Drew Hendry Portrait

Drew Hendry

Scottish National Party - Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey

First elected: 7th May 2015

Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Economy)

(since September 2023)

Foreign Affairs Committee
9th Jan 2023 - 12th Sep 2023
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs)
12th Dec 2022 - 4th Sep 2023
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade)
1st Feb 2021 - 12th Dec 2022
Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill
7th Sep 2022 - 18th Oct 2022
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Jun 2017 - 1st Feb 2021
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Business and Trade Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Transport)
20th May 2015 - 20th Jun 2017


Department Event
Wednesday 6th March 2024
HM Treasury
Financial Statement - Main Chamber
Budget Statement
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Scheduled Event
Wednesday 6th March 2024
09:30
Westminster Hall debate - Westminster Hall
6 Mar 2024, 9:30 a.m.
Introduction of energy rebates for Highlands and Islands
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Select Committee Meeting
Thursday 14th March 2024
12:00
Department Event
Tuesday 19th March 2024
11:30
HM Treasury
Oral questions - Main Chamber
19 Mar 2024, 11:30 a.m.
HM Treasury (including Topical Questions)
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Department Event
Tuesday 7th May 2024
11:30
HM Treasury
Oral questions - Main Chamber
7 May 2024, 11:30 a.m.
HM Treasury (including Topical Questions)
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Division Votes
Tuesday 20th February 2024
Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 39 Scottish National Party Aye votes vs 0 Scottish National Party No votes
Tally: Ayes - 44 Noes - 285
Speeches
Tuesday 27th February 2024
Ukraine: Military Equipment
Ukraine is on the frontline, not only of its own battles, but of those of international democracy and law. We …
Written Answers
Thursday 29th February 2024
National Insurance: Foster Care
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to top up national insurance contributions for individuals who received …
Early Day Motions
Monday 26th February 2024
Mikeysline Hive on the Road project
That this House commends Mikeysline for their continued work in suicide prevention and providing mental health support across the Scottish …
Bills
Wednesday 21st June 2023
Banking and postal services (rural areas) Bill 2022-23
A Bill to set minimum service standards for the provision of banking and postal services in rural areas, including for …
MP Financial Interests
Monday 13th June 2022
1. Employment and earnings
24 May 2022, received £120. Hours: 2 hrs. Fee donated to SNP Inverness Branch. (Registered 08 June 2022)
EDM signed
Monday 26th February 2024
International Court of Justice Ruling on Gaza and the UK’s duties under the Genocide Convention
That this House notes the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 26 January 2024, which found that …
Supported Legislation
Tuesday 6th February 2024
Social energy tariff Bill 2023-24
A Bill to require the Secretary of State to publish proposals for a social tariff for energy.

Division Voting information

During the current Parliament, Drew Hendry has voted in 580 divisions, and 1 time against the majority of their Party.

25 Jan 2022 - Judicial Review and Courts Bill - View Vote Context
Drew Hendry voted No - against a party majority - in line with the party majority and in line with the House
One of 4 Scottish National Party No votes vs 4 Scottish National Party Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 187 Noes - 315
View All Drew Hendry 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
Paul Scully (Conservative)
(25 debate interactions)
Lindsay Hoyle (Speaker)
(25 debate interactions)
David Linden (Scottish National Party)
Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Social Justice)
(25 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
HM Treasury
(102 debate contributions)
Department for International Trade
(74 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
Legislation Debates
United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020
(8,042 words contributed)
Finance Act 2024
(4,222 words contributed)
View All Legislation Debates
View all Drew Hendry's debates

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey 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).

Petitions with highest Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey signature proportion
Petitions with most Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

Make it illegal for retailers and services to decline cash payments.

All businesses (excepting internet-based ones) and public services in which monetary transactions take place should be required by law to accept cash as a method of payment

Weddings take months and even years of intricate planning. Myself and many others believe the maximum number of guests authorised at wedding ceremonies should be increased. The number of guests permitted at weddings should be calculated according to venue capacity.

Extend funding to nightclubs, dance music events and festivals as part of the £1.57bn support package announced by the government for Britain's arts and culture sector to survive the hit from the pandemic. #LetUSDance


Latest EDMs signed by Drew Hendry

7th February 2024
Drew Hendry signed this EDM on Monday 26th February 2024

International Court of Justice Ruling on Gaza and the UK’s duties under the Genocide Convention

Tabled by: Zarah Sultana (Labour - Coventry South)
That this House notes the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 26 January 2024, which found that it is plausible that Israel’s ongoing attacks on the Palestinian people in Gaza are in breach of the Genocide Convention; further notes that the ICJ issued provisional measures, including ordering …
59 signatures
(Most recent: 29 Feb 2024)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 29
Scottish National Party: 19
Independent: 5
Plaid Cymru: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Green Party: 1
Alba Party: 1
Alliance: 1
26th February 2024
Drew Hendry signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Sunday 25th February 2024

Mikeysline Hive on the Road project

Tabled by: Drew Hendry (Scottish National Party - Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)
That this House commends Mikeysline for their continued work in suicide prevention and providing mental health support across the Scottish Highlands; notes their most recent project Hive on the Road offers mental health support via a fully equipped mobile unit across the Highlands and Islands; recognises that this mobile unit …
6 signatures
(Most recent: 28 Feb 2024)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 5
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
View All Drew Hendry's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Drew Hendry, 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.


Drew Hendry has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Drew Hendry has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

4 Bills introduced by Drew Hendry


A Bill to make provision about the application of the energy price cap in relation to households without mains gas supply; to require the Secretary of State and Ofgem to make proposals for measures to ensure that households do not have to pay more for energy because they do not have access to mains gas supply; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 40%

Last Event - 2nd Reading
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to set minimum service standards for the provision of banking and postal services in rural areas, including for the provision of services through physical outlets; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading
Wednesday 21st June 2023
(Read Debate)

A Bill to require the transfer of land and assets in Scotland currently in the ownership of Network Rail Limited to a body nominated by the Scottish Government; to transfer responsibilities for the management of the land and assets transferred and for the management and accountability for rail infrastructure in Scotland to the Scottish Government; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 15th March 2017
(Read Debate)

A Bill to require distance sellers to provide purchasers with a lowest available delivery cost option; to introduce a scheme for a fair delivery quality mark for responsible retailers; to establish penalties where vendors advertise free delivery but subsequently impose charges or conditions; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Wednesday 24th February 2016

630 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
2 Other Department Questions
13th Dec 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of the UK becoming a signatory to UNICEF's Intergovernmental Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to PQ 73892 on 22 November 2021.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
6th May 2020
What assessment she has made of whether the covid-19 outbreak has had a disproportionate effect on women's job security.

The Government is actively monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on the labour market, including the impact on women and on other groups.

However, it is too early to draw any firm conclusions. The next ONS labour market statistics will be released in May, covering the 3-month period up to the end of March. Analysis of this and other data will provide an indication of early impacts of Covid-19 on the labour market.

11th May 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he is taking steps to prevent the fraudulent copying of Government web pages to charge users for services.

Any misuse of GOV.UK’s brand elements (such as the logo, crown, and Government Digital Service (GDS) Transport typeface) is illegal, and these elements are protected by crown-copyright.

Digital, cyber security and brand protection teams across government work closely with the National Cyber Security Centre to detect and respond to fraudulent sites posing as government, and in doing so to protect the UK public from scams.

A range of monitoring tools and intelligence sources are used to identify these scams, and members of the public are encouraged to report these (e.g., directly to NCSC, or to the relevant government department). Government continues to improve these capabilities, as it will always remain challenging to reliably and rapidly detect all fraudulent sites.

Once detected, multiple techniques can be used to remove these sites from the Internet or otherwise reduce their impact on the public. This includes, but is not limited to, coordinating with industry partners to take down the web domain or remove the underlying systems hosting the site from the Internet, taking direct legal action, or escalating to law enforcement.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
19th Apr 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the Infected Blood Inquiry’s Second Interim Report, published on 5 April 2023, if he will make it his policy to ensure prompt payment of compensation in line with Sir Brian Langstaff's interim recommendations.

I refer the honourable Member to the statement made on Wednesday 19 April 2023, in response to the publication of the Infected Blood Inquiry’s Second Interim Report.

27th Mar 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the UK Integrated Security Fund will have the same objectives for tackling (a) conflict and (b) gender equality as there were through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund.

The UK Integrated Security Fund (UKISF) will expand upon the existing Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), with a wider remit, funding projects both at home and overseas to tackle some of the most complex national security challenges facing the UK and its partners. The new Fund will also bring into scope some key existing programmes, such as the National Cyber Programme.

Importantly this change from the CSSF is designed to ensure broader long-term integration of cross-government National Security efforts. Combining additional funding from other programming, the UKISF will have a budget of almost £1 billion, helping keep the UK and its people safe.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
18th Jul 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he has made an assessment of the potential impact of the Government's Cost of Living Business Tsar's recommendation on independent retailers that food businesses reduce the retail price of food.

The Cost of Living Business Tsar, David Buttress, has and will continue to engage business of all sizes as part of his work to help households cope with the cost of living crisis. He is working closely with business associations to ensure that SMEs - including independent retailers - are able to contribute to this work. The Cost of Living Business Tsar will also work with officials to ensure that deals developed as part of his initiative are ethical and help UK consumers.

Food prices are set by businesses and it is not for the UK Government to set retail food prices or comment on day-today commercial decisions by companies. We continue to monitor food prices using the ONS inflation figures.

13th Jul 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the report by Sir Robert Francis entitled Compensation and Redress for the Victims of Infected Blood, Recommendations for a Framework, what impact assessment has been undertaken relating to the time taken in making funds available.

There are a number of complex issues arising from the recommendations in the Compensation Framework Study. These issues are under active consideration across government, including consideration of Sir Robert’s evidence to the independent Inquiry on 11-12 July. I will update the House as this work progresses.

23rd Jun 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the report by Sir Robert Francis entitled, Compensation and Redress for the Victims of Infected Blood, Recommendations for a Framework, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing additional funding allocations to ensure payments for compensation to those affected by contaminated blood products is not funded from existing health and social care budgets.

I refer the Hon. member to the answer given to PQ 16932 on 20 June.

15th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether his Department has carried out an impact assessment of extending the delay on EU trade import controls beyond October 2021 on the competitiveness of UK exporters compared with importers; and whether he has plans to publish any such assessment.

I refer the hon. Member to the Written Statement of 14th of September, which sets out the reasons for the change to the timetable for introducing border import controls on goods from the EU.

The Government is working closely with the Devolved Administrations on the delay to the introduction of controls, especially on controls and checks on Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods which are a devolved matter.

15th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the devolved Administrations (a) were consulted by his Department and (b) consented to the decision to extend the delay on EU trade import controls beyond October 2021.

I refer the hon. Member to the Written Statement of 14th of September, which sets out the reasons for the change to the timetable for introducing border import controls on goods from the EU.

The Government is working closely with the Devolved Administrations on the delay to the introduction of controls, especially on controls and checks on Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods which are a devolved matter.

16th Mar 2020
To ask the Prime Minister, what assessment he has made of the merits of providing British Sign Language during live televised statements.

Following discussions with the BBC, they have confirmed they will provide a sign language service during official statements for the foreseeable future.

13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, whether she has made an assessment of the effectiveness of the Motor Ombudsman at helping motorists to (a) resolve disputes with and (b) obtain redress in disputes about vehicles.

The Motor Ombudsman is a non-statutory ombudsman, set up as a voluntary scheme by the industry and independent of government. The Motor Ombudsman is accredited and regularly audited by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute against key principles including neutrality and effective complaints handling.

The Motor Ombudsman's activities are documented in their annual reports, complying with the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015. These reports are accessible on its website.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
18th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what recent estimate her Department has made of the amount of money owed by insolvent businesses under the (a) Bounce Back Loan Scheme, (b) Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and (c) Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme.

The Department does not have a recent estimate of the amount of money owed by insolvent businesses under (a) Bounce Back Loan Scheme, (b) Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and (c) Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme. This is because the Department does not have full data on any partial repayments which were made by businesses before they entered insolvency proceedings.

The Insolvency Service is taking action to address any wrongdoing in this area: as of 31 March 2023, the number of directors disqualified for this misconduct related to these schemes totals 602 and the number of bankruptcy restrictions totals 163. In addition, 6 criminal Prosecutions for allegations related to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme had concluded, with 3 immediate custodial sentences and 3 suspended custodial sentences.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
11th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of the Competition and Market Authority's regulatory enforcement powers at ensuring competition within the supermarket sector.

Responsibility for investigating individual and market-wide competition issues in the UK falls to the independent Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The Government has ensured that the CMA has significant powers to investigate and act if it finds that companies are behaving anti-competitively in a market. The Government is strengthening these powers further as part of the reforms in the Digital Markets Competition and Consumers Bill.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
22nd May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, with reference to the Competition and Markets Authority's press release entitled CMA update on action to help contain cost of living pressures, published on 15 May 2023, whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of increasing the Competition and Markets Authority's regulatory enforcement powers in respect of ensuring businesses respond to the authority's requests for evidence.

The Competition and Markets Authority has powers to issue civil sanctions for failures to comply with a requirement to produce information under Part 1 of the Competition Act 1998 and Parts 3 and 4 of the Enterprise Act 2002. The Government is strengthening these powers as part of the reforms in the Digital Markets Competition and Consumers Bill, including increasing the maximum penalty that can be imposed on a business.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
7th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing a consumer rights and support service ombudsmen.

Government published its response to the 2021 ‘Reforming Competition and Consumer Policy’ consultation in Spring 2022. This set out Government’s intention to continue to consider ways in which consumers can be supported in finding routes to redress, working with Citizens Advice, enforcers and Alternative Dispute Resolution providers to achieve this.

Consumers should report problems to the Government funded Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133, www.citizensadvice.org/. The helpline offers free advice to consumers on their rights and how to take their complaints forward. The service can also refer on complaints to Trading Standards for further appropriate enforcement action.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether her Department has made an estimate of the future energy surplus the Scottish Highlands will produce per capita by 2030.

The Department has made no estimate of the potential future energy surplus of the Scottish Highlands. The department’s Energy and Emissions Projections provide an estimate of future UK demand for energy, accounting for existing or near-final policies, and how future demand for electricity might be supplied, but these projections are at national level only.

Andrew Bowie
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what steps she is taking to encourage communities to support renewable energy network connection infrastructure in their localities.

Community support is critical to increasing the scale and pace of development of the electricity transmission network as we transition to net zero.

That is why, in November 2023, the government published its community benefit proposals for communities living near new transmission network infrastructure.

This includes publishing guidance this year covering benefits of £200,000/km for overhead lines, £40,000/km for underground cables, and £200,000 per substation. In addition, properties closest to new transmission network infrastructure will receive electricity bill discounts of up to £1,000 per year for 10 years.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what discussions her Department has had with Ofgem on the equitability of standing charges.

I regularly meet with Ofgem to discuss the energy retail market, including standing charges. Ofgem’s recent Call for Input (CfI) on standing charges closed on January 19th 2024. The Call for Input seeks to gain greater understanding on how standing charges are applied to energy bills and what alternatives could be considered. Government welcomes this and looks forward to Ofgem’s conclusions.

Further information on the CfI may be found online at: www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/launch-review-standing-charges-energy-bills

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether her Department has made an assessment of the economic impact of Ofgem's current energy pricing structures on (a) businesses and (b) residents of the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

The setting of tariffs is a commercial matter for individual suppliers. Suppliers can decide how they structure their tariffs as long as they do not lead to households paying above the relevant maximums set by Ofgem under the price cap. There is no price cap for businesses.

To help protect North of Scotland consumers from high local electricity distribution costs, the Government’s Hydro Benefit Replacement Scheme provides an annual cross-subsidy of around £112m. It is funded via suppliers across GB, saving a typical North of Scotland household over £60 each year.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, with reference to the consultation outcome entitled Review of electricity market arrangements, published on 7 March 2023, if he will make an assessment of the adequacy of energy infrastructure in the Scottish Highlands.

The UK has a secure and diverse energy system. Whilst energy policy is a matter reserved to the UK Government under the devolution settlement, planning, including energy infrastructure planning, is devolved to the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government published National Planning Framework 4 in February 2023 which has sections on energy and climate change. This is therefore a matter for the Scottish Government.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
26th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether her Department has had discussions with Ofgem on the projected number of households which (a) will be impacted by the Radio Teleswitch Service switch off and (b) won't be moved onto new Smart Meter metering options in time for the switch off.

Ofgem’s recent Open Letter confirmed the numbers of households reliant on the Radio Teleswitching Service: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/open-letter-smart-meter-installations-prepayment-and-radio-teleswitch-customers

The Government expects energy suppliers to upgrade households with RTS to smart meters in good time in advance of the switch off. Households should contact their energy supplier to arrange their upgrades as soon as possible so they can continue to benefit from multi rate tariffs.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
22nd Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department has made of the impact of wide area network coverage on the availability of smart meters.

The Data Communications Company (DCC) provides Wide Area Network (WAN) coverage for smart meters to at least 99.25% of premises across Great Britain. The DCC is also obligated under its licence conditions to explore solutions to increase the overall level of coverage even further.

Ofgem is responsible for regulating the DCC against these obligations.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
22nd Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether she has had discussions with Ofgem about the level of compensation for customers from Eon Next for poor customer service.

DESNZ ministers and officials meet regularly with Ofgem to discuss a range of issues relating to energy markets and consumers.

As the independent regulator, Ofgem is responsible for ensuring licensed energy suppliers are complying with their rules. Details of Ofgem’s ongoing supplier compliance and enforcement activity, including individual decisions, are at this link https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/energy-policy-and-regulation/compliance-and-enforcement/retail-compliance-and-enforcement.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of the powers of the Energy Ombudsman to implement its rulings in (a) full and (b) a timely manner.

The Energy Ombudsman is an independent, not for profit company appointed by Ofgem as the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) body for the energy sector under the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes Regulations 2015. As the Competent Authority, it is the responsibility of Ofgem to carry out an assessment of the Energy Ombudsman’s performance. Ofgem does this every two years to ensure the company meets the approval criteria as an ADR body. A copy of the most recent assessment for the period of 2019-2021 is available on Ofgem’s website at: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/biennial-assessment-ombudsman-services-under-adr-regulations-2019-2021.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether her Department has had recent discussions with energy companies on the impact of reduced network coverage for smart meters on the ability of people to install domestic electric vehicle chargers.

Direct Communications Company (DCC) Wide Area Network (WAN) coverage for smart meters has no impact on the ability of energy consumers to install electric vehicle charging points at their properties.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
18th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of the UK's progress on the 2050 targets for oil and gas usage; and whether that progress meets the recommendation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to reduce oil and gas usage by 4% a year.

The Government’s domestic and international net zero targets are consistent with the Paris Agreement ambition to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. The Government’s aim is to accelerate the reduction in oil and gas use and the Government has made progress in this area, including through the expansion of renewables which will reduce gas used for power generation. However, as the Climate Change Committee’s own analysis shows, the UK will still need oil and gas as it makes the transition to net zero by 2050.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
6th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether he has had discussions with Ofgem on reported instances of conflicts of interest between June 2021 and April 2023.

No discussions have taken place. However, Ofgem Directors and Director Generals are employed as Civil Servants and, as such, are expected to abide by the Civil Service Code. It is expected that Ofgem staff will have declared any potential conflicts to the relevant senior manager in Ofgem, as set out under Ofgem’s Conflict of Interest Policy, which can be found here: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/docs/2013/03/conflicts-of-interest-at-ofgem.pdf

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
6th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what steps his Department has taken to help ensure the adequate provision of (a) larger 19kg canisters and (b) other gas products by Calor Gas across the Highlands and rural Scotland ahead of winter 2023-24; and whether the Government has had recent discussions with Calor Gas on the provision of those products.

The Department regularly engages with the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) supply industry through its trade association Liquid Gas UK. There are several suppliers and Liquid Gas UK provide a postcode search facility to help consumers identify those closest to them (https://www.liquidgasuk.org/domestic/supplier-search). The major suppliers have assured the Department that there will be a sufficient supply of 19kg cylinders across the UK, including Scotland. The industry will also have additional stocks arriving over the coming months to account for increased demand over the winter.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether her Department has made a recent comparative estimate of the economic cost of delivering baseload provision to the national grid from (a) pumped-hydro storage and (b) new nuclear solutions.

Data on cost estimates for electricity generation technologies and cost estimates for storage technologies along with their methodologies, data and assumptions are found in the Electricity Generation Costs and Storage Cost and Technical Assumptions reports respectively, published by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. These are not directly comparable for pumped hydro storage and nuclear generation given the different cost base and operating characteristics.

These reports can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electricity-generation-costs-2023 and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/storage-cost-and-technical-assumptions-for-electricity-storage-technologies.

Andrew Bowie
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
11th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether he has made an assessment of the compatibility of the social energy tariff system in Italy with the UK energy market.

As set out in the autumn statement, the Government is exploring the best approach to consumer protection from April 2024, as part of wider retail market reforms. The Government has looked at a range of international comparators, including Italy, although as energy markets and consumer circumstances vary between countries, the specific situation in the UK will need to be assessed.

The Government will set out its proposals in due course.

Up to then, in response to higher prices, the Government has put in place the Energy Price Guarantee and provided significant additional support to help those who need it most through this winter and into 2023-24.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
20th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what discussions her Department has had with energy providers on extending smart meter coverage in the Scottish Highlands.

Today, the Data Communications Company (DCC) provides Wide Area Network (WAN) coverage for smart meters to at least 99.5% of premises across its ‘North’ region.

The DCC also has a license obligation to explore solutions for increasing WAN coverage even further. It is currently developing a business case exploring such solutions, including an option for using already available internet-connected Consumer Access Devices to provide smart services. The consumer would need to have their own broadband connection and be prepared to enable the Consumer Access Device to utilise it. The Department expects to receive initial proposals from DCC shortly for review.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
11th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential impact of the time taken to make new National Grid connections on new renewable energy projects in the UK.

The Government recognises that lengthy connection dates offered to renewable energy projects can create delays. Work is underway to release network capacity and improve the connection process, which should bring connection dates forward for renewable developers, amongst others. Government will publish a connections action plan jointly with Ofgem in the summer to build on this work and set out longer-term reforms to ensure that network connections support our net zero and energy security objectives.

Andrew Bowie
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
11th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether officials in his Department have had discussions with National Grid on decreasing the waiting time for new grid connections for renewable energy projects.

The Government is working with Ofgem and network companies, including National Grid, to reduce connection timescales. This includes through the Electricity System Operator-led Connections Reform Project.

Andrew Bowie
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
24th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the Energy Bill Support Scheme provides equal help to each household when multiple householders have a shared single domestic energy connection for billing purposes but are classed as separate households for council tax and other official purposes.

The Energy Bills Support Scheme provides one payment to each domestic electricity meter in 6 instalments. In instances where a single domestic meter supplies more than one household, one EBSS discount will have been paid and shared between the households. This approach was taken so that delivery via electricity suppliers could commence in time to support households over the winter.

The Government has provided further support to help with the energy bills including the Energy Price Guarantee which reduces the unit cost of electricity and gas so that a typical household in Great Britain will save around £700 this winter.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
15th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether his Department has had recent discussions with the Competition and Markets Authority on the adequacy of audit systems for assessing the delivery of the cold weather priority initiative by liquefied petroleum gas suppliers.

Liquid Gas UK is the trade association for suppliers of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Cold Weather Priority Delivery is one of the principles for the Customer Charter to which their members agree. Liquid Gas UK provides an ombudsman scheme as an alternative dispute resolution service for customer disputes.

Officials from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero maintain regular contact with Liquid Gas UK to monitor threats to security of supply.

The Competition and Markets Authority administers the Liquefied Petroleum Gas market orders, which are intended to make it easier for customers to switch LPG suppliers.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
15th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if he will make an assessment of the potential benefits of working with alternative fuel provider trade bodies.to reduce the evidence requirement for householders in relation to the Alternative Fuel Payment..

In developing the scheme, the Government worked closely with stakeholders across the country including with the relevant trade bodies. Applicants will have to provide evidence to demonstrate use of alternative fuels as their main heating source in order to reduce the risk of fraud e.g. by receipt/delivery note. The Government was assured by the industry that most alternative fuel users are routinely provided with suitable documentation through their fuel provider.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
15th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing the estates of deceased people who were alive during the qualifying period to apply to the Energy Bill Support Scheme Alternative Funding Scheme.

The eligibility of applicants for the EBSS Alternative Funding is determined at the time of their application. Therefore, the estates of deceased people will not be able to apply on behalf of a deceased person as an application can only be made by or on behalf of someone who is living and occupying an address.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
14th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether he has had recent discussions with Ofgem on taking steps to ensure that Alternative Fuel Payments are received by domestic customers and not retained by energy providers.

The Department regularly engages with Ofgem on these matters and will discuss any issues as they arise. There is no evidence energy suppliers are retaining Alternative Fuel Payment grants. Electricity suppliers are currently subject to compliance monitoring and the Department will properly assure and audit payments. Any unused funds will be fully reconciled and recovered.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
13th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what steps his Department is taking to ensure caravan tenants paying their landlord directly for energy, who live on domestic private land, are able to access off-grid energy support payments.

Caravan tenants on domestic private land who pay their landlord directly for energy, and where the landlord holds a commercial electricity contract, are eligible to apply for support through the Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding (EBSS AF) which launched on 27 February, if they meet full eligibility requirements. A landlord with a domestic electricity contract will already have been receiving the Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS) automatically through their electricity supplier and must ensure this is passed through to the caravan resident in a just and reasonable manner.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
28th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if he will make an estimate of the number of businesses that have entered new fixed period energy price agreements in the last six months.

The Government does not currently hold data for all business energy contracts. Of those subject to Energy Bill Relief Scheme support, it is currently estimated is that up to 400,000 electricity contracts and 100,000 gas contracts were fixed since September 2022. This would not capture any contracts that may be fixed on an annual, or less frequent basis, and were done so prior to this point. The Government does not have information on the number of businesses these contracts equate to, as a single business can have multiple contracts and would also expect some businesses to have fixed both electricity and gas contracts.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
24th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what discussions his Department has had with Ofgem on potential regulatory enforcement action for companies that do not enable Total Heating Total Control customers to change metering systems.

The smart metering system has been designed to enable a wide range of tariffs, independently of the Radio Teleswitch Service, which Total Heating Total Control tariffs rely on. Energy suppliers are obligated under their licence conditions to taking all reasonable steps to install a smart meter where a meter is fitted for the first time or when an existing meter needs replacing.

The regulator Ofgem is responsible for ensuring energy suppliers comply with their regulatory obligations and take any necessary enforcement action. The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero works closely with Ofgem on monitoring supplier performance.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether his Department has had discussions with Liquified Petroleum Gas providers on securing deliveries to rural communities during periods of inclement weather.

The supply of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) remains sufficient to meet customer demand across the UK, including those in rural communities. The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero works with industry to monitor the LPG supply position and proactively take steps to mitigate any risks that may affect distribution to customers and essential services.

Members of the sector trade association, Liquid Gas UK, signed up to a Customer Charter, which includes a Cold Weather Priority Delivery scheme to ensure that the elderly or chronically ill will not run out of energy. Further information can be found at: https://www.liquidgasuk.org/domestic/liquid-gas-uk-customer-charter-switch-lpg-supplier.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
5th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, how many and what proportion of the new telecom masts being built through the Shared Rural Network programme are planned to be used by more than one mobile network operator.

Masts built as part of the government funded part of the Shared Rural Network, which will deliver new 4G coverage in total not spot areas where there is currently none, will be available to be shared by all four Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). Initial plans developed in 2021 suggested that approximately 300 new masts would be needed. However, we now expect to need fewer masts than originally planned and work is ongoing to establish the exact number.

The programme will also look to utilise existing infrastructure where possible and this includes upgrading some of the 292 Home Office Extended Area Service masts across England, Scotland and Wales making them shareable between all four MNOs for the programme.

We are unable to provide the precise number of new or upgraded masts that may be delivered as part of the privately funded element of the Shared Rural Network, which will tackle partial not spot areas of the UK which have coverage from at least one but not all four MNOs.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, whether she has considered the potential merits of increasing mobile network sharing in rural 4G partial Not-Spots to help increase emergency call coverage.

People living in rural 4G partial not-spots are already able to make emergency calls, as the Code of Practice for the Public Emergency Call Service requires that any call from a mobile phone is able to roam onto another mobile network free-of-charge to make an emergency call if they have no signal from their own provider.

In addition, through our £1 billion Shared Rural Network deal with the four mobile network operators, we will also be delivering new masts in total not-spot areas which will deliver 4G coverage for the first time. This will improve the safety of those living, working and visiting the area by enabling calls to 999 to be made through the mobile network for the first time as well as through the fixed telephone network.

6th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what recent assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of competition in the fibre broadband sector in Scotland.

The Government’s Statement of Strategic Priorities for Ofcom, published in 2019, states that we want to see regulation that incentivises network investment and ensures fair and effective competition between new and existing network operators. Government and Ofcom have progressed multiple interventions to improve competition in the UK broadband sector, for example by providing competitors with effective access to Openreach’s ducts and poles. These interventions also benefit Scotland, since telecoms is a reserved matter.

Based on our pro-competition policies we now have a thriving market in the UK of over 100 providers investing nearly £40bn rolling out gigabit broadband all over the country. The UK gigabit capable network now stands at c.78.0%, up from one in ten in November 2019, and the coverage in Scotland stands at c.71.5%, up from less than one in ten in November 2019*.

*Thinkbroadband data

26th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to help people who live in areas without adequate radio coverage access alternatives to standard smart meters.

As many households and small businesses as possible should benefit from smart metering. The Data Communications Company (DCC), which operates the national communications infrastructure for smart metering, is obliged under its licence to provide communications coverage to at least 99.25% of premises across Great Britain.

