Derek Thomas Portrait

Derek Thomas

Conservative - St Ives

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
13th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Science and Technology Committee (Commons)
13th Jul 2015 - 3rd May 2017


Department Event
Wednesday 13th July 2022
09:25
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Third Delegated Legislation Committee - Debate - General Committee
13 Jul 2022, 9:25 a.m.
The draft Common Agricultural Policy (Cross-Compliance Exemptions and Transitional Regulation) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2022
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Department Event
Thursday 14th July 2022
11:30
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sixth Delegated Legislation Committee - Debate - General Committee
14 Jul 2022, 11:30 a.m.
The draft United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 (Exclusions from Market Access Principles: Single-Use Plastics) Regulations 2022
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Department Event
Thursday 8th September 2022
09:30
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Oral questions - Main Chamber
8 Sep 2022, 9:30 a.m.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions)
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Division Votes
Monday 4th July 2022
Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 281 Conservative Aye votes vs 0 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 282 Noes - 217
Speeches
Monday 4th July 2022
Assisted Dying
I thank the hon. Member for Gower (Tonia Antoniazzi) for opening the debate in the way that she did. I …
Written Answers
Thursday 30th June 2022
Hemp: Production
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential …
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
Tweets
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
Tuesday 16th November 2021
The 40th anniversary of the Penlee lifeboat disaster
That this House commemorates the Penlee Lifeboat disaster 40 years ago on 19 December 1981; honours the bravery of the …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Derek Thomas has voted in 464 divisions, and 14 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
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
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(14 debate interactions)
Rishi Sunak (Conservative)
(12 debate interactions)
Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party)
Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights)
(6 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(29 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(11 debate contributions)
View All Department 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

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
26th June 2019
Derek Thomas signed this EDM as a sponsor on Wednesday 26th June 2019

ALCOHOL LABELLING

Tabled by: Fiona Bruce (Conservative - Congleton)
That this House notes that the Chief Medical Officers' guidelines for low-risk drinking were updated in January 2016 to 14 units per week; recognises that consumers have a right to know information about alcohol products so they can make informed choices about their drinking, yet only 16 per cent of …
22 signatures
(Most recent: 3 Sep 2019)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 7
Conservative: 5
Democratic Unionist Party: 3
Liberal Democrat: 2
Scottish National Party: 2
Green Party: 1
Independent: 1
Plaid Cymru: 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.


Derek Thomas has not been granted any Urgent Questions

2 Adjournment Debates led by Derek Thomas

Monday 18th January 2021
Tuesday 15th December 2020

Derek Thomas has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Derek Thomas has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


85 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
3 Other Department Questions
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.

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)
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, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
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, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
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.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether a detailed implementation plan for the National Space Strategy will be published.

The National Space Strategy, published in September 2021, sets out the government’s plans to build one of the most innovative and attractive space economies in the world. Government is already pivoting to build on the success of the strategy’s publication to drive forward its delivery and prioritise commercial and investment enabling activities.

The newly stood-up BEIS Space Directorate is working closely with the Ministry of Defence to develop an implementation plan to guide strategy delivery, as we work through this process a decision will be made on publication. We will engage with industry, academia, and the sector in due course.

BEIS jointly co-chairs the newly established Director-level National Space Board with the Ministry of Defence to oversee and drive delivery of the National Space Strategy’s ambitions and commitments across government. The strategy will be delivered jointly by several government departments and with the support of our thriving space sector: businesses, innovators, entrepreneurs, and space scientists.

Monitoring and evaluating the impact of initiatives against key success factors will be an integral part of delivering the strategy’s vision. Government will work with the space sector on finding the right set of metrics to raise ambition, drive progress and monitor delivery.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial 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.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
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.

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 Education
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.

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
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
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.

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.

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
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
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
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
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)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
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.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
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
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip
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 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.

13th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of enabling personal independent payment claimants who are appealing a decision to retain the use of their Motability vehicle until the conclusion of a Tribunal hearing.

To be eligible for the Motability Scheme, claimants must be in receipt of a qualifying benefit. To keep a Motability car, pending an appeal being heard, DWP would need to continue to pay PIP even though a decision had been made that there was no entitlement. Should the appeal not succeed, this approach would also have created a large non-recoverable overpayment - a considerable cost to the taxpayer.

However, Motability Scheme customers who leave the Scheme due to losing eligibility following a PIP award review now receive a £1,000 Stopped Allowance Payment from Motability providing the vehicle is returned within 8 weeks and in good condition.

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 (Department of Health and Social Care)
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
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
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
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
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 (Department of Health and Social Care)
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.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
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 (Department of Health and Social Care)
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 (Department of Health and Social Care)
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 (Department of Health and Social Care)
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
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
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
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.

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
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
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.

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
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
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.

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
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
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.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
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.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
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.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
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
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
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
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
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.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
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.

Wendy Morton
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
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
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
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
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
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
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
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
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
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.

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
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
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.

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.

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.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
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.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
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.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
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).

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
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.

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
Assistant Whip