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Written Question
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities: Working Hours
21 Jan 2022

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what records his Department keeps relating to staff working times under Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998; and how long those records are kept for.

Answered by Eddie Hughes

The Department's policies and processes are supported by payroll and other records that are retained for at least two years.


Written Question
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Working Hours
21 Jan 2022

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what records his Department keeps relating to staff working times under Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998; and how long those records are kept for.

Answered by George Freeman

Staff at BEIS work a standard 36/37 hour full-time week. Pay and Time Off In Lieu for overtime, and flexitime, are available where agreed and recorded locally. Managers are responsible for monitoring the hours worked by their team members and for addressing any excess hours that are worked on a regular basis.


Written Question
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Working Hours
21 Jan 2022

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what records her Department keeps relating to staff working times under Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998; and how long those records are kept for.

Answered by Julia Lopez

Staff at DCMS work a standard 36 or 37 hour week and paid overtime is allowed on an exceptional basis in priority areas. No members of staff have opted off of the Working Time Directive, and we do not have any workers in the categories set out in Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 at this time.

Staff are encouraged to discuss their working hours with their Line Manager and, where they may be working beyond their standard hours, to record their hours of work with managers keeping oversight. A flexi time sheet template is available for individuals to use to record their hours; records are not held centrally and staff are free to retain them for as long as useful.


Written Question
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Working Hours
21 Jan 2022

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what records his Department keeps relating to staff working times under Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998; and how long those records are kept for.

Answered by Victoria Prentis

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Easington on 17 January 2022, PQ UIN 102586.


Written Question
Department for Education: Working Hours
21 Jan 2022

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what records his Department keeps relating to staff working times under Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998; and how long those records are kept for.

Answered by Michelle Donelan

The department does not centrally monitor working hours for any employee but requires all employees, regardless of work location, to keep an accurate record of the hours they work. This must be retained by the employee for 3 years and will be reviewed by their line manager on a regular basis.


Written Question
Food: Innovation
17 Jan 2022

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to promote innovation in the food system.

Answered by Jo Churchill

Defra recognises how central innovation and technology are to boosting productivity, enhancing the environment and feeding a growing global population. The Government is making significant investment to unlock innovation and translate our world leading research into practical, farmer-led solutions that improve productivity, environmental sustainability and resilience, and which move towards net zero emission farming systems.

We have several funding programmes open to industry as well as our own farming and food science research. These funding streams address key areas such as soil systems and land management, regenerative agriculture, sustainable feed and pest management, automation, alternative proteins, and precision farming.

The Government’s £90 million investment in the 'Transforming Food Production' (TFP) challenge, launched by UK Research and Innovation in 2018, is already supporting ground-breaking research and development to enable farmers and growers to harness the latest technology to produce high quality food, increase their productivity and move towards net zero emission farming systems by 2040.

On the back of this programme’s success, Defra launched a £14.5 million collaborative agricultural R&D competition called 'Farming Innovation Pathways' in spring 2021, targeting existing and new farm focused innovation, which will be delivered through the TFP initiative.

In October 2021, Defra launched the first £17.5 million share of funding in its ambitious new Farming Innovation Programme – as part of the proposed measures to stimulate innovation and boost sustainable productivity in England’s agricultural and horticultural sectors as we move away from the EU system of farming subsidy payments. This Programme will enable more farmers, growers, and agri-food businesses to become involved in collaborative agricultural and horticultural R&D, and will enhance knowledge exchange and adoption of innovation by farmers and growers to ensure innovation can make a real difference to the sectors. It will comprise three separate funds that will pull through innovation in different areas, from small farmer-led innovative research projects to larger industrial R&D projects that can transform the sector.

On January 19 we will launch the Improving Farm Productivity theme of the Farming Investment Fund, part of the £27 million grant scheme fund launched last November. Farmers and growers in England will be able to apply for grants to invest in cutting edge robotic and automation technology to boost productivity. Farmers will benefit from grants ranging from £35,000 to £500,000 to invest in innovative equipment including state of the art autonomous driverless tractors, and cutting-edge robots that harvest, weed and spray crops and voluntary robotic milking systems.

Defra is also engaged with the £47.5 million UK Research and Innovation led Strategic Priorities Fund in Food Systems, which is addressing planetary and health challenges to transform the food system.


Written Question
Dentistry: Qualifications
17 Jan 2022

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to amend the five-year time limit in the General Dental Council’s Overseas Registration Exam to take account of the impact of the covid-19 pandemic and to support candidates who have reached or are approaching that five year limit.

Answered by Edward Argar

The Dentists Act 1984 requires overseas applicants to the General Dental Council’s (GDC) register to undertake its Overseas Registration Exam (ORE) to confirm they have the requisite skills and knowledge to practise dentistry in the United Kingdom.

In April 2020, the GDC suspended Parts 1 and 2 of the ORE due to the restrictions in place to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 2 December 2021, the GDC announced a planned sitting of the Part 2 exam in January 2022.

The legislation restricts the GDC from offering Part 2 ORE places to candidates where five or more years have passed since they first attempted Part 1 of the exam. Therefore, the GDC has not been able to offer places on the January 2022 exam sitting to any candidates whose five-year period has expired. Officials have worked with the GDC to develop proposals which will provide these candidates with additional time to take the Part 2 assessment in the future. We plan to consult on this proposed legislative change in early 2022.


