Derek Thomas Portrait

Derek Thomas

Conservative - St Ives

First elected: 7th May 2015


Electronic Trade Documents Bill [HL]
14th Jun 2023 - 19th Jun 2023
Electricity and Gas Transmission (Compensation) Bill
18th Jan 2023 - 25th Jan 2023
Environmental Audit Committee
13th May 2019 - 6th Nov 2019
Work and Pensions Committee
26th Nov 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Health and Social Care Committee
20th Feb 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Science and Technology Committee (Commons)
13th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Science and Technology Committee
13th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Science, Innovation and Technology Committee
13th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017


Department Event
Tuesday 5th March 2024
09:25
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Second Delegated Legislation Committee - Debate - General Committee
5 Mar 2024, 9:25 a.m.
The draft Waste Enforcement (Fixed Penalty Receipts) (Amendment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2023
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Department Event
Tuesday 5th March 2024
09:25
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Second Delegated Legislation Committee - Debate - Select & Joint Committees
5 Mar 2024, 9:25 a.m.
The draft Waste Enforcement (Fixed Penalty Receipts) (Amendment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2023
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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
Tuesday 5th March 2024
16:30
Department for Energy Security & Net Zero
Fifth Delegated Legislation Committee - Debate - General Committee
5 Mar 2024, 4:30 p.m.
The draft Energy Bills Discount Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2024
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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
Tuesday 5th March 2024
16:30
Department for Energy Security & Net Zero
Fifth Delegated Legislation Committee - Debate - Select & Joint Committees
5 Mar 2024, 4:30 p.m.
The draft Energy Bills Discount Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2024
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Scheduled Event
Wednesday 13th March 2024
Ten Minute Rule Motion - Main Chamber
Details to be provided
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Department Event
Thursday 14th March 2024
09:30
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Oral questions - Main Chamber
14 Mar 2024, 9:30 a.m.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions)
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Department Event
Tuesday 16th April 2024
11:30
Department for Energy Security & Net Zero
Oral questions - Main Chamber
16 Apr 2024, 11:30 a.m.
Energy Security and Net Zero (including Topical Questions)
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Department Event
Thursday 9th May 2024
09:30
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Oral questions - Main Chamber
9 May 2024, 9:30 a.m.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions)
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Division Votes
Tuesday 27th February 2024
Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 293 Conservative No votes vs 2 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 179 Noes - 294
Speeches
Wednesday 28th February 2024
Digital Exclusion
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in the debate. Many will remember that I secured a debate on …
Written Answers
Monday 4th March 2024
Energy: Price Caps
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what discussions her Department has had with Ofgem …
Early Day Motions
Wednesday 1st November 2017
VALUE FOR MONEY AND SWANSEA BAY TIDAL LAGOON
"leave out from "House" to end and insert, "notes that the proposal for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon currently involves …
Bills
None available
MP Financial Interests
Monday 15th November 2021
2. (b) Any other support not included in Category 2(a)
Name of donor: The Methodist Church
Address of donor: 25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR
Amount of donation or nature …
EDM signed
Wednesday 21st February 2024
No confidence in the Speaker
That this House has no confidence in Mr Speaker.
Supported Legislation
Tuesday 12th September 2023
Electricity Supply (Vulnerable Customers) Bill 2022-23
A Bill to require Ofgem to amend the conditions of an electricity supply licence in relation to vulnerable customers; to …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliament, Derek Thomas has voted in 791 divisions, and 17 times against the majority of their Party.

22 Mar 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 29 Conservative Aye votes vs 318 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 300 Noes - 318
22 Mar 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 26 Conservative No votes vs 318 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 319 Noes - 297
4 Nov 2020 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 33 Conservative No votes vs 308 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 516 Noes - 38
13 Oct 2020 - Public Health: Coronavirus Regulations - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 42 Conservative No votes vs 298 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 299 Noes - 82
17 Jun 2020 - Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill [Lords] - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 23 Conservative Aye votes vs 283 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 31 Noes - 400
27 Apr 2021 - Delegated Legislation - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 77 Conservative No votes vs 222 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 431 Noes - 89
20 Oct 2021 - Environment Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 22 Conservative No votes vs 265 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 268 Noes - 204
15 Nov 2021 - Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority - in line with the party majority and against the House
One of 2 Conservative No votes vs 296 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 300 Noes - 229
23 Nov 2021 - Health and Care Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 18 Conservative Aye votes vs 276 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 219 Noes - 280
14 Dec 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 38 Conservative No votes vs 271 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 441 Noes - 41
14 Dec 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 97 Conservative No votes vs 224 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 369 Noes - 126
14 Dec 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 60 Conservative No votes vs 258 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 385 Noes - 100
30 Mar 2022 - Health and Care Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 10 Conservative No votes vs 243 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 249 Noes - 167
30 Mar 2022 - Health and Care Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 8 Conservative No votes vs 245 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 247 Noes - 150
18 Oct 2022 - Public Order Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 103 Conservative No votes vs 113 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 297 Noes - 110
7 Mar 2023 - Public Order Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 107 Conservative Aye votes vs 109 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 116 Noes - 299
25 Oct 2023 - Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill - View Vote Context
Derek Thomas voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 7 Conservative Aye votes vs 264 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 207 Noes - 269
View All Derek Thomas 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
Rishi Sunak (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(14 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
(14 debate interactions)
Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party)
Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights)
(7 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(39 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(13 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
Legislation Debates
Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023
(1,803 words contributed)
Fisheries Act 2020
(1,282 words contributed)
NHS Funding Act 2020
(1,126 words contributed)
Health and Care Act 2022
(1,100 words contributed)
View All Legislation Debates
View all Derek Thomas's debates

St Ives Petitions

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

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

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

Petition Debates Contributed

The Government should bring forward legislation to allow assisted dying for adults who are terminally ill and have mental capacity. It should be permitted subject to strict upfront safeguards, assessed by two doctors independently, and self-administered by the dying person.

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


Latest EDMs signed by Derek Thomas

21st February 2024
Derek Thomas signed this EDM on Wednesday 21st February 2024

No confidence in the Speaker

Tabled by: William Wragg (Conservative - Hazel Grove)
That this House has no confidence in Mr Speaker.
93 signatures
(Most recent: 4 Mar 2024)
Signatures by party:
Conservative: 46
Scottish National Party: 41
Independent: 3
Plaid Cymru: 3
15th November 2021
Derek Thomas signed this EDM as a sponsor on Tuesday 16th November 2021

The 40th anniversary of the Penlee lifeboat disaster

Tabled by: Tracey Crouch (Conservative - Chatham and Aylesford)
That this House commemorates the Penlee Lifeboat disaster 40 years ago on 19 December 1981; honours the bravery of the eight man crew of the Solomon Browne who in severe conditions went to sea to rescue eight people on board the stricken coaster The Union Star; remembers the tragedy of …
12 signatures
(Most recent: 3 Dec 2021)
Signatures by party:
Conservative: 5
Independent: 3
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Liberal Democrat: 1
Scottish National Party: 1
Labour: 1
View All Derek Thomas's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Derek Thomas, 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.



238 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
4 Other Department Questions
17th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to help swimming pools stay open after the end of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme.

We recognise the importance of ensuring public access to swimming pools, as swimming is a great way for people of all ages to stay fit and healthy. The responsibility of providing this access lies at Local Authority level, and the Government continues to encourage Local Authorities to support swimming facilities.

We appreciate the impact rising energy prices are having on organisations of all sizes, including on operators of swimming pools. That’s why we announced the £18 billion Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) in September last year. The EBRS was always time-limited, and has now been replaced with the Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS). Under the EBDS, swimming pools will continue to receive discounts on their gas and electricity bills during the 12-month period from April 2023 to March 2024.

Officials in my department are in regular contact with representatives from the sector to assess the impact of rising energy costs, including monitoring how operators and local authorities are responding to them. I was pleased to host a roundtable earlier last month to hear directly from the sector on how they are adapting to the challenges faced. I also held a separate meeting on the specific challenges facing Cornwall.

Sport England has invested £13,315,795 in swimming and diving projects since April 2019, which includes £9,370,071 to Swim England. This is in addition to the £100 million National Leisure Recovery Fund, which supported the reopening of local authority swimming pools throughout the country after the pandemic.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Jun 2022
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, when the work of the Period Poverty Taskforce will resume.

Period poverty is an issue the Government takes very seriously and has taken a number of steps to address the problem.

Since January 2020, a Department for Education scheme provides free period products in schools and 16-19 education institutions in England. 94% of eligible secondary schools had accessed this scheme by December 2021.

Additionally, from 1 January 2021, the ‘tampon tax’ has been abolished - with a zero rate of VAT applying to all period products. Prior to the abolition of the tax, a Tampon Tax Fund was in place to allocate the funds generated from the VAT on period products, to projects which improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls. A final round of £11.25 million in grant funding was awarded in November 2021 to distribute the VAT collected on period products in the final nine months of the 2020/21 financial year, before the tax ended.

As well as these steps, in 2019, NHS England announced that it would offer period products to every hospital patient who needs them and the Home Office changed the law to ensure that all people in custody are provided with health and hygiene products for free, to include period products.

In March 2020, in light of COVID-19, the work of the Period Poverty Taskforce was paused to free up resources to focus on the pandemic. Further announcements on the plans and the work of the Taskforce will be made in due course.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
1st Feb 2022
To ask the President of COP26, what progress has been made (a) at and (b) since COP26 on encouraging other (i) countries, (ii) public and private financial institutions and (iii) multilateral development banks to help shift international support from fossil fuels to clean energy.

On Energy Day at COP26, the UK announced a joint statement to end international public support for the unabated fossil fuel energy sector by 2022 and prioritise support for the clean energy transition. This has been signed by an ambitious group of 34 countries and 5 public finance institutions, from both developed and developing countries. Collectively, this could move an estimated $24bn a year in public support out of fossil fuels and into the clean energy transition. The initial launch of this statement has set the level of ambition and created the political landscape required to secure similar commitments this year and beyond. This initiative remains a clear priority for the UK Presidency. We intend to work with the signatories to meet the commitments of the joint statement, as well as to continue to expand the signatory base throughout 2022.

A key focus will be securing support from additional financiers of international fossil fuels and influencing multinational fora to continue to raise ambition on this agenda. In relation to private financial institutions, over 450 institutions, responsible for over $130 trillion of private finance assets, committed to science-based, robust net zero targets through the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), within the UN’s Race to Zero. Firms have committed to come forward with 2025 or 2030 decarbonisation targets and over 90 asset managers or asset owners have already set targets for 2025 or 2030. These commitments will help shift the global financial system towards greener investments.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
1st Feb 2022
To ask the President of COP26, what discussions he has had with international partners on following the UK in ending support for fossil fuel projects overseas.

COP26 set the gold standard on aligning international public finance with the goals of the Paris Agreement. 34 countries and 5 finance institutions have committed to end international public finance for fossil fuel energy projects by the end of 2022. Collectively, this could move $24bn of public finance out of fossil fuels and into the clean energy transition. This is the first time a COP Presidency has prioritised this issue to drive forward progress. The UK is now actively working with fellow signatories to support the delivery of these commitments, as well as expanding the signatory base and continuing to push global ambition on this agenda throughout 2022.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
17th Apr 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how information about Information Sharing Agreements made under the public service delivery provisions of the Digital Economy Act should be submitted given that the ISAregister@culture.gov.uk email address is disabled.

Public bodies should submit information about Information Sharing Agreements made under the public service delivery provisions of the Digital Economy Act 2017 to dea-data-sharing@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what steps her Department is taking to strengthen regulatory certainty for (a) the lithium industry and (b) other critical mineral industries.

The government’s Critical Minerals Strategy sets out how we are improving the resilience of critical mineral supply chains, safeguarding UK industry, increasing confidence in the UK’s energy transition, and protecting national security.

In terms of regulatory certainty, the Strategy sets out how we will ensure that UK domestic critical mineral companies comply with permitting and planning regulations, and how we will encourage the proportionate use of globally recognised frameworks and guidelines for responsible mining that protect the interests of communities and our natural environment.

Specifically on lithium, the Health and Safety Executive has published a Technical Report on the mandatory classification of three lithium substances (lithium carbonate, lithium chloride and lithium hydroxide) which identified additional information which requires further consideration and assessment before a Ministerial decision is made on the mandatory classification and labelling of these lithium substances in Great Britain.

To strengthen the UK’s domestic lithium industry, UK Infrastructure Bank recently invested approximately £24 million to support the mineral exploration company Cornish Lithium in St Ives.

Nusrat Ghani
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) (jointly with the Cabinet Office)
20th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of competition in the parcels market.

The Postal Services Act 2011 designates Ofcom as the independent regulator for the postal sector. To ensure its regulatory framework continues to work effectively, Ofcom monitors a range of factors, including competition and developments in the parcels market.

Ofcom publishes an annual summary of its monitoring programme setting out key data and trends in the postal sector on its website: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/postal-services/information-for-the-postal-industry/monitoring_reports.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
28th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what discussions her Department has had with Ofgem on its decision to allocate the temporary adjustment to the price cap to customers equally.

The Departmental for Energy Security and Net Zero’s ministers and officials regularly discuss with Ofgem issues relating to energy market.

The setting of the price cap rate is a matter for Ofgem, and the temporary adjustment announced is to address suppliers’ costs related to increased levels of consumer debt. It will be added to bills of customers who pay by direct debit or standard credit. Prepayment customers will not be impacted by the extra charge as many do not build up the same level of debt because they top up as they go.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
22nd Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if she will hold discussions with Ofgem on the potential merits of including standing charges for the non-domestic sector in its review of standing charges on energy bills, announced on 16 November 2023.

Ofgem issued a Call for Input on standing charges on 16 November 2023. It includes an invitation to submit views by 19 January 2024 on the issues affecting standing charges in the non-domestic retail sector that Ofgem should consider further.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, when she plans to publish a plan to increase public engagement on the Government’s net zero policies.

As published in Net Zero Growth Plan, the Government will set out further detail on how it will increase public engagement on net zero. This will include setting out how Government will (i) support public awareness of its actions through digital platforms, (ii) develop a roadmap setting out plans and proposals under net zero and (iii) construct a guiding framework, in conjunction with partners and trusted messengers, to amplify net zero messaging. The Government will publish the roadmap and framework in the coming months.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether her Department is taking steps to help support commercial laundries to reduce their energy usage.

As part of the Government’s target to cut energy use by 15% by 2030, the Government is considering ways to support energy reduction and decarbonisation across industrial sectors. The Government acknowledges the important role played by commercial laundries in supporting the NHS and UK hospitality.

Commercial laundries are already eligible for the Climate Change Agreements scheme, receiving reduced rates of Climate Change Levy for cutting energy consumption. This reduces energy bills, supporting businesses to invest in further energy saving measures.

The Department engages with commercial laundries via the Textile Services Association and consultations on policy developments.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
7th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what recent assessment she has made of whether the oil and gas sector will meeting its targets under the North Sea Transition Deal.

The North Sea Transition Authority monitors the emissions reduction targets within the North Sea Transition Deal (NSTD) and published its annual Emissions Monitoring Report on 5 September. The report shows that emissions from upstream oil and gas activities on the UK Continental Shelf dropped 23% between 2018 and 2022 and indicates that industry is on track to meet the interim NSTD emission reduction targets of 10% by 2025 and 25% by 2027.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if she has made an assessment of the potential merits of allowing local authorities to apply to the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme on behalf of leisure facilities operated by third party providers.

If a local authority either owns the building where the leisure facilities are being operated, or they have a long-term lease arrangement, they meet the eligibility criteria and can therefore apply for Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme funding.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
2nd Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what steps he is taking (a) domestically and (b) in collaboration with international partners to achieve the World Bank’s Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 Initiative.

In 2020, the UK committed to the World Bank’s ‘Zero Routine Flaring by 2030’ Initiative. In the North Sea Transition Deal, industry committed to accelerate compliance ahead of 2030. With support from Government, industry is on track to meet this target.

The UK is a long-standing partner of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. The UK put methane reduction towards the top of the agenda during its COP Presidency, driving support behind the Global Methane Pledge. At COP27, the UK signed up to the Joint Declaration by Energy Importers and Exporters on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fossil Fuels.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
25th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether he is taking steps to ensure that persons in supported accommodation without bank accounts are able to receive payments under the Energy Bill Support Scheme.

The Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding is delivered by local authorities in Great Britain who are only able to make payments into UK current accounts. The Government has recommended throughout the scheme that any applicants who do not have a bank account open one to receive payment, such as opening a basic bank account, which are free to open. Appointees of eligible households can also apply on behalf of an applicant, using their appointee bank account details.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
11th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of extending eligibility for the Warm Home Discount to people with Reynaud’s.

The Warm Home Discount prioritises people who are most at risk of being in fuel poverty. Fuel poverty is a combination of low incomes and high energy costs, so the scheme is targeted at those on means tested benefits whose homes are expensive to heat. People with Reynaud’s do not automatically fall into that category.

These households may be able to speak to their energy supplier about being added to their Priority Services Register, which provides additional support for vulnerable households, such as priority support in an emergency.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
5th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, for what reason households with (a) fossil fuel central heating and (b) hot water heating from renewable sources must replace both to receive a grant under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme; and whether his Department has made an assessment of the environmental impact of that policy.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme provides grants to encourage property owners to replace fossil fuel heating with more efficient, low carbon systems. An eligible technology must fully replace any existing fossil fuel system and be capable of meeting the full space heating and hot water requirement for the property. In some circumstances, the scheme allows for parts of the original heating system to be retained including for example, solar thermal collectors.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
1st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of assessing the energy and trade intensity of individual types of business, such as commercial laundries, to provide more granular data than that afforded by standard industrial classification codes applied at a sector level.

The Government currently has no plans to review the eligibility criteria for the Energy and Trade Intensive element of the Energy Bill Discount Scheme. The HMT-led review of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme took account of many contributions from the private sector, trade associations, the voluntary sector and other types of organisations. Trade and energy intensity assessments were based on ONS and BEIS data. These thresholds have been set at sectors falling above the 80th percentile for energy intensity, and 60th percentile for trade intensity, plus any sectors eligible for the existing energy compensation and exemption schemes. The list of eligible Standard Industrial Classification (SIC), as published on gov.uk, will be eligible for the higher level of support.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
19th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, pursuant to the Answer of 15 September 2023 to Question 198156 on Telephone Systems: Power Failures, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of the minimum period landline providers should enable access to emergency organisations in the event of a power outage.

Ofcom’s guidance was issued following a consultation with the general public as well as telecoms providers and Ofgem, looking at data on the average length of UK power outages. The guidance only sets out the minimum standards, and in practice many providers are offering solutions which exceed them. There is an ongoing industry working group where Communications Providers are jointly discussing how to improve their resilience to power outages, which includes discussions on backup solutions.

The power resilience of our digital infrastructure networks is becoming increasingly important for keeping people connected in the event of a power outage. In recognition of this, the Secretary of State has asked Ofcom to review how all communications providers are meeting the needs of their customers. The government continues to work closely with Ofcom to understand what may be considered appropriate and proportionate.

6th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of provisions made by landline providers to support customers during power outages after the transition to digital.

The Department engages with Communications Providers on a quarterly basis to ensure there are adequate plans in place for the transition to digital. Ofcom, the UK’s telecommunications regulator, has also issued guidance on how telecoms companies can fulfill their regulatory obligations in the event of a power cut.

The guidance states that providers should have at least one solution available that enables access to emergency organisations for a minimum of one hour in the event of a power outage. The solution should be suitable for customers’ needs and should be offered free of charge to those who are at risk as they are dependent on their landline. In practice many providers are offering solutions which exceed them, such as longer life battery back-up units and 4G enabled handsets.

In addition, Ofcom has an ongoing monitoring programme which includes regular engagement with large communications providers on their plans for the migration to VoIP and gathering information from other parties such as consumer stakeholders. As part of this work, Ofcom has issued an open letter to all providers to remind them of their responsibilities.

11th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of assessing the energy and trade intensity of individual businesses, including commercial laundries, rather than wider sectors defined by standard industrial classification codes.

During the review of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, analysis of a large number of contributions from different individual companies in the private sector in addition to trade associations, the voluntary sector and other types of organisations were assessed. HM Treasury decided which types of business were given additional support in addition to the universal Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS).

There are over 5.5 million businesses in the UK, not including other non-domestic consumers. Considering their energy bills on an individual basis would not have been practical.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
11th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 27 April to Question 155863, on Energy: Standing Charges, what recent assessment he has made of the role of Ofgem in relation to the way in which suppliers set the standing charge and unit rate in those cases where the price cap is not triggered; and what recent discussions he has had with (a) energy suppliers and (b) Ofgem about the apportionment of energy bills between standing charges and unit rates.

For tariffs that are caught by the price cap, and for tariffs which are not caught by the cap, suppliers can decide how they structure their standing charges. Ofgem requires energy suppliers to separate out the standing charge from the energy unit rate so consumers can see what the different charges amount to.

The Government has regular discussions with energy suppliers and Ofgem on a range of issues, including standing charges.

