Daniel Zeichner Portrait

Daniel Zeichner

Labour - Cambridge

Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

(since April 2020)
Petitions Committee
12th Mar 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Transport Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Shadow Minister (Transport)
18th Sep 2015 - 29th Jun 2017
Science and Technology Committee
13th Jul 2015 - 26th Oct 2015
Science and Technology Committee (Commons)
13th Jul 2015 - 26th Oct 2015


Oral Question
Monday 17th May 2021
15:15
Department for Work and Pensions
Topical Question No. 13
If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.
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Department Event
Monday 17th May 2021
16:30
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
First Delegated Legislation Committee - Debate - General Committee
17 May 2021, 4:30 p.m.
The draft Plant Health etc. (Fees) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Department Event
Thursday 17th June 2021
09:30
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Oral questions - Main Chamber
17 Jun 2021, 9:30 a.m.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions)
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Division Votes
Wednesday 28th April 2021
Fire Safety Bill
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 194 Labour No votes vs 0 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 322 Noes - 256
Speeches
Wednesday 12th May 2021
Better Jobs and a Fair Deal at Work

It is a pleasure to speak on better jobs in the week that the task of improving skills in Cambridge—indeed, …

Written Answers
Monday 26th April 2021
Neonicotinoids
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reason an emergency authorisation for the …
Early Day Motions
Thursday 17th October 2019
Safety of taxi and private hire sector
That this House notes the hard work of the taxi and private hire trade, and that some of the legislation …
Bills
Dockless Bicycles (Regulation) Bill 2017-19
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …
MP Financial Interests
Tuesday 14th April 2020
1. Employment and earnings
16 March 2020, received £200. Hours: 1 hr. (Registered 14 April 2020)
EDM signed
Thursday 18th March 2021
Agriculture
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2021 …
Supported Legislation
Tuesday 26th February 2019
Terms of Withdrawal from the EU (Referendum) (No. 2) Bill 2017-19
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Daniel Zeichner has voted in 341 divisions, and 1 time against the majority of their Party.

10 Nov 2020 - Environment Bill (Thirteenth sitting) - View Vote Context
Daniel Zeichner voted No - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 1 Labour No votes vs 4 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 4 Noes - 9
View All Daniel Zeichner 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
Victoria Prentis (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
(97 debate interactions)
Rebecca Pow (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
(60 debate interactions)
Robert Goodwill (Conservative)
(30 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Home Office
(11 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(9 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Daniel Zeichner's debates

Cambridge 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).

Daniel Zeichner has not participated in any petition debates

Latest EDMs signed by Daniel Zeichner

18th March 2021
Daniel Zeichner signed this EDM as a sponsor on Thursday 18th March 2021

Agriculture

Tabled by: Keir Starmer (Labour - Holborn and St Pancras)
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2021 (S.I., 2021, No. 158), dated 15 February 2021, a copy of which was laid before this House on 16 February 2021, be annulled.
10 signatures
(Most recent: 11 May 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 9
Green Party: 1
30th December 2020
Daniel Zeichner signed this EDM on Wednesday 27th January 2021

Holocaust Memorial Day 2021

Tabled by: Bob Blackman (Conservative - Harrow East)
That this House notes that on 27 January 2021 the UK will observe Holocaust Memorial Day marking the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where an estimated 1.1 million people were murdered; commemorates the six million victims of the Holocaust; further notes that the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 …
97 signatures
(Most recent: 11 May 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 45
Scottish National Party: 31
Conservative: 7
Liberal Democrat: 4
Independent: 3
Plaid Cymru: 3
Democratic Unionist Party: 2
Green Party: 1
Alba Party: 1
View All Daniel Zeichner's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Daniel Zeichner, 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.


Daniel Zeichner has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Daniel Zeichner has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

2 Bills introduced by Daniel Zeichner


The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to give powers to local authorities to regulate dockless bicycle-sharing schemes; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 24th July 2019
(Read Debate)
Next Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Date TBA

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to make provision about the exercise of taxi and private hire vehicle licensing functions in relation to persons about whom there are safeguarding or road safety concerns; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 19th July 2017
(Read Debate)
Next Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Commons
Date TBA

432 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Explanation of written questions
1 Other Department Questions
24th Mar 2021
What discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on tackling gender-pay disparities in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

The national gender pay gap is now at a record low, with the full-time gender pay gap at only 7%. Peterborough and Cambridgeshire also have pay gaps below the national average. Despite this, we need to keep making progress on this issue. Across the country, we will continue to make it easier for women to get into higher-paid jobs and sectors. As we build back from COVID-19 we will also look to increase the number of women in STEM professions, and to increase the availability of flexible working for everyone, to ensure the gender pay gap continues to reduce going forwards.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Attorney General, for what reason a record of the species involved is not collated when recording prosecutions of poaching offences.

Offences of poaching are usually charged under one of the following:

  • Section 1 of the Night Poaching Act 1828,
  • section 30 of the Game Act 1831 or
  • section 2 of the Poaching Prevention Act 1862.

There is no requirement to specify in an offence which type of animal the defendant was seeking to take or had taken, and in many cases it is not specified.

Therefore, the CPS is not able to keep any records of which species are involved in its prosecutions for poaching.

Michael Ellis
Attorney General
25th Mar 2021
What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of GOV.UK Verify.

Verify continues to work well, in support of 22 government services. Over 8 million people have used Verify, with 2 million added in the last year as citizens accessed critical online services during the pandemic.

Building on the lessons and experiences of Verify, and as we announced in last year's Spending Review, the Government Digital Service is collaborating with other departments to develop a new login and identity assurance system that will make it easier for more people to use online services safely.

For example, we know that extra data sources will be needed for a more inclusive service, so we are also working with the Home Office on its digitisation of birth, marriage and death records.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what progress has been made on implementing a fully digital trade documentation system to help facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and reduce delays for (a) businesses reliant on just-in-time food supply chains and (b) other businesses.

In December 2020, the Government published the 2025 Border Strategy. As we set out in this strategy, we are committed to developing a Single Trade Window for the UK, which will create a single portal through which information required to import and export can be submitted to border agencies. We will invest £16m during 2021-22 to take forward the foundational elements of this project across Government.

Alongside the work to develop the UK’s Single Trade Window, we continue to identify and pursue opportunities to digitise border documentation wherever possible, including paperwork which stems from international requirements. Aligned with this, we are identifying opportunities to make permanent a number of digitisation changes which have been implemented as a short term response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he is taking to mitigate against (a) under-counting of populations in cities with large university populations not residing in that area as a result of the covid-19 outbreak and (b) potential under-funding allocated on that per-capita basis.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
11th May 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to his Department's guidance entitled, Handling Correspondence from Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Lords, MEPs and members of Devolved Administrations, when Ministers plan to recommence signing off directly correspondence from hon. Members.

The right of MPs to take up constituents’ cases and other issues directly with the Government is an important part of the democratic process and underlines the accountability of Ministers to Parliament. It is essential that MPs receive carefully considered and prompt responses to their enquiries from all Government Departments, which address constituents’ concerns.

Further to the Leader of the House of Common’s comments during the Business Statement of 6 May 2020, the Cabinet Office guidance for departments on handling correspondence states that replies to letters from MPs by officials should only be authorised in certain exceptional cases, for example, when dealing with a large volume of letters on the same issue or under certain circumstances where an official reply would be more appropriate.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the timescale is for holding elections for the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Government has postponed this poll for 12 months as part of the Coronavirus Act which is the same for all local, mayoral and Police and Crime Commissioner elections scheduled for 7 May. This decision was taken following advice from the Government’s medical experts in relation to the response to the Covid-19 virus and those delivering elections.

Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales, including for the Cambridgeshire police force area, will now take place on the next ordinary day of elections on 6 May 2021.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of the end of the EU's orphan works exception on academic institutions; and whether his Department is making an assessment of ways in which UK regulations can be updated to enable research through an orphan works exception.

The Government engaged with stakeholders and published guidance in January 2020 on the removal of the exception for affected institutions during the transition period. The UK’s orphan works licensing scheme continues to be available, as do exceptions to copyright for purposes including research and private study. The Government presently has no plans to update these.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when Vivacity Labs, operating on behalf of the Department, first used cameras that use artificial intelligence to monitor pedestrians to improve the collection of social distancing data in Cambridgeshire.

Vivacity Labs is one of many COVID-19 related projects funded through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The Vivacity Labs project referred to was supported through the Innovate UK COVID-19 call for business-led innovation in response to global disruption due to the pandemic.

Vivacity Labs used smart sensors that do not pick up images to monitor road usage.

The data sets being used in this project date from April 2019. This project is applying a new algorithm to this existing data and analyses the spatial differences (gaps, interactions etc.) between different modes of transport and not individuals.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, on how many occasions he and his Department have had discussions with (a) Nvidia and (b) Arm on the sale of Arm from Softbank to Nvidia.

Departments publish quarterly details of Ministers’ meetings with external organisations on GOV.UK. Details for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/beis-ministerial-gifts-hospitality-travel-and-meetings.

The latest published data covers January to March 2020. Data for April to June 2020 will be published in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to mandate businesses to publish their covid-19 risk assessments.

Publishing risk assessments is not a legal obligation, but we are asking companies to consider publishing the results of their risk assessments whenever possible. We recommend that larger companies – those with over 50 workers – publish the results of their risk assessments. The results of a risk assessment, however, must be shared with employees if requested.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many UK (a) businesses and (b) universities are accredited as Investors in People.

Investors in People is responsible for awarding the Investors in People standard. Since 1 February 2017 this has been a Community Interest Company, which is not part of the Government.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if UK Research and Innovation’s review of Open Access policy is independent from the work of the cOAlition S consortium.

The Government’s university research sustainability taskforce is examining how best to respond to the challenges for the sector resulting from COVID-19, with the aim of sustaining the university research base and its capability to contribute effectively to UK society and economy in the recovery from COVID-19 and beyond. Given the broader focus and urgency of addressing the impacts of COVID-19, at this time, the outcome of the UKRI Open Access Review does not form part of the taskforce's consideration.

The OA Review is independent from Plan S. Working internationally however, is important to help achieve open access. UKRI has joined cOAlition S, a consortium comprising research funders and foundations from across the world and supported by the European Commission and the European Research Council. The coalition aims to help make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality, and is built around the Plan S principles. UKRI will consider outcomes of the work of cOAlition S as part of its ongoing Open Access Review alongside other evidence and inputs. The outcomes of the review will determine decisions on UKRI’s OA policy.

As part of the UKRI open access review, UKRI is working with BEIS to consider implications for stakeholders. UKRI has commissioned an independent analysis to help assess the possible implications for various groups, including higher education institutions. This analysis will include direct costs and benefits and wider social and economic implications, and will be considered alongside other evidence gathered through the review, including via the consultation on a proposed UKRI policy which has recently closed. The consideration of the COVID-19 impacts on research sector, including economic implications, will be taken into account in the UKRI review.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if the UK Research and Innovation’s review of Open Access policy will be considered as part of the work undertaken by the Department’s research sustainability taskforce.

The Government’s university research sustainability taskforce is examining how best to respond to the challenges for the sector resulting from COVID-19, with the aim of sustaining the university research base and its capability to contribute effectively to UK society and economy in the recovery from COVID-19 and beyond. Given the broader focus and urgency of addressing the impacts of COVID-19, at this time, the outcome of the UKRI Open Access Review does not form part of the taskforce's consideration.

The OA Review is independent from Plan S. Working internationally however, is important to help achieve open access. UKRI has joined cOAlition S, a consortium comprising research funders and foundations from across the world and supported by the European Commission and the European Research Council. The coalition aims to help make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality, and is built around the Plan S principles. UKRI will consider outcomes of the work of cOAlition S as part of its ongoing Open Access Review alongside other evidence and inputs. The outcomes of the review will determine decisions on UKRI’s OA policy.

As part of the UKRI open access review, UKRI is working with BEIS to consider implications for stakeholders. UKRI has commissioned an independent analysis to help assess the possible implications for various groups, including higher education institutions. This analysis will include direct costs and benefits and wider social and economic implications, and will be considered alongside other evidence gathered through the review, including via the consultation on a proposed UKRI policy which has recently closed. The consideration of the COVID-19 impacts on research sector, including economic implications, will be taken into account in the UKRI review.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he plans to publish further guidance to councils on the top-up to local business grant funds scheme.

Guidance for Local Authorities on the Local Authority Discretionary Fund was published on 13 May. This guidance can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-grant-funding-guidance-for-businesses

At this stage, there are no plans to publish further guidance.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he has taken to issue guidance to service providers on how to implement reasonable adjustments to enable people who are unable to social distance due to disability to access services.

The Government took into account people with disabilities when developing the guidance. Our guidance does not replace existing employment, health and safety or equalities legislation. It provides information to employers on how best to meet these responsibilities in the context of COVID-19.

The safer workplaces guidance provides some suggestions to help employers make their workplaces COVID-19 secure for their employees, visitors and customers. We expect all businesses to approach reopening in a sensible way, taking account of the Government’s guidance and discussing with neighbouring businesses and their local authorities where applicable.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what guidance he has provided to businesses on how to make social distancing accessible for people with sight loss and other hidden disabilities.

The Government took into account people with disabilities when developing the guidance.

Our guidance does not replace existing employment, health and safety or equalities legislation. It provides information to employers on how best to meet these responsibilities in the context of COVID-19.

The safer workplaces guidance provides some suggestions to help employers make their workplaces COVID-19 secure for their employees, visitors and customers. We expect all businesses to approach reopening in a sensible way, taking account of the Government’s guidance and discussing with neighbouring businesses and their local authorities where applicable.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the New High-Volume Manufacturers of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment guide applies to voluntary manufacturers of masks, face shields and face coverings.

The Government has published two new guides to support businesses in how they can supply safe PPE, one focussed on large manufacturers and another for small producers. The Office for Product Safety and Standards has provided advice to over 300 business and is working directly with a number of small voluntary groups to assist them in understanding and meeting the requirements, including the need for third party assessment. It is also working with larger producers to see whether their approved designs could be used by small producers and community groups.

There is also separate guidance for manufacturers and makers of face coverings, not intended as Personal Protective Equipment but for general use by members of the public. All three guides can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/opss-coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-business-and-local-authorities.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the UK remaining on British Summer Time to (a) encourage active travel, (b) extend the tourist season and (c) reduce energy usage as part of the recovery plan from the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government believes that the current daylight-saving arrangements represent the optimal use of the available daylight across the UK. We do not believe there is sufficient evidence to support changing the current system of clock changes, including for travel, tourism and energy usage.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he had with representatives of Royal Mail on the decision to stop delivery of letters on Saturday and the effect of that decision on Royal Mail's statutory obligation to provide universal postal services.

The Universal Service Obligation is set out in the Postal Services Act 2011.

Ministers have no role in temporary changes to the service level. The regulatory conditions that require Royal Mail to deliver letters 6 days a week as part of the universal postal service also provide that Royal Mail is not required to sustain these services without interruption, suspension or restriction in the event of an emergency. Ofcom has acknowledged in this context that the COVID-19 pandemic is an emergency.

There is a clear and transparent process for how longer-term changes to service standards would be considered and any changes would need to be made through secondary legislation and agreed by Parliament. Ministers and officials have regular discussions with Ofcom and Royal Mail on matters relating to postal services.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to amend the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to remove the requirement for the lender to ask for personal guarantees.

Under the British Business Bank’s scheme rules, Personal Guarantees of any form cannot be requested to support a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) facility below £250,000. This has been made clear in the guidance provided to all the CBILS accredited lenders.

Personal guarantees for facilities above £250,000 may still be required, at a lender’s discretion, but they exclude the Principal Private Residence (PPR) which cannot be used for a Personal Guarantee. Recoveries under these loans are capped at a maximum of 20% of the outstanding balance of the CBILS facility after the proceeds of business assets have been applied.

These terms were updated on 3 April 2020. The British Business Bank has communicated that the changes should be retrospectively applied by lenders for any CBILS facilities offered since 23 March 2020.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of temporarily suspending the application of the Package Travel Regulations for the duration of the covid-19 outbreak.

Under existing consumer law, consumers are able to choose a voucher or credit note should they wish. We are engaging with the package travel sector and others to assess the impact of the covid-19 outbreak. We recognise the extremely difficult circumstances businesses are currently facing, which is why on 17 March the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced an unprecedented package of support for businesses, in addition to the £30bn support announced in the budget.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps she is taking to ensure that the new visa scheme for international researchers announced on 27 January 2020 enables science and technology companies in (a) Cambridge and (b) the UK to access the global talent that they need to innovate and grow.

The Government is committed to making the UK a global science superpower that attracts brilliant people and businesses from across the world.

The Global Talent route makes several changes to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route that will make it easier for the UK’s science and research community to recruit global talent. The route includes a new UKRI Endorsed Funder fast-track route for scientists, researchers, their teams and dependents. The UK’s digital technology sector will also benefit from the Global Talent route. Tech Nation will remain an endorsing body for highly-skilled entrepreneurs and employees working in digital technology. In addition, there will no longer be a cap on the number of visas available.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of Innovate UK core funding has been awarded to (a) SMEs, (b) large companies and (c) academia in each year since 2010, by sector.

The table below includes grants offered to organisations within the three categories requested. This does not provide an industry sector breakdown as this information is not recorded.

10/11

11/12

12/13

13/14

14/15

15/16

16/17

17/18

18/19

19/20

Academic

21%

17%

14%

14%

13%

15%

13%

13%

13%

13%

Large

28%

24%

37%

18%

14%

15%

11%

14%

10%

7%

SME

48%

57%

46%

63%

66%

60%

68%

68%

69%

70%


Totals will not sum to 100% due to organisations outside of these categories. This also excludes funding for the Knowledge Transfer Network, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, Catapults and other Centres, and grants provided through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the Newton fund, and through programmes managed by institutes.

The figures for 2019 to 2020 show funding at the time of the question rather than final year-end figures. These are subject to change as the current financial year has not yet concluded.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of project collaborators in Innovate UK core funding grants awarded to Higher Education Institutions were (a) SMEs and (b) large companies in each sector in each year since 2010.

The table below describes the proportion of Innovate UK projects that have an academic partner with either a large business or SME. As some projects will involve both large businesses and SMEs, the percentages will not add up to 100%. This does not provide an industry sector breakdown as this information is not recorded.

The figures for 2019 to 2020 show funding at the time of the question rather than final year-end figures. These are subject to change as the current financial year has not yet concluded.

10/11

11/12

12/13

13/14

14/15

15/16

16/17

17/18

18/19

19/20

Proportion Large

46%

45%

63%

50%

47%

47%

36%

34%

22%

29%

Proportion SME

80%

76%

68%

86%

86%

83%

89%

85%

85%

79%

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the Answer of 14 December 2020 to Question 910164 on the protection of shop workers, what recent discussions Ministers in his Department have had with supermarkets on the use of live facial recognition in their stores.

The Minister for Crime and Policing has not had any discussions with supermarkets since the Answer of 14 December 2020.

The use of biometric data (including facial images) by private companies to identify individuals is regulated by the UK General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018. Under the legislation, data processing must be fair, lawful and transparent. Companies would generally need to show that the use of biometric data was necessary for reasons of substantial public interest, as defined by the legislation. Individuals who consider their data has been misused can make complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office, the independent regulator of the legislation.

On 27 November, the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) published its review into bias in algorithmic decision-making, which explored the different ways that algorithmic decision-making may affect protected characteristic data, such as race. We will respond to the report in due course. Facial recognition also remains a high priority for the ICO, which has indicated that it will be publishing more about its use by the private sector later this year.



John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the implications for (a) levels of discrimination against people from BAME backgrounds and (b) human rights of the use of live facial recognition by private companies.

The Minister for Crime and Policing has not had any discussions with supermarkets since the Answer of 14 December 2020.

The use of biometric data (including facial images) by private companies to identify individuals is regulated by the UK General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018. Under the legislation, data processing must be fair, lawful and transparent. Companies would generally need to show that the use of biometric data was necessary for reasons of substantial public interest, as defined by the legislation. Individuals who consider their data has been misused can make complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office, the independent regulator of the legislation.

On 27 November, the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) published its review into bias in algorithmic decision-making, which explored the different ways that algorithmic decision-making may affect protected characteristic data, such as race. We will respond to the report in due course. Facial recognition also remains a high priority for the ICO, which has indicated that it will be publishing more about its use by the private sector later this year.



John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps are being taken to reduce the risk of covid-19 infection for food bank (a) teams and (b) users.

Government has put into place measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS, and save lives. Current guidance states that you must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. Exceptions have been made to go to work or provide voluntary or charitable services, if this cannot reasonably be done from home. This only applies in England. There is separate guidance on coronavirus for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In order to reduce the risks relating to coronavirus, volunteers, including those working at food banks, should follow guidance on social distancing (hands, face, space) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing and working in a COVID-secure environment https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19. Specific guidance for volunteer-involving organisations and groups on how they can involve volunteers safely in their work during the pandemic is available on GOV.UK here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/enabling-safe-and-effective-volunteering-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The government has not made a specific assessment of the effect of COVID-19 infections at UK foodbanks.


The Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport has made a total of £22.7m available to 911 organisations supporting food supply from the £750m voluntary, community and social enterprise sector support package. This will support the ability of foodbanks to provide emergency food aid to people in need.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport what assessment his Department has made of the effect of covid-19 infection rates on the (a) number of UK foodbank volunteers and (b) ability of foodbanks to provide emergency food aid to people in need.

Government has put into place measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS, and save lives. Current guidance states that you must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. Exceptions have been made to go to work or provide voluntary or charitable services, if this cannot reasonably be done from home. This only applies in England. There is separate guidance on coronavirus for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In order to reduce the risks relating to coronavirus, volunteers, including those working at food banks, should follow guidance on social distancing (hands, face, space) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing and working in a COVID-secure environment https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19. Specific guidance for volunteer-involving organisations and groups on how they can involve volunteers safely in their work during the pandemic is available on GOV.UK here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/enabling-safe-and-effective-volunteering-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

The government has not made a specific assessment of the effect of COVID-19 infections at UK foodbanks.


The Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport has made a total of £22.7m available to 911 organisations supporting food supply from the £750m voluntary, community and social enterprise sector support package. This will support the ability of foodbanks to provide emergency food aid to people in need.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the CEO of the Charity Commission on the use of charity reserves since in each year since 2017.

The Secretary of State and Minister for Civil Society meet the Charity Commission on a regular basis to discuss a range of matters that are relevant to the charity sector. These have included discussions on the charity sector's financial resilience in relation to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Charity reserves make an important contribution to charities' financial resilience and their ability to respond to financial shocks. All registered charities in England and Wales must explain their policy on reserves in their trustees’ annual report, stating the level of reserves held and why they are held. We welcome the Charity Commission's guidance on charity reserves, which was originally published in 2016 and subsequently refreshed in 2018. The guidance sets out clearly what reserves are, how to develop a reserves policy, the legal requirements for publishing the reserves policy and reporting on it, and what trustees should do to keep proper oversight of their charity’s reserves. It continued to make clear that all charities need a policy that establishes a level of reserves that is right for the charity and clearly explains to its stakeholders why holding these reserves is necessary.

Building on this guidance, the Charity Commission provided clear advice to charities on financial management in 2020, including on the appropriate use of reserves in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has made no assessment of the specific impact of this advice.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect on jobs in the charity sector of the advice of the CEO of the Charity Commission given between 2017 and 2019 on the use of charity reserves.

The Secretary of State and Minister for Civil Society meet the Charity Commission on a regular basis to discuss a range of matters that are relevant to the charity sector. These have included discussions on the charity sector's financial resilience in relation to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Charity reserves make an important contribution to charities' financial resilience and their ability to respond to financial shocks. All registered charities in England and Wales must explain their policy on reserves in their trustees’ annual report, stating the level of reserves held and why they are held. We welcome the Charity Commission's guidance on charity reserves, which was originally published in 2016 and subsequently refreshed in 2018. The guidance sets out clearly what reserves are, how to develop a reserves policy, the legal requirements for publishing the reserves policy and reporting on it, and what trustees should do to keep proper oversight of their charity’s reserves. It continued to make clear that all charities need a policy that establishes a level of reserves that is right for the charity and clearly explains to its stakeholders why holding these reserves is necessary.

Building on this guidance, the Charity Commission provided clear advice to charities on financial management in 2020, including on the appropriate use of reserves in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has made no assessment of the specific impact of this advice.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what covid-19 safety guidance his Department has issued to arts organisations planning to stream live events from closed venues during the covid-19 outbreak.

From Thursday 5th November until Wednesday 2nd December, performing arts venues can continue to operate under Stages 1 and 2 of the performing arts roadmap. This means that professional rehearsal and training, and performances for broadcast or recording purposes, may continue as these are professional activities that cannot take place at home. However performances to live audiences cannot take place, either indoors or outdoors. During this period non-professional activity, such as amateur choirs and orchestra, cannot take place. Further information can be found in the performing arts guidance on gov.uk.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he is seeking a legally binding guarantee to keep Arm as a separate entity with a separate business model that is not subject to US intellectual property provisions after Arm is sold from Softbank to Nvidia.

As provided in previous parliamentary responses, ARM is an important part of the UK's tech sector and makes a significant contribution to the UK economy. While acquisitions are primarily a commercial matter for the parties concerned, the Government monitors these closely. When a takeover may have a significant impact on the UK we will not hesitate to investigate further and take action. We are scrutinising the deal carefully to understand its impact on the UK. The Enterprise Act 2002 allows the government to call in transactions such as this. We will consider if and when it would be appropriate to do so.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he is seeking a legally binding exemption from Export Administration Regulations or Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations for the sale of ARM from Softbank to Nvidia.

As provided in previous parliamentary responses, ARM is an important part of the UK's tech sector and makes a significant contribution to the UK economy. While acquisitions are primarily a commercial matter for the parties concerned, the Government monitors these closely. When a takeover may have a significant impact on the UK we will not hesitate to investigate further and take action. We are scrutinising the deal carefully to understand its impact on the UK. The Enterprise Act 2002 allows the government to call in transactions such as this. We will consider if and when it would be appropriate to do so.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the national security implications of the Nvidia/Softbank Arm deal.

Ministers have regular meetings and discussions with their ministerial colleagues, on a range of issues. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the Gov.uk website.

As you would expect, it would not be appropriate to comment on any national security concerns we may or may not have. However, we will be scrutinising the deal in close detail.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the acquisition of Arm by US company Nvidia.

Ministers have regular meetings and discussions with their ministerial colleagues, on a range of issues. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the Gov.uk website.

As you would expect, it would not be appropriate to comment on any national security concerns we may or may not have. However, we will be scrutinising the deal in close detail.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what mechanism he will use to make any post-offer undertakings provided by Nvidia with regards to Arm legally binding.

Ministers have regular meetings and discussions with their ministerial colleagues, on a range of issues. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the Gov.uk website.

As you would expect, it would not be appropriate to comment on any national security concerns we may or may not have. However, we will be scrutinising the deal in close detail.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to allow cultural organisations to continue producing approved socially-distanced music and theatre performances.

Professional Activity in line with Stage 4 of the performing arts roadmap can continue as it has done previously.

Venues such as theatres, concert halls and other entertainment venues that are already able to host larger numbers, and are Covid secure in line with the relevant guidance, will continue to be able to do so - as long as groups of more than one household are limited to six.

Venues will need to ensure that groups are kept separate from one another to ensure they do not mix and do not exceed the new legal limits. They will also need to adhere to new legal requirements around track and trace.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on how many occasions he and his Department have had discussions with (a) Nvidia and (b) Arm on the sale of Arm from Softbank to Nvidia.

Ministers and officials have regular meetings and discussions with a wide range of stakeholders, on a variety of issues. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the Gov.uk website.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport what exemptions the Government has sought from the US Office of Foreign Assets Control regulation in order to ensure that UK companies are guaranteed access to their own products.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has not sought exemptions from the US Office of Foreign Assets Control regime.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 9 September 2020 to Question 82137 on Data Protection: EU Law, what assessment he has made of the cost to businesses of accessing alternative legal mechanisms; and what plans the Government has in place to support businesses in accessing those mechanisms.

The UK is seeking data adequacy decisions from the EU under the GDPR and the Law Enforcement Directive (LED) and the EU’s adequacy assessment of the UK is underway. The UK remains confident that an adequacy agreement can be reached by the end of the transition period. However, we are taking sensible steps to prepare for a situation where this has not been achieved.

In such a scenario, organisations would be able to use alternative legal mechanisms to continue receiving personal data from the EU. Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) are the most common legal safeguard and will be the relevant mitigation for most organisations.The implementation cost for SCCs would vary between different organisations, in part depending on the size of the business in question.

DCMS is working with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to ensure that all available guidance is simple, straightforward and actionable. The ICO has created an interactive SCCs tool for businesses to use and further guidance can be found on GOV.UK and the ICO’s website regarding steps organisations may be required to take relating to data protection and data flows by the end of the transition period.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Sep 2020
ARM
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will refer the Nvidia / SoftBank Arm deal to the Competition and Markets Authority under the 2002 Enterprise Act on national security grounds.

The Enterprise Act 2002 allows the government to call in transactions such as this. We will consider if and when it would be appropriate to do so.


Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect on data adequacy negotiations with other trade partners of the agreement with the US on access to electronic data.

It is our intention to secure positive adequacy decisions from the EU to allow personal data to continue to flow freely from the EU/EEA to the UK. We are seeking positive adequacy decisions under both the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Law Enforcement Directive (LED), before the end of the transition period.

We see the EU’s assessment process on data adequacy as technical and confirmatory of the reality that the UK is operating the same regulatory frameworks as the EU, and the UK considers it self-evidently in the interest of both sides to have adequacy decisions in place by the end of the year. No other third country's standards have ever been closer to the EU's.

The UK-US Data Access Agreement is a vital tool to facilitate law enforcement in the prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution of serious crime. This world-leading agreement will deliver on the people’s priorities by dramatically speeding up investigations and prosecutions of terrorists, child abusers and other serious criminals and ensuring children are protected faster.The Agreement includes significant data protection and privacy safeguards and is compatible with UK and EU data protection legislation and, therefore, is consistent with the UK seeking a positive adequacy decision from the EU.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether covid-19 social distancing guidelines for the indoor play sector need to be signed off by the (a) Health and Safety Executive and (b) Public Health England before the indoor play sector can reopen.