In addition, the DCC is also required to seek to provide coverage where it is practicable and cost proportionate, and to assess opportunities to increase the overall level of coverage. Ofgem is responsible for regulating the DCC against its licence conditions.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
19th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reviewing (a) liquefied petroleum gas metered estates ability to change suppliers and (b) the information provided to householders about their options to switch by their liquefied petroleum gas supplier when contract terms end.

The Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Investigation Orders made by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) make it easier for customers to switch suppliers. There are separate Orders for individual householders and residents of metered estates. The operation of the orders is monitored by the CMA’s Remedies Monitoring Team. Further information, including a guide for customers, with contact details for the CMA, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/liquefied-petroleum-gas-lpg-market-orders-and-calculator.

The LPG suppliers' trade association, ‘Liquid Gas UK’ (LGUK), offers a customer charter, an Ombudsman scheme and a post code search facility on its website to find alternative suppliers.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
10th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has had with Ofgem on any actions they plan to take to prevent energy companies from increasing direct debit payments for customers when those customers have not been informed of those increases occurring.

Ministers and officials regularly meet with Ofgem to discuss a range of energy retail issues.

In 2022 Ofgem undertook a market compliance review and told a number of energy suppliers to take immediate and urgent action, after finding a range of weaknesses or failings with direct debits.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State has also written to domestic suppliers setting out his expectations on consumer direct debits.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
10th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has (a) made an assessment of and (b) holds any data on the length of time it takes for customers requesting that an energy company repay a positive account balance for that balance to be repaid.

Regulatory compliance is a matter for Ofgem. The Department does not hold data on this issue.

Under existing rules set by Ofgem, suppliers must automatically refund outstanding credit balances within 10 days of issuing a final bill. Suppliers must also refund accumulated credit on request by an existing customer in a timely manner unless they have reasonable grounds not to. They must explain the reason to the customer.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
10th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has made an assessment of energy company compliance in instances when customers ask for a positive account balance to be refunded.

Regulatory compliance is a matter for Ofgem. The Department does not hold data on this issue.

Under existing rules set by Ofgem, suppliers must automatically refund outstanding credit balances within 10 days of issuing a final bill. Suppliers must also refund accumulated credit on request by an existing customer in a timely manner unless they have reasonable grounds not to. They must explain the reason to the customer.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
16th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when his Department plans to finalise plans for the distribution of Alternative Fuel Payments for people who live in off-grid properties.

The Government is providing a £200 Alternative Fuel Payment (AFP) to help those households in Great Britain which use alternative fuels such as biomass or heating oil to meet energy costs this winter. Most households eligible for the AFP support in Great Britain, such as those in off-grid properties, will receive payment automatically via their electricity supplier in February. Those households that will need to apply for the AFP, for example because they do not have a relationship with an electricity supplier, will be able to do so in February.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
16th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to policy paper, How households and businesses will be supported by the Energy Prices Bill, what estimate his Department has made of the potential level of arrears households have accrued while awaiting payments from the Alternative Fuel Payment Alternative Fund since the announcement of that fund.

Since publication of the referenced policy paper, the Government has doubled support for alternatively fuelled households in recognition of the cost-of-living pressures caused by these rising fuel costs. This support will be available in February.

The Government is monitoring prices over the coming months and will consider further intervention if required to protect UK households from extraordinary fuel prices.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
16th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has had with manufacturers of power distribution products on (a) supply chain support for products needed by Ukraine and (b) ensuring provision of those products to Ukraine.

The Department of International Trade is working with relevant industry associations and the UK supply chain to identify where UK expertise and equipment can be provided to help with vital repair of Ukraine’s energy supply infrastructure. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office are working with the Ukrainian Government and Energy Community Secretariat to deliver these products.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
17th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to extend the Energy Bill Relief Scheme for Post Offices after March 2023.

The Government has committed to carrying out a review of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme to inform decisions on future support after March 2023. Over the course of the review, the Government will be engaging widely to understand those who are most in need of further support. The Government cannot confirm which sectors will receive further support after 31st March 2023 until the review has concluded. The findings of the review will be published by the 31st December 2022.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
16th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the adequacy of the Alternative Fuel Payment in the context of the rate of consumer price index inflation in October 2022.

The Government has doubled support to £200 for alternatively fuelled households, in recognition of the pressures caused by these rising fuel costs. The Government is committed to delivering this payment to households as soon as possible this Winter. Further information on the delivery and timing of these payments will be announced in due course.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
12th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of providing payments through the Energy Bills Support Scheme to people living in (a) bedsits within another dwelling and (b) houses of multiple occupancy that have a shared energy bill.

The Energy Bills Support Scheme is delivering a £400 non-repayable government discount to British households with a domestic electricity meter over six months from October to March to help 29 million households with energy bills over the winter.

On 29 July, the Government announced funding for alternative support to help households which are ineligible for this scheme. The details for this will be announced later. The Energy Price Guarantee has also been recently introduced by the government. It is automatic and applies to all households and provides further help in dealing with the challenges of high energy bills over the next two years.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
11th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what actions his department are taking to ensure social housing residents who use (a) biomass, and (b) solid fuel, as their source of heating or hot water are able to access the £100 off-grid energy financial support payment.

The Government is aiming to make this process as simple as possible for customers. Households eligible for these payments in Great Britain will receive £100 as a credit on their electricity bill this winter. For Northern Ireland the Government is working with electricity suppliers to explore how the payment could be delivered via electricity bills under a similar delivery model to Energy Bills Support Scheme.

Households who are eligible for but who do not receive the Alternative Fuel Payment (AFP) because they do not have a relationship with an electricity supplier for example, will receive the £100 via the AFP Alternative Fund which will be provided by a designated body.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how rural (a) businesses and (b) households that use (i) kerosene and (ii) generators for (A) heating and (B) electricity will be able to access the financial support made available by his Department in winter 2022.

The Government is working at speed to deliver support for off-grid consumers and will publish details shortly.

Households not on standard gas or electricity contracts – such as some living in park homes or on heat networks - will receive support equivalent to both the Energy Price Guarantee and the Energy Bills Support Scheme.

Equivalent support to the Energy Bills Relief Scheme will also be provided for non-domestic consumers who use heating oil or alternative fuels instead of gas. Further detail on this will be announced shortly.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department is taking steps to ensure households who rely for heating and hot water on (a) district biomass, (b) domestic biomass and (c) solid fuel will receive the planned off-grid energy support during Winter 2022.

The Alternative Fuel Payment will provide a one-off payment to UK households that use alternative fuels for heating. This will come in addition to the £400 provided by the Energy Bills Support Scheme, and a further £800 of one-off support provided to eight million of the most vulnerable households to help with the cost of living.

The Government will continue to monitor the prices of alternative fuels and will consider further intervention if required to protect UK households from extraordinary fuel prices.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the announcement on 21 September 2022 that the Government will take steps to identify the most vulnerable non-domestic customers and how it will continue to assist them with energy costs after March 2023, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) including butchers on the list of the most vulnerable non-domestic customers and (b) providing a higher level of immediate interim energy cost support for small and medium sized businesses such as butchers which are high energy users and which the Government classed as essential retailers during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has committed to carrying out a review of the operation of the scheme in order to inform decisions on future support after March 2023.

The review will focus on identifying the most at risk non-domestic customers and how the Government will continue assisting them with energy costs.

It will consider how effective the scheme has been in giving support to at risk non-domestic customers and which groups of non-domestic customers (by sector, size or geography) remain particularly at risk to energy price rises, taking into account the latest price position and other cost pressures.

During the review, the Government will work closely with business, interested government departments and devolved administrations. The findings of the review will be published by January 2023.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 20 September 2022 to Question 45900 on Natural Gas: Safety, if he will (a) make an estimate of the average costs of capping a gas main to enable the installation of carbon free energy systems, and (b) make an assessment of the potential impact of those costs on the ability of owners of properties connected to the gas mains to afford to install carbon free energy systems; and what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of allowing suppliers to require customers to meet those costs.

The cost of capping a gas main when a customer decides they do not want to continue to use gas for cooking or heating will depend upon the costs the supplier incurs to provide the service requested. It is a commercial matter for the supplier to decide whether to pass on those costs to the customer. The customer may ask for a breakdown of the costs and then compare what other suppliers charge for this service. If they find a cheaper supplier, they can switch supply and then request the service.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an estimate of the average cost of employment tribunals for employees; and if he will make an assessment the affordability of those costs for workers.

Data from the Survey of Employment Tribunal Awards 2018 found that the median cost of seeking advice or representation for an employment tribunal claim for claimants is approximately £2500.

The cost to claimants can be influenced by several factors including the extent to which they use paid advice and representation, the type and complexity of the claim, and its outcome.

22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions his Department has had with ACAS about (a) improving access to mediation during employment disputes and (b) helping ensure employers engage with mediation services.

The Department frequently engages with ACAS on all aspects of alternative dispute resolution service, including access to mediation and conciliation.

7th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has had discussions with Ofgem on ensuring that energy suppliers do not inappropriately raise customers Direct Debit amounts when customers are regularly in credit.

Ministers and officials regularly meet with Ofgem to discuss a range of issues relating to the energy market.

Ofgem has taken robust action requiring suppliers with moderate or severe weaknesses to review their direct debit arrangements, submit an action plan and make repayments if needed (https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/press-release-ofgem-requires-improvements-energy-suppliers-customer-direct-debits).

Following consultation, direct debit rules for suppliers have been strengthened (https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/decision-statutory-consultation-strengthening-fixed-direct-debit-rules).

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions his Department has had with representatives of Ofgem on microgeneration feed-in tariff rates for domestic home producers.

The Department works closely with Ofgem to discuss a range of topics, including microgeneration feed-in tariff, and matters discussed include areas of operations and policy. Further information regarding feed-in tariff rates can be found on Ofgem’s website:

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-and-social-schemes/feed-tariffs-fit/tariffs-and-payments.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions his officials have had with representatives of Ofgem on ensuring adequate support for customers capping gas mains to install carbon free energy solutions.

BEIS Ministers and officials regularly meet with Ofgem representatives to discuss a range of topics related to energy markets.

Gas meters are owned by Meter Asset Providers (MAPs). Energy suppliers pay a monthly fee to MAPs to rent each meter and the cost is passed onto consumers through the standing charge. If a consumer no longer wants to use gas the supplier can remove the meter and cap the supply. The cost for this service is a commercial matter because the supplier will incur costs from the MAP for removing the meter and supplying an engineer to undertake the work.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
21st Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has had recent discussions with representatives of the oil and gas industry on preventing third country purchasers from reselling UK oil and gas products to sanctioned Russian organisations as a means of enabling sanction evasion.

The Government has implemented multiple prohibitions on the export of energy-related goods and services to Russia, including on supply and delivery via third countries. The Government works routinely with both international partners and industry representatives to ensure sanctions are robustly enforced. The Government continues regular engagement with representatives from the oil and gas industry, including official level bilaterally and ministerially chaired monthly meetings of the Oil Taskforce, ensuring that industry is ready to comply with the ban on imports of all Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
21st Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that UK commercial supply chains do not include (a) products, (b) minerals and (c) organic matter looted from areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK Government has prohibited the import of all goods that come from non-government controlled Ukrainian territory in Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk.

HMRC is responsible for enforcement of UK Trade Sanctions and Strategic Export controls working closely with Border Force.

HMRC has implemented a number of measures which aim to prevent the exportation and importation of restricted goods and has a range of enforcement options.

The Government has published guidance pages on gov.uk to ensure business activities are compliant with the current and any forthcoming sanctions against Russia.

Businesses seeking advice should approach the Export Support Service (ESS), a single point of enquiry for businesses and traders in relation to trading with Ukraine, Russia or Belarus.

21st Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support the public identification of foreign-based businesses that continue to trade with individuals and entities sanctioned as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Enforcement of sanctions as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine falls outside the remit of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

HMRC is responsible for enforcement of UK Trade Sanctions and Strategic Export controls and works closely with Border Force to conduct customs checks and where necessary, seize goods at the port. Since my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s announcement in the House of Commons on 24 February 2022 of increased sanctions on Russia, HMRC has implemented a number of measures which aim to prevent the exportation and importation of restricted goods.

HMRC has a range of enforcement options available such as awareness through outreach, warning letters, issuing compound penalties, seizures / disruptions and in the most serious of cases, referral to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration for prosecution. HMRC works with other government departments and international partners to assist in identifying high-risk movements.

19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact of a revenue cap and floor mechanism for Pumped Storage Hydropower facilities on levels of (a) long-term revenue certainty for Pumped Storage Hydropower and (b) private investment into the Pumped Storage Hydropower market.

As part of the Government’s British Energy Security Strategy commitments, the Government is considering different policy options, such as cap and floor or an optimised Capacity Market, to enable investment for large-scale, long-duration electricity storage technologies, which includes pumped hydro storage. This will complement the evidence gathered during the recent call for evidence and external analysis on these technologies.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has had with Ofgem on energy companies' policies on informing people who are moved to meter estimates when Smart Meter data is unavailable as a result of signal problems.

Energy suppliers are required by their licence conditions to take all reasonable steps to ensure their customers’ smart meters are fully functional. Suppliers are also obligated to treat customers fairly and provide information that is complete and accurate. Ofgem is responsible for regulating energy suppliers against their licence obligations

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will hold discussions with representatives of delivery companies on ending surcharges for deliveries to the Highlands.

The Government recognises delivery costs can be higher in some parts of the UK and strongly encourages businesses to provide consumers with a range of affordable delivery options. The Royal Mail provides a universal parcel service at a uniform price throughout the United Kingdom thanks to rules the UK government put in place in the Postal Services Act 2011.

The Consumer Protection Partnership, which includes Ofcom, Government representatives, consumer advocates and training standards officials, runs a dedicated working group to collect evidence on the issue.

13th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of setting a price cap for domestic heating in winter 2022.

The energy price cap was introduced to address an issue where certain groups of customers in the domestic market were found to be paying too much for their energy through a loyalty penalty. It therefore only applies to domestic gas and electricity consumers who are on a default or standard variable tariff. The price cap rate is set by Ofgem.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
13th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment his Department has made of the impact of leaving the EU on the availability of construction materials.

The Government regularly reviews matters related to construction skills. The Government is working closely with the industry to ensure that it can attract, retain and develop the skilled workforce it needs for the future.

Overall, the availability of construction materials is improving. Whilst manufacturers are mostly keeping up with demand, demand for some materials continues to outstrip supply due to high levels of global construction activity, lack of stock and Coronavirus-related disruption to production facilities, shipping and logistics. The Government continues to work with the Construction Leadership Council’s Product Availability Group to monitor and manage the situation.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
13th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of helping construction firms with training costs related to the use of sustainable alternative construction materials in the event that firms have to alter materials they plan to use for construction activities as a result of material shortages.

The Government regularly reviews matters related to construction skills. The Government is working closely with the industry to ensure that it can attract, retain and develop the skilled workforce it needs for the future.

Overall, the availability of construction materials is improving. Whilst manufacturers are mostly keeping up with demand, demand for some materials continues to outstrip supply due to high levels of global construction activity, lack of stock and Coronavirus-related disruption to production facilities, shipping and logistics. The Government continues to work with the Construction Leadership Council’s Product Availability Group to monitor and manage the situation.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
4th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will hold discussions with representatives of Ofgem on ensuring that energy providers (a) implement a timely solution for customers with Total Heating Total Control meters prior to those meters becoming non-functional, (b) do not implement a solution that impacts customers financially and (c) communicate solutions that are due to be implemented to their customers as a matter of priority.

Smart meters are replacing traditional gas and electricity meters as part of a national infrastructure upgrade that will make our energy system more efficient and flexible. The smart metering system has been designed to enable a wide range of tariffs, including for heating, independently of the Radio Teleswitch Service which Total Heat Total Control tariffs rely on, and which is expected to be switched off in March 2023. The Government understands that some suppliers are already contacting their customers directly to discuss the available meter options available.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of including Companies House in the Data Protection Act 2018 to ensure that personal details are presented accurately.

The Government is currently undertaking work with a view to introducing new powers and functions which will enable the Registrar of Companies to better support the UK business environment. This will include a new function to maintain the integrity of the Register. It is one of a number of proposals set out in the recent White Paper on Reform of Companies House, which the Government intends to bring into force through appropriate legislation in the next session of this Parliament.

14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions officials in his Department have had with retailers on safety in relation to the sale of gas safe products.

The installation and maintenance of gas appliances in domestic and commercial settings must only be undertaken by a suitably qualified and competent Gas Safe registered engineer. The Health and Safety Executive manages the delivery of the Gas Safe Register. Those on the Register are issued with a Gas Safe ID card that contains a list of the qualifications the engineer holds – this can be checked online by members of the public.

There are currently no plans to restrict the purchase of appliances to registered installers or for a voluntary scheme for checking purchasers’ Gas Safe ID cards at the point of purchase. The Government meets regularly with trade associations of installers and manufacturers of gas appliances, such as the Fuel Industry Association and the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances, but does not, as a matter of course, hold regular meetings with retailers on the sale of gas appliances.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if officials in his Department will hold discussions with retailers of products that require installation by a gas safe engineer on the creation of a voluntary scheme for checking purchasers' gas safe ID cards.

The installation and maintenance of gas appliances in domestic and commercial settings must only be undertaken by a suitably qualified and competent Gas Safe registered engineer. The Health and Safety Executive manages the delivery of the Gas Safe Register. Those on the Register are issued with a Gas Safe ID card that contains a list of the qualifications the engineer holds – this can be checked online by members of the public.

There are currently no plans to restrict the purchase of appliances to registered installers or for a voluntary scheme for checking purchasers’ Gas Safe ID cards at the point of purchase. The Government meets regularly with trade associations of installers and manufacturers of gas appliances, such as the Fuel Industry Association and the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances, but does not, as a matter of course, hold regular meetings with retailers on the sale of gas appliances.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
17th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has had with Ofgem to ensure that rural areas are not disadvantaged by comparison to urban areas during the Smart Meter roll-out.

The Government wants households and small businesses to benefit from smart metering and is working closely with Ofgem on the smart meter rollout. The Data Communications Company (DCC), which operates the national communications infrastructure for smart metering, is obligated under the conditions of its licence to provide communications coverage to at least 99.25% of premises. The DCC also has a licence condition to strive to achieve 100% coverage where it is technically practicable and cost proportionate. Ofgem is responsible for regulating the DCC.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of Post Office Ltd. on ensuring that equipment provided by (a) Outreach and (b) Sub-Postmasters is adequate.

The Government sets the parameters for the Post Office to operate and asks management to operate commercially at arms-length from Government. BEIS continues to have oversight of the Post Office from a policy perspective and UKGI oversees Post Office’s corporate governance and strategy on behalf of the shareholder.

There remains regular dialogue between BEIS, UKGI and Post Office which includes monthly meetings between Post Office and I, as well as formal quarterly shareholder meetings between BEIS, UKGI and Post Office to discuss financial performance and various live issues. Decisions made by Post Office relating to the operation of branches are regularly discussed, and challenged by the Government when appropriate, through these channels.

9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to Russia's suspension from The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification and The Forest Stewardship Council, what steps his Department is taking to (a) stabilise the market in wood pellets for biomass boilers, and (b) support the supply of wood pellets for biomass boilers from sources other then Russia.

The Government will be working with industry to mitigate the impact of Russia’s suspension and to ensure continuity of the supply of wood pellets in the market.

The UK government intends to publish a new biomass strategy later this year. This will review the amount of sustainable biomass available to the UK and how it could be best utilised across the economy to help achieve the Government's net zero and wider environmental commitments.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of establishing an independent ombudsman to review compensation requests made by victims of the Post Office Horizon scandal that have been rejected.

When establishing the Historical Shortfall Scheme, the Post Office engaged with the claimants in the settled litigation, to inform the design of the scheme, and the scheme already includes an independent advisory panel with appropriately qualified individuals to make recommendations on compensation. The Panel is completely independent of both Post Office and of Government. The Scheme received around 2,500 claims, of which over 2,300 were eligible applications and Post Office is working to make offers on the overwhelming majority of applications, (95%), by the end of 2022.

Regarding overturned historical convictions, POL is committed to paying the reasonable legal costs of the claimants’ representatives to ensure that they are properly supported to put forward their best possible case for compensation.

21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to strengthen the relationship between representatives of Post Office Ltd and the victims of the Post Office Horizon scandal.

The Post Office is continuing its efforts to right the wrongs of the past. This includes delivering compensation via the Historical Shortfall Scheme and compensation for postmasters with overturned criminal convictions – thereby resetting its relationship with postmasters who have been affected by the Horizon scandal.

The Government is closely monitoring the Post Office’s progress on delivering compensation in both areas.

18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has had with the Fire Industry Association (FIA) on (a) supply chain disruption and (b) component shortages.

The Government is aware that there are pressures on the supply chains of certain sectors, driven by global and domestic supply and demand factors. We are working with industry to understand how these pressures are impacting businesses on the ground so that we can continue to monitor the situation.

We do talk to the Fire Industry Association (FIA) regularly on a range of issues and would welcome any further feedback from them on this matter.

Lee Rowley
Minister of State (Minister for Housing)
10th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions officials in his Department have had with Companies House on strengthening the process of removing the personal details of people who have had their names fraudulently included in a companies registration with Companies House.

We announced our plans to reform Companies House in September 2020. The reforms will ensure more reliably accurate information on the companies register, reinforced by identity verification of people who manage or control companies. Companies House will have greater powers to query and challenge information. We will bring forward legislation to implement these reforms when Parliamentary time allows.

Departmental officials hold frequent discussions with Companies House counterparts on a wide range of issues, including measures we propose to take to improve the integrity of information on the companies register.

24th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to (a) reduce the shortage of LPG cylinders and (b) ensure that off-grid domestic customers who are reliant on LPG for heating are prioritised for cylinder deliveries.

The Department’s officials have discussed the availability of liquefied petroleum gas cylinders with the major suppliers. The companies concerned continue to offer short term mitigations such as cylinder swaps and alternative sizes where necessary, while they develop long-term, sustainable solutions. Liquefied petroleum gas consumers are free to shop around for the best price and terms relating to the supply of bottled liquefied petroleum gas.

Liquid Gas UK, the trade association for the industry, remains confident in their members’ ability to operate to the principles set out in their Customer Charter. These include ‘Cold Weather Priority Delivery’ so that at times of restricted supply the industry will seek to ensure that priority groups do not run out of energy, particularly those who are aged 75 or older, chronically ill, or registered disabled.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme application closure deadline beyond 31 March 2022 for the purposes of allowing applications from people who have already ordered potentially RHI eligible systems that may not be installed by 31 March 2022 as a result of shipping delays.

The Government intends to close the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive to new applications on 31 March 2022. In England and Wales, this will be followed by the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which is scheduled to launch in April 2022. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme will provide a more targeted, accessible, and simpler offer, by providing upfront capital grants to support the installation of low carbon heat technologies. Some installations which are unable to apply in time for the Renewable Heat Incentive may be eligible for support in the Boiler Upgrade Scheme instead. The Scottish Government has made the decision to opt out of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme in favour of using their budget to enhance their existing schemes such as Warmer Homes Scotland and Home Energy Scotland Loans and Cashback.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of introducing retail controls to restrict the (a) sale and (b) delivery of products that require a gas safe engineer for installation to people who qualify as gas safe engineers.

The UK’s product safety regulatory requirements are designed to ensure that all products on the UK market meet essential safety requirements and are compliant with the law. Where appropriate, UK legislation specifically requires that products contain relevant information on the safe use of products. While it is not illegal to purchase products that must be fitted by a Gas Safe registered engineer, it remains an offence to install such products unless suitably competent to do so. The Government has no plans to change this position.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
14th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 9 September 2021 to Question 41970 on Liquefied Petroleum Gas: Bottles, what recent discussions officials in his Department have had with Liquid Gas UK on the (a) effectiveness of their Customer Charter in identifying vulnerable customers and (b) stock of liquified petroleum gas bottles within the market as of 14 December 2021.

The Department continues to be in frequent contact with Liquid Gas UK, the trade association for the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) industry in the UK.

Liquid Gas UK remain confident in their members’ ability to operate to the principles set out in their Customer Charter.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
4th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will take steps to help ensure the financial viability of authors as the Intellectual Property Office consults on the copyright regime.

The Government holds regular discussions with stakeholders about the UK’s copyright framework to ensure it remains fit for purpose. This includes engagement with organisations representing authors and the wider publishing industry.

The Government is currently analysing responses to the consultation on the UK’s future exhaustion of IP rights regime, and will provide an update on this consultation in due course.

18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of a dedicated research and development funding allocation for a virtual motor neurone disease translational research institute.

This Government is committed to supporting research into dementia and neurodegeneration, including motor neurone disease (MND). Last fiscal year, UKRI spent £15.9 million on MND research. This builds on wider funding for medical research charities including £204 million Research England funding in AY 20-21, the charity research support funding element of Quality-related Research, and UKRI’s funding for the Crick Institute. The UK Dementia Research Institute, founded with £190 million of government funding through UKRI, already includes research on scientific understanding of motor neurone disease as a neurodegenerative condition.

Future funding decisions will be subject to the outcome of the Spending Review 2021.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of offsetting domestic Renewable Heat Incentive overpayments, where the original Energy Performance Certificate was undertaken incorrectly by the RHI systems original installer, in the event that that installer has since gone into liquidation.

In cases where Ofgem, the scheme administrator, finds that an EPC is inaccurate, and that the RHI scheme participant has been overpaid, Ofgem are required to request that the overpayment is repaid, in order to ensure that public funds are properly accounted for Ofgem generally try to show flexibility with regard to how funds are recovered, and usually allow repayments to be offset against future RHI payments. RHI Payments are recovered from the participant (and not the installer or EPC assessor), because it was the scheme participant that entered a contractual obligation with Ofgem when the RHI application was made.

It is usually not directly relevant whether or not the installer has since gone into liquidation, because it is not the installer who usually carries out the EPC assessment. EPC assessments must be carried out by a qualified EPC assessor; therefore, unless the installer is both Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certified and an accredited EPC assessor, the EPC assessment must be carried out by a different person or organisation.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
10th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has had with the Competition and Markets Authority on monitoring for unfair market practices in construction materials supply chains while there is a shortage of construction materials.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is independent of government, with a remit to tackle individual and market-wide competition issues, including breaches of competition law. My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State, BEIS officials and I have regular discussions with the CMA on a wide range of issues.

At present, global demand for building materials is far in excess of supply, leading to product shortages and rapid and sustained price inflation. The situation is being exacerbated by disruption to shipping and port operations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to work closely with the Construction Leadership Council’s Product Availability Group to monitor and manage this challenging situation.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on levels of fuel poverty of the removal of the £20 universal credit uplift in the Scottish Highlands.

The Government recognises that the £20 Universal Credit uplift has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic. We announced the temporary uplift as part of a COVID support package worth a total of £407billion in 2020-21 and 2021-22. Our focus is now on our multi-billion ‘Plan for Jobs’, which will support people in the long-term by helping them learn new skills, increase their hours, or find new work.

Home energy and fuel poverty policy are matters devolved to the Scottish Parliament. However, until the Scottish Government has built the capacity to replace them, Cold Weather Payments, Winter Fuel Payments continue to be UK Government provision in Scotland. The Energy Company Obligation and Warm Home Discount will continue to apply across Great Britain until at least March 2022

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department have had with the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers on (a) the availability of supply of LPG bottles for off-grid domestic customers in winter 2021-22 and (b) prioritising that supply in the provision of LPG bottles.

The Department is in frequent contact with Liquid Gas UK, the trade association for the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) industry in the UK. Every year, BEIS works closely with industry to monitor the LPG and heating oil supply position over winter and to proactively take steps to mitigate any risks that may affect distribution to customers and essential services.

In these discussions, Liquid Gas UK reported that demand for cylinders reached unprecedented levels this year, while lead times for importing new cylinders have been significantly lengthened due to increased global steel demand and volatile shipping markets. The industry expects the demand for cylinders from the UK leisure and tourism sectors to decline as the summer holiday season comes to an end and this to ease the pressure. Their members are offering solutions such as cylinder swaps and alternative sizes where possible for consumers affected.

In 2018 Liquid Gas UK published a ‘Customer Charter’, which requires its member companies to adhere to a set of common principles. These include ‘Cold Weather Priority Delivery’ so that at times of restricted supply the industry will seek to ensure that priority groups do not run out of energy, particularly those who are aged 75 or older, chronically ill, or registered disabled. I would encourage eligible customers to make sure that they are registered with their suppliers’ schemes under this Charter to help ensure that they go into winter with an adequate stock of LPG or identify at an early opportunity when they might need a further delivery.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his officials have had with Ofgem on the marketing of Green Energy tariffs by energy companies when those tariffs can be effected by wholesale changes to the market price of fossil fuels via alterations in the energy cap.

The default energy price cap and any associated derogations for renewable tariffs is a matter for the regulator Ofgem and is not subject to discussion with BEIS officials.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Construction Leadership Council's statement on Construction Product Availability on 22 June 2021, what steps his Department is taking to (a) support allocation transparency within the building materials supply chain and (b) protect smaller building firms from unfair practices in materials supply.

At present, demand for building materials is outstripping supply due to high levels of global construction activity. Manufacturers are working hard to maximise production, but they are struggling to keep pace with demand due to lack of stock and Coronavirus-related disruption to production facilities, shipping and logistics.

The Government recognises the impact that this situation is having on many smaller building firms and we are working closely with the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) Product Availability Group to monitor and manage it.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure rural postmasters incomes are protected during any reassessment of payment models by the Post Office.

The Government continues to safeguard the Post Office network and protect existing rural services through the access criteria that Government sets. While postmaster remuneration and the changes resulting from the second Mails Distribution Agreement agreed recently between Post Office and Royal Mail is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd, Government recognises the importance of supporting postmasters and ensuring they are rewarded fairly for the services they provide.

The Government expects Post Office to listen carefully to the feedback received during the recent consultation on the proposed changes to ensure that running a Post Office remains an attractive proposition.

Post Office has committed to communicating the final changes to postmaster remuneration in September.

13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has had with the Post Office on the potential effect on rural postmasters in the moving from a volume-based payment model to a value-based payment model for their remuneration for delivering postal services.

