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Written Question
Extracurricular Activities: Coronavirus
24 Jun 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that children and young people are able to attend youth residential activities over the forthcoming summer holiday period in the event that covid-19 restrictions are maintained beyond 19 July 2021.

Answered by Nick Gibb

The Department recognises the significant benefits that summer camps and other forms of education outside the classroom can have on children’s academic development as well as their mental health and wellbeing.

Since 17 May 2021, out of school settings, including outdoor education centres, have been able to operate in groups of any size for both indoor and outdoor provision. It remains important to continue minimising mixing between children where possible.

Since 21 June, out of school settings have been able to undertake residential visits and overnight stays with groups of up to 30 children. The Department has provided updated guidance which sets out how this can be operated safely. This guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/protective-measures-for-holiday-and-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government has listened to the views of the scientific community, in particular the information from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and its sub-groups when taking decisions on the best way to tackle COVID-19.

Education and childcare settings continue to be supported with appropriate guidance on safety measures, and the Department is committed to ensuring that out of school settings are able to effectively manage risks, create an inherently safer environment and maximise face to face education wherever possible. As new evidence or data emerges, the Government will act accordingly to ensure that all out of school settings have the right safety measures in place and that measures remain proportionate to the threat posed by COVID-19. The advice on residential visits and the need for protective measures will be reviewed again in advance of Step 4.

The Department is also working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the National Youth Agency to ensure we have full awareness of the effect the COVID-19 outbreak has had on the youth sector. In response to youth sector engagement, dedicated youth sector COVID-19 guidance has been developed by the National Youth Agency in collaboration with DCMS, the Department, youth sector organisations and public health experts.


Written Question
Eritrea: War Crimes
22 Jun 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what support his Department is giving to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to help ensure that that agency's joint investigations with the Ethiopian High Commission into atrocities in Eritrea are (a) independent, (b) transparent and (c) impartial, and whether those investigations address specifically the situation of ethnic and religious groups.

Answered by James Duddridge

We are appalled by systematic killing of civilians, widespread rape, including of children, indiscriminate shelling and the forcible displacement of ethnic Tigrayans. Those responsible for such abuses and violations need to be held to account.

We welcome the joint Enquiry of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into human rights violations and abuses in Tigray, and continue to press for unfettered access to the region and victims. Investigators must be given unhindered access to Tigray, be able to speak to the victims of the religious and ethnic groups most affected, and allowed to report their findings in full. We have lobbied in Asmara for Eritrean cooperation with the UNOHCHR Joint Investigation. The EHRC has previously shown its willingness to act independently and must continue to do so through the joint investigation, which we judge is the most credible prospect available for holding the perpetrators of atrocities in Tigray to account. The UK will therefore support the UNOHCHR to ensure that their joint investigation into atrocities in Tigray with the EHRC is independent, transparent and impartial. We will also continue to press the Eritrean government to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea to enable him to fully carry out his mandate.

The UK further welcomes the proposed African Union Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights, calls for the Government of Ethiopia to allow access to this inquiry and is in touch with the African Union on how we might support this effort.


Written Question
Eritrea: War Crimes
22 Jun 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the UK is taking in Eritrea to help ensure that UN investigators have the necessary access to conduct an assessment of atrocities.

Answered by James Duddridge

We are appalled by systematic killing of civilians, widespread rape, including of children, indiscriminate shelling and the forcible displacement of ethnic Tigrayans. Those responsible for such abuses and violations need to be held to account.

We welcome the joint Enquiry of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into human rights violations and abuses in Tigray, and continue to press for unfettered access to the region and victims. Investigators must be given unhindered access to Tigray, be able to speak to the victims of the religious and ethnic groups most affected, and allowed to report their findings in full. We have lobbied in Asmara for Eritrean cooperation with the UNOHCHR Joint Investigation. The EHRC has previously shown its willingness to act independently and must continue to do so through the joint investigation, which we judge is the most credible prospect available for holding the perpetrators of atrocities in Tigray to account. The UK will therefore support the UNOHCHR to ensure that their joint investigation into atrocities in Tigray with the EHRC is independent, transparent and impartial. We will also continue to press the Eritrean government to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea to enable him to fully carry out his mandate.

The UK further welcomes the proposed African Union Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights, calls for the Government of Ethiopia to allow access to this inquiry and is in touch with the African Union on how we might support this effort.


Written Question
Eritrea: Sexual Offences
22 Jun 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking in Eritrea to help ensure that (a) perpetrators of sexual violence are brought to justice and (b) to ensure that evidence of sexual violence is (i) collected and (ii) preserved.