Yes, guidance for the indoor play sector needs to be signed off by Public Health England and Health and Safety Executive. We will be working closely with both organisations to develop guidance for this sector.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what proportion of the £200m assigned to the National Lottery Community Fund as emergency covid-19 funding for smaller charities has been received by charities.

The Coronavirus Community Support Fund was set up to help maintain and enhance services for vulnerable people affected by the current crisis, where delivery organisations are experiencing income disruption and/or increased demand for their services.

To date, 934 grants have been awarded to charities and social enterprises in England, totalling approximately £20m. Of this payments have been made to 463 organisations, totalling £5,163,403.

The funding is being distributed by the National Lottery Community Fund and is open for applications from small and medium charities and social enterprises.

How to apply: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/covid-19/learn-about-applying-for-emergency-funding-in-england

We have published clear and comprehensive guidance on the full £750 million package of support for charities and how organisations can apply for it on Gov.uk. This guidance will be updated frequently: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/financial-support-for-voluntary-community-and-social-enterprise-vcse-organisations-to-respond-to-coronavirus-covid-19

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to Question 383 the oral contribution of the Minister for Digital and Culture to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, on 9 June 2020, whether it remains his Department's policy to bring forward legislative proposals alongside the response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation full response in Autumn, 2020.

The Government is committed to making the UK the safest place to be online. DCMS and the Home Office are working at pace to develop the legislation. We will publish a full government response in the autumn. Following that, legislation will be ready in this session.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will undertake a new risk assessment for (a) boat owners and (b) caravan owners staying overnight in their caravans.

Our ambition is to reopen holiday accommodation, including private boats, boat hire, and caravans, for overnight stays in step three of the government's recovery strategy. All decisions on reopening will be based on the latest scientific evidence and regularly reviewed public health assessments.

The government has engaged closely with the waterways sector and the holiday & home parks sector to prepare guidance that will allow the sector to reopen safely, as quickly as possible.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending museums and galleries tax relief to remove the limitations on selling exhibitions.

The objective of the Museums and Galleries Exhibitions Tax Relief is to encourage the creation of more and higher quality permanent galleries and temporary exhibitions, as well as to support touring of the best exhibitions across the country and abroad, raising the UK’s profile internationally.

The Relief is designed for organisations which display works of historic, scientific, artistic or cultural interest.

The Government continues to monitor the take-up and impact of the relief on the museums sector and the public purse, particularly with respect to the sunset clause in the relief which means it is due to come to an end in March 2022.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 6 May 2020 to Question 42080 on Internet: Safety, for what reasons the Government no longer plans to publish a full response to the Online Harms White Paper in Spring 2020.

As is the case right across Government, we are prioritising our handling of COVID-19 to support our citizens, sectors, and public bodies. However, DCMS and the Home Office are working at pace to minimise any delay and will publish a full government response as soon as possible, later this year.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when the Government plans to publish a full response to the Online Harms White Paper.

The Government is committed to making the UK the safest place to be online. We intend to publish a full Government response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation later this year, and will follow this with legislation once parliamentary time allows.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will hold discussions with the BBC on (a) the role of programming in supporting public morale and (b) replaying the the 1966 World Cup match during the covid-19 outbreak.

As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a vital role to play in supplying information to the public in the weeks and months ahead. It has now announced a wide-ranging package of measures to help keep the nation informed, educated, and entertained through these unprecedented times.

Decisions on the content that the BBC decides to show, including whether or not it could replay the 1966 World Cup match, are a matter for the BBC which is independent of the government.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding for student mental health services to meet the increased demand resulting from the covid-19 outbreak.

Protecting student and staff wellbeing is vital - these are difficult times and it is important students can still access the mental health and wellbeing support that they need. We recognise that many students are facing additional mental health challenges due to the disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. I have engaged with universities on this issue, and have written to Vice Chancellors on numerous occasions, outlining that student welfare should be prioritised.

We have worked with the Office for Students (OfS) to provide Student Space, which has been funded with up to £3 million by the OfS. Student Space is a mental health and wellbeing platform, designed to work alongside existing services and to bridge gaps in support that arise from this unprecedented situation. This resource provides dedicated one-to-one phone, text and web chat facilities, as well as a collaborative online platform providing vital mental health and wellbeing resources.

Ensuring that students have access to high-quality mental health support is my top priority, which is why I asked the OfS to look at extending the platform. I am delighted that they have been able to extend the platform to support students for the whole 2020/21 academic year, because no student should be left behind at this challenging time.

Furthermore, we have asked the OfS to allocate £15 million towards student mental health in the academic year 2021/22 through proposed reforms to Strategic Priorities grant funding, to help address the challenges to student mental health posed by the transition to university, given the increasing demand for mental health services. This will target those students in greatest need of such services, including vulnerable groups and hard to reach students.

The government has also worked closely with the OfS to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. Providers are able to use the funding, worth around £256 million for the academic year 2020/21, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment, and mental health support, as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans. We have also made an additional £70 million of student hardship funding available to higher education providers this financial year.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has provided over £10 million to leading mental health charities including charities like Young Minds and Place 2 Be, which young people can access to support their mental health.

Students struggling with their mental health can also access support via online resources from the NHS, Public Health England via the mental health charity Mind and the Every Mind Matters website: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of higher education students in England in the academic year 2020-21 have had applications for a full maintenance loan declined as a result of not being able to provide information about their parent or guardian’s financial circumstances because the definition of estrangement, as outlined in the current Student Support Regulations, was not met.

The government is aware of the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 outbreak will have on some students. I have written to universities and other higher education (HE) providers to highlight the vulnerability of estranged students and ask them to prioritise this group for additional support.

The Student Loans Company (SLC) does not hold readily available data on the number of people who applied for means-tested living costs support but did not provide household financial information to support their application and then subsequently made a maintenance loan application on the basis of being estranged from their family.

The SLC data for new and returning full-time undergraduate students for the 2020/21 academic year suggests that 7,917 applicants originally stated they were estranged when applying for a maintenance loan. Of these, 598 applicants (7.55%) have so far been awarded only the non-means tested basic rate of maintenance loan because they have either not demonstrated they were estranged or otherwise independent, or they have not provided any household financial information.

7,319 of the 7,917 applicants (92.45%) have so far been awarded their entitlement as an estranged student, as they requested. Students who have so far been awarded the non-means tested basic rate of maintenance loan only may be awarded a higher rate maintenance loan if they provide the required information at a later point in the academic year.

All eligible students qualify for a partially means-tested loan for living costs. Students on the lowest incomes, including most students assessed as estranged from their parents, will qualify for the maximum loan for living costs which has been increased by 2.9% for the current 2020/21 academic year and 3.1% for 2021/22 to record levels in cash terms.

The government has meanwhile worked closely with the Office for Students (OfS) to help clarify that HE providers can draw upon existing funding this academic year to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students. HE providers are able to use OfS Student Premium funding worth around £256 million towards student hardship funds. We have also made an additional £70 million of student hardship funding available to HE providers this financial year. HE providers will have flexibility in how they distribute the funding to students, in a way that will best prioritise those in greatest need.

Additional bursaries are offered by some HE providers for students who are estranged from their families.

I would be happy to meet with the hon. Member for Cambridge to discuss this matter.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what amount of expired Apprenticeship Levy funding has been reclaimed from levy paying NHS organisations in England in 2019-20.

As the NHS is made up of a large number of diverse employers, it is not possible to identify the amount of expired apprenticeship levy funds for the NHS in England as a whole. This information is therefore not held centrally.

Moreover, due to taxpayer confidentiality, we are unable to publish the amount that individual employers, including individual NHS Trusts, have contributed through the apprenticeship levy or the amount of funds that have been spent or have expired.

The funds in apprenticeship service accounts are available for levy-paying employers to use for 24 months before they begin to expire on a rolling, month-by-month basis.

Employers can choose which apprenticeships they offer, how many apprenticeships they offer and when they offer the apprenticeships. We do not anticipate that all employers who pay the levy will need or want to use all the funds available to them, but they are able to do so if they wish. Funds raised by the levy are used to support the whole apprenticeship system. This means that employers’ unused funds are not lost but are used to support apprenticeships in smaller employers and to cover the ongoing costs of apprentices already in training.

As we set out in the Spending Review, we will again be making available £2.5 billion for investment in apprenticeships in the 2021-22 financial year, which is double that spent in the 2010-11 financial year.

We are working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, employers and stakeholders to make sure the NHS is fully supported to recruit the apprentices it needs to deliver high-quality care. There are 74 high-quality apprenticeship standards in the health and science sector, including a complete nursing apprentice pathway from entry-level through to postgraduate level.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what amount of expired Apprenticeship Levy funding has been reclaimed from each NHS foundation trust in the East of England.

As the NHS is made up of a large number of diverse employers, it is not possible to identify the amount of expired apprenticeship levy funds for the NHS in England as a whole. This information is therefore not held centrally.

Moreover, due to taxpayer confidentiality, we are unable to publish the amount that individual employers, including individual NHS Trusts, have contributed through the apprenticeship levy or the amount of funds that have been spent or have expired.

The funds in apprenticeship service accounts are available for levy-paying employers to use for 24 months before they begin to expire on a rolling, month-by-month basis.

Employers can choose which apprenticeships they offer, how many apprenticeships they offer and when they offer the apprenticeships. We do not anticipate that all employers who pay the levy will need or want to use all the funds available to them, but they are able to do so if they wish. Funds raised by the levy are used to support the whole apprenticeship system. This means that employers’ unused funds are not lost but are used to support apprenticeships in smaller employers and to cover the ongoing costs of apprentices already in training.

As we set out in the Spending Review, we will again be making available £2.5 billion for investment in apprenticeships in the 2021-22 financial year, which is double that spent in the 2010-11 financial year.

We are working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, employers and stakeholders to make sure the NHS is fully supported to recruit the apprentices it needs to deliver high-quality care. There are 74 high-quality apprenticeship standards in the health and science sector, including a complete nursing apprentice pathway from entry-level through to postgraduate level.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to introduce an NHS apprenticeship fund to ensure that unused apprenticeship levy funds are retained in NHS budgets; and if he will make a statement.

The funds in apprenticeship service accounts are available for levy-paying employers, including those in the NHS, to use for 24 months before they begin to expire on a rolling, month-by-month basis. Employers in the NHS can choose which apprenticeships they offer, how many apprenticeships they offer and when they offer the apprenticeships.

We do not anticipate that all employers who pay the levy will need or want to use all the funds available to them, but they are able to do so if they wish. Funds raised by the levy are used to support the whole apprenticeship system. This means that employers’ unused funds are not lost but are used to support apprenticeships in smaller employers and to cover the ongoing costs of apprentices already in training. There are no plans to introduce an NHS apprenticeship fund to retain unused apprenticeship levy funds in NHS budgets.

We will again be making available £2.5 billion for investment in apprenticeships in the 2021-22 financial year, which is double that spent in the 2010-11 financial year.

In August 2020, the government announced a new financial package worth £172 million to support healthcare employers increase participation in nursing degree apprenticeships.

In addition to this funding, NHS employers in England will benefit from £2,000 for each apprentice they hire as a new employee aged under 25, and £1,500 for those aged 25 and over, up until 31 March 2021 as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs.

We continue to work closely with the Department for Health and Social Care, employers, and stakeholders to make sure the NHS is fully supported to recruit the apprentices it needs to deliver high-quality care.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will provide urgent guidance on how home-educated students who cannot access teacher assessments will receive A-level and GCSE qualifications.

Although exams are the fairest way we have of assessing what a student knows, we cannot guarantee all students will be in a position to fairly sit their exams this summer. In line with other UK nations, the Department has taken the decision to cancel this year's GCSEs, A and AS level exams.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, confirmed in his statement on 6 January 2021 that the grades awarded to pupils will be based on a form of teacher assessment. The department and Ofqual have launched a two-week consultation on how to fairly award all pupils a grade that supports them to progress to the next stage of their lives, including consulting specifically on four different approaches for private candidates to receive a grade. The consultation can be accessed from the Ofqual website and will be open until 29 January.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether applicants to higher education whose families are settled in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme (pre-settled and settled) will be eligible for (a) home fee status and (b) undergraduate, postgraduate, and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in the academic year 2021-22.

Current EU principles of equal treatment will continue to apply for those covered by the citizens’ rights provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement, the European Economic Area-European Free Trade Association (EEA-EFTA) Separation Agreement and the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement. This means that EEA and Swiss nationals, and their family members, who are covered by the relevant agreements, and who have been granted settled or presettled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, will be eligible for support on broadly the same basis as now, subject to meeting the residency requirements. Close family members living overseas will be able to join an EEA or Swiss citizen resident here after the end of the transition period, where the relationship existed on 31 December 2020 and continues to exist when the person wishes to come to the UK. Children born or adopted after December 2020 are also eligible if their parent is covered by one of the Withdrawal Agreements.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many schools have made successful bids for additional funding from the fund for exceptional costs associated with coronavirus in (a) Cambridgeshire and (b) the UK from March to July 2020.

The first window for schools to claim funding back for exceptional costs due to the COVID-19 outbreak incurred between March and July closed on 21 July. Payments against claims made within the scope of the fund were made for schools and academies in September.

Claims were also permitted for costs outside of the published scope of the fund. An assessment is currently being undertaken to determine which of these other costs can be included. To avoid a further delay in paying the standard costs in any claim still being assessed, we paid those to schools and academies in November. We expect to write out to schools and academies in November to confirm the outcome of the assessment and will arrange further payments at that time.

The data in the following table shows the number of claims made in total in both England and Cambridgeshire. The table also shows how many of those claims have had some level of payment made against them, and how many claims contain an element that is currently being assessed. As such, there are no unsuccessful claims at this stage. As education is a devolved power, the claims data is only representative of schools in England.

Total number of claims received

Number of claims with some level of payment made

Number of claims with some element of ongoing assessment

Cambridgeshire

189

184

56

England

14,075

13,420

6,435

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether EU citizens with (a) pre-settled and (b) settled status will be eligible for home fee status, undergraduate, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in the academic year 2021-22.

EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, and who meet the relevant eligibility requirements in force at the time of course commencement, will have access to home fee status and student financial support.

We have agreed with the EU that current EU principles of equal treatment will continue to apply for those covered by the citizens’ rights provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement. This means that EU nationals resident in the UK before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 will be eligible for support on a similar basis to domestic students. They have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

EU nationals (and their family members) living in the UK before the end of the transition period who are migrant or frontier workers, or who are self-employed, as well as those who have the right of permanent residence (settled status), will also be eligible for maintenance support, subject to meeting the usual residence requirements.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
18th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to mandate universities to publish publicly their covid-19 risk assessments.

Higher education (HE) providers have a legal responsibility to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their employees, students and other people on site.

As part of the process of opening buildings and campuses to staff and students, HE providers should produce risk assessments for both working and communal environments. These will vary significantly based on the needs and circumstances of individual providers. Risk assessments will inform the risk mitigations to ensure all areas of the institution are COVID-19 secure.

HE providers are autonomous institutions and it is not for the government to mandate publication of these risk assessments. However, on 10 September, the department published updated guidance for providers on reopening buildings and campuses which states that providers should share their risk assessments with staff and staff unions. The guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses#risk-assessments.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children have been enrolled for elective home education in September (a) 2019 and (b) 2020.

The information requested is not held by this Department. It does not currently collect data on numbers of home educated children.

Parents are not under a duty to register if they are home educating their children and therefore there is not a robust basis on which the Department can reliably collect statistics on home education.

In relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department is working closely with local authorities to encourage a return to full attendance in school and is monitoring the situation. Initial conversations with local authorities indicate that the majority have noticed an increase in enquiries from parents about home education. Where parents are anxious about the safety of their children returning to school, local authorities and school leaders are reinforcing that it is in the best interests of pupils to return to school.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking abroad to demonstrate that Britain is open and welcoming to international students.

The government has been clear that our world-leading universities, which thrive on being global institutions, will always be open to international students. Engaging closely with other government departments and the higher education sector, the department is working to reassure prospective international students that the UK higher education is ‘open for business’, remains world-class and is a safe and tolerant place to study. This includes continued work with Study UK (the government’s international student recruitment campaign led by the British Council), support for the sector-led #WeAreTogether campaign and a package of bespoke communications that will directly target prospective international students, making clear our world-leading UK offer.

Furthermore, on 22 June, with my counterparts in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, I wrote to prospective international students to outline the support and guidance that is available to international students who are considering studying in the UK from the autumn: https://study-uk.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/letter_to_prospective_international_students.pdf. This letter reiterates a number of flexibilities that the government has already announced for international students including, amongst other mitigations, confirmation that distance/blended learning will be permitted for the 2020/21 academic year, provided that international students’ sponsors intend to transition to face-to-face learning as soon as circumstances allow, and steps to further promote the new graduate route.

The government is committed to continuing to improve our offer to international students, which is why we have announced the new graduate route, which will be introduced in summer 2021. The graduate route will be simple and light-touch and it will permit graduates at undergraduate and masters level to remain in the UK for 2 years and PhD graduates to remain in the UK for 3 years after they have finished their studies in order to work or to look for work at any skill level. This represents a significant improvement in our offer to international students and will help ensure the UK higher education sector remains competitive internationally.

The government is also in discussions with Universities UK and other sector representatives on a regular basis to ensure that we are united in welcoming international students to the UK. In particular, we expect international students - especially those who will be subject to the 14-day self-isolation period - to be appropriately supported upon arrival by their chosen university during these unprecedented times.

In addition, on Friday 5 June, the government announced Sir Steve Smith as the UK’s new International Education Champion. Sir Steve will assist with opening up export growth opportunities for the whole UK education sector, which will include attracting international students to UK Universities. Alongside Sir Steve’s appointment, our review of the International Education Strategy this autumn will respond to the new context and the challenges that are posed by COVID-19 across all education settings to ensure we can continue to welcome international students in the future.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an estimate of the amount of income lost by schools that usually raise funds through building lettings during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department does not hold data specifically on the income schools generate through building lettings.

We know that around 4% of schools’ total income is self-generated and in 2018-19 around half of this came from facilities and services. This includes letting premises and wrap around childcare services among other things.

We recognise that over the last three months, schools may have lost some of this income and this could put pressure on budgets.

Where schools have members of staff delivering these services, we have advised that they should first look to redeploy these staff or use existing budgets to absorb the cost. Having looked at all other options, schools can then consider using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to ease this pressure. The Department has provided additional guidance for schools in this situation:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if final year healthcare students who worked in healthcare due to the covid-19 outbreak will have to repay their student loans for tuition fees accrued in that year.

Healthcare students will continue to be required to repay student loans for tuition fees for the current year. Students who have opted in to paid clinical placements to support the COVID-19 response are receiving a salary and automatic NHS pension entitlement at the appropriate band. Time spent on paid placements as part of the COVID-19 response counts towards the requirement for students to complete a specified number of training hours in order to successfully complete their degrees.

Student loan borrowers are only required to make repayments from the April after they have finished their course, and once they are earning over the relevant repayment threshold. The amount borrowers are required to repay each week or month is linked to their income, not the interest rate or the amount borrowed. Repayments are calculated as a fixed percentage of earnings above the repayment threshold, and any outstanding debt is written off at the end of the loan term with no detriment to the borrower.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial support his Department plans to make available to schools to enable them to temporarily hire other premises to allow for more social distancing during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have published guidance on the additional funding we are providing to schools to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources. The fund is targeted towards the costs we have identified as the biggest barrier to schools operating as they need to at this challenging time.

The cost categories covered by the fund are clearly set out in the guidance below - increased premises related costs of opening over school holidays; support for free school meals for eligible children who are not in school, where schools are not using the national voucher scheme; and additional cleaning costs relating to cases or suspected cases of coronavirus, above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020

Each school's circumstances will be slightly different. Any schools that cannot achieve the small group sizes set out in the protective measures guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings) should discuss options with their local authority or academy trust. If necessary, schools have the flexibility to focus first on continuing to provide places for priority groups and then, to support children’s early education, settings should prioritise groups of children as follows:

  • early years settings - 3 and 4 year olds followed by younger age groups;
  • infant schools - nursery (where applicable) and Reception;
  • primary schools - nursery (where applicable), Reception and year 1.
Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason schools with a budget surplus in the current financial year are not able to reclaim the costs of providing free school meal vouchers to eligible students where it has not been possible for them to use the National Voucher Scheme; and what assessment he has made of the effect of that policy on schools that have a budget surplus with a high number of children eligible for free school meals.

Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year, as usual. We are providing additional funding to schools, on top of their existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources.

It is reasonable for taxpayers to expect that further public funding through this period is not adding to existing surpluses that are held by schools. In this context, schools are not eligible to make a claim for additional funding if they expect to be able to add to their existing historic surpluses in their current financial year, regardless of their school context or pupil characteristics.

However, schools are eligible for reimbursement where the additional costs associated with COVID-19 would result in a school having to use historic surpluses; would increase the size of a historic deficit; or prevent the planned repayment of a historic deficit.

Where schools have exceptional circumstances, we will consider extending limits on a case by case basis. This is set out in the guidance on the fund which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of capping the maximum amount a school is required to pay from its own in-year surplus to meet the cost of providing free school meal vouchers.

Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year, as usual. We are providing additional funding to schools, on top of their existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources.

It is reasonable for taxpayers to expect that further public funding through this period is not adding to existing surpluses that are held by schools. In this context, schools are not eligible to make a claim for additional funding if they expect to be able to add to their existing historic surpluses in their current financial year, regardless of their school context or pupil characteristics.

However, schools are eligible for reimbursement where the additional costs associated with COVID-19 would result in a school having to use historic surpluses; would increase the size of a historic deficit; or prevent the planned repayment of a historic deficit.

Where schools have exceptional circumstances, we will consider extending limits on a case by case basis. This is set out in the guidance on the fund which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing all schools, regardless of budget, to be reimbursed for providing free school meal vouchers where it has not been possible for those schools to use the National Voucher Scheme.

Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year, as usual. We are providing additional funding to schools, on top of their existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources.

It is reasonable for taxpayers to expect that further public funding through this period is not adding to existing surpluses that are held by schools. In this context, schools are not eligible to make a claim for additional funding if they expect to be able to add to their existing historic surpluses in their current financial year, regardless of their school context or pupil characteristics.

However, schools are eligible for reimbursement where the additional costs associated with COVID-19 would result in a school having to use historic surpluses; would increase the size of a historic deficit; or prevent the planned repayment of a historic deficit.

Where schools have exceptional circumstances, we will consider extending limits on a case by case basis. This is set out in the guidance on the fund which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether additional funding will be allocated to schools to implement measures to help prevent the transmission of covid-19.

The Department has published guidance on the additional funding we are providing to schools to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources. The fund is targeted towards the costs we have identified as the biggest barrier to schools operating as they need to at this challenging time.

The cost categories covered by the fund are clearly set out in the guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020.

These are increased premises related costs of opening over school holidays; support for free school meals for eligible children who are not in school, where schools are not using the national voucher scheme; and additional cleaning costs relating to cases or suspected cases of coronavirus, above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether children who receive school meal vouchers will continue to be entitled to those vouchers if they do not return to school during the proposed partial reopening of schools during the covid-19 outbreak.

During this period of partial school closures, we are asking schools to support children at home who are eligible for and claiming benefits-related free school meals, by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children, and we encourage this approach where it is possible.

As schools prepare to open more widely, they should speak to their school catering team or provider about the best arrangements for school meals. Schools should ensure that catering teams and food suppliers are supported to return to school to provide meals both for those children attending school and for those remaining at home who are eligible for free school meals. If a school catering service cannot provide meals or food parcels for children who are at home, the school can continue to offer vouchers to families of eligible pupils if needed.

Our guidance on free school meals during this period is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason schools that are able to reclaim the costs of making alternative arrangements to the National Voucher Scheme to provide free school meal vouchers are required to draw on the Emergency Fund that is capped dependent on the size of the school; and whether he plans to allocate additional funding to schools where the costs of (a) free school meal vouchers and (b) other covid-related emergency costs exceed the limit placed on their Emergency Funds.

We are providing additional funding to schools, on top of their existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources. The fund is targeted towards the costs we have identified as the biggest barrier to schools during the period of partial closure, including providing free school meals to eligible children who are not in school where the national voucher scheme is not appropriate.

As this funding relates to several categories of exceptional costs that schools may face it is reasonable to limit the overall amount that each individual school can claim for all of these costs together to make sure public funding is spent appropriately.

Where schools have exceptional circumstances, we will consider extending limits on a case by case basis. This is set out in the guidance on the fund. We will continue to review the scope of the fund and the overall support available as the COVID-19 outbreak develops.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with his counterparts in other countries on best practices on the reopening of schools during the covid-19 pandemic.

We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers and teachers.

As a result of the huge efforts everyone has made to adhere to strict social distancing measures, the transmission rate of COVID-19 has decreased and the Government’s five tests have been met. Based on all the evidence, the Department asked primary schools to welcome back children in nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside priority groups (vulnerable children and children of critical workers), from 1 June. From 15 June, secondary schools can invite year 10 and 12 pupils (years 10 and 11 for alternative provision schools) back into school for some face-to-face support with their teachers, to supplement their remote education, which will remain the predominant mode of education for these pupils this term. Priority groups can continue to attend full-time.

Our approach is in line with other countries across Europe. Schools in countries such as Germany, Denmark and France have opened to more pupils using a similar phased approach and we will continue to watch their progress closely. Official level discussions are continuing to take place with counterparts in other countries on all aspects of the education response to the outbreak.

However, each country will make their own decisions based on a range of local information, including infection rates and the structure of their education system.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish guidance for parents on whether pupils that live in a household with a shielded person should return to school.

Keeping people safe continues to be the Government’s main priority. We have been clear that the re-opening of schools must be done in a way that is measured, reduces risk, is guided by science and ensures that safety remains the absolute priority.

That is why, on 11 May, we published guidance for parents and carers to help them prepare for the opening of schools and educational settings to more pupils from 1 June. This guidance is clear that children and young people who live in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should only attend school if stringent social distancing can be adhered to; and where the child or young person is able to understand and follow those instructions. The guidance is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june#should-i-keep-my-child-at-home-if-they-have-an-underlying-health-condition-or-live-with-someone-in-a-clinically-vulnerable-group.

If a child or young person lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, they can attend their education or childcare setting. The Department will continue to ensure parents and carers receive clear guidance based on the latest scientific advice.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Answer of 11 May 2020 to Question 43043 on Free School Meals: Voucher Schemes, what proportion of eCodes are delivered within four days of ordering.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Our latest guidance on for schools is set out below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

During this period, we are asking schools to support children who are eligible for and claiming benefits-related free school meals, by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the Department for Education.

For the national voucher scheme, our supplier, Edenred, has indicated that orders are processed within 4 days. The latest information provided by Edenred indicates that all orders received by 14 May were processed by 18 May. It is important to note that schools can place orders for voucher codes to be scheduled for future delivery dates. For example, a school could submit an order on 4 May, requesting the voucher code be delivered to a parent on the 18 May.

As of Friday 22 May, Edenred reported that over £101.5 million of voucher codes has been converted into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families. In the week commencing 11 May, Edenred issued communications to schools to address a number of incomplete orders, which require further action from the schools, and highlighting an issue in which schools have used incorrect or invalid parent email addresses. We are continuing to work very closely with Edenred to improve the performance of the national voucher scheme. In the last fortnight, waiting times that parent and schools previously experienced when accessing the website have been reduced very significantly and Edenred continue to work tirelessly to improve the service.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Education and Skills Funding Agency on (a) auditing guided learning hours and (b) the leaving date that should be recorded by colleges for year 13 students.

For funding purposes, guided learning hours are not used in the 16 to 19 system, as providers are funded based on planned hours recorded early in the academic year. The auditing of these hours is based on evidence of planned delivery (for example, with a timetable or learning agreement). In the adult education system, we do not use the planned guided learning hours recorded on the Individualised Learner Record, as the funding is based on a series of rates that are attached to each learning aim.

We have stated in our further education operational guidance that we are reviewing the impact of Covid-19 on retention in the 16 to 19 funding formula. We will provide further guidance on this and on recording leaving dates in due course.

To help manage the financial implications due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will continue to pay grant-funded providers their scheduled monthly profiled payments for the remainder of the 2019 to 2020 funding year.

For 2019 to 2020 only, the ESFA will not carry out the final reconciliation for grant-funded providers who are in receipt of the ESFA-funded Adult Education Budget (AEB), which relates to adult skills, community learning, learner and learning support and 19 to 24 traineeships. These providers will be funded in line with the current agreement schedule with no claw-back, subject to the conditions stated in the operational guidance. The conditions are that these providers will be funded unless they had already forecast significant under-delivery in their mid-year returns and that they support furloughed workers to enhance existing or develop new skills. The conditions also include that providers deliver online learning wherever possible, including for ESFA-funded AEB via existing subcontracting arrangements to support existing learners to successfully complete their courses or qualifications, or retain evidence where this is not possible.

ESFA allocations for 2020 to 2021 have been confirmed and payments will be made in line with the national profile.

Looking ahead, for 16 to 19 funding, as we will use data from the 2019 to 2020 academic year to calculate allocations for 2021 to 2022, the ESFA may need to apply a different approach to a number of elements within 16 to 19 funding. Where appropriate, we will therefore use alternative data sources to calculate allocations for 2021 to 2022 to ensure, as far as possible, that there is not a disproportionate impact on funding.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assurances he has provided to colleges that do not record the expected guided learning hours that no financial loss will be incurred as a result of moving to online learning during the covid-19 outbreak.

For funding purposes, guided learning hours are not used in the 16 to 19 system, as providers are funded based on planned hours recorded early in the academic year. The auditing of these hours is based on evidence of planned delivery (for example, with a timetable or learning agreement). In the adult education system, we do not use the planned guided learning hours recorded on the Individualised Learner Record, as the funding is based on a series of rates that are attached to each learning aim.

We have stated in our further education operational guidance that we are reviewing the impact of Covid-19 on retention in the 16 to 19 funding formula. We will provide further guidance on this and on recording leaving dates in due course.