Ofgem is currently consulting on a review of part of the standing charge in relation to the Supplier of Last Resort (SoLR) costs: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/open-letter-review-how-costs-supplier-failure-are-recovered.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the level of increases to daily standing charges in energy usage; what comparative assessment he has made of the impact of those increases on (a) low income and (b) other households; and whether he plans to take steps to encourage energy companies to return to previous levels.

The setting of the standing charge is a commercial matter for individual suppliers. The standing charge reflects the on-going costs that fall on a supplier to provide and maintain a live supply to a customer’s premises. One component of these costs relates to transmission and distribution costs, which have recently increased due to the Supplier of Last Resort (SoLR) levy. The majority of the levy consists of purchasing wholesale energy, at current high prices, to serve transferring customers. Standing charges are capped under the price cap and ensure millions of households pay a fair price for their energy.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the impact of the recent increase in the cost of heating oil on households in rural areas who have no alternative means of fuelling their heating and hot water.

Heating oil prices are primarily driven by the underlying price in the global market of crude oil, though are also influenced by a range of other supply and demand factors, including refining capacity, stock levels, distribution costs, retail margins and seasonal demand variations with prices rising in winter as demand increases. There is an open market for the supply of domestic heating oil in the UK as the Government believe this provides the best long-term guarantee of competitive prices.

Financial support remains available for heating oil customers with energy bills, if eligible, through the Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment schemes.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the National Space Strategy, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the potential contribution of the Defence Space Portfolio to supporting wider space sector growth.

In September 2021, the Secretaries of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Defence published the UK’s first joint civil and military National Space Strategy. A core part of that strategy is delivering the defence space portfolio, which will support our goals in space including both protecting and defending the UK and supporting economic growth.

As reaffirmed in the recently published Defence Space Strategy, the MOD is investing an extra £1.4bn in Defence space technologies over the next 10 years. This is in addition to the £5bn investment in Skynet satellite communications over a similar timeframe. This represents a significant increase in Government funding for the UK space sector and will play a part in stimulating innovation, commercialisation, and growth across the wider sector. Defence will utilise elements of the Defence Space Portfolio funding to further support Space Science & Technology (which includes Research & Development), alongside existing funding.

Ministers and officials engage regularly with the Ministry of Defence to understand the opportunities and challenges to enable the UK’s space sector to grow and flourish, and I look forward to continuing to engage in that process as we implement the National Space Strategy.

1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has for developing an advisory board for space.

The UK has a Space Sector Council comprising senior members from the space industry, academia and government. This Council is the most senior-level forum for the sector to raise and discuss issues of strategic importance. It is co-chaired by the President of UKspace and the Minister for Science and meets quarterly.

Following the publication of the National Space Strategy, the sector is piloting a new National Space Partnership, comprising of stakeholders from industry, academia and government, to identify, assess and consolidate views across the whole of the UK’s Space Sector in order to better deliver the ambition of the National Space Strategy.

Government will work closely with the sector to review the effectiveness of these structures and recommend continuation or changes as needed.

7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of utility companies adopting a household ownership model similar to South West Water’s WaterShare+ scheme.

The WaterShare+ scheme is model in which customers can choose whether to have their share of the outperformance payment as either a credit on their water bill or shares in Pennon Group plc, SWW’s parent company.

We welcome companies supporting customers in different ways. In addition to South West Water’s WaterShare+, some water companies make a financial contribution to their social tariff schemes and others have established charitable trusts.

13th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, if she will meet representatives of regional news groups to discuss the viability of the Community News Project.

The government is disappointed to see that Meta is closing its Community News Project. We are working to support journalism and local newsrooms to ensure the sustainability of this vital industry, and our new digital markets regime will help rebalance the relationship between the most powerful platforms and those who rely on them – including press publishers.

Additionally, our support for the sector has included the delivery of the £2 million Future News Fund; the zero rating of VAT on e-newspapers; the extension of a 2017 business rates relief on local newspaper office space until 2025; the publication of the Online Media Literacy Strategy; and the BBC also supports the sector directly, through the £8m it spends each year on the Local News Partnership, including the Local Democracy Reporting Scheme.

Ministers and officials regularly meet with stakeholders, including from the local press and from among the tech platforms, to discuss relevant policy interests and concerns.

14th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of potential effect of the switch off of the Three 3G network in 2024 on rural communities; and what steps the Government plans to take to support businesses and individuals in rural communities as 3G networks are phased out.

There is no explicit regulatory requirement for mobile network operators to maintain a 3G network and it is for operators to take final decisions on the provision of network services. The Government welcomes 3G networks being switched off in a responsible way and will continue to work with Ofcom and mobile network operators to ensure a smooth transition that meets the needs of business users and consumers, including rural communities.

We are committed to extending good quality mobile coverage across the UK. In March 2020, the government announced a deal with the mobile network operators to increase 4G coverage to 95% of the UK landmass. And the majority of the population can now access basic 5G. The Wireless Infrastructure Strategy will set a new ambition for 5G to make sure communities across the country benefit from secure, reliable and resilient connections.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
21st Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what her Department's planned timescale is for publishing its consultation on relationship, health, and sex education in schools.

The department has brought forward the review of the relationships, sex and health education statutory guidance, including an independent expert advisory panel, which will advise my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, on the introduction of minimum ages for certain subjects. More information about the panel is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/terms-of-reference-for-review-panel-on-rshe.

The work of the expert panel will inform the public consultation, which will be published at the earliest opportunity, prior to publishing revised guidance in 2024.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Education)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential merits of (a) raising and (b) tapering the threshold for free school meals.

Since 2010, the number of pupils receiving a free school meal (FSM) has increased by more than two million. This increase in provision is due to the introduction of Universal Infant Free School Meals and protections put in place as benefit recipients move across to Universal Credit. Over a third of pupils in England now receive FSM, compared with one in six in 2010.

The Department believes that the current eligibility threshold level, which enables pupils in low income households to benefit from FSM while remaining affordable and deliverable for schools, is the right one. The Department does not have plans to change the current eligibility conditions for FSM. The Department continues to keep eligibility under review to ensure that these meals are supporting those who most need them. The Department also continues to monitor the consequences of the rising cost of living and is working with other Government Departments to provide support to disadvantaged families.

20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many qualifications in British Sign Language up to Level 2 have been (a) undertaken by and (b) funded through the adult education budget for (i) deaf learners and (ii) the parents of deaf children in each of the last five years.

The government understands the great importance of British Sign Language (BSL) for bridging barriers to communication between hearing and deaf people. The department also appreciates the vital need for families with deaf children to be able to access BSL courses, as early access to language is essential to help children learn and thrive.

Funding is available through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) for qualifications in or focusing on BSL up to, and including, Level 2. These qualifications include the Level 1 Award in BSL, which allows learners to communicate in BSL on a range of topics that involve simple, everyday language use, thereby giving them the basic skills and confidence in production and reception of BSL. It will depend on an individual’s circumstances as to whether they are entitled to free provision or are expected to meet part of the cost through co-funding.

For qualifications at Level 3 and above, Advanced Learner Loans (ALLs) are available for certain BSL qualifications. Individuals can access information on which qualifications are eligible at: https://www.qualifications.education.gov.uk/Search. More general information about the provision of ALLs is available at: https://www.gov.uk/advanced-learner-loan. If undertaking a BSL qualification that leads to a master’s level qualification, eligible students can access a postgraduate loan, as long as they have not previously accessed the postgraduate loan product, or already hold a Level 7 qualification. Several universities and organisations offer such qualifications.

For parents learning BSL on an AEB funded course, there is also additional support available. The AEB provides funding to colleges and providers to help adult learners overcome barriers preventing them from accessing learning. Providers have discretion to help learners meet costs such as transport, accommodation, books, equipment, and childcare. Learning support funding also helps colleges and training providers to meet the additional needs of learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and the costs of reasonable adjustments, as set out in the Equality Act 2010.

The government has not assessed the accessibility of BSL classes and qualifications for those who are ineligible for the AEB. In areas where the AEB is devolved, it is for the Mayoral Combined Authority or Greater London Authority to decide how funding is spent.

In the rest of the country the Education and Skills Funding Agency manages the AEB. Learners who are employed and earn above the low wage threshold can be co-funded to complete provision up to, and including, Level 2, meaning that government pays a 50% contribution to the course cost. This includes some BSL qualifications. For these learners, the department suggests contacting the education provider regarding enrolment and payment processes. Apart from the statutory entitlements, it is for AEB providers to choose how they wish to prioritise funding within their AEB allocations.

In addition, on 15 June, the department launched a public consultation on the proposed subject content for a new GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL). The aim is for first teaching of the GCSE to take place from September 2025. The aim is that by introducing this new GCSE, more schools and colleges will choose to teach BSL in turn, increasing the number of BSL users and advance equality of opportunity.

The table below contains adult (19+) further education (FE) and skills learning aim enrolments from the 2017/18 academic year onwards that have ‘British Sign Language’ or ‘BSL’ in their aim title. Additional breakdowns are provided for education and training learning, and for learners declaring themselves as hearing impaired. The department does not hold information as to whether the learners taking these aims have deaf children.

Adult (19+) learning aim enrolments with ‘BSL’ or ‘British Sign Language’ in the title

Academic year

Further education and skills

Education and training

Education and training up to level 2

All enrolments

of which hearing impaired.

2017/18

2,010

1,990

1,910

90

2018/19

2,130

2,100

2,020

140

2019/20

1,520

1,510

1,430

120

2020/21

1,030

1,010

970

90

2021/22

1,050

1,050

1,030

90

To Note:

1) Figures rounded to the nearest 10

2) Data Source is the Individualised Learner Record.

3) Education and training aim enrolments includes learning funded via the AEB

4) Learners have the option to record a single instance of a primary learning difficulty or disability on the ILR, which we are reporting here. It will not include learners with a hearing impairment that do not wish to declare their disability, or who have multiple disabilities and do not declare a hearing impairment as their primary disability.

5) Aim enrolments are a count of enrolments at aims level (including component aims) for each academic year. Learners are counted for each aim they are studying and so, can be counted more than once. It is not a count of unique learners. Care should be taken when interpreting different learner characteristics as they could be repeated where a learner does more than one aim.

FE within the FE and skills and apprenticeship and traineeships publications covers learners who are studying courses in a FE College, with a training provider or within their local community. It also includes employees undertaking an apprenticeship or other qualification in the workplace. Education and training are mainly classroom-based adult FE that is not classed as an apprenticeship, community learning or workplace learning. It can also include distance learning or e-learning. It includes traineeships and offender learning.

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if her Department will make an assessment of the accessibility of British Sign Language (a) classes and (b) qualifications for parents with deaf children who are ineligible for the adult education budget.

The government understands the great importance of British Sign Language (BSL) for bridging barriers to communication between hearing and deaf people. The department also appreciates the vital need for families with deaf children to be able to access BSL courses, as early access to language is essential to help children learn and thrive.

Funding is available through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) for qualifications in or focusing on BSL up to, and including, Level 2. These qualifications include the Level 1 Award in BSL, which allows learners to communicate in BSL on a range of topics that involve simple, everyday language use, thereby giving them the basic skills and confidence in production and reception of BSL. It will depend on an individual’s circumstances as to whether they are entitled to free provision or are expected to meet part of the cost through co-funding.

For qualifications at Level 3 and above, Advanced Learner Loans (ALLs) are available for certain BSL qualifications. Individuals can access information on which qualifications are eligible at: https://www.qualifications.education.gov.uk/Search. More general information about the provision of ALLs is available at: https://www.gov.uk/advanced-learner-loan. If undertaking a BSL qualification that leads to a master’s level qualification, eligible students can access a postgraduate loan, as long as they have not previously accessed the postgraduate loan product, or already hold a Level 7 qualification. Several universities and organisations offer such qualifications.

For parents learning BSL on an AEB funded course, there is also additional support available. The AEB provides funding to colleges and providers to help adult learners overcome barriers preventing them from accessing learning. Providers have discretion to help learners meet costs such as transport, accommodation, books, equipment, and childcare. Learning support funding also helps colleges and training providers to meet the additional needs of learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and the costs of reasonable adjustments, as set out in the Equality Act 2010.

The government has not assessed the accessibility of BSL classes and qualifications for those who are ineligible for the AEB. In areas where the AEB is devolved, it is for the Mayoral Combined Authority or Greater London Authority to decide how funding is spent.

In the rest of the country the Education and Skills Funding Agency manages the AEB. Learners who are employed and earn above the low wage threshold can be co-funded to complete provision up to, and including, Level 2, meaning that government pays a 50% contribution to the course cost. This includes some BSL qualifications. For these learners, the department suggests contacting the education provider regarding enrolment and payment processes. Apart from the statutory entitlements, it is for AEB providers to choose how they wish to prioritise funding within their AEB allocations.

In addition, on 15 June, the department launched a public consultation on the proposed subject content for a new GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL). The aim is for first teaching of the GCSE to take place from September 2025. The aim is that by introducing this new GCSE, more schools and colleges will choose to teach BSL in turn, increasing the number of BSL users and advance equality of opportunity.

The table below contains adult (19+) further education (FE) and skills learning aim enrolments from the 2017/18 academic year onwards that have ‘British Sign Language’ or ‘BSL’ in their aim title. Additional breakdowns are provided for education and training learning, and for learners declaring themselves as hearing impaired. The department does not hold information as to whether the learners taking these aims have deaf children.

Adult (19+) learning aim enrolments with ‘BSL’ or ‘British Sign Language’ in the title

Academic year

Further education and skills

Education and training

Education and training up to level 2

All enrolments

of which hearing impaired.

2017/18

2,010

1,990

1,910

90

2018/19

2,130

2,100

2,020

140

2019/20

1,520

1,510

1,430

120

2020/21

1,030

1,010

970

90

2021/22

1,050

1,050

1,030

90

To Note:

1) Figures rounded to the nearest 10

2) Data Source is the Individualised Learner Record.

3) Education and training aim enrolments includes learning funded via the AEB

4) Learners have the option to record a single instance of a primary learning difficulty or disability on the ILR, which we are reporting here. It will not include learners with a hearing impairment that do not wish to declare their disability, or who have multiple disabilities and do not declare a hearing impairment as their primary disability.

5) Aim enrolments are a count of enrolments at aims level (including component aims) for each academic year. Learners are counted for each aim they are studying and so, can be counted more than once. It is not a count of unique learners. Care should be taken when interpreting different learner characteristics as they could be repeated where a learner does more than one aim.

FE within the FE and skills and apprenticeship and traineeships publications covers learners who are studying courses in a FE College, with a training provider or within their local community. It also includes employees undertaking an apprenticeship or other qualification in the workplace. Education and training are mainly classroom-based adult FE that is not classed as an apprenticeship, community learning or workplace learning. It can also include distance learning or e-learning. It includes traineeships and offender learning.

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional support funding is available to deaf leaners or the parents of deaf leaners through the (a) Adult Education Budget and (b) other forms of funding in each of the last five years.

The government understands the great importance of British Sign Language (BSL) for bridging barriers to communication between hearing and deaf people. The department also appreciates the vital need for families with deaf children to be able to access BSL courses, as early access to language is essential to help children learn and thrive.

Funding is available through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) for qualifications in or focusing on BSL up to, and including, Level 2. These qualifications include the Level 1 Award in BSL, which allows learners to communicate in BSL on a range of topics that involve simple, everyday language use, thereby giving them the basic skills and confidence in production and reception of BSL. It will depend on an individual’s circumstances as to whether they are entitled to free provision or are expected to meet part of the cost through co-funding.

For qualifications at Level 3 and above, Advanced Learner Loans (ALLs) are available for certain BSL qualifications. Individuals can access information on which qualifications are eligible at: https://www.qualifications.education.gov.uk/Search. More general information about the provision of ALLs is available at: https://www.gov.uk/advanced-learner-loan. If undertaking a BSL qualification that leads to a master’s level qualification, eligible students can access a postgraduate loan, as long as they have not previously accessed the postgraduate loan product, or already hold a Level 7 qualification. Several universities and organisations offer such qualifications.

For parents learning BSL on an AEB funded course, there is also additional support available. The AEB provides funding to colleges and providers to help adult learners overcome barriers preventing them from accessing learning. Providers have discretion to help learners meet costs such as transport, accommodation, books, equipment, and childcare. Learning support funding also helps colleges and training providers to meet the additional needs of learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and the costs of reasonable adjustments, as set out in the Equality Act 2010.

The government has not assessed the accessibility of BSL classes and qualifications for those who are ineligible for the AEB. In areas where the AEB is devolved, it is for the Mayoral Combined Authority or Greater London Authority to decide how funding is spent.

In the rest of the country the Education and Skills Funding Agency manages the AEB. Learners who are employed and earn above the low wage threshold can be co-funded to complete provision up to, and including, Level 2, meaning that government pays a 50% contribution to the course cost. This includes some BSL qualifications. For these learners, the department suggests contacting the education provider regarding enrolment and payment processes. Apart from the statutory entitlements, it is for AEB providers to choose how they wish to prioritise funding within their AEB allocations.

In addition, on 15 June, the department launched a public consultation on the proposed subject content for a new GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL). The aim is for first teaching of the GCSE to take place from September 2025. The aim is that by introducing this new GCSE, more schools and colleges will choose to teach BSL in turn, increasing the number of BSL users and advance equality of opportunity.

The table below contains adult (19+) further education (FE) and skills learning aim enrolments from the 2017/18 academic year onwards that have ‘British Sign Language’ or ‘BSL’ in their aim title. Additional breakdowns are provided for education and training learning, and for learners declaring themselves as hearing impaired. The department does not hold information as to whether the learners taking these aims have deaf children.

Adult (19+) learning aim enrolments with ‘BSL’ or ‘British Sign Language’ in the title

Academic year

Further education and skills

Education and training

Education and training up to level 2

All enrolments

of which hearing impaired.

2017/18

2,010

1,990

1,910

90

2018/19

2,130

2,100

2,020

140

2019/20

1,520

1,510

1,430

120

2020/21

1,030

1,010

970

90

2021/22

1,050

1,050

1,030

90

To Note:

1) Figures rounded to the nearest 10

2) Data Source is the Individualised Learner Record.

3) Education and training aim enrolments includes learning funded via the AEB

4) Learners have the option to record a single instance of a primary learning difficulty or disability on the ILR, which we are reporting here. It will not include learners with a hearing impairment that do not wish to declare their disability, or who have multiple disabilities and do not declare a hearing impairment as their primary disability.

5) Aim enrolments are a count of enrolments at aims level (including component aims) for each academic year. Learners are counted for each aim they are studying and so, can be counted more than once. It is not a count of unique learners. Care should be taken when interpreting different learner characteristics as they could be repeated where a learner does more than one aim.

FE within the FE and skills and apprenticeship and traineeships publications covers learners who are studying courses in a FE College, with a training provider or within their local community. It also includes employees undertaking an apprenticeship or other qualification in the workplace. Education and training are mainly classroom-based adult FE that is not classed as an apprenticeship, community learning or workplace learning. It can also include distance learning or e-learning. It includes traineeships and offender learning.

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
19th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many Education, Health and Care Plans included funding for courses in British Sign Language in each of the last five years.

Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans must specify the special educational provision required to meet each of the child or young person’s special educational needs. It is the responsibility of the local authority to secure the special educational provision specified in the plan. The department does not collect data on the specific types of special educational provision that are included in EHC plans.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of the accessibility of British Sign Language classes for parents of (a) deaf children and (b) children with hearing loss who are ineligible for grants under the adult education budget; and what alternative steps the Government is taking to help support those parents to learn how to communicate with their children.

The government has not assessed the accessibility of British Sign Language (BSL) classes for those who are ineligible for the adult education budget (AEB). However, the AEB targets a wide range of individuals, including, but not limited to, UK nationals, other non-UK nationals, certain EU nationals and their family members, and individuals with certain types of immigration status (such as refugee status and those with indefinite leave to remain) and some asylum seekers.

Funding is available through the AEB for qualifications in or focussing on BSL up to and including level 2. About 60% of the AEB has been devolved to Mayoral Combined Authorities and the Greater London Authority, who determine which provision to fund for learners who live in their areas. The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) provides the remaining funding for learners who live in non-devolved areas, which includes St Ives Constituency.

ESFA funded AEB qualifications include, for example, the Level 1 Award in BSL which allows learners to communicate in BSL on a range of topics that involve simple, everyday language use, thereby giving them the basic skills and confidence in production and reception of BSL. It will depend on an individual’s circumstances as to whether they are entitled to free provision or expected to meet part of the cost, through co-funding. Where community learning providers offer BSL courses, those providers are responsible for determining the course fees, including levels of fee remission.

For parents learning BSL on an AEB funded course, there is also additional support available. The AEB provides funding to colleges and providers to help adult learners overcome barriers preventing them from accessing learning. Providers have discretion to help learners meet costs such as transport, accommodation, books, equipment, and childcare. Learning support funding also helps colleges and training providers to meet the additional needs of learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and the costs of reasonable adjustments, as set out in the Equality Act 2010.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
22nd Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of alternative provision placements in Cornwall; and what assessment he has made of the impact of the number of placements available on schools’ budgets.