Answered by James Duddridge

We are appalled at the prevalence of sexual violence in Tigray. We have raised this issue in a variety of multilateral fora, including the G7.

To strengthen justice for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, we are finalising the deployment of personnel from the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative UK Team of Experts. We are signing contracts and hope to deploy within the next few weeks. Recommendations from an initial scoping mission will outline options for supporting the Government of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and other key stakeholders to safely collect and preserve evidence, and bring the perpetrators of sexual violence to justice. We continue to explore options for addressing the immediate needs of survivors, preventing further sexual violence and delivering justice and accountability. The UK is also supporting the International Committee of the Red Cross, UN agencies, specialised NGOs and civil society partners to provide adequate essential services to survivors as well as supporting refugee survivors through the UN High Commission for Refugees.


Written Question
Eritrea: Sexual Offences
22 Jun 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what progress he has made in deploying UK Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict experts to Eritrea.

Answered by James Duddridge

We are appalled at the prevalence of sexual violence in Tigray. We have raised this issue in a variety of multilateral fora, including the G7.

To strengthen justice for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, we are finalising the deployment of personnel from the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative UK Team of Experts. We are signing contracts and hope to deploy within the next few weeks. Recommendations from an initial scoping mission will outline options for supporting the Government of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and other key stakeholders to safely collect and preserve evidence, and bring the perpetrators of sexual violence to justice. We continue to explore options for addressing the immediate needs of survivors, preventing further sexual violence and delivering justice and accountability. The UK is also supporting the International Committee of the Red Cross, UN agencies, specialised NGOs and civil society partners to provide adequate essential services to survivors as well as supporting refugee survivors through the UN High Commission for Refugees.


Written Question
Abortion: Research
10 Jun 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of research on abortion at home that has not been co-authored by people representing abortion providers; and what approach his Department takes in respect of research that is undertaken by people and organisations that have a financial and reputational interest in its results.

Answered by Helen Whately

No specific assessment has been made. The Government committed to undertake a public consultation on whether to make permanent the temporary measure allowing for home use of both pills for early medical abortion up to 10 weeks gestation for all eligible women. The consultation has now closed and we will be considering all evidence submitted and plan to publish our response later this year. Any evidence or research submitted as part of this consultation will be reviewed and considered alongside any potential conflicts of interest.


Written Question
Abortion: Drugs
10 Jun 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 30 March 2021 to Question 164679 on Abortions: Drugs, what her Departments's timeframe is for examining the collection of abortion complications data with partner organisations; and what the (a) form and (b) content of that examination will be.

Answered by Helen Whately

Scoping of the Department’s project to review the system of recording abortion complications data is currently underway. Abortion complications data is collected via the HSA4 abortion notification form. However, it is recognised that the data is limited as not all complications will be known to the practitioner at the time the form is submitted.

To improve the accuracy of data collected, the Department will work closely with a range of statutory bodies, professional organisations and abortion providers to identify additional sources of information that could be used to compliment complications data collected via HSA4 abortion notification forms and improve the flow of data on abortion complications between different organisations, such as independent and National Health Service abortion providers and wider NHS health and care services.

We anticipate this work will be completed later this year.


Written Question
Abortion: Drugs
10 Jun 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Answer of 30 March 2021 to Question 164679 on Abortion: Drugs, with which partner organisations his Department is planning to examine the system of reporting abortion complications; how many of those partner organisations are abortion providers or providers that support abortion; and what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that that examination is objective.

Answered by Helen Whately

Scoping of the Department’s project to review the system of recording abortion complications data is currently underway. Abortion complications data is collected via the HSA4 abortion notification form. However, it is recognised that the data is limited as not all complications will be known to the practitioner at the time the form is submitted.

To improve the accuracy of data collected, the Department will work closely with a range of statutory bodies, professional organisations and abortion providers to identify additional sources of information that could be used to compliment complications data collected via HSA4 abortion notification forms and improve the flow of data on abortion complications between different organisations, such as independent and National Health Service abortion providers and wider NHS health and care services.

We anticipate this work will be completed later this year.


Written Question
Abortion: Drugs
10 Jun 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Answer of 30 March 2021 to Question 164679 on Abortion: Drugs, what limitations have been identified in respect of the collection of abortion complications data.

Answered by Helen Whately

Scoping of the Department’s project to review the system of recording abortion complications data is currently underway. Abortion complications data is collected via the HSA4 abortion notification form. However, it is recognised that the data is limited as not all complications will be known to the practitioner at the time the form is submitted.