To help manage the financial implications due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will continue to pay grant-funded providers their scheduled monthly profiled payments for the remainder of the 2019 to 2020 funding year.

For 2019 to 2020 only, the ESFA will not carry out the final reconciliation for grant-funded providers who are in receipt of the ESFA-funded Adult Education Budget (AEB), which relates to adult skills, community learning, learner and learning support and 19 to 24 traineeships. These providers will be funded in line with the current agreement schedule with no claw-back, subject to the conditions stated in the operational guidance. The conditions are that these providers will be funded unless they had already forecast significant under-delivery in their mid-year returns and that they support furloughed workers to enhance existing or develop new skills. The conditions also include that providers deliver online learning wherever possible, including for ESFA-funded AEB via existing subcontracting arrangements to support existing learners to successfully complete their courses or qualifications, or retain evidence where this is not possible.

ESFA allocations for 2020 to 2021 have been confirmed and payments will be made in line with the national profile.

Looking ahead, for 16 to 19 funding, as we will use data from the 2019 to 2020 academic year to calculate allocations for 2021 to 2022, the ESFA may need to apply a different approach to a number of elements within 16 to 19 funding. Where appropriate, we will therefore use alternative data sources to calculate allocations for 2021 to 2022 to ensure, as far as possible, that there is not a disproportionate impact on funding.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking with Edenred to ensure the timely receipt of free school vouchers by schools.

As both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

We are encouraging schools to use existing catering arrangements to provide meals or food parcels to pupils who are eligible for free school meals while they are staying at home. Where this is not possible, the Department for Education has developed a national voucher scheme as an alternative to support schools with this process.

We are working very closely with our supplier, Edenred, to improve the performance of the national voucher scheme, including in relation to the waiting times that parents and schools have experienced when accessing the website to redeem their voucher codes or place orders. Edenred has reported that over £65 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme as of Monday 11 May.

Once an eCode has been ordered, it will be sent within four days. Edenred is keeping schools informed of the status of orders once they have been placed. Schools can choose to ‘bulk order’ eCodes for regular distribution (e.g. on a weekly basis), in which case the eCode will be sent on or before the date specified. The eCodes must then be redeemed to create an eGift card, which will be received within 24 hours. We continue to work closely with our supplier and with schools to increase the speed at which orders can be processed.

We are very grateful to families and schools for their understanding and patience while we upgrade this service to meet increased demand.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether a year 13 student who is (a) employed or (b) volunteering full-time during the covid-19 oubreak is classified as (i) a mid-year leaver or (ii) still on-roll.

As per published funding guidance, to count as retained:

  • For academic programmes: a student must stay on or complete at least one of the academic aims in their programme in the academic year.
  • For vocational programmes: a student must stay on or complete their core aim in the academic year.

Year 13 students leaving education to take up a full time job or volunteering opportunity and who do not meet the above conditions, would not be count as retained. 16 to 19 providers have been asked to continue to provide care for vulnerable students and the dependants of key workers, and provide education remotely for other students.

However, we have stated in our Further Education operational guidance that we are reviewing the impact of COVID-19 on student retention in the 16 to 19 funding formula and will provide further guidance on this and on recording leaving dates in due course. The guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-further-education-provision/maintaining-education-and-skills-training-provision-further-education-providers.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that parents who do not have email addresses can access free school meals.

As both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

During this period, we are asking schools to support children eligible for free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children and we encourage this approach where it is possible.

However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the Department for Education.

We understand that other approaches, such as providing food parcels or purchasing vouchers for shops currently not included in the national scheme, may mean that schools incur additional expenses. Guidance is available setting out how we will compensate schools who incur these additional costs in providing free school meals or vouchers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools.

We are monitoring the use of the national voucher scheme on a daily basis. As of 28 April, our supplier Edenred reported that over 16,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme and as of 11 May, Edenred reported that more than £65 million worth of voucher codes had been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme.

If a family does not have an email address, the school can select an eGift card on the parent or carer’s behalf and print and post the eGift card to them.

We are working very closely with our supplier, Edenred, to improve the performance of the national voucher scheme, including in relation to the waiting times that parents have experienced when accessing the website to redeem their voucher codes. We are very grateful to families and schools for their understanding and patience while we upgrade this service to meet increased demand.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will ensure that schools that do not use the Edenred system will be reimbursed in full for each meal provided.

As both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

During this period, we are asking schools to support children eligible for free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children and we encourage this approach where it is possible.

However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the Department for Education.

We understand that other approaches, such as providing food parcels or purchasing vouchers for shops currently not included in the national scheme, may mean that schools incur additional expenses. Guidance is available setting out how we will compensate schools who incur these additional costs in providing free school meals or vouchers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools.

We are monitoring the use of the national voucher scheme on a daily basis. As of 28 April, our supplier Edenred reported that over 16,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme and as of 11 May, Edenred reported that more than £65 million worth of voucher codes had been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme.

If a family does not have an email address, the school can select an eGift card on the parent or carer’s behalf and print and post the eGift card to them.

We are working very closely with our supplier, Edenred, to improve the performance of the national voucher scheme, including in relation to the waiting times that parents have experienced when accessing the website to redeem their voucher codes. We are very grateful to families and schools for their understanding and patience while we upgrade this service to meet increased demand.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many codes requested by schools to Edenred to generate e-gift cards for the fortnight commencing 20 April 2020 have not been issued.

During this period, we are asking schools to support pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the department.

Voucher codes are being processed and many thousands of families are redeeming them. As of Tuesday 12 May, our supplier, Edenred, reported that over £70 million worth of voucher codes have been redeemed into supermarket e-gift cards by schools and families. Edenred has confirmed that it has issued all voucher codes ordered by schools that were due for delivery between 20 April and 3 May – the period specified in this question.

Edenred is also contacting schools that have started but not yet completed the ordering process, to resolve these incomplete orders. It is also contacting schools where voucher code emails to parents have bounced back, for example, where the school has provided an invalid email address for a parent.

Since its launch, we have been working very closely with Edenred to improve the performance of the national voucher scheme, including significantly reducing any waiting times that parents and schools previously experienced when accessing the website. We are very grateful to families and schools for their understanding and patience during these upgrades to the system.

These are rapidly developing circumstances. We continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to ensure that the Edenred school voucher system includes the Co-op stores.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

The national voucher scheme for free school meals currently includes a variety of supermarkets. Initially, the scheme included supermarkets that already have e-gift card arrangements in place with our supplier, Edenred, including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. On Monday 27 April, we added Aldi to this list and on Wednesday 29 April, we added McColl’s. We have been working with other supermarkets to encourage them to join. Any additional supermarkets would need to have the right infrastructure to deliver e-gift cards across their network of stores.

Schools are best placed to make decisions about the most appropriate free school meal arrangements for eligible pupils during this period. This can include food parcel arrangements, alternative voucher arrangements or provision through the national voucher scheme. Our guidance for schools sets out that they can be reimbursed for costs incurred where the national voucher scheme is not suitable for their families. This can include alternative voucher arrangements with supermarkets that are not part of the national voucher scheme.

Schools are best placed to make decisions about the most appropriate free school meal arrangements for eligible pupils during this period. This can include food parcel arrangements, alternative voucher arrangements or provision through the national voucher scheme. Our guidance for schools sets out that they can be reimbursed for costs incurred where the national voucher scheme is not suitable for their families. This can include alternative voucher arrangements with supermarkets that are not part of the national voucher scheme.

We have been working closely with the Co-op and welcome their efforts to support families across the country. We thank all supermarkets for their hard work during these challenging times.

These are rapidly developing circumstances. We continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has had discussions with exam boards on ensuring that autumn exams are held (a) at a financial loss to and (b) with other financial implications for exam boards in (i) geology, (ii) history of art and (iii) other subjects with a small cohort of students.

We are discussing arrangements for the Autumn GCSE and A level exam series with the exam boards and with Ofqual, the independent qualifications regulator. Ofqual will set out further proposals for consultation as soon as possible.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to require Edenred to set a maximum wait time to log in and use the school voucher system to generate vouchers.

As both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

During this period, we are asking schools to support children eligible for free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children and we encourage this approach where it is possible.

However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the Department for Education.

We understand that other approaches, such as providing food parcels or purchasing vouchers for shops currently not included in the national scheme, may mean that schools incur additional expenses. Guidance is available setting out how we will compensate schools who incur these additional costs in providing free school meals or vouchers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools.

We are monitoring the use of the national voucher scheme on a daily basis. As of 28 April, our supplier Edenred reported that over 16,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme and as of 11 May, Edenred reported that more than £65 million worth of voucher codes had been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme.

If a family does not have an email address, the school can select an eGift card on the parent or carer’s behalf and print and post the eGift card to them.

We are working very closely with our supplier, Edenred, to improve the performance of the national voucher scheme, including in relation to the waiting times that parents have experienced when accessing the website to redeem their voucher codes. We are very grateful to families and schools for their understanding and patience while we upgrade this service to meet increased demand.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when Ofsted inspections are planned to re-start.

As both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19. We recognise that this is an extremely challenging time for leaders and staff in our education and care settings.

In the current circumstances, it is right that routine Ofsted inspections in the school, further education, early years, local authority and care sectors are suspended. Ofsted retains the power to inspect in all these areas, and will use its powers if it has significant concerns. Ofsted also continues to register and regulate children’s social care, childminding and nurseries.

No date has been set for a return to routine inspection at this time. We will continue to work closely with HM Chief Inspector, and the sectors Ofsted inspects, in determining when it will be appropriate to re-start routine inspections.

We continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, how many vouchers have been issued under the national voucher scheme to families whose children are eligible for free school meals; and what proportion of those vouchers have been used.

Our national voucher scheme is playing a significant role in ensuring that eligible pupils can still receive free school meals while they are staying at home due to the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme offers a valuable service where schools are unable to arrange meals or food parcels through their existing food suppliers.

In the maintaining educational provision guidance, we ask schools to continue to provide care for a limited number of children, including those who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response and cannot be safely cared for at home. Some schools are making their own arrangements for vulnerable children and schools are providing funding to support this.

The value of the vouchers redeemed into gift cards by parents and schools has increased significantly since the start of the summer term. Edenred has reported that over £29m worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme as of Monday 27 April. Edenred has also reported that over 15,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme as of Wednesday 22 April.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to ensure that students who were entered into exams that have been cancelled as external candidates can get qualifications.

As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced to the House on 18 March, the Government has taken the difficult decision to cancel all examinations due to take place in schools and colleges in England this summer, as part of the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Department’s priority is to ensure that students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form courses or apprenticeships, in the autumn. For GCSE, AS and A-level students, we will make sure they are awarded a grade which reflects their work. Our intention is that a grade will be awarded this summer based on the best available evidence, including any non-examination assessment that students have already completed. Students will also have the option to sit an examination, as soon as is reasonably possible after the beginning of the academic year, if they wish to do so.

The independent regulator of qualifications, Ofqual, is working urgently with examination boards to set out proposals for how this process will work and to look at the options available in relation to external candidates, including home educated students.

Further information will be published as soon as possible.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what financial assistance is being provided to nurseries advised to close due to the covid-19 outbreak; and what assurances he has received from insurers on providing cover to nurseries despite that infection not being a named disease at the time of cover.

We are working hard to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on all parts of our society, including individuals and businesses.

Whilst individual insurance arrangements are a matter for providers to discuss with their insurers and we are unable to give legal advice on insurance cover, we understand that in many cases, the insurance that early years providers have will not cover them for income lost during COVID-19 related closures. That is one of the reasons why we announced on 17 March that we will continue to pay funding to local authorities for the early years entitlements for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds and that funding would not be clawed back from local authorities when children are unable to attend due to COVID-19.

We expect local authorities to follow the Department for Education’s position and to continue paying all childminders, schools and nurseries, for the early years entitlements – even if providers have suspended delivery of those entitlements due to COVID-19. This protects a significant proportion of early years providers’ income. The government also announced a 12 month business rates holiday for private nurseries and set out a range of wider support for businesses and workers to reduce the impact of COVID-19, which many early years providers will benefit from.

We will be keeping under close review what further support businesses and workers may require.

Guidance on closures of early years settings, including support for workers and businesses, is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures#funding.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reason an emergency authorisation for the use of neonicotinoids on sugar beet was approved when the Health and Safety Executive recommended in their advice to the Government that that request for use be refused.

The Government is committed to the neonicotinoid restrictions put in place in 2018 and to the sustainable use of pesticides. Specific requirements for granting an emergency authorisation are laid out in pesticide regulations. In assessing whether the requirements are met, the decision maker considers the benefit of granting an emergency authorisation against an assessment of the potential harm from the proposed use of the product, taking into account the proposed conditions. This specific exemption refers to a non-flowering plant, grown in the East of England only, and we took advice on this from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Expert Committee on Pesticides and our own Chief Scientific Adviser.

The HSE advised that many aspects of the environmental risk assessment met the requirements for standard authorisation. The Government concluded that the remaining risks identified could be mitigated to an acceptably low level and that, with the strict conditions of use in place, these were outweighed by the substantial benefits to crop production from the use of Cruiser SB if 2021 were to be a year of high pest pressure. One of the conditions attached was to ensure that the product would only be used if the pest pressure was predicted to pass a certain threshold. Ultimately, this threshold for usage was not met and so the neonicotinoid was not used on sugar beet crops.

The reasons for the decision to issue this emergency authorisation for the product Cruiser SB were set out more fully in the Statement on the decision to issue - with strict conditions - emergency authorisation to use a product containing a neonicotinoid to treat sugar beet seed in 2021 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reason an emergency authorisation for the use of neonicotinoids on sugar beet was approved.

Defra applies the precautionary principle to pesticides policy. That is why, for example, we supported a ban on the use of neonicotinoids to treat crops including sugar beet in 2018 and removed the general authorisation for its use. However, we can consider applications for emergency authorisations, just as other countries across Europe continue to do. In fact, ten EU countries have repeatedly granted emergency authorisations for use of the withdrawn neonicotinoids in sugar beet.  Emergency authorisation was granted for the use of a neonicotinoid seed treatment this year to address a potentially serious risk to the sugar beet crop.

We will only grant an emergency authorisation where the relevant statutory requirements are met. In particular, that is where use of the product is necessary because of a danger which cannot be contained by any other reasonable means and any potential risks to humans, animals and the environment (including risks to bees and other pollinators) are considered to be acceptably low.

The product will not now be used on the crop because disease levels were forecast to be below a threshold set as a condition of authorisation.

The reasons for the decision to issue this emergency authorisation for the product Cruiser SB were set out in the Statement on the decision to issue – with strict conditions – emergency authorisation to use a product containing a neonicotinoid to treat sugar beet seed in 2021 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Health and Safety Executive's emergency authorisation of the use of the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam on sugar beet granted in January 2021, whether the risk assessment undertaken for that application considered the risk to (a) bees and (b) other pollinators of being exposed via pollen and nectar in wildflower margins adjacent to the treated sugar beet crop.

Any consideration of possible authorisation of a pesticide, including emergency authorisation, starts from the information provided by the applicant. Those carrying out the risk assessment will also draw on their wider knowledge. In this case, the assessment carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for Cruiser SB took account of an earlier assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The EFSA work considered honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees, although the available data mostly relates to honeybees. HSE’s assessment considered the risks from residues of thiamethoxam in the soil being taken up by flowering plants attractive to bees in future years. The assessment focussed on following crops such as oilseed rape, which have a greater potential to expose bees than wildflowers in field margins.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the risk assessment undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive for the application for emergency use of the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam on sugar beet granted in January 2021 considered the risk to (a) wild bumblebees, (b) solitary bees and (c) managed honey bees.

Any consideration of possible authorisation of a pesticide, including emergency authorisation, starts from the information provided by the applicant. Those carrying out the risk assessment will also draw on their wider knowledge. In this case, the assessment carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for Cruiser SB took account of an earlier assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The EFSA work considered honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees, although the available data mostly relates to honeybees. HSE’s assessment considered the risks from residues of thiamethoxam in the soil being taken up by flowering plants attractive to bees in future years. The assessment focussed on following crops such as oilseed rape, which have a greater potential to expose bees than wildflowers in field margins.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reason the Health and Safety Executive risk assessment for the application for emergency use of the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam on sugar beet was based on industry studies and did not examine evidence from independent scientific studies.

Any consideration of possible authorisation of a pesticide, including emergency authorisation, starts from the information provided by the applicant. Those carrying out the risk assessment will also draw on their wider knowledge. In this case, the assessment carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for Cruiser SB took account of an earlier assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The EFSA work considered honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees, although the available data mostly relates to honeybees. HSE’s assessment considered the risks from residues of thiamethoxam in the soil being taken up by flowering plants attractive to bees in future years. The assessment focussed on following crops such as oilseed rape, which have a greater potential to expose bees than wildflowers in field margins.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to make entry into organic production appealing for new entrants; and whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of funding an organic conversion advice and support service.

Now that the UK has left the European Union we have the opportunity to chart our own course in organic regulation, setting rules around organic production and certification that suit the needs of our domestic organics industry. We are working to streamline bureaucratic processes inherited from the EU regulatory system to allow for a more flexible and responsive way to handle our regulatory obligations while reducing costs for producers and the burden on the public purse. By reducing these administrative burdens, we hope to make conversion to organics easier and more appealing for producers.

From 1996 to 2011 Defra ran the Organic Conversion Information Service (OCIS) which provided free technical advice to farmers considering conversion via a dedicated helpline and information packs, followed up by on-site visits. As the organic market matured producers built up their own expertise and other sources of expert advice became available, meaning that it was no longer considered cost effective or necessary to continue OCIS.

Support now exists under the Countryside Stewardship scheme. Producers who want to know more about applying for an organic Countryside Stewardship agreement can book an advice session for support. In addition, any eligible application for either a Mid-Tier or Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship is guaranteed an agreement with conversion payments available for the first years of the agreement if moving from conventional to organic farming.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress his Department has made on boosting innovation in the organic sector; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing research and development funding for organic and agroecological innovation.

We work closely with organic producers and sector bodies on promoting innovation via a sector led approach. The sector has a number of exciting programmes working towards this goal, and we believe that farmer led training and support best provides for innovation that suits the needs of the industry.

The Soil Association Innovative Farmers programme brings together a network of farmers, researchers, advisors and businesses to share expertise and develop new approaches to organic farming. The English Organic Forum, Organics Research Council, National Farmers Union, and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, also produce research of relevance to the organics sector.


From 2022 we will launch an ambitious Innovation R&D Package, putting farming businesses at the centre of R&D for new technologies and practices - including organic farming practices - to transform the productivity, profitability and sustainability of agriculture.

As highlighted in the recently published Agricultural Transition Plan, we will build on previous R&D funding, such as the £160m 2013 Agri-tech Strategy and the £90m Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund 'Transforming Food Production' initiative, to provide additional investment. This will be administered through a new R&D funding package for England.

Application guidance will be published prior to scheme launch, including a summary of application deadlines, funding criteria, timetable and themes. Competitions are expected to open in early 2022, with communication to farmers and growers in advance, and projects are expected to begin later that year.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to help ensure that chicken and chicken products containing salmonella is not imported to the UK.

Both Defra and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) take this matter extremely seriously. We do not consider it acceptable for the UK to be sent poultry products contaminated with salmonella.

Following investigations linking human illness to the consumption of chicken products imported from Poland, the UK Chief Veterinary Officer wrote to the Chief Veterinary Officer of Poland in December 2020 asking that action be taken.

The Chief Veterinary Officer and the Chief Executive of the FSA have also contacted the Director General of Agriculture and Food Safety for the European Commission to raise our concerns and reiterate the need for action.

Additionally, the FSA has been working closely with Food Businesses Operators, including the major retailers, brand owners and trade associations within the UK, and with Polish competent authorities, to track down contaminated chicken products and ensure product withdrawals and recalls are undertaken when unsafe and non-compliant food has been identified.

Whilst we are working constructively with the European Commission, Polish authorities and suppliers to resolve this issue, we are keeping the possibility of the introduction of import restrictions under continual review, to ensure that UK consumers can maintain their trust in the safety of the food on their plates.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Government's commitment to pursue an ambitious new course for the organic sector on 27 January 2021, what specific steps the Government will take to meet this objective.

The Government is taking a multi-pronged approach to support the organic sector. We are working with organic businesses to expand organic exports, whilst working to reduce administrative burden. We are also considering how the new environmental land management schemes under development can best meet the needs of organic producers. We aim to design and administer environmental land management schemes in a way that will support farming and the countryside to make a significant and widespread contribution to environmental, biodiversity and climate change goals, which organic farming can support.

The sector is well placed to export more as UK organic produce clearly demonstrates values such as quality, traceability, and heritage combined with high environmental and welfare credentials which we know consumers across the globe want. To support this we have agreed equivalence arrangements with a number of countries to allow UK organic goods to be exported there, including a mutual recognition with the EU as part of the Trade and cooperation agreement. We are also working alongside the Department for International Trade who recently launched their new programme, Open Doors, and is working with the sector to support them with export opportunities.

The domestic market for organics is also flourishing. There are 6,000 predominantly small and medium-sized UK organic businesses, which in 2019 contributed over £2.5 billion to the UK economy, including exports worth £250 million. In 2020 the total volume of organic produce purchased in the UK rose by 12.9%. This growth in demand represents a great opportunity for UK organic producers, on top of their opportunities in the export market.

Meanwhile, we are streamlining bureaucratic processes inherited from the EU regulatory system to allow for a more flexible and responsive way to handle our regulatory obligations while reducing costs and the burden on the public purse. We intend to use powers under the Agriculture Act 2020 to amend this organics regime to support organic farmers further, benefit the environment, maintain consumer confidence, promote research and innovation in the sector, and reflect future trade agreements. We will consult with organic producers and industry bodies on how to boost innovation, improve governance of organic certification, group certification and making entry into organic production appealing for new entrants.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he will take to help ensure that organic farms receive adequate support during the roll-out of the Environmental Land Management scheme.

In November 2020 we published 'The Path to Sustainable Farming: An Agricultural Transition Plan 2021 to 2024'. This confirmed our intention to launch three schemes that will reward environmental land management: The Sustainable Farming Incentive; Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery.

We are working to ensure that the design of these schemes reflects the full diversity of environmentally sustainable techniques that are already producing environmental benefits, including organics practices.

We published further detail of the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot earlier this month. The Sustainable Farming Incentive is intended to be open and accessible to all farmers and to reward farmers fairly for environmental goods generated across all land types and farm management systems, including organic farms. Throughout the pilot, for which expressions of interest are now open, we will be working with hundreds of farmers to ensure that it works for all farming systems. We will also be working with the accreditation schemes to see how membership could help with earned recognition under the future environmental land management schemes and what role the bodies operating these accreditation schemes might play.

We will publish more information on the Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery schemes later this year.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when the Government plans to publish a response to the recommendations of Part 1 of the National Food Strategy.

Henry Dimbleby was appointed to lead the independent review of the food system in June 2019. This review will inform the Government's Food Strategy.

Part One of Henry Dimbleby's independent review of the food system was published on 29 July 2020 and contained recommendations on trade and food security in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government has already acted on these recommendations, with the announcement of the Covid Winter Support package on 8 November 2020 that ensured vulnerable households would not go hungry, and with announcements on trade last year, which included putting the Trade and Agriculture Commission onto a statutory footing.

Part Two of the independent review will be published in 2021. We are continuing to engage with Henry Dimbleby and his team, and are committed to responding with a White Paper within six months of the release of his second and final report.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what proportion of direct payments made to farmers were (a) less than £30,000, (b) £30,000 to £50,000, (c) £50,001 to £150,000 and (d) more than £150,000 in the most recent financial year for which that information is available.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has a number of schemes providing direct payments to the rural economy. The three main land schemes, which offer an annual payment, are Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Countryside Stewardship (CS) and the Environmental Stewardship Scheme (ES).

For the current 2020 Scheme year the figures are below:

BPS Paid Population = 83,593

BPS

Proportion of Payments

a)

less than £30,000

79.8%

b)

£30,000 to £50,000

9.8%

c)

£50,001 to £150,000

9.1%

d)

over £150,000

1.3%

CS Paid Population = 12,409

CS

Proportion of Payments

a)

less than £30,000

95.7%

b)

£30,000 to £50,000

2.9%

c)

£50,001 to £150,000

1.3%

d)

over £150,000

0.1%

ES Paid Population = 8,300

ES

Proportion of Payments

a)

Less than £30,000

89.0%

b)

£30,000 to £50,000

6.4%

c)

£50,001 to £150,000

4.1%

d)

Over £150,000

0.4%

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) effectiveness of qualification requirements for staff issuing Export Health Certificates (EHCs) and (b) potential merits of using lower-qualified staff to issue EHCs.

In order to be authorised as an Official Veterinarian (OV) for export certification, a veterinary surgeon must obtain an Official Controls Qualification (Veterinary) (OCQ(V)) in the relevant field of export and revalidate these qualifications every four years. These courses, developed and approved by APHA and delivered by an international training provider, are accredited by the International School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies (ISPVS) to ensure high standards. Veterinary Surgeons provide feedback on their learning on completion of each OCQ course, enabling the training provider and APHA to monitor effectiveness. APHA also carries out audits to assess the quality of the export certification work carried out by OVs. Any training deficiencies identified during this audit process would be addressed in the OCQ courses.

For many Export Health Certificates (EHC) the requirement to be signed by an OV is outlined in EU law. For any EHC, in order to protect animal and public health it is important that individual signing an certificate has the relevant qualifications and experience to attest to the matters concerned. We have though introduced the role of Certification Support Officer (CSO). Working under the direction of a certifying offer, a CSO can undertake administrative and preparatory work to get a consignment ready for export making the work of OVs more effective. The number of CSOs has increased from c. 100 in November 2020 to c. 500 today and continues to grow.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what proportion of poultry meat imported into the UK is from Poland.

Based on provisional HMRC published trade data, in 2020 29% of poultry meat imported was from Poland, by volume.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues and his counterparts in the EU on securing a bilateral UK-EU SPS agreement that includes products of animal origin, animal by-products, breeding stock, and zoonotic disease control.

We reached an agreement with the EU on SPS measures as part of the TCA in December 2020. This agreement has secured the UK's full autonomy over our public, plant and animal health regime, tailoring it to the unique circumstances of the UK. Since 1 January, there has been no role for EU law or the ECJ in these rules.

This agreement allows the UK and the EU to cooperate on avoiding unnecessary SPS barriers to trade in agri-food goods. The SPS Chapter provides for a framework to agree to trade facilitations going forward, where justified. It is in both parties’ interests to pursue this. Over time, this will help to reduce the burden on businesses from border controls and certification requirements. Taken alongside other elements of the FTA such as zero tariff, zero quota, this represents a good outcome for the UK's agri-food industry, and does not constrain our ability to legislate in these areas.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of (a) changes to Commission Decision 2007/275/EC and (b) Commission Implementing Regulation 2020/2235 on the operations of UK food and drink manufacturers.

New EU rules will apply from April that will impact on traders who export certain animals, germinal products and products of animal origin, including composites. The EU has not published all of the details, however we are not aware of any changes to the rate of physical checks that will take place at the EU border. These are set out in existing EU rules. The new rules will mean there will be an increase in the number of composite product EHCs required.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to increase capacity to deliver SPS checks on both exports and imports as the new import regime is implemented between April and July 2021.

Defra has provided £14 million funding to local authorities in England to support Port Health Authorities with the recruitment and training of over 500 new staff, including Official Veterinarians, for the purpose of undertaking new SPS checks on EU imports of animal products, including physical checks.

We have also taken a number of steps to increase certifier capacity to support exports. The number of Official Vets qualified to certify exports of products of animal origin has increased from 600 in February 2019 to more than 1,700 currently. The required training is still available free of charge and numbers continue to grow. This funded training is in addition to £1.095 million provided directly to local authorities to boost certifier capacity at the end of last year. Furthermore, we continue to maintain a system to provide surge capacity vets to both certification providers and local authorities if localised shortages arise. So far this has not been widely needed. We are considering what further mitigations may be necessary.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate the Animal and Plant Health Agency has made of the number of Export Health Certificates that will be required per month for movements of live animals or animal products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland once the grace period ends on 1 April 2021.

We estimate demand for Export Health Certificates (EHCs) for movements to Northern Ireland may increase by between 70,000 and 150,000 per year (taking into account the Scheme for Temporary Agri-food Movements to Northern Ireland (STAMNI under which authorised traders do not require EHCs). Up to 70 FTE Official Veterinarians (OVs) may be required to certify these EHCs. The actual OV requirement will depend on multiple factors, many of which we cannot quantify with certainty. The number of OVs qualified to certify exports of products of animal origin has increased from 600 in February 2019 to more than 1,700 currently.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the proportion of agricultural goods moving from Great Britain to the EU after 21 April 2021 on which physical checks will be required at border control posts.

New EU rules will apply from April 21, 2021 that will impact on traders who export certain animals, germinal products and products of animal origin, including composites. The EU has not published all of the details; however, we are not aware of any changes to the rate of physical checks that will take place at the EU border. These are set out in existing EU rules. The new rules will mean that certain products that do not currently require an Export Health Certificate, and therefore are not subject to checks, will require certification. These will be subject to physical checks at the rates currently outlined in EU regulation. We will continue to speak with the European Commission further to understand what their rules will mean for exporters.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will publish the results of forecasting to predict aphid pest pressures for 2021 for sugar beet.

It is well established that over-winter temperatures are a key determinant of aphid populations in the following year. Low temperatures, and in particular sharp frosts, will reduce aphid numbers and so the recent cold weather is likely to ease aphid pressures in 2021.

Temperature effects are built into the long-established Rothamsted model used to forecast virus pressures. That forecast will be made on 1 March and will be used to determine whether the threshold for using the neonicotinoid seed treatment Cruiser SB has been met. Once the virus forecast has been made, the British Beet Research Organisation will publish an advisory bulletin setting this out.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of recent cold weather on the need for neonicotinoid treatment of sugar beet.

It is well established that over-winter temperatures are a key determinant of aphid populations in the following year. Low temperatures, and in particular sharp frosts, will reduce aphid numbers and so the recent cold weather is likely to ease aphid pressures in 2021.