The department recognises that the quality of Alternative Provision placements in Cornwall is variable, and is also aware of the pressures that the reduced number of places has on schools. The department is engaging closely with the local authority and trusts in the local area to increase standards through supporting and challenging specialist trusts to ensure they are consistently delivering high quality provision, and encouraging strong mainstream trusts to consider working in the specialist sector in order to diversify provision in the area over time.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
22nd Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of amounts of top-up funding for children with special educational needs and disabilities in Cornwall.

Local authorities are statutorily responsible for securing the special educational provision specified in a child or young person’s Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

It is for local authorities to assess the adequacy of amounts of top-up funding for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, in line with their statutory duties to secure the provision specified in the EHC plan.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
22nd Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she has made an assessment of the number of schools introducing (a) recruitment and (b) retention payments to encourage new teachers to work and existing teachers to stay at schools in Cornwall; and if she will make it her policy to reflect the potential need for such payments in area cost adjustments to the national funding formula.

There are now over 468,000 full time equivalent (FTE) teachers in state funded schools in England, which is an increase of 2,800 (less than 1%) since last year, and an increase of 27,000 (6%) since 2010.

The Department wants to ensure there are excellent teachers where they are most needed. The Department knows there is further to go to improve recruitment in some subjects.

​In October 2022, the Department announced an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) financial incentives package worth up to £181 million for those starting ITT in 2023/24, which is a £52 million increase on 2022/23. The package includes bursaries worth £27,000 tax free and scholarships worth £29,000 tax free, to encourage talented trainees to teach in key subjects, such as physics, chemistry, and computing. More information on the financial incentives package can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/funding-initial-teacher-training-itt/funding-initial-teacher-training-itt-academic-year-2023-to-2024.

​The Department is offering a Levelling Up Premium worth up to £3,000 tax free annually for mathematics, physics, chemistry, and computing teachers in the first five years of their careers who choose to work in disadvantaged schools, including in Education Investment Areas (EIA). As Cornwall is an EIA, eligible teachers in Cornwall receive the maximum payments available. More information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/levelling-up-premium-payments-for-teachers.

These recruitment and retention incentives are funded centrally and paid directly by the Department to eligible teachers. As such, they are separate from the National Funding Formula.

22nd Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the potential impact of energy costs on the ability of schools to fund teacher pay rises.

This Government is committed to providing a world class education system for all children. The Autumn Statement announced an additional investment of £2 billion in each of the 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years, above the totals announced at the Spending Review 2021. Total funding for both mainstream schools and high needs schools will total £58.8 billion in 2024/25. This is the highest ever level in real terms per pupil, as measured by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Of the £2 billion of additional funding announced in the Autumn Statement, £400 million will be allocated to local authorities’ high needs budgets, with a new condition placed on local authorities to ensure that a fair share of that will be passed directly to special schools and alternative provision. The remaining funding will be allocated to schools through the new Mainstream Schools Additional Grant (MSAG) and through boosting the pupil premium funding rates, which are increasing by 5% in 2023/24 compared to last year.

For mainstream schools, additional funding through the MSAG is worth an average 3.4%, or £192, per pupil in 2023/24. This is being provided on top of the allocations based on the national funding formula (NFF) announced in July 2022. An average primary school with 200 pupils will receive approximately £35,000 in additional funding through the new MSAG, and an average secondary school with 900 pupils will receive approximately £200,000. This will support schools to manage costs.

In March 2023, the Department made an offer on pay, conditions and workload to the education unions, as set out here: https://educationhub.blog.gov.uk/2023/03/28/teacher-strikes-latest-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-teacher-pay-offer/.

This offer set out that, taking account of the most up to date assumptions for both energy prices and support staff pay for 2023/24, the Department has calculated that a 4% teacher pay award should be affordable within existing funding. The Government’s judgement of the affordability of teacher pay increases is, as usual, based on national figures which equate to the position for an average school. This assessment considers the impact of national level changes in energy prices, inflation and support staff pay for an average school to assess the affordability of teachers pay increases for schools. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) assessed that the most recent teachers’ pay offer, if it had been accepted, would have meant school funding was still growing faster than costs.

Following unions’ rejection of the Government’s offer in March 2023, the independent School Teachers’ Review Body has submitted its recommendations to the Government on teacher pay for 2023/24, as part of the normal process. The Department will be considering the recommendations and will publish its response in the usual way.

The Government has announced that from April 2023, the Energy Bill Discount Scheme will mean eligible schools will receive a discount on high energy bills until 31 March 2024. This replaces the previous Energy Bill Relief Scheme which ran from October 2022 to 31 March 2023 and provided a price reduction, protecting schools from excessively high energy bills over the winter period.

In addition to the support for schools’ day to day running costs, as set out above, the Department allocated £500 million of additional capital funding in 2022/23 for schools, sixth form colleges, and Further Education (FE) colleges to help improve energy efficiency. This comprised £447 million for schools and sixth form colleges and £53 million for FE colleges to spend on capital improvements to buildings and facilities, prioritising works to improve energy efficiency. The Department has also published guidance for schools and colleges on steps for reducing energy use and small scale works to improve energy efficiency which can be implemented relatively quickly.

The Department recognises that every school’s circumstances are different, and where schools are in serious financial difficulty, they should contact their local authority or the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

18th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the accessibility of British Sign Language classes for parents of (a) deaf children and (b) children with hearing loss who are (i) over the age of 23, (ii) not on a low income, (iii) not unemployed and (iv) ineligible for grants under the adult education budget.

The government has not assessed the accessibility of British Sign Language (BSL) classes for those who are ineligible for the Adult Education Budget (AEB).

The AEB targets a wide range of individuals, including, but not limited to, UK nationals, other non-UK nationals, certain EU nationals and their family members, and individuals with certain types of immigration status (such as refugee status and those with indefinite leave to remain) and some asylum seekers. In areas where the AEB is devolved, it is for the Mayoral Combined Authority or Greater London Authority to decide how funding is spent. In the rest of the country, which includes the St Ives Constituency, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) manages the AEB. Learners who are employed and earn above the low wage threshold can be co-funded to complete provision up to and including level 2, which includes some BSL qualifications, meaning that the government pays a 50% contribution to the course cost.

Apart from the statutory entitlements, it is for AEB providers to choose how they wish to prioritise funding within their AEB allocations. For these learners, the department suggests contacting the education provider regarding enrolment and payment processes.

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of allowing parents to transfer free childcare allowances for the care of children currently ineligible for free childcare.

Parents can benefit from the government’s current range of childcare offers, which includes the free early education entitlements, as well as Tax-Free Childcare and Universal Credit Childcare.

The free early education entitlements apply to childcare places taken up by a child who is within the correct eligibility age range for each offer.

  • All parents of 3 and 4-year-old children can benefit from 15 hours per week over 38 weeks of the year of free early education, regardless of family circumstances. This helps children to develop social skills and prepare them for school.
  • Working parents on low incomes and in receipt of certain benefits can qualify for 15 hours per week over 38 weeks of the year of free early education for 2-year-olds. This significantly improves the educational attainment of these children.
  • Eligible working parents of 3 and 4-year-olds are entitled to an additional 15 hours (30 hours) of free childcare per week over 38 weeks a year. The 30 hours offer aims to support working families with the cost of childcare, and to support parents back into work, or to work more hours should they wish to.

In addition to the entitlements, Tax-Free Childcare and Universal Credit Childcare can be used to pay costs associated with care of children in their early years, as well as those of school age.

Tax-Free Childcare is available for working parents of children aged 0-11, or up to 17 for eligible disabled children. This has the same income criteria as 30 hours free childcare and can be used to pay for childcare of children who fall within the eligible age range.

Low-income families who are in receipt of Universal Credit, and find that they are ineligible for Tax-Free Childcare, can have 85% of their childcare costs covered under the Universal Credit Childcare offer. This offer can be used to cover costs associated with childcare taken up at nurseries, preschools, after-school clubs, breakfast clubs, childminders, nannies and holiday clubs.

In the 2023 Spring Budget, the government announced a number of transformative reforms to childcare for parents, children, and the economy. This includes the expansion of the 30 hours free childcare offer where eligible working parents in England will be able to access 30 hours of free childcare per week for 38 weeks per year from when their child is 9 months old to when they start school.

Further information on the support available to parents can be found at: https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
6th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of expanding the eligibility for levelling-up premiums in Education Investment Areas to include teachers of (a) Design and Technology and (b) any other school subjects.

The Levelling Up Premium is worth up to £3,000 tax-free annually for mathematics, physics, chemistry and computing teachers in the first five years of their careers who work in disadvantaged schools, including in Education Investment Areas. The payments are designed to incentivise the recruitment and retention of specialist teachers in these subjects, particularly in the schools where they are needed most.

It is targeted at these particular subjects because the department’s greatest priority is English Baccalaureate subjects which are experiencing teacher shortages. Offering financial incentives in these subjects supports teacher supply where schools are likely to devote the most teaching time.

20th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will issue guidance to ensure that universities declare whether courses will be delivered (a) face-to-face or (b) virtually.

The Competition and Markets Authority has published guidance for higher education providers, advising them on how to comply with consumer protection law.

This guidance sets out the ‘material information’ that prospective students should receive about the courses for which they are applying. This should include information about the number and type of contact hours that students can expect, including, for example, detail on the balance between teaching that is delivered face-to-face, as distinct from any teaching delivered online.

29th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure access to education for children who suffer from functional neurological disorders.

The government is committed to pupils with medical conditions, including children who suffer from functional neurological disorders, being properly supported at school so that they have full access to education.

In 2014, the government introduced a new duty on schools to support pupils with all medical conditions and has published statutory guidance on this for schools and others. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/supporting-pupils-at-school-with-medical-conditions--3.

The guidance does not specify which medical conditions should be supported in schools. Instead, it focuses on how to meet the needs of each individual child and how their medical condition impacts on school life.

All schools are required to identify and address the special educational needs of the pupils they support, and to use their best endeavours to make sure that a child or young person gets the support they need.

8th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will take steps to help ensure that students who receive offers for university places can be assured of face-to-face lectures and seminars.

Face-to-face teaching is a vital part of getting a high-quality student experience. With the removal of the Plan B measures, there are no COVID-19 restrictions that apply to higher education (HE) and providers should ensure that they are delivering the full programme of face-to-face teaching and learning that they were providing before the COVID-19 outbreak.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, HE providers have delivered new and innovative approaches to teaching and learning and some providers continue to use some of these approaches alongside in-person provision. However, online learning should only be offered to enhance the student experience, not to detract from it, and it should not be used as a cost-cutting measure. The Office for Students will be monitoring to ensure this is the case, and that universities are being open about what students can expect.

On 29 October I wrote to all English HE providers to make clear that we expect them to be offering a high-quality face-to-face student experience and, on 17 January, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education wrote an open letter to students about face-to-face teaching, setting out what they can do if they feel they are not getting the teaching they signed up for, details of which can be found here: https://educationhub.blog.gov.uk/2022/01/17/face-to-face-teaching-is-a-vital-part-of-getting-a-high-quality-student-experience-education-secretary-nadhim-zahawi-writes-to-students/. In addition, I have been speaking with a number of university Vice Chancellors to ensure they are offering students the amount of in-person teaching they should expect.

If students have concerns about the delivery of their teaching, or other matters, they should first raise them with their HE provider. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at HE providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for HE to consider their complaint.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department is providing to Head Teachers to help ensure that the expectation on pupils to wear a face covering does not exclude those pupils who have a good reason not to wear one.

Schools and colleges have the discretion to require the use of face coverings for staff, visitors and pupils in schools for children in Year 7 and above in communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed.

When an area moves to a local COVID-19 alert level of high or very high, in settings where pupils in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas, where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. This does not apply to children in primary schools and in early years settings where the risks to children are lower.

As set out in our guidance on GOV.UK, some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings, and we expect adults and pupils to be sensitive to those needs. No one should be excluded from education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering.

The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education/face-coverings-in-education.

13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to ensure all pupils have good access to toilets and wash rooms throughout the school day during the covid-19 outbreak.

On 2 July we published guidance to help schools prepare for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term. The guidance can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The guidance sets out the system of controls, which provides a framework for school leaders to put in place proportionate protective measures for children and staff.

As part of the system of controls, pupils and staff must clean their hands thoroughly more often than usual. Schools should consider whether they have enough hand washing or hand sanitiser ‘stations’ available so that all pupils and staff can clean their hands regularly. Skin friendly cleaning wipes can be used as an alternative. Schools must also introduce enhanced cleaning, including regular cleaning of toilets. Schools can consider allocating different groups their own toilet blocks to help pupils to maintain the appropriate distance but this is not a requirement if the site does not allow for it.

Following a risk assessment, some schools may determine that small adaptations to their site are required, such as additional wash basins. This will be at the discretion of individual schools, based on their particular circumstances. We do not consider it necessary for schools to make significant adaptations to their site to enable them to welcome all children back to school.

Drinking water must be provided free of charge at all times to registered pupils on school premises. It is for schools to consider the most appropriate way to do this, within their wider system of controls. It is still recommended that pupils limit the amount of equipment they bring into school each day to essentials, but this can include water bottles.

13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure all school pupils continue to have easy access to drinking water throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

On 2 July we published guidance to help schools prepare for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term. The guidance can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The guidance sets out the system of controls, which provides a framework for school leaders to put in place proportionate protective measures for children and staff.

As part of the system of controls, pupils and staff must clean their hands thoroughly more often than usual. Schools should consider whether they have enough hand washing or hand sanitiser ‘stations’ available so that all pupils and staff can clean their hands regularly. Skin friendly cleaning wipes can be used as an alternative. Schools must also introduce enhanced cleaning, including regular cleaning of toilets. Schools can consider allocating different groups their own toilet blocks to help pupils to maintain the appropriate distance but this is not a requirement if the site does not allow for it.

Following a risk assessment, some schools may determine that small adaptations to their site are required, such as additional wash basins. This will be at the discretion of individual schools, based on their particular circumstances. We do not consider it necessary for schools to make significant adaptations to their site to enable them to welcome all children back to school.

Drinking water must be provided free of charge at all times to registered pupils on school premises. It is for schools to consider the most appropriate way to do this, within their wider system of controls. It is still recommended that pupils limit the amount of equipment they bring into school each day to essentials, but this can include water bottles.

1st Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the guidance issued by his Department entitled Import live animals and germinal products from the EU to Great Britain on 31 January 2024, whether his Department is taking steps to ensure that the time taken for the new checks to be undertaken at airports after 30 April 2024 does not affect the viability of imported chilled semen for (a) racehorses and (b) other species.

Equine germinal products, including equine semen, are classified as ‘high risk’ under the Border Target Operating Model, regardless of country of origin. EU and Rest of World equine germinal products currently require pre-notification and health certification and this will continue to be the case. Currently APHA undertake documentary checks on EU origin germinal products imported into GB, whilst Port Health Authorities conduct documentary and identity checks on Rest of World imports. Our expectation is that PHAs will begin to undertake the required checks (100% documentary & ID checks) on EU origin germinal products in line with the wider TOM implementation milestones for animal products (i.e. starting from 30 April 2024, aside from EU goods imported from the island of Ireland).

We are aware that the equine germinal product industry has concerns about the impact of the move of checks to BCPs, particularly relating to the timing of PHA processes for imports of fresh equine semen during the breeding season. There is direct engagement at a working level to understand, and where possible resolve, these concerns.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Answer of 25 October 2023 to Question 203372 on Natural England, for what reason Natural England have not published the declaration of interests made at and (b) minutes of the board meeting of 28 June 2023.

Natural England will publish a record of the meeting which will include details of how to request a transcript on GOV.UK in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Answer of 25 October 2023 to Question 203372 on Natural England, if Natural England will publish the register of board members’ interests as a separate document on gov.uk.

Natural England will publish the Board register of interests on GOV.UK in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many members of the board of Natural England held valid appointments to that board on 28 June 2023; and where the register of their interests is held.

On 28 June 2023 the Natural England Board consisted of twelve members with valid appointments:

  1. Tony Juniper
  2. Lord Blencathra
  3. Peter Unwin
  4. Kim Shillinglaw
  5. Rosamund Blomfield-Smith
  6. Henry Robinson
  7. Clare Fitzsimmons
  8. Mel Austen
  9. Lynn Dicks
  10. Dame Caroline Spelman
  11. Catherine Dugmore
  12. Kerry Ten Kate

Natural England maintains a Board member register of interests and relevant details from this are included in the Annual Report and Accounts published on GOV.UK. Any changes which are declared by Board members are captured in Board minutes and the register updated. The minutes are published on GOV.UK after each meeting.

13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to minimum catch sizes for crawfish, if her Department will extend the inshore 110mm landing size to outside the six mile limit.

Government has consulted on a crab and lobster fisheries management plan (FMP) which included a proposal to extend the national minimum landing size for crawfish to 110mm outside 6 nautical miles. This consultation closed on 01 October. The crab and lobster FMP is due to be published in December.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to invest in local food infrastructure.

As a Government we have a Manifesto commitment that we want people at home and abroad to be lining up to buy British. SMEs are at the heart of the sector, making up 98% of food and drink manufacturing businesses, and one of our key focuses is supporting them to grow.

As part of our support for these businesses the Government hosted a Regional Food and Drink Summit in Birmingham in March 2022. The Summit successfully brought together SMEs and regional organisations to share best practice and access support to grow their business through exporting, selling direct to consumers, accessing public sector procurement opportunities and promoting their products at a regional level.

Building on the Summit we have continued to empower businesses and regional organisations to leverage growth opportunities, champion their regional food identity and develop links with local tourism through a series of regional workshops most recently in Yorkshire and Cornwall.

In addition to the Government’s work, we recognise the role that local organisations play in supporting local food infrastructure. We work closely with local enterprise partnerships, as well as businesses and representative organisations, through regular engagement, regional workshop events, masterclasses and other events to develop local food and drink networks, promote local products and share best practice.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress she has made on creating a timetable for the publication of new supply chain fair dealing codes for each sector.

The Government wants all farmers to receive a fair price for their products and the Government is committed to tackling any contractual unfairness that might exist in the agri-food supply chain.

Powers contained in the Agriculture Act 2020 enable us to introduce statutory codes of contractual practice which would apply to processors and other businesses when purchasing agricultural products directly from farmers.

In 2020, the Government carried out a consultation seeking views from farmers and processors in the dairy sector on whether future regulation could be used to strengthen fairness and transparency in the supply chain to ensure farmers are treated fairly. We continue to work closely with stakeholders during the development of regulations and intend to introduce legislation later this year.

A subsequent consultation was conducted between July and October 2022 exploring issues in the pig sector. We are analysing the responses and considering appropriate next steps. A Summary of Responses, which will outline the main findings and conclusions from the consultation, will be published next month.

We intend to use these powers in a targeted way where there is clear evidence of unfair practices in specific agricultural sectors and statutory codes will help address the issues. The Government will continue to work closely with all sectors to discuss any supply chain issues.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when she plans to publish the Woodland Access Implementation Plan.

In the England Trees Action Plan, we committed to implementing policies to allow the provision of safe and appropriate public access in as many woodlands as possible through a suite of measures from updating of Forestry Commission guidance through to plans to encourage improvements to the quality and permanency of existing access. Defra is already working in partnership with communities, landowners and user groups across these areas and will release more information in due course.

16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if her Department will take steps to provide access to the quotas for spurdog following the conclusion of the annual fisheries negotiations with (a) the EU and (b) other North Atlantic states.

Following the recent UK-EU agreement on total allowable catches for Northeast Atlantic spurdog in 2023, UK fishing quotas have been published within the Secretary of State determination of fishing opportunities for British fishing boats and presented to Parliament.

We are working with the Devolved Administrations and Marine Management Organisation to ensure spurdog quota allocation methods will be in place and will provide industry with clarity over their fishing opportunities for 2023. These will be announced ahead of fishing being allowed in UK waters.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to facilitate the export of livestock to the EU for breeding purposes.

As a result of the UK leaving the EU and becoming an independent trading nation, there are rules to follow and specific actions to take for GB exporters. The UK was granted third country listed status by the EU on 28 December 2020. This meant that, as an independent trading nation and a non-EU country, the UK continues to export goods, including live animals for breeding purposes and animal products, to the EU after 1 January 2021. The sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) chapter of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement puts in place a framework that allows the UK and the EU to take informed decisions to reduce their respective SPS controls, with a commitment to avoid unnecessary barriers to trade. It is in both the UK and EU’s interests to use this framework to reduce or streamline SPS checks where possible, ensuring that they are proportionate to the biosecurity risks.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of proposals in the Real Bread Campaign’s Honest Crust Act to require (a) full ingredient declarations and (b) legal definitions of commonly-used market terms for bread produced by (i) supermarkets and (ii) bakeries.