To improve the accuracy of data collected, the Department will work closely with a range of statutory bodies, professional organisations and abortion providers to identify additional sources of information that could be used to compliment complications data collected via HSA4 abortion notification forms and improve the flow of data on abortion complications between different organisations, such as independent and National Health Service abortion providers and wider NHS health and care services.

We anticipate this work will be completed later this year.


Written Question
Travel Restrictions: Coronavirus
10 Jun 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will publish the timetable for the next comprehensive review of countries under the covid-19 traffic light system for international travel.

Answered by Robert Courts

The allocation of countries to the traffic light system will be reviewed every three weeks, unless concerning evidence means we need to act faster to protect public health.

The next review will take place in the week commencing 21st June 2021.


Written Question
Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Independent Review
8 Jun 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

What recent progress he has made on implementing the recommendations of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review.

Answered by Nadine Dorries

All recommendations of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review are being considered carefully. The Government will respond in full to the report later this year.


Written Question
Social Services: Visits
22 Apr 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether it is his policy that local authorities should be facilitating social contact visits in adult social care settings in the same way as those visits are being facilitated in care homes.

Answered by Helen Whately

Maintaining opportunities for visiting and spending time together is critical for the health and wellbeing of people in care homes and wider adult social care settings. It is important to recognise the diversity of these environments and the different needs of the people who live there. For these reasons, the care homes guidance is not directly transferable to other settings.

On 30 March, we published an update to our visiting guidance for supported living and extra care. Many of the principles are also relevant to other types of supported housing. This guidance sets out the default position that visits should be supported and enabled wherever it is safe to do so and explains how providers can work with the people they support to develop arrangements for visiting that mitigates these risks.


Written Question
Iran: BBC Persian Service
20 Apr 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Iranian counterpart on the asset freeze affecting BBC Persian staff based in London.

Answered by James Cleverly

We condemn the persecution of current and former BBC Persian employees and their family members, and the many individuals who have had their assets frozen or are banned from leaving Iran. We continue to regularly raise these issues directly with the Iranian government, as well as in multilateral fora, including the Human Rights Council.

At the UN Third Committee in October 2020, we urged Iran to cease their harassment of journalists and media organisations; and in March 2021, at the Human Rights Council, we made clear to Iran that their repeated violations of human rights are unacceptable.

The British Government is committed to the promotion of media freedom which is vital to functioning societies and that journalists must be able to investigate and report as they see fit. We regularly raise human rights with the Iranian authorities at all levels and we continue to take action with the international community to press Iran to improve its poor record on all human rights issues, including restrictions on media freedom.


Written Question
Iran: BBC Persian Service
20 Apr 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Iranian counterpart on the reported harassment of families of BBC Persian staff.

Answered by James Cleverly

We condemn the persecution of current and former BBC Persian employees and their family members, and the many individuals who have had their assets frozen or are banned from leaving Iran. We continue to regularly raise these issues directly with the Iranian government, as well as in multilateral fora, including the Human Rights Council.

At the UN Third Committee in October 2020, we urged Iran to cease their harassment of journalists and media organisations; and in March 2021, at the Human Rights Council, we made clear to Iran that their repeated violations of human rights are unacceptable.

The British Government is committed to the promotion of media freedom which is vital to functioning societies and that journalists must be able to investigate and report as they see fit. We regularly raise human rights with the Iranian authorities at all levels and we continue to take action with the international community to press Iran to improve its poor record on all human rights issues, including restrictions on media freedom.


Written Question
Iran: BBC Persian Service
20 Apr 2021

Questioner: Fiona Bruce (CON - Congleton)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Iranian counterpart on the reported targeting and harassment of BBC Persian staff in that country.

Answered by James Cleverly

We condemn the persecution of current and former BBC Persian employees and their family members, and the many individuals who have had their assets frozen or are banned from leaving Iran. We continue to regularly raise these issues directly with the Iranian government, as well as in multilateral fora, including the Human Rights Council.

At the UN Third Committee in October 2020, we urged Iran to cease their harassment of journalists and media organisations; and in March 2021, at the Human Rights Council, we made clear to Iran that their repeated violations of human rights are unacceptable.

The British Government is committed to the promotion of media freedom which is vital to functioning societies and that journalists must be able to investigate and report as they see fit. We regularly raise human rights with the Iranian authorities at all levels and we continue to take action with the international community to press Iran to improve its poor record on all human rights issues, including restrictions on media freedom.