Temperature effects are built into the long-established Rothamsted model used to forecast virus pressures. That forecast will be made on 1 March and will be used to determine whether the threshold for using the neonicotinoid seed treatment Cruiser SB has been met. Once the virus forecast has been made, the British Beet Research Organisation will publish an advisory bulletin setting this out.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has undertaken forecasting to predict aphid pest pressures for sugar beet in 2021.

It is well established that over-winter temperatures are a key determinant of aphid populations in the following year. Low temperatures, and in particular sharp frosts, will reduce aphid numbers and so the recent cold weather is likely to ease aphid pressures in 2021.

Temperature effects are built into the long-established Rothamsted model used to forecast virus pressures. That forecast will be made on 1 March and will be used to determine whether the threshold for using the neonicotinoid seed treatment Cruiser SB has been met. Once the virus forecast has been made, the British Beet Research Organisation will publish an advisory bulletin setting this out.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress he has made on ensuring that organic farming standards are recognised and included in the Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive is intended to be open and accessible to all farmers, and to fairly compensate farmers for environmental goods generated across all land types and farm management systems, including organic farms. This year we will be piloting the Sustainable Farming Incentive, and as part of that we will be working with hundreds of farmers on issues such as ensuring that it works for all farming systems.
Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the number of Export Health Certificates that will be required each month for movements of live animals or animal products between Great Britain and Northern Ireland after the grace period ends on 1 April 2021.

We estimate demand for Export Health Certificates (EHCs) for movements to Northern Ireland may increase by between 70,000 and 150,000 per year (taking into account the Scheme for Temporary Agri-food Movements to Northern Ireland (STAMNI under which authorised traders do not require EHCs). Up to 70 FTE Official Veterinarians (OVs) may be required to certify these EHCs. The actual OV requirement will depend on multiple factors, many of which we cannot quantify with certainty. The number of OVs qualified to certify exports of products of animal origin has increased from 600 in February 2019 to more than 1,700 currently.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what (a) steps his Department is taking and (b) discussions he has had with devolved Administrations on addressing new restrictions for importers of bees after 1 January 2021.

Prior to 1 January 2021, queen honey bees could be imported into Great Britain, along with packages and colonies of bees. Now that we are trading with the EU as a third country, queen bees can continue to be imported into Great Britain but not packages or colonies. In 2020, more than 21,000 queens were imported in contrast to just under 1,900 packages and 400 colonies of bees.

Guidance on the new rules for importing bees was published prior to the end of the transition period. We are aware of concerns raised by some beekeepers and we continue to listen to beekeepers and their associations as part of our monitoring of the new trading arrangements.

Regular discussions take place between Defra and colleagues in the Devolved Administrations working in this policy area. We are keeping the situation under review to ensure that there are suitable trading arrangements for the UK beekeeping sector.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the level of restrictions facing British importers of bees (a) prior to and (b) after 1 January 2021.

Prior to 1 January 2021, queen honey bees could be imported into Great Britain, along with packages and colonies of bees. Now that we are trading with the EU as a third country, queen bees can continue to be imported into Great Britain but not packages or colonies. In 2020, more than 21,000 queens were imported in contrast to just under 1,900 packages and 400 colonies of bees.

Guidance on the new rules for importing bees was published prior to the end of the transition period. We are aware of concerns raised by some beekeepers and we continue to listen to beekeepers and their associations as part of our monitoring of the new trading arrangements.

Regular discussions take place between Defra and colleagues in the Devolved Administrations working in this policy area. We are keeping the situation under review to ensure that there are suitable trading arrangements for the UK beekeeping sector.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of imports of cheap honey on British beekeepers.

The UK is renowned for its high food safety and quality standards. We have robust rules in place on honey which set strict composition and labelling rules to protect consumers and ensure the authenticity of honey sold in the UK. The Honey (England) Regulations 2015 include detailed specifications for honey which ensure the quality of this important commodity is maintained whether it is produced domestically or imported into the UK.

Responsibility for assessing business compliance with the majority of food legislation rests with local authorities. They will consider any areas of non-compliance with food law and take appropriate enforcement action in line with a hierarchy of enforcement powers to ensure the business takes the necessary steps to achieve compliance. Each situation will be judged on its own merits by the relevant local authority to determine the proportionate course of action.

The UK is reliant on honey imports to meet consumer demand. Our national rules mean that all honey imports must meet the same high standards as that produced in the UK. Imports are regularly checked on import and at point of sale.

This Government continues to work closely with stakeholders to ensure consumer confidence is maintained and to deter those wishing to commit fraud in the honey supply chain.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of measures to ensure that honey sold in the UK is not adulterated and bulked out with cheap sugar syrups.

The UK is renowned for its high food safety and quality standards. We have robust rules in place on honey which set strict composition and labelling rules to protect consumers and ensure the authenticity of honey sold in the UK. The Honey (England) Regulations 2015 include detailed specifications for honey which ensure the quality of this important commodity is maintained whether it is produced domestically or imported into the UK.

Responsibility for assessing business compliance with the majority of food legislation rests with local authorities. They will consider any areas of non-compliance with food law and take appropriate enforcement action in line with a hierarchy of enforcement powers to ensure the business takes the necessary steps to achieve compliance. Each situation will be judged on its own merits by the relevant local authority to determine the proportionate course of action.

The UK is reliant on honey imports to meet consumer demand. Our national rules mean that all honey imports must meet the same high standards as that produced in the UK. Imports are regularly checked on import and at point of sale.

This Government continues to work closely with stakeholders to ensure consumer confidence is maintained and to deter those wishing to commit fraud in the honey supply chain.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the maximum number of years is that badger culling could continue in England under the consultation proposals on eradicating bovine TB announced on 27 January 2020; and what the maximum number of badgers is that could be culled during this time period.

Under the proposals in the current consultation, in the years 2021 and 2022, new intensive cull licences will be issued for four years. They could be revoked however, further to a progress evaluation by the Chief Veterinary Officer after two or three years.

The consultation also proposes to restrict new applications for Supplementary Badger Cull (SBC) to a maximum of two years for areas licensed for Intensive Culling (IC) up to 2020 and prohibits the issuing of SBC licenses for areas licensed for IC after 2020. SBCs licenses can already be revoked following a progress evaluation or on reasonable grounds under the Defra “Guidance to Natural England Licences to kill or take badgers for the purpose of preventing the spread of bovine TB under section 10(2)(a) of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992”.

We do not yet know how many applications there would be, nor where they would be located. Therefore, we cannot predict the maximum number of badgers that could be culled in this time period.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the final Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will include provisions for involving the Department of Health (a) in decisions related to the approval of pesticides with known human health implications and (b) to help develop a reporting and monitoring system for pesticide exposure incidents in the UK.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the final Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will be updated to include a commitment to develop a human biomonitoring programme designed to monitor exposure within the UK population to pesticides.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the final Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will be expanded to increase the transparency on pesticides by including (a) mandatory spray notifications for both rural and urban residents and (b) public access to spray records.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the final Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will be expanded to include stronger measures designed to protect pollinators.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the final Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will include stronger measures for improving the uptake of Integrated Pest Management by farmers by (a) guaranteeing payments for nature-based Integrated Pest Management and pesticide reduction under the Environmental Land Management Scheme and (b) committing to introduce crop or area specific groups to bring farmers together to discuss common obstacles and solutions for reducing pesticide use.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of relying on voluntary codes, industry self-regulation and industry bodies such as the Voluntary Initiative and Amenity Forum as a means of reducing pesticide use in the draft Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides; and whether that approach will be replaced with mandatory measures in the final draft National Action Plan.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the final Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will ensure that farmers are able to access agronomic advice which is delinked from the agrochemical industry.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the final Revised National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides will be expanded to include a commitment to focus innovation and research and development on nature-based solutions and agroecological innovation in addition to its current focus on new technologies.

We are currently consulting the public on the draft Revised National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) and will be receiving responses until 26 February 2021. The draft NAP outlines how we plan to improve regulation, support the uptake of Integrated Pest Management, improve safe use, improve metrics, and review the governance and implementation of UK pesticides policy.

The consultation is an opportunity for all interested parties to voice their opinion. We will finalise the NAP once we have analysed all the responses.

The Government’s first priority with regard to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. We operate a strict system for regulating pesticides where a pesticide can only be placed on the market if the product has been authorised following a thorough risk assessment by our expert regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what restrictions are in place on the use of pesticides close to schools; and whether he plans to update those restrictions.

Current regulations only authorise the use of pesticides where that will not harm people. Decisions are based on comprehensive scientific assessment covering all situations where people may be exposed to pesticides. This assessment specifically addresses the situation of people, including children, who may find themselves near to where pesticides are used. Authorisations are frequently refused and, if granted, are regularly reviewed. Conditions may be attached to an authorisation if that is necessary to ensure that people are protected.

Anyone using an authorised pesticide is legally required to ensure that all reasonable precautions are taken to protect human health and the environment, and that the pesticide is confined to the area to be treated.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what choice of seed sugar beet farmers will have in 2021; and whether non-neonicotinoid treated seeds will be available.

Under the terms of the emergency authorisation for the neonicotinoid seed treatment Cruiser SB, no sugar beet seed will be treated unless the forecast level of virus yellows in the national sugar beet crop exceeds a threshold value. Sugar beet growers are able to choose whether they wish to take treated seed, if and when it becomes available. Untreated seed will be available for those who prefer that option.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the number of cheesemakers based in Great Britain that have stopped selling their products to the EU since 1 January 2021.

No formal impact assessment has been made.

My department made extensive guidance available and held webinars and meetings with exporters and trade associations to help businesses prepare for the new rules from 01 January. We continue to work closely with traders to support businesses as they adjust to the new arrangements.

It is vital that traders ensure that their exports have the correct paperwork to comply with new animal and animal product checks when they cross the EU border.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the ability of cheesemakers based in Great Britain to sell their products to the EU.

No formal impact assessment has been made.

My department made extensive guidance available and held webinars and meetings with exporters and trade associations to help businesses prepare for the new rules from 01 January. We continue to work closely with traders to support businesses as they adjust to the new arrangements.

It is vital that traders ensure that their exports have the correct paperwork to comply with new animal and animal product checks when they cross the EU border.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to page 9 of the the National Food Strategy: Part One Report, published in July 2020, what plans the Government has to implement the recommendation of extending the work of the Food to the Vulnerable Ministerial Task Force up until July 2021.

These three questions seek clarification regarding the Government-wide management of the issue of food insecurity.

In 2019, the Government asked Henry Dimbleby to carry out an independent review of the entire food system. Part One of that review was published in July 2020 and Part Two will be published in 2021. The Government has committed to responding to the review and its recommendations in the form of a Food Strategy White Paper within six months of the release of the second and final report.

The Food to the Vulnerable Ministerial Taskforce was set up in spring 2020 to respond to some of the initial challenges of Covid-19, for a limited time and with a defined remit. The taskforce was instrumental in putting in place support for the most vulnerable individuals. This included £63 million for the Local Authority Grant Scheme, £10.5 million to the food redistributor FareShare, £1.8 million to the Covid-19 emergency food redistribution scheme, and £3.4 million to support individual charities through the Food Charity Grant Scheme.

Since then, ministers across departments have continued to meet to discuss the steps needed to mitigate the impacts of food insecurity. This includes through the newly established Cost of Living roundtable, where food vulnerability is discussed alongside other aspects of poverty. The results of these conversations have led to the overnment putting in place a winter package of support for the most vulnerable. This package includes a £170 million Covid Winter Support Grant to local authorities to support households with food and other costs and £16 million of funding for Defra to support charities with food distribution to the vulnerable.

Government departments will continue to meet at both official and ministerial level discuss the best ways to support and monitor this important area of work.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether there is a centralised taskforce working in (a) his Department or (b) across Government departments focussed on food insecurity and vulnerability during the covid-19 outbreak.

These three questions seek clarification regarding the Government-wide management of the issue of food insecurity.

In 2019, the Government asked Henry Dimbleby to carry out an independent review of the entire food system. Part One of that review was published in July 2020 and Part Two will be published in 2021. The Government has committed to responding to the review and its recommendations in the form of a Food Strategy White Paper within six months of the release of the second and final report.

The Food to the Vulnerable Ministerial Taskforce was set up in spring 2020 to respond to some of the initial challenges of Covid-19, for a limited time and with a defined remit. The taskforce was instrumental in putting in place support for the most vulnerable individuals. This included £63 million for the Local Authority Grant Scheme, £10.5 million to the food redistributor FareShare, £1.8 million to the Covid-19 emergency food redistribution scheme, and £3.4 million to support individual charities through the Food Charity Grant Scheme.

Since then, ministers across departments have continued to meet to discuss the steps needed to mitigate the impacts of food insecurity. This includes through the newly established Cost of Living roundtable, where food vulnerability is discussed alongside other aspects of poverty. The results of these conversations have led to the overnment putting in place a winter package of support for the most vulnerable. This package includes a £170 million Covid Winter Support Grant to local authorities to support households with food and other costs and £16 million of funding for Defra to support charities with food distribution to the vulnerable.

Government departments will continue to meet at both official and ministerial level discuss the best ways to support and monitor this important area of work.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Food and Other Essential Supplies to the Vulnerable Ministerial Task Force has been disbanded.

These three questions seek clarification regarding the Government-wide management of the issue of food insecurity.

In 2019, the Government asked Henry Dimbleby to carry out an independent review of the entire food system. Part One of that review was published in July 2020 and Part Two will be published in 2021. The Government has committed to responding to the review and its recommendations in the form of a Food Strategy White Paper within six months of the release of the second and final report.

The Food to the Vulnerable Ministerial Taskforce was set up in spring 2020 to respond to some of the initial challenges of Covid-19, for a limited time and with a defined remit. The taskforce was instrumental in putting in place support for the most vulnerable individuals. This included £63 million for the Local Authority Grant Scheme, £10.5 million to the food redistributor FareShare, £1.8 million to the Covid-19 emergency food redistribution scheme, and £3.4 million to support individual charities through the Food Charity Grant Scheme.

Since then, ministers across departments have continued to meet to discuss the steps needed to mitigate the impacts of food insecurity. This includes through the newly established Cost of Living roundtable, where food vulnerability is discussed alongside other aspects of poverty. The results of these conversations have led to the overnment putting in place a winter package of support for the most vulnerable. This package includes a £170 million Covid Winter Support Grant to local authorities to support households with food and other costs and £16 million of funding for Defra to support charities with food distribution to the vulnerable.

Government departments will continue to meet at both official and ministerial level discuss the best ways to support and monitor this important area of work.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will hold a roundtable with representatives from the British pig industry to discuss the current challenges facing the sector.

From our market monitoring over recent weeks, I am aware that the pig sector is currently facing a number of challenges. Ministers have received the request for a round table and I would be pleased to meet with representatives from the industry. I have asked my officials to set this up.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 18 January 2021 to Questions 137225 and 137226 on Neonicotinoids, whether advice the Government received from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides on applications for emergency authorisations in (a) 2021, (b) 2018, (c) 2017, (d) 2016 and (e) 2015 has been published.

It has not been the practice of the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) to publish the exact text of its advice to Ministers, although its published minutes have always provided a clear view of the Committee’s conclusions. However, in view of the interest in neonicotinoid pesticides, related advice to Ministers from the ECP was published on a total of seven occasions in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

As noted in the answer of 18 January 2021 to Questions 137225 and 137226, the ECP’s advice on the application for use in 2021 of the neonicotinoid product Cruiser SB is set out in full in the minutes of the ECP’s 24 November 2020 meeting.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether there is a specific document in which the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) sets out its advice and recommendations to Government regarding the 2021 emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid use, in line with previous applications for emergency authorisations in 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 whereby a specific document containing the advice from the ECP to ministers has been made available and published on the ECP’s website.

The advice of the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) on the application for use in 2021 of the neonicotinoid product Cruiser SB is set out in full in the minutes of the 24 November 2020 meeting https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/946083/ecp-201124-fullminutes.pdf, which are linked to on the ECP’s website https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/expert-committee-on-pesticides. There is no separate document containing the ECP’s advice on this application.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much of the £16 million allocated to FareShare on 8 November 2020 has been allocated to frontline food aid providers (a) within and (b) beyond the FareShare network to date.

Building on the significant support given to the most vulnerable during the initial months of the pandemic, the Government has announced a winter support package of interventions to support the economically vulnerable. This package includes increasing the value of Healthy Start Vouchers, the national rollout of the Holiday Activities and Food programme, and a £170m Covid Winter Support Grant to local authorities which started in December to support households with food and other essential costs.

The winter package also includes £16m of funding for Defra to support food charities with the purchasing and distribution of food to the vulnerable over a 12-week period starting from the beginning of December. This funding stream is being managed by the food redistributor FareShare.

After 8 weeks of the scheme, FareShare have purchased 4,391 pallets of food which is equivalent to approximately 6.8 million meals. The food has so far been distributed directly to 3,942 charities across England.

3,449 of these are within the FareShare network. These organisations have received 1,762 tonnes of food, which is equivalent to around 4.2 million meals.

493 organisations from outside of FareShare's network have also been supported. These organisations have received 435 tonnes of food, which is equivalent to around 904,000 meals.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many badgers were culled in 2020.

Data from the 2020 badger control operations have been published by Natural England on GOV.UK:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bovine-tb-summary-of-badger-control-monitoring-during-2020

Those figures exclude Supplementary Badger Culling which will be available later in the year.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of UK scrutiny measures for emergency authorisations of neonicotinoid use since the UK’s departure from the EU.

All applications for emergency authorisation follow the same process within the legal framework. Each application for emergency authorisation is assessed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), with independent scientific advice from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides. Pesticides regulation is devolved and so each of the four UK administrations may take a decision on applications for emergency authorisation within their territory or may leave the decision with HSE. There are no plans to alter these arrangements following the end of the transition period.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether in the decision to approve the 2021 emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid use for sugar beet an assessment of risk to (a) mammals, (b) soil dwelling organisms and (c) aquatic invertebrates was undertaken.

The assessment carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) included consideration of risks to the environment. Potential risks to mammals, soil-dwelling organisms and aquatic invertebrates were included in that assessment. In respect of aquatic invertebrates, the HSE assessment indicated that the normal standards for authorisation under the relevant legislation were met.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what his Department's policy is on acceptable risk to aquatic invertebrates; and how the 2021 emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid use for sugar beet met that criteria.

The assessment carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) included consideration of risks to the environment. Potential risks to mammals, soil-dwelling organisms and aquatic invertebrates were included in that assessment. In respect of aquatic invertebrates, the HSE assessment indicated that the normal standards for authorisation under the relevant legislation were met.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential adverse effects on (a) bees and pollinators and (b) other invertebrates of the measures proposed in the 2021 neonicotinoid authorisation for sugar beet to prevent the take-up of neonicotinoids by wildflowers and flowering weeds, including the (i) use of additional herbicides and (ii) removal of flowering weeds as a source of food.

Young sugar beet plants are vulnerable to competition from weeds and so effective weed control is a normal part of growing this crop. The measures proposed as requirements for the emergency authorisation are in line with normal guidance to growers and so will not have additional effects on pollinators or other invertebrates.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the reduced application rate will be in the 2021 emergency authorisation of neonicotinoid use for sugar beet; and what evidence his Department holds on that rate reducing risk of harm to the environment, including to aquatic invertebrates.

The emergency authorisation will limit the application rate to 45 grammes of thiamethoxam per 100,000 seeds. There is evidence that this rate, which is 25% less than that previously authorised, will be sufficiently effective in controlling the target pest. The consequence of the lower rate will be that less thiamethoxam will remain in the soil and water and so the potential for harm to aquatic invertebrates and other creatures will be reduced.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the economic effect of virus yellows on sugar beet farmers in (a) 2019 and (b) 2020.

Husbandry approaches and alternative pesticides were considered in the assessment of the application for emergency authorisation of the neonicotinoid product Cruiser SB. The evidence, including experience in 2020, suggests that these will not be adequate to protect the emerging sugar beet crop this year.

The incidence of virus yellows in sugar beet was low in 2019 and consequent production losses are estimated to have been low. Virus levels were much higher in 2020 and yields are expected to be down by around 25%, equating to an economic loss of the order of £50 million. Other factors may have contributed to this loss, but the level of virus infection was key.

At this stage, it is not possible to assess the economic impact virus yellows will have in 2021. If, as is likely, winter temperatures are not sufficiently low, the high virus reservoir legacy numbers from 2020 could mean that the incidence rate remains high in 2021. Without effective aphid control, that is likely to translate to significant economic loss. The authorisation provides that likely pest pressures for 2021 will be modelled using data on temperatures over this winter. Only if this indicates that crop infection rates are expected to exceed a 9% threshold will the seed treatment be permitted for use.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential economic effect of virus yellows on sugar beet farmers in 2021 in the event that neonicotinoid use (a) is permitted and (b) is not permitted.

Husbandry approaches and alternative pesticides were considered in the assessment of the application for emergency authorisation of the neonicotinoid product Cruiser SB. The evidence, including experience in 2020, suggests that these will not be adequate to protect the emerging sugar beet crop this year.

The incidence of virus yellows in sugar beet was low in 2019 and consequent production losses are estimated to have been low. Virus levels were much higher in 2020 and yields are expected to be down by around 25%, equating to an economic loss of the order of £50 million. Other factors may have contributed to this loss, but the level of virus infection was key.

At this stage, it is not possible to assess the economic impact virus yellows will have in 2021. If, as is likely, winter temperatures are not sufficiently low, the high virus reservoir legacy numbers from 2020 could mean that the incidence rate remains high in 2021. Without effective aphid control, that is likely to translate to significant economic loss. The authorisation provides that likely pest pressures for 2021 will be modelled using data on temperatures over this winter. Only if this indicates that crop infection rates are expected to exceed a 9% threshold will the seed treatment be permitted for use.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps have been taken by (a) his Department and (b) the British sugar beet industry to develop alternative sustainable approaches to protect crops without the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments.

The sugar beet industry has been developing alternative approaches including improved husbandry, plant breeding to develop new varieties and potential new insecticide products. Their forward plan, included in their application for emergency authorisation, maps out the route to develop each of these areas further so that economic production is possible without neonicotinoid seed treatments.

There is no conflict between the positions of Defra and HSE on the issue of repeat emergency authorisations. Emergency authorisations reflect special circumstances and so should not be repeated indefinitely; those seeking emergency authorisations need to formulate a clear plan to find a permanent solution. It is, however, accepted that it will not always be possible to deliver that plan in a single year.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the British sugar beet industry’s strategy to move away from a reliance on emergency authorisations of neonicotinoid use.

The sugar beet industry has been developing alternative approaches including improved husbandry, plant breeding to develop new varieties and potential new insecticide products. Their forward plan, included in their application for emergency authorisation, maps out the route to develop each of these areas further so that economic production is possible without neonicotinoid seed treatments.

There is no conflict between the positions of Defra and HSE on the issue of repeat emergency authorisations. Emergency authorisations reflect special circumstances and so should not be repeated indefinitely; those seeking emergency authorisations need to formulate a clear plan to find a permanent solution. It is, however, accepted that it will not always be possible to deliver that plan in a single year.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what alternative disease and pest management practices were considered in the decision to grant an authorisation for neonicotinoid use for sugar beet farmers in 2021; and what evidence he received which led him to conclude that those practices would not be adequately effective.

Husbandry approaches and alternative pesticides were considered in the assessment of the application for emergency authorisation of the neonicotinoid product Cruiser SB. The evidence, including experience in 2020, suggests that these will not be adequate to protect the emerging sugar beet crop this year.

The incidence of virus yellows in sugar beet was low in 2019 and consequent production losses are estimated to have been low. Virus levels were much higher in 2020 and yields are expected to be down by around 25%, equating to an economic loss of the order of £50 million. Other factors may have contributed to this loss, but the level of virus infection was key.

At this stage, it is not possible to assess the economic impact virus yellows will have in 2021. If, as is likely, winter temperatures are not sufficiently low, the high virus reservoir legacy numbers from 2020 could mean that the incidence rate remains high in 2021. Without effective aphid control, that is likely to translate to significant economic loss. The authorisation provides that likely pest pressures for 2021 will be modelled using data on temperatures over this winter. Only if this indicates that crop infection rates are expected to exceed a 9% threshold will the seed treatment be permitted for use.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the compatibility of its conclusion that emergency authorisations for neonicotinoid seed treatments for sugar beet may be needed for three years, and HSE application guidance stating that it would not generally be expected that there will be requests for emergency authorisations that have been previously granted to be renewed.

The sugar beet industry has been developing alternative approaches including improved husbandry, plant breeding to develop new varieties and potential new insecticide products. Their forward plan, included in their application for emergency authorisation, maps out the route to develop each of these areas further so that economic production is possible without neonicotinoid seed treatments.

There is no conflict between the positions of Defra and HSE on the issue of repeat emergency authorisations. Emergency authorisations reflect special circumstances and so should not be repeated indefinitely; those seeking emergency authorisations need to formulate a clear plan to find a permanent solution. It is, however, accepted that it will not always be possible to deliver that plan in a single year.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what evidence his Department has received to suggest that 22 months and 32 months for oilseed rape are sufficient time periods to prevent the contamination of flowering crops following the use of neonicotinoids for sugar beet.

The restrictions on the planting of following crops mean that no flowering crop will be planted until spring 2023 and no oilseed rape will be planted until spring 2024 (as oilseed rape is overwhelmingly autumn-sown, little will be planted until August/September 2024). There is data on the rate at which thiamethoxam breaks down in soil over time and so we know that these periods will result in substantial reductions in the quantities available for uptake by flowering crops.

These restrictions will be manageable for most growers within their own crop rotation plans. Where this is not the case, farmers have the option not to grow sugar beet or to do so without the neonicotinoid seed treatment.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the restrictions the conditions placed on the authorisation of neonicotinoid use for sugar beet will have on normal crop rotations followed by farmers.

The restrictions on the planting of following crops mean that no flowering crop will be planted until spring 2023 and no oilseed rape will be planted until spring 2024 (as oilseed rape is overwhelmingly autumn-sown, little will be planted until August/September 2024). There is data on the rate at which thiamethoxam breaks down in soil over time and so we know that these periods will result in substantial reductions in the quantities available for uptake by flowering crops.

These restrictions will be manageable for most growers within their own crop rotation plans. Where this is not the case, farmers have the option not to grow sugar beet or to do so without the neonicotinoid seed treatment.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will publish the advice it received from (a) the Health and Safety Executive, (b) the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides and (c) his Department's Chief Scientific Adviser prior to making the decision to issue an emergency authorisation to use products containing neonicotinoids to treat sugar beet seed in 2021.

The process for considering emergency authorisation for a pesticide is derived from the legislation and includes consideration of potential risks to people and to the environment. This process was followed for an application to use the neonicotinoid seed treatment Cruiser SB on sugar beet in 2021. The Secretary of State decided that the criteria for an emergency application have been met and that the application should be granted to protect the 2021 crop from significant yield losses. His decision was informed by assessments and advice from the Health and Safety Executive, the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) and Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser.

The ECP publishes the minutes of its discussions, and its advice on the Cruiser SB application is contained in the minutes from the 24 November 2020 meeting https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/946083/ecp-201124-fullminutes.pdf. Other advice on pesticide authorisations is not normally published.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what advice and information his Department received from (a) the Health and Safety Executive, (b) the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides and (c) his Department's Chief Scientific Adviser which led him to conclude that the application for an emergency authorisation to use products containing neonicotinoids to treat sugar beet seed in 2021 should be granted.

The process for considering emergency authorisation for a pesticide is derived from the legislation and includes consideration of potential risks to people and to the environment. This process was followed for an application to use the neonicotinoid seed treatment Cruiser SB on sugar beet in 2021. The Secretary of State decided that the criteria for an emergency application have been met and that the application should be granted to protect the 2021 crop from significant yield losses. His decision was informed by assessments and advice from the Health and Safety Executive, the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) and Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser.

The ECP publishes the minutes of its discussions, and its advice on the Cruiser SB application is contained in the minutes from the 24 November 2020 meeting https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/946083/ecp-201124-fullminutes.pdf. Other advice on pesticide authorisations is not normally published.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much of the £16 million announced for food charities on 8 May 2020 has been allocated to frontline food aid providers (a) within and (b) beyond the FareShare network to date.

In March 2020, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government announced a support package of £16m to provide food for vulnerable individuals.

The programme of measures was designed to provide millions of meals over the summer period and was broken down into three separate parts:

  1. FareShare received £10.5m of the £16m allocation;
  2. A Food Charity Grant Scheme was set-up for individual charities to apply for grants for up to £100,000; and
  3. £1.8m was awarded to the Covid-19 emergency food surplus redistribution programme, which was administered by the Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP).

In total 6,802,260kg of food was purchased and allocated to 3,201 frontline food aid providers which fall within the FareShare network, equivalent to 16.1 million meals. FareShare also received £386,444 of the £1.8m awarded to the Covid-19 emergency food surplus redistribution programme.

In total 19,010,83kg of food was purchased and allocated to 1,339 frontline food aid providers which fall beyond the FareShare network, equivalent to 3.3 million meals. Other redistribution charities received £1,413,556 of the £1.8m awarded to the Covid-19 emergency food surplus redistribution programme.

As a result of the £10.5m grant, the equivalent of around 20 million meals were purchased and distributed to charities across England, including charities supporting refuges, homeless shelters and rehabilitation services. It covered rural areas as well as cities and targeted all those who were struggling to get food.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many applications for Export Health Certificates have been made on each day of the last four weeks.

Exporters can and may choose to request EHCs in bulk for future export use, therefore the total number of daily EHC applications submitted via EHC Online will not directly equate to the number of exported consignments each day.

Applications (EU – includes NI)

Applications (ROW)

11-Dec

27

162

13-Dec

4

20

14-Dec

16

14

15-Dec

29

169

16-Dec

21

143

17-Dec

45

124

18-Dec

22

178

20-Dec

7

151

21-Dec

20

5

22-Dec

101

16

23-Dec

163

134

24-Dec

109

105

26-Dec

3

120

27-Dec

17

60

28-Dec

44

2

29-Dec

145

2

30-Dec

234

22

31-Dec

221

99

01-Jan

49

105

02-Jan

45

86

03-Jan

58

6

04-Jan

234

4

05-Jan

305

11

06-Jan

322

125

07-Jan

390

217

08-Jan

396

146

Grand Total

3027

2550

Victoria Prentis
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 estimate he has made of the amount of food that risks being wasted by delays at ports at the end of the transition period.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain and the food industry is well-equipped to respond to disruption as was demonstrated during the initial Covid-19 response. Defra has well established ways of working with the food industry on preparedness for and response to potential food supply chain disruptions.