The UK Government and the Devolved Administrations committed to carry out a review of Bread and Flour Regulations across the UK. The key proposals for change are outlined in a public consultation published on 1 September 2022 which is open for responses until 23 November 2022. The proposals address the most pressing aspects identified for change including the addition of mandatory folic acid to flour to prevent neural tube defects in foetuses. Full ingredient listing is already required for all prepacked foods with loose foods subject to certain derogations for practical reasons. An update of existing guidance around commonly used marketing terms across all foods is planned for the future.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the extent to which recent increases in the price of emptying septic tanks have been caused by reduced competition in the market for processing.

Defra and the Environment Agency have worked with South West Water through the Cornwall operators group to increase capacity and flexibility for the acceptance of tankered waste.

Tanker waste companies in Cornwall must use the local water company sites for legitimate discharge/disposal of tankered septic waste at least until providers can offer other legitimate routes for disposal. Water company rates are higher than previous non-compliant land spreading sites, but the prices charged should reflect the cost of legitimate disposal.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the special measures introduced for trade in animals from Belarus, Poland, Romania and Ukraine on 8 July 2022, if he will take steps to ensure those measures are not further extended without advance notice.

The UK Government has made the difficult decision to extend the temporary suspension of commercial cats, dogs, and ferrets (including rescue animals) dispatched or originating from Ukraine, Belarus, Romania, and Poland for a further eight weeks to the 29 October 2022.

We continue to engage with competent authorities in impacted countries, the European Commission, and external partners (including rescue and rehoming charities) to gather data and information to enable us to keep the biosecurity risks to Great Britain under review. The measure is under constant review based on the evidence provided to ensure it is proportionate to the risks posed.

The Government appreciates the work of rescue and rehoming organisations who work to ensure that unwanted and abandoned animals are given the opportunity to find a forever home whilst complying with our animal health and welfare legislation.

Given this is a fluid situation it may not always be possible to give advance notice of any extension to the measure. We continue to engage with external partners including rescue and rehoming organisations based here and abroad, veterinary experts and carriers on the impact and future of the measure.

That is why this is only a temporary measure, to ensure that we protect our biosecurity at this challenging time. Given the consequences of getting this wrong, I hope you will understand why we are being cautious.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to his Action Plan for Animal Welfare, when he will be launching a call for evidence on the use of snares.

Snares can cause immense suffering to both target and non-target animals, and it is an issue we are looking at closely as part of our continued drive to maintain the highest animal welfare standards in the world.

Through our Animal Action for Welfare Plan, published in May 2021, we are looking at whether changes need to be made to reflect concerns raised.

The call for evidence on the use of snares will be launched in due course. This is planned to run for 12 weeks and will be launched online. After closing the call for evidence, responses will be analysed, and a summary of responses will be published online.

Scott Mann
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
6th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has plans to (a) monitor progress against and (b) enforce the target that 50 per cent of the public sector food budget is spent on sustainable, organic and locally grown produce.

The Government wants the public sector to lead by example, championing healthier, sustainable food, provided by a range of suppliers. We have launched a consultation on public sector food and catering policy, including updating the Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services This includes a proposal that the public sector reports on progress towards our aspiration that 50% of its food expenditure is on food produced locally or to higher environmental production standards. To monitor progress, the consultation will examine a proposal for new data reporting requirements to increase transparency and improve our understanding of what is bought and served in the public sector.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) developing hemp production in the UK and (b) simplifying the regulations governing such production.

Hemp is a long-standing crop in UK agriculture with a variety of uses, and Defra has an interest in exploring the benefits to UK farmers.

Defra has commissioned a research project, “Review of opportunities for diversifying UK agriculture through investment in underutilised crops”, which includes industrial hemp. This will examine hemp cultivation from a grower and consumer standards perspective, alongside its environmental benefits. We are also considering the role of industrial hemp in the bioeconomy and the opportunities for our agriculture sector.

An enhanced evidence base will help us to better understand how novel crops can contribute to achieving environmentally sustainable actions and make informed decisions about hemp cultivation. When these studies conclude, Home Office and Defra will work together to take forward any recommendations to help farmers navigate the licencing system and make sure all related processes are fit for purpose.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has plans to promote the sale of milk in reusable glass bottles.

There are no current plans to exclusively promote the sale of milk in reusable glass bottles. However, Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging will place responsibility on packaging producers for the costs currently borne by local authorities in collecting and managing packaging from households, including milk bottles, from 2024. This will encourage producers to think carefully about the packaging they use and encourage the use of reusable and refillable packaging.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals on the use of propane gas in the place of more environmentally damaging fluorinated gasses for refrigeration purposes.

Defra is reviewing the F-gas Regulation with a view to identifying potential further action to address the use and emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases). This will support the Government’s net zero objective. The review will consider the various alternative gases with low global warming potential that could be used instead of F-gases, depending on the circumstances of each application. Such alternatives include propane.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to publish the Bycatch Mitigation Initiative referenced as a policy to meet the Fisheries Act objectives under the Joint Fisheries Statement.

Defra officials are working closely with the Devolved Administrations to finalise the UK Bycatch Mitigation Initiative (BMI).

The BMI will identify policy objectives and potential actions to achieve part of the Fisheries Act’s ecosystem objective to minimise and, where possible, eliminate incidental catch of sensitive marine species. This initiative will set out a joint vision for bycatch across the UK. Each administration will be responsible for developing solutions that are tailored to local needs.

Once finalised, we will publish the document in the first half of the year.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support sustainable farming.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive is one of three new Environmental Land Management schemes that reward farmers and land managers for producing public goods. It will pay farmers for actions they take (going beyond regulatory requirements) to manage their land in an environmentally sustainable way. The aim is to make the Sustainable Farming Incentive attractive and accessible to a wide range of farmers, to help them maintain or introduce sustainable practices as a foundation for more advanced improvements available through other components of Environmental Land Management. We are working with English farmers, in partnership, to design our new systems and support the choices that they make for their own holdings.

This year we will start to roll out core elements of the scheme, before gradually expanding the scheme until all elements are available from 2024/25 onwards. The core elements of the Sustainable Farming Incentive that will be available in 2022 are: arable and horticultural soils standard; improved grassland soils standard; moorland and rough grazing standard; and Annual Health and Welfare Review.

We plan to open the Countryside Stewardship 2023 offer in February 2022 with offers for Higher tier, Mid-tier, Wildlife offers, and Capital grants, for agreements starting on 1 January 2023. The scheme will also be open to new applicants in 2023 (for agreements starting in 2024).   We will help farmers in Countryside Stewardship make the transition to our new schemes from 2024. We have also increased payment rates under Countryside Stewardship, which saw a 40% increase in applications this year.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
19th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department plans to take steps in response to the Food and Agriculture Organisation's recommendation that the agricultural sector switch to EN 17033 biodegradable thin mulch films to reduce plastic contamination in soil.

In April 2021 we published our response to the call for evidence on the need for standards for bio-based, biodegradable, and compostable plastics. Concerns were raised regarding the extent to which plastics marketed as biodegradable actually biodegrade, as such our focus is on increasing reuse and recycling of plastics.

Defra has commissioned an external expert organisation to look into plastic within digestate and compost. This short project, ending early this year, includes searching existing literature on the potential risks of compostable and non-compostable plastic fragments added to agricultural soil from digestate or compost, and will highlight further evidence gaps. We will carefully consider the findings of this project, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recommendations in considering next steps and any potential actions in this area.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he plans to take in response to the failure by water companies to significantly reduce storm overflows.

The current failure of water companies to adequately reduce sewage discharges is unacceptable and we have made clear that much more must be done to protect our rivers and tackle this issue. We will not hesitate to take further action if needed to deliver our commitments in this area.

We're the first Government to take steps to address this by setting an expectation on water companies to significantly reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows through the draft Strategic Policy Statement for Ofwat. We have enshrined this expectation in legislation as a new duty in the Environment Act.

This world-leading Act includes a raft of measures to protect and restore our water environment. The following key duties have been made law:

  • a new duty on Government to produce a statutory plan to reduce discharges from storm overflows and their adverse impact, and report to Parliament on progress.
  • a requirement for Government to produce a report setting out the actions that would be needed to eliminate discharges from storm overflows in England, and the costs and benefits of those actions.
  • a new duty directly on water companies and the Environment Agency to publish data on storm overflow operation on an annual basis.
  • a new duty directly on water companies to publish near real time information on the operation of storm overflows.
  • a new duty directly on water companies to monitor the water quality upstream and downstream of storm overflows and sewage disposal works.
  • a new duty directly on water companies to secure a progressive reduction in the adverse impact of discharges from storm overflows.
  • a new duty directly on water companies to produce comprehensive statutory Drainage and Sewerage Management Plans, setting out how they will manage and develop their drainage and sewerage system over a minimum 25-year planning horizon, including how storm overflows will be addressed through these plans.
  • a power of direction for the Government to direct water companies in relation to the actions in these Drainage and Sewerage Management Plans. We will not hesitate to use this power of direction if plans are not good enough.

More information on ambition and timescales will be provided during the upcoming price review period - the Government, Ofwat and the Environment Agency all have roles to play in clarifying this detail. We expect to issue guidance to water companies early in 2022. We have also been clear the statutory plan legislated for in the Environment Act is the right place to set our guiding principles to reduce harm from storm overflows and this will be consulted on in Spring 2022.

The recently published Storm Overflows Evidence Project considers a wide range of policies and scenarios to reduce storm overflows. It is right that we consider the findings carefully to achieve the maximum benefits for the environment and human health whilst minimising the impact on the public's water bills.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will set targets for the (a) limiting and (b) ending of sewage overflow into rivers and coasts.

The current failure of water companies to adequately reduce sewage discharges is unacceptable and we have made clear that much more must be done to protect our rivers and tackle this issue. We will not hesitate to take further action if needed to deliver our commitments in this area.

We're the first Government to take steps to address this by setting an expectation on water companies to significantly reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows through the draft Strategic Policy Statement for Ofwat. We have enshrined this expectation in legislation as a new duty in the Environment Act.

This world-leading Act includes a raft of measures to protect and restore our water environment. The following key duties have been made law:

  • a new duty on Government to produce a statutory plan to reduce discharges from storm overflows and their adverse impact, and report to Parliament on progress.
  • a requirement for Government to produce a report setting out the actions that would be needed to eliminate discharges from storm overflows in England, and the costs and benefits of those actions.
  • a new duty directly on water companies and the Environment Agency to publish data on storm overflow operation on an annual basis.
  • a new duty directly on water companies to publish near real time information on the operation of storm overflows.
  • a new duty directly on water companies to monitor the water quality upstream and downstream of storm overflows and sewage disposal works.
  • a new duty directly on water companies to secure a progressive reduction in the adverse impact of discharges from storm overflows.
  • a new duty directly on water companies to produce comprehensive statutory Drainage and Sewerage Management Plans, setting out how they will manage and develop their drainage and sewerage system over a minimum 25-year planning horizon, including how storm overflows will be addressed through these plans.
  • a power of direction for the Government to direct water companies in relation to the actions in these Drainage and Sewerage Management Plans. We will not hesitate to use this power of direction if plans are not good enough.

More information on ambition and timescales will be provided during the upcoming price review period - the Government, Ofwat and the Environment Agency all have roles to play in clarifying this detail. We expect to issue guidance to water companies early in 2022. We have also been clear the statutory plan legislated for in the Environment Act is the right place to set our guiding principles to reduce harm from storm overflows and this will be consulted on in Spring 2022.

The recently published Storm Overflows Evidence Project considers a wide range of policies and scenarios to reduce storm overflows. It is right that we consider the findings carefully to achieve the maximum benefits for the environment and human health whilst minimising the impact on the public's water bills.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department plans to take steps to set species recovery targets for (a) the Manx Shearwater and (b) other birds of conservation concern.

As a core part of our commitment to leave the environment in a better state than we found it, the Environment Act now requires a new legally binding target to be set to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030. This will drive actions to deliver wide-ranging improvements to biodiversity, including for UK birds. The Act also includes provisions to set other, long-term legally binding environmental targets, including for biodiversity.

We are taking a strategic look at how we can support species recovery to help achieve our targets, and will set out our approach to meet our Environment Act targets in our update of the Environmental Improvement Plan in 2023. The UK's seabirds, including the Manx Shearwater, are an important part of our natural heritage, and their protection is a high priority for this Government. We are working with Natural England to develop a comprehensive English Seabird Conservation Strategy. This strategy will aim to assess the vulnerability of each seabird species in light of the pressures they are facing and propose actions to address them.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of designating a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on local landowners; and what support he provides to landowners affected by lower property values as a result of the designation of an SSSI.

A Natural England commissioned report of March 2011 examined the impact that Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status has on land values in England. The report concluded that impacts are variable, with valuers reporting positive, negligible and negative impacts depending on the context and land use of individual cases. A copy of the report has been placed in the Library.

Notification of SSSIs falls to Natural England. It must notify all owners and occupiers where it considers an area to be of special interest. This will usually follow informal discussion with the owners and occupiers of the land, including discussion about management.

Consensus between regulators, land managers, users and other stakeholders is generally required in order to deliver positive conservation outcomes for SSSIs. Agri-environment schemes like Countryside Stewardship provide the principal funding mechanism to help land managers meet the cost of positive management to restore SSSIs to, or maintain them in, favourable condition.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is taking steps to reduce car practical driving test waiting times in Penzance; and if the DVSA will increase the number of available time slots for those tests in that area.

To increase the number of available test slots, the DVSA is conducting tests outside of regular hours, including at weekends and on public holidays; they are also buying back annual leave from driving examiners. They have deployed all eligible managers and administrative staff back on the front line to do driving tests from the beginning of October until the end of March.

Since April 2021, measures put in place by the DVSA to reduce waiting times for its customers, together with the ongoing recruitment of driving examiners, is creating on average over 46,900 extra car test slots each month.

As of 29 January 2024, there were 533,785 car practical driving tests booked, and 130,965 driving tests available within the 24-week booking window.

As of 29 January 2024, there were 19 driving tests available to book within the 24-week booking window at Camborne driving test centre (DTC); the next nearest DTC to Penzance.

The DVSA continues to monitor the deployment of its driving examiner resource. Where it identifies DTCs that require additional resource, if possible, it will redeploy staff to meet that demand.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
10th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the DVLA is taking to help ensure that people without internet access are able to use their services following the end of its contract with the Post Office in March 2024.

Post Office Ltd currently provides a limited range of Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) services and an extension to the current contract has been agreed, ensuring that DVLA services will be available at post offices until the end of March 2024.

The DVLA wants its customers to be able to access its services as quickly and as easily as possible and the role of front office counter services will form part of the considerations of future service offerings, utilising government agreements if necessary.

The vast majority of those licensing vehicles already do so online or via the DVLA’s automated telephone service, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The DVLA will continue to ensure that all customers are able to license their vehicles.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the response by the Motorcycle Industry Association to the consultation entitled When to end the sale of new non-zero emission L-category vehicles, published in September 2022, whether he plans to undertake the readiness checks proposed by the Motorcycle Industry Association before the phasing out new non-zero emission L-Category vehicles.

The consultation on when to end the sale of new non-zero emission L-category vehicles (including mopeds and motorcycles) was open to responses from 14 July to 21 September 2022 and supported by a thorough programme of stakeholder engagement with stakeholders. The Department is now in the process of analysing the responses and will bring forward the Government’s response in due course.

The Government will consult on any future regulatory framework to deliver and enforce the end of sale dates for new non-zero emission L-category vehicles as is appropriate. The Government keeps all its regulations under review to ensure that they are fit for purpose and futureproofed.

The UK’s exit from the European Union has provided the opportunity for this country to develop its own regulatory approach to decarbonising its entire fleet of new road vehicles, which will help to support UK industry in the process. The proposed end of sales dates for motorcycles positions the UK as a world leader in decarbonisation, will drive innovation and create a market for zero emission L-category vehicles.

The Government considers the greenhouse gas emissions of all sectors to ensure that it meet the UK’s legally binding net zero targets by 2050. The Government’s net zero commitment requires all sectors of the UK’s economy, including motorcycles, to deliver substantial cuts to emissions to end the UK’s contribution to climate change.

Anthony Browne
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential impact of the phase out dates for new non-zero emission L-Category vehicles on greenhouse gas emissions in each (a) region and (b) of the next ten years.

The consultation on when to end the sale of new non-zero emission L-category vehicles (including mopeds and motorcycles) was open to responses from 14 July to 21 September 2022 and supported by a thorough programme of stakeholder engagement with stakeholders. The Department is now in the process of analysing the responses and will bring forward the Government’s response in due course.

The Government will consult on any future regulatory framework to deliver and enforce the end of sale dates for new non-zero emission L-category vehicles as is appropriate. The Government keeps all its regulations under review to ensure that they are fit for purpose and futureproofed.

The UK’s exit from the European Union has provided the opportunity for this country to develop its own regulatory approach to decarbonising its entire fleet of new road vehicles, which will help to support UK industry in the process. The proposed end of sales dates for motorcycles positions the UK as a world leader in decarbonisation, will drive innovation and create a market for zero emission L-category vehicles.

The Government considers the greenhouse gas emissions of all sectors to ensure that it meet the UK’s legally binding net zero targets by 2050. The Government’s net zero commitment requires all sectors of the UK’s economy, including motorcycles, to deliver substantial cuts to emissions to end the UK’s contribution to climate change.

Anthony Browne
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the phase out dates for new non-zero emission (a) mopeds and (b) motorcycles.

The consultation on when to end the sale of new non-zero emission L-category vehicles (including mopeds and motorcycles) was open to responses from 14 July to 21 September 2022 and supported by a thorough programme of stakeholder engagement with stakeholders. The Department is now in the process of analysing the responses and will bring forward the Government’s response in due course.

The Government will consult on any future regulatory framework to deliver and enforce the end of sale dates for new non-zero emission L-category vehicles as is appropriate. The Government keeps all its regulations under review to ensure that they are fit for purpose and futureproofed.

The UK’s exit from the European Union has provided the opportunity for this country to develop its own regulatory approach to decarbonising its entire fleet of new road vehicles, which will help to support UK industry in the process. The proposed end of sales dates for motorcycles positions the UK as a world leader in decarbonisation, will drive innovation and create a market for zero emission L-category vehicles.

The Government considers the greenhouse gas emissions of all sectors to ensure that it meet the UK’s legally binding net zero targets by 2050. The Government’s net zero commitment requires all sectors of the UK’s economy, including motorcycles, to deliver substantial cuts to emissions to end the UK’s contribution to climate change.

Anthony Browne
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will (a) commission a public awareness campaign on the potential merits of owning an L-Category vehicle and (b) introduce (i) grants, (ii) incentives and (iii) other demand-side policies for the L-Category vehicle sector in the period before the phase-out of new non-zero emission L-category vehicles.

The UK Government’s Plug-in Vehicle Grants have been in place for over a decade. This includes the Plug-in Motorcycle Grant, which was introduced in 2017. It provides £500 towards eligible zero-emission L3 vehicles (motorcycles) and £150 towards eligible zero-emission L1 vehicles (mopeds). Through this grant, the Government has provided £8m funding to support the adoption of these vehicles.

A consultation on when to end the sale of new non-zero emission L-category vehicles (including mopeds and motorcycles) was conducted earlier this year. The Department is analysing the responses and will publish a response in due course.

The Government has no current plans to commission a specific public awareness campaign on the merits of owning an L-Category vehicle.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to help prevent the provision of fraudulent information to the DVLA when a vehicle's keeper changes.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has long-standing and robust measures in place to ensure that keepers notify when they buy and sell a vehicle.

It is an offence to provide the DVLA with false or misleading information and the DVLA works with key stakeholders to identify and prevent vehicle fraud. The DVLA actively gathers information and intelligence regarding illegal and improper conduct and will follow up any notifications of fraudulent activity with the relevant authorities.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that transport infrastructure is adequately prepared before the phase-out of new non-zero emission L-Category vehicles comes into effect.

In March 2022 the Department for Transport published its EV Infrastructure Strategy, which set out its plans to accelerate the rollout of EV chargepoints. This infrastructure will also support the charging of zero emission L-Category vehicles. The strategy states that the Government’s expectation is that approximately 300,000 chargepoints will be installed across the UK by 2030, at a minimum.

The Government is committed to continuing to work with the L-Category industry to support the transition to zero emission vehicles.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress has been made on (a) the upgrade to the A30 between Penzance and Camborne and (b) other road schemes submitted for consideration in the third road investment strategy.

The Government recognises the importance of the A30 as a key strategic route into and through Cornwall. Widening of the 2.8-mile section between Temple and Higher Carblake was completed in 2017 as part of RIS1. We are currently upgrading the A30 into a dual carriageway north of Truro between Chiverton and Carland Cross, as part of RIS2. This £330 million scheme will mean the A30 will be a continuous dual carriageway from the M5 to Camborne. National Highways is assessing the viability of options for improvements to the A30 from Camborne to Penzance. This work, which is at an early stage, will inform possible enhancements as part of future Road Investment Strategies beyond 2030.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he has taken to support the installation of electric vehicle charging points for people living in (a) residential properties without a driveway and (b) tower blocks.