The Government continues to safeguard the Post Office network and protect existing rural services through the access criteria that Government sets. While postmaster remuneration and the changes resulting from the second Mails Distribution Agreement agreed recently between Post Office and Royal Mail is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd, Government recognises the importance of supporting postmasters and ensuring they are rewarded fairly for the services they provide.

The Government expects Post Office to listen carefully to the feedback received during the recent consultation on the proposed changes to ensure that running a Post Office remains an attractive proposition.

Post Office has committed to communicating the final changes to postmaster remuneration in September.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of relevant industry bodies on the shortage of bagged cement.

The Government is aware that some products including cement are in short supply nationally. At present, supply of these products is not keeping pace with demand, and strong demand during 2020 reduced existing stocks.

In light of this, the Construction Leadership Council’s Coronavirus Task Force has established a Product Availability Working Group, comprised of product manufacturers, builders’ merchants and suppliers, contractors of all sizes, and housebuilders. The Task Force continues to monitor the supply and demand of products, and identify those in short supply. The Task Force also issues regular statements on product availability. The statements include detailed updates on the availability of specific products in affected material areas in order to keep the market informed. They can be accessed at https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has had with energy providers on the current availability of gas cylinder bottles for domestic users who are reliant on the bottles for (a) heating and (b) cooking.

The Department are aware that there are some liquefied petroleum gas cylinder availability issues at present, but the industry considers that the impact on domestic customers for heat and cooking is low, as suppliers have mitigating measures in place. Officials are continuing to monitor the situation.

Those customers with empty or unused cylinders can assist by returning them to the relevant companies.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has held with Trust Mark about implementing additional consumer protections within the scheme's system, in the context of reports of individuals registering businesses with scheme providers running multiple limited companies that have not met works standards and have subsequently ceased trading prior to consumers complaints being resolved.

In order to become a business registered with TrustMark, the business must demonstrate to the TrustMark Scheme Provider that it complies with the rigorous TrustMark Framework Operating Requirements. These requirements have clear conditions, including the disclosure of any previous and/or present business interests that will impact upon the registration of the business. This has been established to prevent manipulation of the Government Endorsed Quality Scheme including through accessing multiple schemes where compliance with the Framework Operating Requirements has not been demonstrated.

As part of the ongoing development of the Scheme, the requirement for consumer protection for all works being undertaken via a TrustMark Registered Business, is being strengthened to provide greater protection to the consumer. TrustMark is currently in discussion with multiple parties to develop improved provisions to ensure that both consumers and businesses are suitably protected as a requirement of the TrustMark Scheme.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department have had with the Competition and Markets Authority on price alterations across the academic ebook market during the covid-19 pandemic.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is responsible for investigating individual and market-wide competition issues in the UK. The Government has ensured that the CMA has significant powers to investigate and act if it finds that companies are behaving anti-competitively in a market.

2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many Bounce Back Loans businesses have taken up by business size; and what the value is of those loans by business size.

A breakdown on the number of loans offered through the Bounce Back Loan scheme as of 26 January 2021 is in the table below.

Business Size

No. of Facilities

Value (£)

Micro

1,311,041

37,408,683,602

Small

134,600

6,505,697,212

Medium

3,098

131,529,621

Mid-sized

3,304

141,820,279

Large

171

7,195,275

Total

1,452,214

44,194,925,990

The categories are based on turnover and breakdown as follows:

Micro: Turnover

Small: Turnover between £632K and £10.19 million

Medium: Turnover between £10.2 million and £24.9 million

Mid-Sized: Turnover between £25 million and £500 million

Large: Turnover > £500 million

28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department has had with Ofgem on their progress in implementing the Consumer Vulnerability Strategy 2025.

BEIS regularly engage with Ofgem to discuss their progress in implementing the Consumer Vulnerability Strategy 2025. Since this was published, in October 2019, Ofgem has made progress on their first-year priorities, including:

  • Creating an analytical framework to consistently assess the impact of regulatory policies on groups of consumers in vulnerable situations, published in May 2020;
  • Strengthening protections for consumers who self-disconnect from prepayment meters or self-ration, and protections for consumers who struggle to pay their bills. Ofgem consulted on proposals in June 2020 and intend for protections to be in place by the end of 2020, and;
  • Proposing a requirement on gas network companies to adhere to a vulnerability principle, making network companies more accountable for the service they provide consumers in vulnerable situations, through a licence obligation. Ofgem is planning to issue the statutory consultation in December and for the condition to come into effect on 1 April 2021.
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department has undertaken to ensure that businesses utilising personal current accounts for business activities are not rejected for support from the Business Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) has been introduced to help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. Businesses are not required to bank with their provider in order to be eligible for a loan under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).

It is also not a requirement of the Scheme for businesses to operate via a business account. However, some lenders may request that an applicant opens a business account in line with their standard policies. This is at the sole discretion of the lender. There are now 26 lenders accredited under the scheme, providing more choice for SMEs. Details of accredited lenders can be found on the British Business Bank’s website.

In order to apply for the scheme, businesses need to complete a short, simple online application form. A lender may consider paying funds into a personal current account if no business bank account is held, if it has been satisfactorily evidenced that the personal current account is being used for business purposes. In some cases, borrowers may need to include their 2018-19 HMRC self-assessment tax return alongside the form to verify their status as a business.

8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which technologies will be eligible under the Government's plans to allocate £1 billion for the decarbonisation of public sector buildings.

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme will offer grants to public sector bodies to fund both energy efficiency and low carbon heat measures. The details of the eligible technologies in scope for the scheme will be announced in due course.

8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which technologies will be eligible under the Government's plans to allocate £50 million for the decarbonisation of social housing.

Further details on the Social Housing Demonstrator, including which technologies will be eligible, will be announced at its launch in the Autumn.

Funding will be allocated competitively, building on the experience of the Whole House Retrofit (WHR) programme. The WHR competition was launched in May 2019 and awarded a total of £7.7m to the first three winning organisations in the Whole House Retrofit competition.

25th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether there are plans for additional recovery roundtables further to those announced on 15 June 2020.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State held this series of roundtables as part of an intensive programme of engagement to inform the Government’s approach to economic recovery. The Department will continue to hold regular extensive engagement with stakeholders across all sectors and to work with stakeholders towards a clean, resilient recovery that will create new opportunities for long-term growth and improved productivity in parts of the country that have been worst affected.

9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the quarantine of oil and gas workers, whether the quarantine exemption for people who are required for the continued safe and secure operation, maintenance and essential support services for offshore oil and gas infrastructure in the UK applies to workers (a) entering the UK to operate on infrastructure domestically, or (b) returning to the UK having conducted the same commercial activities in other EEA nations.

In line with many other countries, the Government has introduced a series of measures and restrictions at the UK border which are supported by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, to contribute to keeping the overall number of transmissions in the UK as low as possible. These measures came into effect on 8 June. A small proportion of people required to maintain essential supply chains, critical national infrastructure or to contribute to the crisis response have been made exempt from the requirement to self-isolate. Offshore workers undertaking, or required to commence, activities in the UK and on the UK Continental Shelf on or in relation to offshore installations, upstream petroleum infrastructure, critical safety work on offshore installations and wells that are being decommissioned or which are being preserved pending demolition or reuse or activities for the provision of workers, goods, materials or equipment or other essential services required to support the safe operation of offshore work have been exempted from these measures. Offshore workers entering the UK who are required to undertake those activities in the UK or on the UK Continental Shelf are covered by the exemption. Those travelling overseas to work on infrastructure outside of the UK will not be exempt on their return to the UK, unless they will be conducting the specified activities in the UK or on the UK Continental Shelf within 14 days of their return.

These measures will be subject to review every three weeks.

17th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, whether her Department has had discussions with gambling firms on helping to ensure customers are able to withdraw surplus funds from betting accounts in timely way.

The department meets regularly with the gambling industry and its representatives, where this issue has previously been raised.

Data provided to the Commission by some of the largest gambling companies shows that those firms approve, process and fulfil around 99% of customer withdrawal requests within 24 to 48 hours of the request being made. However, problems with withdrawing funds from gambling accounts remain the most common topic raised by people contacting the Gambling Commission’s Contact Centre.

The Commission’s licence conditions and codes of practice contain a number of provisions to ensure operators treat their customers in a fair and open way. It makes clear that any necessary identity verification or anti money laundering checks should take place when funds are deposited rather than when customers try to make withdrawals.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of the support provided by the BBC for local radio in the Scottish Highlands.

The BBC is editorially and operationally independent, and any decisions over its radio services in Scotland are for the BBC to make. However, the Government has been clear with the Chair of the BBC Board and the Director General that the BBC must make sure it continues to provide distinctive and genuinely local radio services, with content that reflects and represents people and communities from all corners of the UK. These services are a key part of the BBC’s public service remit and an example of how the BBC can use its licence fee funding to provide content that is directly relevant to audiences, particularly in areas that may be underserved by the market.

The Government also expects Ofcom, as regulator of the BBC, to ensure the BBC is robustly held to account in delivering its public service duties. Ofcom has noted that, if it has concerns about the BBC’s provision for audiences in Scotland, it would look at whether it is necessary to introduce new requirements into the BBC’s Operating Licence. The BBC also publishes information on how it is delivering for Scottish audiences in its Annual Report and Accounts.

25th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department have made of the potential merits of changing advertisement rules of delivery conditions for distance sellers so that they cannot advertise free delivery to mainland UK if they have terms of services excluding mainland UK addresses from free delivery.

The Advertising Standards Authority’s rules make it clear that advertising materials must not materially mislead. This includes any advertising that includes false information, such as free delivery.

Additionally, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations prohibit misleading advertising. This includes delivery charges where applicable. If there are delivery restrictions or exclusions, these also need to be made clear from the outset. Where a business fails to take steps to comply, it can be at risk of action from enforcement bodies, including Trading Standards and the Competition and Markets Authority.

The Government is currently reviewing the regulation of online advertising to provide additional protections for consumers from false and misleading advertising. Our consultation on the Online Advertising Programme (OAP) closed last year, and we will be publishing a response in due course.

28th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to protect competition in the delivery of full-fibre broadband networks.

In 2018, the Government published the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR), which set out our strategy to deliver nationwide gigabit-capable broadband. Central to this strategy is our desire to see a regulatory system which incentivises competition and investment in UK fixed telecoms. In this document, DCMS called for regulation that is limited to where it is necessary, and provides the longer-term stability and predictability that investors need.

We followed this with our 2019 Statement of Strategic Priorities for Ofcom. This document implemented the regulatory strategy we established in the FTIR, focussing on incentivising competition in the broadband market.

Ultimately, Ofcom is responsible for safeguarding competition in the broadband market. In 2021, Ofcom published its Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review (WFTMR) which set out Ofcom’s decisions for regulation of the fixed telecoms market until 2026. The WFTMR makes explicit mention of the Government’s desire to support market entry and expansion by alternative network operators and is fulfilling this by, for example, providing competitors with effective access to Openreach’s ducts and poles.

Thanks to these measures to incentivise competition, there are now over 80 companies investing over £35bn to connect premises all over the UK, and gigabit coverage has increased to 72%, rising from just 6% in 2019.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
28th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of the current barriers to market access experienced by full-fibre broadband providers.

The Government’s Barrier Busting Task Force (BBTF) was set up within DCMS towards the end of 2017. Its key objective is to identify and address the barriers preventing the fast, efficient and cost-effective deployment of gigabit-capable broadband and improved mobile coverage, including next generation 5G technology.

The team liaises with stakeholders from across the industry, including landowner representatives, to identify any barriers which could adversely impact rollout. It has recently identified and worked in the following areas:

Electronic Communications Code

In January 2021, the BBTF team consulted on changes to the Electronic Communications Code, which resulted in the Government bringing forward measures in the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill, which completed its parliamentary passage last week.

Measures in the Bill which will specifically assist telecoms operators providing broadband services include an increased ability to upgrade and share the existing duct and pole network and a procedure to deal with non-responsive landowners. This is in addition to the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Act 2021, which is due to come into force at the end of the year and will make it easier for broadband operators to install in multiple dwelling units where the landlord is repeatedly unresponsive to requests for access.

New Build Connectivity

One of the barriers we identified to the roll out of gigabit broadband coverage was the lack of deployment of broadband networks to new homes. In September we laid the Building etc. (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2022 which come into force on 26 December 2022. These make it mandatory for developers to install gigabit-ready infrastructure and, where it can be done within a £2,000 cost cap, a gigabit-capable connection in each dwelling.

Streetworks

The BBTF has worked with the Department for Transport (DfT) to make street works for the rollout of broadband more simple and cost-effective. This has involved amending guidance, such as the Specification for the Reinstatement of Openings in Highways to allow more innovative technologies to be used. DfT has also introduced Street Manager, a digital service to streamline processes across highways authorities, who authorise and coordinate streetworks in England and Wales. In addition, the team encourages collaboration between broadband companies and highways authorities, publishing the Street Works Toolkit in 2018. The Toolkit sets out best practice for highways authorities and telecoms companies to work together as efficiently as possible.

Local Authorities

The BBTF has published guidance through the Digital Connectivity Portal. The Portal provides practical information for local authorities, for instance on debunking myths around 5G, on the application of legislation such as the Electronic Communications Code and planning regulations, and on creating an effective digital strategy to facilitate telecoms deployment. The Task Force also regularly facilitates meetings and workshops between local authorities and the telecoms industry, aimed at increasing understanding of the importance of digital connectivity to local communities, as well as the practicalities around its deployment.

Investment

In the 2017 Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, DCMS stated its intention for regulation of the sector, which would provide long term stability and certainty, creating a market where operators were willing to invest. This was followed by the 2019 Statement of Strategic Priorities for Ofcom, which implemented the strategy set out in 2019. This has helped deliver significant investment in gigabit-capable networks and an increase in the number of operators rolling out gigabit services.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
21st Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing dedicated financial support programs for cultural activities undertaken by Ukrainian refugees to protect Ukrainian cultural heritage.

Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, DCMS Ministers and officials have been in regular contact with their Ukrainian counterparts, international partners and UK cultural institutions regarding the protection of Ukrainian cultural heritage. The UK is currently providing financial support through DCMS’s flagship Cultural Protection Fund, a partnership with the British Council. This covers among other activities the documentation of damage to cultural heritage, safeguarding Ukraine’s cultural heritage in-situ, and supporting Ukrainian artists and cultural practitioners.

DCMS officials are also working across Government to ensure that cultural heritage protection is integrated into all relevant apparatus around war crimes. Officials are examining how to support baseline evidence collection on cultural heritage destruction in Ukraine, as well as developing longer-term approaches.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether officials in her Department have had discussions with representatives of UK cultural bodies on the potential support they can give their Ukrainian counterparts to help protect Ukrainian cultural heritage during the Russian invasion of that country.

Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, DCMS Ministers and officials have been in regular contact with their Ukrainian counterparts, international partners and UK cultural institutions regarding the protection of Ukrainian cultural heritage. The UK is currently providing financial support through DCMS’s flagship Cultural Protection Fund, a partnership with the British Council. This covers among other activities the documentation of damage to cultural heritage, safeguarding Ukraine’s cultural heritage in-situ, and supporting Ukrainian artists and cultural practitioners.

DCMS officials are also working across Government to ensure that cultural heritage protection is integrated into all relevant apparatus around war crimes. Officials are examining how to support baseline evidence collection on cultural heritage destruction in Ukraine, as well as developing longer-term approaches.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether she has had recent discussions with her Ukrainian counterpart on providing support for the cataloguing of Ukrainian cultural artefacts which have been damaged or lost during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, DCMS Ministers and officials have been in regular contact with their Ukrainian counterparts, international partners and UK cultural institutions regarding the protection of Ukrainian cultural heritage. The UK is currently providing financial support through DCMS’s flagship Cultural Protection Fund, a partnership with the British Council. This covers among other activities the documentation of damage to cultural heritage, safeguarding Ukraine’s cultural heritage in-situ, and supporting Ukrainian artists and cultural practitioners.

DCMS officials are also working across Government to ensure that cultural heritage protection is integrated into all relevant apparatus around war crimes. Officials are examining how to support baseline evidence collection on cultural heritage destruction in Ukraine, as well as developing longer-term approaches.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of offering the Ukrainian Government funding for the use of training facilities in the UK by Ukrainian athletes.

The UK has helped to build and lead the international response in this area, including two collective statements signed by 35 or more like-minded nations on Russia’s war on Ukraine and international sport.

The UK Government has been proud to facilitate support provided on a sport-to-sport basis between governing bodies in the UK and Ukraine, including in taekwondo, fencing and football. We continue to encourage our Ukrainian counterparts to inform us of where assistance is needed.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if her Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of establishing a taskforce to (a) identify, (b) catalogue and (c) act on Russian disinformation on the war in Ukraine on social media channels.

Certain states routinely use disinformation as a foreign policy tool. The UK has a strong record of responding robustly to hostile state activity, in collaboration with our international partners, and we continue to take action in response to this form of malign influence.

That is why the DCMS-led Counter Disinformation Unit (CDU) is working to identify and counter Russian disinformation targeted at UK and international audiences. We are working closely with the major social media platforms to encourage them to cooperate at speed to swiftly remove disinformation and coordinated inauthentic or manipulated behaviour, as per their Terms of Service. We also engage with platforms to understand policy changes and other countermeasures related to Russian information activities, and the effectiveness of these actions.

This work aids HMG assessment bodies and the UK Government Information Cell, which brings together the government’s counter-disinformation expertise and capabilities to identify and counter Russian information aggression and disinformation targeted at UK and international audiences.

We are also strengthening our new internet safety protections in the Online Safety Bill to make sure social media firms identify and root out state-backed disinformation. Along with the National Security Bill, it provides the legislative tools to ensure that service providers are forced to take proactive action against attempts by foreign actors to manipulate the online environment to interfere in our society and democracy.

19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of potential risks to the consumer of fibre to the cabinet products being sold as fibre products.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media.

In 2017, the ASA considered the case of whether fibre to the cabinet products could be marketed as fibre. Their conclusion was that 'the word ‘fibre’ is unlikely to mislead consumers as it is currently used in the advertising of part-fibre broadband services.'

The Government understands the significant benefits full-fibre broadband brings over fibre to the cabinet technologies, and that is why we are investing £5 billion in Project Gigabit to ensure at least 85% of the UK will have gigabit-capable connectivity by 2025.

19th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether she has made representations to representatives of (a) Ofcom and (b) the Advertising Standards Agency on consumers being misled in respect of the sale of fibre to the cabinet products (FTTC) as full-fibre products; and if she will make a statement.

In 2017, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK's regulator of advertising, reviewed consumer understanding of the term ‘fibre’ as used in broadband advertising (particularly for part-fibre services such as Fibre to the Cabinet) and any impact the use of this term has on consumers’ transactional decisions. The ASA engaged with stakeholders and received a range of responses from providers of part-fibre and full-fibre broadband services, consumer organisations and other regulators.

The ASA published their findings in November 2017 and concluded by stating the following: “It is not possible to conclude that the word ‘fibre’, as currently used in part-fibre advertising, is likely to mislead and misinform consumers.”

Both the ASA and Ofcom are independent regulators and such matters relating to industry rules on advertising and broadband speed claims are a matter for their discretion.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
11th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if her Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of expanding the Ofcom Code on Sports and Other Listed and Designated Events to include a broader range of Scottish football tournament finals.

The Government has no intention of further amending the list of events of national interest which are included in the Listed Events Regime.

Although the listed events regime exists to ensure that events of national significance are available to as wide an audience as possible, this must be balanced with the ability of sporting organisations to generate revenues to invest in their sports at all levels. Broadcasting rights provide essential income, which enables sports national governing bodies to invest in better facilities for spectators, improve elite performance, hire the best coaches, and keep-up with mounting competition from rival sports and tournaments.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
31st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department has taken to ensure UK cultural institutions avoid relationships with non-UK organisations that (a) hold or (b) host items taken from Ukrainian territory.

The government is committed to protecting cultural property and combating the illicit trade in cultural objects. We are working with international partners, and the Ukrainian authorities, to protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage and property from unlawful removal and illicit trade.

All UK cultural institutions, and the art market, are required to ensure that the objects which they handle are of lawful provenance. No UK institutions should therefore have dealings with organisations that knowingly receive cultural objects removed from Ukraine without the appropriate permission of the relevant Ukrainian authorities.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
7th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to ensure cultural institutions trading in or housing cultural objects and materials looted from Ukraine are sanctioned and unable to operate or trade with (a) institutions, (b) individuals, (c) charities and (d) businesses in the UK.

No one in the UK should be doing business with any institution which knowingly acquires cultural objects looted from Ukraine. International and domestic UK law includes a range of provisions, including criminal offences, to protect cultural objects from unlawful removal and illicit trade. Art market businesses and museums in the UK subscribe to codes of conduct which set out their responsibilities and procedures for ensuring the lawful provenance of the cultural objects which they handle. The Government expects anyone dealing in cultural objects to ensure that those objects have not been looted from any country, including Ukraine, and that the businesses and institutions they are dealing with are acting lawfully.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
2nd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment her Department has made of the potential sanctions that can be imposed on social media companies that fail to tackle disinformation from Russian-backed sources relating to the war in Ukraine.

As the Secretary of State set out in her statement on 3 March, we have been engaging regularly with the major platforms, who have taken a number of positive steps in response to the situation. Apple has paused all product sales in Russia, Google has added new safeguarding features to Google Maps and Search and Whatsapp is hosting a helpline for Ukraine’s State Emergency Service that sends people information and critical news about the local situation.

From the moment the Russian President began his invasion, we have been clear that he must not be allowed to exploit our open and free media to spread damaging propaganda in Britain. This is especially true in the case of RT, whose own Editor-in-Chief has called the network an “information weapon” of the Russian state. We welcome the action Youtube has taken to prevent access to RT in the UK, and the Secretary of State has written to other major platforms, including Meta and TikTok, calling on them to take action to block access to RT on UK services.

In addition, the Counter Disinformation Unit continues to works closely with platforms to flag specific pieces of disinformation and have them removed where they violate a platform's terms of service.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of the remuneration rate paid to authors under the Public Lending Right as a result of the impact of the covid-19 outbreak on (a) authors' incomes and (b) publishing industries supply chains.

Public Lending Right (PLR) is a legal right to authors for payment from a central fund for eligible book contributors when their books are borrowed from public libraries. It applies to physical books, e-books, and e-audiobooks. Illustrators, photographers, translators and editors are also compensated for the loan of their books from public libraries.

The British Library administers the PLR Scheme and recommends annually to the department the revised PLR rate per loan. The recommended PLR rate per loan is determined by the annual registered loans figure for the relevant year and the available PLR central fund.

The PLR rate per loan was increased in January 2021 from 9.03 pence per loan to 9.55 pence per loan and the department will shortly consult on a revised PLR rate per loan for the PLR Scheme year 2020/21, to be introduced in January 2022.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure professional athletes training and competing regularly in Europe are not penalised by the need to obtain visas for each nation they intend to operate in as a result of the 90 in 180 days within the EU visa rules.

The EU agreed in 2019 that UK nationals would be able to travel visa-free to the Schengen Area for short-term visits (up to 90 days in 180) for a limited number of activities, including attending sporting and cultural events, tourism and short-term study. For those undertaking longer-term stays (exceeding the 90 days limit) a visa and/or work permit may be required. It is up to the individual (including professional athletes) to check the rules of each country they intend to travel to ahead of time, in case they need to apply for a visa, work permit, or provide other documentation.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions his Department has had with relevant stakeholders on extending the range of professional cycling disciplines that can qualify for managed isolation exemption letters from British Cycling to include downhill mountain biking.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) Regulations 2021 and the elite sport stage 4 guidance on return to cross-border competition sets the framework for elite sports exemptions to self-isolation.

It is for the National Governing Body to determine which disciplines or athletes meet the definitions within the legislation, and to issue the written evidence required to benefit from the exemption.



Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions his Department has had with the Gambling Commission on the regulation of the naming of gambling products in response to the suspension of Football Index's licence.

The Gambling Commission has suspended the licence of BetIndex Ltd, the operators of Football Index, while it carries out an investigation. I have met the Commission to discuss the situation.

Regarding rules on the naming of gambling products, the Commission requires operators to act in a way that meets the licensing objectives to be fair and open. They are also required to present their products in a way that is compliant with Advertising Standards Authority rules regarding advertising and marketing. Where the ASA determines an operator has presented its products in a way that is in breach of these rules, the Commission can also consider whether further regulatory action is required as a result.

19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions his Department has had with Ofcom on clarifying consumer pricing regulations in relation to mobile operators' advertised spending caps to help ensure that consumers are aware when they are being connected to a service with a network access charge not included in their spending cap.

Mobile bill limits were introduced by the Digital Economy Act 2017, and came into effect from October 2018. Ofcom, the independent telecoms regulator, is responsible for the implementation and enforcement of this obligation. Prior to this requirement taking effect, to help consumer awareness, Ofcom published guidance on its website.

Mobile phone providers are required, under the legislation, to allow their customers to set a monthly spending cap for the services they provide, and send a notification when they are nearing limits. This means that for calls, such as to premium rate services, the ‘access charge’ is covered, i.e. the cost of the mobile operator to connect the call, but not the ‘service charge’, the actual cost of the service. To ensure consumers are aware of this facility, mobile operators allow their customers to set bill limits when signing up to services, and some providers also allow customers to set bill limits on all services, including third party services charged to their mobile.

12th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions his Department has had with (a) Ofcom and the (b) Phone-paid Services Authority on improving regulation of companies selling turn key premium phone line (i) services and (ii) software to third parties.

The Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) is the UK regulator for content, goods and services that are charged to a phone bill. The PSA is reviewing and updating its Code of Practice - the regulatory framework that companies offering phone-paid services to UK consumers have to follow. The PSA will consult on a draft revised Code of Practice in 2021, which Ofcom has to approve before it can come into force. The PSA keeps DCMS and Ofcom informed of the progress of the review.

16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when he plans to publish further details on (a) how the £5 billion fund for rural roll-out will be allocated to support the roll-out of full fibre broadband and (b) what share of that funding will be allocated to Scotland.

We are currently developing the pipeline of premises for initial deployment under the £5 billion investment into gigabit-capable broadband. To ensure these are successfully delivered, we need to consult plans with industry, Local Bodies and Devolved Administrations. We plan to publish the first draft pipeline later this year.

The £5bn programme will deliver to the hardest to reach premises in the UK. These are disproportionately situated in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland given their rurality. It is too early in our programme design process to provide figures of how much funding each region will receive from the programme. However, the funding will be allocated based on the number of eligible premises in that area, as opposed to the Barnett Formula.

Before we can confirm the share of the funding which will be allocated to Scotland we need the R100 programme, the Scottish superfast broadband programme, to complete its procurement phase so that we can determine which specific premises are in scope for R100 and therefore what remains to be done with funding from the £5bn. We are working with the Scottish Government to align our interventions.

16th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the implications for reaching the Government target of full fibre broadband for all people by 2025 of the provisions in the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review; and whether he plans to make an assessment of the potential merits of the wider proposals in that review.

The Government remains committed to delivering nationwide gigabit connectivity as soon as possible. Over 3.5 million premises (or 12% of the UK) can access gigabit capable broadband according to the latest Ofcom figures, compared to 7% a year ago. Gigabit coverage is even higher at 20%, or one in five UK premises, as a result of Virgin Media’s upgrades of its existing cable network.

We support industry’s plans to deliver gigabit broadband to the most commercial parts of the UK (c.80% of the country) and will continue to take action to remove barriers to deployment to help them deliver this by 2025.

It will be more difficult to deliver gigabit connectivity to the hardest to reach 20% of the country by 2025. This is why we have committed a record £5 billion of capital funding to support deployment in these areas.

31st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to ensure UK educational institutions avoid relationships with non-UK organisations that (a) hold or (b) host items taken from Ukrainian territory.

Alongside our allies, we are united in support for Ukraine. I, alongside my hon. Friend, the Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, have recently written to the higher education sector to outline our expectation that universities review their partnerships with Russia and take appropriate action.

This includes taking action on research partnerships as well as asking universities to review their broader investments arrangements. The department is pleased that the sector appears to already be taking a proactive approach when it comes to reviewing their financial arrangements connected to Russia. Institutions will be bound by new rules restricting Russian investment in line with other British businesses.

I am continuing to ask that all universities conduct due diligence when entering into all international partnerships and accepting foreign investment, in line with Universities UK guidance on ‘Managing risks in Internationalisation’.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending home student status to the 2021-22 academic year for EU nationals who have been required to defer entry to higher education institutions as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals not in scope of the citizens’ rights protections will not be eligible for home fee status, undergraduate, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in the academic year 2021/22 or beyond. This change will also apply to further education funding for those aged 19 and over and to funding for apprenticeships. It will not affect students starting courses in the academic year 2020/21. This will not apply to students from Ireland whose right to study and to access benefits and services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis under the Common Travel Area arrangement.

EU nationals and any of their family members who start a course in England in the 2020/21 academic year or before (on or before 31 July 2021) will continue to be eligible for home fee status and undergraduate and postgraduate student financial support from Student Finance England for the duration of their course, provided that they meet the residency requirement.

If a student secures a place in the 2020/21 academic year, but subsequently defers the start of their course until the following academic year, then the rules governing student support for courses starting in the 2021/22 academic year will apply to them.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
25th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions her Department has had with the Marine Management Organisation on the potential cost to the public purse of having one Inshore Vessel Monitoring System approved for use for fishing vessels under 12 meters in length.

Defra Ministers and officials have had regular contact with the Marine Management Organisation on the delivery of iVMS devices to under 12m vessels in England.

The MMO announced the revocation of ‘Type Approval’ for two iVMS devices (Maritime Systems Ltd MS44 device and from the Satlink Nano) on the 19 May 2023. However, two devices (Fulcrum Nemo and Succorfish SC2), retain ‘Type Approval’.

All fishers are being contacted directly to make them aware of how this affects them. Fishers will be financially supported to secure suitable, replacement devices.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions her Department has had with the Marine Management Organisation on increasing the number of vessel monitoring systems approved for use by fishing vessels under 12 meters in length.