The Government carried out a worst-case scenario analysis to ensure there was sufficient waste management capacity to handle any additional waste arising. Over a 6 month period the Reasonable Worst Case Scenario (RWCS) for perishable goods including food, feed and drink was 142 KT and to date disruption has been minimal. The UK Government also published on Gov.uk planning assumptions on border flows for imported goods at the end of the transition period.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/920675/RWCS_for_our_borders_FINAL.pdf

To support the smooth flow of produce across the border and help prevent food wastage, the Government has put in place traffic management mitigations such as Operation Brock, published a Border Operating Model which prioritises border flow in the early months of 2021, and worked with ports to provide additional inland sites for customs checks. The Government has also implemented a ‘fast-track’ service for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV) arriving at the Kent border with a negative Covid-19 test worked closely with retailers to establish upstream testing to facilitate traffic flow.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on UK meat and dairy exporters of the implementation of tariffs on agri-food goods in the event of the UK reaching the end of the transition period without a deal on the future relationship with the EU.

The UK Government has always been clear that we seek a free trade agreement with the EU.

At the end of 2020 the UK will transition to Most Favoured Nation (MFN) terms with all those nations that it does not have a free trade agreement with. The UK’s new MFN schedule, the UK Global Tariff has been designed to protect UK sensitive tariff lines and certain domestic industries, with tariffs retained for products such as pork, lamb, beef and poultry.

In a non-negotiated outcome implementing the UK’s tariff schedule will most likely mean that agricultural prices for our domestic producers will increase for many livestock sectors (such as beef, pork and poultry meat).

In making any decision on tariffs the Government must regard the five principles set out in the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018 which includes the interests of producers and the desire to maintain and promote trade and productivity.

The Government will publish more detail of the economic analysis in the Tax Information and Impact Note in due course, as is standard practice to support tax policy decisions.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the economic effect of tariffs on agri-food goods in the event of no deal on UK-EU trade relations on the British (a) pork industry, (b) beef, (c) poultry, (d) dairy and (e) egg industry.

The UK Government has always been clear that we seek a free trade agreement with the EU.

At the end of 2020 the UK will transition to Most Favoured Nation (MFN) terms with all those nations that it does not have a free trade agreement with. The UK’s new MFN schedule, the UK Global Tariff has been designed to protect UK sensitive tariff lines and certain domestic industries, with tariffs retained for products such as pork, lamb, beef and poultry.

In a non-negotiated outcome implementing the UK’s tariff schedule will most likely mean that agricultural prices for our domestic producers will increase for many livestock sectors (such as beef, pork and poultry meat).

In making any decision on tariffs the Government must regard the five principles set out in the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018 which includes the interests of producers and the desire to maintain and promote trade and productivity.

The Government will publish more detail of the economic analysis in the Tax Information and Impact Note in due course, as is standard practice to support tax policy decisions.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the unresolved UK-EU trade negotiations on the quantity and variety of food to be supplied to Northern Ireland from Great Britain in the first three months of 2021.

We have always acknowledged that there would need to be some additional controls on agri-food movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland to reflect the island of Ireland’s existing status as a Single Epidemiological Unit. But we have also been clear that these new processes could never be allowed to put food supplies to Northern Ireland at risk. That is why the deal we have reached with the EU and the support that we have put in place do what is necessary to protect and preserve GB-NI agri-food trade from 1 January 2021.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the grace periods for food safety checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK for supermarkets also apply to independent retailers, wholesalers and suppliers.

Authorised traders, such as supermarkets and their trusted suppliers, will benefit from a grace period, through to 1 April 2021, from official certification for products of animal origin, composite products, and food. The UK Government and Northern Ireland Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs will engage in a rapid exercise to ensure these traders are identified prior to 31 December so they can benefit from the grace period. We will not discriminate against small suppliers or between different companies in implementing these practical measures.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the volume of (a) food and (b) agricultural goods normally (i) imported and (ii) exported between the UK and EU that may be deferred in January 2021; and what assessment he has made of the economic effect of that matter.

Any deferral of imports or exports between the UK and the EU would be a decision for individual businesses. The economic impact of any deferrals would be determined not only by the volume but by their duration, and by the nature of the commodities whose movement was being deferred.

Given this complexity, it is not possible accurately to assess either the potential scale of any deferrals or their economic impact. My department engages regularly with stakeholders to support them in meeting any new requirements applicable to trade with the EU.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has been made of the potential effect on the UK's food and drink industry of the UK and the EU failing to agree a deal on the future relationship before the end of the transition period.

We believe it is still possible to reach an agreement with the EU and that this can be done quickly. However, if this cannot be achieved, we are prepared for the effects of a non-negotiated outcome. The food supply chain has demonstrated its resilience, responding to unprecedented challenges over the last year. The Government is confident that it will continue to be resilient after 31 December.

The economic impacts of no Free Trade Agreement with the EU have been much debated in the last four years and there are many economic studies on this issue. The Prime Minister has been clear that we will embrace our new future and prosper as an independent free trading nation, controlling our own borders, and setting our own laws.

From January, we will be able to design our own rules in ways that best support UK businesses to recover from the pandemic. We can benefit from new free trade deals, and open up new markets with other like-minded trading partners. We’ll also be able to target our support in the UK to where it is needed most, to level up our economy.

Defra continues to engage productively with food and drink businesses from across the industry as they prepare for the end of the transition period. As part of this, Defra regularly holds numerous forums and bilateral meetings with trade associations, manufacturers, processors, wholesalers and retailers and SMEs.

We continue to work with the industry to understand their readiness and to address concerns. In this, we have provided tailored guidance and support outlining what action businesses should consider taking regardless of the outcome of negotiations. Guidance continues to be updated and shared through the GOV.UK website and digital resources. Defra also works across Government to support businesses through initiatives such as the Trader Support Service, industry days and webinars.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the UK sheep farming industry of the implementation of tariffs on sheep meat in the event of the UK reaching the end of the transition period without a deal on its future relationship with the EU; and what steps his Department plans to take to support the sheep farming industry in that scenario.

The Government has been clear that it seeks a free trade agreement with the EU, based on friendly cooperation and maintaining tariff and quota free access. As any responsible Government would, we have plans in place to minimise disruption for the farming sector if a deal is not reached with the EU. We have been reviewing and updating the analysis we undertook as part of our no deal preparations in 2019 and Defra is looking at specific interventions which will help to mitigate impacts for sheep farmers. No decisions have been taken on any sector specific interventions, including the sheep sector, post the end of the transition period as any possible intervention must be dictated by the actual market situation at the time. Producer price impacts would also affect EU producers in a non-negotiated outcome scenario. For example, the EU is heavily reliant on the UK as an export market for Danish pork and bacon. In 2018, the UK purchased 81% of Denmark’s total exports of bacon and ham. This trade was worth £100 million to Denmark.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the economic effect on the British farming sector of the implementation of tariffs on (a) fertilisers, (b) pharmaceutical goods and (c) other agricultural inputs in the event of no deal on UK-EU trade relations.

The UK Government has always been clear that we seek a Free Trade Agreement with the EU similar to the one that they have with Canada.

At the end of 2020 the UK will transition to Most Favoured Nation terms with all those nations that it does not have a free trade agreement with.

The Government will publish more detail of the economic analysis in the Tax Information and Impact Note in due course, as is standard practice to support tax policy decisions.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the price of (a) meat, (b) dairy products, (c) eggs, (d) cereals and (e) fruit and vegetables of the UK reaching the end of the transition period without a deal on its future relationship with the EU.

The Government has been clear that it seeks a free trade agreement with the EU, based on friendly cooperation and maintaining tariff and quota free access.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain. We have carried out extensive planning with industry and the Devolved Administrations to prepare for the end of the year, and we are committed to ensuring the continued supply of agri-food goods across the UK. We are equally committed to minimising disruption to movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

There are a number of factors which can affect consumer food prices, including agri-food import prices, domestic manufacturing costs and currency exchange rates. Many of these factors will continue to apply at the end of the transition period whatever the outcome of trade negotiations with the EU. Most food sectors are accustomed to fluctuations in supply chain costs, and this does not necessarily translate into consumer price rises. We will of course continue to monitor market prices of agricultural commodities including meat, dairy products, eggs, cereals and fruit and vegetables.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what (a) discussions his Department has had and (b) preparations have been made with supermarkets on food shortages in the event of the transition period ending without a trade deal.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain and the food industry is well-equipped to respond to disruption as was seen during the initial Covid-19 response earlier this year.

Defra has well established ways of working with the food industry on preparedness for and response to potential food supply chain disruptions. Defra Ministers and officials meet regularly with the food industry, including the retailers, to support contingency planning by the industry.

Our thorough preparations for leaving the EU in 2019, alongside the lessons we have learned from, and the range of interventions deployed during the Covid-19 response provide a robust foundation for planning on food supply at the end of the transition period.

The Government made a new temporary relaxation of UK competition law for groceries-chain suppliers on 17 December 2020 - the Competition Act 1998 (Groceries) (Public Policy Exclusion) Order 2020. This relaxation will help grocery retailers and their suppliers to collaborate effectively to prepare for, and if required, respond to potential disruption.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the equity of the distribution of additional costs in the UK food supply chain in the event of no deal on UK-EU trade relations at the end of the transition period.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain and the food industry is well-equipped to respond to disruption as was seen during the initial Covid-19 response earlier this year.

Defra Ministers and officials meet regularly with the Agri-food industry to support contingency planning by the industry. This includes working closely with those sectors who may be particularly affected by concurrent impacts of end transition disruption and Covid-19 impacts.

There are a number of factors which can affect consumer food prices, including agri-food import prices, domestic manufacturing costs and currency exchange rates. Many of these factors will continue to apply at the end of the transition period whatever the outcome of trade negotiations with the EU. Most food industry sectors are accustomed to fluctuations in supply chain costs, and this does not necessarily translate into consumer price rises.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the number of vets that will be required to manage the potential increase in export health certificates after the transition period.

We are working hard to increase the number of Official Veterinarians to meet demand for certification post transition period, to ensure that the food industry can take advantage of the opportunities and changes that the UK’s new chapter will bring. There are a range of challenges in estimating the number of OVs that will be needed but, based on our modelling of a central scenario, we expect numbers to be sufficient.

The number of Official Veterinarians qualified to sign Export Health Certificates (EHCs) for animal products has grown from approximately 600 to approximately 1300 since February 2019. The training required has been available free of charge since October 2020 and 468 vets are currently enrolled on the relevant training course via this scheme. In addition to this we are providing funding for surge capacity veterinarians as short-term support for the end of the transition period should localised shortages arise.

We have put in place a range of mitigations to simplify processes, including the development of EHC Online and the launch of the Groupage Export Facilitation Scheme for products packaged for the final consumer from stable supply chains.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many UK vets are qualified to approve export health certificates; and what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the number of vets to meet demand after the transition period.

We are working hard to increase the number of Official Veterinarians to meet demand for certification post transition period, to ensure that the food industry can take advantage of the opportunities and changes that the UK’s new chapter will bring. There are a range of challenges in estimating the number of OVs that will be needed but, based on our modelling of a central scenario, we expect numbers to be sufficient.

The number of Official Veterinarians qualified to sign Export Health Certificates (EHCs) for animal products has grown from approximately 600 to approximately 1300 since February 2019. The training required has been available free of charge since October 2020 and 468 vets are currently enrolled on the relevant training course via this scheme. In addition to this we are providing funding for surge capacity veterinarians as short-term support for the end of the transition period should localised shortages arise.

We have put in place a range of mitigations to simplify processes, including the development of EHC Online and the launch of the Groupage Export Facilitation Scheme for products packaged for the final consumer from stable supply chains.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of a shortage of vets for signing export health certificates on UK meat and dairy exports to the EU after the transition period.

We are working hard to increase the number of Official Veterinarians to meet demand for certification post transition period, to ensure that the food industry can take advantage of the opportunities and changes that the UK’s new chapter will bring. There are a range of challenges in estimating the number of OVs that will be needed but, based on our modelling of a central scenario, we expect numbers to be sufficient.

The number of Official Veterinarians qualified to sign Export Health Certificates (EHCs) for animal products has grown from approximately 600 to approximately 1300 since February 2019. The training required has been available free of charge since October 2020 and 468 vets are currently enrolled on the relevant training course via this scheme. In addition to this we are providing funding for surge capacity veterinarians as short-term support for the end of the transition period should localised shortages arise.

We have put in place a range of mitigations to simplify processes, including the development of EHC Online and the launch of the Groupage Export Facilitation Scheme for products packaged for the final consumer from stable supply chains.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to (a) increase certification resource and (b) simplify the export process to help ensure an adequate number of vets to certify exports of meat and dairy to the EU after the transition period.

We are working hard to increase the number of Official Veterinarians to meet demand for certification post transition period, to ensure that the food industry can take advantage of the opportunities and changes that the UK’s new chapter will bring. There are a range of challenges in estimating the number of OVs that will be needed but, based on our modelling of a central scenario, we expect numbers to be sufficient.

The number of Official Veterinarians qualified to sign Export Health Certificates (EHCs) for animal products has grown from approximately 600 to approximately 1300 since February 2019. The training required has been available free of charge since October 2020 and 468 vets are currently enrolled on the relevant training course via this scheme. In addition to this we are providing funding for surge capacity veterinarians as short-term support for the end of the transition period should localised shortages arise.

We have put in place a range of mitigations to simplify processes, including the development of EHC Online and the launch of the Groupage Export Facilitation Scheme for products packaged for the final consumer from stable supply chains.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of increasing the (a) number of Certification Support Officers (CSO) and (b) volume of work undertaken by CSOs in order to support Official Veterinarians with a potential increase in export health certificates after the transition period.

Defra is facilitating the employment of Certification Support Officers by both Official Veterinarians and local authorities to assist with export health certification ahead of the end of the transition period. Since October 2020 the training that is needed for an individual to qualify as a CSO has been available free of charge and CSO numbers GB wide have grown by over 50%. My officials have made webinars available to certifiers where the value of CSO role in assisting OVs and LA certifiers in their work is emphasised. Follow up Q&A sessions are being held this week.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the extent of potential food shortages after the transition period (a) with and (b) without agreement on the future relationship with the EU.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain and a food industry which is experienced in dealing with disruptions to food supply. This includes establishing alternative supply routes and suppliers, where appropriate, and other measures to minimise disruption. The Government has well established ways of working with the food industry including in situations with the potential to disrupt supply.

The Government has carried out extensive planning with the food industry and the Devolved Administrations to prepare for the end of the year. This includes planning for risks that might arise at the end of the transition period, whether or not there is an agreement on the future relationship with the EU. Our overall assessment of risks to food supply at the end of transition is that there may be disruption to some products but there will not be an overall shortage of food in the UK.

There are a number of factors which can affect consumer food prices, including agri-food import prices, domestic manufacturing costs and currency exchange rates. Most food sectors are accustomed to fluctuations in supply chain costs, and this does not necessarily translate into consumer price rises.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the extent of potential food price rises after the transition period (a) with and (b) without agreement on the future relationship with the EU.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain and a food industry which is experienced in dealing with disruptions to food supply. This includes establishing alternative supply routes and suppliers, where appropriate, and other measures to minimise disruption. The Government has well established ways of working with the food industry including in situations with the potential to disrupt supply.

The Government has carried out extensive planning with the food industry and the Devolved Administrations to prepare for the end of the year. This includes planning for risks that might arise at the end of the transition period, whether or not there is an agreement on the future relationship with the EU. Our overall assessment of risks to food supply at the end of transition is that there may be disruption to some products but there will not be an overall shortage of food in the UK.

There are a number of factors which can affect consumer food prices, including agri-food import prices, domestic manufacturing costs and currency exchange rates. Most food sectors are accustomed to fluctuations in supply chain costs, and this does not necessarily translate into consumer price rises.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the increase in export health certificates that will be required to allow the continuation of UK meat and dairy exports to the EU after the transition period.

The number of Export Health Certificates (EHCs) required for exports of products of animal origin to the EU at the end of the transition period will vary depending on a number of factors. Our best estimate is the additional need will be five times the 57,000 EHCs issued in 2017 for third country trade, with up to half of these relating to exports of fish. The other half will be split across different product categories, including meat and dairy.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the effect of potential (a) increased haulage costs and (b) disruption at the port of Felixstowe on UK food supplies after the transition period.

Haulage firms operate on a commercial basis with the food industry. The haulage business model approaches pricing with consideration from a supply versus demand position. Changes in operation from 1 January may increase road haulage costs in the short-term for the food industry.

Current disruption at the port of Felixstowe is due to global supply chain pressures rather than our trading relationship with the EU. The food industry is resilient and alternative routes are available. Although there may be some impact to shelf-life of ambient food products, there has not been any evidence to suggest shortages as a result of this global shipping situation. We will continue to monitor impact on food supply as a result of disruption.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on UK meat and dairy exporters of not prioritising perishable food at ports after the transition period.

Defra consulted with industry stakeholders on which commodities should be prioritised in the event of severe traffic disruption for those travelling via the Short Straits.

Three criteria were identified to inform that decision, two of which had to be met for prioritisation of any commodity to be agreed:

i) The goods are highly perishable and will lose most of or all their value within five days or less;

ii) The ‘perishable’ goods concerned are live animals and would give rise to animal welfare concerns if not moved in a timely manner and;

iii) The goods would give rise to a disproportionate economic impact on a geographical area of the UK.

Meat and dairy products did not meet two out of the three criteria set out above and were therefore not identified as prioritised commodities. We did consider whether a number of perishable commodities beyond those identified could be added to the list of those being prioritised. However, there is an additional capacity issue with respect to the numbers of vehicles and the overall traffic management in Kent, which if exceeded would put at risk the feasibility of the wider prioritisation contingency plan.

On the issue of prioritising goods at ports, the prioritisation contingency described above focuses on the journey to port within the Kent strategic road network, specifically the M20. Defra and other Government departments are working intensively with the relevant ports to minimise further delays at those locations.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the six working day time period after the meeting of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed on 18 December 2020 for UK companies exporting food to the EU to implement new systems and IT upgrades in preparation for the end of the transition period.

Scheduling for that Committee is a matter for the EU.

EHC Online is a new digitised service which supports exports from Great Britain. The 126 new Export Health Certificates required for exporting goods to the EU at the end of the transition period are already available within the system. To help prepare businesses for the changes in how they trade with the EU, EHC Online has been open for registration to EU exporters since 8 October 2020 and this has been supported by webinars to more than 1000 businesses, in which EHC Online and the new EU forms have been demonstrated.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to amend the Game Act 1831 to provide the police and courts with greater forfeiture and confiscation powers in relation to (a) vehicles and (b) dogs for poaching offences.

The Government takes wildlife crime seriously and that is reflected in the penalties provided by legislation. Poaching is one of the UK's six wildlife crime priorities, which are set by the UK Wildlife Crime Tasking and Co-ordination Group.

The Game Act 1831 forms only one part of a wider set of legislative measures to protect wildlife and biodiversity from poaching and other harm. Offences under it carry a level 3 fine, with the maximum currently being £1,000. There are currently no plans to change this.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to amend the Game Act 1831 to remove the limit on fines that can be imposed for poaching offences.

The Government takes wildlife crime seriously and that is reflected in the penalties provided by legislation. Poaching is one of the UK's six wildlife crime priorities, which are set by the UK Wildlife Crime Tasking and Co-ordination Group.

The Game Act 1831 forms only one part of a wider set of legislative measures to protect wildlife and biodiversity from poaching and other harm. Offences under it carry a level 3 fine, with the maximum currently being £1,000. There are currently no plans to change this.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to amend the Game Act 1831 to enable the recovery of kennelling costs from people convicted of poaching offences.

The Government takes wildlife crime seriously and that is reflected in the penalties provided by legislation. Poaching is one of the UK's six wildlife crime priorities, which are set by the UK Wildlife Crime Tasking and Co-ordination Group.

The Game Act 1831 forms only one part of a wider set of legislative measures to protect wildlife and biodiversity from poaching and other harm. Offences under it carry a level 3 fine, with the maximum currently being £1,000. There are currently no plans to change this.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions the Government is having with officials in countries outside of Europe which farm mink on the status of coronavirus on their farms.

Defra is monitoring the situation carefully and working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Public Health England.

Our Chief Veterinary Officer and other officials have been having regular interactions with the Danish technical experts to understand better the mink cases and the implications of the new variant virus strains. They also have regular contact with our European neighbours who farm mink for fur. FCDO have been leading on our interactions further afield, with Defra support.

We have published a cross-Government risk assessment for the UK on this situation:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/hairs-risk-assessment-on-sars-cov-2-in-mustelinae-population

Mink farming is banned across the UK. The legislation came into force in England and Wales in 2000 and in Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2002.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions the Government is having with the (a) Danish and (b) other European Governments to (a) assess the risk posed to public health by the current outbreak of covid strains in mink farms and (b) ensure a rapid UK response to those risks.

Defra is monitoring the situation carefully and working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Public Health England.

We have been having regular interactions with the Danish technical experts to understand the situation with the mink cases and the implications of the new variant virus strains.

Our Chief Veterinary Officer and officials have regular contact with our European neighbours who farm mink for fur.

We have published a cross-Government risk assessment for the UK on this situation.

www.gov.uk/government/publications/hairs-risk-assessment-on-sars-cov-2-in-mustelinae-population

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the effect of recent covid-19 travel restrictions on the movement of goods from Denmark on (a) UK food supply chains and (b) pork supplies to the UK.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain based on strong domestic production, and supply from a diverse range of sources. The Government has well established ways of working with the food industry to support their contingency planning in circumstances with the potential to cause disruption.

The restrictions on freight movement from Denmark do not represent a risk to overall food supply. We produce 66% of our supply requirements for pork in the UK (this figure includes the pork that we export). Supply from Denmark, which makes up 31% of our pork imports, is mainly transported by unaccompanied freight and is continuing to operate as usual.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether it is his policy to launch the Environmental Land Management scheme national pilot and (a) finalised scheme guidance, (b) payment rates, (c) options/standards and (d) a defined application process and control and verification protocol in early 2021.

We are investing in a three-year National Pilot which will begin in 2021 and will run for three years ahead of the full scheme rollout. We are working to ensure that Phase 1 of the National Pilot will begin on the ground from late 2021.

The National Pilot will test our proposed approaches to ELM and underlying scheme mechanics, including land management options, payment rates, guidance, application and agreement process, and risk-based compliance and improvement. Building on the findings emerging from Tests and Trials, the Pilot will test how these components operate together in the context of farmers and land managers applying them in real situations. The aim is to learn with National Pilot participants in order to improve these components as the Pilot progresses to ensure that the scheme is in the best possible place ahead of the full launch in 2024.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether it is his policy that (a) the Environmental Land Management scheme and (b) transitional land management schemes will fund only practices that are higher than existing regulatory and cross-compliance standards and business as usual practice.

All farmers and land managers are expected to comply with all relevant regulation whether or not they are participating in the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme. The ELM will run alongside an effective regulatory regime to ensure legal regulatory requirements are met. This is the same for any transitional schemes.

The ELM is founded on the principle of paying “public money for public goods” to help achieve the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and will therefore not simply pay for compliance with legal regulatory standards.

We are working closely with a range of environmental and agricultural stakeholders to collaboratively design the new ELM scheme, including to determine exactly what the ELM will pay for.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what (a) changes he plans to make to and (b) estimate he has made of the level of participation in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme from 2022.

Uptake of the latest round of Countryside Stewardship (CS) has been encouraging and Defra has committed to offering a further round of CS in 2022.

CS is a proven mechanism for delivering environmental outcomes. The 2022 CS offer will remain familiar to farmers and land managers, but with improvements. This includes making it easier and simpler to apply, making modest changes to keep the scheme relevant to current environmental priorities and providing flexibility for customers to move to the new Environmental Land Management scheme, when it is rolled out. We will make more details available in due course.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to publish (a) the contribution of the Environmental land Management scheme to the six goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and (b) other details on the priorities of that scheme.

ELM is being designed to contribute towards a range of national environmental priorities that relate to the goals in the 25 Year Environment Plan and other Government commitments including Net Zero. More details on the priorities for the ELM scheme, including the contribution that ELM will make to delivering the goals in the 25 Year Environment Plan, will be published in due course.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what support he plans to make available for farmers and land managers prior to the roll out of the Environmental Land Management scheme in 2024 to enable the delivery of environmental public goods.

We will continue to offer an improved and simplified Countryside Stewardship scheme until 2024. We continue to see a sustained high level of engagement with the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, and it provides a stepping stone to the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme. From next year, as well as supporting farmers through schemes including a farming resilience fund and sustainable productivity programme, we will be testing and piloting ELM. We are considering what elements of ELM we could make available as part of the transition to the full rollout of ELM in 2024, which could include incentives for sustainable farming. We are currently working up these proposals in more detail.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to publish detailed information on the Sustainable Farming Incentive schemes proposed to function as a precursor to Environmental Land Management schemes; and when he plans to launch those farming incentive schemes.

As we phase out direct payments ahead of the full roll out of our Environmental Land Management scheme in 2024, we will offer financial assistance to help farmers prepare, and invest in ways to improve their productivity and manage the environment sustainably.

We will set out further information on funding for the early years of the agricultural transition period, including Direct Payments, later in the year after the comprehensive spending review.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether during the 2019 badger cull in Gloucestershire there was a buffer zone established around Woodchester Park to prevent the culling of badgers vaccinated against bovine TB.

Badgers in Woodchester Park are not vaccinated against bovine TB and therefore a no-cull zone was not established around Woodchester Park in 2019.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to ensure that badgers vaccinated against bovine TB through Government-funded badger vaccination programmes in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire will not be culled during the extension of the badger cull to 11 additional areas of England.

Vaccination sites within Edge Area counties and that meet specific criteria will have no-cull zones surrounding them if a Badger Disease Control licence is issued for land adjacent to such a vaccination site. Specific details on no-cull zones can be found in Defra’s guidance to Natural England published on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-natural-england-preventing-spread-of-bovine-tb.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the expansion of badger culls to 11 new areas of England, what estimate his Department has made of (a) the number of badgers that will be culled in 20202, (b) the number of badgers that will have been culled by the end of 2020 since the introduction of culling in 2013 and (c) the proportion of the national badger population that will have been culled by the end of 2020 since the introduction of culling in 2013.

The minimum and maximum number of badgers to be culled in 2020 can be found on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/advice-to-natural-england-on-setting-minimum-and-maximum-numbers-of-badgers-to-be-controlled-in-2020.

The number of badgers culled between 2013 and 2020 is as follows:

Year

Number of badgers culled

2013

1869

2014

615

2015

1467

2016

10886

2017

19537

2018

32934

2019

35034

The estimated badger population of England in 2011-2014 was 424,000. The number of badgers culled each year to 2019 has varied between 0.1% and 8.3% of this estimate.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many badgers vaccinated against bovine TB were culled during the 2019 badger cull in Gloucestershire; and whether there has been an investigation by the Government on how and why any vaccinated badgers were culled.

We have no information on the numbers of badgers culled in Gloucestershire in 2019 that may have been previously vaccinated. From this year vaccination sites located wholly or partially in the TB zone designated as the Edge Area that meet minimum criteria can benefit from no-cull zones around the vaccination site. Although vaccination with BCG will not guarantee protection from infection, meaning some badgers may still become infected, various studies provide good evidence of beneficial effects. Relevant information can be found on the TB Hub website.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effect an expansion of badger culling to Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire will have on the ability of the Government-funded badger vaccination programmes in those counties to (a) continue and (b) expand their operations.

Existing Government-funded badger edge vaccination schemes will be able to continue operations where licensing conditions for vaccination are met. Scheme holders should continue to work with land owners to expand their operations in the areas agreed with Defra.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reasons landowners who have previously utilised Government-funded badger vaccination programmes are allowed to apply to cull those badgers.

It is the decision of farmers and landowners as to whether they utilise badger vaccination or culling to help control bovine TB. Vaccination may be used independently or in combination with culling as part of a package of measures to prevent or control bovine TB.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many badger vaccination sites in Derbyshire will be both (a) close to new badger cull zones and (b) unable to apply for buffer zones.

There are currently 47 active vaccination sites within Derbyshire, 10 of which are eligible for a buffer and 37 sites are ineligible for no-cull zones.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Government's policy on trade negotiations allows the devolved nations to introduce stricter measures on protecting human health and the environment from pesticides.

Our trade agreements will respect the regulatory autonomy of the Parties and decisions on standards remain a matter for the UK Government and devolved administrations, including on pesticides.

Decisions on which pesticides can be authorised for marketing and use in each part of the UK are already within the competence of each devolved administration.

We will maintain our high human health and environmental standards when operating our own independent pesticides regulatory regime, after the transition period. We will ensure decisions on the use of pesticides are based on careful scientific assessment and will not authorise pesticides that may carry unacceptable risks. The statutory requirements of the EU regime on standards of protection will be carried across unchanged into domestic law.

This Government is clear that in all of our trade negotiations we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the 2020 25 Year Environment Plan progress update, what steps the Government (a) is taking and (b) plans to take to reach its target to restore 75 per cent of protected wildlife sites to favourable condition by 2042.

There are a range of management mechanisms currently in place aimed at maintaining or restoring protected wildlife sites in or to a favourable condition. These include those delivered through Countryside Stewardship and broader strategic action such as catchment sensitive farming, to improve air and water quality in high priority areas. Natural England is also working to improve the efficiency of SSSI monitoring, which will make better use of new technologies, such as remote sensing and greater partnership involvement.

We are exploring the use of powers in the Environment Bill to strengthen our commitment to improving the condition of our protected sites on land and in the sea by setting a target in law, as set out in our recently published policy paper on environmental targets. In addition, we plan to publish a Nature Strategy in 2021, following the agreement of the post-2020 global framework under the Convention of Biological Diversity, which will set out further detail on our action for protected sites.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to (a) commission independent annual reviews of the implementation of the 25 Year Environment Plan and (b) make a statement to Parliament when updates to that plan are published.

