Grahame Morris Portrait

Grahame Morris

Labour - Easington

First elected: 6th May 2010


Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill
1st Mar 2023 - 8th Mar 2023
Equipment Theft (Prevention) Bill
25th Jan 2023 - 1st Feb 2023
Seafarers' Wages Bill [HL]
11th Jan 2023 - 17th Jan 2023
Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill [HL]
9th Feb 2022 - 10th Feb 2022
Consolidation Bills (Joint Committee)
9th Mar 2020 - 6th Jul 2020
Consolidation, &c., Bills (Joint Committee)
9th Mar 2020 - 6th Jul 2020
Transport Committee
5th Feb 2018 - 6th Nov 2019
Consolidation Bills (Joint Committee)
6th Nov 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Consolidation, &c., Bills (Joint Committee)
6th Nov 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Consolidation Bills (Joint Committee)
9th Nov 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Consolidation, &c., Bills (Joint Committee)
9th Nov 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Shadow Minister for the Constitutional Convention
28th Jun 2016 - 7th Oct 2016
Opposition Whip (Commons)
18th Sep 2015 - 28th Jun 2016
Health and Social Care Committee
12th Jul 2010 - 30th Mar 2015


Oral Question
Monday 26th February 2024
14:30
Home Office
Oral Question No. 20
What steps he is taking to ensure banks follow the Banking Protocol to protect vulnerable adults from fraud.
Save to Calendar
Oral Question
Tuesday 27th February 2024
11:30
Department for Energy Security & Net Zero
Topical Question No. 4
If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.
Save to Calendar
Oral Question
Tuesday 27th February 2024
11:30
Department for Energy Security & Net Zero
Oral Question No. 5
Whether she has had discussions with energy providers on reducing energy standing charges for charities and businesses.
Save to Calendar
Oral Question
Thursday 29th February 2024
09:30
Cabinet Office
Topical Question No. 3
If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.
Save to Calendar
Oral Question
Thursday 29th February 2024
09:30
Cabinet Office
Oral Question No. 7
What progress he has made on considering the recommendations of the Second Interim report of the Infected Blood Inquiry.
Save to Calendar
Department Event
Thursday 21st March 2024
09:30
Department for Transport
Oral questions - Main Chamber
21 Mar 2024, 9:30 a.m.
Transport (including Topical Questions)
Save to Calendar
View calendar
Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Division Votes
Wednesday 21st February 2024
Ceasefire in Gaza
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 173 Labour No votes vs 0 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 20 Noes - 212
Speeches
Wednesday 21st February 2024
Licensing Hours Extensions Bill
We could do it for Armed Forces Day.
Written Answers
Wednesday 21st February 2024
Prisoners: Offensive Weapons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of ending …
Early Day Motions
Wednesday 21st February 2024
Use of artificial intelligence in journalism
That this House supports the National Union of Journalists' (NUJ) Artificial Intelligence (AI) campaign and its concerns over rapid advancements …
Bills
Wednesday 19th January 2022
Prisons (Violence) Bill 2021-22
A Bill to establish a duty on Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service and private prison operators to minimise violence …
MP Financial Interests
Monday 17th April 2023
2. (b) Any other support not included in Category 2(a)
Name of donor: National Union of Journalists (NUJ)
Address of donor: 72 Acton Street, London WC1X 9NB
Amount of donation …
EDM signed
Tuesday 20th February 2024
Detention of Frenchie Mae Cumpio
That this House demands the immediate release of Filipino community journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio, who has been in detention since …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 7th February 2024
State Pension Age (Compensation) Bill 2023-24
A Bill to require the Secretary of State to publish proposals for a compensation scheme for women born between 6 …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliament, Grahame Morris has voted in 746 divisions, and 4 times against the majority of their Party.

30 Dec 2020 - Sittings of the House - View Vote Context
Grahame Morris voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 7 Labour Aye votes vs 183 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 335 Noes - 212
20 Dec 2019 - European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - View Vote Context
Grahame Morris voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 6 Labour Aye votes vs 162 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 358 Noes - 234
14 Dec 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Grahame Morris voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 22 Labour No votes vs 124 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 385 Noes - 100
21 Jun 2023 - Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill - View Vote Context
Grahame Morris voted No - against a party majority - in line with the party majority and against the House
One of 150 Labour No votes vs 1 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 277 Noes - 208
View All Grahame Morris 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
Richard Holden (Conservative)
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
(21 debate interactions)
Penny Mordaunt (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(15 debate interactions)
Paul Scully (Conservative)
(13 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Legislation Debates
Seafarers’ Wages Act 2023
(3,381 words contributed)
Prisons (Violence) Bill 2021-22
(1,349 words contributed)
NHS Funding Act 2020
(1,181 words contributed)
View All Legislation Debates
View all Grahame Morris's debates

Easington Petitions

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

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

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

Petition Debates Contributed

Ensure Water companies treat the sewage they are responsible for. Not discharge it into rivers and water courses. After all what goes into the ocean comes back as the fish we eat.

We would like the Government to ban all animal testing UK, including for the development of cosmetics, household products and medicines. Alternatives need to be actively funded. Many products that are tested on animals end up not being suitable for humans. Animal testing is outmoded and should end.

The Government must recognise the urgent need to use animal-free science and publish a clear and ambitious action plan with timetables and milestones to drive the phase-out of animal experiments. As well as preventing animal suffering, this will benefit public health and business.

Enact legislation to protect retail workers. This legislation must create a specific offence of abusing, threatening or assaulting a retail worker. The offence must carry a penalty that acts as a deterrent and makes clear that abuse of retail workers is unacceptable.

Government should support vulnerable children & #endchildfoodpoverty by implementing 3 recommendations from the National Food Strategy to expand access to Free School Meals, provide meals & activities during holidays to stop holiday hunger & increase the value of and expand the Healthy Start scheme

The government is helping private firms to protect jobs by paying up to 80% of staff wages through this crisis. If it can do this why can it not help key workers who will be putting themselves/their families at risk and working extra hard under extremely challenging and unprecedented circumstances.

During the pandemic government workers have delivered vital public services and kept our country safe and secure. After ten years in which the real value of civil service pay has fallen, many face hardship. The Government must start to restore the real value of their pay with a 10% increase in 2020.

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


Latest EDMs signed by Grahame Morris

21st February 2024
Grahame Morris signed this EDM as the primary signatory on Wednesday 21st February 2024

Use of artificial intelligence in journalism

Tabled by: Grahame Morris (Labour - Easington)
That this House supports the National Union of Journalists' (NUJ) Artificial Intelligence (AI) campaign and its concerns over rapid advancements in AI technologies using journalistic content without consent or permission; recognises the risk of grave harm to journalism and the subsequent undermining of democracy should public trust in journalism erode; …
18 signatures
(Most recent: 23 Feb 2024)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 11
Independent: 3
Scottish National Party: 2
Plaid Cymru: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
20th February 2024
Grahame Morris signed this EDM as a sponsor on Tuesday 20th February 2024

Detention of Frenchie Mae Cumpio

Tabled by: Liz Saville Roberts (Plaid Cymru - Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
That this House demands the immediate release of Filipino community journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio, who has been in detention since her arrest along with four human rights defenders since 7 February 2020 in Tacloban City; believes that the evidential basis for her arrest was fabricated, and that she is innocent …
9 signatures
(Most recent: 21 Feb 2024)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 4
Plaid Cymru: 3
Scottish National Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
View All Grahame Morris's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Grahame Morris, 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.


1 Urgent Question tabled by Grahame Morris

Thursday 7th December 2023

2 Adjournment Debates led by Grahame Morris

Wednesday 21st February 2024
Wednesday 3rd February 2021

3 Bills introduced by Grahame Morris


A Bill to establish a duty on Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service and private prison operators to minimise violence in prisons; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 40%

Last Event - 2nd Reading
Friday 6th May 2022

A Bill to amend the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to apply its provisions to private healthcare companies and other bodies seeking health service contracts; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Monday 1st September 2014

The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to amend the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to apply to private healthcare companies; and for connected purposes.