Defra Ministers and officials have had regular contact with the Marine Management Organisation on the delivery of iVMS devices to under 12m vessels in England.

The MMO announced the revocation of ‘Type Approval’ for two iVMS devices (Maritime Systems Ltd MS44 device and from the Satlink Nano) on the 19 May 2023. However, two devices (Fulcrum Nemo and Succorfish SC2), retain ‘Type Approval’.

All fishers are being contacted directly to make them aware of how this affects them. Fishers will be financially supported to secure suitable, replacement devices.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the inclusion of Swift bricks in public construction programmes.

All local authorities have a duty to have regard to conserving biodiversity as part of their policy or decision making. As well as this duty, national planning policy states that the planning system should minimise impacts on biodiversity and provide net gains in biodiversity where possible. Planning Practice Guidance published to help implement planning policy makes clear that relatively small features can often achieve important benefits for wildlife, such as incorporating 'swift bricks' and bat boxes in developments and providing safe routes for hedgehogs between different areas of habitat. Specific biodiversity features, such as swift bricks, would normally be required of developments through either the relevant local plan or through the local authority's development control team.

Through the Environment Act 2021 we have introduced a mandatory duty for developers to deliver a biodiversity net gain, which will mean that habitats for wildlife must be left in a measurably better state than they were before any development.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing seed for grain crops as direct aid to farmers in Ukraine.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is in the process of buying Ukrainian grain to ship straight to countries benefitting from its programme. Following close discussions with key seed supplier organisations on the ground in Ukraine, our assessment is that growers are particularly seeking maize and sunflower seed, however they have been currently receiving sufficient supplies of these through countries such as Germany. The UK does not hold significant surplus stocks of these species; however, key seed supplier organisations have confirmed that there are surpluses of other seeds, including for vegetables and cereals, and these have been offered as part of a broader support package to Ukraine. We are also supporting countries on the frontline of the food crisis. In June, the Prime Minister committed £372 million at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (GHOGM) for emergency aid and agricultural innovation. The UK is also a major contributor to the UN’s World Food Programme, providing the equivalent of USD 302.3 million to the fund so far this year. We remain committed to supporting Ukraine and we are in constant communication with the Ukrainian government to ensure that any aid is targeted to where it is needed most.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing funding for (a) increased seed production and (b) expanded agricultural land acquisition for seed production for grain crops to be provided as aid to farmers in Ukraine.

Defra officials have been working with a range of businesses and trade associations who have an interest in re-opening and helping export grain and oilseeds out of Ukraine. The recently launched EU - Ukraine business matchmaking platform is just one programme that is helping facilitate logistics operations for exporting and importing goods to and from Ukraine. This tool will connect UK and Ukrainian businesses quickly to find pragmatic solutions to the export of agricultural produce from Ukraine, to support the Ukrainian economy and global trade, and alleviate this threat to food security. Defra officials and ministers have also arranged introductions to the Ukrainian government to facilitate support on a range of products, such as seeds and machinery, and continue to engage with the sector to support a coordinated approach.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to respond to the letter of 6 June 2022 from the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn Badenoch and Strathspey on raptor licence applications.

Unfortunately, Defra has no record of receiving a letter from the hon. Member dated 6 June 2022. We would be grateful if the letter could be sent to Correspondence.Section@defra.gov.uk and we will issue a response.

Scott Mann
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
13th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has taken steps to assess the impact on supply chains of additional agri-good paperwork for the importation of olive oil from the EU for independent retailers.

Defra routinely engages with stakeholders on a wide range of food issues including olive oil, but has not undertaken any formal assessment on this point.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
24th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing the Animal and Plant Health Agency to conduct regulatory checks on animals travelling with refugees from Ukraine immediately upon their arrival in the UK.

The Government wishes to ensure that people fleeing from Ukraine can come here with their pets, in a way which also safeguards our rabies-free status.

The UK has been rabies-free for many years, and we wish to remain so. Ukraine is a high-risk country for rabies and animals coming to the UK from Ukraine need to meet the health preparation requirements before they travel. In practice, this means having a microchip, a rabies vaccination, passing a blood test 30 days later and then waiting for three months before travelling.

However, we recognise that many people fleeing from Ukraine will not have been able to complete all of these requirements. Therefore, people fleeing from Ukraine can bring their pets with them under licence. In cases where their pets need to spend time in quarantine, we are covering the costs of this.

We have streamlined the license application process for people fleeing from Ukraine with their pets. Pets from Ukraine may also be eligible for home isolation in England if they are found to have rabies antibodies, subject to strict criteria.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
31st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of undertaking visual checks to confirm that dogs entering the UK match pet passports.

We operate one of the most rigorous and robust pet travel checking regimes in Europe. All non-commercial dogs entering Great Britain on approved routes (every route other than Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Crown Dependencies) under the pet travel rules undergo 100% documentary and identity checks by authorised pet checkers.

To enter Great Britain dogs must have been implanted with a microchip or have a legible tattoo imprinted prior to 3 July 2011. A dog’s identity is checked by ensuring that the microchip or tattoo details correspond to the details in the dog’s documentation. Carriers can refer suspected non-compliances to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). APHA staff are highly trained to deal with intercepted shipments.

APHA works collaboratively with Border Force and other operational partners at ports, airports and inland, sharing intelligence to enforce the pet travel rules, disrupt illegal imports, safeguard the welfare of animals and seize non-compliant animals.

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was introduced in Parliament on 8 June 2021 and will progress as soon as parliamentary time allows. The Bill allows us to further protect the welfare of pets by introducing restrictions to crack down on the low welfare movements of pets into Great Britain and includes powers to introduce new restrictions on pet travel and the commercial import of pets on welfare grounds, via secondary legislation.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
9th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 27 of January to Question 108554 on Floods: Insurance, with reference to his Department's commissioned insurance industry data, what proportion of the samples of policies for determining the number of policies impacted by flood exclusions were from (a) Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency and (b) other rural communities.

The Association of British Insurers and British Insurance Brokers’ Association commissioned data from their members. The data samples provided by industry are not broken down; therefore, we do not hold details on the proportion of exclusions by constituency or in rural communities.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the impact of excluding cats and kittens from the proposed new protections to prevent pet smuggling as outlined in the Commercial and Non-Commercial Movements of Pets into Great Britain consultation.

The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill was introduced in Parliament on 8 June and completed committee on 18 November 2021. The Bill allows us to protect the welfare of pets by introducing restrictions to crack down on the low welfare movements of pets into Great Britain and includes powers to introduce new restrictions on pet travel and the commercial import of pets on welfare grounds, via secondary legislation.

In August 2021, the Government launched an 8-week consultation on our proposed restrictions to the commercial and non-commercial movement of pets into Great Britain. The consultation proposed to maintain the existing requirements for cats. This is because there is currently limited evidence that there is a significant illegal trade in cats or significant numbers of low welfare movements. Overall, the number of movements of cats into GB is much lower than for dogs.

The consultation sought views on whether this was the right approach. We are currently analysing the responses to the consultation and will publish a summary in due course. This will allow us to take on board the views of the public and interested groups in order to shape our future policy.

We will continue to work closely with stakeholders prior to the introduction of the legislation, to ensure that our final measures are well considered and led by the latest evidence.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will take steps with Natural England to ensure duplication of submitted evidence and material is not required by applicants for licenses to breed and sell captive bred birds in line with Natural England's Framework Document 2017.

Natural England's licensing system, including for captive birds, is designed to avoid duplication where possible. Where an applicant is asked to provide information that is similar or largely the same as previous applications this will be because circumstances or underlying evidence may have changed.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Government response to the independent review of flood insurance in Doncaster, what assessment his Department has made alongside the Association of British Insurers of the scale of flooding exclusions; and what discussions officials in his Department have had with the Financial Conduct Authority on the regulatory framework for flood exclusions.

Following the independent review of flood insurance in Doncaster, Defra commissioned industry to gather data from insurers on the number of policies sold with flood exclusions. The data samples from the Association of British Insurers and British Insurance Broker’s Association currently suggests less than 0.5% of policies sold have flood exclusions.

Defra are also conducting further research into the affordability and availability of flood insurance which will also seek to understand the scale of flood exclusions. The study will conclude in summer 2022. Defra officials have met the Financial Conduct Authority to discuss flood exclusions. However, the evidence base for supporting the need for a regulatory change is inconclusive at this stage.

We continue to work closely with the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, the Association of British Insurers and Flood Re to agree a new signposting service and Code of Practice. The Code of Practice will set out the role of insurers and brokers to ensure customers are appropriately informed of their available options, including eligibility for the Flood Re scheme. When launched, participating insurers and brokers will be asked to signpost customers to the new specialist directory of providers if they are unable to provide flood insurance cover. The interventions will be embedded throughout industry by summer 2022.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent analysis his Department has undertaken on the long term impacts of historical pesticide usage on (a) bee and (b) wild pollinator numbers.

Linking pesticide usage directly to changes in pollinator numbers remains challenging because of the range of pressures which affect pollinators. In 2019, alongside leading academics, we published evidence statements on what is known, and not known, about the status and responses to pressures and management of pollinators, including in relation to pesticide use. We are currently funding research looking at how we could develop our monitoring to better understand the effects of pesticides on pollinators, as well as routes of exposure.

Defra is developing a Pesticide Load Indicator which takes account of both the chemical properties of pesticides used and the weight applied. This uses pesticide usage data, ecotoxicity and environmental data to better understand how the pressure from pesticides on the environment, including bees, has changed over time. Much of this research will be published in 2022.

We also publish an indicator of the status of pollinating insects, which measures how widespread each of almost 400 species is in each year since 1980. It shows long-term decline, but little change over the short term. Although not yet definitive, there are encouraging signs of improvement, for example the average distribution of wild bees has shown some stability over recent years. We are keeping these trends under review.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support the agricultural industry to minimise food waste.

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

The Government funds the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to administer the Courtauld Commitment 2030 voluntary agreement, including the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap (FWRR), which aims to reduce food waste from farm to fork through collaboration with businesses.

Included in the FWRR is a practical model for how farmers and growers can be supported to measure on-farm food surplus and waste and take action to reduce it. WRAP estimates that around 50 farm businesses have undertaken measurements to date, with most of those in the last two years. The aim is to provide support for another 30 farmers and growers.

We are also supporting WRAP’s and the Institute of Grocery Distribution’s Whole Chain Food Waste Reduction Plans (WCP). A toolkit is available to help businesses across the supply chain work together to understand waste hotspots for a food product and to identify ways to reduce these. The Roadmap has a target of at least 50 active WCPs in place by 2022.

WRAP has also supported farmer-led pilots to understand how food waste measurement and reduction can be best implemented in primary production as well as resources for farm advisers to deliver similar projects with their clients.

Since 2017, Defra has provided around £12 million of grants to the redistribution sector to increase the diversion of surplus food for human consumption from waste destinations. Some of these grants were used to harvest and collect surplus from farms, minimising food waste.

Furthermore, the Government’s Food Strategy White Paper will cover the entire food system from farm to fork, building on work already underway in the Agriculture Act, Fisheries Act, and Environment Bill as well as docking into wider Government priorities, including Net Zero, the 25 Year Environment Plan, and Build Back Greener. As part of this, Defra is exploring options to reduce carbon emissions from food production including food waste, as well as to incentivise land use change to sequester more carbon and restore nature, and preserve natural resources.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to (a) reduce household plastic waste and (b) prevent plastic waste from being shipped overseas.

A) Our 25 Year Environment Plan set out the Government’s ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042. In 2018, we published the Resources and Waste Strategy, which sets out how we want to achieve this. For the most problematic plastics we are going faster - which is why we are working towards all plastic packaging being recyclable or reusable by 2025.

Our Environment Bill will enable us to take forward a number of key proposals including Extended Producer Responsibility, a Deposit Return Scheme, greater consistency in the recycling system, better control of the export of plastic waste and powers to set new charges for single-use plastic items. We have already introduced measures to restrict the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds. We will consult shortly on banning a range of other single-use plastic items, including plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups. The single use carrier bag charge, which has led to a 95% reduction in their use at main supermarkets, has been doubled to 10p, and extended to all retailers. Going further still, from April 2022, plastic packaging without at least 30% recycled content will be taxed at £200/tonne. Taken together, these amount to one of the most comprehensive programmes of any major economy in tackling this issue.

B) The Government recognises the difficulties some importing countries have in dealing with plastic waste and that is why we have committed to banning the export of plastic waste to countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); we plan to consult before the end of 2022 on options to deliver the ban.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of extending the delay on EU trade import controls beyond October 2021 on the level of risk posed to the (a) biosecurity and (b) health and hygiene reputation for future UK trade; and whether he has plans to publish any such assessment.

Risk posed to Biosecurity

The Government has set out a new timetable for introducing full import controls for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods being imported from the EU to the UK. The new timetable considers the challenges businesses have faced due to the global pandemic, as well as its impact on supply chains across the UK and Europe.

These temporary practical arrangements recognise the need to ensure biosecurity across the UK whilst balancing the need to remove barriers to trade. We already have SPS controls in place on high-risk goods, such as live animals and high-priority plants and plant products, and checks on these goods will continue to be carried out at destination.

Pre-notification is also being introduced from January 2022 and increases our biosecurity status. It allows the Food Standards Agency to know what high-risk food and feed is crossing our borders, as well as trace products back to the established premises, helping us to manage any food incidents that may occur.

The Government continually assesses risks to biosecurity and has a range of measures it can take should the need arise.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions his Department has had with Natural England on steps taken in response to the High Court judgement of 13 November 2015, in R (McMorn) v Natural England and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [2015] EWHC 3297, on standardising licensing processes when licences are issued in relation to raptor species.

Raptor species, along with all other wild birds, are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is illegal to kill them without a licence. Natural England, in its role as a wildlife licensing authority, can issue licences to control birds under certain circumstances.

Following the McMorn case, Natural England developed internal guidance covering licence applications for predatory species for the purpose of preventing serious damage and for the purpose of conserving species. These were designed to establish standard criteria for assessing such applications and have been agreed with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of allowing the usage of simplified procedures as applicable under the Cites Resolutions for the trade in captive bred raptors.

Following our departure from the EU we have begun a review of our domestic CITES legislation and procedures which implement our obligations under CITES. As part of this review, which is at an early stage, we have been seeking views from industry groups and other interested organisations, including those involved in the trade of captive-bred raptors.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
17th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether her Department has taken recent steps to help ensure that dual use technologies from the UK that have been used by Russia in its war in Ukraine are (a) rapidly identified and (b) prevented from being sent to Russia via intermediary trading.

Following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Government legislated to prohibit UK exports to Russia of controlled dual-use technology and many critical industry goods. The Government continues to review licence applications for the export of dual-use equipment and assess the risk that these items will be diverted to an undesirable end-user or for an undesirable end-use. We continue to work with international partners to tighten export controls; to broaden, deepen and sharpen our collective sanctions; and to limit Russia’s ability to circumvent restrictions.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what actions her Department are undertaking to ensure that UK companies do not sell or transfer data bus transformers utilised in fly-by-wire controls to Russia, or third-party countries military manufacturers supplying Russia.

The UK, in coordination with key allies, has introduced several packages of increasingly hard-hitting sanctions that prohibit the supply of a wide range of goods and services, including the supply of components that could be utilised in Russian military equipment. This information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/russia-sanctions-guidance/russia-sanctions-guidance (opens in a new tab).

Our approach to decision-making is to focus on a rigorous forward-looking risk assessment before a licence is issued and to consider whether goods might be used in a way which is inconsistent with the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria, including the risk of items being used on contravention of sanctions.

11th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department is taking to ensure thermal gap pads produced in the UK and used in the production of military materials utilised by Russia, are not sold or transferred into (a) Russia or (b) third party country manufacturers of arms sold to Russia.

The UK, in coordination with key allies, has introduced several packages of increasingly hard-hitting sanctions that prohibit the supply of a wide range of goods and services, including the supply of components that could be utilised in Russian military equipment. This information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/russia-sanctions-guidance/russia-sanctions-guidance (opens in a new tab).

Our approach to decision-making is to focus on a rigorous forward-looking risk assessment before a licence is issued and to consider whether goods might be used in a way which is inconsistent with the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria, including the risk of items being used on contravention of sanctions.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps the Government is taking to help prevent any goods looted by Russian forces in Ukraine that have entered non-combatant countries being imported into the UK.

The government has announced the strongest set of economic sanctions ever imposed against a major economy, to help cripple Putin’s war machine. These measures have been implemented in coordination with our international allies and include a comprehensive set of actions targeting imports on a range of Russian military, energy-sector and revenue generating goods.

Such measures include the prohibition of all imports consigned from or originating in non-government controlled Ukrainian territory. This means that even if the immediate location the goods were shipped from was not non-government controlled Ukrainian territory, the prohibition would still apply.

13th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether she has made a recent estimate of the amount of (a) gold and (b) diamonds originating from Russia which has entered the UK as components of items of jewellery that have been produced in other countries.

The Department for International Trade does not collect data on components used in the production of finished goods imported from partner countries.

Andrew Griffith
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
31st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of banning the import of all luxury goods containing raw materials sourced from Russia following that country's invasion of Ukraine.

In lockstep with our allies, we are introducing the largest and most severe package of economic sanctions that Russia has ever faced. This includes the ban on exporting certain luxury goods in the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No.8) Regulations 2022, laid on 14th April.

We do not speculate on future sanctions.

23rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent assessment her department has made of the potential merits of sanctioning the importation of (a) precious and semi precious stones, gold and silver and (b) products using these materials from (i) Russia and (ii) third party countries where those raw materials were imported from Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.

In coordination with our allies, we are introducing the largest and most severe economic sanctions that Russia has ever faced. We do not speculate on future sanctions.

14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of stopping the trade of Russian precious rare metals and minerals, including (a) platinum and (b) palladium from Russian sources, into the UK, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Department for International Trade is working with the whole of government to assess the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the supply of critical materials to the UK.

Our measures are designed to maximise pressure on Putin and the elites who support his illegal invasion of Ukraine while minimising the impact on the UK, but my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister has been clear that we must do whatever possible to protect European security.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if her Department will assess all UK trade in (a) goods and (b) services with (i) individuals, (ii) organisations and (iii) businesses based in Russia which could create any revenue for the Russian government.

In lockstep with our allies, we have announced the strongest set of economic sanctions ever imposed against a major economy, which will help cripple Putin’s war machine. The UK has targeted the political elite, cut off Russian banks from the UK, and introduced restrictive trade measures.

As part of this work, we have published trade sanction impact assessments, which are available on GOV.UK: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2022/195/impacts.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
7th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of making representations at the World Trade Organisation for a vote on the suspension of Belarus from that organisation in respect of its continuing material support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Belarus is not a member of the World Trade Organization. Accession talks were suspended following the rigged election and fraudulent inauguration of Alexander Lukashenko in 2020. Belarussian complicity in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is incompatible with the respect for the rules-based order that is a precondition for WTO membership. This issue has been discussed with partners within the WTO.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
7th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of revoking preferential trading partner status from a) Russia and (b) Belarus.

The UK has announced a range of economic sanctions against Russia and Belarus, including denying both countries access to Most Favoured Nation tariffs for hundreds of their exports. £900 million of imported goods from Russia and Belarus will now face an additional 35 percent tariff.

We will continue to explore the full range of economic, diplomatic, and political options in co-operation with partners.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
4th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent discussions she has had with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on taking steps to potentially exclude Russia from the WTO until they withdraw fully from Ukraine.

At the WTO, the Government has condemned the actions of the Russian Federation and shown solidarity with the Government and people of Ukraine. We are working closely with like-minded partners to take steps to marginalise Russia and to deprive the Russian government of the benefits of WTO membership.

We are aware that discussions are taking place about the possible mechanisms to expel Russia from the WTO. We will continue to explore with allies the full range of economic, diplomatic, and political options.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what advice Tony Abbott provided to her Department on the removal of climate change-related clauses that had formed part of the proposed UK-Australia free trade deal.

Tony Abbott does not negotiate trade deals on behalf of the UK. He is a voluntary, unpaid advisor to the Board of Trade. Advisers to the Board of Trade have been appointed because of their expertise in trade and economic matters and to help inform our future thinking on international trade. Our ambitious trade deal with Australia will include a substantive article which reaffirms both parties’ commitments to address climate change. Both Australia and the UK make clear their commitment to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement and achieving all of its goals, which includes the temperature goals.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what (a) advice or (b) role has Tony Abbott played in the UK's discussions with Australia on a possible free trade deal.

Tony Abbott does not negotiate trade deals on behalf of the UK. He is a voluntary, unpaid advisor to the Board of Trade. Advisers to the Board of Trade have been appointed because of their expertise in trade and economic matters and to help inform our future thinking on international trade. Our ambitious trade deal with Australia will include a substantive article which reaffirms both parties’ commitments to address climate change. Both Australia and the UK make clear their commitment to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement and achieving all of its goals, which includes the temperature goals.

Penny Mordaunt
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent progress has been made towards the establishment of the Trade and Agriculture Commission.

I refer the Member to the answer given to the Right Honourable Member for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich on 10 September, UIN 40833.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent discussions officials in her Department have had with their European counterparts on helping to reduce the time taken for the movement of timber products from the EU into the UK.

The Forestry Commission is responsible for helping British importers and their agents prepare for the customs entry procedures for timber products.

HM Government is supporting businesses adjusting to new trading arrangements, including the guidance published by the Forestry Commission on GOV.UK on importing timber products.

9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether (a) legal costs and (b) compensatory payments resulting from investor-state dispute settlement claims relating to acts by the Scottish Government would be passed on to the Scottish Government; and if she will make a statement.

The United Kingdom has never been successfully taken to tribunal under her over 90 bilateral investment treaties, nor as a party to the Energy Charter Treaty. HM Government has a strong record of creating an open environment for both domestic and foreign investors, and treating them fairly. We will continue to do so.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the HM Government and devolved administrations across the country continues to apply. The Memorandum sets out that a devolved administration would only be responsible for the payment of legal costs or awards made by the tribunal to the extent that they arise from its failure to implement or enforce an obligation.

25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department is taking to support UK maritime trade links.

The Department for International Trade’s (DIT) five-year plan for the United Kingdom’s maritime sector, developed in partnership with industry, promotes our world-class global maritime offer and focuses on UK strengths in many of the key technologies that will drive the future of maritime – such as digital shipping, smart ports and autonomous vessel technologies.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
10th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of making winter tyres mandatory on road vehicles during the autumn and winter.

Winter tyres do have improved grip in snow and icy conditions and some countries require these tyres at certain times of year. In those regions that may be exposed to prolonged periods of significant winter conditions, or where the driver knows that they will have no choice but to journey on roads that may be affected by snow and ice, the cost of equipping vehicles with winter tyres may be justified.

However, given the relatively low frequency of heavy snow and ice experienced in the UK, the Government currently has no plans to introduce a legal requirement mandating winter tyres.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to help improve the timeliness of airline compensation payments.

The Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have been clear that the aviation industry must meet its legal obligations to ensure consumers receive the best possible service.

The CAA has the power to take enforcement action when required to ensure the industry meets its legal obligations.

The Department has also committed, in its response to the Aviation Consumer Policy Reform Consultation, to further consultation on compensation and payment frameworks for flight delays, cancellations and denied boarding.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of revising DVLA driving license fee processes to accept other forms of payment as well as cheques and postal orders when a license is applied for by post.

The Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency is currently considering alternative payment methods with a view to moving away from paper-based payments and providing customers with options that match their needs. Improvements will aim to support reducing paper-based transactions and payment methods wherever possible in addition to providing a wider range of options for customers.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
12th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of information provided to horticultural businesses on the installation of tachographs in horticultural vehicles which operate within 100 kilometres of their home base and also deliver third party goods.

Whether or not a vehicle needs a tachograph depends on whether the vehicle falls under scope of Regulation (EC) 561/2006 (“the EU drivers’ hours rules”) as retained in UK Law. The EU drivers' hours rules, which require the use of tachographs and prescribe maximum limits on driving time and minimum requirements for breaks and rest periods, apply to drivers of most vehicles used for the carriage of goods, where the maximum permissible weight of the vehicle (or combinations of vehicle and trailer) exceeds 3.5 tonnes. In this context goods is defined as goods or burden of any description.

There are a number of specific exemptions and national derogations, including for: “Vehicles used or hired without a driver by agricultural, horticultural, forestry, farming or fishery undertakings for carrying goods as part of their own entrepreneurial activity within a radius of 100 km from the base of the undertaking.”.

If the vehicle is used for the delivery of third party goods, this national derogation would not apply and the vehicle would need to have a tachograph fitted. The driver would need to comply with the retained EU drivers’ hours rules.

This national derogation has been in place since 2007 and should be well known to the horticultural industry. There is detailed information on the gov.uk website on drivers’ hours, including advice on exemptions and national derogations. The Government has not made any assessment on the adequacy of information provided.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
28th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the Joint Maritime Security Centre is taking steps to ensure that the (a) beneficial ownership of Russian vessels is tracked when ships are transferred to open or international registries and (b) ban on Russian ships accessing UK ports is maintained if the beneficial owners commercially operate from Russia; and how many vessels with Russian beneficial owners, but who's flag has changed, have been identified as attempting to (i) circumvent the port ban and (ii) evade sanctions.

The Joint Maritime Security Centre provides Department for Transport officials with regular vessel tracking reports for Russian-linked commercial ships thought to be heading towards the UK Marine Area, including where Russia is identified as the country of beneficial ownership. This monitoring is not limited to Russian-flagged vessels, but all registries, where a Russian link is identified.

Department for Transport officials maintain close contact with the maritime industry to assist the port sector in undertaking their own due diligence. Government support has included the publication of six versions of industry guidance and regular intelligence reports containing Ships of Potential Interest, which are those identified as having a potential Russian connection. The legal duty under the Russia (Sanctions)(EU Exit) Regulations 2019, as amended (the Regulations) remains with UK ports to reach an assessment as to whether they know or have reasonable cause to suspect that a ship falls within scope of the port ban.

The prohibition on UK port entry in the Regulations applies to certain ships including “a ship owned, controlled, chartered or operated by persons connected with Russia”. The definition of a person “connected with Russia” includes but is not limited to individuals who are “ordinarily resident in Russia” or “located in Russia”, or companies that are “incorporated or constituted under the law of Russia” or “domiciled in Russia”.

At the start of the conflict, at least twenty-eight ships were knowingly frustrated by the UK sanctions, having been refused entry by ports; diverted by their owner or operator; or having changed their ownership or operational structures to ensure compliance. We have now seen a wholesale change in Russian shipping activity which has seen an extensive reduction in the number of Russian-linked ships transiting UK waters and no recent attempts by such ships to enter UK ports.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of the inclusion of mobility scooters in road vehicle passing guidance within the highway code.

Rule H2 of The Highway Code states that pedestrians include wheelchair and mobility scooter users, and Rule 163 of The Highway Code makes it clear that drivers should allow at least 2 meters of space and keep to a low speed when passing a pedestrian in the road.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
21st Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if officials in his Department will hold discussions with representatives of UK-based airlines on ensuring that people who are sanctioned as a result of the conflict in Ukraine are unable to utilise those airlines' services anywhere in the world.

HMG has been clear that there would be consequences and a severe cost for any Russian military incursion into Ukraine and, in coordination with our international allies and partners, have developed an unprecedented package of sanctions. These sanctions apply to all persons present in the UK, as well as UK persons wherever they are in the world.

We have made clear to representatives of UK based airlines that people who are sanctioned as a result of the conflict in Ukraine should not utilise those airlines’ services anywhere in the world. We will continue to reiterate this message through our regular engagement with the industry.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
11th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential impact on safe traffic flows of (a) allowing the unlicensed road usage by cyclists of gradient dependent dynamic variable electric bike motor power outputs over 250w, (b) motor output limitations on electric bike journey types and (c) gradient altered bike speeds.

The Department has not made a detailed assessment of the impact that this would have on traffic flows, but any impact would be likely to be minimal. Most e-cycles already allow the rider to increase or reduce the amount of electrical assistance being provided, thus allowing more assistance to be provided in hillier settings if the rider wishes it. The current speed and power restrictions for Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (EAPCs) are in place for public safety. At speeds higher than 15.5mph, there is the potential for the rider to cause serious injury to themselves and others.

The Department reviewed the case for amending the current speed and power restrictions as part of the Future of Transport Regulatory Review Call for Evidence published in 2020 and has no plans to amend the existing regulations.

4th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority on airport assistance for disabled passengers in the context of passengers requiring assistance while airside.

We have a legal accessibility framework to ensure disabled passengers and those with reduced mobility are provided assistance and we have been clear on the standards we expect from the aviation industry in terms of support for disabled and less mobile passengers, as we want all forms of transport to be accessible for everyone. We continue to have regular discussions with the CAA, including through the Ministerial weekly strategic risk group to ensure that airports and airlines are meeting the needs of disabled passengers and those with reduced mobility.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
31st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals for improved driver vehicle safety standards through the implementation of operator roll-over protection for six wheeled off road vehicles.

Requirements for six wheeled off-road vehicles vary according to the exact vehicle type. The most appropriate safety equipment varies according to the wide variety of potential applications for these vehicles. The Health and Safety Executive publish guidance on the safe use of all-terrain vehicles, and is responsible for enforcement of workplace health and safety.

10th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 5 January 2022 to Question 92981 on Large Goods Vehicle Drivers: Training, what progress his Department has been made on the urgent review of the Driver Certificates of Professional Competence (DCPC) scheme; and on what date additional information will be provided to the road haulage industry on that review.

The review of the Driver Certification of Professional Competence (DCPC) has now been completed, with the report and associated recommendations expected to be published soon.

9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what analysis his Department has undertaken on the potential impact of the changes to the Highway Code on single track road users in rural communities regarding (a) the 2m passing distance when overtaking pedestrians walking in the road, (b) the 1.5m road distance when passing cyclists whilst driving under 30mph and (c) giving 2m distance when passing horses or horse drawn vehicles at speeds under 10mph.