The 25 Year Environment Plan will be adopted as the first statutory Environment Improvement Plan (EIP) in the Environment Bill. The Bill also establishes a new, independent statutory body – the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) – which will have a statutory duty to monitor and report on the Government’s progress in improving the natural environment in accordance with the EIP.

The Bill also makes provision for a cycle of monitoring, planning and reporting on EIPs that comprises annual progress reports by the Government to Parliament, regular scrutiny by the OEP and five-yearly reviews of the EIP.

The Government’s annual reports will include an assessment of the steps taken to implement the EIP, as well as an assessment of environmental improvement. The OEP will scrutinise the Government’s annual report and may recommend how progress could be improved, to which the Government must respond.

Every five years, the Government must review its EIP and consider whether further measures need to be adopted. If the EIP is revised, the updated EIP must be published, alongside a statement explaining the revisions, and laid before Parliament.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for International Trade on the (a) decision to include a 260,000 tonnes Autonomous Tariff Quota for raw cane sugar in the Government's UK Global Tariff scheme and (b) effect of that decision on (i) the UK sugar beet industry, (ii) Tate & Lyle Sugars and (iii) the protection of UK food production standards in trade policy.

The Secretary of State and his counterpart at the Department for International Trade regularly consulted one another throughout the development of the UK Global Tariff (UKGT)


The Government has sought a balance between the interests of domestic production, processing and developing country preferences. To achieve this balance, the UKGT retains tariffs on sugar products, while opening a new Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) of 260,000 tonnes that will apply from 1 January 2021, for 12 months, with an in-quota rate of 0.00%.We are proud of the high food safety and production standards that underpin our high-quality Great British produce. We have no intention of undermining our own reputation for quality by lowering our food and animal welfare standards. We have been clear that we will remain committed to high standards. We always committed to reviewing this ATQ and will write to you in due course.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many pheasant and partridge (a) poults and (b) fertilised eggs were imported into the UK in (i) 2018 and (ii) 2019; and how many of those imports came from breeding birds kept in cages.

The number of live pheasants and partridges, and the number of pheasant-hatching eggs imported into the UK from the EU in 2018 and 2019 can be found below. There were no imports of partridge-hatching eggs recorded during this period:

Year

Commodity

Number of Consignments

Quantity

2018

Live partridges

324

2,739,383

Live pheasants

655

6,684,978

Pheasant-hatching eggs

980

20,593,479

2018 Total

1959

30,017,840

2019

Live partridges

207

1,673,165

Live pheasants

352

3,299,780

Pheasant-hatching eggs

1037

28,248,773

2019 Total

1596

33,221,718

The data was extracted from TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System) which is a European Commission system employed by EU member states to facilitate and record animal and animal product movements throughout the EU.

It is not possible to differentiate between poults and adult birds using TRACES. It is also not possible to identify how many of these imports came from breeding birds kept in cages.

The information provided is a true reflection of the data available. This is entered into TRACES by a third party, and therefore we cannot verify its accuracy.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to establish welfare outcomes for breeding partridges farmed in metal cages; what his policy is on the amount of time that a partridge can be kept caged without compromising its welfare; and if he will make a statement.

The Government shares the public’s high regard for animal welfare and is examining the evidence around the use of cages in farming, including their use for breeding partridges and pheasants. We are exploring the options and will work with the industry to improve animal welfare in a sustainable way.

The welfare of gamebirds is currently protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering. This is backed up by the statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes, which recommends that barren cages should not be used for breeding birds and that any system should be appropriately enriched. Keepers are required by law to have access to, and be familiar with this code, which encourages the adoption of high standards of husbandry. Failure to observe the provisions of a code may also be used in support of a prosecution.

Defra does not hold information on mortality rates for breeding pheasants and partridges or their offspring.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the mortality rate is on game farms for (a) pheasants and (b) partridges used for breeding purposes; and what the mortality rate is on game farms for the offspring of those pheasants and partridges.

The Government shares the public’s high regard for animal welfare and is examining the evidence around the use of cages in farming, including their use for breeding partridges and pheasants. We are exploring the options and will work with the industry to improve animal welfare in a sustainable way.

The welfare of gamebirds is currently protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering. This is backed up by the statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes, which recommends that barren cages should not be used for breeding birds and that any system should be appropriately enriched. Keepers are required by law to have access to, and be familiar with this code, which encourages the adoption of high standards of husbandry. Failure to observe the provisions of a code may also be used in support of a prosecution.

Defra does not hold information on mortality rates for breeding pheasants and partridges or their offspring.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many game rearing businesses have applied to the Government for financial assistance during the covid-19 outbreak; and how much funding from the public purse has been allocated to help protect that industry during the covid-19 outbreak.

Game-rearing businesses play an important role in our rural economy. As with other businesses they have, where eligible, been able to apply for public support through the various Covid-19-related Government schemes including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, business rates relief, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme. Defra does not hold a record of the nature of businesses applying for these schemes and is therefore unable to provide details of the number of game-rearing businesses in receipt of support and the amounts paid from the public purse.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he has made an environmental assessment of the effect of supertrawlers fishing in UK Marine Protected Areas.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood on 30 June, PQ UIN 62498.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the number of qualifying farmers expected to be granted financial support from the Dairy Response Fund.

The new Dairy Response Fund which opened for applications on 18 June will help support those dairy farmers who have seen decreased demand for their products as bars, restaurants and cafes have been closed.

The deadline for applications to the fund is 14 August. Details of the number of eligible applicants to the fund will be available in due course.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to his Department's document entitled, Farming for the Future - Policy and progress update, published in February 2020, what estimate his Department has made of the number of Direct Payments that will be subject to the 25 per cent reduction in 2021.

Our Farming for the Future policy statement, published in February 2020, sets out the maximum reductions that will apply to Direct Payments for 2021. This includes a maximum reduction of 25% for the portion of the payment which exceeds £150,000. Based on 2018 data, we estimate that around 1,000 farmers will fall into this category. No farmers will receive an overall reduction of 25%.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what quality control measures apply to food parcels delivered to people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and shielding from covid-19.

The food parcels delivered to people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and shielding are subject to quality control. The contract with Brakes and Bidfood includes several Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which are reported against regularly, and are used to manage the current service and improve service in the future. Two of these KPIs relate to food box product quality and food box satisfaction, which is assessed partly through a user survey.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what joint working officials in his Department are undertaking with officials in the (a) Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and (b) Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on providing financial support for agricultural and country shows.

We regularly engage with other departments across Government in supporting the interests of rural business. The Government has made available a full range of support measures to businesses during these unprecedented times, including the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loans. These schemes are available to businesses based in rural areas.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) financial effect of the covid-19 outbreak on food wholesalers and (b) adequacy of the Government's support for food wholesalers during the covid-19 outbreak.

The UK food sector has adapted quickly to unprecedented challenges during the Covid-19 outbreak to ensure people have the food and products they need. With counterparts across Whitehall, and through ongoing engagement with industry, we are closely monitoring the potential impacts of Covid-19 on the food and drink wholesale sector. This includes regular meetings with food and drink wholesalers and their representative bodies.

To help industry, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by Covid-19. The measures available to food and drink wholesale businesses depend on their size, and includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for furloughing of staff; the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan; the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan; the Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility; a Statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs with fewer than 250 employees; Value Added Tax (VAT) deferral to the end of June; the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme; Eviction protection for commercial tenants; a £10,000 cash grant for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief and Rural Rates Relief; and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

We remain committed to working in partnership with industry to respond to these challenges as they evolve and to assess whether current support mechanisms continue to be sufficient and effective.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the ability of charity sector to meet the needs of people in food (a) poverty and (b) insecurity during the covid-19 outbreak.

There are large numbers of charities across the country who are supporting vulnerable people, including those who cannot afford food as a consequence of Covid-19. Defra is working closely with these charities to estimate the supply of food to charities and demand for food from users of those charities.

The food industry has pledged food and financial donations for charities to support vulnerable people's access to food by helping to fill the gap between supply and demand.

On 3 April Defra launched a £3.25 million grant opportunity to help surplus food redistributors with infrastructure and associated support to help get more food to charities working on the front line in supporting vulnerable people in need. Wrap are delivering the grant opportunity for Defra and report as of 30 April £402,000 has been awarded to 46 charities pending final compliance checks, with further applications being assessed.

Defra is working through our stakeholder forum of 43 charities, who provide services to vulnerable people, to identify what more needs to be done to ensure that people who are vulnerable have access to food during Covid-19.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to introduce a ban on outdoor use of metaldehyde; and what assessment he has made of the effect on (a) producers of metaldehyde, (b) the wildlife and the environment and (c) water companies of not implementing the ban announced in 2018.

All pesticides are subject to strict regulation and can only be sold and used if they are authorised following an assessment of risks to people, wildlife and the environment. In December 2018, the Government took the decision to prohibit the sale and use of metaldehyde products other than in greenhouses. Following a legal challenge based on the decision-making process, the Government agreed to withdraw the prohibition.

The Government is now required to make a fresh decision on whether the sale and use of metaldehyde products should continue to be authorised. This decision will be taken as soon as possible and will be taken on the basis of the legal requirements and the assessment of the scientific evidence on risks to people, wildlife and the environment. The economic effects on producers of metaldehyde and on water companies are not considered as part of this assessment.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when the Government plans to publish the outcome of the call for evidence on cat microchipping which closed on 4 January 2020.

In line with guidance on Government consultations we plan to publish the summary of responses to the call for evidence within three months of the consultation closing.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the effect on rural areas of the termination of funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The Government is committed to continuing to support rural areas, for example through its manifesto pledge to maintain the current annual budget to farmers in every year of this Parliament. We have also confirmed that all Rural Development Programme projects that have funding agreed before 31 December 2020 will be fully funded for their lifetime. The Government considers that the benefits that rural areas will gain from the new schemes now being developed for England will substantially outweigh those they receive from the current complex and bureaucratic arrangements. In England, these new schemes include Environmental Land Management and Future Farming Productivity Grants.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many non- UK EU nationals worked in the agricultural sector in each of the last three years, by county.

The information requested at this level of detail is not held by Defra. However, we can provide information taken from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Annual Population Survey which shows the number of EU/European Economic Area (EEA) nationals working permanently in the agricultural sector for the whole of the UK. These figures will not include seasonal workers living in communal or temporary accommodation.

The ONS Annual Population Survey showed that the number of EEA nationals working permanently in UK agriculture in each of the last three years was approximately 33,000 in 2017, 19,000 in 2018 and 18,000 in 2019.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, when she plans to lay before Parliament an impact assessment of the proposed free trade agreement with Australia as per clause 42 of the Agriculture Act 2020.

A HM Government report relating to the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia – in compliance with the provisions under section 42 of the Agriculture Act 2020 – will be laid before Parliament before the proposed FTA is laid before Parliament under Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
8th Oct 2020
What discussions she has had with UK trade partners on maintaining environmental protection standards in trade agreements.

HM Government is committed to meeting its ambitious environmental objectives, as we demonstrated last year by becoming the first major country to enshrine our Net Zero commitment into legislation.

We're?exploring?environmental provisions?in the design of our Free Trade Agreements to secure Britain’s high environmental standards.?Of course, the precise details of free trade agreements are a matter for?the?formal?negotiations. We will lay the full treaty text before Parliament at the end of the negotiations to enable proper scrutiny.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, when the Trade and Agriculture Commission plans to publish its preliminary report.

The Trade and Agriculture Commission will be providing my Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade with a report on the progress it has made towards its final recommendations on future trade policy, as set out under the terms of its appointment which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/trade-and-agriculture-commission-tac/trade-and-agriculture-commission-terms-of-reference. A summary of the progress report will be published on https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/trade-and-agriculture-commission-tac.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the Government’s policy on trade negotiations allows the UK to increase (a) current UK pesticide standards and (b) levels of consumer and environmental protection beyond existing applicable international standards.

I refer the honourable gentleman to the response given to (83835).

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the Government's policy on trade negotiations includes not allowing the UK to revert to Codex Alimentarius standards on pesticides.

I refer the honourable gentleman to the response given to (83835).

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to ensure that the 260,000 tonnes Autonomous Tariff Quota for raw cane sugar included in the Government's UK Global Tariff scheme does not have an adverse effect on the UK's commitment to (a) environmental protection, (b) animal welfare and (c) food standards in trade policy.

The Government has sought a balance between the interests of domestic production and processing, and developing country preferences.

To achieve this balance, the UK Global Tariff (UKGT) retains tariffs on sugar products, while opening a new Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) of 260,000 tonnes that will apply from 1 January 2021, for 12 months, with an in-quota rate of 0.00%. We always committed to reviewing this ATQ and we will do so in due course.

We are proud of the high food safety and animal welfare standards that underpin our high-quality Great British products. We have no intention of undermining our own reputation for quality by lowering our food and animal welfare standards. Existing UK import standards will still apply – the level of tariff applied does not change what can and can not be imported. We have been clear that we will remain committed to high standards.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what impact assessment was carried out prior to the decision to include a 260,000 tonnes Autonomous Tariff Quota for raw cane sugar in the Government's UK Global Tariff scheme on the potential effect of that policy on (a) the UK sugar beet industry, (b) Tate & Lyle Sugars and (c) the protection of UK food production standards in trade policy.

Tariffs are a tax, therefore the Government will publish a Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) alongside the legislation, as is standard practice. We have committed to reviewing this Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) and we will do so in due course.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment her Department has made of the potential benefits of the 260,000 tonnes Autonomous Tariff Quota for raw cane sugar included in the Government's UK Global Tariff scheme to Tate & Lyle Sugars as the sole cane sugar refining company in the UK.

Tariffs are a tax, therefore the Government will publish a Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) alongside the legislation, as is standard practice. We have committed to reviewing this Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) and we will do so in due course.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the Trade and Agriculture Commission will review the 260,000 tonnes Autonomous Tariff Quota for raw cane sugar included in the Government's UK Global Tariff scheme in its upcoming report.

Tariffs are a tax, therefore the Government will publish a Tax Information and Impact Note (TIIN) alongside the legislation, as is standard practice. We have committed to reviewing this Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) and we will do so in due course.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether the 260,000 tonnes Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) for raw cane sugar included in the Government's UK Global Tariff scheme is intended to balance support for UK producers and to maintain preferential trade with developing countries; and how Department plans to enable the ATQ to achieve that.

As announced as part of the UK Global Tariff (UKGT), the Government has sought a balance between the interests of domestic production and processing and developing country preferences. To achieve this balance, the UKGT retains tariffs on sugar products, while opening a new Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) of 260,000 tonnes that will apply from 1 January 2021, for 12 months, with an in-quota rate of 0.00%. This will ensure that supply is maintained while protecting developing country preferences. We also committed to reviewing this ATQ and we will do so in due course.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what (a) discussions he has had with and (b) advice he has issued to train companies on reducing station taxi rank fees for taxi and private hire vehicles during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has received correspondence from a number of train operating companies on reducing station taxi rank fees for taxi and private hire vehicles during the covid-19 outbreak. As the majority of drivers are self-employed, they are already largely eligible for the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (equivalent to the furlough scheme for salaried employees), as well as other Government sources of funding potentially, such as the deferral of VAT.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of train companies maintaining taxi rank fees at stations during the covid-19 outbreak on on the income of taxi and private hire vehicle drivers.

The Department has made no assessment of the effect of train companies maintaining taxi rank fees at stations during the covid-19 outbreak on the income of taxi and private hire vehicle drivers.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when the Government plans to bring forward secondary legislation to require bus operators to provide accessible information to passengers in (a) audible and (b) visible formats on bus services in England, Scotland and Wales, as set out in section 17 of the Bus Services Act 2017.

We want disabled people to travel independently and with confidence. It is important to have enough information when travelling on buses for that to become the reality.

In 2018 we consulted on Accessible Information Regulations with plans to require the provision of accessible on-board information on local bus services throughout Great Britain.

We continue to consider the implementation options informed by the feedback received and will publish the response in due course.

In the meantime, we are supporting smaller operators to provide audible and visual information with £2 million of targeted funding.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, for what reasons the Government has not brought forward secondary legislation to require bus operators to provide accessible information to passengers in (a) audible and (b) visible formats on bus services in England, Scotland and Wales, as set out in section 17 of the Bus Services Act 2017.

We want disabled people to travel independently and with confidence. It is important to have enough information when travelling on buses for that to become the reality.

In 2018 we consulted on Accessible Information Regulations with plans to require the provision of accessible on-board information on local bus services throughout Great Britain.

We continue to consider the implementation options informed by the feedback received and will publish the response in due course.

In the meantime, we are supporting smaller operators to provide audible and visual information with £2 million of targeted funding.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) encouraging the use of canal towpaths and (b) the proposals of the Canal & River Trust for towpath improvement schemes to help increase levels of walking and cycling.

On 28 July the Prime Minister launched ambitious plans to boost cycling and walking, with the aim that half of all journeys in towns and cities are cycled or walked by 2030. This includes a £2 billion package of funding for active travel, which will significantly increase the funding available for cycling and walking infrastructure in England, including on canal towpaths. Further details of funding for the different commitments in the Plan will be determined as part of the Spending Review process, and the Department will continue to discuss funding options with stakeholders including the Canals and Rivers Trust.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when diesel trains will cease to operate on the rail network.

The Government is developing an ambitious Transport Decarbonisation Plan to achieve net zero emissions across all modes of transport by 2050. We will use electrification and alternative technologies such as battery and hydrogen trains to remove diesel trains from the network and decarbonise the railway.

Ongoing work led by Network Rail will inform decisions about the pace of rail decarbonisation to achieve net zero, the deployment of different decarbonisation technologies on each part of the network, and delivery of the ambition to remove all diesel-only trains from the railway by 2040.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make it his policy to enable local authorities to introduce electric vehicle workplace charging schemes without prior permission from his Department.

The Government’s vision is for the UK to have one of the best electric vehicle infrastructure networks in the world. We recognise how vital it is that the UK chargepoint network continues to grow to support increasing numbers of electric vehicle motorists.

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles workplace charging scheme offers grants to businesses, including local authorities, of up to £350 per socket for installing up to 40 charging sockets for their employees and fleets. To date over 8,000 installations have been made by over 3,000 organisations using the scheme. If local authorities wish to introduce complimentary workplace charging schemes either for their own fleets or to support local businesses make the switch to zero emission vehicles then they are free to do so without the need for government approval.

Electric vehicle chargepoints are included within permitted development rights, this means that in most cases a chargepoint can be installed in an area lawfully used as an off-street parking space without needing to submit an application for planning permission. This right is not available if it affects a heritage building or asset.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to waive the charge for a trainee driving instructor certificate for individuals who were advised by the DVSA to rescind their existing certificates.

As the health and safety of staff and customers is key, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is working closely with the Department for Transport to prepare for a safe return to testing. It will announce details of resumption in due course.

Trainee driving instructors who have trainee licences that are due to expire and who are observing Government guidelines not to work, should notify the DVSA as soon as possible. Trainees do not have to return their licence to the DVSA, but instead they will need to cut their licence in half and send a photo of the destroyed licence to: PADI@dvsa.gov.uk

The Registrar will take all information into account, including the current circumstances, when deciding whether or not to grant a further trainee licence. As the required checks had previously been conducted it will not be necessary for those checks to be repeated before a further licence is granted.

There is no provision in legislation to extend the period of a trainee licence beyond six months or to waive the fee.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to restart (a) practical driving and (b) driving theory tests for all pupils.

As the health and safety of staff and customers is key, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is working closely with the Department for Transport to prepare for a safe return to testing. It will announce details of resumption in due course.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential level of safety of driving instructors wearing PPE (a) when checking pupils' facial expressions and reactions and (b) in other situations when teaching.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has carried out a risk assessment for driving examiners conducting driving tests. It is for instructors to make sure their face coverings or PPE do not impact upon safety during driving lessons with their pupils.

Driving instructors must ensure they are able to fulfil their responsibilities as an instructor, and accompanying driver, safely whilst wearing appropriate PPE. Professional instructors should be able to adapt their teaching to ensure pupils’ comprehension and correct reaction whilst learning safely.

The DVSA would encourage all driving instructors to keep up to date with the driving instructors’ National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP) website for advice and guidance: http://www.n-a-s-p.co.uk/

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with Pearson VUE on restarting driving theory tests in a socially distanced way.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is committed to resuming theory tests for all candidates as soon as it is safe to do so and in line with Government advice.

Following public health advice, the DVSA and Pearson VUE are preparing new processes for delivering theory tests. This will include protective screens, two metre social distancing and appropriate protective equipment. The DVSA will make further announcements on GOV.UK as soon as possible.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he is seeking a refund from Pearson VUE for the non-delivery of driving tests as a result of its closure of test centres.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is not seeking a refund from Pearson VUE for the non-delivery of theory tests as the contract the DVSA has with Pearson VUE is volume based. This means the service arrangements are that the DVSA pays for each theory test delivered by Pearson VUE.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if his Department will issue guidance on whether driving examiners should wear face coverings.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is reviewing and updating the guidance for driving examiners about carrying out driving tests. This includes things like the PPE they need to wear, greeting candidates and cleaning equipment such as sat navs and tablets. Further guidance will be issued as soon as possible.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what representations he has received on ensuring that the DVSA has effective procedures in place so that driving instructors are able to match refunds to pupils.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has closed its driving test booking system as all tests are currently suspended other than for emergency tests for critical workers. The DVSA is developing plans to resume its testing services and will adopt a phased return to testing.

The DVSA will email approved driving instructors (ADI) and candidates when the Government is confident that it is safe to restart driving tests. ADIs and candidates will be asked to go online and choose their preferred test date and time. Candidates who wish to cancel their practical test can email the DVSA and request a full refund.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with the insurance sector on covering driving instructors for claims made in relation to accidents when the instructor was (a) wearing PPE and (b) had (i) installed a protective screen between themselves and their pupils and (ii) made other health protection modifications.

Driving instructors must ensure they are able to fulfil their responsibilities as an instructor, and accompanying driver, safely whilst wearing appropriate PPE. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) would encourage all driving instructors to keep up to date with the driving instructors’ National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP) website for advice and guidance: http://www.n-a-s-p.co.uk/

In line with guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Public Health England (PHE), the DVSA does not recommend unapproved protective screens are fitted in vehicles. The driver, and for a learner driver the accompanying driver, has a responsibility to ensure the vehicle and its driver are able to comply with the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, as amended. Any modifications made to a vehicle must not prevent compliance with these regulations, for example, ensuring that the driver still has a clear view to the front.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many (a) battery and (b) hydrogen powered electric vehicles he has (i) driven and (ii) been a passenger in.

While we do not know precisely how many battery and hydrogen fuel cell electric cars the Secretary of State for Transport has driven or been a passenger in, he does personally own a battery electric vehicle and is regularly a passenger in a Government Car Service electric car. More importantly, the government is investing?around?£2.5bn?,?with grants available for ultra-low emission vehicles and funding?to support chargepoint infrastructure at homes,?workplaces,?on residential streets?and across the wider roads network.

In addition, we are consulting on bringing forward the end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 to 2035, or earlier if a faster transition appears feasible, as well as including hybrids for the first time. By talking to stakeholders about the best way to achieve that ambition, the Government will more easily be able to identify what measures would be needed to support the transition to zero-emission and electric motoring.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many local authorities have applied to the all electric bus town scheme; and what the names of those authorities are.

A total of eighteen local authorities have submitted their applications to be considered for the All-Electric Bus Town scheme, with 19 bids received overall.

These local authorities are: Blackpool Council, City of York Council, Cumbria County Council, Devon County Council, Hertfordshire County Council, Kent County Council, Luton Borough Council, Medway Council, Milton Keynes Council, Norfolk County Council, North East Lincolnshire Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Shropshire Council, Surrey County Council, Swindon Borough Council, Warrington Borough Council, West Midland Combined Authority and Worcestershire County Council.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of establishing an all-hydrogen bus town scheme.

In February, the Prime Minister announced a £5 billion package for buses and cycling, which includes support for the purchase of at least 4,000 new zero emission buses, making greener travel the convenient option and driving forward the UK’s progress on its net zero ambitions.

The details of these programmes will be announced in due course.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if his Department will provide face masks to bus passengers.

There is no requirement for operators to distribute face coverings and it is a matter for operators to decide whether they want to distribute face coverings on their networks. In some cases, it will be difficult to do so, particularly at unstaffed stations and bus stops.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, what steps the DVLA has taken to process licence applications by key workers who hold a driving licence issued in another EU country.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is providing a dedicated service to prioritise driving licence applications from key workers. This includes a dedicated postal address for driving licence applications and support through the DVLA’s contact centre. This service is available to all key workers, including those who wish to exchange EU driving licences.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he had with the East-West Rail Company prior to their tender for diesel units; and what assessment he has made of the merits of that line being an electrified railway.

The Department is investing in transport infrastructure that meets the needs of people and businesses, and is driving forward the development of policy on the decarbonisation and sustainability of rail. The East West Rail Company is currently seeking to procure rolling stock on an interim basis to enable services to be delivered as soon as possible whilst ongoing discussions about the case and options for the electrification of the railway in the long term are concluded.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Answer of 4 November 2019 Question 7159, what steps he is taking to ensure that Highways England adopts performance indicators which incentivise an increase in the (a) number of journeys and (b) safety of (i) cyclists and (ii) pedestrians throughout the Strategic Road Network.

The second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2), which we expect to publish shortly, will specify the objectives to be achieved by Highways England in the second road period 2 (2020-21 to 2024-25). It will have legal force under the Infrastructure Act 2015 Chapter 7, Part 1 Section 3. Compliance with the performance specification, including the meeting of Key Performance Indicator targets and the reporting of wider performance measures, is overseen by the Department as client, and monitored and where necessary enforced by the Office of Rail and Road as Highways Monitor.

The development of the Performance Specification for RIS2 entailed comprehensive, structured engagement with external stakeholders including representatives from cycling, walking and equestrian groups, and the performance measures reflect this input. These groups will continue to be involved once RIS2 is in place through the work of Transport Focus as watchdog and Highways England stakeholder activities.

7th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what consultation Highways England held with groups representing (a) walking, (b) cycling and (c) horse-riding interests before publishing its recent design standards on (i) Designing for cycle traffic and (ii) Designing for walking, cycling and horse-riding.

The documents newly published by Highways England contained only editorial changes rather than technical changes, to align with the new format and structure of the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges. As the content had not changed, no consultation with groups representing (a) walking, (b) cycling and (c) horse-riding interests was undertaken by Highways England.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 16 September 2020 to Question 86679, on National Insurance, what progress her Department has made on implementing a digital solution to speed up the National Insurance Number (NINo) process; and when that digital service will be available.

The department has continued to progress the development of its digital solution, ‘Apply for a National Insurance Number (NINo)’ and will soon be available to applicants who require a NINo for employment purposes.

The department started testing a partial digital solution, on a small scale, in mid-October, to support the allocation of National Insurance Numbers. This solution enables the collection of an applicant’s data, but not the online verification of their identity. Alternative identity verification solutions to reduce the need for a face to face identity check for some customer groups, including EU nationals with Settled or Pre-Settled status, was part of that test.

In January, we gained Government Digital Service approval as a result we were no longer required to limit the number of applicants we can serve, although we do not have an identity solution for all potential applicants yet. Our current plan is that by the end of March 2021 we will be able to offer a service to all applicants who do not require their identity to be verified face to face.

This means that we have moved from a position in March 2020 of only offering a NINo service to the most vulnerable, to a place where we are able to provide a service to the majority.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much of the £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme available to local authorities in England has been allocated to (a) people in need directly in cash grants and vouchers and (b) emergency food aid charities.

The Covid Winter Grant Scheme gives local authorities the flexibility to decide how best to identify and support those most in need in their local area, as set out in the guidance available which was published on gov.uk on 24 November.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-winter-grant-scheme

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the time taken to issue national insurance numbers to applicants.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has continued to monitor all aspects of the National Insurance Number (NINo) process throughout recent months, as we continue to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on our services.

When applying for a NINo, all applicants are required to have their identity verified. For those applicants whose identity has already been verified by another UK Government Department, primarily the Home Office, their applications are dealt with by post. For those who have not had their identity verified, primarily EU/EEA nationals, the current process requires them to attend a face to face interview with DWP to verify their identity.

Due to COVID-19 and in line with government guidelines, the face to face interview process was suspended from 17th March 2020. The resource normally deployed in this area were redeployed to process the substantial number of benefit claims received during this period.

DWP re-instated a limited service for customers, who do not require a face to face interview, in June. Since then the average time taken to clear an application for a NINo from the point of application is received, to decision, has been:

June - 11.4 days

July - 5.4 days

August - 4.5 days

It is not possible, due to the requirement to examine customers’ ID documents, to offer a virtual service. However, we are working on a digital solution that should enable us to restart the process incrementally from the end of September 2020.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps he plans to take to raise public awareness about the problems faced by people with sight loss and other hidden disabilities, who may find it hard to follow social distancing rules.

We recognise that some people with disabilities face particular difficulty in social distancing, or are impacted by the reaction of others to their inability to socially distance. We are considering how we ensure that disabled people are able to socially distance in order to protect themselves from Coronavirus and from adverse attention from people who perceive that they are not adhering to guidelines on social distancing. All equality and discrimination laws and obligations continue to apply during the Corona Virus pandemic.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether workplaces will be required to carry out a specific covid-19 risk assessment before re-opening after the covid-19 outbreak.

As part of managing health and safety, businesses must control the risks in their workplace. To do this, they need to think about what might cause harm to people and decide what reasonable steps to take to prevent that harm, via the process of conducting a risk assessment. This requirement has not changed and should address risks from the work environment as well as processes.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with NHS England on establishing student-facing health services set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are working closely with Universities UK via the Mental Health in Higher Education programme to build the capability and capacity of universities to improve student welfare services and improve access to mental health services for the student population.

The ‘COVID-19 mental health and wellbeing recovery action plan’, published on 27 March, includes £13 million of additional funding will be provided to accelerate the improvements to mental health support for 18 to 25 year olds in the NHS Long Term Plan as part of the £500 million announced for mental health recovery. This funding will ensure services meet the specific needs of young adults, including students.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many and what proportion of businesses in Cambridge that are eligible for the workplace testing programme have registered for that programme.