Commons - 20%

Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Tuesday 8th October 2013

1444 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
12 Other Department Questions
16th Jan 2024
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the House of Commons Commission, how often the House of Commons Commission reviews the terms and conditions of the travel subsidy setting out funding available for school trips to Parliament.

The House Administration wants to enable schoolchildren across the UK to have the opportunity to visit Parliament. It has therefore been actively considering the impact of rising travel costs and revised constituency boundaries on the Education Travel Subsidy.

In June 2023, the Finance Committee considered and agreed proposals to increase the subsidy in light of rising travel costs. This was implemented in September 2023, but the Committee asked for additional increases to be considered. A further proposal was brought to the Finance Committee in November 2023 and the Commission in December 2023 to amend some elements of the subsidy and implement further increases. These were agreed and will be applied from April 2024. The changes are expected to increase visit numbers from outside the south-east.

The Commission noted in December 2023 that a deep dive review of the Education Travel Subsidy programme would take place in the third quarter of 2024/25 which would take account of constituency boundary changes.

The travel subsidy allows eligible state-funded schools to claim between 50 and 75 per cent of travel costs back, subject to maximum claim caps. Constituencies are set into three geographic based bands, A, B or C to determine eligibility. Further information is given on the Parliamentary website: Travel Subsidy - Parliament UK Education. Recent changes to subsidy level are given below.

Travel subsidy in 2022

  • Band A: Not eligible
  • Band B: 50% of receipted travel costs, up to a maximum claim of £800
  • Band C: 75% of receipted travel costs, up to a maximum claim of £1600

Travel subsidy as of 1 September 2023

  • Band A: Not eligible
  • Band B: 50% of receipted travel costs, up to a maximum claim of £1,000
  • Band C: 75% of receipted travel costs, up to a maximum claim of £2,000

Travel subsidy changes for 1 April 2024 will be announced to Members in the coming weeks.

9th Nov 2023
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the House of Commons Commission, if the Commission will make an estimate of the cost to the public purse of parliamentary scrutiny of sections of HS2 that have since been cancelled.

The table below outlines an estimate of the cost to the public purse of parliamentary scrutiny of sections of HS2 that have since been cancelled. The costs of committee visits, the transcription of committee hearings, reports by the Independent Assessor and additional staffing have all been taken into account.

Select Committee on the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill

Select Committee on the High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill

Committee visits

£2,620

£4,006.89

Transcription of Committee hearings

£54,313

£24,811.50

Reports of the Independent Assessor

£184,760.58

£175,712.40

Staffing

N/A

£184,826

Total

£241,693.58

£389,356.79

£631,050.37

Under Private Business Standing Order 224A(6)(a)(ii) (‘Comments on environmental statements’), the examiner of petitions for private bills is required to appoint an independent assessor to produce a report on responses to the public consultation on an environmental statement.

Three reports were published by the independent assessor on the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Act 2021, relating to consultations held on the Environmental Statement, the Supplementary Environmental Statement which accompanied Additional Provision 1, and the Supplementary Environmental Statement which accompanied Additional Provision 2.

Two reports have so far been published by the independent assessor on the High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill, relating to consultations held on the Environmental Statement and the Supplementary Environmental Statement 1 and Additional Provision 1 Environmental Statement.

Under Private Business Standing Order 224A(10), the costs of the process of appointing an independent assessor, incurred by the House, shall be reimbursed by the government.

23rd Oct 2023
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the House of Commons Commission, if the Commission will make an estimate of the cost to the public purse of the cost of parliamentary scrutiny of sections of HS2 that have since been cancelled.

The House of Commons Commission has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

25th May 2023
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the House of Commons Commission, pursuant to the Answer of 23 May to Question 185861 on Victoria Tower: Flags, if the Commission will hold discussions with its counterparts in the House of Lords on arrangements for illuminating the Union Flag at the top of Victoria Tower.

Arrangements for the Victoria Tower are the responsibility of the House of Lords. The Commission understands there are currently no plans to illuminate the Union Flag on Victoria Tower.

18th May 2023
To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the House of Commons Commission, whether the Commission has had discussions with its counterparts in the House of Lords on arrangements for illuminating the Union Flag at the top of Victoria Tower.

There have been no discussions on this matter.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, if she will introduce an enforcement mechanism for the Equality Act 2010 for circumstances where a disabled person does not have the financial means to enforce their rights in civil court.

The Government is committed to ensuring effective access to judicial and/or administrative procedures in the courts for everyone, including disabled people, who think they have experienced discrimination.

As with all civil law in Great Britain, enforcement of the Equality Act 2010 falls to the individual or their agent or representative and the question of cost is one of the factors that must be weighed in their decision whether to proceed.

Legal aid for legal advice and representation may be available, subject to means and merits tests, for cases alleging unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation under the Equality Act 2010. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has powers to assist someone bringing a case under the Equality Act 2010, and uses these powers to intervene in cases which it considers to be of strategic importance. Any individual who requires advice on disability issues generally or in relation to service provision can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service for free bespoke advice provision. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) also provides free and impartial advice to disabled employees/candidates in relation to employment-related disability cases.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, if she will implement section 1 of the Equality Act 2010.

The Government has no plans to commence Section 1 of the Equality Act 2010 in England. We have stated on many occasions that this duty, which requires a public body, in taking strategic decisions, to have due regard to the desirability of exercising them in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage, would be ineffectual. As merely a “due regard” duty, it requires no specific action from the public body concerned, and risks becoming a tick-box exercise, complied with to minimise the risk of litigation rather than to promote real change in society. The duty is also wrongly focussed on equalising socio-economic outcomes rather than opportunities.

The Government’s preferred approach is to progress specific policies and practical actions that will deliver real change. We are promoting social mobility and tackling inequality through a range of initiatives – for example in education, through reforms to the welfare system, and by giving greater developmental devolution in England and rebalancing the economy through schemes such as the Towns Fund.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
18th Jan 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what discussions representatives of the House authorities have had with trade unions representing staff employed on the Parliamentary estate on Public Health England's recommendations on the risks to those staff of contracting covid-19 in their place of work.

The House authorities have met with representatives of the trade unions (including PCS) for staff in the House of Commons and PDS formally at least once per week since the beginning of March 2020, and with representatives of MPSA and Unite as representatives of Members’ staff.

All trade unions recognised by the House were provided with the opportunity to comment on the covid-19 risk assessments.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many instances have been reported of staff working on the Parliamentary estate contracting covid-19.

Where data is recorded in relation to House of Commons staff, a total of 86 positive test results have been recorded for the period of March 2020–January 2021. The data held does not distinguish between staff working on the estate or from home.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what assessment has been made of trends in the level of sickness-related absence of staff working on the Parliamentary estate since March 2020.

Levels of sickness absence are regularly reviewed and discussed weekly in the Covid operations group and in the weekly Trade Union meetings.

Sickness data is recorded for staff where they are unavailable to work due to illness. As the estate has seen different levels of required staff attendance over the last 12 months, comparison between periods is of limited use.

Absence rates have been reviewed against those from other areas of the public sector. Increases in absence can be identified in March 2020, December 2020 and January 2021.

The absence rates in the House have remained at comparable levels to previous years and below the wider public sector.

Description

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEPT

OCT

NOV

DEC

Average working days lost per employee

5.09

4.94

4.71

4.66

4.58

4.43

4.33

4.23

5.39

% long term sick

58.55%

59.24%

59.09%

61.33%

62.01%

62.10%

63.68%

66.06%

52.61%

Please note the data is based on a rolling 12-month period, so the data for December 2020 is from 01/01/2020 to 31/12/2020.

The average working days lost per employee is the number of working days lost in the rolling 12-month period divided by the staff headcount.

The % long term sick is the percentage of sickness absences which were part of a period of absence of over 28 calendar days in the rolling 12-month period.

20th Jul 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what steps the Commission is taking to ensure that Parliamentary staff are protected in the event that they raise health and safety concerns.

The health and safety of all those who work for, or visit the House, continues to be a key priority of the House of Commons Commission. This has included the creation of a safety and security at work module, covering health and safety and the routes to raise concerns, mandatory training which all Parliamentary staff are required to complete on an annual basis.

Staff are actively encouraged to report safety queries or concerns through their line manager, safety coordinator, a trade union safety representative or one of the safety advisers in the Parliamentary Safety Team.