The changes introduced to The Highway Code on 29 January are an extension to the previous advice and guidance. They are not expected to pose any major challenges as they simply reinforce the good behaviours that we would expect every road user to adhere to. Rule 163 around safe passing distances and speed limits when overtaking reinforces the Hierarchy of Road Users and the emphasis that those road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to other road users.

14th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 29 October 2021 to Question 61160 on Large Goods Vehicle Drivers: Training, as part of any modifications to the regulations, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of processes to (a) reduce the compunction for experienced professional drivers to successfully complete the same course repeatedly so as to meet their Driver Certificate of Professional Competence course commitments and (b) subsidise costs where a driver has already successfully passed a similar course to the one they are undertaking while seeking to meet the requirements necessary under The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence.

The Government has been listening to the concerns raised by drivers and industry about Driver CPC and on 8 November announced an urgent review of the scheme.

There is a wide variety of courses available to meet Driver Certificates of Professional Competence (DCPC) requirements. Experienced professional drivers should not feel obliged to complete the same courses repeatedly. Indeed, we encourage taking different courses. For employed drivers, employers not drivers should pay for DCPC courses.

The urgent review of DCPC includes considering surveyed information from drivers and evidence-based work with stakeholders. The requirements for courses and how they are paid for are issues included in the review.

3rd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of providing compensation for B+E Towing training companies for any lost revenues whilst new drivers are unable to gain the ability to undertake B+E Car and Trailer Towing.

The Government has acted decisively to help address the HGV driver shortage and has announced a range of measures to help the industry recover from the pandemic.

The proposal to remove the requirement for car drivers to take a B+E test if they want to tow a trailer, was subject to a public consultation exercise. The consultation received over 9,500 responses and most respondents supported the proposals. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is exploring options for an industry-led accreditation that could offer a standardised non-statutory testing approach. It has now met with key stakeholders to discuss this issue and will share the outcome of those discussions in due course, once plans have been confirmed.

The Department and the DVSA will continue to encourage people who want to tow a trailer to get professional training to promote road safety and support those businesses.

Businesses who have been affected by these changes are advised to seek further advice and support from the Business Support Line at www.gov.uk/business-support-helpline

12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether officials in his Department have had discussions with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency on the potential merits of increasing payments offered to GP surgeries for medical information to help ensure that (a) delays are not created when medical evidence is required for the licensing of heavy goods vehicle drivers and (b) costs that have increased as a result of the covid-19 outbreak are met.

Drivers of heavy goods vehicle are required to meet the costs of providing the medical report where it is required when applying for or renewing a driving licence.

The amount charged for completing the medical report is a matter for the individual doctor. The British Medical Association (BMA) advises doctors that fees should be reasonable, transparent and justifiable. The BMA also recommends that the fee should be agreed before the examination takes place.

Where a driver has a medical condition, further evidence may be required to aid the DVLA’s investigation into whether the driver meets the appropriate health standards for driving larger vehicles. The DVLA pays for the provision of this information from a doctor. Discussions are ongoing between DVLA and BMA on the fees paid for this service.

A public consultation was launched on 8 November seeking views on a proposal to change the law to allow a wider pool of medical professionals to provide information. This could potentially remove a burden that currently rests with doctors and will allow GP surgeries and hospital teams greater flexibility to provide information from a wider range of medically qualified staff.

1st Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of issuing additional guidance for airlines on lateral flow test age exemptions for passengers flying between the different nations of the UK on onward internal domestic flights.

Eligible fully vaccinated passengers and most under 18s arriving into the UK from non-red list countries are now able to use a cheaper lateral flow test with a free confirmatory PCR test if they receive a positive result.

There are no testing requirements in place for domestic travel between UK nations.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
22nd Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of modifying the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence process for HGV Drivers.

The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) was introduced to improve road safety and provide economic and environmental benefits. Our assessment is that there are merits in modifying the processes, although change to key process issues would require regulatory and legislative changes.

We also appreciate the cost of renewing the Driver CPC can be difficult for some drivers. That is why, at the discretion of local DWP Work Coaches, the Flexible Support Fund is available to those who are currently unemployed or are in receipt of Universal Credit who need to renew their DCPC, where appropriate. In addition, many employers are offering training packages so even if a driver’s CPC has lapsed, they can be supported in updating this through classroom or online courses.

We are further supporting lorry driver training through apprenticeships. This includes the revised Large Goods Vehicle Driver apprenticeship standard which is now available and supported by a funding band of £7,000.

We are also developing a driver training pilot through Jobcentre Plus to help jobseekers retrain as HGV drivers.

19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions his Department has had with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency on increasing the availability of heavy vehicle ADR tests.

ADR examinations are delivered by third-party organisations who hold approval from the Secretary of State, so this provision does not use any of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency testing resource. Those providers advise they have capacity to meet the demands for the examinations nationally, including in your constituency and there is no significant backlog of drivers wishing to qualify.

To provide support for fuel deliveries, the Government has granted an extension of ADR validity for those drivers whose certification would expire between 27 September 2021 and 31 December 2021 until 31 January 2022. This is one of a package of measures we have introduced to address vocational driver shortages.

The Government has also enlisted military tanker drivers to assist with fuel deliveries and extended the provision of remote training delivery to help support both ADR drivers and providers in the future.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to help increase the availability of practical driving tests in the Scottish Highlands.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has a number of measures in place to increase practical driving tests, including in the Scottish Highlands.

These include offering a national recovery allowance and annual leave buy back to examiners, asking all those qualified to conduct tests, but who do not do so as part of their current day job, to return to conducting tests, and conducting out of hours testing (such as on public holidays and weekends). The DVSA has also started a recruitment campaign to increase the number of examiners.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate his Department has made of the number of HGV drivers who use short-term medical driving licences; and what the average waiting time was for renewing a HGV short-term medical driving licence as at 1 October 2021.

Information requested about the number of HGV drivers who have a short-term medical driving licence cannot be retrieved in the time available. Officials will write to the Honourable Member when the information is available.

On 1 October 2021, the average time to process a vocational driving licence application where a medical condition has been declared was 75 days. Vocational applications include those applying to drive both HGVs and buses as it is not possible to separate them.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with the DVLA on (a) reducing the backlog in driver license applications that need processing, and (b) the potential merits of prioritising rural communities when tackling that backlog.

The quickest and easiest way to apply for a driving licence is to use the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online service. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their licence within a few days.

However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application. The DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day and industrial action by members of the Public and Commercial Services union has led to delays for customers. The DVLA has been working with a significantly reduced number of staff on site to ensure social distancing in line with Welsh Government requirements. The current increased demand for the DVLA’s services has also contributed to delays with paper applications.

The DVLA has introduced additional online services and recruited additional staff. The DVLA is urgently securing extra office space to house more staff to help reduce waiting times while providing future resilience and business continuity.

The DVLA understands the impact that delays can have on people’s everyday lives and is working as quickly as possible to process paper applications and return people’s documentation to them.

The DVLA is unable to prioritise applications received from those living in rural communities. However, the large majority of drivers applying to renew their licence can continue driving while their application is being processed. Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 allows drivers who have sent a valid application to the DVLA to continue driving while waiting for their application to be processed. Strict criteria apply and these are outlined online here.

20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of supporting instructors approved by the National Register of LGV Instructors to become DVSA-approved assessors for off-road LGV testing elements.

The heavy goods vehicle driver shortage is well documented and the Government has been considering a range of measures that will help the industry recover from the pandemic.

The Government has announced that the time allocated for a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) driving test will be reduced, by removing the ‘reversing exercise’ element and ‘uncouple/ recouple’ element for vehicles with trailers and instead having them tested separately by the driver training industry. This part of the test is carried out off the road on a manoeuvring area.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is in discussions with the training industry to understand their capacity to deliver this part of the test. It will also work with them to develop a robust and clear process by which to assess, accredit and audit any trainers who wish to assess the manoeuvres element of the test. Testing such manoeuvres separately will free up examiner time, meaning an increase to the number of tests an examiner conducts per day.

The DVSA takes its commitment to road safety extremely seriously and it will work with the industry and stakeholders to drive forward the importance of safe driving and safe towing. These changes will not change the standard of driving required to drive a HGV, with road safety continuing to be of paramount importance. Any driver who does not demonstrate utmost competence will not be granted a licence.

20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of providing compensation for businesses for lost revenue as a result of the ending of B+E licence testing on 20 September 2021.

The heavy goods vehicle driver shortage is well documented and the Government has been considering a range of measures that will help the industry recover from the pandemic.

The Department and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will continue to encourage people who want to drive a car and trailer to get professional training with providers to promote road safety and help support those businesses.

The DVSA is exploring options for an industry-led accreditation that could offer a standardised non-statutory testing approach, and is engaging with key stakeholders, trainers and insurers, to discuss this issue.

The DVSA is also in discussions with the training industry to understand their capacity to deliver the off-road manoeuvres element of the vocational test and will work with them to develop a robust and clear process by which to assess, accredit and audit any trainers who wish to assess the manoeuvres element of the test.

The DVSA is establishing a new business manager role to work with vocational trainers as a local contact to better understand their current and future needs. This will help the agency to be more responsive to vocational trainers needs and help support businesses and people employed to deliver training.

20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate his Department has made of the number of (a) businesses delivering B+E category drivers licence training and (b) people employed delivering that training.

The heavy goods vehicle driver shortage is well documented and the Government has been considering a range of measures that will help the industry recover from the pandemic.

The Department and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will continue to encourage people who want to drive a car and trailer to get professional training with providers to promote road safety and help support those businesses.

The DVSA is exploring options for an industry-led accreditation that could offer a standardised non-statutory testing approach, and is engaging with key stakeholders, trainers and insurers, to discuss this issue.

The DVSA is also in discussions with the training industry to understand their capacity to deliver the off-road manoeuvres element of the vocational test and will work with them to develop a robust and clear process by which to assess, accredit and audit any trainers who wish to assess the manoeuvres element of the test.

The DVSA is establishing a new business manager role to work with vocational trainers as a local contact to better understand their current and future needs. This will help the agency to be more responsive to vocational trainers needs and help support businesses and people employed to deliver training.

3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of the DVSA on ensuring that HGV trainer qualification module tests are available for training companies that wish to provide the off-road element HGV assessment in the event that HGV testing rules change.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is currently considering the approval scheme that would be required, should the delegation of manoeuvres to third party trainers go ahead. The DVSA will work with the Department for Transport (DfT) to provide advice for ministers to make final decisions on the qualification requirements that could apply subject to the outcome of the consultation.

3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions his Department has had with the DVSA on increasing the number of driver theory tests available in the Scottish Highlands.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is aware that demand for theory tests in Scotland is currently high and it is doing all it can to offer more tests at centres by increasing opening hours and running tests on extra days where possible. The provision of additional testing is dependent upon the availability of venues and agreements with landlords. The DVSA is working with its theory test provider, Reed In Partnership Ltd, to explore further ways in which it can further increase theory test capacity including the possibility of adding temporary sites to deliver additional theory tests.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with its counterparts in New Zealand on bilateral recognition of covid-19 vaccination status for travellers.

Department for Transport Ministers and officials have met with New Zealand counterparts throughout this year to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and the safe, sustainable resumption of international travel.

We continue to work closely with international partners on reopening travel, including New Zealand, both bilaterally and through a range of international fora, to cautiously balance the reopening of international travel with the management of the public health risks.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
22nd Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the examiner shortage for B+E towing licence exams in the Scottish Highlands.

DVSA will continue their examiner training programme to ensure there is sufficient resource to service demand, including B+E testing in the Scottish Highlands.

19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions officials in his Department have had with their European counterparts on (a) mutual acceptance of vaccine status certificates and (b) how to evidence someone who cannot receive the vaccine.

We are engaging with international partners, including the EU, and will provide an update in due course on how we will approach vaccinated individuals from other countries. We recognise that there are those who cannot have a vaccine for medical reasons, and we will work to ensure they are not disadvantaged. We have already set out our approach for those on clinical trials, and similarly will set out our approach for those with medical exemptions soon.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
9th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to expand the availability of Theory and Hazard Perception testing for learner LGV drivers in the Scottish Highlands.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is aware that demand for theory tests in Scotland is currently high and it is doing all it can to offer more tests at centres by increasing opening hours and running tests on extra days where possible. The provision of additional testing is dependent upon the availability of venues and agreements with landlords. The DVSA is working with its theory test provider, Pearson VUE, to explore further ways in which it can further increase theory test capacity.

The DVSA is continuing to work with the Scottish Government but as a result of the 2 metre physical distancing restrictions required by the Scottish Government , it is unable to increase the number of desks used to take tests. This has reduced capacity at most theory test sites by 50%.

28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with the aviation industry on the number of flights being undertaken with two metre social distancing in place between different households and bubbles.

We continue to engage with the aviation sector on a regular basis, including on social distancing and other health measures. We consulted with the sector prior to developing the Government’s operator and passenger guidance and advised airlines to carry out a risk assessment and implement appropriate risk controls where social distancing was not possible. Wearing a face covering, which is mandatory on-board aircraft, can play a role in helping to prevent transmission of COVID-19, as can regular hand-washing and sanitisation.

Passengers are seated facing forwards in the same direction on board aircraft, which avoids the increased transmission risk of being seated face to face. In addition, air conditioning systems on modern aircraft do filter cabin air every few minutes. These filters are very effective at capturing airborne microbes in the filtered air and, when coupled with the drawn in fresh air, can help to mitigate the longer-range risk of transmission.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his officials in his Department have had with representatives of the DVLA on the waiting times for provisional drivers licences in the event that a medical assessment is required.

The potential for delays where an applicant for a provisional driver licence requires a medical assessment is recognised. This is because DVLA is often reliant on receiving information from healthcare professionals involved in dealing with the pandemic or its impacts.

17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 14 June 2021 to Question 13069 on DVLA: Recruitment, what discussions officials in his Department have had with officials for Government Equalities Office on undertaking an equalities impact assessment on the potential effect on the rights of disabled people of delays in the processing by the DVLA of requests for drivers licences from drivers with medical conditions.

The law requires that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) investigate the health of all driving licence holders and applicants who have a medical condition that may affect their ability to drive safely.

The DVLA is aware of its duties under equality legislation, in particular the Public Sector Equality Duty set out in Section 149 Equality Act 2010. The medical standards are applied consistently regardless of characteristics and in accordance with the law.

14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of an immediate work place safety inquiry into the covid-19 outbreak at the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency's Swansea offices.

Throughout the pandemic, the DVLA has implemented Welsh Government legislative requirements and advice fully, including its workplace guidance for offices and contact centres. It has made significant investment in making its estate Covid-secure, working closely with Public Health Wales, Swansea Council’s Environmental Health team and the trade union. In its visits to assess DVLA’s Covid control measures, Swansea Environmental Health confirmed a high level of compliance and did not identify any additional concerns over the control regime in place.

Extensive safety measures have been put in place across the DVLA’s sites. These include lateral flow testing for all staff on site, enhanced cleaning, social distancing, leasing an additional building, thermal imaging stations and perspex screens installed, floors divided into zones with no mixing within zones, one-way systems introduced, and communal areas closed. All staff whose jobs can be done remotely are working from home, with more than 2,000 staff doing so exclusively.

The DVLA’s online services have been available and unaffected throughout the pandemic and are the quickest and easiest way to renew a driving licence. Motorists are strongly advised to use these channels where possible. During the pandemic to help streamline processes and improve work flow the DVLA has accelerated the development of additional online services to reduce paper applications and supported their take up through a publicity campaign. Further digital service enhancements are underway.

14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to (a) ensure that concerns raised by workers' unions on the covid-19 outbreak at the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) headquarters during the second wave are taken account of, (b) streamline DVLA processes to help improve work flow and (c) ensure that sufficient resources are available to allow the timely progress of drivers license renewal applications.

Throughout the pandemic, the DVLA has implemented Welsh Government legislative requirements and advice fully, including its workplace guidance for offices and contact centres. It has made significant investment in making its estate Covid-secure, working closely with Public Health Wales, Swansea Council’s Environmental Health team and the trade union. In its visits to assess DVLA’s Covid control measures, Swansea Environmental Health confirmed a high level of compliance and did not identify any additional concerns over the control regime in place.

Extensive safety measures have been put in place across the DVLA’s sites. These include lateral flow testing for all staff on site, enhanced cleaning, social distancing, leasing an additional building, thermal imaging stations and perspex screens installed, floors divided into zones with no mixing within zones, one-way systems introduced, and communal areas closed. All staff whose jobs can be done remotely are working from home, with more than 2,000 staff doing so exclusively.

The DVLA’s online services have been available and unaffected throughout the pandemic and are the quickest and easiest way to renew a driving licence. Motorists are strongly advised to use these channels where possible. During the pandemic to help streamline processes and improve work flow the DVLA has accelerated the development of additional online services to reduce paper applications and supported their take up through a publicity campaign. Further digital service enhancements are underway.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions officials in his Department have had with representatives of the DVSA on using alternative testing sites in the Highlands for driver theory tests to increase test availability.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is aware there has been an unprecedented demand for theory tests in Scotland. The DVSA is working with its theory test provider, Pearson VUE, to explore ways in which it can increase theory test capacity in Scotland, including extending opening hours and running tests on extra days where possible.

The DVSA is continuing to work with the Scottish Government but as a result of the 2 metre physical distancing restrictions in Scotland, as required by the Scottish Government, it is unable to increase the number of desks used to take tests.

The DVSA and its theory test contract provider, Pearson VUE, have explored the possibility of delivering the theory tests outside of existing sites, but this was found to be not suitable as it is dependent upon a physical infrastructure within the Pearson VUE network.

25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the guidance entitled Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer aviation guidance for operators, what estimate his Department has made of the average number of daily flights that have implemented two meter social distancing between different households or support bubbles within aircraft where possible since the implementation of the green list travel corridors.

The Government expects all airlines to manage the risks of COVID-19 transmission. The guidance is clear that social distancing of 1m+ with risk mitigations should be observed where possible. Where social distancing is not possible, airlines are advised to carry out a risk assessment and implement appropriate risk controls. For example, wearing a face covering can play a role in helping us to protect each other.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of (a) the adequacy of covid-19 restrictions at airports designed to avoid the mixing of travellers from outbound and inbound air traffic from multiple destinations and (b) whether he plans to publish additional guidance to strengthen those restrictions as international air travel rules become segmented for different destinations.

The government has introduced a range of health measures such as the wearing of face coverings and social distancing to help reduce the risk of transmission at airports, as well as issuing clear guidance for both passengers and operators. Where social distancing is not possible, airlines are advised to carry out a risk assessment and implement appropriate risk controls. For example, wearing a face covering can play a role in helping us to protect other passengers, which is why it is mandatory to wear one at airports.

Additionally, operators are encouraged to introduce clear signage and one-way passenger flows where appropriate. Arrangements may vary depending on the airport and guidance is available to support operators to manage flows in a COVID-secure way. We continue to improve processes which maintain the checks we need to carry out to keep the public safe, while minimising disruption, and passengers can support this process by ensuring they have completed the necessary requirements to enter the UK. The government continues to engage with the aviation sector to ensure they are supported in implementing best practices.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions his Department has had with European counterparts on reciprocal driver's licence exchange arrangements.

The Government is committed to establishing arrangements with Member States that facilitate private motoring with the minimum of bureaucracy. We have confirmed agreement from all EU/EEA countries that UK motorists will continue to be able to drive in their territories on the basis of a UK Photocard licence, without the need for an additional International Driving Permit. All EU/EEA Member States, except for Italy, have also confirmed current arrangements for exchanging licences. We continue to explore options with Italy on this issue. Most of our agreements are permanent arrangements and a small number require formal agreements which will be concluded before the end of this year. Where these agreements are needed, the UK has secured interim arrangements with the relevant Member States.

15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has held with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) on (a) the time frames from the (i) postage of a notification to (ii) implementation of a driving license revocation and (b) whether the DVLA has made an assessment of the potential merits of using guaranteed delivery day postage systems for such revocation notifications.

When the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) determines that a driving licence should be revoked for medical reasons, the law requires that the notice of revocation must be served in writing to the licence holder. The letter notifying the individual of the revocation is sent by first class post and the licence is revoked either one or two working days after the letter is sent, depending on the time the letter is dispatched.

The Royal Mail’s current service aim is to deliver over 90 per cent of first class post by the next working day, including Saturdays. The DVLA already makes allowances for Bank Holidays and non-working days.

The DVLA has considered other guaranteed delivery day postage systems. However, these require someone to be at the address and to sign for the item which is not always possible. Sending these letters by first class post ensures delivery is made irrespective of whether anyone is available to receive the letter.

11th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the average waiting period for DVLA medical testing in the most recent period for which figures are available.

The length of time taken to deal with an application depends on the medical condition and if further information is required from medical professionals. Most decisions on whether a driving licence can be issued are made without the need for a medical examination. However, where an examination is necessary, waiting times are currently longer due to the current pressures on the NHS.

The number of driving licence applicants awaiting a medical examination fluctuates and is dependent on the availability of NHS appointments.

9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of prioritising the allocation of driving theory test slots to (a) essential workers and b) people who had those tests cancelled due to the covid-19 lockdown.

Following the Prime Minister's road map announcement, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is now planning to resume its services. In England, it intends to restart theory test services on 12 April 2021. This is providing that the Government’s coronavirus data shows it is safe to move from step 1 of the road map to step 2.

Dates for Scotland and Wales remain subject to agreement with the devolved administrations.

It would be unfair on other candidates, who have also waited patiently for their theory test, if certain groups are given priority. The DVSA is increasing theory test capacity and will make available between 120,000 -135,000 additional appointments per month.

4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions officials in his Department have had with their European counterparts on the scope of existing constraints on eligible small boat sizes that can be used for commercial activity within the EU.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has been engaging with EU Member States to remove technical barriers to enable the provision of cabotage services by UK vessels in specific EU Member States, including yachts under 24 meters. The MCA will continue to engage with relevant countries to ensure recognition of UK Small Commercial Vessel Codes and seek to unblock technical barriers where they exist. DfT will engage with EU Member States to unlock any other regulatory restrictions for maritime cabotage. The MCA have been working with European counterparts to make progress towards the mutual acceptance of qualifications and the technicalities of the codes of practice for some small vessels such as workboats.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with representatives of the DVLA on planning for (a) the restarting of driving theory testing and (b) ensuring the maximum number of driving theory tests are available once covid-19 lockdown restrictions have ended.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is responsible for the conduct of theory driving tests.

The DVSA has been working closely with Pearson VUE, its theory test provider, to explore ways in which it can expand theory testing capacity and reduce waiting times for theory tests once testing can resume.

Since theory tests re-started in August 2020 after the first lockdown, the DVSA has implemented various solutions which provided more testing capacity. This included extending opening and closing times where possible and extending the booking window from three months to four months to give candidates more choice of available dates. The DVSA also moved to one metre plus social distancing at test centres in England, which increased the number of candidates able to take their test at any one time.

Theory tests have again had to cease in all home nations. The DVSA will build on the experience it acquired from restarting and increasing test capacity after the first and second lockdowns to ensure it can offer maximum testing capacity as soon as it is safe to restart tests.

27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of funding new driver theory tests for learner drivers whose tests expired while awaiting new practical driving test dates following cancellations caused by the covid-19 outbreak.

Approximately 12,000 -14,000 candidates let their certificates lapse per month in normal circumstances. Further, a candidate whose theory test certificate expires will have received the service for which they paid the fee.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) pays its contractor, Pearson, per theory test delivered. If candidates were exempted from having to pay for a retake, then the DVSA and in turn the feepayer would incur these costs. In addition, applications for a re-test would need to be validated and systems amended to remove the requirement for payment in these cases. The DVSA’s focus should rightly be on developing solutions to address the backlog of practical driving tests that has arisen as a result of the pandemic.

4th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with the DVLA on using driving assessment mobility centres for standard driving tests during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is responsible for delivering driving tests.

No discussions have taken place with the DVSA on this issue. In order to be able to conduct driving tests, mobile centre trainers would be required to cease all their instructional activities and meet the requirements of Directive 2006/126/EC, which includes satisfying the various competences and undertaking an initial qualification and examination. There are no current plans to take this kind of action.

2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the average time taken by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to respond to complaints.

The average time taken by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to respond to complaints in November 2020 was six working days.

2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the level of staffing in the DVLA.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has a range of services available online which offer the quickest, easiest and often cheapest way to transact. The DVLA’s staff have ensured these online services have worked well throughout the pandemic, allowing businesses and motorists to transact with DVLA at a time and place that suits them.

All DVLA staff who can work from home continue to do so as office space has been prioritised for operational staff who have to be on-site to process paper applications.

The health and safety of DVLA staff is a priority. In line with the relevant guidance, the DVLA is employing shift patterns, staggered start times, weekend working and other measures to ensure that social distancing can be maintained.

19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether liquid biofuels are included in his Department's climate change policies; and what steps he plans to take to support the liquid biofuels industry.

Liquid biofuels play an important role in our policies to reduce carbon emissions from conventional road vehicles in use today, and potentially from those transport modes harder to reach through electrification.

The government has successfully supported the UK biofuel market since 2008 through the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO). Targets for the supply of low carbon fuels set through the RTFO have increased over time and are set to do so until at least 2032. In addition, an advanced biofuels market is being promoted by making available £20 million of capital funding through the Future Fuels for Flight and Freight Competition.

The Department will continue to monitor and review the support schemes it has in place for liquid biofuels and other low carbon fuels. In so doing we will consider how liquid biofuels are best deployed across sectors and in the delivery of cost-effective savings against future carbon budgets.

12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with the DVSA on ensuring people are not able to book tests that would require travelling from an area with a high level of covid-19 restrictions into an area under lower restrictions.

To help stop the spread of coronavirus, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency is following guidance and advice issued by the devolved administrations when taking the decision to suspend driving tests. It is working with Transport Scotland following the Scottish five-level system, the Welsh Parliament, and the Cabinet Office to ensure local and national restrictions are adhered to.

As was the case in March, people in England should stay at home to reduce day-to-day contact with other people, and reduce the spread of the infection. The DVSA has asked candidates, approved driving instructors and approved training bodies to respect and adhere to local and national restrictions when taking lessons and tests, and carrying out any form of training.

11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has had with the DVLA on ensuring people are not able to book tests that would require travelling from an area with a high level of covid-19 restrictions into an area under lower restrictions.

To help stop the spread of coronavirus, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency is following guidance and advice issued by the devolved administrations when taking the decision to suspend driving tests. It is working with Transport Scotland following the Scottish five-level system, the Welsh Parliament, and the Cabinet Office to ensure local and national restrictions are adhered to.

As was the case in March, people in England should stay at home to reduce day-to-day contact with other people, and reduce the spread of the infection. The DVSA has asked candidates, approved driving instructors and approved training bodies to respect and adhere to local and national restrictions when taking lessons and tests, and carrying out any form of training.

25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to support private investment in the UK maritime industry.

The maritime sector plays a key role in the UK economy, responsible for up to 95% of our imports and exports. As much of the UK maritime sector is privately owned, our world-leading companies are well placed to seek investment opportunities through commercial means.

Nevertheless, the Department, along with our colleagues across government, work closely with all parts of the UK maritime sector to identify the support they need to support their success and growth. In particular, the Department for International Trade works closely with the industry to promote the UK as an inward investment destination for the global maritime community.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the role decarbonising the maritime industry can play in reaching net zero by 2050.

The domestic maritime sector falls under the UK’s national net zero target, and in common with the wider economy will need to be decarbonised by 2050 in order to achieve net zero.

The Department has undertaken research into the decarbonisation of the sector as part of the Clean Maritime Plan, which has been published on Gov.UK, and meets regularly with Industry and Civil Society groups to discuss both domestic Net Zero and the international work to address GHG emissions being undertaken at the International Maritime Organization.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the level of funding that would be required to decarbonise the maritime industry.

The Department for Transport has undertaken extensive research in support of its Clean Maritime Plan to consider the level of investment required for the UK’s domestic maritime sector to achieve net zero by 2050. This research comprises a range of scenarios assessing different policy options, including both costs and benefits, and has been published on Gov.UK

For the global shipping industry, research carried out by UMAS, part of UCL, and published in January 2020, suggests that the total cost to achieve global maritime decarbonisation may be in the region of £1.5 trillion, invested over the next thirty years, with the majority of that investment occurring in the production and supply of alternative fuels.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what support his Department is providing to the maritime industry to support the decarbonisation of that industry.

The Department for Transport is working actively with the maritime sector to support decarbonisation at both international and domestic level.

Internationally we are working with other high ambition states at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the sector to develop and adopt pragmatic, effective, short and medium term measures that will peak and reduce emissions from the sector.

Domestically we have published research exploring the opportunities and challenges arising from decarbonisation, to provide the sector with greater clarity on what is required to achieve decarbonisation, and in support of this the Department has provided £1.5m of grants through Maritime Research and Innovation UK, supporting clean maritime innovation in the UK

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing covid-19 testing for all arrivals at airports.

The Government is actively working on the practicalities of using testing to release people from self-isolation earlier than 14 days. Officials across the Government are working with health experts with the aim of cutting the self-isolation period without adding to infection risk or infringing on our overall NHS test capacity. The Secretary of State for Transport has committed to updating the House on testing of international arrivals in the coming weeks.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions his Department has held with the DVSA as to the ongoing safety of the continuation of three in a vehicle ADI standards checks during the covid-19 pandemic.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has consulted with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive to ensure it can conduct approved driving instructor (ADI) standards checks safely with three people in the car, during the COVID-19 pandemic. PHE has said the DVSA’s standard operating procedures comply with general public health principles and existing guidance for the reduction of transmission risk. The DVSA has also cleared its standard operating procedures and risk assessments with the trade unions.

The DVSA will continue to keep its guidance under review in line with Government guidance.

27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of amending the Road Traffic Act 1988 to enable the legal road usage of personal light electric vehicles.