There are 760 private sector organisations in Cambridge which have registered interest in workplace testing. This represents approximately 16% of all businesses in the area.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the guidance from NHS England and NHS Improvement to chief executives on 2 March 2020 stating that staff should receive full pay while in self-isolation due to the covid-19 outbreak, including bank staff and sub-contractors, who have to be physically present at an NHS facility to carry out their duties, applies to workers employed by Sodexo at NHS Testing sites.

The testing sites run by Sodexo had not been established at the time of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s letter of 2 March 2020.

As Sodexo is an independent organisation, they are able to adopt those terms and conditions.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many food alerts were issued on salmonella in chicken in each month in (a) 2020 and (b) 2021.

The number of product recall information notice (PRIN) alerts published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) because of salmonella contamination in chicken products in each month in 2020 and 2021 is shown in the following table:

Month

Number of FSA PRINs published

January 2020

0

February 2020

0

March 2020

0

April 2020

0

May 2020

0

June 2020

0

July 2020

0

August 2020

1

September 2020

0

October 2020

2

November 2020

0

December 2020

1

January 2021

0

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the maximum distance from an individual's home address that a vaccine appointment will be offered through the nhs online vaccination booking service.

Currently, in England, more than 98% of the population is within 10 miles of a vaccine service. In a small number of highly rural areas, the vaccination centre will be a mobile unit.

Vaccination centres publish their own directions on the National Booking System and some have their own website to support visitors with further information on location and accessibility. Patients booking vaccination appointments can choose a site that meets their accessibility needs and transport requirements and will be informed of the distance of the site from the postcode they have entered. Users on the National Booking Service are able to view sites up to 60 miles from the postcode they choose to search from.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 15 February 2021 to Question 149773 on Honey: Sales, how many checks were made on imports of honey to ensure their equivalence with UK food production standards in each of the last five years; and on how many occasions imported honey products were found to not meet UK standards.

In the five years from 2016-2020 there were 6,720 consignments of honey imported into the United Kingdom from non-European Union countries totalling 212,043,339 kilograms in weight. The following table provides a summary of the number of checks undertaken on consignments of imported honey between 2016-2020 and the number found to be unsatisfactory.

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total number of documentary checks

1,270

1,420

1,382

1,371

1,277

Number of documentary checks found to be unsatisfactory

26

41

31

44

43

Total number of identity checks

1,264

1,419

1,379

1,366

1,275

Number of identity checks found to be unsatisfactory

8

13

18

21

24

Total number of physical checks

636

659

680

644

272

Number of physical checks found to be unsatisfactory

2

1

5

6

5

Total number of samples taken

89

118

105

99

49

Number of samples found to be unsatisfactory

1

4

1

6

1

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that people who move into a higher covid-19 vaccination priority group get swift access to an appointment.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) regularly reviews the evidence on clinical risk and prioritisation and may periodically advise adding additional individuals to be vaccinated within or alongside one of the nine priority groups. Where this happens the vaccination programme booking systems are altered to ensure such individuals are able to book appointments in line with their new priority grouping. The fact that they have been prioritised is communicated publicly as well as to the National Health Service including General Practitioners, to maximise awareness and ensure individuals are identified and encouraged to take up the offer of prioritised vaccination.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether healthcare students on placements will receive priority access to the covid-19 vaccine.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccines the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level.  For the first phase, the JCVI have advised that the vaccine be given to care home residents and staff, as well as frontline health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors.

Frontline healthcare workers are staff who have frequent face-to-face clinical contact with patients and who are directly involved in patient care in either secondary or primary care/community settings. Temporary staff, including those working in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, students, trainees and volunteers who are working with patients must also be included.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that students registered at a term-time GP practice and residing in that location during the covid-19 outbreak will not be encouraged to travel to a different part of the country to receive a covid-19 vaccine.

General practitioners (GPs) will invite their registered patients, including students, for vaccination at the appropriate moment, depending on which cohort the patient is part of. Students can register as a temporary resident at another GP practice, in cases where they intend to be in an area for more than 24 hours but less than three months.

If a student has not moved their GP practice registration to their place of study and has a national invitation letter sent to their home address, they will still be able to book a vaccination at a site local to their place of study. They can enter any postcode on the National Booking System to identify a vaccination centre or community pharmacy providing vaccinations locally.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of the funding allocated to councils for the Test and Trace Support Payment has been spent in (a) Cambridge, (b) Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and (c) England.

We continue to work closely with the 314 local authorities in England administering the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. This includes collating information on the number of successful applications, which we will publish in due course.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Nov 2020
What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the NHS Test and Trace service.

We continue to make significant strides in our Test and Trace service, which forms a central part of the country’s COVID-19 recovery strategy. The service helps identify, contain and control coronavirus, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives. We continue to increase national testing capacity and two million people have now been reached by the service since it was launched.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what capacity the UK has to detect whether mink-related mutations of coronavirus have arrived in the UK.

The COVID-19 Genomics UK consortium provides routine genomic sequencing of a proportion of United Kingdom cases and is monitoring this dataset for the presence of variants seen in mink in Denmark.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether informal carers are eligible to receive a flu vaccine in winter 2020-21.

The Annual Flu Letter 2020/21 Update letter published on 5 August sets out the eligibility criteria for the flu vaccination programme. The letter is available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/907149/Letter_annualflu_2020_to_2021_update.pdf

Under the flu vaccination programme individuals who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill are eligible to receive flu vaccination.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that the recommendations of the NHS Hospital Food Review are adopted by NHS hospital trusts.

On 26 October the National Health Service Hospital Food Review was published and the Government announced that an expert group of NHS caterers, dietitians and nurses will lead on reviewing and implementing the recommendations for tastier, more nutritious food for patients, staff and visitors.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the inquest into the deaths of Averil Hart, Emma Brown, Maria Jakes, Amanda Bowles, and Madeline Wallace, if he will take steps to improve the quality of NHS care for those with eating disorders.

This Government is committed to learning lessons from those tragic events and ensuring everyone with an eating disorder has access to timely treatment based on clinical need. We welcomed the recommendations of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's ‘Ignoring the Alarms: How NHS eating disorder services are failing patients’ report relating to the death of Averil Hart and two other individuals and we are working closely with our arm’s length bodies and stakeholders to implement the recommendations.

In October, NHS England announced additional early intervention services for young people with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. This service, being rolled out in 18 sites across the country, means teens or young adults coming forward could be contacted within 48 hours and begin treatment within two weeks.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether a person residing in a tier one covid-19 area may continue to provide informal social care to relatives that reside in a tier two area.

Until 3 December, tiers requirements will not apply because of the new national restrictions. However, as part of the national restrictions, we continue to recognise providing informal social care to relatives and vulnerable people is of the highest importance.

As was the case in March, a specific set of exemptions to the requirement to stay at home. This includes providing care or assistance to a vulnerable person.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the clinical benefit of extending the 2020-21 national childhood flu immunisation programme cohorts to (a) the additional Year 7 cohort confirmed in England and (b) any further secondary school cohorts beyond Year 7.

This year the flu programme was expanded in light of the risk of both flu and COVID-19.

The flu vaccination is recommended for those in at risk groups, and frontline health and social care workers and was extended to new cohorts such as children in school year seven to protect themselves and also prevent onward transmission to vulnerable members of the community. This is in keeping with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help ensure that community testing for covid-19 is accessible for autistic people; and whether he is taking steps to ensure (a) provision of accessible information and b) the training of staff on autism in those testing centres.

Everyone with symptoms of COVID-19 is eligible for a test, but we are aware that certain groups or individuals may find accessing a test more difficult than others for a range of reasons. In booking a test it is possible for friends, relatives and carers to book a test on behalf of another person online or via 119, should they require assistance with the test booking process.
We have also introduced specific training for call centre staff and on-site testing staff so that they are able to support those who find it difficult to administer the test themselves

Home testing has improved convenience for many people, including for those who may struggle to get to a test site. Since NHS Test and Trace began, we have been working with charities and organisations to understand accessibility issues and practical actions we can take to make testing more accessible and inclusive, including those which represent neurodiverse people.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make a comparative assessment of the level of covid-19 (a) cases and (b) deaths in food factories in England (i) reported in the community and (ii) submitted to the Health and Safety Executive's Riddor reporting system by the owners of those food factories.

Data on the number of cases of COVID-19 in relation to food factories in England is not available in the format requested to make a comparative assessment. Data on deaths from COVID-19 in relation to food factories is not collected.

Public Health England has made no assessment of the level of COVID-19 cases reported in the community or submitted to the Health and Safety Executive’s Riddor reporting system by the owners of food factories.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the accuracy of the Health and Safety Executive's Riddor reporting system of the number of covid-19 cases and fatalities in food factories; and what steps he is taking to ensure that records of covid-19 (a) cases and (b) fatalities in food factories are accurate.

Public Health England (PHE) has made no assessment of the accuracy of the Health and Safety Executive’s Riddor reporting system.

Positive tests are notifiable under the Health Protection Regulations 2010, as amended by the Health Protection (Notification) (Amended) Regulations 2020. Under this regulation diagnostic laboratories have a duty to notify PHE when they identify evidence of infection caused by COVID-19. PHE regularly works with labs to help them set up reporting. PHE has published a guide for reporting which is available to view at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/739854/PHE_Laboratory_Reporting_Guidelines.pdf

Data on cases and fatalities from COVID-19 in relation to food factories are not collected.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to prevent outbreaks of covid-19 in food factories.

Public Health England (PHE) has been working in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to provide guidance to food businesses. The guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-businesses/guidance-for-food-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many (a) cases of and (b) deaths from covid-19 have been recorded in food factories in England to date.

Data on the number of cases of COVID-19 in relation to food factories in England is not available in the format requested.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many food factories in England have been required by the Food Standards Agency or Health and Safety Executive to close or suspend operations as a result of a covid-19 outbreak.

The Foods Standards Agency and the Health and Safety Executive do not have the powers to close food factories in response to COVID-19 outbreaks. As with any localised outbreaks, the Joint Biosecurity Centre works with local leaders and public health officials to bring them under control. Where outbreaks are traced to workplaces, the relevant business leaders are also brought into these conversations to develop a plan to suppress the spread of the virus. By working in this collaborative way, it has not been necessary to use regulations to close any food factories in response to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many covid-19 outbreaks in food factories in England are being monitored by the Food Standards Agency; and how many workers have (a) tested positive and (b) been told to self-isolate in each of those outbreaks.

This data is not held in the format requested.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many covid-19 outbreaks have been recorded in food factories in England to date.

This data is not held in the format requested.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether costs incurred by local authorities for private laboratory fees for (a) covid-19 tests (b) courier fees and (c) swabbing fees will be reimbursed by the Government.

NHS Test and Trace was established to provide testing and contact tracing in England.

It does not hold responsibility for all testing conducted in England. Where local authorities or other Government bodies have procured private testing services outside of the Department or NHS Test and Trace, these costs will not be reimbursed unless they were contractually agreed prior to undertaking.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to add the category of domiciliary care to the organisation type page of the test booking website, supported by the CQC ID location number in the background database.

All residents in care homes and asymptomatic care home staff have been offered testing through the whole care home portal, as well as all patients discharged from hospital into care homes. All residential and domiciliary/homecare care staff, volunteers and unpaid carers can access testing via the self-referral or employer referral portal if they have symptoms, and everyone in the United Kingdom with symptoms can now be tested for COVID-19 through the self-referral portal at the following link:

https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/antigen/name

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people have been turned away from regional covid-19 test centres since their establishment.

This data is not held in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance the NHS issues to people with settled status on providing documentary evidence to prove that they are entitled to free NHS treatment.

European Economic Area (EEA)/Swiss citizens do not require confirmation of settled/pre-settled status to access National Health Service care. Settled/pre-settled status is an immigration status related to the European Union Settlement Scheme, securing an individual’s rights under the Withdrawal Agreement to reside in the United Kingdom beyond 2020.

Access to free NHS secondary care is entirely based on being ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK. Being ordinarily resident means, broadly, living in the UK on a lawful and properly settled basis for the time being, with non-EEA nationals who are subject to immigration control also required to have an immigration status of ‘indefinite leave to remain’. From 2021, the new global immigration system will apply the same requirements to migrants from the EEA and Switzerland.

Where a patient’s ordinarily resident status is not known, it will be for the NHS organisation that provides the treatment to assess this, based on the evidence of lawful, settled residence the patient provides.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure the testing of GPs who do not show symptoms of covid-19 and who regularly visit care homes.

Essential workers (such as general practitioners) with symptoms of COVID-19 can access testing via the GOV.UK website. As set out in the ‘Third phase of NHS response to COVID-19’ letter if background infection risk increases in the autumn, and NHS Test and Trace secures 500,000+ tests per day, the Chief Medical Officer and the Department may decide in September or October to implement a policy of regular routine COVID-19 testing of all asymptomatic staff across the National Health Service.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if the Government will make an assessment of the occupancy levels in CQC-regulated care homes.

The Department collects weekly data on occupancy rates in care homes through the capacity tracker. However, the data has not yet been published. The Care Quality Commission also collects provider information return data which can be used to calculate occupancy rates. However, this collection has been suspended during the pandemic, is unpublished and is insufficiently regular to track occupancy in the current environment.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure the testing of Care Quality Commission inspectors who do not show symptoms of covid-19 and who visit care homes.

There are no current plans to make Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors eligible for regular asymptomatic testing.

Our testing policy is based on clinical advice on relative priorities and available testing capacity and our testing policies continue to be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure a reliable supply of sertraline after the transition period.

The Department, in consultation with the devolved administrations and Crown Dependencies, is working with trade bodies, product suppliers, and the health and care system in England to make detailed plans to help ensure continued supply of medicines and medical products to the whole of the United Kingdom at the end of the transition period.

Further detail on the plans to help ensure continuity of medical supplies, including sertraline, can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/letter-to-medicines-and-medical-products-suppliers-3-august-2020/letter-to-medicine-suppliers-3-august-2020

As a result of these plans, patients do not need to stockpile and people should continue to take their medicines and request prescriptions as normal.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he is requiring local authorities to report how they have spent their discretionary 25 per cent allocation of the Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund; and how much funding has been allocated to social care providers the local authority (a) has and (b) does not have a contract with.

As part of the grant conditions of the £600 million Infection Control Fund, local authorities are required to submit two high-level returns specifying how the grant has been spent. Funding must be used for infection control measures. A breakdown of spending of the first instalment, by local authority, can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adult-social-care-infection-control-fund

Subject to the conditions in the grant determination being satisfied, local authorities should pass 75% of each instalment straight to care homes within the local authority’s geographical area on a ‘per beds’ basis, including to social care providers with whom the local authority does not have existing contracts. The Department does not collect data on providers that local authorities have existing contracts with.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of (a) air sacculitis, (b) Marek's disease, (c) White muscle disease and (d) Oregon disease were identified by post-mortem inspection of poultry and prevented from entering the food chain from 1 January 2013 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) holds the following data. For the period 1 January 2013 – 31 March 2020 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

Air sacculitis

1,580,147

*Marek's disease

*4,210,460

*White muscle disease

*Oregon disease

Note:

*With poultry, conditions identified at post-mortem inspection point that are not specifically recorded by name are recorded into the FSA IT system as either ‘Other Factory’ (processing) or ‘Other Farm’ (for example jaundice, Oregon, white muscle). The total figure of 4,210,460 represents all ‘Other Farm’ conditions and includes the conditions Marek’s disease, White muscle disease and Oregon.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of (a) foot infections and (b) arthritis and joint problems were identified by post-mortem inspection of poultry and prevented from entering the food chain from 1 January 2013 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency holds the following data. For the period 1 January 2013 – 31 March 2020 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

Foot infections

2,938,204

Arthritis and joint problem

2,456,789

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of (a) peritonitis, (b) hepatitis, (c) pericarditis and (d) aspergillosis were identified by post-mortem inspection of poultry and prevented from entering the food chain from 1 January 2013 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) holds the following data. For the period 1 January 2013 – 31 March 2020 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

Peritonitis

7,206,870

Hepatitis

11,508,455

Pericarditis

6,538,354

*Aspergillosis

*Not Specifically Recorded

Note:

*With poultry, conditions identified at post-mortem inspection point that are not specifically recorded by name are recorded into the FSA Collection and Communication of Inspection Results IT system as either ‘Other Factory’ (processing) or ‘Other farm’ (for example jaundice, Oregon, white muscle).

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of (a) cellulitis, (b) dermatitis, (c) ascites and (d) salpingitis were identified by post-mortem inspection of poultry and prevented from entering the food chain from 1 January 2013 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) holds the following data. For the period 1 January 2013 – 31 March 2020 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

Cellulitis

13,567,060

Dermatitis

1,656,566

Ascites

20,720,105

Salpingitis

637,150

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of (a) faecal contamination, (b) tumours, (c) egg impaction and (d) septiceamia and fever were identified by post-mortem inspection of poultry and prevented from entering the food chain from 1 January 2013 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) holds the following data. For the period 1 January 2013 – 31 March 2020 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

1 Contamination

13,379,989

Tumours

1,446,971

2 Egg impaction

*Not Specifically Recorded

3 Septiceamia and fever

17,346,319

Notes:

1 The FSA does not separately record faecal contamination during post-mortem inspection. All types of contamination (faecal, grease, wool, hair etc) are recorded as contamination.

2 With poultry, conditions identified at post-mortem inspection point that are not specifically recorded by name are recorded into the FSA CCIR IT system as either ‘Other Factory’ (processing) or ‘Other farm’ (for example jaundice, Oregon, white muscle).

3 Septiceamia and fever are recorded as abnormal colour and are within the total figure of 17,346,319.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of (a) erysipelas in pigs, (b) actinobacillosis and (c) actinomycosis were identified at official post-mortem inspection and prevented from entering the food chain by officials working for and on behalf of the Food Standards Agency performing meat inspections on red meat animals from 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) holds the following data. For the period 1 January 2014 – 31 March 2020 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

Erysipelas in pigs

22,731

Actinobacillosis

4,367

Actinomycosis

2,773

In 2015/16 the FSA, through consultation, with the Association of Meat Inspectors, meat hygiene inspectors, industry representatives, other Government departments, devolved administrations, academic organisations, internal and external veterinarians and others developed a more defined and actionable list of conditions surrounding animal health, public health and animal welfare.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of (a) nephritis and (b) septic nephritis were identified at official post-mortem inspection and prevented from entering the food chain by officials working for and on behalf of the Food Standards Agency performing meat inspections on red meat animals from 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) holds the following data. For the period 1 January 2014 – 31 March 2020 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

Nephritis

261,209

*Septic nephritis

*Not Specifically Recorded

In 2015/16 the FSA, through consultation, with the Association of Meat Inspectors, meat hygiene inspectors, industry representatives, other Government departments, devolved administrations, academic organisations, internal and external veterinarians and others developed a more defined and actionable list of conditions surrounding animal health, public health and animal welfare.

Note:

*With red meat, conditions identified at post-mortem inspection point that are not specifically recorded by name are recorded into the FSA IT system as ‘Other’.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of (a) hydronephrosis, (b) lymphadenitis, (c) tuberculosis and (d) steatosis were identified at official post-mortem inspection and prevented from entering the food chain by officials working for and on behalf of the Food Standards Agency performing meat inspections on red meat animals from 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) holds the following data. For the period 1 January 2014 – 31 March 2020 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

Hydronephrosis

1,266,255

*Lymphadenitis

*Not Specifically Recorded

Tuberculosis

314,726

*Steatosis

*Not Specifically Recorded

In 2015/16 the FSA, through consultation, with the Association of Meat Inspectors, meat hygiene inspectors, industry representatives, other Government departments, devolved administrations, academic organisations, internal and external veterinarians and others developed a more defined and actionable list of conditions surrounding animal health, public health and animal welfare.

Note:

*With red meat, conditions identified at post-mortem inspection point that are not specifically recorded by name are recorded into the FSA Collection and Communication of Inspection Results IT system as ‘Other’.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of animals with (a) septicaemia, (b) tumours and (c) pyaemia were identified at official post-mortem inspection and prevented from entering the food chain by officials working for and on behalf of the Food Standards Agency performing meat inspections on red meat animals from 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) holds the following data. For the period 1 January 2014 – 31 March 2020 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

Septicaemia

359,692

Tumours

13,201

Pyaemia

450,396

In 2015/16 the FSA, through consultation, with the Association of Meat Inspectors, meat hygiene inspectors, industry representatives, other Government departments, devolved administrations, academic organisations, internal and external veterinarians and others developed a more defined and actionable list of conditions surrounding animal health, public health and animal welfare.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of animals with (a) oedema, (b) emaciation and (c) bruising and trauma were identified at official post-mortem inspection and prevented from entering the food chain by officials working for and on behalf of the Food Standards Agency performing meat inspections on red meat animals from 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) holds the following data. For the period 1 January 2014 – 31 March 2020 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

*Oedema

*470,701

*Emaciation

Bruising and trauma

454,600

In 2015/16 the FSA, through consultation, with the Association of Meat Inspectors, meat hygiene inspectors, industry representatives, other Government departments, devolved administrations, academic organisations, internal and external veterinarians and others developed a more defined and actionable list of conditions surrounding animal health, public health and animal welfare.

Note:

*The conditions Oedema and Emaciation are not recorded separately and are combined in the Food Standards Agency Collection and Communication of Inspection Results IT system. The 470,701 number of instances represents the cumulative number of emaciation and oedema cases identified at post-mortem inspection.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of abscesses in offal and carcasses were identified at official post-mortem inspection and prevented from entering the food chain by officials working for and on behalf of the Food Standards Agency performing meat inspections on red meat animals from 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) holds the following data. For the period 1 January 2014 – 31 March 2020 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

Abscesses in offal and carcasses

2,132,131

In 2015/16 the FSA, through consultation, with the Association of Meat Inspectors, meat hygiene inspectors, industry representatives, other Government departments, devolved administrations, academic organisations, internal and external veterinarians and others developed a more defined and actionable list of conditions surrounding animal health, public health and animal welfare.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of (a) pericarditis, (b) septic pericarditis, (c) peritonitis and (d) septic peritonitis were identified at official post-mortem inspection and prevented from entering the food chain by officials working for and on behalf of the Food Standards Agency performing meat inspections on red meat animals from 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) holds the following data. For the period 1 January 2014 – 31 March 2020 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

Pericarditis

1,262,174

*Septic
pericarditis

*Not Specifically Recorded

Peritonitis

1,091,733

Septic peritonitis

186,786

In 2015/16 the FSA, through consultation, with the Association of Meat Inspectors, meat hygiene inspectors, industry representatives, other Government departments, devolved administrations, academic organisations, internal and external veterinarians and others developed a more defined and actionable list of conditions surrounding animal health, public health and animal welfare.

Note:

*With red meat, the condition septic pericarditis is not specifically recorded and is recorded against the condition septicaemia.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of (a) pneumonia and (b) septic pneumonia were identified at official post-mortem inspection and prevented from entering the food chain by officials working for and on behalf of the Food Standards Agency performing meat inspections on red meat animals from 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) holds the following data. For the period 1 January 2014 – 31 March 2020 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

Pneumonia

5,121,649

Septic Pneumonia

150,099

In 2015/16 the FSA, through consultation, with the Association of Meat Inspectors, meat hygiene inspectors, industry representatives, other Government departments, devolved administrations, academic organisations, internal and external veterinarians and others developed a more defined and actionable list of conditions surrounding animal health, public health and animal welfare.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of faecal contamination on meat carcasses and offal were identified at official post mortem inspection and prevented from entering the food chain by officials working for and on behalf of the FSA performing meat inspections from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency does not separately record faecal contamination during post-mortem inspection. All types of contamination (faecal, grease, wool, hair etc) are recorded as contamination. The total number of instances of contamination that were identified and prevented from the entering the food chain for the period requested were as follows:

Species

Number of instances of contamination

Sheep

2,700,179

Cattle

931,683

Pigs

1,905,167

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many cases of (a) cysticercus tenuicollis, (b) cysticercus ovis, (c) hydatid cysts and (d) generalised cysticecus ovis were identified at official post mortem inspection and prevented from entering the food chain by officials working for and on behalf of the Food Standards Agency performing meat inspections from 1 January 2014 to 1 June 2018.

The Food Standards Agency holds the following data. For the period 1 January 2014 – 31 June 2018 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

Cysticercus Tenuicollis

4,544,896

Cysticercus Ovis

480,038

Hydatid Cysts

115,844

Generalised Cysticecus Ovis

5,946

Prior to 2016, the data for Cysticercus Ovis was not separated between generalised C. ovis and localised C. ovis. The 225,251 instances between the period 1 April 2014 and 31 December 2015 have been included in the 480,038 figure.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many instances of (a) liver fluke fasciola hepatica, (b) parasitic lung worms, (c) lesions caused by the migration or development of the intermediate stage of the parasitic roundworm ascaris suum, and (d) the cystic stage of the human tapeworm taenia saginata were identified at official post mortem inspection and prevented from entering the food chain by officials working for and on behalf of the Food Standards Agency performing meat inspections from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2020.

The Food Standards Agency holds the following data. For the period 1 April 2014 – 31 March 2020 the following instances were identified at post-mortem and prevented from entering the food chain:

Condition

Number of Instances

liver fluke fasciola hepatica

5,852,132

Parasitic Lung Worm

2,273,973

Ascaris Suum (Milk spot)

975,796

Cystic stage of Tania saginata (C Bovis)

2,078

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what preparations have been made at a community level for a mass vaccination programme should a covid-19 vaccine become available.

The Department is working with the Government’s Vaccines Taskforce, Public Health England, NHS England and NHS Improvement, and colleagues from across the health and care system, including local partners, to put in place plans for successful distribution and delivery of a COVID-19 vaccination programme, alongside routine immunisation services, should a COVID-19 vaccine become available.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to retain healthcare staff who returned to provide additional capacity during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is grateful for the positive response from the large numbers of former healthcare staff who came forward in response to the COVID-19 emergency. We are working closely with key stakeholders including NHS England and NHS Improvement and local employers to ensure that the opportunities for employment are maximised for those who wish to continue working.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if the exemption for registered health or care professionals travelling to the UK to provide essential healthcare, including where this is not related to coronavirus, in quarantine rules applies to health care professionals who currently work in the NHS but have gone abroad and are now returning.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 are clear in that they include an exemption for registered healthcare professionals from the requirement to quarantine, if they are required to return to, or start work within 14 days of arrival in the United Kingdom, if they are staying in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of the NHS clinical contact caseworkers that have been employed have completed the required e-learning course.

100% of clinical contact tracers making calls have completed the required training modules. A contact tracer is not assigned to take calls unless they have completed the necessary training.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason the estimated R rate in the community is not reported separately from the rate in health and social care settings at Downing Street briefings.

The Government Office for Science currently publishes the latest estimate of the United Kingdom-wide range for R on a weekly basis. The current range is estimated to be 0.7-0.9 and is based on latest data available to determine infection and transmission rates. Because outbreaks in care homes, hospitals and the community are interlinked, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and its subgroups do not calculate them separately.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the same criteria in respect of (a) time and (b) distance from an infected person will be used by the NHS clinical contact caseworkers and the NHS covid-19 contract tracing app.

The Government has launched the new NHS Test and Trace service across England. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within two metres for more than 15 minutes.

The National Health Service COVID-19 app anonymously logs the distance between your phone and other phones nearby that also have the app installed. The decision of precisely which other app users are notified will be determined by a sophisticated ‘contact risk model’, approved by the Chief Medical Officer. The algorithm is published on the NHS COVID-19 app’s website. NHS doctors and scientists are continuously updating this model to ensure it is as accurate as possible.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what process his Department used to decide that personally identifiable information collected by the NHS test and trace service on people with covid-19 symptoms is retained by Public Health England for 20 years.

Public Health England retains personal data for different lengths of time depending on the public health purpose. Longer-term retention is sometimes necessary to manage and monitor the long-term health impacts of serious public health threats such as COVID-19 and future currently unknown threats to the public’s health.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how work on the NHS covid-19 contact tracing app was divided between (a) NHSX and (b) VMWare Pivotal Labs; and what criteria for success were defined in the contract for that project.

The National Health Service COVID-19 app is being developed by a multidisciplinary, multi-organisational team led by NHSX but also including representatives from across Government. VMWare, formerly Pivotal, was contracted by NHSX to provide a minimum viable product, to test and learn, and then to continue to productise the app. The contract asked it to:

- Work to an agile methodology to create a proximity tracing solution;

- Design, build and implement a scalable and robust platform to support the app for the duration of the contract;

- Provide live service support for the app and platform for national launch; and

- Share knowledge with NHSX and complete a service transition of the app and platform over to NHSX or NHSX’s chosen partner.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the value was of the contract that was awarded to VMWare Pivotal Labs for work on the NHS covid-19 contact tracing app.

In March 2020, Go Pivotal (UK) Ltd, which was acquired by VM Ware in December 2019, was awarded contracts of £500,000 for app development and support, and £1.3 million for development and deployment of a minimum viable product (MVP) and app to market. In May 2020 the company was awarded a contract of £3 million for development and deployment of a MVP and limited period of support.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance was provided to NHS hospitals on face fit tests for people wearing FFP3 masks between February and May 2020.

Where respiratory protective equipment is required, the COVID-19 infection prevention and control guidance states that fit testing is necessary. This information has been included in all published versions of the COVID-19 infection prevention and control guidance since 10 January 2020. The COVID-19: infection prevention and control guidance is available to view at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the procurement process was for the NHS testing app.

We rapidly engaged with several companies to understand their technological capabilities and assess the best approach. As a result of this process and given the extreme urgency, we made a direct award to VMWare Pivotal Labs, as permitted under Regulation 32 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how work on the NHS covid-19 contact tracing app was divided between (a) NHSX and (b) Zuhlke Engineering; and what success criteria were defined in the contract for that project.

The National Health Service COVID-19 app is being developed by a multidisciplinary, multi-organisational team led by NHSX but also including representatives from across Government. Zuhlke provides technical assurance for the app. The contract with Zuhlke defines the following deliverables:

- provide technical oversight of activities and deliverables; and

- work with project stakeholders to deliver effective project governance and assurance.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the £60,000 death-in-service lump sum payment in respect of covid-19 applies to nurses and care workers working in social care settings where (a) all, (b) some or (c) none of the cost of the care is funded by local authorities.

