taken to protect Sudanese Christians from persecution and harm since the military coup on 25 October 2021 in that country.

We strongly condemn the actions of the Sudanese military on 25 October, including the continued detention of Prime Minister Hamdok and members of the civilian government and the unilateral appointment of a new Sovereign Council on 11 November. Over the past two years, the UK has taken a leading role to support Sudan on their delicate path from oppressive autocratic rule to freedom and democracy. We welcome the progress made by the civilian-led government on the freedom of religion or belief since 2019, which included decriminalising apostasy declaring Christmas a national holiday and lifting public order laws that disproportionately affected Christian women. The acts of the military puts this progress at risk.

I condemned the military's actions in the strongest terms in the House of Commons on 25 October and called for Sudanese people of all faiths to be able to meet to protest and to pray without fear of violence. The Foreign Secretary then made a statement on 5 November with a clear call for the release of all those unlawfully detained and the restoration of the civilian-led transitional government. We also secured unanimous support for a resolution on the situation in Sudan at a Special Session at the UN Human Rights Council on 5 November, which made clear that Sudan's civilian-led government must be restored, detainees freed, and human rights respected. We continue to maintain public international pressure on the military to return to the democratic transition in order to deliver the freedom, peace and justice called for by the Sudanese people and ensure that the gains of the last two years are not lost.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what engagement he has had with his counterpart in the Government of Nigeria on tackling the (a) activity of Fulani militants and (b) attacks by those militants on non-Muslims in that country.

The UK Government condemns all incidents of intercommunal violence in Nigeria. The underlying drivers of intercommunal violence are complex, the perpetrators do not come from any one ethnic group, and the devastating effects are felt by communities of different faiths and ethnicities. It is inaccurate to attribute sole responsibility to one ethnic group, the Fulani, and terms like militia risk fuelling tensions between communities. We continue to encourage the Nigerian Government to take urgent action to protect all those at risk of violence, bring perpetrators to justice and address the root causes of the violence.

During my visit to Nigeria in April, I [Minister Duddridge] discussed insecurity with the Foreign Minister and the President's Chief of Staff, and raised the importance of protecting all communities. I [Minister Duddridge] met the Foreign Minister again in July, along with Nigeria's Minister of State Education, where we discussed the impact of insecurity on education. In addition, our High Commissioner and her team regularly visit states affected by violence to engage with state governments, civil society, faith and community leaders and affected communities.

9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to help ensure freedom of religious expression in China in response to reports of the sentencing in January 2021 of four Christians for selling audio bibles in that country.

We are aware of reports of the sentencing of four Christians in China for selling audio bibles. We remain deeply concerned about the persecution of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners and others on the grounds of their religion or belief in China. The freedom to practise, change or share ones faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a human right that all people should enjoy. The former Foreign Secretary personally raised our serious concerns about the human rights situation in China with his Chinese counterpart, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on a number of occasions, most recently on 27 May.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he plans to take to engage with the Indonesian Government in response to the reported killing of four Christian men in the village of Kalimago in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, who were beheaded by Islamic extremists on the morning of 11 May 2021.

The UK admires Indonesia's multi-faith, multi-ethnic democracy and supports the government's efforts to combat violent extremism, including the terrorist group that carried out these attacks in central Sulawesi. My thoughts are with the families of the victims. The Foreign Secretary signed a Memorandum of Understanding during his visit to Jakarta on 7 April to further strengthen our cooperation in countering regional and international terrorist threats.

Promoting Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB) is a core aspect of the British Embassy Jakarta's work. In February our Ambassador met the Minister of Religious Affairs to discuss our collaboration in support of Indonesia's strong tradition of religious diversity and tolerance.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what additional steps his Department is taking to protect freedom of religious belief in North Korea.

The UK continues to have strong concerns about the lack of freedom of religion or belief in North Korea. We continue to urge North Korea to uphold its human rights obligations and engage substantively with the international community on this issue. We regularly raise our concerns directly with the North Korean authorities and at the UN, including through the Human Rights Council and, most recently, in the Security Council in December 2020.

Defending the right to freedom of religion or belief for all is a priority for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. For example, the UK Government remains committed to implementing the recommendations from the Bishop of Truro's independent Review on persecuted Christians in full. One of those recommendations related to the establishment of the UK's Global Human Rights sanctions regime. This regime came into effect on 6 July 2020 and allows us to designate those who commit serious human rights abuses or violations, including those who target individuals on the grounds of their religion or belief. We take decisions about whether particular individuals or entities could be subject to measures under the regime on a case-by-case basis. We have already designated two entities involved in administering the North Korean penal system.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the introduction of the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance legislation in India on freedom of religious belief and religious conversion in that country.

The British High Commission in New Delhi maintain a continuous assessment of the human rights situation in India, and are monitoring developments regarding new inter-faith marriage laws in some Indian states, including the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance legislation in Uttar Pradesh. India has a proud history of religious tolerance and we trust the Government of India to address the concerns of any people that may be affected by this legislation. Where we have concerns, we will continue to raise them directly with the Government of India.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what support the Government is providing to the Nigerian Government to protect children attending school from abduction after the abduction of pupils from a secondary school in Katsina state in December 2020.

The UK Government was deeply concerned about the abduction of Nigerian schoolboys from their school in Kankara, Katsina State on 11 December. Abductions of Nigerian schoolchildren are abhorrent and must stop. We welcome the news that they were released on 17 December. Following the attack, I publicly stressed that schoolchildren need to be protected and that all children should be able to access education without fear.

The UK provides a comprehensive package of stabilisation, development and humanitarian assistance to support communities in Northern Nigeria. Through the Education in Emergencies programme, we help fund the education of children affected by conflict. This includes supporting schools and communities to create conflict risk reduction plans to help protect children in schools. Since 2018, we have supported over 200,000 children in the North East to receive an education. We continue to advocate for the protection of children and schools across Nigeria. For example, we encourage the Nigerian Government to follow the Safe Schools Declaration, which sets out international guidelines to protect students, teachers and their schools during armed conflict.

6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has has with his Turkish counterpart on freedom of religion among (a) Christian and (b) other minorities in that country..

The Turkish constitution provides for freedom of conscience and religion, regardless of an individual's citizenship. We regularly discuss these issues and will continue to engage the Turkish Government at all levels to urge respect for Freedom of Religion or Belief, which are essential to the long-term health of Turkish democracy. Defending persecuted Christians, and persecuted individuals of all faiths or beliefs, remains a long-standing priority for the British Government. We will continue to monitor this important issue.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to reports that an online Christian bookseller in China has been fined and given a seven-year prison sentence, what representations he is making to the Chinese Government on ensuring that (a) Christian books are available in China and (b) sellers of those books are not prosecuted.

We are aware of reports that a Christian bookseller has been arrested. The UK is deeply concerned about the persecution of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and other religious groups on the grounds of their religion or belief in China. The freedom to practise, change or share one's faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a human right that all people should enjoy. We regularly raise our concerns about freedom of religion or belief in China, including at the most recent session of the UN Human Rights Council on 25 September.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to reports that the Marie Stopes International franchise in Nairobi has been forced to close after police found that illegal abortions were being performed by staff who were not registered medical professionals, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the UK does not fund illegal and dangerous abortions in developing countries.

FCDO has robust monitoring and evaluation procedures to ensure UK taxpayers' money is achieving the results we expect, and that funds are spent in compliance with FCDO guidance and local law. FCDO funds cannot be used to fund any illegal activities and we treat allegations of any improper use of funds extremely seriously.

All of our reviews demonstrate confidence in the quality of MSI's services in developing countries. We have no plans to reduce approved funding to MSI.

The majority of our investment in reproductive health is in programmes that aim to increase access to quality voluntary family planning information, services and supplies, so women and girls can avoid unwanted pregnancy in the first place. Only in countries where abortion is permitted, do we support programmes that make safe abortion more accessible. FCDO programmes in Kenya have not been supporting the provision of safe abortion service delivery.

The UK is dedicated to supporting women to fully exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights in order to lead healthy, fulfilling and prosperous lives.

30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to reports that Marie Stopes International franchise in Nairobi has been forced to close after police found that illegal abortions were being performed by staff who were not registered medical professionals, if his Department will reduce the funding allocated to Marie Stopes International UK.

FCDO has robust monitoring and evaluation procedures to ensure UK taxpayers' money is achieving the results we expect, and that funds are spent in compliance with FCDO guidance and local law. FCDO funds cannot be used to fund any illegal activities and we treat allegations of any improper use of funds extremely seriously.

All of our reviews demonstrate confidence in the quality of MSI's services in developing countries. We have no plans to reduce approved funding to MSI.

The majority of our investment in reproductive health is in programmes that aim to increase access to quality voluntary family planning information, services and supplies, so women and girls can avoid unwanted pregnancy in the first place. Only in countries where abortion is permitted, do we support programmes that make safe abortion more accessible. FCDO programmes in Kenya have not been supporting the provision of safe abortion service delivery.

The UK is dedicated to supporting women to fully exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights in order to lead healthy, fulfilling and prosperous lives.

28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the practice of sex-selective abortion internationally.

The UK strongly opposes sex-selective abortion, a practice resulting from deep-rooted discrimination against women and girls. The UK supports partner governments' efforts to prevent this discrimination through our programmes and international leadership on gender equality. This includes, for example, ensuring clear policies and effective training are in place.

Ending sex-selective abortion also requires promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Through our Strategic Vision for Gender Equality, we are working to ensure every girl has access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, is protected from violence, receives 12 years of quality education and is supported to be economically and politically empowered.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to the Government of Pakistan on its blasphemy laws as a result of recent death sentences being passed against Christians in that country.

We regularly raise at a senior level our concerns regarding blasphemy laws with the authorities in Pakistan. We remain deeply concerned about reports of discrimination against the Christian community and other religious minorities in Pakistan. Our position on the death penalty is well known - we are firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances.

We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to guarantee the fundamental rights of all its citizens, in accordance with international standards. Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon last raised our human rights concerns, including Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities, with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, on 27 August. Lord Ahmad also discussed our concerns about the use of the death penalty with Dr Mazari on 15 July. The British High Commissioner to Pakistan raised our concerns about the use of the death penalty with the Ministry of Interior on 29 July.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help bring about a cessation of violence in southern Kaduna, Nigeria.

The Government condemns all incidents of intercommunal violence in Nigeria, including recently reported attacks in Kaduna State. Intercommunal violence continues to have a devastating effect on local communities. The causes of intercommunal violence are complex, and include disputes over natural resources, competition over land, and population growth.

We are working with Nigeria to respond to the drivers of conflict. We have provided technical support to the Nigerian Government for the development of the National Livestock Transformation Plan. The plan aims to promote cattle-rearing in one place, rather than the traditional nomadic practice, to limit competition over land and resources leading to violence. The plan is currently being implemented in eight Middle Belt states in Nigeria, including Kaduna. We are also funding Christian Aid and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development to support communities who have recently been displaced due to the violence in Kaduna State. "We are also developing a new conflict, security and justice programme, which aims to reduce levels of inter-communal violence through the development of more effective conflict-management systems."

The British High Commissioner and her team are increasing their engagement with state governments in areas affected by the violence, including through visits to Kaduna, Plateau and Benue states. The High Commission team have met with Governors; Christian and Muslim faith leaders; Fulani communities; NGOs active in reconciliation, and affected communities including displaced persons. I [the Minister for Africa] also discussed intercommunal violence with President Buhari's Chief of Staff in June. We will continue to encourage the Government of Nigeria to take urgent action to protect those at risk of intercommunal violence, to bring perpetrators to justice and to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of violence and meet the needs of all communities.

14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to his Answer of 28 January 2020 to Question 6147 on Kenya: al Shabaab, what progress is being made on the development of a counter-IED capability with a regional Centre of Excellence based in Nairobi.

As stated in PQ 6147 of 28 January, the UK and Kenya are close partners in the fight against global terrorism, and strengthening our counterterrorism cooperation is a priority under the UK-Kenya Strategic Partnership. To tackle the threat posed by Al Shabaab, the UK Government provides the Kenyan authorities with a range of support to develop their counter terrorism capabilities. This includes partnering in the development of counter-IED capability with a regional Centre of Excellence based in Nairobi that benefits the whole region. The Centre's main objective is to strengthen the counter-IED capability of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Since 2016, and with £13 million of Conflict Security and Stability Fund (CSSF) funding to date, the UK and Kenya have together delivered training at the Centre to more than 1,700 military and police personnel from 22 Troop Contributing Countries. The programme in Kenya transitioned to 100% African-led instruction this year, and achieved a major milestone in January with the IED Search course led by Kenya Defence Force instructors for the first time. Counter-IED training was paused from March to July due to COVID-19, but has since resumed.