We are considering this closely and recognise that people want to take advantage of the opportunities that personal vehicles, such as electric scooters, can offer. The Department for Transport is committed to encouraging innovation in transport as well as improving road safety, but new modes of transport must be safe and secure by design.

The Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy, published on 19 March 2019, includes a Regulatory Review to address the challenges of ensuring our transport infrastructure and regulation are fit for the future.

The Strategy can be found at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/future-of-mobility-urban-strategy

The Department will use the Regulatory Review to examine current legislation and determine from the evidence what is needed to make the necessary changes for a safe and healthy future. One strand of this will look at options for enabling micromobility devices, and a consultation will be issued in due course.

26th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 22 February 2024 to Question 14619 on Universal Credit: Students, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending eligibility for Universal Credit to higher education students affected by (a) coercive financial control and (b) other forms of domestic abuse.

There are no plans to change current policy.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will have discussions with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on the potential merits of enabling employers to report to the HSE (a) drug and (b) alcohol misuse as a contributing factor in a reportable incident.

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) are made under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and apply to all sectors and workplaces in Great Britain.

RIDDOR requires responsible persons (usually employers in relation to employees) to report work-related fatalities and certain injuries, dangerous occurrences, and cases of disease. Reporting requirements are based on the outcome of incidents.

RIDDOR does not require the reporting of immediate or underlying causes, such as whether the use of drugs or alcohol were a contributing factor in a particular incident. Causation of an incident will not necessarily be apparent during the statutory timeframe in which a dutyholder is required to report; that information generally only becomes evident during an investigation, either by the dutyholder or the regulator.

Even if such information were required as part of the reporting process, it would be difficult to reliably establish direct causation on a case-by-case basis. Having this information reported would be of limited value to the regulator and disproportionate for the responsible person to ascertain.

Paul Maynard
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of extending the upcoming Cost of Living payment eligibility cut off dates for people (a) who are on Universal Credit and in work and (b) whose incomes have fallen as a result of ill health past the eligibility dates.

The first round of Cost of Living Payments was made in 2022 to over 8 million households on Universal Credit, Pension Credit, and eligible legacy benefits. These means-tested Cost of Living Payments, totalling £650, were made in two payments of £326 from July 2022 and £324 in November 2022. Around 6 million people received £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment, and over 11 million pensioners received up to £300 on top of their Winter Fuel Payment.

The second round of means-tested Cost of Living Payments, with a total amount of £900, are to be made in three payments. The first Cost of Living Payment of £301 was made between 25 April and 17 May 2023. The second Cost of Living Payment of £300 will be made between 31 October and 19 November 2023. The final Payment of £299 will be paid by Spring 2024.

To be eligible to receive a Cost of Living Payment, the individual must be entitled to payment of a qualifying means-tested benefit during the qualifying period, or a payment for an assessment period ending within the qualifying period.

The qualifying means-tested benefits include:

  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit (WTC)
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC)

We have kept the eligibility rules for the Cost of Living Payments as simple as possible to deliver them promptly and accurately.

The Cost of Living Payment for eligible means-tested benefit claimants will be delivered in three separate payments over 2023/2024.

This reduces the chance of someone missing out altogether, as those who do not qualify for one of the payments due to their changing circumstances may qualify for another one of the payments.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate he has made of the amount of court time used in proceedings against individuals who have allegedly installed gas-safe products without being gas-safe registered in the last 12 months.

With regards to cases brought by HSE, HSE does not hold information in relation to these proceedings centrally, so therefore to gather this information and provide it would incur disproportionate costs.

The overall cost to the public purse and court time in relation to all prosecutions goes beyond just the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) remit.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the cost to the public purse was of the prosecution of individuals undertaking (a) unsafe and (b) illegal installation of gas-safe regulated products in each of the last five years.

With regards to cases brought by HSE, HSE does not hold information in relation to these proceedings centrally, so therefore to gather this information and provide it would incur disproportionate costs.

The overall cost to the public purse and court time in relation to all prosecutions goes beyond just the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) remit.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what data his Department holds on whether the recovery of Employment Support Allowance overpayments from claimants has been waived for mental health reasons in the last two years.

During the period 1st April 2021 to date, 10 Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) debts were waived on mental health grounds.

The figures relate to legacy ESA and not New Style ESA, eligibility for which is primarily based on a claimant’s National Insurance record.

Overpayment recovery is subject to various legislative limitations and safeguards. Whilst the DWP has an obligation to protect public funds, our policy is to seek recovery without causing undue financial hardship to debtors.

Any claimants struggling with the proposed rate of deductions are encouraged to contact DWP Debt Management to discuss a temporary reduction in their rate of repayment.

In exceptional circumstances, where there are specific and compelling grounds to do so, a waiver can be considered. Full details on this can be found at Chapter 8 of the department’s Benefit Overpayment Recovery Guide:

Benefit overpayment recovery guide - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
14th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether his Department has provided recent guidance to medical clinicians on the use of SR1 forms for patients following changes to benefit applications under the new special rules for people with terminal illnesses.

The DWP provides guidance to clinicians to support them to provide the SR1 medical evidence form to support their patient at the end of life to make a claim for benefits under the Special Rules for End of Life (SREL). On 3rd April 2023, the DWP updated its clinical guidance on GOV.UK regarding the new SREL eligibility criteria and how to obtain and return an SR1 form. This guidance and a video explaining how to complete the SR1 form can be found at www.gov.uk/dwp/special-rules.

The DWP has worked closely with clinical stakeholders like the Ambitions Partnership for Palliative and End of Life Care and the Royal Colleges; this engagement will continue to raise awareness of the changes to the SREL.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
28th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if his Department will made of an assessment of the potential merits of working with the Office for National Statistics to use their experimental analysis articles on the different levels and impacts of inflation between the highest and lowest disposable income households to help decide (a) working age and (b) non-working age benefit payments.

Successive Governments since 1987 have used the relevant price index for the year to September in the conduct of the statutory annual review of State Pension and benefit rates. The Secretary of State currently uses the Consumer Prices Index for this purpose. At the present time there are no plans to change this approach.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will hold discussions with the Health and Safety Executive on the potential merits of including in the reporting process the ability to log when (a) drugs or (b) alcohol were a contributing factor to an accident at work.

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) are made under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and apply to all sectors and workplaces in Great Britain.

RIDDOR requires responsible persons (usually employers in relation to employees) to report

work-related fatalities and certain injuries, dangerous occurrences, and cases of disease. Reporting requirements are based on the outcome of incidents.

RIDDOR does not require the reporting of immediate or underlying causes, such as whether the use of drugs or alcohol were a contributing factor in a particular incident. Causation of an incident will not necessarily be apparent during the statutory timeframe in which a dutyholder is required to report; that information generally only becomes evident during an investigation, either by the dutyholder or the regulator.

If such information were required as part of the reporting process, it would be difficult to reliably establish direct causation on a case-by-case basis. Having this information reported would be of limited value to the regulator and disproportionate for the responsible person to ascertain.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 11 October 2022 to Question 54580, on Universal Credit, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of facilitating temporary Universal Credit capital allowance extensions in cases where they would prevent the suspension of an individual's Universal Credit award in the period between the sale of one Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle and the purchase of another one, and where the purchase of that new vehicle absorbs all the additional income generated by the sale.

Universal Credit is assessed in monthly assessment periods. Ordinarily capital is considered at the end of an assessment period. Therefore, the effect of capital on entitlement would depend on whether or not it was available to the claimant at the relevant time. Using the example given, if a wheelchair accessible vehicle was sold near the beginning of the assessment period and a replacement vehicle purchased before the end of that assessment period, then it is unlikely the proceeds would have any impact on the Universal Credit award, unless it increased the value of capital above the limits described above at the end of the assessment period.

The level at which capital starts to be claimed is above £6000. Entitlement to UC ends where capital is above £16000.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
25th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of increasing (a) the number of hours individuals can work whilst receiving carers allowance and (b) increasing flexibility within carers allowance to allow for partial payment alongside paid work.

The weekly Carer’s Allowance earnings limit will increase to £139 a week from April 2023. This means the earnings limit will have increased by more than a third since 2010.

Carer’s Allowance is not payable once net earnings exceed this figure. Carer’s Allowance “work rules” operate on the basis of an earnings limit, rather than hours worked. There are no plans to change this broad approach.

Many carers who are receiving Carer’s Allowance and doing some work will also be receiving Universal Credit. For those receiving Universal Credit, the 55% taper rate and any applicable work allowance will help to ensure that people are better off in work.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of excluding the sale of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles from Universal Credit income assessments.

The treatment of capital in any benefit that assists with living expenses is not a straightforward matter.

The current system allows people to continue to receive benefit even though they may have an amount of capital from £6,000 by gradually reducing the level of their entitlement.

The level beyond which capital starts to be considered is £6,000. This is because it is right that there is a point at which people with more substantial capital use these resources to help maintain themselves.

The capital limit above which Universal Credit entitlement ends is £16,000. This strikes a balance between protecting less well-off people and the taxpayer, whilst at the same time recognising the conscientious efforts of people who have built up capital.

This limit also ensures that the help which comes from taxpayers, many of whom are themselves on low incomes and have limited capital, is directed to people who need it most.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that the (a) evidence and (b) definition of in-work support required for a supported employee is clearly outlined to employers who employ people under Access to Work Plus.

Access to Work Plus is testing whether providing additional support for employers who are willing to do more and flex job roles for employees who need more than standard Access to Work, can help unlock more employment opportunities for disabled people. Access to Work will use its contracted supplier who have suitably qualified assessors to identify the employees in-work support needs and the adaptations the employer has made to the workplace and the job role to accommodate the employee.

Access to Work already provides general advice on workplace adjustments for employers who employ disabled people, however, is unable to provide personalised advice as it is dependent on individual need. The Access to Work holistic assessment builds on this advice and considers the employee’s working environment, including any adjustments the employer has made. The assessment is carried out in the workplace with the employee and the employer present, the assessment will make tailored recommendations for the disabled employee and offer advice for employers on the support they can provide for their employee.

The Access to Work case manager will use the assessments recommendations to determine if the employer satisfies the Access to Work Plus criteria.

To help build employer understanding of Access to Work Plus and the process used to determine eligibility, a series of communications have been developed and shared with a range of stakeholders, including Disability Confident employers and Jobcentre Plus. The reaction to these communications will be monitored to help inform further communication products and amended as necessary.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of implementing a time limit on the (a) re-assessment and (b) removal of previously granted Personal Independence Payment awards in order that claimants are not in debt for overpayments of awards where the evidence base her Department has available to it for the original provision of that award has altered.

Overpayments may arise due to official error or the claimant misrepresenting their circumstances or failing to report an adverse change of circumstances in time. All potential overpayments are considered on the facts with recovery being decided on a case-by-case basis. There are no plans to introduce a time-limit to recovery of an overpayment. We are committed to making assessment decisions in a timely way and ensuring that the right outcome is reached.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure support for individuals currently employed under the Temporary Employment Support Grant under Access to Work programs continues to move forward.

The Transitional Employer Support Grant is a flat-rate time-limited grant paid by Access to Work to fund the in-work support needs of disabled individuals working in Supported Businesses who previously delivered the Work Choice programme. This grant is providing transitional protection for disabled employees while a long-term funding model is developed. A new more personalised funding model is currently being piloted which offers disabled employees more tailored support and recognises the adaptations the employer has made. If the new model is successful it is expected to replace the Transitional Employer Support Grant.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
25th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of enabling data sharing between the Child Maintenance Service and HMRC to help ensure accurate income assessments of non-resident parents.

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) already uses data received directly from HMRC to ensure child maintenance liabilities are based on accurate income information. The CMS can also access a wide range of income information, including income from property, savings, and investments (including dividends) and other miscellaneous income.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of the introduction of a registration system for assistance dogs.

The services and standards of assistance dogs are currently and historically maintained on the basis of a voluntary regulatory framework. There is no specific legislation for the regulation of assistance dogs and no legislation is planned.

There are recognised standards for assistance dogs worldwide set by international bodies to which a number of UK charities and organisations are accredited.

31st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of the immediate removal of the two child limit for the Universal Credit Child Element for all claimants to enable Ukrainian nationals arriving in the UK are not (a) subject to limitations in available family support, and (b) made to disclose if they have being the victims of sexual violence used as a weapon of war in order to receive support for any children who may have being conceived in non-consensual conception above the two child limit.

No assessment has been made. The policy applies to all children born on or after 6 April 2017 regardless of the nationality of the child.

We recognise that some claimants are not able to make the same choices about the number of children in their family.

That is why exceptions have been put in place to protect certain groups, including those likely to have been born as a result of non-consensual conception. This includes rape or where the claimant was in a controlling or coercive relationship with the child’s other biological parent at the time of conception. In this case, before a claim is approved, claimants are asked to contact a suitable third-party professional who can confirm the claimant’s circumstances, as described by them, are consistent with the criteria for the exception. The third-party professional does not judge the credibility of the claimant’s statement or require any further evidence.

Furthermore, On 9th July 2021, the Supreme Court handed down the judicial review judgement on the two-child Policy. The court found the two-child Policy lawful and not in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of the regulatory framework for gas safety; and what estimate she has made of the (a) number of prosecutions made in connection with installations that fail to meet the gas safe engineer rules in each of the last three years and (b) annual cost to consumers of unsafe works.

In 2018 following discussions with stakeholders the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) amended the current regulations, Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (GSIUR).

HSE continues to work across UK Government and industry to ensure the regulations are effective to maintain the safety of gas users not just today but in the development of future fuels that form part of the wider Net Zero Strategy.

HSE is currently conducting a Post Implementation Review of the specific amendments they made to the regulations in 2018 and will be reporting their conclusions in 2023.

Since the introduction of GSIUR, the number of reported gas-related fatalities has steadily declined from 48 in 1998/99 to 3 in 2020/21. While any number of fatalities is clearly unwanted, this substantive decline is evidence that these regulations have improved the safety of the gas landscape in GB and that they remain effective.

HSE believes in firm but fair enforcement and the number of breaches prosecuted under GSIUR are outlined below:

Year

No. breaches prosecuted under GSIUR

2018/19

46

2019/20

74

2020/21

33

The annual cost to consumers of unsafe work is not reported to or held by Government.

4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of implementing a feature on calls relating to (a) universal credit and (b) employment support allowance where in the event that the caller does not progress with automated telephony services they are automatically transferred to a human operator.

All except two of the many freephone lines that DWP provides operate with a menu of options for customers to select before the call is routed to a human operator. The two lines which operate differently with a form of automation are the Benefit Enquiry Line and the Jobcentre Enquiry Line. These freephone lines use a function called Natural Language Call Steering which, if the customer is not understood, does not understand the question, or chooses not to speak, will revert to a menu of options before transfer to a human operator.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
29th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of excluding (a) Lifetime ISA's, and (b) private pension savings mechanisms from universal credit capital rules.

The value of any right to receive pension under an occupational or personal pension scheme or any other pension scheme registered under section 153 of the Finance Act 2004, is already disregarded under Universal Credit capital rules.

The Lifetime ISA is primarily a savings vehicle rather than a pension scheme. That is why money invested in a Lifetime ISA will be treated as capital in Universal Credit.

Universal Credit capital rules strike a balance between protecting less well-off people and protecting the taxpayer, whilst at the same time recognising the hard work of people who have built up capital. They ensure that the help which comes from taxpayers, many of whom are themselves on low incomes and have limited capital, is directed to people who need it most.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that people whose voices cannot be understood by her Department's automated helpline systems are redirected to a human operator.

All except two of the Freephone lines that DWP provides operate with a menu of options for customers to select the most appropriate one before the call is then routed to an agent. The two lines which operate differently; Benefit Enquiry Line (BEL) and the Jobcentre Enquiry Line (JEL) use a function called Natural Language Call Steering which will revert to a menu of options if the customer is not understood or chooses not to speak

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the average telephony waiting time for people seeking support with their employment support allowance via her Department's helplines as of 8 November 2021; and what assessment she has made of the acceptability of those waiting times.

We actively manage our Percentage of Calls Answered (PCA) to achieve the optimal service to our customers by balancing our resources to meet the needs of our customers. To achieve this, we consider a variety of factors of which average speed of answer is one. These figures are calculated using historic data available to us and balancing this alongside current demand.

For The period 1 October 2021 – 31 October 2021 the average speed of answer for Employment and Support Allowance was 21 minutes and 08 seconds. Call volumes received during the month of October were 8.6% higher than our forecast figures. This will have contributed to the slight increase in the average speed of answer for the month.

To actively achieve the optimal PCA of 80% the accepted average speed of answer for Employment and Support Allowance enquiries is 18 minutes 48 seconds.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer on 25 October 2021 to Question 57146 on Employment Support Allowance (ESA), what steps her Department is taking to ensure (a) ESA decision makers apply hardship payments where appropriate for individuals whose ESA has been temporarily suspended while investigations into capital allowance are ongoing and (b) training of ESA decision makers on the role of hardship payments.

Decisions about whether suspending payment would cause hardship are made on a case by case basis by considering the circumstances of the claimant at the point that suspension becomes an option. This would only arise after a claimant has been given the opportunity to resolve the doubt that has arisen in relation to their entitlement or award and not done that.

Decision makers are trained to be fully conversant with all legislation and guidance in relation to all aspects of Decision Making, including hardship. There are quality assurance frameworks to ensure that there are consistent national standards in the decision-making process.

27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of providing additional support for the mobility needs of severely disabled children under the age of three.

Children under the age of 16 can claim Child Disability Living Allowance (DLA). They are not eligible for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which is a benefit for working age claimants.

DLA is an extra-costs benefit available to those under the age of 16 who, due to a disability or health condition, have mobility issues and/or have needs which are substantially in excess of a child the same age without the disability or health condition. DLA is a contribution towards the extra costs associated with being disabled.

As all younger children have substantial mobility needs, only children over the age of three can claim the mobility component of DLA. Under 3s, however, can still access other forms of support, including the care component of DLA.

There are no current proposals to change the existing age restrictions for the mobility component of Child DLA.

27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the impact of excluding children under the age of three from personal independence payment's higher rate mobility awards on those children and their families.

Children under the age of 16 can claim Child Disability Living Allowance (DLA). They are not eligible for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which is a benefit for working age claimants.

DLA is an extra-costs benefit available to those under the age of 16 who, due to a disability or health condition, have mobility issues and/or have needs which are substantially in excess of a child the same age without the disability or health condition. DLA is a contribution towards the extra costs associated with being disabled.

As all younger children have substantial mobility needs, only children over the age of three can claim the mobility component of DLA. Under 3s, however, can still access other forms of support, including the care component of DLA.

There are no current proposals to change the existing age restrictions for the mobility component of Child DLA.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what funding the Government plans to make available for face to face support from third sector organisations currently contracted to assist the most vulnerable with universal credit claims over the next 12 months.

The Department is committed to providing the best possible support for all our claimants, including the most vulnerable in society, in both making and maintaining their claim.

Help to Claim support delivered through Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland offers tailored, practical support to help people make a Universal Credit claim, up to receiving their first full correct payment on time.

This support has been bolstered by the announcement in March this year of a further 12 months of funding for Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland to deliver Help to Claim.

Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland continue to deliver the Help to Claim support, mainly through their telephony and web chat channels. However, both organisations have started re-introducing face to face support within a number of sites, in line with guidance, and we will continue to support them with this.

Throughout the pandemic, our jobcentres also remained open so that the most vulnerable claimants could continue to have face-to-face meetings as necessary.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the current call waiting time for individuals seeking support with a universal credit claim from her Department's helpline; and if she will make an assessment of the adequacy of that call waiting time.

We regularly review our resources both internally and with our telephony suppliers to ensure we meet customer demand across all services of contact including our phone lines, our service partners are currently recruiting additional staff to answer customer enquiries. Whilst demand fluctuates, this recruitment has supported so far this month our aim to keep average wait times under ten minutes, adequate for the freephone services available for all DWP customers.

The Actual Average Speed of Answer (Call Waiting) for Universal Credit April to September 2021 is shown in the table below in the format of hours:minutes:seconds.

April

May

June

July

August

September

12:28

10:43

04:00

04:57

07:05

11:38

Average Speed of Answer measures the average customer wait time from the point of entering a queue to connection to an agent. This excludes any time spent in pre-queue messaging and any wait time for calls ultimately abandoned by callers.

Please note that the data in the above tables is derived from unpublished management information which was collected for internal Departmental use only and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. The data should therefore be treated with caution.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of extending the eligibility criteria for people on Income Related Employment and Support Allowance to apply for a hardship payment to include any cause of temporary payment suspension.

Whether the claimant is facing a sanction related to work-related matters or a suspension because there is a doubt about their entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance, claimants can already apply for hardship with their Jobcentre adviser, work coach or via the helpline, at any time during the period when payment is reduced or stopped.

17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average waiting time is for personal independence payment claims to be reviewed by a Health Professional prior to determining the best method for undertaking an assessment in the most recent period for which figures are available; and whether that waiting time has met her Department's targets set for that process.

The information requested is not available.

It might be helpful if I explain that on receipt of a referral, a Health Professional (HP) will review each case along with any additional information provided by the claimant. If there is enough paper-based evidence to determine entitlement, the HP will assess the claimant on this evidence alone. If there is not, the HP may request further medical evidence from a treating medical professional. Once all the information has been received, the HP may be able to provide a paper-based assessment. If they cannot, the HP will advise on the appropriateness of a telephone, video or face to face assessment, and an assessment will be scheduled with the claimant as soon as possible.

Both DWP and its providers remain committed to ensuring claimants receive an efficient service, and takes all steps possible to ensure claimants are assessed in the most efficient way possible.

17th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate her Department has made of the average waiting time to process personal independence payment applications in (a) Scotland and (b) the Highlands.

We are committed to ensuring that people can access financial support through Personal In-dependence Payment (PIP) in a timely manner and reducing customer journey times for PIP claimants is a priority for the Department. We always aim to make an award decision as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to review all available evidence.

Average waiting times for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) new claims made under normal rules (i.e. excluding those processed under special rules) are calculated as the median number of weeks from registration to DWP decision, and published as the “Average Actual Clearance Time”. For claims cleared in July 2021, the latest data shows:

(a) The Average Actual Clearance Time for new claims in Scotland was 26 weeks.

(b) The Average Actual Clearance Time for new claims in the Highlands Local Authority was 28 weeks.

Notes:

Data Source: PIP Atomic Data Store (ADS)

  • Data for the Highlands Local Authority is unpublished. It should be used with caution as there is likely to be more variability in clearance times at small geographical levels. It may be subject to future revision.
  • The status of claims as 'normal rules' and 'new claim' is shown as at the point of the DWP decision, in accordance with the measure. It is possible for claims to transition between normal and special rules, and between new claims and reassessments, during the course of the claimant journey.
  • Clearance time measures do not include claims that were withdrawn by the claimant or claims that were disallowed by DWP prior to referral to the Assessment Providers (e.g. for failure to meet basic eligibility criteria).
  • The median time is the middle value if you were to order all the times within the distribution from lowest value to highest value. The median is presented here instead of the mean because the mean can be unduly affected by outlying cases (e.g. cases where the person has been hard to reach due to being in prison, hospital, failed to attend the assessment on numerous occasions etc.).

9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the (a) appropriateness of access rights to claimant information when third parties make alternative enquiry requests to the State Pension Claim phoneline and (b) adequacy of support available under those rules from third party organisations for claimants who are unable to make applications independently to the phoneline.

The DWP Agents, Appointees, Attorneys, Deputies and third parties guide is used by staff to ensure that communications from customer representatives are processed in line with guidance. This includes the instances when State Pension claims are made by a customer’s official representative.

Official customer representatives can make enquiries to DWP via our helplines, as well as making written requests to the DWP Mail Opening Unit address, which is available online at GOV.UK

DWP also operates secure email links with Local Authorities in the instances when they act as Corporate Appointee to make a claim on behalf of a customer or to share information.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of increasing the level of the Cold Weather Payment to help offset (a) the suspension of the pension triple lock in the 2022-23 financial year and (b) increasing fuel costs.

The Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Bill ensures those who rely on the new State Pension, basic State Pension and Pension Credit Standard Minimum Guarantee have their spending power preserved. They will be protected from the higher costs of living by increasing at least with the rise in inflation or 2.5%, whichever is higher. This was also the case last year when we took legislative action to increase State Pension rates despite the fall in earnings which would otherwise have meant that they would have been frozen.

The UK Government is committed to supporting older people and vulnerable households to keep warm, and it has a strong package of policies already delivering to those in need.

This includes Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments available in Scotland until the Scottish Government has built the capacity to deliver replacements for them.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
9th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect on the levels of fuel poverty of the suspension of the pension triple lock in the Scottish Highlands.

The Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Bill ensures those who rely on the new State Pension, basic State Pension and Pension Credit Standard Minimum Guarantee have their spending power preserved. They will be protected from the higher costs of living by increasing at least with the rise in inflation or 2.5%, whichever is higher. This was also the case last year when we took legislative action to increase State Pension rates despite the fall in earnings which would otherwise have meant that they would have been frozen.

The UK Government is committed to supporting older people and vulnerable households to keep warm, and it has a strong package of policies already delivering to those in need.

This includes Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments available in Scotland until the Scottish Government has built the capacity to deliver replacements for them.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what additional steps she will take to improve response times to personal independence payment inquires from hon. Members.

The Department aims to provide substantive replies to inquiries from hon. Members within 20 working days. Where issues are complex substantive replies may take longer.

19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Order by Consent issued by the High court on 13 July 2021 (CO/4263/2020), whether her Department carried out an equalities impact assessment of its policy to make on-the-spot personal independence payment benefit calls to recipients of that benefit.

The Department’s aim is that claimants are paid the correct amount of benefit at the earliest opportunity. Where new evidence or information becomes available after an appeal has been lodged, but before it is heard at a tribunal, DWP is able to revise a decision and increase the award where appropriate. In circumstances where the decision can be revised but not to the level the claimant is seeking on appeal, we contact claimants to give them the option to continue with their appeal or to have the decision revised, in which case they can still appeal the new decision. The right of appeal was always set out in the decision letter claimants receive notifying them of the new decision. Accordingly, we have no plans to further review the Department’s handling of past calls.

We began contacting claimants in this way in 1998 consequent on the change in the law introduced by the Social Security Act 1998, whereby the Secretary of State may revise a decision in the claimant’s favour even if they would not get everything they were seeking on appeal. An equality impact assessment was not conducted at that time and has not been conducted pursuant to the Equality Act 2010.

19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Order by Consent issued by the High court on 13 July 2021 (CO/4263/2020), what assessment she has made of the potential merits of conducting an inquiry into her Department's handling of Personal Independence Payment benefit calls.

The Department’s aim is that claimants are paid the correct amount of benefit at the earliest opportunity. Where new evidence or information becomes available after an appeal has been lodged, but before it is heard at a tribunal, DWP is able to revise a decision and increase the award where appropriate. In circumstances where the decision can be revised but not to the level the claimant is seeking on appeal, we contact claimants to give them the option to continue with their appeal or to have the decision revised, in which case they can still appeal the new decision. The right of appeal was always set out in the decision letter claimants receive notifying them of the new decision. Accordingly, we have no plans to further review the Department’s handling of past calls.

We began contacting claimants in this way in 1998 consequent on the change in the law introduced by the Social Security Act 1998, whereby the Secretary of State may revise a decision in the claimant’s favour even if they would not get everything they were seeking on appeal. An equality impact assessment was not conducted at that time and has not been conducted pursuant to the Equality Act 2010.

15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the consent order in K v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions CO / 4263 / 2020, what steps her Department is taking in response to that consent order to ensure that people who received on the spot benefit calls and as a result accepted a lower Personal Independence Payment (PIP) payment than they were legally entitled to are (a) contacted and (b) have that PIP payment (i) corrected and (ii) fully backdated.

The Department’s aim is to ensure that claimants are paid the correct amount of benefit at the earliest opportunity. Accordingly, if new evidence or information becomes available after an appeal has been lodged, it is right that decisions are reviewed and claimants put in the best position where they can choose either to continue with their appeal, or have the decision revised. At the same time claimants have, and have always had, a right of appeal against the revised decision, and to have their payments fully backdated if successful at appeal. Claimants are notified of this right of appeal in their revised decision letter.

15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 6 July 2021 to Question 28245 on Personal Independence Payments: Long Covid, how many people have applied for personal independence payments with covid-19 as a primary disability since March 2021.

In the application process for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), a claimant’s main disabling condition is only recorded centrally on Departmental computer systems at assessment. Disabilities are not recorded centrally at the point of application. The Department does not therefore hold data on the number of applicants to PIP with particular conditions. Only those who have a disability assessment determination decision will have a main disabling condition recorded for them.

The latest available data on the number of people who have “Coronavirus COVID-19” recorded as their primary disability following assessment for PIP each month can be found on Stat-Xplore: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/. As described in my response to Question 28245, this disabling condition has been available to record for PIP assessments following a computer system change in March 2021. Due to the nature of the qualifying period for PIP claims, these cases will all be “long COVID” or “post-COVID syndrome” cases rather than initial COVID-19 infections.

Guidance on how to use Stat-Xplore can be found here:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/index.html.

6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the inclusion of covid-19 as a registrable cause for a long term health condition when applying for personal independence payment (PIP) since March 2021, what discussions his Department has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on developing a system of monthly published reporting of PIP application numbers to allow for additional tracking of the economic impact of long covid.

Entitlement to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is assessed on the basis of the needs arising from a health condition or disability, rather than the health condition or disability itself.

PIP statistics are published on a quarterly basis and include breakdowns by month. From March 2021, the published statistical series that include low level disability breakdowns (clearances, PIP cases with entitlement, MR registrations and clearances, Award Review & Change of Circumstance clearances) include the additional category “Coronavirus covid-19”. This reflects an operational change implemented in March 2021 to include this code on the PIP Computer System. This will allow us to track the volume of clearances with Coronavirus covid-19 as a primary disability and the corresponding volume/proportion of the PIP caseload. There are currently no plans to publish the PIP statistics on a monthly basis.

There are regular, ongoing discussions between the Secretary of State and Cabinet colleagues.