All passholders on the estate are expected to follow the behaviour code, which are designed to protect and support all those on the estate. Should a member of staff have concerns that this would not be the case a fully independent process exists for raising safety concerns through the whistleblowing policy.

23rd May 2022
To ask the Attorney General, if she will continue and expand the use of remote working for the Crown Prosecution Service to help tackle the caseload backlog.

During the pandemic, the criminal justice system developed digitally enabled remote hearing capability, at pace, so that court-related activity could continue to the greatest degree possible.

The CPS has a fully digital casework process, and previously invested in a robust technology infrastructure which has enabled CPS staff to work remotely and engage virtually in court proceedings during this challenging period.

Recognising that listing is a judicial function, the continued development of technology, and its use to facilitate remote attendance in appropriate circumstances, presents an opportunity for gains in efficiency and flexibility in the deployment of work and people.

Alex Chalk
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Attorney General, when his Department’s current non-executive directors were appointed; what oversight officials of his Department had of the Ministerial appointments of those non-executive directors; and what assessment his Department made of the applicants' experience against the requirements for breadth and depth of experience set out in the Cabinet Office guidance on Departmental Boards of November 2014.

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) does not have any non-executive directors sitting on its board. Whilst the AGO aligns its governance structures as closely as possible to Cabinet Office guidance, the appointment of non-executive directors would not be proportionate given the size of the AGO (headcount 54).

28th Jun 2021
To ask the Attorney General, what declarations of interests have been made by his Department’s non-executive directors; and where those interests are published.

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) does not have any non-executive directors sitting on its board. Whilst the AGO aligns its governance structures as closely as possible to Cabinet Office guidance, the appointment of non-executive directors would not be proportionate given the size of the AGO (headcount 54).

28th Jun 2021
To ask the Attorney General, what financial payments his Department makes to its non-executive directors; how many times his departmental Board will meet in 2021-22; and what work the non-executive directors undertake.

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) does not have any non-executive directors sitting on its board. Whilst the AGO aligns its governance structures as closely as possible to Cabinet Office guidance, the appointment of non-executive directors would not be proportionate given the size of the AGO (headcount 54).

28th Jun 2021
To ask the Attorney General, what private companies are contracted to provide security services at his Department’s buildings that contain Ministerial private offices; and whether there are closed circuit television cameras in any Ministerial private offices within his Department's estate.

As has been the case under successive Administrations, it is not government policy to comment on security procedures in government buildings.

12th Dec 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many people have died from fentanyl overdose in each of the last five years, broken down by region.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority.

A response to the Hon gentleman’s Parliamentary Question of 12 December is attached.

John Glen
Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office
23rd Oct 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many times Government departments answered Named Day written parliamentary questions stating that it would not be possible to answer a question within the usual time period in each of the last five years.

Written parliamentary questions allow MPs and Peers to ask Ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of Government departments. Parliament has a right to hold Ministers to account and it is a recognised right of Parliament that Members receive full and timely responses. Where it is not possible to provide a Named Day answer in full on the specified date, a holding response should be provided to the MP to explain this.

It is the responsibility of individual departments to provide timely answers to Parliamentary Questions from Members. The requested information is not centrally held by the Cabinet Office, and complying with this request would incur a disproportionate cost to the Department.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
18th Jul 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will invite representatives from the National Union of Journalists to participate in his Department’s information user rights group.

I refer the Member to the answer I gave on 20 July 2023 (UIN 194409).

Groups representing the media were invited to its inaugural meeting held on 4 July 2023.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
17th Jul 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will publish a list of (a) organisations and (b) individuals invited to participate in the Information Rights User Group.

This Government is committed to transparency and we want to strengthen how the Freedom of Information Act works across the entire public sector. The Information Rights User Group is being established following a commitment made in the Open Government Partnership Network Action Plan 5. Further details of this commitment can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-national-action-plan-for-open-government-2021-2023/uk-national-action-plan-for-open-government-2021-2023#commitment-8-freedom-of-information

The final membership of the Group is yet to be finalised. Groups representing journalists, local authorities, campaign groups, think tanks, civil society, academics and the Information Commissioner’s Office were present at its inaugural meeting held on 4 July 2023.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
12th Jul 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether his Department is taking steps to prevent public contracts being awarded to companies that blacklist workers.

The Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklists) Regulations 2010 prohibit the compilation, usage, sale or supply of blacklists. The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 contain exclusion grounds which allow contracting authorities to exclude suppliers from procurements where their tender does not comply with labour law or where the supplier is guilty of grave professional misconduct. A breach of the Blacklists Regulations on a particular tender would render the supplier liable to exclusion and a breach more widely may amount to grave professional misconduct.

In all cases, individual departments and other public sector bodies are responsible for their own decisions on these matters

The Procurement Bill introduced by the Government, currently in the final stages of debate in Parliament, builds on and clarifies the exclusions measures in the existing regime. This includes specific measures enabling the exclusion of suppliers for labour market misconduct and professional misconduct.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
12th Jul 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what social value criteria the Government considers when awarding public contracts.

The Social Value Model launched in January 2021 (PPN 06/20) by this Conservative Government, standardises the assessment of bidder’s proposals for delivering social value outcomes, including tackling economic inequality, creating new businesses, jobs and skills, as well as increasing supply chain resilience and fighting climate change. The Model takes into account factors such as the number of local jobs or apprenticeships a contractor will provide, or the number of SMEs involved in their wider supply chain.

At the same time, the Procurement Bill we are introducing also confirms that while value for money remains paramount during contracting, buyers should take into account other relevant wider social and environmental considerations the supplier may bring.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
10th Jul 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the grants awarded under the Reducing Veterans Homelessness programme in 2023-24, how much and what proportion of the funding allocated to the Launchpad Organisation will be spent on each of the four areas.

As part of this Government’s drive to end veterans homelessness this year, Launchpad received over £800,000 through the Reducing Veteran Homelessness Programme to deliver addiction and mental health psychotherapy, intensive training and employment support to veterans.

Whilst a geographical breakdown of spend is not yet available, the Programme is expected to go live in September, and will report over the following months.

Johnny Mercer
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)
28th Jun 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department has taken to assess the impact of the data breach of Capita systems in March 2023 on Government Departments; and whether any Government data was compromised by the data breach.

The Cabinet Office, the Financial Conduct Authority and the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) have been working with Capita to understand any risks to government data following the incident in March. Capita has acknowledged that some data was exfiltrated from less than 0.1% of its server estate; our understanding to date is that this includes a very limited impact to public sector data.

24th May 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 23 May 2023 to Question 185568 on Mining: Industrial Disputes, if he will take steps to (a) publish all documents relating to the miners strike and (b) place those documents in the national archive.

The Cabinet Office is committed to complying with the Public Records Act 1958 and has released records to The National Archives (TNA) up to 2002.

Records listed on TNA’s online catalogue Discovery include details to reflect exemptions, if they have been applied, to closed or retained records. If paper files that are open at TNA contain minor redactions, details to reflect exemptions being applied are included on a Dummy Card, which replaces the closed or retained extracts within the record. A process is in place to re-review closed and retained records at the 10-year point or when the agreed closure or retention period is about to expire.

The most recent Information Management Assessment published by The National Archives (https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/cabinet-office-ima-reassessment-report.pdf) gave the Cabinet Office an assurance rating of Green. There are no plans to change the record keeping practices of the Department.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
24th May 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 23 May 2023 to Question 185568 on Mining: Industrial Disputes, whether his Department maintains a record of the reasons for which they have not disclosed documents under the thirty-year rule.

The Cabinet Office is committed to complying with the Public Records Act 1958 and has released records to The National Archives (TNA) up to 2002.

Records listed on TNA’s online catalogue Discovery include details to reflect exemptions, if they have been applied, to closed or retained records. If paper files that are open at TNA contain minor redactions, details to reflect exemptions being applied are included on a Dummy Card, which replaces the closed or retained extracts within the record. A process is in place to re-review closed and retained records at the 10-year point or when the agreed closure or retention period is about to expire.