21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Indian counterpart on anti-conversion laws in India in relation to converting people from Hindu to Christianity.

We engage India on the full range of human rights matters. We work with Union and State Governments, as well as NGOs, to build capacity and share expertise to promote human rights for all. Where we have concerns we raise them directly with the Government of India. Most recently, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon discussed the situation for India's minorities with the Acting Indian High Commissioner on 22 May, and has previously raised our concerns about the impact of recent legislative and judicial measures on minorities with Indian Government Ministers.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what diplomatic steps the Government is taking to help protect Christians in Nigeria following the death of nine Christians in an attack by Fulani Militants in March 2020.

The UK Government condemns all incidents of intercommunal violence in Nigeria; these incidents have had devastating effects on communities of all faiths, including Christians. We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities at the highest levels the importance of protecting civilians, including ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights for all.

In February, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Wilton Park co-hosted a conference on 'Fostering Social Cohesion in Nigeria', exploring the complex causes of conflict and possible solutions to help ease tensions and reduce violence. A report has issued with recommendations, link here: https://tinyurl.com/y38l9xrc.

In June, I discussed intercommunal violence in Nigeria with President Buhari's Chief of Staff. The British High Commissioner and her team are increasing their diplomatic engagement with states affected by intercommunal violence and met with NGOs working on reconciliation to discuss the situation and the efforts they are taking to address it.

The UK Government will continue to work with Nigeria to address the drivers of intercommunal violence in many states and find solutions that meet the needs of all communities.

21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he plans to take to help protect Hong Kong's Christian community from the effects of the new National Security Law.

We will continue to work with our international partners to stand up for the people of Hong Kong, whatever their religion or belief, to call out the violation of their rights and freedoms, and to hold China to their international obligations freely assumed under international law.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to enable NGOs to improve the (a) identification, (b) recording and (c) monitoring of hidden incidents of persecution against women from minority religious communities.

We remain deeply concerned at the scale of Freedom of Religion of Belief (FoRB) violations in many parts of the world. We recognise that people's religion and gender can increase their vulnerabilities, particularly those from minority groups.

The Department for International Development's programme on FoRB is supporting NGOs to work with minority religious communities. The programme will build the capacity of international development actors to mainstream FoRB into their programmes and develop ways to give voice to religiously marginalised groups. In addition to this, the programme will investigate existing evidence gathering tools on FoRB. The lessons will be openly shared through both reports and guidance.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to support overseas security forces in improving their protection of women from religious minority communities in societies where the persecution of those women is prevalent.

We remain deeply concerned at the severity and scale of violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in many parts of the world. We recognise that people's religion and gender can increase their vulnerabilities, particularly those from minority groups.

The government is committed to improving the protection of women in volatile situations. In the context of UN Peacekeeping, the UK provides British Peace Support Team training (for Troop Contributing Counties), which includes training on prevention of sexual and gender based violence. The training also includes gender awareness and training.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will take steps to (a) strengthen existing and (b) develop new training programmes to help women from religious minority communities understand their rights in countries that do not recognise and uphold those rights.

We remain deeply concerned at the scale of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) violations in many parts of the world. We recognise that people's religion and gender can increase their vulnerabilities, particularly those from minority groups.

The Department for International Development's programme on FoRB is supporting NGOs to work with minority religious communities. The programme will build the capacity of international development actors to mainstream FoRB into their programmes and develop ways to give voice to religiously marginalised groups. In addition to this, the programme will investigate existing evidence gathering tools on FoRB. The lessons will be openly shared through both reports and guidance.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on the security situation in that country after the rocket attacks on southern Israel from Gaza on 23 February 2020.

I discussed the recent escalation in Gaza with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 26 February. Indiscriminate attacks against civilians are unacceptable and unjustifiable. The perpetual cycle of violence does not serve anyone's interests, and must end. The UK fully supports Israel's right to self-defence and to defend its citizens from such acts of terror. In doing so, it is vital that all actions are proportionate, in line with International Humanitarian Law, and are calibrated to avoid civilian casualties. We call upon Hamas and other terrorist groups to permanently end their incitement and rocket fire against Israel and urge all parties to adhere to the ceasefire arrangement.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to tackle rising levels of al-Shabaab violence in North East Kenya.

​The UK and Kenya are close partners in the fight against global terrorism. To tackle the threat posed by Al Shabaab, the British Government provides the Kenyan authorities with a range of support. The British military is working with the Kenyan security forces to develop their counter terrorism capabilities. This includes partnering in the development of a counter-IED capability with a regional Centre of Excellence based in Nairobi. The UK is also engaging with regional partners to address the threat posed by Al Shabaab beyond North-East Kenya, including by providing pre-deployment training to troops deploying to the African Union Mission in Somalia. These efforts are complemented by UK-funded programmes addressing the root causes of radicalisation and violent extremism along Kenya's coast and the counties bordering Somalia.

We recognise Kenya's sacrifices leading the fight against Al Shabaab. Further strengthening our counterterrorism cooperation is a priority under the UK-Kenya Strategic Partnership agreed on by the Prime Minister and President Kenyatta in their meeting on 21 January.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Jan 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the total cost has been of the Trader Support Service to date.

The total spend on the Trader Support Service since its commencement to December 2021 is £213 million.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Jan 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many cyber attacks against Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs have been recorded in each of the last three years.

The Government can neither confirm nor deny whether HMRC has been the target of any cyber-attacks.

HMRC is responsible for the collection of around £700 billion in tax annually and undertakes a range of actions to monitor and maintain the security of their systems and services from cyber-attacks. To disclose the number is likely to attract additional questions which may include specific threats or incidents identified and dealt with, aiding criminals to determine weaknesses in HMRC’s defences or the methods used to identify and respond to such threats.

To provide the information requested would reveal the extent to which HMRC had been subject to such attacks, revealing where cyber intrusion had been successful.

The National Cyber Security Centre advice continues to be that Government departments should withhold detailed and specific information which may provide insight into the likelihood of success of specific techniques. In some cases, the successful application of such insight may still pose a security risk with the potential to prejudice the prevention of crime and/or national security. A successful attack could lead to the loss of confidentiality, integrity, and availability of Government information.

HMRC publish details about security breaches reported to the Information Commissioner in their annual reports: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmrcs-annual-report-and-accounts

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether financial assistance will be provided to marinas in Northern Ireland to adapt their fuel sale facilities, in the context of HMRC imposing a ban on red diesel for propulsion of leisure craft from 1 October 2021 as a result of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Budget 2021 announced that private pleasure craft users in Northern Ireland will no longer be allowed to use red diesel to propel their craft and that the Government will introduce a new relief scheme on non-propulsion fuel in Northern Ireland. These changes will take effect from 1 October 2021. The average private pleasure craft user in Northern Ireland will pay the same rate of duty on their diesel use as they do now.

More information on these changes, including on the expected impacts, is set out in the tax information and impact note published on 1 July 2021, which can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fuel-duty-changes-for-diesel-used-in-private-pleasure-craft/fuel-duty-changes-for-diesel-used-in-private-pleasure-craft.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what impact assessment he has undertaken on changes to pleasure craft fuel rules banning red diesel use in Northern Ireland, as a result of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Budget 2021 announced that private pleasure craft users in Northern Ireland will no longer be allowed to use red diesel to propel their craft and that the Government will introduce a new relief scheme on non-propulsion fuel in Northern Ireland. These changes will take effect from 1 October 2021. The average private pleasure craft user in Northern Ireland will pay the same rate of duty on their diesel use as they do now.

More information on these changes, including on the expected impacts, is set out in the tax information and impact note published on 1 July 2021, which can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fuel-duty-changes-for-diesel-used-in-private-pleasure-craft/fuel-duty-changes-for-diesel-used-in-private-pleasure-craft.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, (a) how many businesses have signed up to the Trader Support Service and (b) and what the cost to the public purse has been of operating that service since that service was launched.

The Trader Support Service (TSS) currently has 41,446 Traders registered to use the service. The total spend on the Trader Support Service, since the service was launched to August 2021, is £164 million (including VAT).

6th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much revenue was raised as a result of VAT on school uniforms in each of the last five years.

HMRC do not hold information on VAT revenue from specific products or services because businesses are not required to provide figures at a product level on their VAT returns, as this would impose an excessive administrative burden.
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment has been made of the potential merits of the removal of VAT on school uniforms to assist disadvantaged families.

Under the current VAT rules, all children’s clothing and footwear designed for young people less than 14 years of age, including school uniforms, attract a zero-rate of VAT, meaning that no VAT is charged on the sale of these items.

Extending these reliefs would impose additional pressure on the public finances, to which VAT makes a significant contribution. VAT raised around £130 billion in 2019/20, and helps to fund key spending priorities. Any reduction in tax paid is a reduction in the money available to support important public services, including the NHS and policing.

There are no current plans to change the VAT treatment of children’s clothing and school uniforms. However, the Government keeps all taxes under review.

6th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on employment levels in the travel and aviation sectors.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was designed as a temporary, economy-wide measure to support businesses while widespread restrictions were in place. Closing the scheme at the end of September is designed to strike  the right balance between supporting the economy as it opens up, continuing to provide support and protect incomes, and ensuring that incentives are in place to get people back to work as demand returns.  This approach has worked; the OBR have estimated that without the short-term fiscal easing announced in the Budget, and in particular the CJRS extension, unemployment would have been about 300,000 higher in the fourth quarter of this year than the 2.2 million in the central forecast.

The Government recognises the particular challenges that the travel industry has faced as a result of COVID-19. In England travel agents have recently benefited from Restart Grants worth up to £6,000, and can continue to benefit from the £2 billion of discretionary grant funding that has been made available to local authorities in England through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). Furthermore, the aviation and aerospace sectors are being supported with over £12 billion that has been made available through loan guarantees, support for exporters, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) and grants for research and development. In addition, airports continue to benefit from the renewed Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme announced at Budget.

The Global Travel Taskforce (GTT) report sets out a clear framework for the Government’s objective of establishing a safe and sustainable return to international travel, which is key to enabling the sector’s recovery. It has been created following extensive engagement with the international travel and tourism industries, and changes following the recent checkpoint review of the GTT are a vital step in enabling the recovery of travel operators and those whose jobs rely on the travel industry.

The Government has shown throughout the pandemic that it is prepared to adapt support if the path of the virus changes. It continues to engage closely with sectors across the economy, including the travel industry, in order to understand their recovery horizons as the vaccine is rolled out and restrictions ease.

6th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with the travel and aviation industry to explore the potential merits of extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for those sectors.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was designed as a temporary, economy-wide measure to support businesses while widespread restrictions were in place. Closing the scheme at the end of September is designed to strike  the right balance between supporting the economy as it opens up, continuing to provide support and protect incomes, and ensuring that incentives are in place to get people back to work as demand returns.  This approach has worked; the OBR have estimated that without the short-term fiscal easing announced in the Budget, and in particular the CJRS extension, unemployment would have been about 300,000 higher in the fourth quarter of this year than the 2.2 million in the central forecast.

The Government recognises the particular challenges that the travel industry has faced as a result of COVID-19. In England travel agents have recently benefited from Restart Grants worth up to £6,000, and can continue to benefit from the £2 billion of discretionary grant funding that has been made available to local authorities in England through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). Furthermore, the aviation and aerospace sectors are being supported with over £12 billion that has been made available through loan guarantees, support for exporters, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) and grants for research and development. In addition, airports continue to benefit from the renewed Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme announced at Budget.

The Global Travel Taskforce (GTT) report sets out a clear framework for the Government’s objective of establishing a safe and sustainable return to international travel, which is key to enabling the sector’s recovery. It has been created following extensive engagement with the international travel and tourism industries, and changes following the recent checkpoint review of the GTT are a vital step in enabling the recovery of travel operators and those whose jobs rely on the travel industry.

The Government has shown throughout the pandemic that it is prepared to adapt support if the path of the virus changes. It continues to engage closely with sectors across the economy, including the travel industry, in order to understand their recovery horizons as the vaccine is rolled out and restrictions ease.

13th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many companies have signed up to the Trader Support Service in each of the last twelve months.

The Trader Support Service has been open to registrations since November 2020. Since then over 38,400 businesses have registered in total.