25th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to allow discretion in taking recovery action for overpayment of universal credit when that overpayment occurred as a result of her Department's error.

Following the introduction of the 2012 Welfare Reform Act, all overpayments of Universal Credit and new style benefits paid in excess of entitlement are recoverable.

The trend in recent years has been to ensure claimants are left with more of their benefit; through two successive reductions in the proportion of UC we will deduct – from 40% of the UC Standard Allowance to 30% and now 25% from April 2021.

The Department seeks to recover benefit overpayments without creating undue financial hardship; any person who does experience such hardship is encouraged to contact the Department’s Debt Management unit. Where a person cannot afford the proposed rate of repayment a lower amount can be negotiated.

In exceptional circumstances discretion not to pursue recovery can also be applied under guidelines set out by HM Treasury. Typically, this would be where the continuing recovery would cause severe hardship or risk to the customer and/or their family. Further details of which are publicly available in HM Treasury’s Managing Public Money.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/994902/MPM_Spring_21_with_annexes_180621.pdf

24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the average waiting time for a decision on whether an award should be made in the case of a new Personal Independence Payment application; and what assessment she has made of acceptability of that waiting time.

I refer the Hon member to the answer I gave on 24 May 2021 to Question UIN3035.

18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to reduce the time taken for a decision on a new personal independence payment claim.

We are committed to ensuring that people can access financial support through Personal Independence Payment in a timely manner. We always aim to make an award decision as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to review all available evidence.

We are currently operating within expected levels. Average clearance times from initial claim to a decision being made for new claims are currently 19 weeks, which is the same as average clearance times achieved in January 2020.

16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions officials in her Department have had with representatives of (a) chambers of commerce and (b) local authorities on registering as gateway providers to enable local small and medium sized enterprises to use the Kickstart Scheme.

Officials from the Department for Work and Pensions have had discussions with organisations and employers across the country about involvement in the Kickstart Scheme. This includes the Scottish and Welsh governments, mayoral combined authorities and local authorities and chambers of commerce.

We are delighted that these discussions have resulted in more than 900 organisations being approved as Gateways for the Kickstart Scheme including around 35 members of the British Chambers of Commerce network. There are also over 100 Local Authorities approved to be Kickstart Gateways. We closed applications to organisations seeking to be a new Gateway.

Since 3rd February we have also removed the 30 job minimum requirement for direct applications to Kickstart. This will make the scheme accessible to even more employers – especially smaller ones - giving them choice about whether to apply direct or via one of the approved Kickstart Gateways. We continue to engage with employers to maintain the high interest in the scheme with over 180,000 jobs approved to date.

Although care is taken when processing and analysing Kickstart applications, referrals and starts, the data collected might be subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale recording system which has been developed quickly. The management information presented here has not been subjected to the usual standard of quality assurance associated with official statistics, but is provided in the interests of transparency.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of expanding access to the Kickstart Scheme to enable small and medium sized enterprises to use that scheme.

The Department for Work and Pensions’ Kickstart Scheme is already open for small and medium employers, as well as larger ones, to offer jobs to young people. On 3rd February 2021, we removed the requirement for an application to the Scheme to contain a minimum of 30 jobs. This means that employers have greater choice in how they participate regardless of the number of Kickstart jobs they are seeking to offer. All employers also have the option of applying through one of the 900 approved Gateway organisations supporting Kickstart. Sole traders can also participate in the scheme by applying through one of our approved Gateway Plus organisations.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of publishing the number of Kickstart Scheme applications that have been rejected by region.

A regional breakdown of applications to the Kickstart Scheme is not currently held by the Department for Work and Pensions. This is because applications at the approval stage of Kickstart only provide the registered address of the applying organisation (employer or Gateway) and so are not reflective of where the jobs would be based if approved. Employers and Gateway organisations can make multiple applications to the scheme. And some employers within Gateway application may be rejected while others are approved. This data is therefore of limited use for analytical and planning purposes. For these reasons, information is not currently produced on application outcomes by region.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when she plans to reply to the letters from the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey of 23 November 2020 passed to the Department for Housing Communities and Local Government and then the Department for Health and Social Care before being returned to her Department for response on 17 March 2021.

A reply was sent to the hon. Member on 13 April 2021.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of extending universal credit rent support to adult children living in their familiar home where that rent is not paid to a family member.

Housing Costs Support in Universal Credit is already available to any claimant with a rent liability for the home they live in, where that liability is on a commercial basis and not owed to a close relative who lives at the same address.

There are no limitations on adult children who live at the same address as their parents from claiming housing costs support, so long as the above conditions are met.

10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect on claimants of having to proactively reapply for personal independence payments as opposed to having an integrated process of automatic renewal of those payments.

On Personal Independence Payment (PIP), we do not have an integrated process of automatic renewals but review claimants to ensure their award reflects their needs. Once someone has been awarded PIP, which can be paid at one of eight rates, that award will be reviewed. Award rates and their durations are set on an individual basis, based on the claimant’s needs and the likelihood of those needs changing. Regular reviews are a key feature of the benefit and ensure that payments accurately match the current needs of claimants, something fundamentally missing from Disability Living Allowance, which PIP began to replace in 2013. Award durations are based on an individual’s circumstances and can vary from nine months to an on-going award, with a light touch review at the ten-year point.

Some claimants can be given a shorter, fixed-term award which isn’t subject to a review on the basis that the individual’s needs will improve to the point they are not entitled by the end of their award. Claimants subject to such an award are free to make a new claim before their award ends if they consider they may still be entitled.

Since PIP was introduced we have implemented changes and improved guidance which reduces the frequency of reviews for most pensioners and those with the highest needs and where those needs will not improve or will deteriorate.

3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when she plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey of 9 November 2020 and the follow-up sent on 19 February 2021.

A reply was sent to the hon. Member on behalf of the Secretary of State by a Director on 5 March.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to help reduce wait times for the Independent Case Examiner to asses a complaint.

In 2020/21, the Department provided additional funding to the Independent Case Examiner’s Office, to allow it to increase its headcount from 89 to 112. The recruitment and rigorous training of additional Investigation Case Managers, to reduce the time complaints wait to be brought into investigation, is underway.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the average waiting time for decisions to award personal independence payments (PIP) to people whose fixed term PIP awards ended after the 2 October 2020.

Table 1 below shows the median clearance time in working days from registration to initial clearance (end to end clearance time) of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) advanced claim awards made up to 31st October 2020 (the latest data available), following a fixed term award with no review that was due to end after 2nd October 2020. This is broken down by whether the advanced claim was awarded under Normal Rules or Special Rules for the Terminally Ill. This data excludes advanced Claims that were outstanding as of 31st October 2020.

Table 1: Median end to end Clearance time in working days of PIP advanced claims awarded following a fixed term award due to end after 2nd October 2020.

Normal Rules Median Clearance Time*

Special Rules for The Terminally Ill Median Clearance Time

-

7

*Please note that for Normal Rules advanced claims, there were 20 claimants who were awarded a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) fixed term award at initial decision due to end after 2nd October 2020 who have had their advanced Claim awarded up to 31st October 2020 (the latest data available).

Because of the small number of claims in this category we are unable to provide an average for the clearance time in this instance. Calculating averages for small populations has a risk of misrepresentative results skewed by non-typical values. This is in line with our practice for PIP statistical publications, where averages for populations of less than 50 are suppressed.

Notes

Source: PIP ADS

  • The end dates here are recorded as of the initial decision for a New Claim or Reassessment from DLA. This data excludes instances where end dates have been updated following this initial decision.
  • PIP data includes both new claims and reassessment claims from Disability Living Allowance.
  • This is unpublished data. It should be used with caution and it may be subject to future revision.
  • Data on the number of clearances has been rounded to the nearest 10. Medians are rounded to the nearest working day
  • Data includes advanced claims registered following either a Normal Rules Short term award with no review or a claim registered following a Special Rules for Terminally Ill claimants that was due to end after 2nd October 2020.
  • Advanced claims are defined as a New Claim or Reassessment from DLA registration made by a claimant with an existing award either less than 6 months prior to the end date or any time after the end date of an existing award.
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of applying a backdated uplift to personal independence payment in line with the increase in universal credit to the start of the covid-19 outbreak.

Universal Credit is an income related benefit unlike the disability benefits such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which is an extra costs benefits. PIP is not means–tested, non-contributory and thus paid regardless of any income or savings. PIP is also tax-free and worth up to £151.40 a week. PIP was not subject to the benefits freeze and was most recently uprated by 1.7 per cent from 6 April 2020. Following the Secretary of State’s most recent statutory review of the rates of PIP, it is due to be uprated again from 12 April 2021, subsequent to the recent approval of the Social Security Up-rating Order 2021 by both Houses of Parliament.

PIP can be paid in addition to other financial support that those with a health condition or disability may be eligible for, such as Employment and Support Allowance, UC (thereby taking advantage of the UC increase), additional amounts and premiums paid within the income-related benefits, Carer’s Allowance or financial and practical help from the NHS or Local Authorities.

11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the decision not to extend to uplift to universal credit to legacy benefits on the comparative healthcare outcomes for individuals living with disabilities.

The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit was announced by the Chancellor as a temporary measure in March 2020 to support those facing the most financial disruption as a result of the public health emergency. This measure remains in place until March 2021. As the Government has done throughout this crisis, it will continue to assess how best to support people, which is why we will look at the economic and health context before making any decisions.

There are no plans to extend a benefit increase to legacy benefits. Claimants on legacy benefits can make a claim for UC if they believe that they will be better off. Claimants should check carefully their eligibility and entitlements under UC before applying as legacy benefits will end when claimants submit their claim and they will not be able to return to them in the future. For this reason, prospective claimants are signposted to independent benefits calculators on GOV.UK.

11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what equalities impact assessment her Department has undertaken on the decision not to extend the £20 uplift to universal credit to employment support allowance.

The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit was announced by the Chancellor as a temporary measure in March 2020 to support those facing the most financial disruption as a result of the public health emergency. This measure remains in place until March 2021. As the Government has done throughout this crisis, it will continue to assess how best to support people, which is why we will look at the economic and health context before making any decisions.

There are no plans to extend a benefit increase to legacy benefits. Claimants on legacy benefits can make a claim for UC if they believe that they will be better off. Claimants should check carefully their eligibility and entitlements under UC before applying as legacy benefits will end when claimants submit their claim and they will not be able to return to them in the future. For this reason, prospective claimants are signposted to independent benefits calculators on GOV.UK.

5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of extending time frames for debt recovery of Universal Credit overpayments during the covid-19 outbreak.

No such assessment has been made.

Debt recovery, including the recovery of Universal Credit overpayments, was paused for 3 months from April 2020, so that Debt Management staff could support processing in excess of three million new Universal Credit claims following the outbreak of COVID 19.

Those staff have subsequently been able to return to their roles in Debt Management and we have adopted a phased and controlled approach to re-instating debt recovery, allowing us to manage the demand on services.

There are no current plans to re-instate the suspension of debt recovery, but we will keep the situation under review.

We have always recognised that there will be some people who may be experiencing financial difficulty, and anyone unable to afford the rate of recovery is encouraged to contact DWP so an affordable rate of repayment can be negotiated based on their individual circumstances.

4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of excluding payments from workplace (a) bullying redress schemes and (b) sexual harassment redress schemes from income calculations for universal credit.

There are no plans to amend the treatment in Universal Credit of such payments. They would not be treated as unearned income unless subject to taxation under Part 5 of the Income Tax (Trading and Other Income) Act 2005. Where one-off payments are treated as capital there would be no effect on Universal Credit entitlement unless the claimant’s capital reached £6,000 or more. Capital of £16,000 would end entitlement to Universal Credit.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect on relative poverty levels of the decision not to extend the £20 universal credit uplift to employment support allowance claimants.

No assessment has been made.

If a legacy benefit claimant wishes to apply for Universal Credit, they can do so online. However, we encourage all those who think they may be eligible to use a benefits calculator before applying, as making a Universal Credit claim will cease any entitlement to legacy benefits that an individual might have and they cannot move back to legacy benefits.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average rejection rate is for the Kickstart scheme, by constituency.

Data regarding the average rejection rate of applications for the Kickstart scheme, by constituency, is not available.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of extending support for former business owners during the covid-19 outbreak by not including monies paid out by former business owners for business closure costs in their universal credit calculations after a company liquidates.

Universal Credit treats company directors in the same way as self-employed people who do not choose to structure their business that way and, where someone is treated as self-employed in UC, permitted expenses are deducted from any earnings before UC is calculated. If a person has ceased to carry on a business within the last 6 months, and is taking reasonable steps to dispose of assets which were used wholly or mainly in that business, those business assets can be disregarded from the calculation of that person’s capital when entitlement to Universal Credit is calculated.

4th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent estimate she has made of the response timeframe for Child Maintenance Service complaints.

Complaints received about the Child Maintenance Service are handled in line with the overall Departmental complaints process published on Gov.uk. We aim to contact customers within 15 working days to clear the complaint or agree how to investigate it if it will take longer.

As part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to make changes to our complaints model to allow staff to be deployed to support processing claims and payments. From 9 July 2020, DWP now triage complaints giving priority to vulnerable customers who may be at risk, and those with benefit payment issues.

We continue to look into all complaints as quickly as we can and, as part of the triage process used to determine lower priority, we write to those customers explaining there may be a delay in answering their complaint.

We plan to review the effectiveness of the approach we have taken throughout the pandemic as part of an ongoing review into complaints handling.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what comparative assessment her Department has made of the average time taken for a claimant to receive a personal independence payment in November (a) 2020 and (b) 2019.

Data on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) clearance times for both PIP New Claims and Reassessments from Disability Living Allowance is published. This covers each stage of the customer journey for the period covering April 2013 – July 2020 (latest available data). This can be found in Tables 2A – 2A(vi) for Normal Rules claims and 2B for claims made under Special Rules for the Terminally Ill in the following published statistical tables:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/917471/tables-pip-statistics-to-july-2020.xlsx

16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on her Department's staffing levels.

The Department is continually assessing the services being offered to customers and we continue to keep staff numbers under review as part of our response to the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market. We have recruited and continue to recruit significant numbers of new staff to meet the demand required.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of trends in the time taken to process a universal credit complaint.

Complaints received about the Universal Credit are handled in line with the overall Departmental complaints process published on Gov.uk. We aim to contact customers within 15 working days to clear the complaint or agree how to investigate it if it will take longer.

As part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to make changes to our complaints model to allow staff to be deployed to support processing claims and payments. From 9 July 2020, DWP now triage complaints giving priority to vulnerable customers who may be at risk, and those with benefit payment issues.

We continue to look into all complaints as quickly as we can and, as part of the triage process used to determine lower priority, we write to those customers explaining there may be a delay in answering their complaint.

We plan to review the effectiveness of the approach we have taken throughout the pandemic as part of an ongoing review into complaints handling.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of introducing a call back system when individuals have spent a significant period of time waiting on hold with her Department's helplines.

DWP has considered the merits of a call-back service for customers. We concluded that it would not support the current operating models of the department. DWP moved all telephony services for customers to a free phone operation nearly three years ago and therefore any delay in answering calls will not be at the expense of customers.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of current response times to complaints raised with the Pension Service.

Complaints received about the Pension Service are handled in line with the overall Departmental complaints process published on Gov.uk. We aim to contact customers within 15 working days to clear the complaint or agree how to investigate it if it will take longer.

As part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to make changes to our complaints model to allow staff to be deployed to support processing claims and payments. From 9 July 2020, DWP now triage complaints giving priority to vulnerable claimants who may be at risk, and those with benefit payment issues.

We continue to look into all complaints as quickly as we can and, as part of the triage process used to determine lower priority, we write to those customers explaining there may be a delay in answering their complaint.

We plan to review the effectiveness of the approach we have taken throughout the pandemic as part of an ongoing review into complaints handling.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the Child Maintenance Service debt that has been written-off in the last 12 months where the paying parent has an ongoing maintenance liability.

No Child Maintenance Service (CMS) debt has been written off. The Department is offering one last attempt to collect historic Child Support Agency (CSA) debt, where it is cost effective to do so and there is a reasonable chance of collection. Where this is not possible, the debt will be written off.

There are no longer any CSA cases with ongoing maintenance.

Our main focus is to collect money owed to children who will benefit today, thereby preventing the build-up of arrears under the CMS.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that increased time frames for personal independence payment renewals do not prevent people whose PIP is no longer paid from accessing universal credit's limited capability for work related activity element when their income is above the conditionality earnings threshold and stopping them from having a universal credit work capability assessment.

As I stated during recent oral questions [Hansard, 14 September 2020, Column 6] the Department has supported disabled customers during the Covid outbreak by automatically extending existing Personal Independence Payment (PIP) awards. As PIP payments are unaffected until any review activity has been completed, the circumstances whereby an individual loses access to Universal Credit's limited capability for work and work related activity element do not arise.

2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of including a universal credit claim start date selection section, within the universal credit initial claim form, to enable clearer claim backdating for people who would be eligible under regulation 26 of the Claims and Payments Regulations.

We encourage all people to engage with us at their point of need, and as the vast majority of Universal Credit claims are successfully made online, most will not require backdating. However, backdating provision, of up to a maximum of one month, is available where the circumstances are such that someone could not reasonably have been expected to claim earlier, including due to illness, disability or an official computer system failure.

The Department works in partnership with a variety of stakeholders, including local authorities, charities and employer groups, as well as through our local Jobcentres, to distribute factual information on the range of benefits that people could be entitled to.

To support people in making the right decisions we also launched a new microsite within the ‘Understanding Universal Credit’ website, to help people navigate the range of support available and apply for it. Additionally, we also encourage the use of independent benefits calculators (available via www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators) to ensure individuals can navigate the welfare system and decide what is right for their circumstances.

However, we recognise that some people will still require additional support to successfully submit a claim to Universal Credit. From 1 April 2020 the Department has provided a second year of grant funding to Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland to continue to deliver Help to Claim. Help to Claim offers trusted, independent, tailored, practical support to help people make a Universal Credit claim and receive their first full correct payment on time. It is available across England, Wales and Scotland and is usually available online, over the phone and face to face through local Citizens Advice services. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, face to face access was temporarily suspended with the required support being provided through the telephony and web chat channels.

2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the (a) accessibility of the universal credit claim backdating process for eligible applicants and (b) adequacy of the information provided to applicants that they may be eligible to backdate a claim.

We encourage all people to engage with us at their point of need, and as the vast majority of Universal Credit claims are successfully made online, most will not require backdating. However, backdating provision, of up to a maximum of one month, is available where the circumstances are such that someone could not reasonably have been expected to claim earlier, including due to illness, disability or an official computer system failure.

The Department works in partnership with a variety of stakeholders, including local authorities, charities and employer groups, as well as through our local Jobcentres, to distribute factual information on the range of benefits that people could be entitled to.

To support people in making the right decisions we also launched a new microsite within the ‘Understanding Universal Credit’ website, to help people navigate the range of support available and apply for it. Additionally, we also encourage the use of independent benefits calculators (available via www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators) to ensure individuals can navigate the welfare system and decide what is right for their circumstances.

However, we recognise that some people will still require additional support to successfully submit a claim to Universal Credit. From 1 April 2020 the Department has provided a second year of grant funding to Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland to continue to deliver Help to Claim. Help to Claim offers trusted, independent, tailored, practical support to help people make a Universal Credit claim and receive their first full correct payment on time. It is available across England, Wales and Scotland and is usually available online, over the phone and face to face through local Citizens Advice services. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, face to face access was temporarily suspended with the required support being provided through the telephony and web chat channels.

2nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the level of child maintenance arrears built up by paying parents during the period in which the Child Maintenance Service has not been taking new enforcement action as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Where payments have been missed we have asked parents to report the changes via the self-service portal. In order to ensure that receiving parents do not lose out in the long run, the Child Maintenance Service is updating cases with notified changes. Where payments have been missed the Service is taking action to re-establish compliance and collect any unpaid amounts that may have accrued.

Those found to be abusing the system are subject to the full extent of our enforcement powers and the Child Maintenance Service will pursue these, where appropriate.

The vast majority of CMS enforcement powers involve third parties, including Her Majesty’s courts, enforcement agents and financial institutions. The COVID-19 crisis meant that these third parties had to pause business. The CMS is now beginning to reinstate a full service and remains committed to working with these key partners to establish how best to restart enforcement activity.

The total amount of Child Maintenance arranged via the Collect and Pay service, and the amount of this that has not been paid, are published quarterly. The latest published figures for Child Maintenance Service are up the end of March 2020 and can be found in National Table 10 at the link below.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/child-maintenance-service-statistics-data-to-march-2020-experimental

Statistics containing data to June 2020 will not be available until the next publication, due on 30 September 2020.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has been made of the current clearance time frame for a personal independence payment claim compared to the three year average.

The table below shows the median clearance time in weeks from registration to initial decision for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Normal Rules New Claims and Reassessments from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for all decisions made in April 2020 (the latest data available) and for the period May 2017 – April 2020 (the latest 3-year period for which data is available).

The median time from registration to initial decision for PIP Normal Rules claims for each month from April 2013 – April 2020 for New Claims and Reassessments from DLA is published and can be found in Table 2A of the published statistical tables linked below:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/904392/tables-pip-statistics-to-april-2020-revised-july-2020.xlsx

Table 1: Median Clearance Times in weeks for PIP New Claims and Reassessments from DLA for April 2020 and the 3-year period up to April 2020

Reassessment Type

New Claim

Reassessment

April 2020

16

27

May 2017 - April 2020

14

15

Notes

Source: PIP ADS

  • PIP data includes normal rules claimants only and is for both new claims and DLA reassessment claims.
  • Figures have been rounded to the nearest whole number of weeks.
  • The status of claims as 'normal rules' and 'new claim/reassessment' is shown as at the point of clearance.
  • The figures in the table are the median clearance time of claims which are cleared in the given time period.
  • The median time is the middle value if you were to order all the times within the distribution from lowest value to highest value. The median is presented here instead of the mean because the mean can be unduly affected by outlying cases (e.g. cases where the person has been hard to reach due to being in prison, hospital, failed to attend the assessment on numerous occasions etc.)
  • The 'Registration to DWP decision (end to end)' clearance time is measured as the median time between the date of registration of the claim and the date of the DWP decision to either award or disallow the claim. It does not include claims that were withdrawn by the claimant or claims that were disallowed by DWP pre-referral to the Assessment Providers (e.g. for failure to meet basic eligibility criteria or failure to return the Part 2 form within the time limit).
  • Great Britain only.
  • The median clearance time for May 2017 – April 2020 is unpublished data. It should be used with caution and it may be subject to future revision.

20th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of extending the time frame beyond 30 days of the date of decision for the mandatory reconsideration of a universal credit decision to provide support agencies with a wider time frame to help people with that process.

Whilst the time limit for applying for a Mandatory Reconsideration is one month, if an application is made within this period but more time is needed to provide supporting evidence, the claimant or their representative can ask that a decision is not made pending the provision of that evidence.

14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that claimant commitments under universal credit do not comprise (a) volunteering and (b) other activities that affect an individual's eligibility for (i) personal independence payment and (ii) other additional support.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) can be paid regardless of whether someone can work or volunteer.

Work-related requirements are agreed in discussion with the claimant and will always be tailored to the claimant’s personal circumstances, ensuring they are realistic and achievable.

Work coaches have the flexibility to personalise requirements for individual claimants based on their health condition. They can remove all work related requirements where it is not reasonable to expect them to be able to fulfil them.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what amount of child maintenance arrears are owed in the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency.

The total amount of arrears for Child Maintenance Service (CMS) in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency in March 2020 is £588,000.

Source: Child Maintenance Group administrative data

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of introducing a backdated carers allowance payment for individuals in full time education who undertook caring responsibilities whilst staying in their family home during the covid-19 outbreak.

Carer’s Allowance is a devolved benefit in Scotland, but is being administered temporarily by DWP under an Agency Agreement with the Scottish Government until the replacement Scottish benefit is available. Provision of new benefits under devolved powers, such as the Young Carer Grant, is a matter for the Scottish Government. The UK Government believes that people in full-time education should be supported by the educational maintenance system rather than the benefit system. That is why, as a general principle, full-time students are precluded from entitlement to income-related and income-maintenance benefits administered by DWP.

6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what progress she has made on changing the six months to live rule that her Department uses to determine accessibility to additional support for people who are terminally ill.

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

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

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

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

The evaluation remains a priority for the Department. The Department has made good progress and we expect to be able to provide an update on the outcome of the evaluation shortly.

1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what comparative assessment her Department has made of the number of DS1500 forms issued during March to June (a) 2020 and (b) 2019.

The DS1500 is not issued by DWP. It is completed by a terminally ill patient’s doctor or other healthcare professional and returned to DWP. The doctor or healthcare professional provides information about their patient’s condition, including its clinical features and ongoing or planned treatment on the DS1500.

The DS1500 is not a claim form in itself and is not a requirement to support a claim under the special rules for terminal illness but it remains the quickest and most appropriate route to gather evidence to support entitlement in these cases.

Guidance for Healthcare Professionals can be found here

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-factual-medical-reports-guidance-for-healthcare-professionals/dwp-medical-factual-reports-a-guide-to-completion

26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will extend the universal credit overpayment debt recovery pause for as long as covid-19 outbreak continues.

We are currently in the process of reviewing this measure, and will confirm next steps as soon as possible.

23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure the continuity of statutory sick pay payments for those individuals asked to continue to shielding beyond 1 August 2020.

The current epidemiological data shows the risk is currently low enough to allow the relaxation in guidance that we have outlined. From 1 August. the Government will further relax advice to those shielding, bringing it in line with the advice to those who are clinically vulnerable. In broad terms, this means that although the advice is still to stay at home as much as possible, those shielding may wish to go out to more places and see more people, as long as they take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household and follow hygiene measures. This means that if they are unable to work from home but can work on site, they should do so, provided the business is COVID-safe. Therefore, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals will no longer be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay on the basis of being clinically extremely vulnerable.

The government expects employers to do the right thing to help their employees to transition back to work safely and support them to follow strict social distancing in the workplace where they cannot work from home.

If employers cannot provide a safe working environment, they will still be able to access a range of government support: this includes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for employees who have previously been furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

Guidance around shielding will be continually reviewed and informed by the latest scientific evidence and advice. We will continue to assess the support in place should advice to shield be reinstated.

Background

  • Employees will remain eligible for SSP if they are unable to work and are required to self-isolate because they, or someone in their household, has symptoms of COVID-19, or because they have been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that they have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus.
  • SSP also remains available to those who are off sick for reasons other than coronavirus.
  • SSP eligibility conditions apply.
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of guaranteeing a minimum child maintenance payment during the covid-19 outbreak.

There is no plan for any such assessment, the purpose of the Child Maintenance Service is to facilitate the payment of child maintenance between separated parents.

No one should use the pandemic as an excuse to avoid their child maintenance payments. Where paying parents experience a change in income, we can review their case and check if the amount paid should change. If it does not, they should continue to make payments.

We know the majority of parents take their responsibilities extremely seriously and will do what is needed to ensure their children are supported.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of whether the Child Maintenance Service is facing additional delays in the handling of cases as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The CMS has made temporary changes to services to ensure we continue to support separated parents as part of our wider efforts to provide financial support through the welfare system.

The CMS has updated guidance on telephone and online services to encourage parents to report changes online where possible, except where changes must be reported by phone.

In order to ensure that receiving parents do not lose out in the long run, the Service will update cases with notified changes as soon as possible. Where payments have been missed the Service will take action to re-establish compliance and collect any unpaid amounts that may have accrued.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that people continue to have access to the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman (PHSO) while complaint processing with the Independent Case Examiner exceeds PHSO complaint review timeframes.

Decisions on whether to accept a complaint which has not exhausted DWP’s complaint processes – including its independent tier - rest with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s Office.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of maintaining the suspension of face-to-face health assessments until the final phase of the lockdown period is entered during the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 9 June 2020 to Question UIN 52251.

8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department has undertaken to ensure that people classed as terminally ill but have not submitted a DS1500 continue to have their claims for employment support allowance managed in a timely manner.

DS1500 forms have never been a requirement for a claim under the terminal illness rules but remain the quickest and most appropriate route to gather evidence to support entitlement in these cases. Where it is not possible to supply a DS1500 in support of a terminal illness claim we will continue to consider alternative evidence and work flexibly and quickly with the claimant and/or their clinician(s) to make a quick determination. Supporting people who are terminally ill is an absolute priority for the Department and we will continue to process claims as quickly as possible.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department has taken to support (a) people who have recently received a cancer diagnosis and (b) other people who would normally require work capability assessments for (a) universal credit and (b) new style contributory employment support allowance to access additional support.

From 17 March 2020 we suspended all face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits, initially for three months, to protect vulnerable people and assessment centre staff from unnecessary risk of exposure to COVID-19. We continue to complete paper based assessments where possible and have introduced telephone assessments.

Where a claimant declares they have cancer in the ESA/UC50 Health Questionnaire a Health care practitioner considers this evidence and in the majority of cases a recommendation will be made at this stage based on the papers alone.

If it is not possible to complete an assessment based on the paper evidence, a WCA will be conducted, where possible, over the telephone in coming months. We anticipate customers may experience a longer wait to be referred for their assessment and for the assessment to take place during this period, as we have redeployed some staff to manage unprecedented volumes of demand for benefits. Backdating rules mean that claimants will not lose out in the long-run.

15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is to ensure that change of circumstance based PIP2 application forms are assessed in a timely manner during the covid 19 outbreak.

The Department continues to process both New Claims and Changes of Circumstance and encourage anyone with a change in their needs to contact the Department so that we can ensure they are receiving the correct level of support.

22nd Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of increasing the benefit cap in line with increases in universal credit to ensure additional support is available for families.

The Benefit Cap restores fairness between those receiving out-of-work benefits and taxpayers in employment.

The Government has quickly and effectively introduced £6.5bn of measures that benefit those facing the most severe financial disruption. DWP is experiencing significant increased demand as such the safety and stability of the benefits system must be prioritised.