The most recent Information Management Assessment published by The National Archives (https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/cabinet-office-ima-reassessment-report.pdf) gave the Cabinet Office an assurance rating of Green. There are no plans to change the record keeping practices of the Department.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
24th May 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 23 May 2023 to Question 185568 on Mining: Industrial Disputes, whether his Department plans to create a register of retained documents to help improve responses to requests for information.

The Cabinet Office is committed to complying with the Public Records Act 1958 and has released records to The National Archives (TNA) up to 2002.

Records listed on TNA’s online catalogue Discovery include details to reflect exemptions, if they have been applied, to closed or retained records. If paper files that are open at TNA contain minor redactions, details to reflect exemptions being applied are included on a Dummy Card, which replaces the closed or retained extracts within the record. A process is in place to re-review closed and retained records at the 10-year point or when the agreed closure or retention period is about to expire.

The most recent Information Management Assessment published by The National Archives (https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/cabinet-office-ima-reassessment-report.pdf) gave the Cabinet Office an assurance rating of Green. There are no plans to change the record keeping practices of the Department.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
24th May 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 23 May 2023 to Question 185568 on Mining: Industrial Disputes, when his Department last made an assessment of whether retained documents relating to the miners’ strike should be place into the public domain.

The Cabinet Office is committed to complying with the Public Records Act 1958 and has released records to The National Archives (TNA) up to 2002.

Records listed on TNA’s online catalogue Discovery include details to reflect exemptions, if they have been applied, to closed or retained records. If paper files that are open at TNA contain minor redactions, details to reflect exemptions being applied are included on a Dummy Card, which replaces the closed or retained extracts within the record. A process is in place to re-review closed and retained records at the 10-year point or when the agreed closure or retention period is about to expire.

The most recent Information Management Assessment published by The National Archives (https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/cabinet-office-ima-reassessment-report.pdf) gave the Cabinet Office an assurance rating of Green. There are no plans to change the record keeping practices of the Department.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
24th May 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 23 May 2023 to Question 185568 on Mining: Industrial Disputes, whether he plans to take steps to change the record keeping practices of his Department to help improve (a) accessibility and (b) preservation of historical documents.

The Cabinet Office is committed to complying with the Public Records Act 1958 and has released records to The National Archives (TNA) up to 2002.

Records listed on TNA’s online catalogue Discovery include details to reflect exemptions, if they have been applied, to closed or retained records. If paper files that are open at TNA contain minor redactions, details to reflect exemptions being applied are included on a Dummy Card, which replaces the closed or retained extracts within the record. A process is in place to re-review closed and retained records at the 10-year point or when the agreed closure or retention period is about to expire.

The most recent Information Management Assessment published by The National Archives (https://cdn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/cabinet-office-ima-reassessment-report.pdf) gave the Cabinet Office an assurance rating of Green. There are no plans to change the record keeping practices of the Department.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
17th May 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make an estimate of the number of documents relating to the 1984-85 Miners Strike that have not been published.

The Cabinet Office does not hold a register of retained documents. Collecting this data would require physical examination of many files and would exceed the cost threshold.

In accordance with the requirements of the Public Records Act 1958, most Cabinet Office records of the 1984-85 miners’ strike have been transferred to The National Archives and are open to the public.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
17th Feb 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 30 January 2023 to Question 135209 Government Departments: Advertising, what percentage of the Government’s advertising budget is spent with local news media.

I refer the Hon. member to the answer given to PQ 133739 on 3 February 2023.

Additionally, we recognise the enormous trust that the public have in local media and the important role that local media therefore play in spreading our messages. As well as local and regional advertising, Government campaigns also make use of a full range of low and no cost channels in order to reach local communities.

30th Jan 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he is taking steps to increase Government advertising spending with domestic based local news media compared to multinational tech companies.

The channels selected for government paid marketing campaigns are driven by the target audience. Local media channels such as print and radio are often used in campaigns to help reach particular audiences in a specific region. No matter the form of communication, we constantly and regularly evaluate the effectiveness of our campaigns, including the role local media plays, to ensure that we reach the right audience in the most efficient way.

16th Jan 2023
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, when the Government plans to make interim compensation payments to (a) the estates of people who have died and (b) people whose children or parents have died as a result of infected blood products.

I refer the hon Member to the statement I made in the House on 15 December where I announced that the moral case for compensation was formally accepted. I also set out the work being carried out across government in consideration of the compensation framework study - which included specific reference to those groups who were not able to claim interim compensation.

This work is intended to ensure that the Government is prepared to act swiftly in response to Sir Brian Langstaff’s final report when it is delivered.

20th Dec 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 8 December 2022 to Question 902659 on Prison officers: retirement, and to the Answer of 19 December 2022 to Question 110664 on Cabinet Office: Transfer of Questions, which Department leads on Government policy relating to prison officer pension age.

HM Treasury leads on all public sector pension scheme policy making and sets clear parameters within which pension scheme rules must be set, including the pension age for public servants.

The Cabinet Office is responsible for making the Civil Service pension scheme regulations. This pension scheme covers the overwhelming majority of civil servants in active service, including prison officers, and must be delivered within the wider HM Treasury policies.

Finally, the Ministry of Justice leads on local policy relating to prison officer terms and conditions. It may consider utilising employment, retirement and pension flexibilities for particular groups, if affordable and as they deem appropriate.

20th Dec 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, for , what the value of contracts awarded to Surgo was in each of the last five years.

Details of Government contracts above £10,000, and £25,000 in the wider public sector, are published on Contracts Finder: https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Search

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
14th Dec 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the answer of 8 December 2022 to Question 902659 on Prison officers: retirement, for what reasons this question was transferred from the Cabinet Office to the Ministry of Justice.

The Terms and Conditions of Prison Officers, including any proposals to change their retirement provisions, are matters on which the Ministry of Justice lead.

20th Jul 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he is taking steps to require Government departments to (a) undertake equality impact assessments in relation to proposals to reduce staff and possibly services as part of the plan to reduce the Civil Service by 91,000 posts and (b) consult unions as part the process of drafting those assessments.

Departments have been asked to consider the key equalities impacts when setting out their initial scenario plans for workforce reductions, which will include departments completing equality impact assessments, should proposals be agreed following a robust assessment. Civil Service bodies in developing their plans were also reminded that early and continuing trade union engagement should be taking place. Alongside that, Civil Service HR will continue to update unions at the national level.

7th Jul 2022
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will take steps to ensure that the private security firm, Definitive PSA, contracted by P&O Ferries to remove UK seafarers from ferries docked in the UK on 17 March 2022 does not benefit from publicly funded contracts.

The grounds for exclusion of bidders from public procurement procedures are set out in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, and allows for the exclusion of suppliers from bidding for procurements where they have been convicted of, or there is evidence of, bribery, fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.

Procurement Policy Note 04/21 provided supplementary guidance in relation to applying exclusions and managing conflicts of interest. It is for individual contracting authorities to consider whether suppliers must or may be excluded from each procurement.

The Procurement Bill, introduced to Parliament on 11 May, broadens and strengthens the exclusion grounds. We are increasing the time period within which misconduct can lead to exclusion from 3 years to 5; bringing subsidiary companies into scope of exclusion; and making the rules clearer so that contracting authorities can undertake exclusions with more confidence.

30th May 2022
To ask the Minister of the Cabinet Office, how many energy rebate applications a local authority is able to submit to the Government's verification tool each day.

The Government has not placed any restrictions or limits to the number of energy rebate applications that may be submitted for bank verification.

The Government’s due diligence risking tool has no limit to the number of applications councils are able to check per day.

30th May 2022
To ask the Minister of the Cabinet Office, for what reason the Government is limiting the number of energy rebate applications that councils can submit to the verification tool per day.

The Government has not placed any restrictions or limits to the number of energy rebate applications that may be submitted for bank verification.

The Government’s due diligence risking tool has no limit to the number of applications councils are able to check per day.

18th Mar 2022
To ask the Prime Minister, whether (a) he and (b) his staff have had discussions with representatives of (i) DP world or (ii) their subsidiaries in each of the last 12 months.

Details of ministerial meetings with external organisations and individuals are published on the gov.uk website.

More generally, I refer the Hon. Member to the response by my Rt Hon Friend, the Transport Secretary of Official Report, 21 March 2022, Col. 43.