Written Question
Health Services: Older People
10 Jan 2022

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of deferring checks for the early warning signs of strokes, cancers, diabetes and other illnesses for people aged over 75 on the level of long-term demand on hospitals in the NHS in England.

Answered by Maria Caulfield

The Department of Health and Social Care has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Scotland and Wales
13 Dec 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 3 December 2021 to Question 82339, Coronavirus: Scotland: Wales, for which non-customer-facing roles in Jobcentres are staff required to attend the office.

Answered by Mims Davies

Some colleagues based in Jobcentres are in non-customer facing roles, in back of house service delivery and corporate roles. Largely, these colleagues are able to work in a hybrid way, with some time spent in the office and some time at home. Although some service delivery roles such as Work Coach Team Leaders are not customer facing, they do support customer facing staff therefore it may be necessary for them to be in the office.

Following recent announcements colleagues have been advised to follow the government guidance regarding working from home. Colleagues in Scotland and Wales have been advised to follow the guidance provided by the devolved administrations. This does not impact those colleagues accountable for delivering face-to-face services in our jobcentres in front of house roles.


Written Question
Working Hours: EU Law
13 Dec 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of amending the Working Time Regulations in response to the Court of Justice of the European Union ruling in the case of Federacion de Servicios de Comisiones Oberas v Deutsche Bank SAE (CJEU Case C-55/18); and if he will make a statement.

Answered by Paul Scully

It is important that employers comply with the Working Time Regulations in respect of working hours and daily and weekly rest, and that they are held to account if they don't. Workers can take a case to employment tribunal concerning insufficient rest, and the Health and Safety Executive directly enforces maximum working hours. The Government has also committed to bringing forward state enforcement of the rules in the Working Time Regulations on holiday pay for vulnerable workers, to ensure that workers get the paid time off they deserve.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Scotland: Wales
3 Dec 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to coordinate its policies on the covid-19 restrictions that are in operation in Scotland and Wales through the devolved Administrations; and if she will make a statement.

Answered by Guy Opperman

We take the Health and Safety of DWP staff and customers very seriously. We have robust risk assessments and guidance to ensure all appropriate mitigations are in place to keep our people safe.

As part of regularly reviewing our risk assessments, working with our departmental and local trade union colleagues, we consult the legislation and guidance of the devolved administrations ensuring that any differences are reflected within the risk assessment and communicated to staff based in offices in Scotland and Wales.

Staff based in Scotland should be following the safety measures included in the DWP risk assessments that incorporate any differences in Scottish government guidance.

Since the start of the pandemic, DWP has rigorously followed guidance from the respective governments in the devolved nations, thus allowing people to work safely from the office, or at home. We are committed to continuing this approach as we learn to live with the virus and return more of our people to the workplace in a safe, steady and controlled way.

We are constantly reviewing our position as and when new government guidance is issued. No matter where our people are working now, or in the future, their safety and compliance with government guidance is our number one priority.

If your constituents remain concerned about their own, or their colleagues’ personal safety and / or any of the practices within their specific office, they can raise this with their line manager.


Written Question
Jobcentres: Coronavirus
1 Dec 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what impact assessment she has made of the risk of covid-19 transmission of increased face-to-face Jobcentre appointments.

Answered by Mims Davies

The Department has prioritised the safety of our workforce and claimants throughout the pandemic and part of that is ensuring that we have robust national and site level risk assessments and guidance that ensures all appropriate mitigations are in place. The impact assessment informs the generic risk assessment, which we then apply at a local level, within the parameters that are set.

We have a suite of Health & Safety risk assessments in place developed following extensive consultation with departmental trade union representatives. These cover all of the measures in place to protect staff and customers and are regularly reviewed.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Staff
1 Dec 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that bringing non-frontline departmental staff back into workplaces in (a) Scotland and (b) Wales is in accordance with the covid-19 safety policies in operation in those devolved nations.

Answered by Mims Davies

The Department has prioritised the safety of our workforce and claimants throughout the pandemic and part of that is ensuring that we have robust national and site level risk assessments and guidance that ensures all appropriate mitigations are in place.

As part of regularly reviewing our risk assessments, in consultation with our departmental and local trade union colleagues we ensure that any differences in devolved administration regulations or guidance is reflected.


Written Question
Jobcentres: Audio Recordings
30 Nov 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the length of time given to claimants for Jobcentre appointments is recorded.

Answered by Mims Davies

The requested information is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. Maintaining an effective Work Coach diary is a joint responsibility between a team leader and the Work Coach, and is reached collaboratively through regular discussion and agreement.

The duration of each appointment is determined by the appointment type, and the length of time the appointment is expected to take is recorded by our diary management tool. We do not hold information on the actual duration of an appointment, for example, whether the appointment was longer or shorter than the allocated time.


Written Question
Jobcentres
30 Nov 2021

Questioner: Chris Stephens (SNP - Glasgow South West)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants have been required to attend more than one appointment at a Jobcentre within a two week period in each of the last six months; and whether work coaches have autonomy to determine the most suitable length of appointment for each claimant that they interview.

Answered by Mims Davies

The requested information is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. Maintaining an effective Work Coach diary is a joint responsibility between a team leader and the Work Coach, and is reached collaboratively through regular discussion and agreement.

The duration of each appointment is determined by the appointment type, and the length of time the appointment is expected to take is recorded by our diary management tool. We do not hold information on the actual duration of an appointment, for example, whether the appointment was longer or shorter than the allocated time.