The £381 million Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) Fund will support local authorities in England to work with industry to provide tens of thousands of local chargepoints and transform the availability of charging for drivers without off-street parking.

Local authorities will also continue to benefit from the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme. So far, funding has been awarded for the installation of over 18,000 chargepoints.

Grants of up to £30,000 are available to help with the cost of building and installation work to install multiple chargepoints in residential car parks, such as those serving high-rise accommodation.

In addition, the Government provides grants to support people living in flats or rental accommodation with an off-street parking place. Grants of up to £350 are available towards the purchase and installation of a chargepoint.

20th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether she has taken recent steps to help prevent overcrowding on trains during (a) bank holidays and (b) other periods of increased leisure travel.

Train Operating Companies plan their train service using their available fleet to meet expected demand. The Department expects operators to consider local conditions wherever possible to plan additional services when demand is expected to significantly increase, for example providing additional capacity to support major events or extra services to coastal towns when unusually fine weather is forecast. Operators may be constrained by availability of resources or other factors such as safety.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to put a process in place for approving time-limited temporary danger areas for drone (a) trials and (b) routes.

The process for approving temporary danger areas (TDAs), including those for drone trials and routes, is the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority and is outlined in their guidance document CAP 1616. TDA requests go through the Temporary Airspace Change Process and the temporary change may last for a maximum of 90 days.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to support Royal Mail’s plans for drone deliveries in remote areas of the UK; and how many applications have the Civil Aviation Authority approved for such deliveries from Royal Mail.

The Department is working with industry and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to ensure the UK can realise the benefits of new and emerging aviation technology for industry and individuals. This includes the provision of additional funding for 2022/2023 to the CAA to significantly scale up their support to innovators.

It is the responsibility of the CAA to approve any plans the Royal Mail have for drone deliveries. Over the last two years they have received and approved requests from various sponsors to establish temporary danger areas to support the Royal Mail. This includes one from Windracers, which has been supporting the Royal Mail in the Shetlands area and one from Skyports in the Oban / Mull area. In addition to these, one other airspace request has been submitted by Windracers which is in support of the Royal Mail task. This request for an airspace structure has not yet begun the regulatory process.

Separate to the airspace work, the CAA have approved four applications relating to proposed Royal Mail delivery operations. These were submitted by Windracers and Skyports. In addition, Windracers has recently submitted another application linked to the Royal Mail.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when the review of the Bus Service Operators’ Grant will be completed.

The Department for Transport remains committed to the reform of the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG), and as promised in the National Bus Strategy we will publish a consultation on this. Work is underway on proposals, however this has been delayed as a result of responding to the impact of the Covid pandemic.

Ahead of the wider consultation, and any resulting changes, we have already increased the rate at which BSOG can be claimed for Zero Emission Buses from 6p to 22p per kilometre.

19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to train operators operating limited timetables as a result of the covid-19 outbreak, whether the Government will make an assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to permit railcards not previously permitted to be used at peak times to be used during peak times to assist employees with the costs of commuting.

My Department took immediate action at the outbreak of the pandemic to support passengers and the rail industry by keeping the services people depend on running, protecting jobs, delivering refunds and removing charges for cancellations. In this context we must ensure the demands placed on taxpayers are fair and balanced and that Government focuses its investment on maintaining services, to enable social distancing and support our economic recovery.

All passengers are eligible to buy season tickets, offering significant savings for those who regularly commute on peak-time services. Additional provisions have been made for younger and lower-income commuters, with both the 16-17 Saver Railcard and the Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card offering discounts on season tickets. While we have no plans at this time to offer further subsidies for peak-time travel, the Government recognises that the pandemic has caused a fundamental change in working patterns and that this could have long-term effects on commuter behaviours. My Department has proactively worked with the rail industry, and is currently considering proposals received from train operators, to try to ensure better value and convenience for part-time and flexible commuters.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the availability of charging points for electric vehicles.

We recognise that putting in place a joined up, easy to use and reliable network of public chargepoints is essential to overcome a key barrier for motorists considering switching to electric cars, and we will continue to work with industry to establish one of the best electric vehicle infrastructure networks in the world.

In collaboration with industry, the Government will invest an additional £1 billion in charging infrastructure, ensuring that everyone is within 30 miles of a rapid charging station for electric vehicles. To date, Government and industry have supported the installation of over 17,000 devices providing over 24,000 publicly available?chargepoints. This includes over?2,500 rapid?chargepoints?– one of the largest networks in Europe.

The Automated and Electric Vehicles Act gives the Government powers to improve the customer charging experience and increase the provision of electric vehicle infrastructure. This includes powers to regulate the technical standards of infrastructure to ensure easy compatibility with vehicles, to ensure availability of data on chargepoint locations and availability, and to require provision at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers.

To improve customers’ experience of using chargepoints, the Government announced in July 2019 that it wants to see all new rapid and higher-powered chargepoints provide debit or credit card payment by spring 2020, and that it expects industry to create a roaming solution across the charging network allowing electric vehicle drivers to use any public chargepoint through a single payment method. The Government continues to monitor industry’s progress in these and other areas.

3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government is taking to raise awareness of the safe use of electric vehicle charging points.

We encourage and support initiatives by all involved in the vehicle and chargepoint industry relating to the safe use of electric vehicle charging points. For example, we welcome updates, as the chargepoint industry matures, in the Code of Practice from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (which includes helpful advice on the avoidance of trip hazards), the wiring regulations (which sets technical standards for safe installations, including earthing requirements) and advice generally from vehicle and chargepoint manufacturers.

3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government is taking to increase access to charging points for electric vehicles in rural areas.

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

Local authorities in rural areas are able to take advantage of the On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS), which assists them with the cost of installing chargepoints on residential streets. The funding available is for 75% of the capital costs of procuring and installing the chargepoint and an associated dedicated parking bay.

In October 2019, the Secretary of State wrote to all local authorities encouraging them to send their strategies for infrastructure deployment and to take advantage of ORCS funding. In January we announced that Government funding will be doubled to £10 million for the installation of chargepoints on residential streets next year. This could support as many as 3,600 chargepoints for those that do not have off-street parking.

Our jointly funded £400 million Chargepoint Infrastructure Investment Fund’s first investment round, worth a total of £70 million, will ensure the delivery of a further 3,000 rapid charging devices by 2024, more than doubling the current number of rapid charging devices.

18th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has had discussions with her EU counterparts on the opinion on lithium (a) carbonate, (b) chloride and (c) hydroxide adopted by the European Chemicals Agency Committee for Risk Assessment.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and other Ministers have had no discussions with EU counterparts on the opinion on lithium (a) carbonate, (b) chloride and (c) hydroxide adopted by the European Chemicals Agency Committee for Risk Assessment.

While the UK continues to recognise the importance of the European Union (EU) as an important market for UK business, following EU Exit the UK must reach its own independent decisions regarding the classification and labelling of hazardous chemicals.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the Health and Safety Executive's timeline is for further consideration of the proposed mandatory classification and labelling for lithium (a) carbonate, (b) chloride and (c) hydroxide under article 37A of the GB Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation.

The Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) timeline for further consideration of the proposed GB mandatory classification and labelling of substances is set out in Article 37A of the GB Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation (GB CLP).

Under Article 37A, HSE, as the GB CLP Agency, may submit a proposal for a new or revised GB mandatory classification and labelling requirement when there is evidence of new scientific data or information that may lead to a new or revised mandatory classification and labelling for a priority hazard class, such as carcinogenicity, mutagenicity or reproductive toxicity.

There is no statutory time limit on HSE to prepare and submit a proposal. HSE regulatory and scientific specialists will investigate the evidence and new scientific data made available and, if necessary, seek additional information or consult other departments or agencies.

HSE’s specialists have conducted a significant amount of work considering the classification of these lithium substances, including the publication of the Agency Technical Report in August 2022 and the Agency Opinion in August 2023. Further consideration of the proposed GB mandatory classification and labelling for lithium (a) carbonate, (b) chloride and (c) hydroxide is underway. HSE will continue to engage with stakeholders during this process.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of not including military compensation as an income on means-tested benefit applications.

The department has had a number of discussions with stakeholders about the treatment of armed forces compensation payments in the benefit system and has further such discussions planned. There are already special rules in place for the treatment of these payments.

Those receiving War Disablement Pensions and guaranteed income payments made under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme do not have their Universal Credit reduced to take account of this income. Pension Credit includes a weekly £10 disregard for War Pension payments. There are no plans to change these arrangements.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Jul 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment his Department's Disability Unit has made of the (a) adequacy of availability of and (b) strength of demand for courses in British Sign Language.

The Disability Unit does not keep statistics on the adequacy of availability, or strength of demand, for courses in British Sign Language, as this would be a matter for the Department for Education.

A British Sign Language (BSL) Advisory Board has been established to help advise the Government on the implementation of the British Sign Language Act 2022. This Act legally recognises BSL as a language of England, Wales and Scotland. It requires government departments to report on how they are ensuring accessibility of their communications through the use of BSL. The BSL Advisory Board is a new expert committee which will advise the Government on the implementation of the BSL Act and other matters important to BSL signers. Amongst other things, the Board will advise on how to increase the numbers of qualified and registered BSL interpreters.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
9th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of his Department’s capacity to respond to correspondence on voluntary National Insurance contributions in time for the deadline of 31 July 2023.

The DWP Futures Pension Centre has experienced unprecedented levels of contact from customers considering whether to pay voluntary National Insurance Contributions (VNICS) before the deadline. To ensure customers have the time and information to make an informed decision, HMRC announced it will extend the deadline to pay these contributions until 5 April 2025.

DWP have redeployed additional resources and continue to review options to meet current demand and improve service.

Furthermore, HMRC and the DWP are taking the opportunity through the extension period to make improvements to the digital service, with the intention that the majority of customers should be able to complete the process online. Further announcements will follow in due course.

Laura Trott
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
16th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when she plans to respond to the report by the Patient Safety Commissioner entitled The Hughes Report: Options for redress for those harmed by valproate and pelvic mesh, published on 7 February 2024.

The Government commissioned the Patient Safety Commissioner (PSC) to produce a report on redress for those affected by sodium valproate and pelvic mesh. We are grateful to the PSC and her team for completing this report and our sympathies remain with those affected by sodium valproate and pelvic mesh. The Government is now carefully considering the PSC’s recommendations and will respond substantively in due course.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
7th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what NHS support is available for people wanting to give up vaping.

Vaping can be an effective tool for adult smokers to quit smoking. However, the health advice is clear: if you don’t smoke, don’t vape, and children should never vape. The NHS Better Health website provides advice for people who want to quit vaping. Local stop smoking services can also provide resources to support children and adult vapers to quit, through funding from the public health grant. Further information is available at the following link:

https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/vaping-to-quit-smoking/

In addition, the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training has produced guidance for local Stop Smoking Service staff on how best to support vapers to quit. We are also exploring further ways to support people to quit vaping, as part of the national Swap to Stop programme. The guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.ncsct.co.uk/publications/Support_stop_vaping

Andrea Leadsom
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 12 December 2023 to Question 5802 on Department of Health and Social Care: Correspondence, for what reason has a response not been provided within the statutory timeframe; and what assessment she has made of the implications for her Department's policies of the Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) report prepared by Coroner Andrew Cox on 23 November 2023.

We apologise for the delay in replying to the coroner. The Department is preparing its response to this Regulation 28 report as a matter of urgency. It is within the Chief Coroner’s discretion to publish the report, together with the Department’s response.

Prevention of Future Deaths reports are an important part of our broader system for learning from deaths, as they help to identify themes to inform improved guidance, regular learning, and the development of our policies more generally.

The Department ensures that relevant regulators and other bodies are aware of the matters of concern brought to its attention, so that the system can respond as appropriate. We are working closely with NHS England and other partners in the health system to support healthcare professionals.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
7th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if she will respond to the letter from Andrew Cox, Senior Coroner for the coroner area of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, of 23 November 2023 on matters revealed by inquests giving rise to concern.

The Department will respond to the Regulation 28 report issued by Coroner Cox within the statutory timeframe.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
7th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of offering Retrograde Cricopharyngeus Dysfunction treatment on the NHS.

There are currently no licensed medicines for use in the treatment of Retrograde Cricopharyngeus Dysfunction. Healthcare professionals are responsible for making decisions on the treatment of individual patients.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for the Lords) plans to reply to the correspondence from the the hon. Member for St Ives of 29 September 2023 on gaining consents under legal charges from NHS bodies.

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Lord Markham) replied to the hon. Member on 17 November 2023.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Answer of 13 September 2023 to Question 198352 on Dental Services: Cornwall, how funding recovered from NHS dentists may be spent by his Department.

NHS England has provided guidance for integrated care boards (ICBs) that requires dental funding to be ringfenced, with any unused resources re-directed to improve National Health Service dental access in the first instance. A schedule setting out the dental ringfence has been issued to ICBs. NHS England’s 2023/24 revenue finance and contracting guidance, which provides more detail, is available at the following link: https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/2023-24-revenue-finance-and-contracting-guidance/

Andrea Leadsom
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he is taking steps to ensure patients with Huntington’s Disease have access to community mental health services when psychiatric symptoms are present.

We have been made aware of instances of people with Huntington’s disease experiencing difficulty in accessing mental health services. NHS England has circulated a statement to integrated care services (ICSs) to say that mental health services should be offered based on clinical need and people should not be excluded due to coexisting conditions where the service is clinically appropriate.

We are also investing at least £2.3 billion of additional funding a year by March 2024, compared to 2018/19, to expand and transform mental health services in England so that two million more people including those with Huntington’s disease can get the mental health support that they need.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of directing the Care Quality Commission to assess the adequacy of care home laundry hygiene standards.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care providers in England. The CQC’s fundamental standard for premises and equipment, under Regulation 15 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014, requires ancillary services, such as laundry rooms, to be maintained in line with the fundamental standard. People using the service and staff using the equipment should be trained to use it or be supervised and/or risk assessed as necessary.

Where a health and care provider does not comply with Regulation 15, the CQC can take regulatory action.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of the NHS using Tirzepatide to treat patients with diabetes when Ozempic is not available.

The relative merits of Tirzepatide compared to other treatments in any indication is subject to appraisal by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which provides recommendations to the National Health Service on a drug’s clinical and cost-effectiveness, including an assessment of comparator products in its methods where appropriate.

NICE published final draft guidance on 8 September 2023 which recommends Tirzepatide for treating type 2 diabetes alongside diet and exercise in adults who meet the specified criteria. Final guidance on Tirzepatide is expected in October 2023.

7th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many and what proportion of units of dental activity under NHS dental contracts were handed back to NHS England in Cornwall in financial year 2021-22.

During 2021/22 there were two contract hand backs of 300 Units of Dental Activity (UDAs) and 800 UDAs. In 2021/22, 940,152 UDAs were commissioned, therefore 0.12% of contracted activity (1,100 UDAs) was handed back.

During 2021/22 there was also a contract reduction of 11,000 UDAs. Taking all of these reductions into account, there was a recurrent reduction of 12,100 UDAs. This represents a reduction of 1.29% of total commissioned activity.

7th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer to Question 195463 on Dental Services: Cornwall, how much of the £4,562,496 recovered from dentists in Cornwall in 2021-22 is (a) available and (b) allocated for financial year 2023-24.

Financial accounting rules do not allow for funding recovered from one financial year (in this case, 2021/22) to be spent in another financial year (in this case, 2023/24). Where a dental contract underperforms in any one year any financial recovery associated with the contractual performance should accrue to the year in which the underperformance takes place.

1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) paid sabbaticals, (b) guaranteed study leave and (c) reform of NHS deaneries on the (i) recruitment and (ii) retention of NHS doctors.

The Department has not made any assessment of the potential merits of paid sabbaticals, guaranteed study leave or reform of NHS deaneries on the recruitment and retention of NHS doctors.

Individual NHS employers are responsible for developing their own policy relating to sabbaticals. Policies are designed to meet the employers’ specific recruitment and retention needs.

Arrangements relating to study leave are detailed in the national terms and conditions of employment for NHS doctors. Requests for study leave will normally be granted, subject to the need to maintain NHS services.

NHS deaneries deliver national recruitment to training posts across the four nations but do not run recruitment for employment and do not have responsibility for retention.

1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his Department's expected timescale is for updating its statutory guidance on autism; and how he will ensure that people with autism are consulted.

The Department is committed to ensuring autistic people are involved in the formation of policy and decision-making processes. This year, we are working on updating the Statutory Guidance on Autism to support the National Health Service and local authorities to deliver improved outcomes for autistic people.

There will be a public consultation on the draft guidance in due course, which will give autistic people, their families, and carers the opportunity to give their views. We expect to publish the updated Statutory Guidance in 2024.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many dental contract pilots have been conducted since 2010; and what the findings were of those pilots.

From 2011, the Department ran one pilot, followed by one prototype contract in a limited number of dental practices, to test a new form of contract remuneration for National Health Service work, based on a capitation approach.

Assessment of the pilots suggested that if they were implemented as designed, the proposed contract model would not maintain dental access for patients, reduce oral health inequalities, or offer overall sustainability within available resources for the NHS. Nevertheless, these pilots and prototypes provided good insight and learning, and will inform future contract reform.

The programme closed at the end of March 2022, and the Department published a full report on the prototype programme on 23 January 2023, which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dental-conract-reform-evaluating-the-results-of-the-prototype-scheme

20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many and what proportion of NHS dental contracts were handed back to NHS England in Cornwall in the 2021-22 financial year.

During 2021/22 there were 81 dental practices providing National Health Service dental care in Cornwall. One NHS dental practice closed in Wadebridge during 2021/22, which equated to 1.23% of all practices, and 2.87% of the total dental activity in Cornwall.

20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential impact of setting a minimum Unit of Dental Activity rate of £30 on the (a) recruitment and (b) retention of NHS dental professionals in (i) the South West, (ii) St Ives, (iii) West Cornwall and (iv) the Isles of Scilly.

We have no plans to make such an assessment.

From 1 April 2023, responsibility for commissioning primary care dentistry to meet the needs of the local population has been delegated to integrated care boards (ICBs) across England. ICBs have flexibility to work with contractors within the bounds of the current contractual framework as set out in the current General Dental Service contract and Personal Dental Service agreement regulations. At its discretion, an ICB may choose to negotiate with a contractor to decrease or increase the indicative Unit of Dental Activity rate of their contract, the Negotiated Annual Contract Value. Any variation should be for reasonable and appropriate circumstances only and demonstrate value for money and improve access for patients.

In July 2022, we announced a package of dental system improvements to increase access for dental patients in the National Health Service and make NHS dentistry more attractive to practices. We will announce our plan for further reform of the NHS dental system shortly.

20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made a comparative assessment of geographic variations in the rates of Units of Dental Activity for NHS dental contracts.

Variations in rates of Units of Dental Activity (UDA) reflect local markets and the varying costs of delivering National Health Service dental treatment across the country. We have worked with the British Dental Association to establish and implement a minimum UDA value of £23. This will help support practices with historically low UDA rates.

20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much funding was recovered by NHS England from dental providers in Cornwall in 2021-22; and how much recovered funding was reallocated for the delivery of NHS dentistry in (i) Cornwall and (ii) St Ives, West Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.

Sums recovered from dentists in Cornwall for underperformance on contracts during 2021/2022 amounted to £4,562,496. The amount recovered is not available for reinvestment in the same financial year due to the calculations being finalised in the following financial year. Dental contracts are paid at the start of each financial year at 100% and so all contractors receive their full contract value to deliver activity in 2022/23.

£334,049.67 was recovered from under-performance of commissioned activity from the 2020/21 contract year and was reinvested for additional urgent dental care appointments that same year.

20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps NHS England is taking to increase diagnoses of dementia.

In December 2022, the recovery of the dementia diagnosis rate to the national ambition of 66.7% was included in the National Health Service priorities and operational planning guidance, as part of the refined mental health objectives for 2023/24. This reinforces the importance of dementia as a key priority for NHS England and provides a clear direction for integrated care boards to support delivery of timely diagnoses within systems.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many dental professionals were (a) registered as practicing (i) full- and (ii) part-time and (b) performed more than one course of NHS treatment a month in Cornwall in the 2021-22 financial year.

Published data is not held on how many dentists are registered as full- and part- time by location. 261 dentists delivered more than one course of National Health Service treatment in Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board

20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Answer of 18 July 2023 to Question 193957 on Brain Cancer: Genetics and the report by OurBrainBank entitled Glioblastoma, The neglected disease in the cancer treatment revolution, published July 2023, what assessment he has made for the potential implications for his polices that OurBrainBank research estimated that whole genome sequencing analysis was carried out on approximately 1.6% of brain tumour patients and 1.3% of glioblastoma patients diagnosed since April 2021.