The registrations by month are as follows:

November 2020 – 16,809

December 2020 – 8,180

January 2021 – 7,011

February 2021 – 2,789

March 2021 – 2,094

April 2021 – 1,063

May 2021 – 503 (to date)

13th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent progress has been made on the pilot no-interest loan scheme; and whether that scheme will operate in Northern Ireland.

At Budget 2021, the Government announced up to £3.8 million of funding to support a pilot No-Interest Loans Scheme. The Government has been working closely with stakeholders, including with Devolved Administrations, to facilitate the pilot. An independent organisation will deliver the pilot. Further details, including the territorial extent of the pilot, will be announced in due course.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will consider introducing a personal loan scheme similar to the Bounce Back Scheme to provide people in debt with a low interest route to financial wellbeing in the context of increasing household debt levels as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

While the total amount of outstanding lending to individuals has increased by 0.9% since February 2020. The growth rate was below pre-pandemic levels and has mostly been driven by an increase in lending for house purchases. Since February 2020, the amount of outstanding consumer credit has fallen by 13.2%.

To support households that have been affected by Covid-19, we have put in place unprecedented support – including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and a package of welfare measures on which we spent an additional £7.4 billion in the 2020-21 financial year.

We have also taken specific action to support those in debt or in need of affordable credit as a result of Covid-19. For those facing temporary payment difficulties as a result of the pandemic, we worked with the FCA to introduce mortgage and consumer credit payment holidays. The Government has also agreed to maintain record levels of debt advice funding for the Money and Pension Service in 2021-22. To support access to affordable credit, since 2019, the Government has allocated £96 million of dormant assets funding to Fair4All Finance. Fair4All Finance was founded to improve the financial wellbeing of those who are financially vulnerable through fair and affordable financial products and services.

With respect to setting up a loan scheme, at Budget, HM Treasury announced it would provide up to £3.8 million of funding to deliver a pilot No-Interest Loans Scheme. The scheme will support vulnerable consumers who would benefit from affordable rather than high-cost credit to meet unexpected costs.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on what date the fourth self-employed income support grant is planned to open for applications.

I refer the Honourable Member to the answer given on 23 March 2021 to UIN 171650.

11th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many requests his Department has received from the Finance Minister in Northern Ireland to meet to discuss the funding of a pension for victims of the troubles in Northern Ireland in the last 12 months.

I am responding to this PQ as the Minister responsible for leading the Treasury’s interests in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

I regularly engage with my counterpart in the Northern Ireland Executive on a wide range of issues as part of the ongoing collaboration between our Governments.

I am aware of the issues surrounding the Victims Payment Scheme. It is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Executive to provide funding for victims of the Troubles and they are funded to do so. The UK Government will continue to engage with the Executive on its delivery of schemes designed to support victims of the Troubles.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many people in Northern Ireland accessed support through the Self Employment Income Support Scheme in 2020; and what the total amount of that support was.

By 31 July 2020, 78,000 individuals from Northern Ireland had claimed the first SEISS grant and the total claim amount was £223,000,000.

By 31 October 2020, 70,000 individuals from Northern Ireland had claimed the second SEISS grant and the total claim amount was £175,000,000.

By 31 October 2020, 81,000 individuals from Northern Ireland had claimed either the first or second SEISS grant or both and the total claim amount was £398,000,000.

These figures were taken from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme statistics published on 21 August and 25 November respectively.

30th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what progress has been made on the implementation of the Levelling Up Fund; and whether that fund will be administered by the (a) Northern Ireland Executive, (b) UK Government or (c) local authorities in Northern Ireland.

As set out at the Spending Review, the new Levelling Up Fund will be worth £4 billion for England, and will attract up to £0.8 billion for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the usual way. It will invest in local infrastructure that has a visible impact on people and their communities and will support economic recovery. More broadly, the Government is committed to levelling up all parts of the UK, with the Spending Review setting out both new UK-wide interventions and an additional £900 million Barnett funding for the Northern Ireland Executive.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much and what proportion of funds paid through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme have been voluntarily paid back to his Department by companies that were entitled to the payment; how many companies in Northern Ireland have made such payments; and what the amount was of each such payment.

As of 3 November 2020, Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) grants to the value of £382 million have been recorded as returned. This figure consists of £198 million in payments being repaid and £184 million in adjustments to existing claims.

HMRC do not hold information by the geographic breakdown requested.

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction in VAT for the hospitality industry to 5 per cent on the viability of that sector.

The temporary reduced rate of VAT (five per cent) was introduced in order to support the cash flow and viability of over 150,000 businesses and protect 2.4 million jobs in the hospitality and tourism sectors. This relief comes at an estimated cost of £2.54 billion and is therefore expected to have benefited the sector by reducing its VAT liabilities by this amount.

6th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the stamp duty holiday on the housing market in Northern Ireland, and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending that stamp duty holiday beyond March 2021.

SDLT transactions in Northern Ireland have reached similar levels to this time last year and, in August, average house prices had risen over the year by 3%.

The temporary increase in the Stamp Duty Land Tax nil rate band was designed to create immediate momentum within the property market, where property transactions fell by as much as 50 per cent during the first COVID-19 lockdown. The downturn in the market meant that the future was uncertain for many people whose jobs relied on custom from the property industry. There are already early signs that demand and transactions have increased, and are continuing to rise, since the increase to the SDLT nil rate band was announced in July.

As the relief was designed to provide an immediate stimulus to the property market, the Government does not plan to extend this relief and will continue to monitor the property market.

5th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the potential loss of revenue to the Exchequer from income tax as a result of job losses in the 2020-21 financial year.

An estimation of income tax receipts in 2020-21 would be a forecast as the financial year has not yet concluded. The Treasury does not publish forecasts for the economy or the public finances. Forecasts of future receipts, including income tax receipts, are produced by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) on a regular basis as part of their Economic and fiscal outlook series (EFO). The Chancellor will deliver an updated OBR forecast on 25 November alongside the 2020 Spending Review.

In March, the Government announced the unprecedented Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), designed to help firms to keep millions of people in employment. The CJRS has helped 1.2 million employers across the UK to furlough 9.6 million jobs (as at midnight 18 October 2020), protecting people's livelihoods. The Chancellor has recently extended the CJRS until the end of March 2021, beyond the national lockdown restrictions.

5th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions the Government has had with credit rating agencies on the effect on people's credit ratings of mortgage holidays or missed payments as a result of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on household incomes.

On 20 March, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published guidance on what it expects mortgage lenders to do for consumers facing financial difficulties as a result of COVID-19.

As part of this guidance, the FCA set out that the consumer’s credit score should remain unaffected by taking out a payment holiday. This has been achieved through the masking of the arrears status on the borrower’s credit file.

Where a borrower who has not taken a payment holiday misses a payment, this will be recorded on their credit file in the usual manner. Information held by credit reference agencies (CRAs) is purely factual, and it is for individual lenders to decide how they use that data as part of their lending decisions.

It is important to note that the scores that individual CRAs provide are proprietary and may have a limited bearing on how lenders assess the data on a customer’s overall credit file. Whilst some lenders use a CRA score, others will use the entirety of information contained on a credit file and compare this with their own individual lending criteria. Lenders may also use information beyond the borrower’s credit file when deciding whether to accept a credit application. This could include asking the borrower questions directly about their finances, as well as assessing income, expenditure and future ability to make repayments, any of which may have been affected by COVID-19.

HM Treasury and the FCA have been working closely with lenders and the CRAs on this matter throughout the crisis and will continue to do so to ensure the best outcome for consumers.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the March 2020 Budget, when the Government plans to bring forward legislative proposals to protect access to cash.

The Government recognises that cash remains important to millions of people across the UK, which is why it has committed to legislate to protect access to cash and to ensure that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the long term. The Government is working at pace, engaging with industry and the regulators – the Financial Conduct Authority, Payment Systems Regulator, and Bank of England – whilst designing legislation.

To inform the development of this legislation, the Government published a Call for Evidence on 15 October seeking views on the key considerations associated with cash access, including deposit and withdrawal facilities, cash acceptance, and regulatory oversight of the cash system.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure the (a) viability and (b) accessibility of cash ATMs in rural areas following the reduction in their usage as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government continues to engage closely with the financial services regulators to monitor developments relating to COVID-19, including through the Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group, which is chaired by the Treasury and aims to ensure comprehensive oversight of the overall cash infrastructure across the UK.

LINK, the scheme that runs the UK’s largest ATM network, has existing arrangements in place to protect free-to-use ATMs that do not have another free-to-use ATM or Post Office within 1 kilometre. LINK’s members have also made £5 million available to fund ATMs at the request of communities with poor access to cash.

Furthermore, banks, building societies, credit unions and Post Offices are working with the Treasury and the financial regulators to maintain access to their services, including access to cash, while balancing the needs of their customers with the safety and welfare of staff. The vast majority of branches are open, though many are open for reduced hours. The Financial Conduct Authority has issued guidance to regulated firms, including on a provision to allow a trusted third party to make payments on behalf of vulnerable customers who may be self-isolating.

The Government recognises that widespread access to cash remains extremely important to millions of people across the UK. That is why, at the March 2020 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the Government will bring forward legislation to protect access to cash. This will ensure continued access to cash for those who rely on it and that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the longer term.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many companies have been investigated for (a) employees continuing to work while placed on furlough and (b) other instances of misuse of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

HMRC were not legally allowed to carry out investigations into suspected CJRS fraud until the Finance Bill was granted Royal Assent. Before then, HMRC carried out more than 5,000 targeted calls to high-risk cases, in order to reduce the chance of further error and make clear that HMRC would be investigating excessive claims.

The Finance Act was granted Royal Assent on 22 July. The Finance Act gives employers a 90-day window to correct claims. HMRC are writing to every employer where HMRC have clear evidence that they may have overclaimed from the data HMRC hold. By the end of November, HMRC will have written to about 27,000 people prompting them to use the opportunity to self-correct. Starting this month, HMRC will also conduct up to 10,000 one-to-one interventions. This will include cases where HMRC have received information through their fraud hotlines. HMRC’s priorities are to support those correcting a genuine error, while taking action against those who have deliberately sought to abuse the scheme

4th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many reports have been made of fraudulent abuse of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme through HMRC’s online reporting form.

To date, HMRC have received about 8,000 reports via their online and telephone fraud reporting services.

22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much additional funding has been allocated to Northern Ireland through Barnett consequentials as a result of the Government response to the covid-19 outbreak.

On 24 July we made an unprecedented upfront guarantee to the devolved administrations. We guaranteed that they will receive at least £12.7bn in additional funding for this year, £2.2bn of which is for the Northern Ireland Executive.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what additional steps he is taking to reduce the tax gap in the next three years.

The Government is clear that everyone must pay their fair share of tax. Since 2010, the Government has introduced over 100 new measures to tackle tax avoidance, evasion and other forms of non-compliance, and has secured and protected over £220 billion in tax revenues that would have otherwise gone unpaid.?These efforts have helped to reduce the tax gap to a record low of 4.7% for the year 2018-19.

At Spring Budget 2020, the Government announced a further 24 measures to tackle tax non-compliance, forecast to raise £4.7 billion over the next five years. The Government remains committed to reducing the tax gap and will bring forward further measures in the autumn.

15th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many bounce back loans have been approved by (a) Ulster Bank, (b) Danske Bank, (c) Bank of Ireland and (d) AIB since the start of the Bounce Bank Loan Scheme.

The Bounce Back Loans Scheme (BBLS), launched on 4 May, helps the smallest businesses access loans of up to £50,000 within days.

HM Treasury carefully monitors the progress of the scheme, including by collecting data on applications and loans directly from accredited lenders. However, this data is commercially sensitive and provided in confidence by each lender, so cannot be disclosed publicly.

Since its launch, the scheme has seen over 464,000 loans worth a total value of over £14bn approved. HM Treasury is now regularly publishing the total number and value of loans approved under the scheme.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of making substitute teachers eligible to benefit from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Employees on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible and zero-hour contracts are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme providing they were employed on 19 March 2020 and were on their employer’s PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. Fixed term employees can also be claimed for, and if their contract has not already expired it can be extended or renewed.

The scheme is designed to protect jobs and support as many people as possible quickly while mitigating the risk of fraud.

The Government is supporting people on low incomes who may need to rely on the welfare system through a significant package of temporary measures. This includes a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, and a nearly £1bn increase in support for renters through increases to the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants. These changes will benefit all new and existing claimants.