18th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will create a red weather alert protocol to co-ordinate resources and place on standby military aid to the civilian powers in advance of extreme weather events.

The UK has access to some of the most advanced weather forecasting systems in the world.

An established three-tier weather warning system is used by the Met Office. Government departments will often use the warning system to determine and activate a proportionate crisis management response posture, including consideration of military support.

18th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, on what dates the Government held COBRA meetings in respect of Storm Arwen.

As a matter of policy, the Government does not comment on matters related to COBR.

However, we can confirm that Ministers and officials from across government took several measures in response to Storm Arwen.

The Defence Secretary oversaw the deployment of 297 military personnel to support civil authorities in the response. These personnel helped two Local Resilience Forums in the provision of welfare in northeast England, and assisted the Scottish Government in their response in the Grampian region.

The Prime Minister spoke to the chief executive of Northern Powergrid to discuss the ongoing work to restore power in the affected areas. He also spoke with local community leaders in Northumbria, Durham and Darlington, and Lt Col Mark Steed, who coordinated the military involvement in the response in northeast England.

Further to this, The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy gave a statement to Parliament at the time and The Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change responded to an Urgent Question on 6 December.

Last week, the Government published an interim report on Storm Arwen review: Government publishes interim report on Storm Arwen review - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

14th Jul 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent estimate his Department has made of the number of (a) employees, (b) limb (b) workers, and (c) independent contractors, broken down by region.

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

18th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to Paragraph 5 of the Civil Service Management Code, what guidance governs (a) the circumstances in which Ministers may make undertakings that legislation which does not bind the Crown will be applied as if it did so and (b) the procedure for issuing such undertakings; and if he will publish that guidance.

As referenced in my answer to PQ 5182 on 26 May 2021, the Civil Service has not applied any legislation which is not binding on the Crown as if it were so binding. Paragraph 5 simply makes clear that departments must fully comply with legislation that binds the Crown. There is no guidance covering when legislation that does not bind the crown should be applied as if it did so.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
18th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 21 May 2021 to Question 5182 on Civil Service: Conditions of Employment, if he will specify (a) whether the legislative provisions which apply to civil servants but are not binding on the Crown refers solely to those arising from paragraph 5 of the Civil Service Management Code or (b) what other such legislative provisions apply on that basis.

As referenced in my answer to PQ 5182 on 26 May 2021, the Civil Service has not applied any legislation which is not binding on the Crown as if it were so binding. Paragraph 5 simply makes clear that departments must fully comply with legislation that binds the Crown. There is no guidance covering when legislation that does not bind the crown should be applied as if it did so.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he has taken to ensure that the proposed pay changes announced as part of the Government Property Agency’s 10 South Colonnade Facilities Management contract in May 2021 comply with the Cabinet Office’s Principles of Good Employment Practice with regards to employee engagement.

The Government Property Agency contracts with Mitie for the provision of Total Facilities Management services for some of the Whitehall estate and London, 10 South Colonnade.

The Government Property Agency has not currently undertaken a formal assessment of Mitie’s internal policies nor specifically raised concerns about Mitie’s treatment of their staff. Mitie has assured us that they are consulting with their employees and recognised representatives about the proposed changes and that a solution can be found through negotiation and agreement.

An informal assessment indicates that Mitie holds an annual all employee engagement survey and local activities such as staff newsletters, town halls and engagement forums. They have consulted with their employees working at 10 South Colonnade on the proposed pay harmonisations and held meetings with those affected. This is consistent with principle six of the Cabinet Office Principles of Good Employment Practice.

GPA has a Social Value Plan in development that will, amongst other things, ensure social value is properly taken into account in the award of new GPA contracts.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how Mitie Group Plc has performed against the Government Property Agency’s Facilities Management contract requirement to give its staff an effective voice.

The Government Property Agency contracts with Mitie for the provision of Total Facilities Management services for some of the Whitehall estate and London, 10 South Colonnade.

The Government Property Agency has not currently undertaken a formal assessment of Mitie’s internal policies nor specifically raised concerns about Mitie’s treatment of their staff. Mitie has assured us that they are consulting with their employees and recognised representatives about the proposed changes and that a solution can be found through negotiation and agreement.

An informal assessment indicates that Mitie holds an annual all employee engagement survey and local activities such as staff newsletters, town halls and engagement forums. They have consulted with their employees working at 10 South Colonnade on the proposed pay harmonisations and held meetings with those affected. This is consistent with principle six of the Cabinet Office Principles of Good Employment Practice.

GPA has a Social Value Plan in development that will, amongst other things, ensure social value is properly taken into account in the award of new GPA contracts.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of whether Mitie’s indication to some of its staff working on civil service contracts that it will fire and rehire them if they do not agree to change their pay dates is compatible with the social value that Mitie is required to deliver through civil service contracts.

The Government Property Agency contracts with Mitie for the provision of Total Facilities Management services for some of the Whitehall estate and London, 10 South Colonnade.

The Government Property Agency has not currently undertaken a formal assessment of Mitie’s internal policies nor specifically raised concerns about Mitie’s treatment of their staff. Mitie has assured us that they are consulting with their employees and recognised representatives about the proposed changes and that a solution can be found through negotiation and agreement.

An informal assessment indicates that Mitie holds an annual all employee engagement survey and local activities such as staff newsletters, town halls and engagement forums. They have consulted with their employees working at 10 South Colonnade on the proposed pay harmonisations and held meetings with those affected. This is consistent with principle six of the Cabinet Office Principles of Good Employment Practice.

GPA has a Social Value Plan in development that will, amongst other things, ensure social value is properly taken into account in the award of new GPA contracts.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what contracts the Government Property Agency has for facility management with Mitie.

The Government Property Agency contracts with Mitie for the provision of Total Facilities Management services for some of the Whitehall estate and London, 10 South Colonnade.

The Government Property Agency has not currently undertaken a formal assessment of Mitie’s internal policies nor specifically raised concerns about Mitie’s treatment of their staff. Mitie has assured us that they are consulting with their employees and recognised representatives about the proposed changes and that a solution can be found through negotiation and agreement.

An informal assessment indicates that Mitie holds an annual all employee engagement survey and local activities such as staff newsletters, town halls and engagement forums. They have consulted with their employees working at 10 South Colonnade on the proposed pay harmonisations and held meetings with those affected. This is consistent with principle six of the Cabinet Office Principles of Good Employment Practice.

GPA has a Social Value Plan in development that will, amongst other things, ensure social value is properly taken into account in the award of new GPA contracts.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
21st May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to paragraph 5 of the Civil Service management code, if he will provide details of all legislation that Ministers have undertaken to apply as if it were binding on the Crown.

The Civil Service has not applied any legislation which is not binding on the Crown. However, certain legislative provisions, which do not apply to the Crown, apply to Civil Servants as set out within the Civil Service Management Code and within departmental policies.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what estimate he has made of the current cost of all communication staff within the scope of the centralisation of communication project.

The Reshaping Government Communication Service programme will further strengthen and unify the Government Communication Service (GCS), to be an even more effective and efficient service. Cabinet Office is leading the programme and working closely with ministerial departments and other public sector bodies. The programme has completed its discovery phase and is in its design phase, both of which will contribute to the outline business case and will help to identify the potential savings.

All communications staff are considered to be in scope for the RGCS programme. Last year, we received some initial data from departments and Arms Length Bodies, however more work will be done over the coming months to gather the necessary data to inform decision making.

The Cabinet Office has confirmed that its intention is for departments to have core teams for press, social media and rebuttal. We are working with departments to consider what a streamlined service could look like, in order to support statutory, operational or programme delivery.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, to ensure our communications are efficient. We will not spend more than is needed to be effective. Cabinet Office publishes expenditure on government communication spend, including our national campaigns, on a rolling monthly basis on gov.uk as part of routine government transparency arrangements at the link below:

www.gov.uk/government/collections/cabinet-office-spend-data.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what estimate he has made of the current spend on communications for those bodies within the scope of the centralisation of communication project.

The Reshaping Government Communication Service programme will further strengthen and unify the Government Communication Service (GCS), to be an even more effective and efficient service. Cabinet Office is leading the programme and working closely with ministerial departments and other public sector bodies. The programme has completed its discovery phase and is in its design phase, both of which will contribute to the outline business case and will help to identify the potential savings.