Genomic testing for glioblastoma is included in the National Genomic Test Directory. This testing can be delivered using a range of technologies, one of which is whole genome sequencing (WGS). All patients will be offered Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology (large cancer gene panels) to ensure that a patient receives the most appropriate genomic testing depending on their individual circumstances. Anyone who meets the eligibility criteria outlined in the National Genomic Test Directory will be able to access this genomic testing offer. Between January 2022 and June 2023, 505 patients have been referred for WGS because of a suspected glioblastoma or brain tumour diagnosis. In addition to WGS, during 2022/2023, 14,800 genomics tests were performed for neurological tumours, including 3,145 NGS cancer gene panels.

NHS England has not undertaken any formal assessment of the report by OurBrainBank entitled Glioblastoma and is not aware of any research that demonstrates any clinical benefit of WGS over other genomic technologies (i.e., large cancer gene panels) for glioblastoma; however, work is ongoing to evaluate the potential benefits. This will inform future commission decisions made by NHS England.

17th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent progress his Department has made on the rollout of the direct access scheme for GPs to order diagnostic tests for patients with symptoms of cancer.

In November 2022, NHS England announced that general practitioners (GPs) would have direct access to a range of key diagnostic tests. NHS England is rolling out this direct access scheme across all GP practices in England for patients with concerning symptoms, but who fall outside the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline threshold for an urgent suspected cancer referral.

Phase 1 of the direct access scheme will deal with urgent cancer referral pathways, and Phase 2, which will be built up in 2023/24, will include a wider range of tests, which will involve dialogues with GPs, integrated care boards and key stakeholders.

Alongside this, the introduction of Community Diagnostic Centres (CDC) provides additional diagnostic capacity, with 114 CDCs currently in operation, supporting primary care teams to boost the number of GP Direct Access tests available

NHS England continues to actively support those trusts requiring the greatest help to cut cancer waiting lists, and the Department is working with NHS England to make further improvements.

13th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of glioblastoma patients who are offered whole genome sequencing.

Genomic testing for glioblastoma is included in the National Genomic Test Directory. Testing can be delivered using a range of technologies, including whole genome sequencing or Next Generation Sequencing technology (large cancer gene panels) to ensure that a patient receives the most appropriate genomic testing depending on their individual circumstances. Anyone who meets the eligibility criteria outlined in the National Genomic Test Directory will be able to access this genomic testing.

In addition, glioblastomas are one of four cancer indications included in an innovative £26 million programme, led by Genomics England in partnership with the National Health Service, to evaluate cutting-edge genomic sequencing technology to improve the accuracy and speed of cancer diagnosis.

Genomics England are also collaborating with a lead researcher to support research into glioblastomas through the Brain Matrix study. Patients who have consented to this study will have whole genome sequencing performed via the NHS Genomic Medicine Service. Further information about the study is available at the following link:

https://www.thebraintumourcharity.org/media-centre/news/research-news/brain-matrix-pioneering-research-to-improve-treatments-for-gliomas/

13th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of the number and proportion of patients diagnosed with glioblastoma who had received whole genome sequencing of their tumours before the end of 2022.

NHS England, supported by a Genomics Clinical Reference Group and Test Evaluation Working Groups, continually review the National Genomic Test Directory to keep pace with scientific and technological advances, while delivering value for money for the National Health Service. This review will include the genomic testing offer for patients with a suspected glioblastoma diagnosis, as per the eligibility criteria outlined in the National Genomic Test Directory.

A robust, evidence-based process and policy is in place to ensure testing continues to be available for all patients for whom it would be of clinical benefit. The policy is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Updating-the-National-Genomic-Test-Directory-v1-Dec-2020.pdf

The performance of the NHS Genomic Medicine Service is monitored quarterly through an assurance framework, which ensures all seven NHS Genomic Laboratory Hubs are operating to national quality standards. This identifies and minimises any potential variation and ensures consistent delivery of the criteria outlined in the National Genomic Test Directory.

10th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Minister of Health and Secondary Care’s oral contribution of 9 March 2023, Official Report, column 509, on Brain Tumour Research Funding, if he will provide a breakdown of the £33.9 million spent on brain cancer research in the last five years.

The information is shown in the attached tables.

19th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing regulations for the professional use of the title psychologist.

In the United Kingdom, practitioner psychologists are already subject to statutory regulation by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), and HCPC’s legislation protects nine designated psychologist professional titles in law. This means that anyone not registered with the HCPC as a practitioner psychologist who uses one of these designated titles may be breaking the law and could be prosecuted.

The Government keeps the professions subject to statutory regulation under review and recently published a consultation, ‘Healthcare regulation: deciding when statutory regulation is appropriate’. The consultation ran from 6 January to 31 March 2022 and sought views on the criteria that should be used to determine when statutory regulation of a healthcare profession is appropriate.

Officials are currently analysing the responses to this consultation and the Government will publish its response in due course.

14th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of including the partners of immunocompromised people in the vaccination programme in spring 2023.

In February 2023, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) provided advice for the spring 2023 COVID-19 vaccination programme. As a precautionary measure, the JCVI advised a spring booster dose for the most vulnerable in the population, as a proportionate response, those over the age of 75 years, residents in a care home for older adults and those over five years old who are immunosuppressed. These groups were chosen as they continue to be at highest risk of severe COVID-19.

The JCVI advice for the spring 2023 COVID-19 booster vaccination programme is consistent with that for the spring 2022 COVID-19 booster programme which also did not include household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
20th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the letter dated 10 November 2022 from Andrew Cox, Senior Coroner for the coroner area of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, to the Secretary of State setting out matters revealed by inquests giving rise to concern and requesting a response by 10 January 2023, for what reason his Department has not responded to that correspondence.

We replied to Andrew Cox on 4 April 2023.

30th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of staff vacancies in the care sector that resulted from policy on vaccination status; and what steps he is taking to encourage staff to return to the profession.

No specific assessment has been made.

We launched our new domestic national recruitment Made with Care campaign on 2 November 2022, highlighting the extraordinary work that care workers do to attract both former care workers and new entrants into the sector.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Health and Care Act 2022, what steps the Government plans to take to drive innovation within the NHS.

The Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) works with leaders from the life sciences sector to increase innovation within the National Health Service. The AAC aims to ensure that innovation is accelerated and available to clinicians and patients and that the sector in the United Kingdom benefits patients, industry and the economy.

Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) are commissioned by the AAC to support the NHS to address health and care challenges. The AHSNs work with industry to obtain evidence of the benefits of new products and support early implementation in the NHS.

The Department continues to work with the NHS and the AAC to ensure that best practice in enabling innovation is communicated to integrated care boards and to support AHSNs’ engagement to increase the adoption of innovation adoption.

18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to ensure that a dedicated Chief Innovation Officer is appointed into every Integrated care system.

The Health and Care Act 2022 requires integrated care boards to consider the necessary skills, knowledge and experience required in its membership, including in its duty to promote innovation.

18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether plans to promote innovation within Integrated care systems will include the development of an innovation strategy within every ICS.

The Health and Care Act 2022 places a legal duty on integrated care boards (ICBs) to promote innovation and set out how this will be achieved in forward planning and annual reports. In addition, ICB chief executives and chairs are accountable for fostering a culture of innovation.

Innovation has been embedded in the National Health Service’s implementation guidance for the development of integrated care systems (ICSs). The Department is currently exploring how innovation can be included in statutory guidance, including for integrated care strategies. The Department is also working with the NHS, the Accelerated Access Collaborative and Academic Health Science Networks to ensure that priorities for innovation over one to three years are agreed with ICSs.

18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help (a) align the Medical Technologies Directorate’s upcoming Strategy with the NHS’s duty to promote innovation, including within integrated care systems and (b) ensure that medical technologies and digital health solutions are included in plans to tackle NHS backlogs and level up health and care outcomes across the country.

The Medical Technology Directorate’s forthcoming Strategy aims to establish frameworks to ensure consistency in the use of medical technology in the National Health Service and increase the sharing of expertise.

The strategy intends to assist with the identification, development and promotion of new medical technologies and digital solutions to reduce health inequalities and improve patient outcomes. This includes working with NHS England on the launch of community diagnostic centres to reduce backlogs for diagnostic tests through new technologies to increase efficiency.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has plans to help ensure that medicines are labelled to indicate whether they are suitable for (a) vegetarians and (b) vegans.

Part 13 of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 states that the primary purpose of the label is to unambiguously identify the medicine and to convey key warning statements in relation to safe and effective use of the product. There is no legal requirement for a pharmaceutical manufacturer to state whether a medicine is suitable for vegetarians or vegans. However, the legislation allows for the inclusion of a statement such as ‘suitable for vegetarians/vegans’ where a manufacturer can provide evidence to demonstrate that no products of animal origin have been used in the manufacture of the ingredients or the medicine. Where such a statement on the labelling or in the patient information leaflet is proposed, the Medicines and Healthcare products regulatory Agency will evaluate the evidence supporting this statement to determine its validity.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
15th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the ability of NHS services in (a) Cornwall and (b) Scilly to recruit staff; and if he will make it his policy to introduce a salary supplement for NHS staff in these areas.

No formal assessment has been made. Local National Health Service trusts are responsible for managing staffing levels and recruiting the appropriate number of health professionals required to meet local service need. However, the local NHS and Cornwall Council plan to launch a campaign in the autumn to encourage those aged 25 years old and under to work in the care sector, in addition to providing health and care staff with support for housing needs. Trusts have the flexibility to pay Recruitment and Retention Premia where there are challenges recruiting or retaining staff in specific roles. A Recruitment and Retention Premium is a supplementary payment which can be made up to a maximum of 30% of basic salary.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve the (a) diagnosis, (b) treatment and (c) support for (I) children with Tourette's Syndrome and (ii) their families.

The majority of services for people with Tourette’s syndrome are commissioned locally by clinical commissioning groups, which are best placed to plan the provision of services, subject to local prioritisation and funding. Services to support diagnosis, treatment and support for children with Tourette’s Syndrome and their families are commissioned through local community paediatric services or child and adolescent mental health services.

For those who require more detailed specialist support, there are a small number of recognised services with focused multidisciplinary teams assessing and supporting children with tics, Tourette’s syndrome and motor stereotypies and their families. These centres have internationally recognised expertise in the assessment and management of Tourette’s syndrome and frequently discuss complex patients in an informal clinical network.

Gillian Keegan
Secretary of State for Education
1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will take steps to (a) address the absence of NICE guidance on Tourette’s Syndrome and (b) ensure that any new guidance addresses (i) diagnosis, (ii) treatment and (iii) ongoing support.

There are no current plans for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to develop a guideline on Tourette’s syndrome. NICE’s guideline on suspected neurological conditions covers the initial assessment of symptoms and signs which may indicate a neurological condition and makes recommendations on tics and involuntary movement in children. Best practice guidance on the management of Tourette’s syndrome is available from the British Medical Journal at the following link:

https://bestpractice.bmj.com/topics/en-gb/1042.

Gillian Keegan
Secretary of State for Education
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with representatives of the General Medical Council on access to PLAB 1 and PLAB 2 tests for medical professionals who want to help tackle backlogs in the NHS.

The General Medical Council (GMC) is the independent regulator of doctors and is responsible for operational matters, including those relating to the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) tests.

Most international medical graduates are required to pass both the PLAB 1 and PLAB 2 tests to demonstrate they have the right skills and knowledge to practise in the United Kingdom. In 2022, the GMC is offering 15,018 PLAB 1 places and 14,338 PLAB 2 places and has opened a third clinical assessment centre in Manchester to accommodate PLAB 2 candidates. The GMC will consider increasing PLAB test availability if necessary.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
30th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to help ensure that parents are aware of the Chief Medical Officer Guidance on the Consumption of Alcohol by Children and Young People published in 2009.

The Department promotes the guidelines in England which apply to children and young people through online platforms such as NHS.UK, the Talk to FRANK online resource and GOV.UK. Local authorities promote these guidelines as part of their public health duties.

22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for its policies of the statement by the Task and Finish Group on Brain Tumour Research 2018-2019, that additional research is needed and the funders are ready to invest more in brain tumour research; and if he will make a statement.

The Department agrees that more research is needed on brain cancer and in 2018, we announced £40 million over five years for brain tumour research. The Department is working with research funders and other stakeholders through the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission to increase the capability and capacity of the brain tumour research community to enable researchers to develop fundable research proposals.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
22nd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken since 2018 to support the need for research and research funding into brain tumours identified by the Task and Finish Group on Brain Tumour Research 2018-2019; and what assessment his Department has made of how current funding levels for brain tumours compare to funding levels prior to 2018.

Since 2018, the Department has supported the establishment of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission (TJBCM), a national convening body for all stakeholders engaged in brain tumour research, treatment and care. This unites professional, patient, charity and Governmental groups to share information and establish programmes working towards a cure for brain tumours. We have held customised workshops to support the research community to submit fundable research applications to the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). We will also provide funding for the research training elements of the Tessa Jowell Fellowships to train specialist brain tumour oncologists and increase the research community.

The Department and the TJBCM are working to improve research and care for children and adults with brain cancer. This includes the launch of the Tessa Jowell BRAIN MATRIX, a new trials platform to provide access to trials of treatments best suited to individual tumours. Additionally, the Tessa Jowell Academy is a new free learning and networking platform, connecting 28 National Health Service brain tumour centres to share excellence in research, treatment and care.

The Department is liaising with the Medical Research Council on initiatives to stimulate the research pipeline for brain tumours. The NIHR is also engaging with UK Research and Innovation. The Department also works with funding partners such as Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council and brain tumour charities, for research into new scientific discoveries. No comparative assessment of funding levels for brain tumours prior to 2018 has been made.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
8th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 13 January 2022 to Question 100534 on Diabetes: Health Services, when his Department plans to publish the findings of the analysis into the impact of the covid-19 outbreak on major health conditions.

We have no current plans to publish this analysis which is subject to validation of the data quality and peer review.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
8th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 13 January 2022 to Question 100534 on Diabetes: Health Services, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of establishing a recovery fund to support the provision of routine care for (a) diabetes and (b) other long-term conditions.

No formal assessment has been made. The Department continues to work with NHS England and NHS Improvement on the long term recovery of services. An additional £23.3 billion was announced to support the National Health Service in managing the ongoing impact of COVID-19. This includes over £8 billion to reduce the elective care backlog and deliver millions of checks, scans and procedures.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he plans to take to apply the same labelling standards to alcohol products as currently apply to other food and drink products.

Through ‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’, published in July 2020, we are committed to consult shortly on our intention to make companies provide calorie labelling on all pre-packaged alcohol they sell. The consultation will also cover introducing calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks sold in the out of home sector, for example bought on draught or by the glass.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to reduce the cost of alcohol to the NHS.

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, we are supporting acute hospitals to establish or improve specialist Alcohol Care Teams (ACTs) in hospitals with highest rates of alcohol harm. It is estimated that, if implemented in the 25% of hospitals with the highest rates of alcohol-dependence-related admissions, fully optimised ACTs could prevent 50,000 admissions over five years.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of psychologists (a) specialising in diabetes and (b) providing clinics for people with diabetes.

On 21 March 2018, NHS England and NHS Improvement, along with the National Collaboration Institute for Mental Health, published ‘The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Pathway for People with Long-term Physical Health Conditions and Medically Unexplained Symptoms’. The pathway provides primary care services including psychological therapies for common mental disorders across England. It includes therapists specially trained to provide psychological therapies for people with long term conditions, including diabetes. NHS England and NHS Improvement are expanding this service, in line with the NHS Long Term Plan.

NHS England is also working to improve care for those with type 1 diabetes and eating disorders (often referred to as diabulimia) by supporting two pilots to test, trial and evaluate the effects of integrated diabetes and mental health pathways for the identification, assessment and treatment of diabulimia. NHS England and NHS Improvement have commissioned an in-depth evaluation to assess the impact of these pilot services.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that integrated care systems and sustainability and transformation partnerships have up-to-date guidance on the increased risk to people with uncontrolled diabetes of covid-19; and what steps he is taking to ensure that regional NHS teams are monitoring their plans to (a) identify and (b) protect those people most at risk.

As part of the COVID-19 response from NHS England and NHS Improvement, weekly calls were established with regional Diabetes Clinical Network teams, the Primary Care Diabetes Society, Association of British Diabetologists and Diabetes UK, which supported the development and sharing of a range of up-to-date guidance on the increased risk of COVID-19 for people with diabetes as well as key resources to support clinical teams in the maintenance of essential diabetes services.

To support people living with diabetes during the pandemic, NHS England and NHS Improvement have also provided a range of tools to support people to manage their condition. This includes making available a new helpline for adults living with diabetes who are insulin dependent, as well as providing access to a variety of online self-management tools.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to ensure people with (a) diabetes and (b) at risk of serious consequences from covid-19 are being actively reviewed by suitably qualified healthcare professionals.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic diabetes care has remained a priority, and general practitioners (GPs) have supported patients with long-term conditions to access care and support.

The Primary Care Diabetes Society developed the guidance ‘How to undertake a remote diabetes review’ to support healthcare professionals offering remote diabetes reviews, and NHS England and NHS Improvement and partners supported GPs with the guidance ‘Advice for healthcare professionals on COVID-19 and diabetes’, for the management of diabetes during the pandemic.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access on patient access to new medicines; and if he will make a statement.

The 2019 Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access set out a range of measures to support innovation and improve patient outcomes through greater access to the most transformative and cost-effective medicines. Every six months the Department, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, NHS England and NHS Improvement, and the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland meet to consider progress against the objectives of the scheme. Good progress is being made on the objectives of the scheme, and access to clinically and cost-effective new medicine continues to improve.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the NICE Methods Review enables patients to access the latest treatments and medicines through the NHS.

We are informed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) that its methods review is proceeding apace, and NICE is being ambitious in the scope and breadth of the review.

This methods review includes consideration of factors that may affect decision-making (‘modifiers’), uncertainty and the discount rate.

It is too soon for NICE to comment on the potential outcomes and any changes to its methods that may be proposed.

NICE will continue to welcome contributions from all stakeholders and there will be a public consultation on the case for change commencing in autumn this year. However, it is too soon to comment on the potential outcomes and any changes to its methods that may be proposed.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps NICE is taking to (a) value the benefits of medicines through the introduction of modifiers into their decision making framework, (b) improve the way uncertainty of evidence is managed in appraisals and (c) align their discount rate with the latest guidance in the Treasury Green book.

We are informed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) that its methods review is proceeding apace, and NICE is being ambitious in the scope and breadth of the review.

This methods review includes consideration of factors that may affect decision-making (‘modifiers’), uncertainty and the discount rate.

It is too soon for NICE to comment on the potential outcomes and any changes to its methods that may be proposed.

NICE will continue to welcome contributions from all stakeholders and there will be a public consultation on the case for change commencing in autumn this year. However, it is too soon to comment on the potential outcomes and any changes to its methods that may be proposed.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of covid-19 on research-based health charities.

Medical research charities are an integral part of the United Kingdom’s world-leading life sciences sector. The Department is closely liaising with the Association of Medical Research Charities, as well as individual charities, to understand the impact of the pandemic on this sector and identify how best the Government and charities can work together to ensure that patients continue benefiting from charity-funded research.

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 steps his Department is taking to ensure the level of resources allocated for research into cancers is protected during the covid-19 outbreak.

As with other Government funders of health research, the Department’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) does not allocate funding for specific disease areas. The level of research spend in a particular area, such as cancer, is driven by factors including scientific potential and the number and scale of successful funding applications.

We have now entered a new phase of the pandemic, where the number of new cases of COVID-19 is declining, and we have a significant portfolio of nationally prioritised urgent public health studies which are actively recruiting participants. The time is right to work towards the restoration of a diverse and active portfolio of research funded and/or supported by the NIHR - including both non-COVID-19 research and important COVID-19 research which does not meet our ‘Urgency’ criteria. Further information is available at the following link:

https://www.nihr.ac.uk/news/prioritising-funding-and-support-for-covid-19-research-across-the-uk/24820

To help initiate this process, the NIHR has developed a ‘Framework for Restart’ which provides a structure to guide the restarting of a full range of NIHR research, including cancer research, while maintaining local decision-making and flexibility. Further information is available at the following link:

https://www.nihr.ac.uk/documents/restart-framework/24886

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to encourage podiatrists from overseas to work in the NHS; and if he will make a statement.

The Government will be introducing a National Health Service Visa which will incorporate reduced fees and fast-tracked entry to encourage increasing numbers of overseas healthcare workers, including podiatrists, to come and work in the NHS.

In addition, the Home Office has already set up a dedicated NHS team within United Kingdom Visas and Immigration to process all visa requests for healthcare staff coming to work in the NHS.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to increase the number of people training to become podiatrists; and if he will make a statement.

The NHS People Plan, which will be published by the National Health Service in early 2020, will set out a clear framework for growing and sustaining a well-skilled workforce across the whole NHS.

The Government announced in December 2019 that new and continuing students from September 2020 will receive a £5,000-£8,000 grant during their course to help with their cost of living. Eligible students will receive at least £5,000 and an additional £1,000 for those with child dependants. In addition, eligible new students studying a specialist shortage subject including podiatry will be able to access a further £1,000. Subject to eligibility, up to a further £1,000 will be available to some new students in regions that are struggling to recruit.