29th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of amending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to permit 80 per cent support to people who are not on any payroll at the dates of eligibility due to a change of employment.

Furloughed employees must have been on their employer’s PAYE payroll and HMRC must have received an RTI (Real Time Information) submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before 19 March 2020. The use of RTI allows HMRC to verify claims in the most efficient and timely way, ensuring payments can be made quickly while reducing the risk of fraud. Without the use of RTI returns it would be difficult to verify claims without significant additional checks, which would delay payment for genuine claims. It is possible for individuals who were on their employer’s PAYE payroll on or before 28 February 2020, but not 19 March 2020, to be rehired and furloughed. Further guidance on this can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

The Government is also supporting people on low incomes who need to rely on the welfare system, through a significant package of temporary measures. This includes a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, and a nearly £1bn increase in support for renters through increases to the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants. These changes will benefit all new and existing claimants. Anyone can check their eligibility and apply for Universal Credit by visiting https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit.

29th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions he has had with the Minister of Finance in Northern Ireland on the length of business rates relief offered in Northern Ireland.

Business rates policy is devolved and the Northern Ireland Executive is receiving Barnett consequentials on business rate reliefs provided in England as part of the response to COVID-19.

HM Treasury ministers and officials are in regular contact with their counterparts in the devolved administrations as part of the response to COVID-19, including most recently a meeting between the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Finance Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on 30 April.

29th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with credit card providers on waiving penalties for late payment for people self-isolating on medical grounds.

Regulatory responsibility for the consumer credit market, including credit cards, was transferred to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in 2014.

On 14 April, the FCA published guidance that sets out its expectation that firms provide, for a temporary period, exceptional and immediate support to customers facing payment difficulties due to circumstances arising from COVID-19. This includes granting the customer a payment deferral for 3 months.

Where a customer was in pre-existing financial difficulty, the FCA’s guidance makes clear that its existing forbearance rules would continue to apply. These would include, for example, the firm considering suspending, reducing, waiving, or cancelling any further interest or charges, deferring payment of arrears, or accepting token payments for a reasonable period of time.

The Government is committed to doing whatever it takes to get our nation through the impacts of COVID-19 and will continue to work closely with the FCA and industry on these matters.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions he has had with credit rating agencies on the potential effect mortgage holidays on credit scores.

With regards to personal credit ratings, payment holidays can be a feature of lending products or can be offered by lenders in exceptional circumstances outside of the customer’s control. This covers a multitude of potential scenarios, illness being one of them. Where payment holidays as a result of COVID-19 are agreed with a lender, we would expect lenders to ensure that taking a payment holiday should not impact credit scores. Ministers and officials are working closely with industry to protect consumers from harm during these unprecedented times.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the mortgage lending sector on tackling the situation affecting mortgage prisoners in Northern Ireland.

Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with many organisations in the public and private sectors on a variety of issues, including mortgage prisoners.

A mortgage prisoner is defined by the FCA as an existing customer that may be experiencing harm because they are unable to switch to a better deal. The Government is aware that these borrowers have been in a difficult and stressful situation. That is why we have worked closely with the FCA to implement their rule change to remove the regulatory barrier that has prevented some customers from switching.

Lenders are currently making the necessary adjustments and system changes to enable them to use the modified affordability assessment for borrowers looking to re-mortgage. We expect lenders to start offering these borrowers products using the new rules in Q2 2020.

I have written to Stephen Jones, Chief Executive Officer of UK Finance to outline my expectation that as many of its members as possible should move quickly to offer new deals to borrowers that are eligible to switch under the new FCA rules.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the loss in revenue as a result of fuel laundering activities in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) estimate the difference between expected revenues and the tax that is actually paid in the annual publication, Measuring Tax Gaps: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/measuring-tax-gaps. These estimates cannot be disaggregated by type of fraud, for example laundering.

HMRC have estimated the oils (fuel duty) tax gap (including VAT) in Northern Ireland as follows:

  • £40 million in 2017-18
  • £40 million in 2016-17
  • £50 million in 2015-16
  • £50 million in 2014-15
  • £50 million in 2013-14

The estimates for 2015-16 and earlier years were calculated using a different methodology and therefore cannot be compared to the estimates for subsequent years.

5th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many people have registered for the tax free childcare scheme in each constituent part of the UK since its inception.

Statistics relating to Tax-Free Childcare account usage are published quarterly in “Tax-Free Childcare Statistics” on the gov.uk website. The latest publication, containing information up to September 2019 is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tax-free-childcare-quarterly-statistics

Table 5 of the publication shows the number of families, by Government Office Region, that have a Tax-Free Childcare account. The table below shows the number of accounts that are open, regardless of whether or not they have been used.

Region

Year

2017-18

2018-19

Families with Open Tax-Free Childcare accounts

United Kingdom

272,320

449,355

England

263,255

426,130

North East

11,355

18,200

North West

37,310

59,495

Yorkshire and Humber

25,395

40,750

East Midlands

23,580

38,215

West Midlands

26,615

43,220

East of England

30,045

50,140

London

33,800

54,550

South East

45,535

74,660

South West

29,625

46,900

Wales

2,285

6,745

Scotland

3,400

9,700

Northern Ireland

1,340

3,240

In September 2019 15% of families with an open Tax-Free Childcare account had at least one self-employed parent.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what proportion of people registered for the tax-free childcare scheme are self-employed.

Statistics relating to Tax-Free Childcare account usage are published quarterly in “Tax-Free Childcare Statistics” on the gov.uk website. The latest publication, containing information up to September 2019 is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tax-free-childcare-quarterly-statistics

Table 5 of the publication shows the number of families, by Government Office Region, that have a Tax-Free Childcare account. The table below shows the number of accounts that are open, regardless of whether or not they have been used.

Region

Year

2017-18

2018-19

Families with Open Tax-Free Childcare accounts

United Kingdom

272,320

449,355

England

263,255

426,130

North East

11,355

18,200

North West

37,310

59,495

Yorkshire and Humber

25,395

40,750

East Midlands

23,580

38,215

West Midlands

26,615

43,220

East of England

30,045

50,140

London

33,800

54,550

South East

45,535

74,660

South West

29,625

46,900

Wales

2,285

6,745

Scotland

3,400

9,700

Northern Ireland

1,340

3,240

In September 2019 15% of families with an open Tax-Free Childcare account had at least one self-employed parent.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much funding the Government has allocated under the tax-free childcare scheme in Northern Ireland since its creation.

Tax-Free Childcare is accessible UK-wide. It provides the same level of support to parents - 20% of childcare costs up to a cap of £2000 per child per year - regardless of the region in which they live. Therefore, the spending in Northern Ireland is not pre-allocated and will depend on the uptake of the service in Northern Ireland.

Rishi Sunak
Chancellor of the Exchequer
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of Air Passenger Duty on route development at airports in Northern Ireland.

The government established a technical working group to explore the operational and legal challenges to changing APD in Northern Ireland.

Members include representatives from industry, experts, and civil servants from both the UK government and Northern Ireland.

Additionally, HM Treasury is currently reviewing Air Passenger Duty to ensure regional connectivity is strengthened while meeting the UK’s commitment to meet net zero emissions by 2050.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many applications have been received by the places of worship protective security funding scheme, by region of the UK in each of the last three years.

The Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme is available in England and Wales. Data on the Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme is collated by geographic region.

Applications to the 2021/2022 round closed on 16th July. Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application in due course.

Over the last three years, which includes the 2018/2019, 2019/2020, and 2020/2021 rounds, we have received 707 eligible applications in total.

In the 2018/2019 round, we received 88 eligible applications. This can be broken down as 3 East of England applications, 10 East Midlands applications, 9 London applications, 1 North East applications, 19 North West applications, 9 South East applications, 2 South West applications, 17 West Midlands applications, 17 Yorkshire & Humber applications, and 1 Wales applications.

In the 2019/2020 round, we received 376 eligible applications. This can be broken down as 10 East of England applications, 38 East Midlands applications, 100 London applications, 13 North East applications, 50 North West applications, 27 South East applications, 11 South West applications, 56 West Midlands applications, 54 Yorkshire & Humber applications, and 17 Wales applications.

In the 2020/2021 round we received 243 eligible applications. This can be broken down as 9 East of England applications, 23 East Midlands applications, 52 London applications, 3 North East applications, 35 North West applications, 27 South East applications, 13 South West applications, 44 West Midlands applications, 29 Yorkshire & Humber applications, and 8 Wales applications.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many applications have been received by the places of worship protective security funding scheme, by the religious faith of the applicant organisation in each of the last three years.

The Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme is available in England and Wales. Applications to the 2021/2022 round closed on 16th July. Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application in due course.

Over the last three years, which includes the 2018/2019, 2019/2020, and 2020/2021 rounds, we have received 707 eligible applications in total.

In the 2018/2019 round, we received 88 eligible applications. This can be broken down as 46 Muslim applications, 18 Christian applications, 6 Hindu applications, and 18 Sikh applications.

In the 2019/2020 round, we received 376 eligible applications. This can be broken down as 208 Muslim applications, 106 Christian applications, 29 Hindu applications, 30 Sikh applications, and 3 applications from other faiths, such as Buddhism, Jain, or Multi-faith.

In the 2020/2021 round we received 243 eligible applications. This can be broken down as 89 Muslim applications, 103 Christian applications, 22 Hindu applications, 21 Sikh applications, and 8 applications from other faiths.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many people in the UK have been issued with football banning orders in each of the last five years.

The Home Office publishes annual figures on the number of football banning orders issued each year. The latest figures for the last five years are available from tables 1 to 4 of the Football-related arrests and banning orderspublication.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will undertake a review of investigatory practices by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services in response to criticism of their investigation of how the Police Service of Northern Ireland handled the funeral of Bobby Storey.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) is independent of Government and the police. Their role is to assess and report on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and policing in the public interest using an evidence-based approach. In fulfilling this role, HMICFRS continuously review their approach to ensure their inspections are best placed to promote improvements.

As the Hon Lady will be aware, the inspection into the funeral of Mr Storey was commissioned by the Minister of Justice in Northern Ireland, who has expressed her gratitude for HMICFRS’ swift and comprehensive report.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the cross-platform nature of grooming and abuse for children online; and what steps he will take in the forthcoming Bill on online safety to tackle that risk to children.

We are working across Government and engaging industry to prevent all forms of online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

The Government is continuing to engage with technology companies around the Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, a framework of principles launched by the Five Country Ministerial partners in March 2020. These are a set of 11 actions tech firms should take to ensure children are not sexually exploited on their platforms. Principle 10 includes how companies should support opportunities to share relevant expertise, helpful practices, data and tools where appropriate and feasible.

The strongest protections from harmful or inappropriate content in the Online Safety Bill are for children and young people. These laws will close the gap between what companies say they do, and what they will actually do. All companies in scope will be required to fulfil the duty of care by ensuring that they take reasonably practicable steps to tackle relevant illegal content, and protect children where they are likely to access their services.This includes bearing down on the threat of livestreaming and taking necessary steps to target grooming and the proliferation of child sexual abuse material.

We have published the interim code of practice on online child sexual exploitation and abuse, the code will help to ‘bridge the gap’ between Government’s response to the Online Harms White Paper, and the establishment of the independent regulator. This will enable companies to take swift action in tackling the most serious of online harms before the regulator is established.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment the Government has made of the extent of online content that does not meet the criminal threshold, but facilitates abuse and grooming; and what steps she is taking through the Online Safety Bill to tackle that matter.

The Government is firmly committed to making the UK the safest place to be online and taking action against online material that may not be illegal, but is linked to abuse and grooming.

We are working across Government and engaging industry to prevent all forms of online child sexual exploitation and abuse. The interim code of practice on online CSEA made clear that we expect companies to already start taking voluntary action against such content, including material that doesn’t meet a criminal threshold.

The Online Safety Bill will require companies to ensure the safety of children on their services. They will need to seriously consider the risks their services may pose to children using their services and take action to mitigate this. This will include taking measures against all content that facilitates abuse or grooming of children on their services.

The Government is also continuing to engage with technology companies around the Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, a framework of principles launched by the Five Country Ministerial partners in March 2020. These are a set of 11 actions tech firms should take to ensure children are not sexually exploited on their platforms, , including taking steps to stop the livestreaming of abuse and stop grooming and predatory behaviour.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will make an assessment of the effectiveness of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 as a result of increased reliance on secure digital technologies during the covid-19 pandemic and the increased threat posed by cyber crime.