All communications staff are considered to be in scope for the RGCS programme. Last year, we received some initial data from departments and Arms Length Bodies, however more work will be done over the coming months to gather the necessary data to inform decision making.

The Cabinet Office has confirmed that its intention is for departments to have core teams for press, social media and rebuttal. We are working with departments to consider what a streamlined service could look like, in order to support statutory, operational or programme delivery.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, to ensure our communications are efficient. We will not spend more than is needed to be effective. Cabinet Office publishes expenditure on government communication spend, including our national campaigns, on a rolling monthly basis on gov.uk as part of routine government transparency arrangements at the link below:

www.gov.uk/government/collections/cabinet-office-spend-data.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the restructuring of Government communications, what criteria were used in setting the expected maximum figure of 30 communications staff per Department.

The Reshaping Government Communication Service programme will further strengthen and unify the Government Communication Service (GCS), to be an even more effective and efficient service. Cabinet Office is leading the programme and working closely with ministerial departments and other public sector bodies. The programme has completed its discovery phase and is in its design phase, both of which will contribute to the outline business case and will help to identify the potential savings.

All communications staff are considered to be in scope for the RGCS programme. Last year, we received some initial data from departments and Arms Length Bodies, however more work will be done over the coming months to gather the necessary data to inform decision making.

The Cabinet Office has confirmed that its intention is for departments to have core teams for press, social media and rebuttal. We are working with departments to consider what a streamlined service could look like, in order to support statutory, operational or programme delivery.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, to ensure our communications are efficient. We will not spend more than is needed to be effective. Cabinet Office publishes expenditure on government communication spend, including our national campaigns, on a rolling monthly basis on gov.uk as part of routine government transparency arrangements at the link below:

www.gov.uk/government/collections/cabinet-office-spend-data.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many and what proportion of staff are in scope of the centralisation of communication project, by (a) Department and (b) Arm’s Length Body.

The Reshaping Government Communication Service programme will further strengthen and unify the Government Communication Service (GCS), to be an even more effective and efficient service. Cabinet Office is leading the programme and working closely with ministerial departments and other public sector bodies. The programme has completed its discovery phase and is in its design phase, both of which will contribute to the outline business case and will help to identify the potential savings.

All communications staff are considered to be in scope for the RGCS programme. Last year, we received some initial data from departments and Arms Length Bodies, however more work will be done over the coming months to gather the necessary data to inform decision making.

The Cabinet Office has confirmed that its intention is for departments to have core teams for press, social media and rebuttal. We are working with departments to consider what a streamlined service could look like, in order to support statutory, operational or programme delivery.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, to ensure our communications are efficient. We will not spend more than is needed to be effective. Cabinet Office publishes expenditure on government communication spend, including our national campaigns, on a rolling monthly basis on gov.uk as part of routine government transparency arrangements at the link below:

www.gov.uk/government/collections/cabinet-office-spend-data.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent estimate he has made of the range of savings from the centralisation of communication project.

The Reshaping Government Communication Service programme will further strengthen and unify the Government Communication Service (GCS), to be an even more effective and efficient service. Cabinet Office is leading the programme and working closely with ministerial departments and other public sector bodies. The programme has completed its discovery phase and is in its design phase, both of which will contribute to the outline business case and will help to identify the potential savings.

All communications staff are considered to be in scope for the RGCS programme. Last year, we received some initial data from departments and Arms Length Bodies, however more work will be done over the coming months to gather the necessary data to inform decision making.

The Cabinet Office has confirmed that its intention is for departments to have core teams for press, social media and rebuttal. We are working with departments to consider what a streamlined service could look like, in order to support statutory, operational or programme delivery.

Cabinet Office is continuously tracking and reviewing spending on cross-government campaigns, to ensure our communications are efficient. We will not spend more than is needed to be effective. Cabinet Office publishes expenditure on government communication spend, including our national campaigns, on a rolling monthly basis on gov.uk as part of routine government transparency arrangements at the link below:

www.gov.uk/government/collections/cabinet-office-spend-data.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many military veterans have died from suicide in each of the last five years.

Historically, governments have relied on specific studies relating to the cause of death, including suicide, amongst veterans’ cohorts from specific campaigns, such as the 1982 Falklands campaign and the 1990/1991 Gulf conflict. There are currently two studies which will provide important data on suicide within the veteran community. The MoD is finalising a study to track causes of deaths, including suicides, in all personnel who have served in the UK armed forces since 2001 and all future veterans. The study will be updated on an ongoing basis to provide near real-time monitoring of suicides in veterans. This will be complemented by a study being conducted by Manchester University, funded by MOD and NHS England & Improvement, looking at the antecedents to suicide in both serving personnel and veterans focusing on the year prior to the death. The study will include all suicides between 1995-2017 and is due to complete in August 2022.

We recognise the importance of accurately measuring suicide within the veteran community, in order to help inform support and interventions aiming to prevent suicide. In addition to the above ongoing studies, we are working on developing a new and robust method for measuring suicide within the veteran community. This is as part of our broader commitment to improve data collection and analysis, to ensure the Government has the insights needed to provide the support and services our veterans deserve.

Johnny Mercer
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how much and what proportion of the cost to the public purse of errors with civil service pensions has been recovered by the Government from pensions scheme administrator MyCSP.

In the last full financial year (19-20), £605,000 was paid by MyCSP to Cabinet Office in lieu of erroneous overpayments. MyCSP and Cabinet Office have an agreement whereby Cabinet Office is refunded for overpayments arising from a MyCSP error.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will take steps to ensure that legal action will not be taken against the pensioners affected by inaccurate payments by civil service pension scheme administrator MyCSP in cases identified by the Internal Control Framework Review.

Pension schemes are only allowed to make payments that are “authorised payments” (those payments that members are legitimately entitled to under the scheme).

Any other payments made from the scheme that are not ‘authorised’ are referred to as ‘unauthorised payments’ and are potentially subject to unauthorised payment tax charges of up to 55% for members and the scheme. In most cases, overpayments would be considered unauthorised payments if not recovered.

Any potential recovery is carefully considered, including the cost effectiveness of doing so (e.g. the relative costs of recovering very small amounts). Members have the opportunity to submit evidence should they believe that either recovery should not take place or where they might require a longer repayment plan. Members overpaid and identified by the Internal Controls Framework Review (ICFR) were treated in the same way as other members where overpayments had occurred as part of business as usual.

We do not have a separate record for the total value of pension underpayments under the ICFR as these formed the majority of the rectifications needed, and members received topped up pensions accordingly as part of business as usual activities, rather than as part of a separate project to recover any amounts due.

To date £20,610 has been paid in compensation awards through the Internal Dispute Resolution process to pensioners affected by overpayments identified during the ICFR.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the monetary value is of the underpaid pensions by civil service pension scheme administrator MyCSP in cases identified by the Internal Control Framework Review.

Pension schemes are only allowed to make payments that are “authorised payments” (those payments that members are legitimately entitled to under the scheme).

Any other payments made from the scheme that are not ‘authorised’ are referred to as ‘unauthorised payments’ and are potentially subject to unauthorised payment tax charges of up to 55% for members and the scheme. In most cases, overpayments would be considered unauthorised payments if not recovered.

Any potential recovery is carefully considered, including the cost effectiveness of doing so (e.g. the relative costs of recovering very small amounts). Members have the opportunity to submit evidence should they believe that either recovery should not take place or where they might require a longer repayment plan. Members overpaid and identified by the Internal Controls Framework Review (ICFR) were treated in the same way as other members where overpayments had occurred as part of business as usual.

We do not have a separate record for the total value of pension underpayments under the ICFR as these formed the majority of the rectifications needed, and members received topped up pensions accordingly as part of business as usual activities, rather than as part of a separate project to recover any amounts due.

To date £20,610 has been paid in compensation awards through the Internal Dispute Resolution process to pensioners affected by overpayments identified during the ICFR.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to overpaid pensions by civil service pension scheme administrator MyCSP in cases identified by the Internal Control Framework Review, what assessment has been made as to the (a) sums involved, and (b) cost-effectiveness of recovering those sums.