The Government has announced a life assurance scheme for frontline National Health Service and social care staff. The scheme is non-contributory and pays a £60,000 lump sum where staff who had been recently working where personal care is provided to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 die as a result of the virus.

Nurses and care workers working in social care are eligible, providing that their work requires them to be present in frontline settings where COVID-19 is present, and that they are employed by an organisation registered by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to provide social care services; regardless of how they are funded.

In addition, any members of the social care workforce in non-CQC registered settings are also eligible, if their employer receives public funding.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the official calculation is of the covid-19 R rate in the East of England region as of 19 May 2020.

We do not currently publish the R rate in each region. The Government Office for Science currently publishes the latest estimate of the United Kingdom-wide range for R on a weekly basis. The current range is estimated to be 0.7-1.0 and is based on latest data available to determine infection and transmission rates.

The Government is committed to publishing the scientific evidence that has informed the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies advice. These papers are being published in batches. The latest batches were released on 20 March 2020 and 5 May 2020 and the next batch will published in the coming weeks. The full list of papers released to date is available at the following link. This list will be updated to reflect papers considered at recent and future meetings.

https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/scientific-advisory-group-for-emergencies-sage-coronavirus-covid-19-response

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of including the loss of smell and taste as a potential symptom of covid-19 on the NHS covid-19 website.

Following the United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers’ statement on 18 May 2020 advising that a loss or changed sense of normal smell or taste (anosmia) can be a symptom of COVID-19, the National Health Service website has been updated to reflect this. Further information out the potential symptoms of COVID-19 is available online at the following link:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/check-if-you-have-coronavirus-symptoms/

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to use text messages to encourage people to download the NHS covid-19 tracing app.

The National Health Service will be launching a major campaign to support the launch of the app and we will consider a wide range of communications channels to promote it.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the value was of the contract awarded to Zuhlke Engineering for the development of the NHS covid-19 contact tracing app.

Zühlke Engineering has been awarded contracts of £895,000 for mobile development, and £812,000 for build assurance and system integration. They have also been awarded a contract of £3.813 million (with extension options, if needed) to support the app once launched.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps will be taken to protect public health during stage-five of the covid-19 warning system.

As the Prime Minister said in his statement on Sunday 10 May, the Government is currently establishing a new COVID-19 Alert System run by a new Joint Biosecurity Centre, which will be established swiftly over the coming days. The details of the system are still being finalised and we will have further details on this in due course.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he is taking steps to mandate local authorities to provide protect equipment to (a) care workers employed by private companies that receive public money and (b) other care workers in (i) Cambridge and (ii) England.

We are working around the clock to give the social care sector and wider National Health Service the equipment and support they need to tackle this outbreak. We published a personal protective equipment (PPE) Plan on 10 April, setting out clear guidance on who needs PPE and in what circumstances they need to use it; and how sufficient supplies will be secured and distributed to the front line.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will include trade union officials on the list of workers that may be tested for covid-19.

All essential workers with symptoms and anyone with symptoms whose work cannot be done at home is now eligible for testing. Trade union officials in these groups are eligible for testing.

Essential workers and those who cannot work from home can book a test through the Government’s online self-referral portal, which allows them to register for a home test kit or book a drive-through test at a regional test site.

Testing is also available through mobile and satellite test centres that are placed to where need is greatest.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the covid-19 tracing app will be compatible with other internationally comparable covid-19 digital solutions to enable data to be shared across borders.

Our approach is similar to that followed by Australia, France, Italy, Norway, and Singapore among others. These countries have made similar technology choices (Bluetooth Low Energy) and have a proximity cascade solution. The United Kingdom is working with other countries to exchange ideas, learn lessons and ensure these lessons are being used to improve the National Health Service app development.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether data from the covid-19 contact tracing app will be uploaded to a central database; who will have access to that data; and what safeguards will be put in place for that data.

We have built the app with privacy by default and by design. The App complies with GDPR as well as the Data Protection Act 2018 to ensure the highest level of safeguards for app users.

If app users choose to submit their data to the National Health Service, either proactively or when requesting a test, it will be held on a NHS database held to the highest security standards. In addition to the continual monitoring, review and oversight we continue to consult the National Cyber Security Centre to review and supplement our processes.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had platform providers to enable the covid-19 contact tracing app to collect data while a phone is locked.

The Department has worked with a range of experts - scientists, doctors, security experts and privacy groups to decide on an appropriate model for the app - one which will save lives while maintaining the privacy of users. The app has been designed in such a way as to allow devices to collect contact events and information regardless of whether it is running in the background or not, and while the phone is locked or sleeping.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with developers working on the NHS covid-19 app on creating a decentralised and anonymised contact tracing system built on (a) DP-3T and (b) other similar systems.

The contact tracing app being developed by NHSX is designed, alongside effective tracing and testing, to give our country the confidence it needs to return to normality. We have worked with a range of experts - scientists, doctors, security experts and privacy groups to decide on an appropriate model for the app - one which will save lives while maintaining the privacy of users. Adopting a 'centralised' approach will ensure we are able to react quickly to changes in scientific advice and let people know quickly if they are at risk from contracting COVID-19 more quickly. At the same time, the National Health Service benefits from vital information about the spread of COVID-19. This will play a major part in protecting the health of others and getting the country back to normal in a controlled way, as restrictions ease.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what (a) distance away from and (b) length of time spent near another app user will the covid-19 tracing app be set to report a potential covid-19 interaction.

The decision of precisely which other app users are notified if you notify the app you have become unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 will be determined by a sophisticated ‘contact risk model’. National Health Service doctors and scientists will continuously update this ‘contact risk model’ to make it as accurate as possible. The model will be based on scientific principles and it will be approved by the Chief Medical Officer.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the identity of people notified of potential exposure to covid-19 via the contact tracing app will be available automatically to the relevant authorities for contact tracing.

The app has been designed for use for National Health Service care, public health management, or evaluation and research.

If you become unwell with symptoms of COVID-19, you can allow the app to inform the NHS and trigger a notification that the NHS will then send, anonymously, to other app users with whom you came into significant contact over the previous few days.

The app will be part of a wider approach that also will involve manual contact tracing and testing. We are working out how the data from the app can link to these elements.

We will always comply with the law around the use of data, including the provisions of the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason the sex of participants is not collected by the NHS survey hosted at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus-status-checker/.

The National Health Service Coronavirus Status checker collects only the minimum amount of data necessary to predict the likely demand on NHS services. NHSX plans to iterate the survey and may add gender to this collection, if it would help predict demand more effectively.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support the Government is providing to dental practices that are part NHS and part private to ensure those practices continue to operate.

Routine dentistry has been suspended for the peak COVID-19 period with National Health Service urgent dental care provided through a number of urgent dental treatment centres. The suspension of routine dentistry is driven both by the particularly high risk for transmission a number of dental procedures present and, during the lockdown period, the need to support social distancing by reducing footfall.

NHS England is continuing to fully fund dentists for their NHS contracts while the requirement to deliver a given amount of treatment is suspended. As part of the agreement dental practices will provide remote urgent advice, redeploy staff to provide urgent face to face care in one of the 550 urgent dental centres and redeploy other staff to support the wider NHS on COVID-19.

NHS England’s guidance on financial support and the redeployment of staff can be found at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/primary-care/dental-practice/

Private dentistry is independent of the Department and decisions on whether to continue to provide care are a matter for individual practices. However, they are advised by their professional regulator, the General Dental Council, to take careful account of the advice by the Chief Dental Officer that routine dentistry should be suspended. Dentists are being supported to follow this guidance by the financial support available through the Treasury schemes for business owners, the self-employed or salaried individuals. Which scheme applies will depend on the employment status of the individual dentist. Dentists who meet the Treasury criteria can access this support for the private element of their earnings whether or not they also provide NHS care.

NHS England and NHS Improvement announced on 28 May that NHS dentistry outside urgent care centres will begin to restart from 8 June with the aim of increasing levels of service as fast as is compatible with maximising safety.

A copy of the letter that was published can be found at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-ontent/uploads/sites/52/2020/03/Urgent-dental-care-letter-28-May.pdf

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has requested that (a) Public Health England, (b) county councils and (c) other public sector organisations (i) collect and (ii) publish data on residents in care homes with (A) covid-19 symptoms and (B) confirmed positive tests for covid-19.

Since the start of the pandemic, Public Health England (PHE) estimated that over 192,000 residents in care homes have been tested for COVID-19. Data on the number of residents in care homes with COVID-19 symptoms and confirmed tests for COVID-19 is not currently available or published in the format requested. NHS England is keeping what data it publishes under regular review.

The weekly number and percentage of care homes reporting a suspected or confirmed outbreak of COVID-19 to PHE by local authorities, regions and centres is published at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/covid-19-number-of-outbreaks-in-care-homes-management-information

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure a robust supply of hydroxychloroquine to patients reliant on that medication to manage (a) lupus, (b) scleroderma, (c) rheumatoid arthritis and (d) other serious autoimmune rheumatic conditions during the covid-19 pandemic.

The Department is working closely with industry, the National Health Service and others in the supply chain to help ensure patients can access the medicines they need, including hydroxychloroquine, and precautions are in place to reduce the likelihood of future shortages.

Clinical trials are being established to test hydroxychloroquine as an agent in the treatment of COVID-19. There are centrally held supplies of hydroxychloroquine for those clinical trials. Separate supplies of hydroxychloroquine for patients that are already using the medicine for its licensed indications can be accessed through usual routes. In addition, there is an export ban in place to protect United Kingdom stocks of hydroxychloroquine that is intended for UK patients.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what further guidance his Department plans to issue on social distancing to (a) hairdressers, (b) driving instructors and (c) other professions.

The Government issued further guidance on social distancing on 23 March, which specifically included hairdressers, driving instructors and other professions, and can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close

The Government will keep all measures and related guidance, under constant review and update regularly.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on maintaining membership of the European Medicine Agency during the covid-19 outbreak and until a vaccine is found.

As of 31 January 2020, we are in the Transition Period during which the United Kingdom will continue to follow European legislation and European Medicines Agency (EMA) processes and decisions until 31 December 2020. As such any European Union centrally authorised medicines, including any COVID-19 vaccine, would also be authorised in the UK. We also continue to receive public safety information from the EMA and have firm links with the World Health Organization and other key international public health organisations working on this issue.

The UK is a world leader in preparing for and managing public health incidents and on 3 March the Government published its action plan to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

The Government will not be extending the transition period in light of the latest COVID-19 developments as both the EU and UK remain fully committed to the negotiations and agreeing a future partnership by the end of 2020. The Government is working to ensure that UK patients can access the best and most innovative medicines.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of the Nursing and Midwifery Council on relaxing the requirements for International English Language Testing System evidence forms during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the independent regulator of nurses and midwives in the United Kingdom, and nursing associates in England. It sets the standards that registrants must meet to demonstrate that they are capable of practising safely and effectively. This includes assessing that an applicant can speak, read, listen and write English to the required standards.

There are currently no plans to relax the requirements for English language competence set by the NMC for overseas candidates applying to join the register.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has for nurses who qualified outside of the UK and whose qualifications are not recognised in the UK to work in the NHS during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises the valuable contribution that healthcare workers who have trained outside of the United Kingdom make to the health and social care sector.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the independent regulator of nurses and midwives in the UK and nursing associates in England. It sets the standards that registrants must meet to demonstrate that they are capable of practising safely and effectively in those professions.

Overseas professionals whose qualifications and training do not meet the NMC’s qualification standards will continue to be able to work in the National Health Service and wider health and care sector during the COVID-19 outbreak, delivering a range of vital non-regulated roles.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his policy is on alignment with the forthcoming EU Clinical Trial Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 536/2014) after the UK has left the EU.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Health Research Authority, ethics services, National Institute for Health Research, National Health Service and devolved administrations have been preparing to implement the forthcoming European Union Clinical Trials Regulation since it was agreed in 2014. The United Kingdom will implement those aspects of the regulation which best suits the interests of UK patients, industry, non-commercial researchers and hospitals when it comes into force and this is currently expected during 2022.

Regardless of the terms of our exit, we will ensure that we are at the forefront of clinical trials internationally and that the UK remains a competitive environment in which to conduct clinical trials.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to protect British citizens in Qatar involved in cases of dangerous driving.

Our consular staff endeavour to give appropriate and tailored support to British nationals overseas, and their families in the UK, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. What we can and cannot do is set out in our Supporting British Nationals Abroad: A guide (www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-british-nationals-abroad-a-guide). We highlight the specific risks on local road safety to those travelling overseas through our Travel Advice which is regularly reviewed and updated, including that for Qatar. Our advice for Qatar currently advises of poor road discipline, high speeds, warns that minor accidents are common and that there is a very high fatality rate for road accidents.

We work in partnership with UK charity Brake, who provide emotional and practical support to families bereaved through road traffic accidents overseas. Officials in Qatar are in regular contact with the Qatari authorities and raise consular issues as appropriate, including those related to road traffic safety.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure co-operation from the Qatari authorities in the inquest into the killing of Cambridge resident Rafaelle Tsakanika in a hit-and-run incident in Doha in 2019, including the sharing of their full file of evidence with the Coroner.

We have contacted HM Coroner to find out what documentation they require from the Qatari authorities for the inquest into Ms Tsakanika's death. Once we know HM Coroner's requirements we will submit a request to the Qatari Authorities for this documentation via normal diplomatic channels and will follow up as appropriate.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will have discussions with his Egyptian and Italian counterparts on the Egyptian authorities temporarily closing the investigation into the 2016 murder of Cambridge PhD student, Giulio Regeni.

We have the deepest sympathy for Giulio Regeni's family and their quest for justice for his appalling murder. As Mr Regeni was an Italian citizen, the Italian Government is taking the lead role on his case. We continue to follow the investigation into his death and to work closely with the Italian Government. We last discussed this at official level with the Italian authorities on 23 November. We have also raised with the Egyptian authorities at a senior level the need for a transparent and impartial investigation, in full co-operation with Italy, so that Mr Regeni's killers can be brought to justice.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Italian counterpart on the Italian magistrates’ investigation into the five officials suspected of involvement in the murder of PhD student Giulio Regeni.

We have the deepest sympathy for Giulio Regeni's family and their quest for justice for his appalling murder. As Mr Regeni was an Italian citizen, the Italian Government is taking the lead role on his case. We continue to follow the investigation into his death and to work closely with the Italian Government. We last discussed this at an official level with the Italian authorities on 23 November. We have also raised with the Egyptian authorities at a senior level the need for a transparent and impartial investigation, in full co-operation with Italy, so that Mr Regeni's killers can be brought to justice.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, how long the restrictions on travel and movement of goods out of Denmark will last.

Following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, the travel ban introduced on 7 November 2020 on Denmark will be extended for a further 14 days from Saturday 14 November. Measures on freight introduced on 8 November 2020 will also run for an extra 14 days from the date they came into force.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
What recent assessment he has made of the situation of refugees in Lesbos.

I am grateful to my Honourable Friend for his question, and for raising this with the Leader of the House at Business Questions on 8 October. I too am deeply concerned by the situation on Lesvos, following the devastating fire which destroyed the Moria migrant camp.

The UK has responded to Greek requests for humanitarian aid, providing kitchen sets to nearly 2,000 vulnerable families to prepare and cook food, and solar lanterns to help them stay safe. This is in addition to our commitment earlier this year of £510k worth of humanitarian supplies and equipment to help vulnerable migrants and refugees on Greek islands. We will continue to monitor the situation carefully.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what criteria was used to exclude Thailand from the list of countries exempt from quarantine measures.

A list of countries and territories from which passengers arriving in England will no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days was published on 3 July. This follows the Government's first review of public health measures at the border, which were introduced in June 2020. The Government has always been clear that any decisions on border measures will be proportionate and science-led.

We are continuing to engage with all partners on all aspects of the global response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had since the beginning of covid-19 pandemic with (a) the European Commission and (b) the Greek Government on resettling refugees from the island of Lesbos.

The Foreign Secretary last discussed the migration situation with the Greek Foreign Minister on 18 March, and on 22 April the Minister for Immigration Compliance signed the UK-Greece Migration Action Plan with his Greek counterpart and discussed a range of bilateral and regional migration issues.

This Migration Action Plan sets out the framework for future bilateral co-operation with Greece on migration. It includes renewed deployment of a Border Force cutter to the Aegean to carry out search and rescue; facilitation of family reunification of unaccompanied asylum seeking children, where it is in their best interests; sharing of expertise on asylum processes and migrant returns in line with international laws; and the establishment of a strategic migration dialogue.

In terms of the Greek migrant camps, we remain in close contact with the Greek authorities. We are also in regular discussions with our European partners, both bilaterally and through multilateral channels, and continue to monitor the situation via our Embassy in Athens closely.

The UK's refugee resettlement schemes offer a safe and legal route to the UK for the most vulnerable refugees, and purposefully target those in greatest need of assistance. The Government's long-standing policy is to provide support to and resettle the most vulnerable refugees directly from conflict regions.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what plans the Government has to mark Europe Day 2020.

As the UK is no longer a member of the European Union we have no plans to mark Europe Day.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will set up an emergency hotline to assist UK citizens stranded abroad by border closures and flight cancellations.

The FCO has an emergency hotline which is manned 24/7. We are increasing the capacity of our phone lines to manage the exceptionally high volumes of calls. We recommend that those seeking travel advice look at gov.uk and call only if they require urgent consular assistance.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will temporarily increase the rate of Gift Aid from 20 per cent to 25 per cent for two years, similar to the Gift Aid Transitional Relief Scheme of 2008.

The Government is fully committed to supporting charities through the Gift Aid regime. This relief is tied to the basic rate of tax paid by donors, currently at 20%, so can only be changed if the personal basic tax rate changes.

The Government recognises that the sector is experiencing significant pressures and has made available an unprecedented package of economic support, including a £750 million package specifically for charities.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of holding discussions with (a) Softbank and Arm on the Softbank/Arm deal of 2016 and (b) Nvidia and Arm on the Softbank/Nvidia Arm deal of 2020.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport is leading engagement with the parties involved, all queries should be directed to the DCMS.

Information about ministerial meetings can be found at gov.uk. It would be inappropriate to divulge further detail at this stage.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Sep 2020
ARM
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on how many occasions he and his Department have had discussions with (a) Nvidia and (b) Arm on the sale of Arm from Softbank to Nvidia.

Neither the Chancellor nor HM Treasury have held discussions with Nvidia or Arm on the sale of Arm from Softbank to Nvidia. The Government recognises the vital role ARM plays in the UK’s tech sector and its contribution to the economy.

The Government monitors acquisitions and mergers closely. We will be scrutinising the Arm deal in close detail to understand the implications for the UK, and if further action is required.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Sep 2020
What steps he is taking to support regional economies.

We recognise that every region will be feeling the impacts of this crisis and the Government has responded to the challenges of Covid-19 through unprecedented support for business and workers across the country.

At the Summer Economic Update, the Chancellor announced the Government’s plan to support jobs in every region through upgrades to local infrastructure, boosting skills, and new employment support schemes. This builds on our commitment at Budget to invest in our towns, cities, people and places.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of moving from vehicle excise duty to road-user charging; and if he will make a statement.

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is a tax on vehicle ownership, which raises around £6 billion per annum. Revenue raised through English VED is being reinvested into the road network between 2020-2025 to fund road enhancement projects.

Motorists pay fuel duty on the petrol or diesel they purchase so those who complete significant mileage currently pay more in fuel duty than those who drive fewer miles.

All taxes remain under review – changes are considered by the Chancellor and announced at fiscal events.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many of the 28 questionnaires sent from the European Commission on areas where equivalence assessments are possible the Government has answered; and whether the Government plans to answer the remaining questionnaires.

As I set out at the Lords’ EU Services Sub-Committee last Thursday, the questionnaires that the EU have sent as part of their assessment process of the UK’s equivalence framework amount to over 1000 pages of extremely technical questions, the last 250 pages of which only reached us at the end of May. My officials have been responding to these questions as quickly as possible and will return the remaining questionnaires by the end of this week.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the effect of Government guidance on contactless payments on the level of access to (a) goods and (b) services for people who do not have a bank account.

One of the impacts of the Covid-19 virus has been a decline in cash withdrawals and usage. Current BEIS guidance to retailers for working safely during COVID-19 advises minimising contact around transactions, for example, considering using contactless payments. The Government and regulators are closely engaged with industry on an ongoing basis to monitor risks to the cash system.

The Government recognises that many businesses and individuals rely on cash in their daily lives. At the March 2020 Budget, the Chancellor announced that Government will bring forward legislation to protect access to cash. The Government is engaging with regulators and industry while designing legislation, ensuring that the approach reflects the needs of cash users across the economy.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many people placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme have subsequently been made redundant.

Employers are not required to inform HMRC of redundancies.

CJRS is a new scheme and HMRC are currently working through the analysis they will be able to provide based on the data available.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing zero-rated VAT on ticket income for theatres and music venues.

VAT is an important source of revenue for the Exchequer and plays an important part in funding the Government’s spending priorities including hospitals, schools and defence, raising £130 billion in 2019/2020.

Given this context, while all taxes are kept under review, there are currently no plans to apply a zero-rate of VAT on ticket income for theatres and music venues.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with representatives in the arts sector on the continuation of the (a) Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and (b) Self-Employment Income Support Scheme for businesses that are unable to re-open as a result of Government guidance on social distancing during the covid-19 outbreak.

During this difficult time the Treasury is working intensively with employers, delivery partners, industry groups and other Government departments to understand the long-term effects of social distancing across all key areas of the economy. For example, on 11 June the Chancellor attended a roundtable with TUC and other unions, including Prospect and Equity.

The Government recognises the extreme disruption the necessary actions to combat Covid-19 are having on businesses and sectors like Arts and Creative Industries.

That is why the Chancellor introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

On 12 May, the Government announced a major extension to the CJRS which will continue to the end of October, including more flexibility and employer contributions from August as people return to work. On 29 May, the Chancellor announced an extension to the SEISS, which continues to be one of the most generous self-employed Covid-19 support schemes in the world as the economy reopens. This extension means that eligible individuals whose businesses are adversely affected by Covid-19 will be able to claim a second and final grant when the scheme reopens for applications in August. Decisions on Government schemes are based on all available evidence, including the latest public health guidance.

The Treasury will continue to monitor the impact of Government support with regard to supporting public services, businesses, individuals, and sectors such as arts and creative industries, and welcome views from representatives.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support is available for providers of agricultural and country shows during the covid-19 outbreak; and what support is available for mobile providers of those shows who do not have fixed property.

The Government has announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency including almost £300 billion of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of UK GDP. Where they have business premises, agro-event hire companies may benefit from one of the grants schemes announced on 17 March:

  • The Small Business Grant Fund, which provides eligible businesses with a £10,000 grant per property, for each property in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR).
  • The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, which provides eligible businesses, not in receipt of SBRR or RRR, with a £10,000 grant per property with a rateable value of £15,000 or less; and £25,000 grant per property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

Agro-event hire companies without premises, along with other businesses, may benefit from a range of other support measures. The Business Support website provides further information about how businesses can access the support that has been made available, who is eligible and how to apply - https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing postdoctoral researchers in receipt of URKI grants to be furloughed when their research involving feasibility studies has had to be paused as a result of their needing to collect data from a medical setting.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is available for researchers who meet the eligibility criteria (as set out in HMRC and DfE guidance for Higher Education Institutions). This includes research staff directly supported by public grants where they are not able to conduct research due to non-pharmaceutical interventions.

Staff costs for that period may not be claimed from the public research funder. The CJRS is not available for researchers who are not on the PAYE payroll.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the Government's Self-employment Income Support Scheme, if he will take steps to ensure that a loss of earnings for self-employed women as a result of receiving maternity allowance is taken into account when calculating average profits from their tax returns over the last three years.

The new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will help those with lost trading profits due to COVID-19. It means the UK will have one of the most generous self-employed COVID-19 support schemes in the world.

The new scheme will allow eligible individuals to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for 3 months. Self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, are eligible if they have submitted their Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19, continued to trade and have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19.

Taking maternity leave, paternity leave, or sick leave does not mean that the trade has ceased and therefore should not affect a person’s eligibility for the SEISS as long as the individual intends to return to the trade after the period of leave.

To qualify for the SEISS, an individual’s self-employed trading profits must be less than £50,000, with more than half of their income from self-employment. Delivering a scheme for the self-employed is a very difficult operational challenge, particularly in the time available. There is no way for HM Revenue & Customs to know the reasons why an individual’s profits may have dropped in earlier years from Self Assessment returns.

However, to help those with volatile income in 2018-19 for whatever reason, an individual is eligible for the SEISS if their trading profits are no more than £50,000 and at least half of their total income, for either the tax year 2018-19 or the average of the tax years 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19. If eligible, they will receive a taxable grant based on their average trading profit over the three tax years, including in years where their trading profits were less than half their total income.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will take steps to extend the furlough scheme so that workers who usually receive tips receive 80 per cent of their monthly net tip earnings averages over the last three years.

The objective of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is to enable employers to continue to keep people in employment. To achieve this, the grants compensate employers for the payments that they are contractually obliged to make, in order to avoid the need for redundancies. Covering discretionary payments would go beyond the objectives of the scheme. Full guidance on how to calculate 80% of wages can be found at: www.gov.uk/guidance/work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages-to-claim-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

For some employees, the pay in scope for the grant will be less than the overall sum they usually receive. The Government is also supporting those on low incomes who need to rely on the welfare system through a significant package of temporary welfare measures. This includes a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, and a nearly £1 billion 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 www.gov.uk/universal-credit.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether workers who have been advised to work from home during the covid-19 outbreak are eligible to claim tax relief for (a) heating and lighting the room they work in and (b) the cost of business telephone calls.

Employees who have been advised to work from home during the COVID-19 outbreak are eligible to claim tax relief for heating and lighting the room that they work in, and for the costs of business telephone calls. They can claim a fixed amount of £4 per week up to 5 April 2020, then £6 per week thereafter. This increase was announced at Budget. Alternatively, employees can claim relief on the actual amounts incurred, subject to being able to provide evidence, such as phone bills.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) a financial assistance package for early-stage R&D companies in the (i) life sciences and (ii) other sectors that includes rapidly available grants for loss-making companies and (b) increasing the level of R&D tax-credits including in relation to the percentage of surrenderable loss repayable in cash during the covid-19 outbreak.

The government is committed to supporting innovative businesses to grow, as part of the strategy to increase economy-wide investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

At the 2020 Budget, government announced it would increase public investment in R&D to £22bn by 2024-25. Detailed allocations of this funding will be set out in due course. Budget 2020 also announced the R&D Expenditure Credit rate would be increased to 13%, providing an additional £1bn over the next 5 years.

The government offers two R&D tax relief schemes which are internationally competitive. The government keeps all tax reliefs under review to ensure they remain well-targeted, and will continue to monitor whether further support for businesses is required through the tax system.

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the government has announced a significant package of financial support for businesses and employees. Further details of this package are available at: www.businesssupport.gov.uk

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many police staff in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have received a covid-19 vaccine.

The Home Office does not hold the number of police officers and staff who have received a Covid-19 vaccine, including in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

For Phase 1 of the vaccine roll-out, the Government has rightly prioritised the elderly, given the disproportionate impact of the virus by age range. The clinically vulnerable, and front-line Health and Social Care staff who care for them, are also being prioritised. Phase 1 also includes police officers and staff who fall into these categories.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice for Phase 2 of the vaccination programme sets out that the most effective way to minimise hospitalisations and deaths is to continue to prioritise people by age. This is because age is assessed to be the strongest factor linked to mortality, morbidity and hospitalisations, and because the speed of delivery is crucial, prioritising people by age enables us to operationally vaccinate more people, providing them with protection from Covid-19.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether new British National Overseas citizens on the new British National Overseas visa require a Superintendent Registrar Certificate to get married in the UK.

The Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (BN(O) route opens for applications from 31 January 2021.

BN(O) citizens and their partners with permission on the Hong Kong BN(O) route may give notice of their intention to get married or form a civil partnership, but a referral to Home Office immigration for investigation may take place.

Further information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/marriages-civil-partnerships

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many police officers from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have been identified to assist other forces when the transition period ends.

We have been working closely with the police to ensure they have sufficiently appropriate and robust plans in place for the end of Transition. Decisions on mutual aid, however, are an operational matter for Chief Constables.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, which police forces have annual leave embargos in place to cover the end of the transition period.

We have been working closely with the police to ensure they have sufficiently appropriate and robust plans in place for the end of Transition. Decisions on leave, however, are an operational matter for Chief Constables.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the restrictions on marriage services may have on those individuals who required a spousal visa during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Home Office has put in place a range of measures to support those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; this includes those who are currently in the UK as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner.

A person with six months’ leave as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner whose wedding or civil ceremony has been delayed due to coronavirus may request additional time to stay, also known as exceptional assurance, and extend their leave until their wedding or civil partnership takes place.

Otherwise, applicants can apply to extend their stay for a further six months to allow their ceremony to take place. The current family Immigration Rules allow a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner to apply for an extension of leave if there is good reason for their wedding or civil partnership not taking place during the initial six-month period of leave to enter. Cancellation of a wedding due to COVID-19 will be considered a good reason under this policy. Further information is set out for customers on GOV.UK and is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents#if-youre-applying-to-enter-the-uk-or-remain-on-the-basis-of-family-or-private-life

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether EU students with pre-settled status who are isolating themselves in other EU countries as a result of covid-19 and who are continuing their UK education will be exempted from the continuous residence requirement of no more than six months outside of the UK every 12 months when applying for settled status in the future.

In line with the Citizens’ Rights Agreements, the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 remains the point by which EU citizens need to be resident in the UK to be eligible in their own right for the EU Settlement Scheme.

Where a person with pre-settled status under the scheme is absent from the UK for an important reason, such as serious illness, for a single period of up to 12 months, they can still maintain the continuity of UK residence required for settled status.

Further guidance for applicants to the scheme who have been affected by illness or travel restrictions due to Covid-19 will be published shortly.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)