The Home Office keeps the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) under regular re-view. The Home Office have been engaged in ongoing discussions with relevant partners in law enforcement, government and private sector to ensure that the legislation continues to remain effective.

The Home Office and its operational partners continue to monitor and respond to the cybercrime threat during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also have a gov.uk page on coronavirus-related fraud and cybercrime. The page includes easy-to-follow steps for people to better protect themselves and signposts other relevant advice and tips.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent discussions she has had with the devolved Administrations on (a) violence reduction strategies and (b) where she plans to allocate additional funding to help tackle violence in the devolved regions.

The Government is committed to reducing serious violence and putting an end to the tragedies afflicting our communities. It is important that we work across government, statutory, private, and voluntary sectors to deliver change, including with the devolved administrations.

We are, for example, working closely with the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland, the Police Service for Northern Ireland and the Scottish Government to deliver the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 surrender and compensation scheme across the United Kingdom. We also work closely with the devolved administrations on other aspects of our firearms controls.

Crime prevention and policing are devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland but we maintain regular dialogue on our shared interests. On Monday 8 February, the Minister for Crime and Policing addressed the ‘Four Nations’ conference on the subject of public health approaches in policing and serious violence across the UK. This week-long conference was match funded by the Home Office.

Crime prevention and policing are reserved in Wales, however, other areas of focus in reducing and preventing serious violence such as health and education are devolved and we continue to work closely with the Welsh Government on these matters. The Home Office has invested a total of £176.5 million over two years into the 18 police force areas worst affected by serious violence – the Serious Violence Fund (SVF). South Wales is one of these 18 areas. From the SVF, South Wales Police have been allocated £1.98m to Surge their police operational capacity. Additionally, £1.76m of the SVF has been invested into the South Wales PCC to develop their Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), which brings together key partners to identify the drivers of serious violence and agree a multi-agency response to them. On the 8 February 2021 we announced a further £880,000 investment into the South Wales area to further develop their VRU for 2021-2022.

In addition to the Serious Violence Fund, we have invested £200 million in early intervention and prevention support initiatives over 10 years to support children and young people at risk of exploitation and involvement in serious violence, through the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF). In total, 12 grantees in Wales are in receipt of funding from all grant rounds. The YEF will reform the way this government responds to serious violence by identifying what works in diverting children and young people away from involvement in serious violent crime. That is why this government has awarded an extra £5 million towards the expedited development of a national Centre of Excellence (CofE) to help guide government investment and national policies. The CofE will develop a robust evidence base and share best practice across local and national partners to facilitate learning.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to expedite the approval process for new technologies aimed at enforcing road traffic speeds and other road traffic offences.

As part of the joint DfT and Home Office Roads Policing Review, the Home Office is reviewing the type approval system used to provide enforcement agencies with the equipment they need to prosecute speeding, drink or drug driving and other offences.

The aim is to modernise and streamline the current process whilst delivering new technologies quickly.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many applications have been made to the Places of worship protective security funding scheme; and how much funding has been awarded in each year since the creation of the scheme.

Over the last four years of the Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme, 807 eligible applications have been received. For the 2020/2021 round of the scheme, which closed on 9 August, we have received 243 eligible applications.

In the 2016/2017 round we awarded £435,446, in 2017/2018 we awarded £440,203, in 2018/2019 we awarded £806,281, and in the 2019/2020 we awarded £1,718,763. For the 2020/2021 round, the available funding is £3.2 million.

25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what proportion of police officers in England and Wales are from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds.

The Home Office collects and publishes information on the ethnicity of police officers, in the ‘Police Workforce, England and Wales’ statistical bulletin.

As at 31 March 2019, 7% of police officers in England and Wales were from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. Up from 4% a decade earlier.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the potential effect of the migrant salary threshold of £25,600 on the labour market in Northern Ireland.

The MAC advised against regional variations in these thresholds. We will deliver a future immigration system which works for the whole of the UK.

The Government published “The UK’s Points-Based System: Policy Statement” on 19 February.

Aligned with the independent Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) recommendation, the Government will reduce both the general salary and skills thresholds for those who wish to come to the UK under the new skilled work route.

In delivering on its manifesto commitments for a new points-based system, the Government has considered relevant views, evidence, and analysis. We will also keep labour market data under careful scrutiny.

The Home Office will publish further detail on the points-based system in due course and continue to engage with stakeholders across Northern Ireland on our future migration system.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many Football Banning Orders have been issued in each of the last three years.

Data on football banning orders issued by courts in England and Wales under the Football Spectators Act 1989 is shown in the table below.

Season

Number of football banning orders issued

2016/17

517

2017/18

460

2018/19

549

Note: the dates used for football seasons are from 1st August to 31st July

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what criteria his Department uses to determine good faith security research, as outlined in his Department’s Vulnerability Disclosure Policy.

A Vulnerability Disclosure Policy (VDP) is a 'see something, say something' process to allow security researchers to report a vulnerability in MOD systems (found through e.g. ethical hacking). MOD launched its VDP in December 2020.

Practically, 'to act in good faith' means working to find vulnerabilities in IT systems without causing damage to them, disrupting their operation, or exfiltrating data in an unauthorised manner. There are no set criteria for acting in good faith because the situations are context dependent. However, it does not give researchers permission to act in any manner that is inconsistent with the law, or which might cause the MOD or partner organisations to be in breach of any legal obligations.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
1st Feb 2021
What progress is being made with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on bringing forward legacy legislation on tackling vexatious claims against veterans who have served in Northern Ireland.

This Government is committed to bringing an end to vexatious claims against the Armed Forces. We have introduced the Overseas Operations Bill to reduce the uncertainty faced by our Service personnel and veterans in relation to historical allegations and claims arising from overseas operations. We have also been clear that we will bring forward separate legislation to address the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland - including delivering on our commitment to Northern Ireland veterans - as soon as possible.

15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to circumstances which where a member of the auxiliary reserve forces lives in Northern Ireland but is part of a GB based military unit, that does not have an operating base in Northern Ireland, what support those service personnel get with travel costs to attend their regular training at their unit.

Volunteer Reserve personnel are eligible to claim Home to Duty Travel allowance which provides a contribution towards the costs incurred when they travel between their normal civilian place of work to attend training. Payment of this allowance is capped at a maximum travelling distance of 50 miles, regardless of any greater distance travelled, and this is in line with what is paid to Regular Service personnel. Some specialist Reservists may be eligible for rates in excess of 50 miles due to the location of certain Specialist Units. This extended mileage concession is only available on permission of Commanding Officers and after obtaining financial authority and applies to all specialist Reservists in the UK. The exceptional nature of this concession is because the Ministry of Defence needs to balance the cost of such travel with operational needs.

Not all Volunteer Reserve personnel live in the vicinity of their Unit. There will be some, for example, who have had to relocate for civilian employment reasons but who cannot, or choose not to, change to a new Unit. Where Volunteer Reserve personnel are unable to attend for training because of travel issues, they would not qualify for pay or be likely to earn a bounty, but that does not automatically mean they have to leave their Service. Units will do what they can to keep in touch with Volunteer Reservists in this situation.

Where Volunteer Reserve personnel are required to travel away from their normal Unit (e.g. for annual training) then they are eligible to claim Duty Travel allowance for the cost of the travel to and from their Unit to the temporary duty station where the training is due to take place.

21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the potential benefits of providing free meals to armed forces personnel who have been mobilised during the covid-19 outbreak.

When Armed Forces personnel are mobilised or deployed away from their permanent duty station, it is normal practice that they are provided with access to meals, either directly or via an allowance which permits them to claim back reasonable expenses on food that they have purchased themselves. This applies to Service Personnel deployed in support of the COVID-19 response.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to support improved mental health amongst veterans in Northern Ireland.

Upon discharge from the Armed Forces, the provision of healthcare, including mental healthcare, is the purview of the NHS in England, and the Devolved Administrations in the rest of the UK. We are currently working with the NI Veterans Support Office (VSO) to take forward the important work of delivering the Armed Forces Covenant to our veterans in NI. The VSO has developed strong links between the NI Government Departments, Local Government Veterans’ Champions and the voluntary and charitable sector. This work with the VSO is key in building coherence and co-ordination among services through the NI Veterans Support Committee (NIVSC). The NIVSC was set up to improve cooperation between those organisations who are permanently based in NI and are committed to delivering support services to veterans.

6th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 27 January 2020 to Question 6149, how much his Department spent on recruitment promotion in (a) Northern Ireland, (b) England, (c) Scotland and (d) Wales in each of the last three years.

Recruitment advertising and promotion costs are not held on a regional basis. The total spend for the current and two previous financial years (FY) are set out below. Figures have been rounded to one decimal place.

Service

FY2017-18

FY2018-19

FY2019-20 (to 31/1/2020)

Navy

£18.2million

£19.1million

£21.3million

Army

£19.4million

£19million

£21.2million

RAF

£13.3million

£15.2million

£15.6million

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many people from each part of the UK applied to join the British Army in each of the last five years.

The application figures for the last five recruiting years, broken down by Nation, can be found below.

Recruiting Year

England

Northern Ireland

Scotland

Wales

2014-15

78,900

3,110

9,160

6,160

2015-16

76,580

2,790

8,940

5,510

2016-17

102,080

3,230

11,390

6,890

2017-18

86,040

2,960

9,040

5,710

2018-19

95,380

3,340

9,620

6,560

Notes/Caveats:

  • Application figures are based on single Service estimates; official statistics have not been produced by Defence Statistics.
  • The table includes applications received for both the Regular Army and Reserves.
  • If a candidate has made more than one application, each application will be counted separately.
  • Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10, though numbers ending in a “5” have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent the systematic bias caused by always rounding numbers upwards.
  • Applications made to join the Military Provost Guard Service have not been included.
  • These figures do not break down the total applications received to join the Army. Applications will have also been received from the Channel Islands, Republic of Ireland, Commonwealth countries and British Overseas Territories.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The Government is committed to working with the Devolved Administrations to ensure the Fund works for places across the UK. Government officials meet regularly with their counterparts, including the Northern Ireland Executive, to discuss the Fund. Government officials have also held 25 engagement events across the UK, including in Belfast. These were attended by over five hundred representatives from a breadth of sectors.

21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to support local authorities to provide accessible play parks for people with disabilities.

In October 2019 my Department announced a £1.35 million grant scheme for local communities, working with local authorities to apply for funding to create new pocket parks or renovate existing parks.

Identifying a local need such as accessibility or supporting those with disability issues is one of the key criteria against which applications will be assessed. The application window closed on 31 December and a total of 375 applications were received with 3 per cent specifically addressing issues of disability. Results will be announced in early February.

18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what criteria his Department uses to determine good faith security research, as outlined in his Department’s Vulnerability Disclosure Policy.

The intention behind the reference to 'in good faith' is to support a mechanism for cooperation with security researchers with the aim to identify and quickly remediate reported vulnerabilities. As such research and vulnerability disclosure must be carried out "in an honest and sincere way" without affecting the safety, security and continuity of any data or service in accordance with the disclosure policy and consistent with the law. Each situation is different and thus must be judged on its own merits, but the MoJ would consider whether the individual's approach has been proportionate to the problem they are trying to uncover, has been limited to simply proving the existence of the problem, and has protected confidentiality of data within the systems concerned.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many times the Fraud Act 2006 has been used successfully to prosecute phishing offences in each of the last five years.

The number of prosecutions and convictions for phishing offences is not centrally held in the court proceedings database as this type of offence is not separately identified in legislation. Identifying these offences separately would require a manual search of court records, which would be at disproportionate costs.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many times the Computer Misuse Act 1990 has been used successfully to prosecute offences or attacks against computer systems that involve (a) ransomware (b) malware and (c) phishing in each of the last five years.

The number of prosecutions and convictions for offences which take place online is not centrally held in the court proceedings database as this type of offence is not separately identified in legislation. Equally, offences involving ransomware, malware and phishing are not separately identified in legislation. Identifying these offences separately would require a manual search of court records, which would be at disproportionate costs.

Published figures provide the number of prosecutions and convictions for the following offence that may include offences which occurred online:

Computer Misuse Act 1990

  • Unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences (Computer Misuse Act 1990)
  • Unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing, operation of computer, etc (Computer Misuse Act 1990)
  • Unauthorised access to computer material
  • Making, supplying or obtaining articles for use in offence under SS.1 or 3 (Computer Misuse Act 1990, S.3A)

The number of prosecutions and convictions can be found by searching the above offences in the ‘Detailed offence’ filter in the ‘Principal offence proceedings and outcomes by Home Office offence code’ data tool available here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/938554/HO-code-tool-principal-offence-2019.xlsx

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many times the Computer Misuse Act 1990 has been successfully used to prosecute cyber crime in each of the last five years.