Pension schemes are only allowed to make payments that are “authorised payments” (those payments that members are legitimately entitled to under the scheme).

Any other payments made from the scheme that are not ‘authorised’ are referred to as ‘unauthorised payments’ and are potentially subject to unauthorised payment tax charges of up to 55% for members and the scheme. In most cases, overpayments would be considered unauthorised payments if not recovered.

Any potential recovery is carefully considered, including the cost effectiveness of doing so (e.g. the relative costs of recovering very small amounts). Members have the opportunity to submit evidence should they believe that either recovery should not take place or where they might require a longer repayment plan. Members overpaid and identified by the Internal Controls Framework Review (ICFR) were treated in the same way as other members where overpayments had occurred as part of business as usual.

We do not have a separate record for the total value of pension underpayments under the ICFR as these formed the majority of the rectifications needed, and members received topped up pensions accordingly as part of business as usual activities, rather than as part of a separate project to recover any amounts due.

To date £20,610 has been paid in compensation awards through the Internal Dispute Resolution process to pensioners affected by overpayments identified during the ICFR.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to overpaid pensions by civil service pension scheme administrator MyCSP in cases identified by the Internal Control Framework Review, how much has been paid in compensation awards to affected pensioners through Internal Dispute Resolution to date.

Pension schemes are only allowed to make payments that are “authorised payments” (those payments that members are legitimately entitled to under the scheme).

Any other payments made from the scheme that are not ‘authorised’ are referred to as ‘unauthorised payments’ and are potentially subject to unauthorised payment tax charges of up to 55% for members and the scheme. In most cases, overpayments would be considered unauthorised payments if not recovered.

Any potential recovery is carefully considered, including the cost effectiveness of doing so (e.g. the relative costs of recovering very small amounts). Members have the opportunity to submit evidence should they believe that either recovery should not take place or where they might require a longer repayment plan. Members overpaid and identified by the Internal Controls Framework Review (ICFR) were treated in the same way as other members where overpayments had occurred as part of business as usual.

We do not have a separate record for the total value of pension underpayments under the ICFR as these formed the majority of the rectifications needed, and members received topped up pensions accordingly as part of business as usual activities, rather than as part of a separate project to recover any amounts due.

To date £20,610 has been paid in compensation awards through the Internal Dispute Resolution process to pensioners affected by overpayments identified during the ICFR.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what proportion of drug-related deaths registered in 2019 involved combinations of cocaine with (a) opiates, (b) fentanyl and (c) other synthetic opiates.

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

1st Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many civil service jobs are based in London.

Cabinet Office published Civil Service Statistics 2020 on 26 August. This is available on GOV.UK.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 21 September 2020 to Question 88289 on Veterans: Suicide, if he will make representations to the Secretary of State for Justice on amend guidance to help ensure that (a) coroners reports and (b) death certificates record whether deceased served as a member of the armed forces.

The Government takes the issue of suicide among the Armed Forces community very seriously. As set out in the previous answer, we are exploring how improvements could be made in recording of veterans suicide, to inform support services and interventions aimed at prevention. Officials at the Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA) and the Ministry of Justice are working to identify possible options.

Johnny Mercer
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what systems are in place to monitor and record veteran suicide rates.

Data about suicide rates amongst the general polulation across England and Wales are reported by the Office for National Statistics using information provided to registrars by coroners in their records of inquest. Historically, governments have relied on specific studies relating to the cause of death, including suicide, amongst veterans’ cohorts from specific campaigns, for example the Falklands campaign and the 1990/91 Gulf conflict.

In order to ensure that the Government has the most up-to-date understanding of the prevalence of suicide in the Armed Forces community, two further studies are being conducted. The first is documenting all causes of death, including suicide, amongst those who have served in the Armed Forces since 2001. This study will continue on an ongoing basis to provide real-time data about causes of death, including suicide, in the Armed Forces community. A second study is looking at the factors in the year leading up to any confirmed suicide in the Armed Forces community in the last five years.

Whilst these studies will provide updated and improved data about the prevalence of suicide in the veteran community, the importance of this issue means that the Government is committed to exploring other routes, including a potential role for coroners, by which suicide amongst the veteran community could be recorded accurately and consistently so as to help inform improved support and interventions aimed at preventing suicide.

Johnny Mercer
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether a health and safety committee will be formed for any building shared by two or more Departments, where a request has been made under Regulation 9 of the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 by two safety representatives.

Government Departments are committed to meeting their obligations under legislation, and work together to put appropriate arrangements in place where buildings are shared.

Where multiple departments occupy a building, arrangements can be managed at the appropriate Building Committee or User Group, which can include attendance of Trade Unions. Issues identified in these fora are then escalated as appropriate to each department’s own Health & Safety Committee.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many workers employed on outsourced Government contracts as facilities management staff have died due to suspected covid-19 by (a) ethnicity, (b) job role and (c) employer.

The Cabinet Office does not hold this information.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the increase in the National Living Wage announced by the Government on 31 December 2019, what discussions he is having with private sector companies undertaking facility management work for his Department to ensure that the cost of wage increases for their employees are not passed on to his Department.

The Government Property Agency holds contracts on behalf of the Cabinet Office. They continue to have regular discussions with facility management contractors.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether his Department has adequate funds to pay the increase in the National Living Wage announced by the Government on 31 December 2019.

Cabinet Office does have adequate funds to pay the increase in the National Living Wage, announced by the Government on 31 December 2019.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many and what proportion of staff in his Department would receive an increase in their salary in the event that their hourly pay rate was (a) £8.72 (b) £9.30 (c) £10.

The National Living Wage is currently £8.21 per hour, set with effect from 1 April 2019.

Cabinet Office is compliant with this rate.

The Government announced on 31 December 2019 that the new National Living Wage, effective from 6 April, will be £8.72 per hour.

The table below sets out the number and proportion of staff in my Department, at 31 December 2019, who would receive an increase in their Annual Salary if their hourly pay rate was increased to the rates shown:

Proposed Pay Rate

£8.72

£9.30

£10.00

No of Staff pay Increases

86

162

189

% of Workforce

1.2%

2.2%

2.5%

23rd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what estimate she has made of the value of rail exports in (a) 2023, (b) 2024, (c) 2025 and (d) 2026.

Research published by Oxford Economics in 2021 estimated that the rail industry contributed £43 billion Gross Value Added to the UK economy in 2019, supporting 710,000 jobs.

The ONS data shows that in 2022 the UK exported £433 million rail transport services and £293 million worth of railway equipment in this year.

For the 12 months to November 2023, ONS goods data shows that the UK exported £453 million worth of railway equipment. Services data is not available for this time period.

We do not have estimates for the value of UK rail exports in 2024 or in future years. However, this Government will continue to help UK companies to export from the rail sector and our Export Strategy sets out the support we provide through our network of international trade advisers, sector specialists, UK Export Finance, and the export support service.

Nusrat Ghani
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) (jointly with the Cabinet Office)
23rd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, if she will make an estimate of the value of (a) rail industry and (b) all exports in the last 12 months.

Research published by Oxford Economics in 2021 estimated that the rail industry contributed £43 billion Gross Value Added to the UK economy in 2019, supporting 710,000 jobs.

The ONS data shows that in 2022 the UK exported £433 million rail transport services and £293 million worth of railway equipment in this year.

For the 12 months to November 2023, ONS goods data shows that the UK exported £453 million worth of railway equipment. Services data is not available for this time period.

We do not have estimates for the value of UK rail exports in 2024 or in future years. However, this Government will continue to help UK companies to export from the rail sector and our Export Strategy sets out the support we provide through our network of international trade advisers, sector specialists, UK Export Finance, and the export support service.

Nusrat Ghani
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) (jointly with the Cabinet Office)
30th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, if she will take legislative steps to require Royal Mail to (a) notify Ofcom of and (b) publish live data on ongoing failures to maintain the universal service obligation.

Ofcom has powers to monitor Royal Mail’s performance and requires the business to publish quarterly reports and an annual summary of its performance against its delivery service targets. In its review of postal regulation last year, Ofcom decided that the existing quality of service standards for universal service products remain appropriate. It noted that it receives regular information from Royal Mail, including at delivery office-level, which allow it to engage with the company and exert pressure when necessary.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of the environmental duties under the Companies Act 2006 relating to mining activities.