These grants are on top of student loan allowances and do not need to be re-paid.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much the NHS has spent on treating diabetic foot ulcers in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement.

Information is not held centrally on the cost of treating diabetic foot ulcers.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many multidisciplinary foot care teams there are in the NHS; and if he will make a statement.

The information requested is not centrally held.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase access to podiatry services; and if he will make a statement.

The NHS People Plan work programme is completing a review of all allied health professions including podiatrists and the capacity requirement is being modelled to 2024. This will look at both the current and future capacity need for the allied health professions, including podiatrists in all health care settings.

In addition, on 3 March, I launched a £3.47 million recruitment campaign for allied health professionals. The national recruitment drive includes television advertisements, social media content and a new recruitment portal, and comes alongside a new package of financial support for students. From September, students training towards the careers highlighted in the campaign, which includes podiatry, will benefit from a new Government maintenance grant worth at least £5,000 a year.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Jan 2024
To ask the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, when his Department plans to publish details of all departmental spending over £25,000 since May 2022.

Our target is to resume reporting of both Government Procurement Cards (GPC) and over £25,000 spend in Spring 2024.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Jan 2024
To ask the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, what steps he is taking to help support (a) victims of violence, (b) protesters, (c) detainees and (d) missing persons in Syria.

The UK continues to draw international attention to Syria at the UN Security Council, condemning human rights violations, the deepening humanitarian crisis, and the use of violence and torture against peaceful protestors and detainees. The UK welcomes the 29 June 2023 UN General Assembly resolution, which established the Independent Institution on Missing Persons (IIMP). The IIMP will seek to clarify the fate and location of missing persons and support survivors. Since 2012, the UK has contributed over £14 million to support Syrian and international efforts to gather evidence of human rights abuses and violations and hold those responsible to account.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2023
To ask the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, whether his Department has made representations to the Government of Pakistan on the safety of Afghan refugees in that country who are eligible for the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy scheme.

The Department, including the Foreign Secretary and the British High Commissioner to Islamabad, has made such representations, and will continue to do so. We have received assurances from the Government of Pakistan that Afghans being supported in Pakistan under the Afghans Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) and Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) will remain safe in Pakistan while they await relocation to the UK. An MOD-led operation has relocated over 1,500 ARAP-eligible Afghans to the UK since September.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Nov 2023
To ask the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, what progress the Government has made on ratifying the Biodiversity beyond National Jurisdiction Agreement.

The UK was pleased to be among the first signatories to the Biodiversity beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement when it opened for signature at the UN on 20 September 2023 and the Agreement was laid before Parliament for scrutiny on 16 October 2023. Work is in hand on the legislation and other measures needed to translate the detailed and complex provisions of the Agreement into UK law before we can ratify the Agreement, which will be taken forward when parliamentary time allows.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
16th Nov 2023
To ask the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, what steps the Government is taking to encourage other countries to ratify the Biodiversity beyond National Jurisdiction Agreement.

The UK continues to be proactive in supporting other, particularly developing, countries, to implement and ratify the Biodiversity beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement. The UK has provided a significant contribution to the BBNJ Voluntary Trust Fund to enable participation by developing countries in UN discussions on preparatory work. The UK also continues to support the BBNJ Informal Dialogues, discussions that bring together participants from a wide range of countries online to discuss implementation. The UK also co-funded and organised a workshop for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries to share best practice and support the implementation and ratification of the BBNJ Agreement in the Philippines on 15-17 November.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
10th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to United Nations press release entitled General Assembly Adopts Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples; ‘Major Step Forward’ towards Human Rights for All, Says President, published on 13 September 2007, whether it remains the Government’s policy that (a) national minority groups and (b) other ethnic groups within the UK do not fall within the scope of the indigenous peoples to which the Declaration applies.

The UK fully recognises that individuals belonging to indigenous communities are entitled to the full protection of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in international law. The UK supports the provisions in the Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) that underline this. Human rights are universal and apply equally to all. Our position remains that national minority groups, and other ethnic groups within the territory of the United Kingdom, and its overseas territories, do not fall within the scope of indigenous people, to which UNDRIP applies.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Myanmar counterpart on the imprisonment of Reverand Dr Hkalam Samson.

The UK condemns the arbitrary detention of politicians, civil society members and journalists by the military regime, including the former President of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), Reverend Dr Hkalam Samson. On 18 April, the UK Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief called for his immediate release and for the release of all those arbitrarily detained in Myanmar. Although the UK has had no political engagement with the military regime since the coup in February 2021, we will continue to call publicly for the military regime to release all those arbitrarily detained.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when his Department plans to commission a new Joint Analysis of Conflict and Stability assessment for the (a) Democratic Republic of Congo and (b) Uganda border regions.

Conflict analysis is an integral way in which HMG ensures UK policy and programming is both effective and conflict sensitive. The last Joint Analysis of Conflict and Stability (JACS) assessment for Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was in 2017. There has not been one undertaken for Uganda. There are no plans in place to commission a new JACS at present, but we regularly review the need for cross HMG conflict analysis and will continue to do so.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
26th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recommendations the Government plans to make to the UN Human Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review into Nigeria (a) overall and (b) on freedom of religion and belief.

The UK Government strongly supports the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. We are committed to supporting Nigeria to protect human rights and provided recommendations on this during Nigeria's previous UPR in 2018, including on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB). We will consider recommendations and advance questions as part of Nigeria's next UPR in early 2024, and once it has submitted its national report in October this year.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
26th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if his Department will (a) review sanctions on the Allied Democratic Forces leadership and (b) make an assessment of the potential merits of sanctioning additional bodies following the attack on Lhubirira Secondary School in Mpondwe.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) are designated under both the UN and UK domestic sanctions regimes. We do not speculate about future sanctions designations, as to do so might reduce their impact.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential impact of the level of the UK's pledge to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria on the UK’s international reputation.

The Global Fund is a high performing organisation that, with partners, has saved 44 million lives to date. The UK is proud to be the organisation's third largest donor historically, investing £4.1 billion since 2002. We are currently reviewing the Global Fund's 7th replenishment investment case in line with delivering the International Development Strategy.

Amanda Milling
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
6th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to (a) invest in global health systems and (b) maintain access to critical routine immunisations.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is working to deliver the objectives set out in our recently published Health Systems Strengthening Position Paper. This includes mainstreaming of health systems strengthening approach across all the UK's health influencing activities and investments through country programmes, research and multilaterals such as the World Health Organisation, Global Fund and Gavi. The UK's £1.65 billion commitment to Gavi's core immunisation programme 2021-25 is the largest of any donor, and will support Gavi to immunise 300 million children and save up to 8 million lives, and enable countries to restore immunisation services during and after the pandemic.

Amanda Milling
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
6th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions she has had with her Indian counterpart on (a) abductions, (b) forced conversions and (c) forced marriages of women and girls in India; and what steps she is taking to help support that Government in ending those practices.

We engage with India on a range of human rights matters, including at Ministerial level, working with Union and State Governments and with Non-Governmental Organisations. Reports of human rights abuses or discrimination against religious minorities are matters for the Indian police and local legal system and should be investigated thoroughly, promptly, and transparently.

The UK Government works through UN partners UNFPA and UNICEF to support the actions by the Indian Government and civil society to end child marriage. The first phase of the UK's support to the UN Global Programme to End Child Marriage (2015-20) helped five Indian states to implement evidence-based action plans, provided over four million girls with life skills training, and nine million community members to explore alternatives to child marriage. In November 2021, the UK announced £18 million of new funding to prevent child marriage across 12 focus countries, including India.

6th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if she will publish in full the three year review of the progress made in respect of the recommendations set out in the Bishop of Truro’s Support for Persecuted Christians Review commissioned by her Department in 2019.

In line with recommendation 22, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office commissioned an independent review to assess the implementation of the Bishop of Truro's recommendations. The independent report will be published in due course.

1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department has taken on implementing recommendation 21B of the Bishop of Truro’s Review into Christian persecution catalyst for action.

The Bishop of Truro's review provided recommendations for a Government response to support members of all faiths, beliefs, and those of no religious belief. We have taken forward the 22 recommendations in a way that makes a real change for everyone persecuted for their religion or belief.

Recommendation 21 focuses on sharing lessons across Government from implementing the recommendations of the Truro Review, and proposes agenda items for a Cabinet discussion. Proposed agenda item b focuses on championing the prosecution of ISIS perpetrators of sex crimes against Yazidi and Christian women, not only as terrorists. The UK was the driving force behind the establishment of the UN Investigative Team for Accountability of Daesh (UNITAD), providing £2 million to support investigations into violence against minority communities and developing a platform for witnesses and survivors to submit information securely in relation to Daesh crimes. In May 2022, the Minister of State responsible for human rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, sent an update note to his ministerial counterparts in Government outlining the UK's support for Yazidi and other minority communities in Iraq to rebuild their lives after Daesh, secure justice, and exercise the right to freedom of religion or belief.

1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the arrest of Pastor Glushko of the Mariupol Evangelical Church by Russian forces, what recent assessment she had made of freedom of (a) religion and (b) belief violations in Ukraine.

The FCDO is aware of reports of violations and abuses of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in Ukraine as a result of Russian aggression. We call on Russia to end its violations of human rights. We use our public communications and position in multilateral fora to raise abuses and violations of human rights in Ukraine. The UK is committed to defending FoRB for all, and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
19th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to implement the recommendations in the final report of the Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review into persecuted Christians before the three year review in 2022.

Promoting freedom of religion or belief is one of the UK's longstanding human rights priorities. We are making good progress on implementing the Bishop of Truro's 22 recommendations to support members of all faiths, beliefs and those of no religious belief.

We have achieved thirteen of the recommendations, a further six are close to being achieved and we are making good progress on the remaining three.

8th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps her Department has taken to (a) identify eligible applicants to the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme in Afghanistan who meet the criteria for vulnerable minorities and (b) provide that information to the Home Office.

The ACRS will prioritise those who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan, and vulnerable people, including those from ethnic and religious minority groups.

In the first year, under the third pathway of the ACRS, the FCDO will refer to the Home Office a number of at-risk British Council and Gardaworld contractors and Chevening alumni for resettlement.

The process for deciding who from within these groups should be referred is being developed. It will have proper regard for risk, including risk resulting from minority status or identity.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what support his Department has given the UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean to ensure that future built developments incorporate climate resilience.

Following the destruction caused by hurricanes in 2017, the UK Government has funded construction work in several Overseas Territories (OTs), with a focus on building back with improved hurricane and seismic resilience. In Montserrat, the UK is investing in resilient infrastructure through the Capital Infrastructure Programme for Resilient and Economic Growth (CIPREG), including projects such as the recently laid fibre optic cable link that will bolster Montserrat's resilience against extreme weather. Additionally, with funding from the cross-Government Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has supported OTs in the Caribbean to build response and resilience models to hurricane related flood risks. This includes opportunities to maximise the role and value of the natural environment, including coastal vegetation, mangroves and coral reefs, to minimise flood damage, and the use of vulnerability mapping to inform on-island planning processes for new infrastructure and residential developments. The JNCC is also working with individual OTs to develop monitoring programmes capable of recognising changes to their marine and terrestrial environments, including those related to climate change.

Through the UK Government funded Darwin and Darwin Plus Initiatives, the UK continues to support the ability of the OTs to increase their resilience and ability to adapt in the face of climate change by funding individual projects, such as efforts to improve coastal ecosystem resilience in Anguilla and restoration of mangroves in the British Virgin Islands.

17th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what support he is providing to ensure climate adaptation plans are adopted and implemented in the UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean.

Following the destruction caused by hurricanes in 2017, the UK Government has funded construction work in several Overseas Territories (OTs), with a focus on building back with improved hurricane and seismic resilience. In Montserrat, the UK is investing in resilient infrastructure through the Capital Infrastructure Programme for Resilient and Economic Growth (CIPREG), including projects such as the recently laid fibre optic cable link that will bolster Montserrat's resilience against extreme weather. Additionally, with funding from the cross-Government Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has supported OTs in the Caribbean to build response and resilience models to hurricane related flood risks. This includes opportunities to maximise the role and value of the natural environment, including coastal vegetation, mangroves and coral reefs, to minimise flood damage, and the use of vulnerability mapping to inform on-island planning processes for new infrastructure and residential developments. The JNCC is also working with individual OTs to develop monitoring programmes capable of recognising changes to their marine and terrestrial environments, including those related to climate change.

Through the UK Government funded Darwin and Darwin Plus Initiatives, the UK continues to support the ability of the OTs to increase their resilience and ability to adapt in the face of climate change by funding individual projects, such as efforts to improve coastal ecosystem resilience in Anguilla and restoration of mangroves in the British Virgin Islands.

16th Feb 2024
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of raising the threshold for the vehicle excise duty surcharge in line with vehicle price increases since 2015.

The Vehicle Excise Duty surcharge is a supplement in addition to the standard rate of Vehicle Excise Duty, which is applied to cars with a list price of over £40,000. This surcharge is also known as the Expensive Car Supplement, and is payable for five years following the first registration of the vehicle, commencing in year two, with the final payment due in year six.

The £40,000 threshold was set as a suitable way of distinguishing the more luxury end of the new car market, meaning those who can afford the most expensive cars pay more than the standard rate paid by other drivers.

However, the Government recognises that transport is a major cost for individuals and families. That is why, at Spring Budget 2023, the Government announced it would maintain the rates of fuel duty at the levels set on 23 March 2022 for an additional 12 months, by extending the temporary 5p fuel duty cut and cancelling the planned inflation increase for 2023-24. That represents a saving of around £100 for the average car driver this year.

As with all taxes, the Government keeps the Expensive Car Supplement under review, and any changes will be announced at a future fiscal event.

Gareth Davies
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Dec 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the adequacy of the average time taken for HMRC to provide an inheritance tax reference number for the start of a probate process.

HMRC prioritises requests for inheritance tax reference numbers and the follow up IHT400 forms submitted to set up an inheritance tax account.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the cost to the public purse of waiving VAT on (a) defibrillators and (b) associated apparatus.

The cost of relieving VAT on defibrillators is uncertain owing to the lack of data on purchases of defibrillators and associated apparatus, and on purchasers who are able to reclaim the VAT on these purchases. Businesses are not required to provide information at a product level in their VAT returns, as this would impose an excessive administrative burden; HMRC does not therefore hold this data. All taxes are kept under review; any policy measure would be costed in the usual way.

The Government is currently inviting community organisations to bid for funding as part of a £1 million grant scheme that expands public access to AEDs, particularly in public places where they are most needed.

In addition, last year the Government committed to supplying state-funded schools in England with defibrillators to make sure there is a device in every school, with deliveries completed in June 2023. This means that every state-funded school in England, over 21,500 schools, now has access to an AED.

Victoria Atkins
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Chancellor for the Exchequer, for what reason commercial laundries are excluded from retail, hospitality and leisure relief from business rates.

Business rates are administered by local government and it is for local authorities to determine eligibility for reliefs, having regard to guidance issued by the Government.

Guidance setting out eligibility for the 2023-24 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure relief was published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-relief-202324-retail-hospitality-and-leisure-scheme-local-authority-guidance

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Oct 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of HMRC's (a) strategy for making and (b) capacity to make reasonable adjustments for service users with disabilities.

HMRC’s Charter and Principles of support sets out the approach to providing access to its services, including providing reasonable adjustments to customers. The Charter Annual report outlines HMRC’s progress in meeting the Charter.

Additional HMRC guidance on making reasonable adjustments is in place to support this, and HMRC will support customers identified as needing extra help. HMRC has specialist teams that support those with disabilities or additional needs.

Victoria Atkins
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
18th Sep 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of compliance with Air Passenger Duty by (a) private and (b) business jets.

Private and business jets that meet certain criteria must register and account for air passenger duty (APD). APD is a self-assessed tax, and it is the responsibility of the aircraft operator to ensure they have accounted for the tax correctly. Smaller and infrequent flyers have the option to declare the tax via the Occasional Operator Scheme. HMRC undertakes a risk-based audit programme to ensure compliance from the aviation sector and has a range of penalties to deter non-compliance.

Gareth Davies
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Sep 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential impact of closing the self-assessment helpline for three months on taxpayers.

I refer my Honourable friend to the reply given to the Honourable Member for North Ayrshire and Arran reference UIN 196363.

Victoria Atkins
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of VAT fraud; and what steps he is taking to tackle VAT fraud.

HM Revenue and Customs published “Measuring tax gaps 2023” in June: Measuring tax gaps 2023 edition: tax gap estimates for 2021 to 2022 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Victoria Atkins
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of exempting automated external defibrillators from VAT relief on the accessibility of defibrillators in public spaces.

The Government maintains VAT reliefs to aid the purchase of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), including VAT relief on purchases made by local authorities and those made through voluntary contributions, where the AED is donated to eligible charities or the NHS. Otherwise, they attract the standard rate of VAT.

The Government is currently inviting community organisations to bid for funding as part of a £1 million grant scheme that expands public access to AEDs, particularly in public places where they are most needed.

In addition, in June 2023, the Government met its commitment to ensure that all state-funded schools in England have access to a life-saving defibrillator.

The Government keeps all taxes under review.

Victoria Atkins
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) cancelling or (b) refunding penalties for late tax returns when there is no tax due to be paid on taxpayers.

HMRC issues self assessment tax returns to customers when the information they hold suggests that the customer meets the published criteria for completing one. HMRC often cannot determine someone’s tax liability until they have sent in a tax return, therefore they need the return to establish whether there is tax due or not.

HMRC charges late final penalties to encourage customers to file on time but they can cancel a customer’s late filing penalty if they have a reasonable excuse. Customers can also ask HMRC to remove them from the SA process for future years if they no longer meet the criteria.

HMRC is currently reforming late payment and late filing penalties. The aim is to encourage those who persistently default to comply with their tax obligations rather than penalise those who make occasional errors.

Victoria Atkins
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
5th May 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to ensure competition in providing merchant services to businesses in the (a) leisure sector and (b) other high-risk sectors.

The government’s vision for the payments sector includes enabling effective competition between payments providers – including merchant services – in the interests of consumers and businesses across the UK.

The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) is responsible for promoting effective competition in the payments sector, including in relation to merchant services. Throughout 2021, following concerns that merchant acquiring services were not delivering good outcomes for businesses, and ultimately consumers, the PSR undertook a Card Acquiring Market Review. In October 2022, the PSR published its final proposed remedies to enable greater competition, transparency, and choice for merchants dependent on the card-acquiring market. These include requirements for acquirers to provide clear pricing information to merchants; to notify merchants when their contract is about to expire; and imposes a maximum permissible contract for ‘Point-of-Sale’ device to 18 months.

Gareth Davies
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Apr 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to reinstate VAT relief for the installation of energy saving materials in buildings intended for use solely for a relevant charitable purpose.

The installation of energy saving materials (ESMs) in buildings intended for use solely for a relevant charitable purpose was previously eligible for VAT relief. However, as this was found to be incompatible with EU law, the relief was narrowed to exclude charitable buildings from August 2013.

At Spring Budget 2023, the Government published a call for evidence on reform to the VAT relief for ESMs. Given that the UK has now left the EU, the call for evidence is seeking views on this VAT relief.

The call for evidence is open until 31 May 2023, after which the Government will publish a summary of responses. Any decisions on potential changes to the VAT relief will not be made before this consultation process concludes.

Victoria Atkins
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
30th Nov 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which (a) lower-strength and (b) alcohol-free alcohol substitute (i) products and (ii) brands are exempted from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy.

HMRC does not maintain a list of products and brands that are exempt from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy and there is no requirement for such drinks to be reported to HMRC.

The question of whether a particular product is exempt therefore depends on the specific facts and content of any given soft drink. Further guidance is provided at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-your-drink-is-liable-for-the-soft-drinks-industry-levy.

James Cartlidge
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
21st Apr 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of a pilot scheme to raise the VAT threshold for businesses on the Isles of Scilly, to assess the impact on businesses of having fewer barriers to a longer season.

The Government recognises that accounting for VAT can be a burden on small businesses. This is why we maintain the highest VAT registration threshold in the OECD, and when compared to EU Member States, at £85,000. This keeps the majority of UK businesses out of VAT altogether.

Views on the VAT registration threshold are divided and the case for change has been regularly reviewed over the years. While some businesses have argued that a higher threshold would reduce administrative and financial burdens, others contend that a lower threshold would provide a fairer competitive environment.

Whilst the Government keeps all taxes under review, we announced at Budget 2021 that the VAT threshold will be maintained at its current level of £85,000 until 31 March 2024.

Lucy Frazer
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
21st Apr 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of (a) raising the VAT threshold and (b) implementing a smoothing mechanism to reduce tax and administrative barriers to opening outside peak season for businesses in communities reliant on tourism.

The Government recognises that accounting for VAT can be a burden on small businesses. This is why we maintain the highest VAT registration threshold in the OECD, and when compared to EU Member States, at £85,000. This keeps the majority of UK businesses out of VAT altogether.