The number of prosecutions and convictions for offences which take place online is not centrally held in the court proceedings database as this type of offence is not separately identified in legislation. Equally, offences involving ransomware, malware and phishing are not separately identified in legislation. Identifying these offences separately would require a manual search of court records, which would be at disproportionate costs.

Published figures provide the number of prosecutions and convictions for the following offence that may include offences which occurred online:

Computer Misuse Act 1990

  • Unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences (Computer Misuse Act 1990)
  • Unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing, operation of computer, etc (Computer Misuse Act 1990)
  • Unauthorised access to computer material
  • Making, supplying or obtaining articles for use in offence under SS.1 or 3 (Computer Misuse Act 1990, S.3A)

The number of prosecutions and convictions can be found by searching the above offences in the ‘Detailed offence’ filter in the ‘Principal offence proceedings and outcomes by Home Office offence code’ data tool available here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/938554/HO-code-tool-principal-offence-2019.xlsx

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many third parties have been prosecuted under Section 59 of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1961 in (a) 2015, (b) 2016, (c) 2017, (d) 2018, and (e) 2019.

Data on the number of prosecutions that have occurred in England and Wales for offences under section 59 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 is available in the Principal offence proceedings and outcomes by Home Office offence code data tool (select table entitled HO code (principal offence), then select Offence Code filter – 01402).

Annual statistics for the year ending 31 December 2019, will be available in May 2020.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
7th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if he will provide an update on the work of the Castlereagh Foundation.

In July 2021, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland appointed an Advisory Committee to provide advice on appropriate delivery partners to establish the Castlereagh Foundation, the legal form it should take, the role of the foundation and the cost to establish it. The Advisory Committee submitted their written advice to the Secretary of State in January and we thank the committee for its work.

The Secretary of State is considering that advice and considering the appropriate next steps.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what plans his Department has to celebrate the Queens' Platinum Jubilee in Northern Ireland.

My officials are working closely with officials from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport who are the lead Government department for Jubilee celebrations, in support of Buckingham Palace. You may be aware that a number of UK-wide projects are already in development such as the lighting of Jubilee Beacons. The public are also being encouraged to participate in Big Jubilee Lunches, in order to bring the Jubilee celebrations into the heart of communities.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many meetings he or his predecessors have had with the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in each of the last three years.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland engages regularly with the Chief Constable of the Police Service for Northern Ireland to discuss a range of issues including National Security matters.

Conor Burns
Minister of State (Northern Ireland Office)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many meetings he has had with representatives of the road haulage industry in Northern Ireland in the last 18 months on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The UK Government engages extensively with businesses to understand how the Protocol is working on the ground and listen to concerns that arise.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I have met with representatives of the road haulage industry in Northern Ireland numerous times individually and through the Business Engagement Forum. These discussions have informed the Government’s approach to the implementation of the Protocol and discussions with the EU during and after the Transition Period.

Following engagement with industry representative organisations and their members, the Government will be publishing additional guidance to the Haulier Handbook focused on Northern Ireland on gov.uk shortly as well as hosting webinars to update and provide support for them on changes. We will continue to engage with the industry.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the Irish Republic's Central Statistics Office showing the value of Irish Republic exports to Northern Ireland increasing between January to April 2021 by 40 per cent to €977 million, what steps the Government is taking to ensure the Northern Ireland Protocol is not causing the displacement of Great Britain to Northern Ireland trade with Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland trade.

The Protocol is a delicate balance, designed to support the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and avoid disruption. This means that East-West political, economic and social links are safeguarded as well as North-South.

The statistics in question do not specify the end destination of goods and do not show what proportion are being sent into the rest of the UK. They also do not include trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and without this, the scale of any displacement is difficult to estimate.

However, longstanding trade flows are being disrupted. The UK is working hard and in good faith to find solutions. Last week’s Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee allowed for an open and frank discussion on the progress made to date and the challenges ahead, emphasising the need for urgent solutions.

To support the significant trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain we have launched the UK Trader Scheme and the Movement Assistance Scheme to support traders operating under the Protocol. We will also establish a reimbursement scheme for goods that attract a tariff, but which can subsequently be shown to have remained in the UK customs territory and further details will be announced in due course.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many meetings he has held with Lord Frost since his appointment on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland holds regular meetings with Lord Frost on matters relating to the NI Protocol. These meetings have also included engagements with EU representatives, Northern Irish businesses and politicians across Parliament.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Mar 2021
What recent assessment he has made of the potential effect of the Northern Ireland Assembly voting system on implementation of (a) the principle cross-community consent and (b) the Belfast Agreement and the political process in Northern Ireland.

The voting systems within the devolved administrations are devolved matters.

The principle of cross-community consent applies to matters for which the Northern Ireland Assembly is responsible. This approach to voting on Assembly business is entirely compatible with the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and we remain fully committed to that Agreement.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to his Answer of 3 September 2020 to Question 78928, on Ethnic Groups: Northern Ireland, what progress has been made on providing funding to (a) establish the Castlereagh Foundation and (b) support academic research through universities and other partners to explore identity and the shifting patterns of social identity in Northern Ireland.

The UK Government has provided £2 billion of funding to support the implementation of the New Decade, New Approach deal. £561 million of this has already been allocated. The £2 billion includes a £1bn Barnett-based investment guarantee from the UK Government, which will include significant new funding to turbocharge infrastructure investment.

The UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive recently agreed the allocation of £40 million of ‘unique circumstances’ funding as part of our commitment under the New Decade, New Approach agreement.

We are currently working to finalise details of the funding for the Castlereagh Foundation which we will announce in due course. The aim of the Foundation will be to support academic research through universities and other partners to explore identity and the shifting patterns of social identity in Northern Ireland.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to his Answer of 3 September 2020 to Question 78927, on Broadcasting: Northern Ireland, what progress has been made on discussions with NI Screen on broadening the remit of the Ulster Scots Broadcasting Fund.

We have been discussing broadening the remit of both the Ulster Scots Broadcasting Fund and the Irish Language Broadcasting Fund with Northern Ireland Screen for several months. We hope to be in a position to announce the funding in the coming weeks.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if it is a legal requirement for vehicles registered in Northern Ireland to carry a green card, when driving in the Irish Republic.

Motor insurance does not form part of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. We have urged the EU to issue an Implementing Decision confirming the UK’s participation in the green card-free circulation zone as a third country. Until the EU issues such a decision, our advice to all UK motorists taking their vehicle into any EU Member State, including Ireland, is to carry a green card for journeys from 1 January 2021 onwards.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
4th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether officials in his Department have attended discussions on legacy convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Government is listening to people from all communities, victims and survivors regarding legacy issues, and is committed to working with civic society, including victims groups, the NI parties and the Irish Government to seek a way forward for everyone.

The Archbishop of Canterbury hosted a seminar at Lambeth Palace in November to discuss a presentation from a team of academics at Queen's University on the legacy of the Troubles. Officials from the Northern Ireland Office attended in a listening capacity. The Northern Ireland Office is often invited to discussions on this important issue. Events hosted by the Archbishop are a matter for Lambeth Palace, and not the Government.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the comments of the Chief Executive of Sainsburys, relating to food entering Northern Ireland after 1st January 2021, if he will provide assurances to consumers in Northern Ireland that the supply of goods and consumer choice in Northern Ireland will not be reduced after 1st January 2021.

The UK and the EU have committed to an intensified process of engagement to resolve all outstanding issues with the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which includes securing the flexibilities we need for trade from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. This is particularly important for supermarkets, where we have been clear specific solutions are required.

We will continue to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive as discussions continue with the EU through the Joint Committee process.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on the number of quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations operating in Northern Ireland; and what assessment he has made of the effect on costs to the taxpayer of those organisations.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is in regular contact with the First and deputy First Minister and members of the Northern Ireland Executive where a range of issues are discussed. The Executive’s arms-length bodies, including their funding arrangements, are a matter for the Executive.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to the Answer of 5 October 2020 to Question 97062 on UK Government-Northern Ireland Executive Joint Board, what assessment he has made of the progress being made on transformation in the areas of (a) health, (b) education and (c) justice.

Those matters are of course devolved and a matter for the Executive.

We have, however, seen the ending of the nurses’ pay dispute and the Executive reaching political agreement on the creation of a new Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School in Derry/Londonderry.

The Executive’s focus, rightly and understandably, has been on Covid-19. But the pandemic has highlighted the need for urgent health reform in NI and as a result, the Rebuilding Health & Social Care Strategic Framework was published by Minister Swann on 9 June.

The UK Government supports the Executive’s commitment to speed up the criminal justice system, benefitting victims and witnesses. We also support the Executive’s progress towards building a shared and integrated society, including educating children from different backgrounds in the classroom.

A further meeting of the Joint Board took place on 21 October. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland discussed the importance of delivering transformation in public services and establishing an independent fiscal council to support the Executive in developing long-term spending plans with the First and deputy First Minister.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many times the joint board established in the New Decade, New Approach Agreement has met.

The Joint Board, which has oversight for transformation in health, education and justice, where these draw on funding provided under the New Decade, New Approach agreement, has met once on the 22 July. A further meeting is scheduled for this Autumn.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to the Answer of 7 September to Question 78925, on what date he last met with each of the Northern Ireland Executive Ministers; and what the outcome of each of those meetings was.

The Secretary of State and I regularly engage with and meet all Northern Ireland Executive ministers on a wide-range of issues.

Meetings between Executive and UK Government Ministers are not published, however recent meetings have focused on Northern Ireland’s response to Covid-19, economic recovery and planning for the forthcoming Centenary of Northern Ireland.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to the Answer of 3 September to Question 78927 on Broadcasting: Northern Ireland, when the overall profiling of the £140 million of the £2 billion of funding to support implementation of the New Decade, New Approach deal set aside to address Northern Ireland's unique circumstances will be confirmed.

The UK Government has committed £140m alongside the New Decade, New Approach deal for Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances. The resources will be allocated by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland following consultation with NI Executive ministers through the UK Government-NI Executive Joint Board.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to the Answer of 1 September 2020 to Question 77858 on Official Visits: Northern Ireland, for what reason the Government does not maintain a record of the number of visits made to Northern Ireland by the (a) Prime Minister of the Irish Republic and (b) Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Irish Republic.

The UK Government does not maintain a record of every visit by a member of foreign governments to the UK. The Government has no operational need to maintain such records and sees no requirement to keep such a formal record.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to page 53 of the New Decade, New approach document, published in January 2020, how much additional funding from the public purse will be provided to support mental health in Northern Ireland.

The UK Government has provided £2 billion of funding to support implementation of the New Decade, New Approach deal. £545 million of this has already been allocated. The £2 billion includes a £1bn Barnett-based investment guarantee from the UK Government, which will include significant new funding to turbocharge infrastructure investment. This guarantee will apply in all circumstances, and allow the Executive to plan new investment over a five year period. £245m will support the transformation of public services, including transformation across health, education and justice. Funding release will be tied to the delivery of reform. The deal also provided £550m to help put the Executive’s finances on a sustainable footing, including £200 million over three years to resolve the nurses’ pay dispute immediately and deliver pay parity.

Alongside this, the UK Government has provided £60m of capital and resource funding to deliver a Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School in Derry/Londonderry, which has now been approved by the Executive. The UK Government will provide £50m over two years to support the rollout of ultra-low emission public transport.

The Honourable Member has inquired about a range of specific areas of funding, including mental health support, tackling deprivation, tackling paramilitarism, the Castlereagh Foundation, centenary funding, culture and community funding, language and broadcasting support, support for the armed forces and veterans, IFI funding and a fund to promote the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy.

£140m of funding has been set aside in the New Decade, New Approach package to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances. The overall profiling of this spend to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances remains subject to final decisions by ministers. Where identified projects fall within devolved competencies, further discussions are needed with the Executive to establish the amount of funding which is required. We look forward to being able to confirm the detail across all these projects as soon as it is possible to do so.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to page 53 of the New Decade, New approach document, published in January 2020, how much additional funding from the public purse will be provided to tackle paramilitarism in Northern Ireland.