Claimants can approach their Local Authority for a Discretionary Housing Payment if they need additional help to meet rental costs.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help tackle Haemochromatosis.

Genomic testing for haemochromatosis is available through the NHS Genomic Medicines Service (GMS) for patients in England who show unexplained iron overload suggestive of hereditary haemochromatosis. Any clinician who suspects haemochromatosis can order this testing via the local Genomic Laboratory Hubs. Seven NHS GMS Alliances play an important role in supporting the strategic systematic embedding of genomic medicine in end-to-end clinical pathways and clinical specialities supporting the achievement of equitable access to standardised end-to-end pathways of care, inclusive of genomic testing, clinical genetics and genomic counselling services, as well as raising awareness among clinicians and the public of the genomic testing available through the National Health Service. They drive this embedding across all providers within their geography from primary and community care to secondary and tertiary care.

2nd Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help maintain the supply of hormone replacement therapy medicines.

There are over 70 hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products available in the United Kingdom and the vast majority are in good supply. We are regularly engaging with individual suppliers to prevent and mitigate supply issues in the short and long term. The HRT supply position has improved considerably since last Spring. For example, the introduction of a new manufacturing facility for Oestrogel has meant that this product is now readily available for patients. Only two of the 22 Serious Shortage Protocols issued since April last year remain as the supply disruptions with most products experiencing shortages have been resolved.

9th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of removing pensionable status from NHS responsibility payments when secondments are short term.

Additional responsibility payments such as those for clinical and medical directors are not covered by national contracts. A permanent pay increase for additional responsibilities would typically form part of a member’s pensionable pay and a temporary or short term increase would not. This is a matter for employers to consider when offering the payment. Pay arrangements in Scotland are a matter for the Scottish Government.

NHS Employers have published guidance on the local options available to employers in England, which can be put in place to support staff who are affected by pension tax.

8th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of making the NHS Pension Scheme tax unregistered for the purposes of helping to provide predictability for NHS workers undertaking overtime.

The Government is reviewing the interaction between taxation and pensions in the National Health Service. Making the NHS Pension Scheme into a tax-unregistered scheme would not benefit the vast majority of NHS staff, who would lose income tax relief on contributions and the option of a tax-free lump sum on retirement.

5th Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions his Department has had with providers of managed quarantine hotels for travellers returning to the UK on ensuring adequate processing times for refund requests.

The Department of Health and Social Care’s Managed Quarantine Service (MQS) ended on 15 December 2021 when all countries were removed from the United Kingdom’s “red list”.

Corporate Travel Management (CTM) managed the booking system for MQS, taking payments from travellers and booking their rooms in MQS hotels across the UK.

Where a refund is due, the aim is to process this within 20 working days, though occasionally more information is required, which can cause delays. There are a very small number of refunds that are being processed, which we are aiming to action as quickly as possible. Customers are advised to contact UKHSA if they believe that they are still awaiting a refund so that this can be investigated.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) continues to hold regular discussions with CTM on a range of issues.

21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of additional contracts with the ZOE Covid Study.

The Government will continue monitoring the virus through maintaining surveillance studies such as the Office for National Statistics’ COVID-19 Infection Survey and other data sources, including genomic sequencing. The Government will keep all surveillance activities under review to ensure we have the capabilities to monitor waves of COVID-19 and defend against future variants.

4th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of a dedicated research fund for research into fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva.

No specific assessment has been made. The Department provides over £1 billion to the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to deliver health and social care research. The usual practice of the NIHR is not to ring-fence funds for expenditure on particular topics and to welcome funding applications into any aspect of human health. Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
1st Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much of the £20 million committed by his Department in 2018 to brain tumour research over a five year period is still to be allocated; and what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on brain tumour research funding.

Since this funding was announced in February 2018, a further £20 million was announced in May 2018, bringing the total planned investment to £40 million over five years.

The information on spending still to be allocated is not held in the format requested. The National Institute for Health Research’s (NIHR) infrastructure spending on cancer research does not record the specific type of cancer. Studies can be applicable to cancer in general, such as the type of tumour and research on supportive and palliative care interventions.

During the COVID-19 pandemic many of the NIHR’s research programmes, studies and trials were necessarily paused. However, the NIHR’s funding competitions remained open throughout, including for brain tumour research.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Answer of 26 October 2021 to question 60443 on NHS: Pensions, what equalities impact assessment his Department has made on the potential effect of not equalising Survivor Pension Benefits rules for people who are unable to enter into new marriages or co-habit with a partner as a result of the pre-2008 NHS Survivor Pension rules without losing their entitlements on pensions for women and men who are seeking to re-marry or co-habit with a new partner.

Equality Impact Assessments are regularly performed to facilitate and evidence compliance with Government’s duties under the Equality Act 2010. However, such assessments are not a statutory requirement. The prospective improvements to survivor benefit terms were implemented in 2008 and so was not subject to this process at the time. Equality Impact Assessments are not usually produced where a policy remains unchanged as in this case.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
21st Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Answer of 9 December 2020 to Question 120078, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of making funds available to equalise Survivor Pension Benefits for people who are unable to enter into new marriages or co-habit with a partner as a result of the pre-2008 NHS Survivor Pension rules.

The NHS Pension Scheme does not provide for the automatic retention of a survivor pension on re-marriage or co-habitation where the Scheme member ceased pensionable employment before 1 April 2008. Arrangements are in place for continuing or restoring a pension if, for example, withdrawal would create severe financial hardship for the recipient.

Following a review by NHS Pension Scheme stakeholders, changes were made to survivor benefits for Scheme members with service extended to or beyond 1 April 2008, where a survivor pension became payable for life regardless of whether the recipient remarries, forms a civil partnership or lives with someone else as a spouse or partner. The Government’s position remains that benefit entitlements should normally be determined based on the rules applicable at the time the member served, to maintain fairness for active scheme members and the taxpayer.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact on health outcomes of (a) the ending of the £20 uplift to universal credit uplift, (b) increases to inflation and (c) increases in energy costs.

The Department has not undertaken an assessment. It is the responsibility of each Government Department to assess the impacts of its own policies.

17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department makes of the transparency of other nations' (a) covid-19 medical case rate reporting and (b) media freedom to discuss the covid-19 pandemic prior to making decisions on potential inclusion of those countries on the UK's list of covid-19 acute risk countries for international travel during the covid-19 pandemic.

The decision to include countries on the ‘red list’ is made by the Government, informed by the latest scientific data and public health advice from a world-leading range of experts. Data includes evidence of variants of concern, epidemiology, imported cases and traveller volumes. The list of red list countries is kept consistently under review.

The Government is committed to the open sharing of the scientific advice guiding our response to COVID-19 where possible. Transparency and confidence of reported data by other countries is considered as part of the assessment process. We continue to engage and encourage other countries to share best practice and data.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department makes of the transparency of nations' (a) covid-19 medical case rate reporting and (b) media freedom to discuss the covid-19 pandemic prior to making decisions on potential inclusion of those countries on the covid-19 acute risk list.

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

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on groups who may not have a permanent or stable home address of the use of agencies usually used for credit checks in the verification of individuals' addresses when giving access to covid-19 antibody testing.

The identity verification check in place could potentially cause accessibility issues for those with no fixed abode. Therefore, the verification check was deactivated in November 2020 for both antigen testing and antibody testing to ensure there were no barriers to testing. It has not been used in either service since.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to reply to the letters from the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey of 4 December 2020 and 14 January 2021.

We replied to the hon. Member’s letter on 26 January 2021.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of supplies of 25mg Cyclosporin capsules in the UK.

We are not aware of any issues affecting ciclosporin 25 milligram capsules in the United Kingdom and supplies remain available.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the number of individuals who have had access to an NHS Survivor Pension removed as a result of pre-2008 co-habitation and remarriage NHS Survivor Pension rules.

Since 1 April 2018, 136 individuals have had their entitlement to a survivor pension withdrawn following re-marriage or co-habitation.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential cost of backdating NHS Survivor Pension changes to include people who are unable to enter into new marriages or co-habit with a partner as a result of the pre-2008 NHS Survivor Pension rules.

There are no plans currently to review existing arrangements in these circumstances.

Making changes to pension schemes retrospectively results in improvements for members who have already retired, with costs that can only be borne by the active membership and/or taxpayers in the case of the public service schemes. Such costs are frequently large, and backdating is rarely undertaken. The most recent cost estimate, in 2013, of the cost of retrospectively removing the provision for survivor pensions to cease on remarriage was around £40 million.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the help available on the gov.uk website for people having difficulty accessing covid-19 antibody testing via that website.

Free antibody tests are currently only available for certain people who work in health and adult social care in England. These tests are to help the National Health Service and scientists learn more about who has already had the virus and how it has spread in the United Kingdom. Guidance on who is eligible for antibody testing and details of how to register for a test is available at the following link:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/antibody-test-to-check-if-youve-had-coronavirus/

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions his Department has had with the General Medical Council on the difference in English language requirements necessary for doctors to access (a) the Foundation Programme and (b) GMC licensing.

The Department has regular contact with the General Medical Council (GMC) including on the English language requirements for practising medicine in the United Kingdom. The GMC is required by law to be assured that any doctor applying for registration as an international medical graduate has demonstrated, at the point of registration, that they possess the required level of English. The GMC has set its requirements at the level it believes best safeguards patient safety, whilst ensuring it does not inappropriately disrupt overseas recruitment.

Employers and training providers are entitled to set their own requirements as part of their selection processes which may reflect their specific needs in relation to their training and working environments. This means entry requirements to the UK Foundation Programme may differ from the minimum required for GMC registration.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what comparative assessment his Department has made of the average cost of a covid-19 test when using (a) commercial partner and (b) NHS-owned laboratories.

The information requested is commercially sensitive. The cost will also vary depending on the delivery channel used, the logistics involved and the laboratory that processes the test results.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Feb 2024
To ask the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of people sanctioned for creating propaganda in support of the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

The Government keeps potential sanctions designations under close and regular review; it is not appropriate to speculate on future sanctions as this could reduce their impact.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, if he will hold discussions with his Egyptian counterpart on opening the Rafah border crossing into Egypt to Palestinian refugees.

We continue to discuss with our Egyptian counterparts a wide range of issues relating to the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Our priority is addressing the crisis in Gaza itself - we recognise that there is a desperate need for increased humanitarian support and so our focus must be on practical solutions that save lives.

As we have said, Israel must take steps, working with other partners including the UN and Egypt, to significantly increase the flow of aid into Gaza including allowing prolonged humanitarian pauses, opening more routes into Gaza and restoring and sustaining water, fuel and electricity. The Foreign Secretary discussed the urgency of getting significantly more aid into Gaza to alleviate the desperate situation there with Prime Minister Netanyahu on 24 January. He reiterated the need for Israel to open more crossing points into Gaza, for Nitzana and Kerem Shalom to be open for longer, and for Israel to support the UN to distribute aid effectively across the whole of Gaza. An immediate pause is now necessary to get aid in and hostages out.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, if he will hold discussions with his Israeli counterpart on taking steps to help ensure the safety of the family members of British citizens in the event that combat operations take place in Rafah.

We continue to urge Israel take greater care to limit its operations to military targets and avoid harming civilians and destroying homes. The Foreign Secretary reiterated this during his visit to Israel on 24 January.

We have helped to facilitate over 300 British Nationals to leave Gaza so far. We are working with the Israelis and Egyptian authorities to ensure any remaining British nationals still in Gaza that want to leave are cleared to cross as soon as possible and encourage timely processing of UK consular cases.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, what support his Department provides to UK citizens with family members in Gaza; and what assessment he has made of the adequacy of that support.

Government support to individuals affected by a crisis abroad is set out on gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-deal-with-a-crisis-overseas. This includes the support provided in certain circumstances to immediate family members of British nationals.

We are engaging with the Israeli and Egyptian authorities on a regular basis to discuss the border crossing and encourage timely processing of UK consular cases. We have helped to facilitate over 300 British nationals to leave Gaza so far. A small number remain.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, whether he has made an estimate of how many UK citizens have family members in Rafah.

We are working with the Israeli and Egyptian authorities to discuss the border crossing and encourage timely processing of UK consular cases. We are not in a position to provide a running commentary on the number of wider UK family members in Rafah.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
13th Dec 2023
To ask the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure the prosecution of individuals working for service companies which support evasion of sanctions by Russia.

The UK is committed to ensuring that our sanctions are robustly enforced, potential breaches are investigated and appropriate action is taken.

Departments from across His Majesty's Government are working together and with UK companies to ensure that sanctions are enforced, including through criminal prosecution and civil enforcement. Departments and Agencies with responsibility for criminal enforcement of sanctions refer appropriate cases to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration

The launch of the Office of Trade Sanctions Implementation (OTSI) under DBT will enhance guidance and engagement with industry, as well as civil enforcement of trade sanctions, including those on services. The Government also announced a new Economic Deterrence Initiative in the 2023 Integrated Review Refresh. With funding of up to £50 million over two years, the initiative is maximising the impact of our trade, transport and financial sanctions, and improving implementation and enforcement including by cracking down on evasion. Through these funds HMG is recruiting more civil and criminal investigators to bear down on people and businesses in breach of sanctions.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the target of spending 0.7% of GDP on Official Development Assistance.

The government's commitment to returning Official Development Assistance (ODA) spending to 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) once the fiscal situation allows is well established: when, on a sustainable basis, the government is no longer borrowing for day-to-day spending and underlying debt is falling. MPs voted in support of this approach in July 2021. ODA spending will remain at around 0.5% of GNI until these fiscal principles have been met.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
4th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department was given advance notice of the Hong Kong National Security Police issuing arrest warrants for Hong Kong pro-democracy activists based in the UK.

The UK did not receive advance notice.

The Foreign Secretary made clear in his statement on 3 July that we will not tolerate any attempts by China to intimidate and silence individuals. The UK will always defend the universal right to freedom of expression and stand up for those who are targeted.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department plans to take steps to agree a critical raw materials agreement with the European Union.

The UK is engaging with the EU and Member States to explore ways of working together to meet shared net zero and supply chain security objectives on critical raw materials. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, visited Brussels on 27 June where he met European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis. The Chancellor and Commissioner Dombrovskis discussed future cooperation in strengthening pan-European supply and value chains and enhancing supply chain security, including critical minerals.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that amendments proposed by the Government to the Convention on International Cooperation in the Investigation and Prosecution of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity, War Crimes and Other International Crimes are compatible with the Convention Against Torture.

The Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of the Convention on International Cooperation in the Investigation and Prosecution of the Crime of Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes and other International Crimes (now known as the Ljubljana-The Hague Convention) was held in Slovenia from 15-26 May. All of the 53 States which participated in the Conference are party to the UN Convention Against Torture. The Ljubljana-The Hague Convention was adopted by consensus on 26 May.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
14th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the UK's Russian sanctions regime to cover all Russian Military personnel accused of war crimes by Ukrainian authorities.

We are steadfast in our resolve to support Ukraine. We have implemented the most severe package of sanctions ever imposed on a major economy to undermine Russia's war effort. On 19 May, the UK announced a new wave of sanctions against Russia, targeting businesses and individuals connected to Russia's capacity to fund and wage the war. We do not comment on future or individual designations, but those responsible for atrocities committed during the war must be held to account. We are doing all we can to support this.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what consultation his Department undertook when drafting amendments to the proposed Convention on International Cooperation in the Investigation and Prosecution of the Crime of Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes and other International Crimes.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office coordinated and agreed UK negotiating positions with other government departments in advance of and during the negotiations on the Ljubljana-The Hague Convention. UK negotiators also consulted widely during the Diplomatic Conference with delegations from other participating States and observers, including civil society representatives. Following the negotiations, the Convention was adopted by consensus on 26 May.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
8th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the number of individuals sanctioned by Ukrainian authorities in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine not sanctioned in the UK; and whether his Department is taking steps to work bilaterally with its Ukrainian counterparts on strengthening the sanctions regime.

Since the start of the invasion, the UK has sanctioned over 1,600 individuals and entities, including 29 banks with global assets worth £1 trillion, and over 140 oligarchs with a combined net worth of over £145 billion. We work in close coordination with international partners on sanctions. As President Zelensky said during his visit, we have formed a "powerful sanctions coalition", unleashing the largest and most severe package of sanctions ever imposed on a major economy. Working with our allies, the UK remains committed to ratcheting up the pressure on Russia until a just peace is achieved in Ukraine.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 22 July 2022 to Question 35993 on Diamonds and Gold: Russia, if he will take steps to build the capacity to gather the data on the components used in the production of finished goods imported from partner countries, potentially containing precious metals or stones from Russia, needed to allow regulatory agencies to enforce a ban on precious metals or stones from Russia.

We have committed to working closely with G7 and other key partners to restrict trade in and use of Russian diamonds. This includes the implementation and enforcement of the measure and we will set out further details in due course.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department uses automated decision making.

Automated decision-making refers to both solely automated decisions (no human judgment) and automated assisted decision-making (assisting human judgement). The FCDO is not using "automated decision making" tools or products.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help (a) women's rights and (b) women-led organisations participate in the Ukraine Recovery Conference in June 2023.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 25 April 2023 to Question 181040 [https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2023-04-17/181040].

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when his Department will implement its Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) budget commitments to reinstate ODA funding for humanitarian response and gender equality to levels seen prior to the 2020 cut to UK international aid.

The UK Government remains committed to delivering the priorities set out in the International Development Strategy (IDS); and the Strategy's spend targets where funding allows. In 2024-2025 we plan to spend £1 billion on urgent humanitarian needs. We continue to work towards the IDS target on restoring funding for vital work on Women and Girls and the new target set out in the FCDO's International Women and Girls Strategy 2023-2030 for at least 80 percent of the FCDO's bilateral aid programmes to have a focus on gender equality by 2030.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
27th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking help (a) resource and (b) encourage participation of women-led organisations at pledging conferences for international humanitarian emergencies in 2023.

The UK remains committed to supporting women-led organisations in humanitarian crises in 2023. Last year, we co-hosted the Afghanistan Pledging Conference, providing a platform for Afghan women's rights activists to speak, and we provided $185 million to the UN's Country Based Pooled Funds globally, which direct humanitarian funding to local organisations, including women-led organisations. In 2023, we launched the £38 million Advancing Gender Equality through support to Women's Rights Organisations programme, which will provide grants to women's rights organisations and work to amplify their voices in key fora such as pledging conferences.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
27th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will take steps to host an international conference on humanitarian assistance for the East Africa drought.

We are working with several international and UN partners to organise a humanitarian pledging conference for the Horn of Africa. The event is scheduled to take place in New York on 24 May. It will help us to mobilise urgent funding for immediate humanitarian needs and to identify long-term solutions to the region's recurrent crises including drought. The UK is a leading humanitarian donor to the region with more than £1 billion provided in relief aid since 2019. UK funded activities are saving lives and making a difference.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
27th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether it is his Department’s policy to set up a new Loss and Damage Facility Fund to support climate emergencies.

At COP27, the UK and all parties agreed to establish new funding arrangements for loss and damage, including the setup of a dedicated fund, to assist developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. It was agreed to establish a Transitional Committee (TC) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to develop the fund and funding arrangements by COP28. The UK is one of the twenty-four members of the TC and has actively engaged with its work, attending the first formal meeting in Egypt in March and associated workshops. We are committed to making a positive contribution to the aims and objectives of the Committee in the run up to COP28. The UK has no plans to set up a separate Loss and Damage fund outside of this process.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make it his policy to increase the proportion of Overseas Development Assistance spent on peacebuilding that focuses on gender equality from 7 to 15 per cent.

In February 2023, the UK Government launched its fifth National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security, highlighting how we will utilise our diplomatic, defence and development levers to support women's full, equal and meaningful participation in peace building, peace processes and mediation. Further, the FCDO has committed, in our March 2023 International Women and Girls Strategy, that 80 per cent of all the FCDO's bilateral aid programmes will have a focus on gender equality by 2030. FCDO Official Development Assistance allocations are guided by the priorities set out in the International Development Strategy, the aims of which include empowering and protecting women and girls.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Department's role in supporting the work of the Government Communications Headquarters.

It is the longstanding policy of successive British Governments that we do not comment on intelligence matters. The Foreign Secretary remains committed to his oversight responsibilities in line with the Intelligence Services Act 1994.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to help ensure that his Department's (a) defence, (b) diplomatic and (c) development policies help to promote peace in other countries.

The 2021 Integrated Review established the UK's approach to using our defence, diplomatic and development levers to address global challenges, including conflict, with the International Development Strategy outlining how we will tackle the root causes of conflict. The FCDO has established the Office for Conflict, Stabilisation and Mediation (OCSM) which works across government to increase the UK's impact in preventing, managing and resolving conflict. Both the Foreign Secretary and Minister for International Development sit on the National Security Council which ensures coordination across our development, foreign policy and security architecture, including on efforts to promote peace in other countries.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make it his policy to spend at least 50 per cent of his Department's budget in fragile and conflict-affected states and regions.

Fragile and Conflict Affected States are central in the International Development Strategy (IDS), which aims to tackle the causes of crises and build the long-term foundations for lasting development. We cannot end extreme poverty in low- and middle-income countries without tackling conflict and fragility.

Official Development Assistance (ODA) allocations are being directed towards the strategic priorities of the IDS. The World Bank publishes an annual list of Fragile and Conflict Affected Situations. Eight of the top 10 country recipients of UK bilateral ODA in 2021 are on the World Bank list.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make it his policy to increase the proportion of UK Overseas Development Aid spending allocated to civilian peacebuilding, conflict prevention and resolution to 4 per cent by 2025.

In its December 2022 report, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) rated the UK's Approaches to Peacebuilding as green-amber and recognised the UK's meaningful contributions in this area. Official Development Assistance (ODA) is one element of how we deliver impact, but it is the combination of development, diplomacy and policy levers, in line with the principles in the 2021 Integrated Review, that has enabled the UK to maintain its effectiveness in peacebuilding, conflict prevention and resolution. FCDO ODA allocations have been guided by the priorities set out in the International Development Strategy, the aims of which include tackling the causes of crises and building the long-term foundations for lasting development.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
27th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make a comparative assessment of the amount spent on (a) peacebuilding and (b) conflict-prevention initiatives compared with other countries in Europe.

The UK is committed to conflict prevention and we welcome Independent Commission for Aid Impact's recent recognition of the UK's meaningful contributions to peacebuilding. The UK is one of the biggest supporters of the UN's Peacebuilding Fund, having committed over £175 million since the Fund's inception in 2006. We are among the top 10 donors alongside Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Denmark for 2020-24.

Following the Integrated Review Refresh, a new Integrated Security Fund will have a budget of almost £1 billion.

There are no plans to assess the UK's overall spend on peacebuilding and conflict prevention against other European countries.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make it his Department’s policy to increase the proportion of total Overseas Development Assistance spent on (a) peacebuilding and (b) conflict-prevention initiatives.

The UK is committed to conflict prevention and we welcome the Independent Commission for Aid Impact's (ICAI) recent recognition of the UK's meaningful contributions to peacebuilding. The FCDO continues to review allocations of Official Development Assistance to ensure that it is spent where it is needed most. The UK is one of the biggest supporters of the UN's Peacebuilding Fund, having committed over £175 million since the Fund's inception in 2006.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
27th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department has taken recent steps to provide (a) long-term and (b) flexible funding for programmes to help tackle the causes of conflicts in fragile and conflict-affected states.

The Spending Review 2021 provided a three-year settlement of £2.65 billion to the cross-government Conflict Stability and Security Fund (CSSF). Launched in 2015 it operates in over 80 countries and territories, delivering more than 90 programmes and combines Official Development Assistance (ODA) and other, non-ODA funding sources and integrates activity of a number of British government departments, including the FCDO. The Fund is managed by the Cabinet Office and yearly allocations are signed off by the National Security Council.

The 'Integrated Review Refresh 2023: Responding to a More contested and Volatile World' sets out how the UK will meet that challenge head-on. The new Integrated Security Fund (UKISF) will expand upon the existing CSSF. It will have a wider remit, funding projects both at home and overseas to tackle some of the most complex national security challenges facing the UK and its partners. With additional funding from other programming, the Fund will have a budget of almost £1 billion and will continue to spend UK aid money in line with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee rules and guidance.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the announcement on 8 February 2023 that aid will be provided following the recent earthquake, whether he plans to send further aid to (a) Turkiye and (b) Syria.

The UK responded immediately to provide life-saving support to people in Turkey and Syria. On 15 February the UK committed a further package of support to address the urgent humanitarian needs in Turkey and Syria including £25 million in new overseas aid to fund additional emergency relief, such as tents and blankets and the ongoing deployment of UK medical expertise. To date the UK has delivered over 400 tonnes of relief items to both Turkey and Syria. On 19 February I [Minister Mitchell] visited Turkey to witness first-hand the impact of UK aid helping those affected in Turkey and Syria.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department plans to provide additional funding to the World Food Programme to help tackle the immediate humanitarian needs in (a) Türkiye and (b) Syria following the recent earthquakes.

The UK currently has no plans to provide additional funding to the World Food Programme. The UK is providing life-saving support to people in Turkey and Syria, including vital relief items, such as tents and blankets and the ongoing deployment of UK medical expertise as well as support to UN agencies and NGO partners.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department plans to (a) send Government representatives to the European Commission’s donors’ conference for Türkiye and Syria to mobilise funding following the earthquakes in February 2023 and (b) pledge at that conference.

The UK is aware of the European Commission's donor's conference scheduled to take place in Brussels on 16 March and UK representation will be confirmed in due course. On 15 February the UK committed a further package of support to address the urgent humanitarian needs in Turkey and Syria including £25 million in new overseas aid to fund additional emergency relief, such as tents and blankets and the ongoing deployment of UK medical expertise. We will continue assessing the situation and needs on the ground and target our response effort accordingly with direction from Turkish Authorities, the UN and NGO partners.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
27th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to point 49 on page 29 of his Department's policy paper entitled UK government's strategy for international development, CP 676, published on 16 May 2022, what is meant by locally owned; and whether his Department has taken recent steps to implement locally owned policies.

Local ownership of development means that design, decision-making and delivery should involve local partners, who understand the context of the challenges to be addressed. The FCDO prioritises strong partnerships with national and local organisations to boost impact and sustainability, building on our commitments to the 2011 Busan Partnership and the 2016 Grand Bargain.

For example, the FCDO has sought where possible to localise our response to the crisis in Ukraine, working closely with the Ukrainian government.

Our multi-year Shifting the Power partnership with Comic Relief aims to strengthen local civil society organisations, and enable local people to make funding decisions.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
27th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to page six of his Department's policy paper entitled UK government's strategy for international development, CP 676, published on 16 May 2022, what is meant by stripping back excessive bureaucracy; and whether his Department has taken recent steps to implement this policy.

The Strategy for International Development commits FCDO to driving down bureaucracy, making it quicker to get programmes delivering on the ground. We have developed a plan to guide this work, consulting Non-Executive Directors and delivery partners on what we need to improve.

We have already implemented a number of measures including: speeding-up FCDO's programme approval process; introducing central Due Diligence Assessments with selected NGO partners; and streamlining programme documentation.

Future steps include: improving the grants process through a streamlined grant template for NGOs; and continuing to build the capability and professionalism of our senior responsible owners and programme teams.

Andrew Mitchell
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (Minister for Development)
13th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 26 May 2021 to Question 3011 on Mohammed Al-Roken, what recent discussions he has had with the United Arab Emirates on Mohammed Al-Roken's release.

We are aware of reports that Mohammed al Roken was arrested in the United Arab Emirates in 2012 and remains in detention. The UK urges all countries to uphold their international human rights obligations and believes that the best approach is to promote and defend universal freedoms. The strength of the UK-UAE relationship means we can discuss issues such as respect for the right to peaceful protest and assembly, the rule of law, freedom of speech and of the press, in a frank and open way. Where the UK has cause for concern, we raise these concerns including at senior level, most recently with the UAE, Director Human Rights. We will continue to seek opportunities to do so at official and Ministerial level.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department has made a recent assessment of the potential merits of (a) purchasing and (b) supporting the production of winter clothing for people in Ukraine.

The UK is closely monitoring the impact of winter in Ukraine. The UK is delivering more than 25,000 sets of extreme cold weather clothing by mid-December, to help Ukrainian troops fight through the winter. Our economic and humanitarian support to Ukraine, over £1.5 billion, is responding to needs arising from cold weather and Russian attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure, including over 850 generators, £10 million to the Energy Community Ukraine support fund, and £4 million to the International Organization for Migration to provide shelter and repairs to water, sanitation and health facilities. We assess options for our support, including providing clothing, in ongoing dialogue with the Government of Ukraine, our delivery partners and other donors.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of taking steps to prevent (a) individuals and (b) organisations based in (i) the UK and (ii) other countries that have sold military vehicles to Russia since its invasion of Ukraine from undertaking any economic activity within the UK.

The UK, in coordination with our international partners has introduced several packages of increasingly hard-hitting sanctions that prohibit the provision of a wide range of services and goods, including military equipment, to Russia by UK individuals and organisations. On 20 October, the UK introduced sanctions that target Iranian individuals and a business responsible for supplying Russia with drones in contravention of UNSCR 2231. The UK Government does not speculate on specific future sanctions, as to do so could reduce their impact. We will continue the pressure against Putin and his regime, until Ukraine prevails or Putin ends his war of choice.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions his Department has had with its Indian counterparts about (a) the potential reinstatement of access for UK nationals to the Indian e-visa system, and (b) normalising visa processes between the UK and India.

We regularly raise our concerns regarding our exclusion from the list of countries eligible for e-visas with the Government of India (GoI). The Prime Minister, whilst Foreign Secretary, raised this matter with the Indian External Affairs Minister during her visit to India in March. We continue to work closely with the GoI on this issue, while respecting it is for them to determine the types and validity of the visas it offers. British nationals can continue to use the GoI's regular/paper visa application services for all visa categories. We will update India Travel Advice with the latest information if there are any changes in India's visa rules.

Gillian Keegan
Secretary of State for Education
2nd Sep 2022