Views on the VAT registration threshold are divided and the case for change has been regularly reviewed over the years. While some businesses have argued that a higher threshold would reduce administrative and financial burdens, others contend that a lower threshold would provide a fairer competitive environment.

Whilst the Government keeps all taxes under review, we announced at Budget 2021 that the VAT threshold will be maintained at its current level of £85,000 until 31 March 2024.

Lucy Frazer
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
31st Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the proposed alcohol duty system on (a) alcohol consumption, (b) alcohol-related hospitalisations, (c) alcohol-related deaths and (d) other health outcomes.

The Government intends to move to a new system that taxes all products in reference to their alcohol content for the first time. This will help to target problem drinking by taxing higher-strength products associated with alcohol-related harm a higher rate of duty.

We are also introducing a reduced rate of duty on low strength drinks below 3.5% ABV to support innovation and responsible drinking. This will encourage manufacturers to develop new products at lower ABVs, giving consumers more options to drink responsibly.

Further detail about the impact of our alcohol duty reforms on public health will be included in a tax information and impact note when the policy is final, or near final, in the usual way.
Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to support the haulage industry in response to high fuel prices.

In response to fuel prices reaching their highest ever levels, the government announced at Spring Statement 2022 a temporary 12-month cut to duty on petrol and diesel of 5p per litre.

This is the largest cash-terms cut across all fuel duty rates at once, ever, and is only the second time in 20 years that main rates of petrol and diesel have been cut. This cut represents savings for households and businesses worth around £2.4 billion in 2022-23.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has plans to review the help-to-buy ISA threshold in the context of rising house prices, particularly in tourist destinations such as Cornwall.

The Help to Buy: ISA scheme aims to help those struggling to save enough to get onto the housing ladder. The property price cap of £250,000 for those properties outside London (£450,000 within London) therefore allows the Government to target support at the people the scheme is intended to help.

The latest statistics show that since the scheme was launched in 2015, 460,567 property completions have been supported through the scheme with a mean property value of £175,680, compared to an average first-time buyer house price of £228,627. The Government keeps all aspects of savings policy under review.

John Glen
Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the potential impact of the £200 energy bill credit on people who object to being placed in debt.

All domestic electricity customers in Great Britain will receive a £200 reduction in their electricity costs from this October. This will be delivered via energy suppliers and will be clearly identifiable as a line item on electricity bills.

This will help people with the increase in energy bills by spreading the increased costs over a few years, so they are more manageable for households.

The energy bill reduction is not a loan – there is no interest due on it, no debt attached to it, and it will not affect your credit rating.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has taken steps to ensure that people can opt out of the £200 energy bill credit.

All domestic electricity customers in Great Britain will receive a £200 reduction in their electricity costs from this October. This will be delivered via energy suppliers and will be clearly identifiable as a line item on electricity bills.

This will help people with the increase in energy bills by spreading the increased costs over a few years, so they are more manageable for households.

The energy bill reduction is not a loan – there is no interest due on it, no debt attached to it, and it will not affect your credit rating.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of removing VAT on domestic renewables and installations for a period of 10 years to (a) help grow the Green Economy and (b) stimulate the uptake of microgeneration in domestic properties.

The installation of many energy saving materials that generate domestic renewable energy are already subject to the reduced rate of VAT of 5 per cent when certain conditions are met.

Decisions on tax policy are made at fiscal events and the Government keeps all taxes under review.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on medical research charities in the UK.

Medical research charities are an important part of the UK’s world-class R&D ecosystem and are contributing directly to combating Covid-19. We know that many charities are struggling and the government is closely monitoring the impacts of Covid-19 on the sector.

Medical research charities can access the comprehensive support the government has made available for employers and businesses. Under these measures, charities can defer their VAT bills and pay no business rates for their shops next year. All charities are eligible for the job retention scheme and the right answer for many charities will be to furlough their employees with the Government paying 80% of wages. Charities are eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruptions Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Bounce Back Loans Scheme. Registered charities are now exempt from the requirement that 50% of the applicant’s income must be derived from its Trading Activity.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department has taken to support medical research charities during the covid-19 outbreak.

Medical research charities are an important part of the UK’s world-class R&D ecosystem and are contributing directly to combating Covid-19. We know that many charities are struggling and the government is closely monitoring the impacts of Covid-19 on the sector.

Medical research charities can access the comprehensive support the government has made available for employers and businesses. Under these measures, charities can defer their VAT bills and pay no business rates for their shops next year. All charities are eligible for the job retention scheme and the right answer for many charities will be to furlough their employees with the Government paying 80% of wages. Charities are eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruptions Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Bounce Back Loans Scheme. Registered charities are now exempt from the requirement that 50% of the applicant’s income must be derived from its Trading Activity.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
2nd Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of appointing an external force to investigate police domestic abuse cases.

We were grateful to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), and the College of Policing for carrying out an investigation into a supercomplaint on police-perpetrated domestic abuse in 2022. Responses to the recommendations from relevant organisations, including the Home Office, were published on gov.uk and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/responses-to-police-perpetrated-domestic-abuse-report-on-the-cwj-super-complaint.

We expect forces to take allegations of police-perpetrated domestic abuse very seriously, and to take steps to ensure that investigations are carried out impartially. By law, allegations of serious assaults, serious sexual offences or abuse of position by police officers must be referred to the IOPC to determine the appropriate mode of investigation, which can include an independent investigation.

Laura Farris
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
2nd Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether his Department has made an assessment of compliance with the recommendations contained in Police perpetrated domestic abuse: Report on the Centre for Women’s Justice super complaint, updated 23 November 2022.

We were grateful to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), and the College of Policing for carrying out an investigation into a supercomplaint on police-perpetrated domestic abuse in 2022. Responses to the recommendations from relevant organisations, including the Home Office, were published on gov.uk and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/responses-to-police-perpetrated-domestic-abuse-report-on-the-cwj-super-complaint.

We expect forces to take allegations of police-perpetrated domestic abuse very seriously, and to take steps to ensure that investigations are carried out impartially. By law, allegations of serious assaults, serious sexual offences or abuse of position by police officers must be referred to the IOPC to determine the appropriate mode of investigation, which can include an independent investigation.

Laura Farris
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether his Department has provided (a) guidance and (b) directions to the College of Policing when setting out its strategic ambitions.

The Department liaises closely with the College of Policing, assisting them in the setting of the College’s Business and Strategic plans.

Alongside the College of Policing, all Home Office Arm’s Length Bodies contribute to the delivery of the Department’s Outcome Delivery Plan, with the College of Policing contributing to the outcome Reduce Crime.

The Home Secretary, Policing Minister and Officials regularly meet the CEO of the College.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she plans to increase the duration of seasonal workers’ visas to nine months for people in (a) all sectors of the food supply chain and (b) the ornamental horticulture sector.

The Government has no plans to extend the scope of the Seasonal Worker route or the maximum visa grant beyond the existing six months.

15th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing legislative proposals on banning animal testing of substances exclusively for use in cosmetics (a) where testing is required in order to assess the risk to workers of exposure to that substance and (b) in all other circumstances.

Animal testing of cosmetics for consumer safety has been banned in the UK since 1998 and this remains in force.

On 17 May 2023 the Government announced it is going further by banning, with immediate effect, licences to test ingredients exclusively used in the production of cosmetics for the purposes of worker safety.

The Home Secretary has issued a Written Ministerial Statement, which can be found here: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2023-05-17/hcws779.

Tom Tugendhat
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
8th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to reduce the time taken to (a) issue or renew passports, (b) arrange appointments to verify applicants’ identity and (c) respond to correspondence from hon. Members on the time taken to process applications.

HM Passport Office has processed more than 1.67 million UK standard applications across January and February with a total printed output of 1.86 million. Over 99.5% of standard UK applications processed within ten weeks and 95.5% within 3 weeks.

7th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what progress she has made on (a) recruiting and (b) appointing a new Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

The role of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner (IASC) as set out in the 2015 Modern Slavery Act is to encourage good practice in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of slavery and human trafficking offences and the identification of victims.

The Home Secretary recognises the importance of the role of Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and has committed to running a new open competition to recruit for this role; the process will begin shortly.

The competition will be conducted as quickly as possible, whilst ensuring we take the necessary steps to recruit the best person for the role.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment the Government has made of the effectiveness of the minimum unit pricing for sales of alcohol in Scotland in reducing alcohol consumption; and what plans the Government has to introduce a similar policy in England.

There are no plans to introduce minimum unit pricing (MUP) in England at this time. MUP has been in place in Scotland for less than three years and the Scottish Parliament will not consider its extension until April 2024 when more will be known about its overall impact on consumption.

Public Health Scotland have commissioned a study to assess the impact of minimum unit pricing on areas of crime, public safety and public nuisance.

14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing a minimum price for alcohol.

The Government continues to monitor the impact of minimum unit alcohol pricing in Scotland and Wales as it emerges. Minimum unit pricing has been in place in Scotland for less than two years. The Scottish Parliament will not consider its extension until April 2024.

13th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many police officers are suspended pending investigation; how many of those investigations have taken longer than 12 months to resolve; and what steps her Department is taking to improve the time taken to reach a resolution for such investigations.

The Home Office does not hold information on how many police officers are suspended pending investigation or how many investigations where an officer has been suspended have taken longer than 12 months to complete.

The chief officer of a police force has the discretion to suspend an officer during an investigation, depending on the circumstances of the case.

The average investigation by police forces into complaints took 158 days (2018/19) – a fall from 173 days the previous year. Since the launch of the Independent Office for Police Conduct in January 2018, the IOPC has completed 93% of its investigations in under 12 months.

On 1 February 2020 the Government implemented reforms to improve the efficiency, accountability and proportionality of the police discipline system. The reforms require greater transparency by placing a duty on the IOPC or the police to provide a clear explanation should an investigation go beyond 12 months.

29th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of expanding the existing network of bases to facilitate recruitment to the reserve forces.

The Armed Forces recruit nationally and do not operate a specific policy of increasing recruitment from particular geographic areas. Armed Forces Careers Offices and wider recruiting staff are spread across the UK and are complemented by dedicated call centres and online recruiting operations, ensuring that all communities have the same recruitment opportunities.

Andrew Murrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the next steps are for the Skynet 6 Enduring Capability programme; and when a timeline for that programme will be published.

The Enduring Capability requirement consists of two elements: the satellites and the ground-based infrastructure.

We continue to refine the Enduring Capability satellite requirement and procurement approach in light of the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy and the Defence Space Strategy. As part of this refinement, we will undertake further industry engagement which will inform the satellite programme timeline.

The exact timings for the ground-based elements are dependent on the final agreements reached on the preceding ground and flight control provision programme (the Service Delivery Wrap which is currently being competed).

21st Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, with reference to section 80 of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023, whether he intends to prescribe any classes of dwelling for which a billing authority may not make a determination to charge a council tax premium.

The Government consulted last year on circumstances where properties should be excepted from the council tax premiums for second and empty homes and will publish its response to the consultation shortly.

Simon Hoare
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
30th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether his Department’s proposals for caps on ground rents will apply to all types of properties.

The Government launched a consultation on 9 November on options to limit the level of ground rent that leaseholders with a long lease can be required to pay in England and Wales.

The consultation also asks whether any exemptions from a proposed cap to ground rents are necessary. We want to hear views on the proposals and will use these responses to develop a final position. We do not want to pre-empt the outcome of this consultation.

Lee Rowley
Minister of State (Minister for Housing)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if he has made an assessment of the potential merits of updating the 2011 lists of statutory duties placed on local authorities by legislation for which (i) his Department and (ii) other Departments are responsible.

The Government currently has no plans to review the list of statutory duties placed on local authorities but would always welcome ideas and views from colleagues.




Lee Rowley
Minister of State (Minister for Housing)
20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if he will make an assessment with Cabinet colleagues of the potential merits of changing planning regulations to introduce a presumption in favour of permitting on street electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Nationally set permitted development rights enable local authorities to install electric vehicle charging points without the need for a planning application. We have recently amended the rights so that bodies working on behalf of the local authority can also undertake the works. In the context of planning applications, the National Planning Policy Framework outlines that planning policies should take into account the need to ensure adequate provision of spaces for charging plug-in and other ultra-low emission vehicles.

19th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, with reference to the report entitled, Mobile homes: The impact of a change in the maximum park home sale commission, published by his Department on 16 June 2022, whether he plans to respond to the recommendations in the report.

I refer my Hon Friend to the answer I gave to Question UIN 158983 on 13 March 2023.

28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what recent assessment he has made of the application of restraint by councils in setting precepts.

Council tax levels are for local authorities to decide, taking into account local taxpayers, public sector services and electoral decisions. The Government determines referendum thresholds each year for most types of authority to protect council tax payers from excessive increases. In determining the thresholds the Government takes into account increases set in previous years. Data on the council tax levels set by local authorities for 2023-24 is available here. Data on town and parish precepts will be published in due course.

Lee Rowley
Minister of State (Minister for Housing)
17th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to help increase voter registration amongst people with disabilities before the next general election.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) continues to take steps to support the participation of disabled people in the electoral process.

This includes making registering to vote as easy and accessible as possible. Major reforms to our electoral registration system have resulted in record levels of electors registering to vote and participating in our democracy. The online Register to Vote service is also accredited as WCAG AA for online accessibility, which is in line with the Government Digital Service (GDS) service standard targets for GOV services.

It is the responsibility of individual Electoral Registration Officers (ERO) to ensure the registration of all eligible people, and of EROs and the Electoral Commission to raise awareness of how to register. Recognising those responsibilities, DLUHC works closely with organisations representing disabled people and the electoral sector. This includes convening the Accessibility of Elections Working Group, which includes representatives from across the UK and gives a focus to work to support the participation of disabled people in the electoral process.

The Electoral Commission's 2019 report on the accuracy and completeness of electoral registers in Great Britain indicated that 'people with a long-standing physical condition or disability are more likely to be registered (92%) than those without a disability (82%), or those with a longstanding mental condition or disability (83%).'

Lee Rowley
Minister of State (Minister for Housing)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if they will mandate zero carbon heating options in the new Future Homes Standard building regulations and take steps to introduce such new regulations by December 2023.

From 2025, the Future Homes Standard will ensure that new homes produce at least 75 per cent lower CO2 emissions compared to those built to current standards. This represents a considerable improvement in the energy efficiency standards for new homes. Homes built under the Future Homes Standard will be ‘zero carbon ready’, with low carbon heating and very high fabric standards.

We have listened to calls for a swifter and more certain pathway and our work on a full technical specification for the Future Homes Standard has been accelerated. We therefore intend to consult on this in 2023 and introduce the necessary legislation in 2024, ahead of full implementation of the Future Homes Standard in 2025.

The Building Regulations will continue to set a performance-based standard rather than mandating or banning the use of any technologies. However, to make sure that new homes are zero carbon ready we plan to set the performance standard of the Future Homes Standard at a level which means that new homes will not be built with fossil fuel heating. To ensure the Gas Act is in line with the Future Homes Standard, the Energy White Paper also confirmed that we will seek views on the feasibility of ending the connection of new build homes to the natural gas grid.

21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to make (a) heat pumps, (b) solar and (c) other domestic renewables compulsory for all new housing.

The Building Regulations are couched in performance terms and do not prescribe the technologies, materials or fuels to be used. This allows builders and homeowners the flexibility to innovate and select the most practical and cost-effective solutions appropriate in any development. For example, many roofs are not suitable for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels because of the visual amenity, strength, or direction of the building. 

We will need to move away from fossil fuel heating in order to meet our commitment to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The future is likely to see a mix of low carbon technologies used for heating and it is unlikely that there will be a one-size-fits all solution, so multiple technologies will play a role. To make sure that homes built under the Future Buildings Standard are zero carbon ready, from 2025 we intend to set the performance standard at a level which means that new homes will not be built with fossil fuel heating. We expect heat pumps will become the primary heating technology for new homes under the Future Homes Standard and that heat networks will also have an important role to play.

14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals on (a) ensuring contractors are not able to start work on site without evidence of a planning approval notice and (b) seeking consent from all landowners affected by the application to be given before starting work.

Local planning authorities have a range of planning enforcement powers to address unauthorised development, including where development has commenced in breach of appropriate planning permission, for example, before the discharge of pre-commencement conditions. It is the case that the grant of planning permission has no effect on the ownership of the land, and that obtaining planning permission does not automatically mean a development can go ahead. In particular, development cannot proceed without the agreement of the relevant owners.

13th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will make an assessment of the (a) potential merits of making local authorities economically liable for negligence in the exercise of their building control functions and (b) effectiveness of the exercise by those authorities of those functions.

As part of our reforms to building safety, we are establishing a new Building Safety Regulator which will provide enhanced oversight of the building safety regulatory system.

Building work is subject to building control either by the local authority or a private approved inspector. It is the responsibility of the building control body to take all reasonable steps to assess compliance. However, building control is a spot checking process at certain points during the building work.

A compliance certificate issued by a local authorities building control team is not an absolute guarantee of compliance and in no way removes the responsibility of compliance from the builder or installer.

If it is considered that the local authority building control team did not carry out its function properly or was negligent in the exercise of its building control functions, a complaint could be made to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO), the website for which is https://www.lgo.org.uk/.

The LGSCO is a free and impartial service to the general public, which is independent of the Government. Considering that it investigates complaints about local governments along with other authorities and organisations, it is paramount that its decisions cannot be influenced by the Government. As always, it is also possible to apply to the High Court for a judicial review to challenge an Ombudsman’s decision should it be considered to be legally flawed.

23rd Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what his Department's timetable is for publishing an interim response to the report published by the Law Commission entitled Celebrating Marriage: A New Weddings Law.

Marriage will always be one of our most important institutions, and the Government has a duty to consider the implications of any changes to the law in this area very carefully.

The Government is considering the Law Commissions’ 57 recommendations for legislative reform and a response will be published in due course.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
20th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of processing times for probate applications.

The probate service received record levels of applications during 2022 and this has continued to grow with significantly higher levels of receipts during January to March 2023. Whilst HMCTS has increased resources to meet the higher demand the training and upskilling of those new and existing staff has led to applications taking longer in the short term.

HMCTS is focused on increasing outputs to reduce overall timeliness on all types of applications and the average length of time taken for a grant of probate, following receipt of the documents required, is 9 weeks during January to March 2023.

Average waiting times for probate grants, are routinely published on gov.uk via Family Court Statistics Quarterly and currently cover the period up to March 2023.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
3rd Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to make it easier for parents of young people with learning difficulties to apply to the Court of Protection for deputyship.

The Government is committed to addressing barriers to provide better support to all individuals who lack mental capacity.

For example, the Court of Protection has reviewed its application processes, and at the beginning of the year launched a new, simpler online system which has reduced wating times from 24 weeks to 8 weeks following the results of a successful pilot. We have also recently published new guidance for families on how to make financial decisions on behalf of a young person who lacks mental capacity, which includes a guide to the Court of Protection application process. Families may also now be eligible for a fee remission for their applications, even after their child has turned 18.

We will continue to review and revise the process and the court will continue to identify areas for improvement.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what data he holds on the number of fines imposed under the Control of Dogs Order 1992.

The Ministry of Justice publishes information on the number of fines issued by the courts between 2017 and 2021, for offences under the Control of Dogs Order 1992 in the Outcomes by Offence data tool: December 2021.

Information on the number of fines issued for this offence prior to 2017 can be found in the Principal offence proceedings and outcomes by Home Office offence code data tool.


Note: This offence code includes offences ‘Contrary to article 3 of the Control of Dogs Order 1992, and sections 72 and 75 of the Animal Health Act 1981’. This is the most granular level of data we hold on this legislation in the Court Proceedings Database.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Education)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what progress his Department has made on implementing the recommendations from its report of June 2020, Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children Cases; and what approach his Department plans to take on to cases decided prior to full implementation of those recommendations.

We are making good progress against the commitments outlined in our Implementation Plan that was published alongside the ‘Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children Cases’ report.

Changes were brought in as part of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, including automatic eligibility for special measures in the Family Court, the prohibition of cross examination of victims by perpetrators or alleged perpetrators, and a clarification of the law on the use of section 91(14) orders in domestic abuse circumstances. The special measures provision is already in force and the remaining measures are expected to be commenced later this spring.

We are currently undertaking a review into the presumption of parental involvement and its risk of harm exception, in private law children cases. The research for this review is expected to be complete by the end of the year. In February we launched the Integrated Domestic Abuse Court (IDAC) pilot to test a more investigative approach to private law proceedings in courts in Dorset and North Wales.

On 26 March 2021, we launched the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme, which offers up to £500 towards eligible mediation cases, encouraging people to resolve their disputes outside of court where safe and appropriate to do so. We allocated £3.3m throughout the 2021-22 financial year, helping 6,726 families in the period to mediate on issues around their children. As of 24 April 2022, 7,916 vouchers have been distributed, and we will be making an official announcement on funding for the 2022-23 financial year shortly.

James Cartlidge
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)