The UK Government has provided £2 billion of funding to support implementation of the New Decade, New Approach deal. £545 million of this has already been allocated. The £2 billion includes a £1bn Barnett-based investment guarantee from the UK Government, which will include significant new funding to turbocharge infrastructure investment. This guarantee will apply in all circumstances, and allow the Executive to plan new investment over a five year period. £245m will support the transformation of public services, including transformation across health, education and justice. Funding release will be tied to the delivery of reform. The deal also provided £550m to help put the Executive’s finances on a sustainable footing, including £200 million over three years to resolve the nurses’ pay dispute immediately and deliver pay parity.

Alongside this, the UK Government has provided £60m of capital and resource funding to deliver a Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School in Derry/Londonderry, which has now been approved by the Executive. The UK Government will provide £50m over two years to support the rollout of ultra-low emission public transport.

The Honourable Member has inquired about a range of specific areas of funding, including mental health support, tackling deprivation, tackling paramilitarism, the Castlereagh Foundation, centenary funding, culture and community funding, language and broadcasting support, support for the armed forces and veterans, IFI funding and a fund to promote the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy.

£140m of funding has been set aside in the New Decade, New Approach package to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances. The overall profiling of this spend to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances remains subject to final decisions by ministers. Where identified projects fall within devolved competencies, further discussions are needed with the Executive to establish the amount of funding which is required. We look forward to being able to confirm the detail across all these projects as soon as it is possible to do so.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to page 53 of the New Decade, New approach document, published in January 2020, how much additional funding from the public purse will be provided to tackle deprivation and improve opportunity in Northern Ireland.

The UK Government has provided £2 billion of funding to support implementation of the New Decade, New Approach deal. £545 million of this has already been allocated. The £2 billion includes a £1bn Barnett-based investment guarantee from the UK Government, which will include significant new funding to turbocharge infrastructure investment. This guarantee will apply in all circumstances, and allow the Executive to plan new investment over a five year period. £245m will support the transformation of public services, including transformation across health, education and justice. Funding release will be tied to the delivery of reform. The deal also provided £550m to help put the Executive’s finances on a sustainable footing, including £200 million over three years to resolve the nurses’ pay dispute immediately and deliver pay parity.

Alongside this, the UK Government has provided £60m of capital and resource funding to deliver a Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School in Derry/Londonderry, which has now been approved by the Executive. The UK Government will provide £50m over two years to support the rollout of ultra-low emission public transport.

The Honourable Member has inquired about a range of specific areas of funding, including mental health support, tackling deprivation, tackling paramilitarism, the Castlereagh Foundation, centenary funding, culture and community funding, language and broadcasting support, support for the armed forces and veterans, IFI funding and a fund to promote the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy.

£140m of funding has been set aside in the New Decade, New Approach package to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances. The overall profiling of this spend to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances remains subject to final decisions by ministers. Where identified projects fall within devolved competencies, further discussions are needed with the Executive to establish the amount of funding which is required. We look forward to being able to confirm the detail across all these projects as soon as it is possible to do so.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to page 53 of the New Decade, New approach document, published in January 2020, how much additional funding from the public purse will be provided to support marking the 2021 centenary year and related projects in Northern Ireland.

The UK Government has provided £2 billion of funding to support implementation of the New Decade, New Approach deal. £545 million of this has already been allocated. The £2 billion includes a £1bn Barnett-based investment guarantee from the UK Government, which will include significant new funding to turbocharge infrastructure investment. This guarantee will apply in all circumstances, and allow the Executive to plan new investment over a five year period. £245m will support the transformation of public services, including transformation across health, education and justice. Funding release will be tied to the delivery of reform. The deal also provided £550m to help put the Executive’s finances on a sustainable footing, including £200 million over three years to resolve the nurses’ pay dispute immediately and deliver pay parity.

Alongside this, the UK Government has provided £60m of capital and resource funding to deliver a Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School in Derry/Londonderry, which has now been approved by the Executive. The UK Government will provide £50m over two years to support the rollout of ultra-low emission public transport.

The Honourable Member has inquired about a range of specific areas of funding, including mental health support, tackling deprivation, tackling paramilitarism, the Castlereagh Foundation, centenary funding, culture and community funding, language and broadcasting support, support for the armed forces and veterans, IFI funding and a fund to promote the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy.

£140m of funding has been set aside in the New Decade, New Approach package to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances. The overall profiling of this spend to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances remains subject to final decisions by ministers. Where identified projects fall within devolved competencies, further discussions are needed with the Executive to establish the amount of funding which is required. We look forward to being able to confirm the detail across all these projects as soon as it is possible to do so.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to page 53 of the New Decade, New approach document, published in January 2020, how much additional funding from the public purse will be provided to establish a Culture and Community Fund in Northern Ireland.

The UK Government has provided £2 billion of funding to support implementation of the New Decade, New Approach deal. £545 million of this has already been allocated. The £2 billion includes a £1bn Barnett-based investment guarantee from the UK Government, which will include significant new funding to turbocharge infrastructure investment. This guarantee will apply in all circumstances, and allow the Executive to plan new investment over a five year period. £245m will support the transformation of public services, including transformation across health, education and justice. Funding release will be tied to the delivery of reform. The deal also provided £550m to help put the Executive’s finances on a sustainable footing, including £200 million over three years to resolve the nurses’ pay dispute immediately and deliver pay parity.

Alongside this, the UK Government has provided £60m of capital and resource funding to deliver a Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School in Derry/Londonderry, which has now been approved by the Executive. The UK Government will provide £50m over two years to support the rollout of ultra-low emission public transport.

The Honourable Member has inquired about a range of specific areas of funding, including mental health support, tackling deprivation, tackling paramilitarism, the Castlereagh Foundation, centenary funding, culture and community funding, language and broadcasting support, support for the armed forces and veterans, IFI funding and a fund to promote the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy.

£140m of funding has been set aside in the New Decade, New Approach package to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances. The overall profiling of this spend to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances remains subject to final decisions by ministers. Where identified projects fall within devolved competencies, further discussions are needed with the Executive to establish the amount of funding which is required. We look forward to being able to confirm the detail across all these projects as soon as it is possible to do so.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to page 53 of the New Decade, New approach document, published in January 2020, how much additional funding from the public purse will be provided to support languages and broadcasting in Northern Ireland.

The UK Government has provided £2 billion of funding to support implementation of the New Decade, New Approach deal. £545 million of this has already been allocated. The £2 billion includes a £1bn Barnett-based investment guarantee from the UK Government, which will include significant new funding to turbocharge infrastructure investment. This guarantee will apply in all circumstances, and allow the Executive to plan new investment over a five year period. £245m will support the transformation of public services, including transformation across health, education and justice. Funding release will be tied to the delivery of reform. The deal also provided £550m to help put the Executive’s finances on a sustainable footing, including £200 million over three years to resolve the nurses’ pay dispute immediately and deliver pay parity.

Alongside this, the UK Government has provided £60m of capital and resource funding to deliver a Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School in Derry/Londonderry, which has now been approved by the Executive. The UK Government will provide £50m over two years to support the rollout of ultra-low emission public transport.

The Honourable Member has inquired about a range of specific areas of funding, including mental health support, tackling deprivation, tackling paramilitarism, the Castlereagh Foundation, centenary funding, culture and community funding, language and broadcasting support, support for the armed forces and veterans, IFI funding and a fund to promote the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy.

£140m of funding has been set aside in the New Decade, New Approach package to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances. The overall profiling of this spend to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances remains subject to final decisions by ministers. Where identified projects fall within devolved competencies, further discussions are needed with the Executive to establish the amount of funding which is required. We look forward to being able to confirm the detail across all these projects as soon as it is possible to do so.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to page 53 of the New Decade, New approach document, published in January 2020, how much additional funding from the public purse has been allocated to support (a) the armed forces and veterans and (b) a new Veteran’s Commissioner.

The UK Government has provided £2 billion of funding to support implementation of the New Decade, New Approach deal. £545 million of this has already been allocated. The £2 billion includes a £1bn Barnett-based investment guarantee from the UK Government, which will include significant new funding to turbocharge infrastructure investment. This guarantee will apply in all circumstances, and allow the Executive to plan new investment over a five year period. £245m will support the transformation of public services, including transformation across health, education and justice. Funding release will be tied to the delivery of reform. The deal also provided £550m to help put the Executive’s finances on a sustainable footing, including £200 million over three years to resolve the nurses’ pay dispute immediately and deliver pay parity.

Alongside this, the UK Government has provided £60m of capital and resource funding to deliver a Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School in Derry/Londonderry, which has now been approved by the Executive. The UK Government will provide £50m over two years to support the rollout of ultra-low emission public transport.

The Honourable Member has inquired about a range of specific areas of funding, including mental health support, tackling deprivation, tackling paramilitarism, the Castlereagh Foundation, centenary funding, culture and community funding, language and broadcasting support, support for the armed forces and veterans, IFI funding and a fund to promote the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy.

£140m of funding has been set aside in the New Decade, New Approach package to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances. The overall profiling of this spend to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances remains subject to final decisions by ministers. Where identified projects fall within devolved competencies, further discussions are needed with the Executive to establish the amount of funding which is required. We look forward to being able to confirm the detail across all these projects as soon as it is possible to do so.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland,, with reference to page 53 of the New Decade, New approach document, published in January 2020, how much additional funding from the public purse has been allocated to the International Fund for Ireland.

The UK Government has provided £2 billion of funding to support implementation of the New Decade, New Approach deal. £545 million of this has already been allocated. The £2 billion includes a £1bn Barnett-based investment guarantee from the UK Government, which will include significant new funding to turbocharge infrastructure investment. This guarantee will apply in all circumstances, and allow the Executive to plan new investment over a five year period. £245m will support the transformation of public services, including transformation across health, education and justice. Funding release will be tied to the delivery of reform. The deal also provided £550m to help put the Executive’s finances on a sustainable footing, including £200 million over three years to resolve the nurses’ pay dispute immediately and deliver pay parity.

Alongside this, the UK Government has provided £60m of capital and resource funding to deliver a Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School in Derry/Londonderry, which has now been approved by the Executive. The UK Government will provide £50m over two years to support the rollout of ultra-low emission public transport.

The Honourable Member has inquired about a range of specific areas of funding, including mental health support, tackling deprivation, tackling paramilitarism, the Castlereagh Foundation, centenary funding, culture and community funding, language and broadcasting support, support for the armed forces and veterans, IFI funding and a fund to promote the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy.

£140m of funding has been set aside in the New Decade, New Approach package to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances. The overall profiling of this spend to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances remains subject to final decisions by ministers. Where identified projects fall within devolved competencies, further discussions are needed with the Executive to establish the amount of funding which is required. We look forward to being able to confirm the detail across all these projects as soon as it is possible to do so.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to page 53 of the New Decade, New approach document, published in January 2020, how much additional funding from the public purse has been allocated to the Londonderry addiction centre.

The UK Government has provided £2 billion of funding to support implementation of the New Decade, New Approach deal. £545 million of this has already been allocated. The £2 billion includes a £1bn Barnett-based investment guarantee from the UK Government, which will include significant new funding to turbocharge infrastructure investment. This guarantee will apply in all circumstances, and allow the Executive to plan new investment over a five year period. £245m will support the transformation of public services, including transformation across health, education and justice. Funding release will be tied to the delivery of reform. The deal also provided £550m to help put the Executive’s finances on a sustainable footing, including £200 million over three years to resolve the nurses’ pay dispute immediately and deliver pay parity.

Alongside this, the UK Government has provided £60m of capital and resource funding to deliver a Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School in Derry/Londonderry, which has now been approved by the Executive. The UK Government will provide £50m over two years to support the rollout of ultra-low emission public transport.

The Honourable Member has inquired about a range of specific areas of funding, including mental health support, tackling deprivation, tackling paramilitarism, the Castlereagh Foundation, centenary funding, culture and community funding, language and broadcasting support, support for the armed forces and veterans, IFI funding and a fund to promote the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy.

£140m of funding has been set aside in the New Decade, New Approach package to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances. The overall profiling of this spend to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances remains subject to final decisions by ministers. Where identified projects fall within devolved competencies, further discussions are needed with the Executive to establish the amount of funding which is required. We look forward to being able to confirm the detail across all these projects as soon as it is possible to do so.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to page 53 of the New Decade, New approach document, published in January 2020, how much additional funding from the public purse has been allocated to a fund to promote the competitiveness of Northern Ireland’s economy.

The UK Government has provided £2 billion of funding to support implementation of the New Decade, New Approach deal. £545 million of this has already been allocated. The £2 billion includes a £1bn Barnett-based investment guarantee from the UK Government, which will include significant new funding to turbocharge infrastructure investment. This guarantee will apply in all circumstances, and allow the Executive to plan new investment over a five year period. £245m will support the transformation of public services, including transformation across health, education and justice. Funding release will be tied to the delivery of reform. The deal also provided £550m to help put the Executive’s finances on a sustainable footing, including £200 million over three years to resolve the nurses’ pay dispute immediately and deliver pay parity.

Alongside this, the UK Government has provided £60m of capital and resource funding to deliver a Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School in Derry/Londonderry, which has now been approved by the Executive. The UK Government will provide £50m over two years to support the rollout of ultra-low emission public transport.

The Honourable Member has inquired about a range of specific areas of funding, including mental health support, tackling deprivation, tackling paramilitarism, the Castlereagh Foundation, centenary funding, culture and community funding, language and broadcasting support, support for the armed forces and veterans, IFI funding and a fund to promote the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy.

£140m of funding has been set aside in the New Decade, New Approach package to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances. The overall profiling of this spend to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances remains subject to final decisions by ministers. Where identified projects fall within devolved competencies, further discussions are needed with the Executive to establish the amount of funding which is required. We look forward to being able to confirm the detail across all these projects as soon as it is possible to do so.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to page 49 of the New Decade, New approach document, published in January 2020, what progress has been made on discussions with NI Screen on broadening the remit of the Ulster Scots Broadcasting Fund.

The UK Government has provided £2 billion of funding to support implementation of the New Decade, New Approach deal. £545 million of this has already been allocated. The £2 billion includes a £1bn Barnett-based investment guarantee from the UK Government, which will include significant new funding to turbocharge infrastructure investment. This guarantee will apply in all circumstances, and allow the Executive to plan new investment over a five year period. £245m will support the transformation of public services, including transformation across health, education and justice. Funding release will be tied to the delivery of reform. The deal also provided £550m to help put the Executive’s finances on a sustainable footing, including £200 million over three years to resolve the nurses’ pay dispute immediately and deliver pay parity.

Alongside this, the UK Government has provided £60m of capital and resource funding to deliver a Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School in Derry/Londonderry, which has now been approved by the Executive. The UK Government will provide £50m over two years to support the rollout of ultra-low emission public transport.

The Honourable Member has inquired about a range of specific areas of funding, including mental health support, tackling deprivation, tackling paramilitarism, the Castlereagh Foundation, centenary funding, culture and community funding, language and broadcasting support, support for the armed forces and veterans, IFI funding and a fund to promote the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy.

£140m of funding has been set aside in the New Decade, New Approach package to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances. The overall profiling of this spend to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances remains subject to final decisions by ministers. Where identified projects fall within devolved competencies, further discussions are needed with the Executive to establish the amount of funding which is required. We look forward to being able to confirm the detail across all these projects as soon as it is possible to do so.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to page 49 of the New Decade, New approach document, published in January 2020, what progress has been made on providing funding to (a) establish the Castlereagh Foundation and (b) support academic research through universities and other partners to explore identity and the shifting patterns of social identity in Northern Ireland.

The UK Government has provided £2 billion of funding to support implementation of the New Decade, New Approach deal. £545 million of this has already been allocated. The £2 billion includes a £1bn Barnett-based investment guarantee from the UK Government, which will include significant new funding to turbocharge infrastructure investment. This guarantee will apply in all circumstances, and allow the Executive to plan new investment over a five year period. £245m will support the transformation of public services, including transformation across health, education and justice. Funding release will be tied to the delivery of reform. The deal also provided £550m to help put the Executive’s finances on a sustainable footing, including £200 million over three years to resolve the nurses’ pay dispute immediately and deliver pay parity.

Alongside this, the UK Government has provided £60m of capital and resource funding to deliver a Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School in Derry/Londonderry, which has now been approved by the Executive. The UK Government will provide £50m over two years to support the rollout of ultra-low emission public transport.

The Honourable Member has inquired about a range of specific areas of funding, including mental health support, tackling deprivation, tackling paramilitarism, the Castlereagh Foundation, centenary funding, culture and community funding, language and broadcasting support, support for the armed forces and veterans, IFI funding and a fund to promote the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy.

£140m of funding has been set aside in the New Decade, New Approach package to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances. The overall profiling of this spend to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances remains subject to final decisions by ministers. Where identified projects fall within devolved competencies, further discussions are needed with the Executive to establish the amount of funding which is required. We look forward to being able to confirm the detail across all these projects as soon as it is possible to do so.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many Freedom of Information requests his Department has received in each of the last three years; and how many of those requests (a) remain unanswered and (b) have been referred to the Information Commissioner.

Statistical information on my department's performance in respect of handling Freedom of Information requests is published quarterly and can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/government-foi-statistics#2020

There have been no referrals to the Information Commissioner's Office this year. There were 2 in 2018, and 2 in 2019.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many times he has met with each of the Northern Ireland Executive Ministers in an official capacity since taking up his role as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

The Secretary of State and I regularly meet with Executive Ministers on a range of issues affecting the people of Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State has regular meetings with the First and deputy First Ministers, along with further Executive engagement via the New Decade, New Approach board.

As Minister of State, I frequently engage with Executive ministers. Recent engagement has focused on how the UK Government plans to mark the NI Centenary and the benefits for the people of Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Office works closely with the NI Executive, and is committed to continuing to foster a productive working relationship that benefits all of Northern Ireland.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what information he holds on the number of visits made to Northern Ireland by the (a) Prime Minister of the Irish Republic and (b) Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Irish Republic in each of the last three years.

While the UK Government is, by convention, informed in advance of visits to Northern Ireland by members of the Irish Government, the UK Government does not maintain a record of every visit by a member of foreign Governments to the UK. No details are held, therefore, on the exact number of visits by either the Taoiseach or the Minister for Foreign Affairs to Northern Ireland.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the Government consultation, A new legal framework for abortion services in Northern Ireland, published 4 November 2019, what estimate he has made of the number of submissions from (a) disability organisations and (b) people who identified as disabled.

The public consultation, A new legal framework for abortion services in Northern Ireland, provided an opportunity for people and organisations in Northern Ireland to contribute their views on how the Government could best deliver on its statutory duty under section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc.) Act 2019 in implementing the CEDAW Report recommendations.

The Government engaged with a wide range of stakeholders who reached out seeking further discussions during the consultation process. However, the consultation process did not collect personal data that would identify a respondent as a person with a disability. We carefully analysed all of the views expressed in the submissions received.

It is the Government’s firm view that the Regulations properly comply with the statutory duty under section 9 of the NIEF Act, and are also compliant with the UK’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the Government consultation entitled, A new legal framework for abortion services in Northern Ireland, published 4 November 2019, what estimate he has made of the the number of submissions from (a) disability organisations based in Northern Ireland and (b) individuals residing in Northern Ireland who identified as disabled.

The public consultation, A new legal framework for abortion services in Northern Ireland, provided an opportunity for people and organisations in Northern Ireland to contribute their views on how the Government could best deliver on its statutory duty under section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc.) Act 2019 in implementing the CEDAW Report recommendations.

The Government engaged with a wide range of stakeholders who reached out seeking further discussions during the consultation process. However, the consultation process did not collect personal data that would identify a respondent as a person with a disability. We carefully analysed all of the views expressed in the submissions received.

It is the Government’s firm view that the Regulations properly comply with the statutory duty under section 9 of the NIEF Act, and are also compliant with the UK’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many meetings the Northern Ireland Office had with disability charities and organisations on the Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No 2) Regulations 2020 which allow abortion on the basis of disability up until birth.

The public consultation, A new legal framework for abortion services in Northern Ireland, provided an opportunity for people and organisations in Northern Ireland to contribute their views on how the Government could best deliver on its statutory duty under section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc.) Act 2019 in implementing the CEDAW Report recommendations.

The Government engaged with a wide range of stakeholders who reached out seeking further discussions during the consultation process. However, the consultation process did not collect personal data that would identify a respondent as a person with a disability. We carefully analysed all of the views expressed in the submissions received.

It is the Government’s firm view that the Regulations properly comply with the statutory duty under section 9 of the NIEF Act, and are also compliant with the UK’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether he has taken steps to help secure financial support for (a) schools and (b) pupils and their families in Northern Ireland who face losing money for cancelled school trips as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

On 17 March, the FCO advised against all non-essential international travel and on 4 April confirmed that this UK-wide advice would stay in place until further notice. Travel restrictions and social distancing measures remain in place across the UK.

The question of changes, cancellation and refunds for school trip bookings affected by these restrictions is a matter for schools to discuss with their tour operator, airline, transport/accommodation provider and insurance company (as applicable). They are best placed to advise on the options available to them.

Education is a devolved matter and the Department of Education and the Education Authority in Northern Ireland continue to provide guidance and support to schools.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the document entitled New Decade, New Approach, published on 9 January, what his timescale is for implementing the Council of Europe Framework Convention for National Minorities in respect of the Ulster-Scots community in Northern Ireland.

Under the New Decade, New Approach agreement, the Government committed to recognising Ulster Scots as a national minority under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. We are working towards delivering this commitment before the end of 2020.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps his Department is taking to support pregnant women in Northern Ireland that wish to continue their pregnancy.

Maternity and prenatal health is a devolved matter for Northern Ireland.

The Government recognises the importance of consulting with experts, counselling and other support services to support women and girls through any difficult decisions. This will be a matter for the Department of Health to take forward as part of its commissioning of abortion services as a new healthcare service in line with the regulations we made and in accordance with paragraphs 85 and 86 of the CEDAW report.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
10th Mar 2020
IRA
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent assessment he has made of the status of the Provisional IRA.

In 2015, the UK Government commissioned the Assessment of Paramilitary Groups in Northern Ireland in order to provide a factual assessment from the UK security agencies and the PSNI on the structure, role and purpose of paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland.

As the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, made clear at the time, this assessment was specifically intended to inform then ongoing cross-party talks. The IRA, including the Provisional IRA, remains a proscribed organisation under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
10th Mar 2020
IRA
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the statement of 13 February 2020 made by Chief Constable of the PSNI at the NI Assembly Justice Committee, whether the role of determining the status of the Provisional IRA resides with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

In 2015, the UK Government commissioned the Assessment of Paramilitary Groups in Northern Ireland in order to provide a factual assessment from the UK security agencies and the PSNI on the structure, role and purpose of paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland.

As the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, made clear at the time, this assessment was specifically intended to inform then ongoing cross-party talks. The IRA, including the Provisional IRA, remains a proscribed organisation under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland is permitted to keep a record of all correspondence issued by that office; and whether those records are kept.

The retention of correspondence issued by the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland is an operational matter for the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what the cost has been to the public purse of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, in each of the last three years.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland does not have a role in the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland’s budget. The Equality Commission is sponsored by the Executive Office, which approves its budget.

The Commission’s published annual reports and accounts can be accessed via their website, at https://www.equalityni.org/Home.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what counselling services will be made available to women in Northern Ireland seeking an abortion following the introduction of the new regulatory framework on abortion on 31 March 2020.

In delivering on its legal duty to provide lawful access to abortion services in Northern Ireland, the Government has been clear that we want to ensure we are delivering in a way that works best for Northern Ireland - which is why we consulted on the proposals for the new legislative framework. The consultation provided an opportunity for the people in Northern Ireland and relevant organisations to properly provide input and views on the question of how we can best deliver services that are consistent with what is required under section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019.

We are carefully considering the consultation responses, and ensuring that the views received are reflected in the Government’s response, and inform the final framework that will be provided for in the regulations. We are also continuing to work closely with the healthcare profession, and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland who will oversee the framework’s delivery model and the operational readiness of services. In developing this work, the health and safety of women and girls, and clarity and certainty for the medical profession, remain at the forefront of the Government’s consideration.

21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, which stakeholder groups he has met to discuss proposals for a new legal framework for abortion services in Northern Ireland.

In consulting on the proposals for a new legal framework for abortion services in Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Office officials have engaged with a wide range of stakeholders. These groups include the Northern Ireland Department of Health, healthcare professionals, the all-Ireland church leaders group, abortion sector care providers, trade unions and civil society organisations; as well meeting with individuals who have been affected by the law.

The Northern Ireland Office will continue to consult with stakeholders to properly provide input and views on the question of how we can best deliver the new legal framework for abortion services is developed.