The Companies Act 2006 requires directors of all companies to have regard to environmental matters when performing their duty to promote the success of the company.

The reporting requirements of the Companies Act provide transparency in relation to how directors have had regard to environmental matters, enabling companies and their directors to be held to account for actions which may have environmental impacts.

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, with reference to the P&O Ferries’ ships European Causeway and European Highlander, what recent discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the effect of Part 4 of the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 on wages for ferry crews.

The Government is clear that anyone entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW) should receive it. In 2020, the government legislated to ensure that seafarers who are working in the UK territorial sea are entitled to be paid the minimum wage, regardless of where they ordinarily work or where their ship is registered.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
5th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, what representations she has received from employers in the shipping industry on the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations on seafarers and the Accommodation Offset.

The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) continues to review the recommendations from the Low Pay Commission (LPC) on seafarers and the Accommodation Offset, and will respond in due course.

Every year, the LPC proactively engages with workers, employers and other stakeholders, and invites all interested parties to submit evidence to their consultations on the minimum wage, the accommodation offset and other low pay issues. The Government is grateful for these representations, and they are all considered carefully.

DBT works closely with the Department for Transport in relation to seafarers’ wages, and on other relevant matters.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
5th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, when she plans to respond to the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations on seafarers and the Accommodation Offset.

The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) continues to review the recommendations from the Low Pay Commission (LPC) on seafarers and the Accommodation Offset, and will respond in due course.

Every year, the LPC proactively engages with workers, employers and other stakeholders, and invites all interested parties to submit evidence to their consultations on the minimum wage, the accommodation offset and other low pay issues. The Government is grateful for these representations, and they are all considered carefully.

DBT works closely with the Department for Transport in relation to seafarers’ wages, and on other relevant matters.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
20th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, if she will take steps to bring forward legislative proposals to permit the use of electronic balloting by trade unions.

Before responding to the Knight Review recommendations on electronic balloting for trade union ballots, the government was required by Section 4 of the Trade Union Act 2016 to consult relevant organisations, including professionals from expert associations, to seek their advice and recommendations.

We have done this and are now finalising our consideration of Sir Ken’s recommendations before we issue our response.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
9th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, if she will establish an additional bank holiday to honour veterans on the Monday after Remembrance Sunday.

The Government recognises the sacrifices made by so many veterans and the huge debt of gratitude owed to those who have served their country.

The Government regularly receives requests for additional bank and public holidays to mark a variety of occasions, but we believe that the current pattern of bank holidays is well established and accepted.

In addition, as annual leave entitlement has increased for many workers in recent years, we do not have any plans to create another permanent bank holiday at this time.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
4th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if she will make an estimate of how much the Exchequer has received from the Mineworkers Pension Scheme under the surplus sharing arrangements adjusted for inflation since the establishment of those arrangements.

A surplus sharing arrangement was negotiated between the Government and the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme Trustees in 1994. The Government has received £4.8bn as its share of surplus over the past 29 years. An inflation-adjusted figure is not available.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
9th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, how many miners were recipients of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (a) in Easington constituency and (b) nationally in October 2023.

As of 30 June 2023, there were 119,651 members in the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme, including 3,563 in Easington constituency. These are the most recent figures available.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
9th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, how many miners' widows were recipients of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (a) in Easington constituency and (b) nationally in October 2023.

As of 30 June 2023, there were 23,974 spouse/dependant pensioners in the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme. It is unclear how many of these are widows and the Government does not have the equivalent figure for the constituency. These are the most recent figures available.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
23rd Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, how many miners were recipients of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (a) in Easington Constituency and (b) nationally in October 2023.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
23rd Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, how many miners' widows were recipients of the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (a) in Easington constituency and (b) nationally in October 2023.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
27th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will take steps to (a) provide emergency businesses funding grants, (b) provide utility support and (c) defer business rates for businesses in financial difficulties.

In the Autumn statement, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £13.6 billion of support for businesses over the next five years. However, business rates are a matter for HM Treasury.

Following a HMT-led review, the new Energy Bill Discount Scheme, will run from April until March 2024, and will continue to provide a discount to eligible businesses on their electricity bills.

Kevin Hollinrake
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)
17th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, on what date will local authorities receive the full scheme guidance for Government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding arrangements for administering the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme.

The Energy Bill Support Scheme Alternative Funding (EBSS AF) will be launched later this month, and local authorities will be provided with guidance ahead of this launch. The Government will also be hosting webinars ahead of the scheme launch to help provide additional information to Local Authorities on the role they will play in delivering the EBSS AF.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
6th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he will respond to the correspondence of 1 November 2022 from the hon. Member for Easington on the Office of Life Sciences and the support for domestic-based generic pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The Department has been unable to confirm receipt of the hon. Member’s correspondence of 1 November 2022 on the Office of Life Sciences and the support for domestic-based generic pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Please resubmit the correspondence to the Department and a response will be expedited for the hon. Member.

12th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many hours officials in his Department have worked to (a) attend and (b) support the policy agenda of the National Council of Maritime UK since 2019-20 to date.

BEIS officials regularly engage with Maritime UK as a key trade body for Marine in the UK, including attending and updating on BEIS activities at the National Council – work to support the Marine agenda is a key priority across Government and as such officials spend a great deal of time working directly and indirectly on Marine policy issues which are often discussed at National Council meetings.

Nusrat Ghani
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) (jointly with the Cabinet Office)
23rd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for what reasons the Government changed the Warm Home Discount eligibility criteria to exclude 290,000 disability benefit claimants.

The Government has expanded and reformed the Warm Home Discount scheme in England and Wales to target fuel poverty, provide most rebates automatically and standardise the eligibility across energy suppliers.

Households in receipt of means-tested benefits with high energy costs based on certain characteristics of their property are eligible for the rebate. Around 62% of Personal Independence Payment and Disability Living Allowance recipients receive a means-tested benefit; those with high energy costs are eligible.

As a result of expanding and reforming the scheme 160,000 more households where a person has a disability or long-term illness will receive a rebate.

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, if he will introduce a renewable energy grant to support the installation of domestic wind and solar technology.

The Smart Export Guarantee enables small scale generators to receive payment for excess electricity that is generated and exported to the grid. In the British Energy Security Strategy the Government committed to simplify planning processes and facilitate low-cost finance to drive rooftop solar deployment. The Strategy also set out that the Government is looking at ensuring that local supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind infrastructure can receive benefits in return, for example through lower energy bills.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of requiring electricity providers to offer free electrical safety checks in the homes of vulnerable people; and whether he has had discussions with Ofgem on that matter.

Electricity distribution and supply companies, which are regulated by Ofgem, are responsible for providing the electricity supply up to and including the meter in a customer’s property. Landlords and homeowners are responsible for electrical installation inside the property. The Electricity Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 require landlords to ensure the electrical installation in private rented properties are inspected and tested by qualified competent person at least every five years.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
6th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether support is available to people who fall within the Broader Group eligible for the Warm Home Discount Scheme but who cannot receive a payment as a result of the limit on the number of customers who can benefit.

Energy suppliers participating in the Warm Home Discount scheme have discretion over the criteria they use to determine which households qualify for support under the Broader Group. They are given minimum targets for Broader Group payments set by the Government, but suppliers can make further payments.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
21st Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of expanding the use of tidal power to help meet the UK's energy needs.

The Government announced in November 2021 that the fourth Contracts for Difference allocation round will feature a £20m annual ringfenced budget for tidal power. This builds on a long and continuing history of government support for the tidal power sector and opens up possibilities for Britain’s marine energy sector to play a key role in strengthening energy security and reducing dependency on fossil fuels. Moreover, the Government remains open to considering well-developed proposals for harnessing the tidal range energy in our bays and estuaries, provided that such proposals can demonstrate clear and beneficial impacts on the energy system and good value for money.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the compliance of his Department's staff working from home with the Working Time Regulations 1998.

Line managers and individuals have joint responsibility for ensuring that staff work their agreed hours and take breaks in accordance with the Working Time Regulations 1998, and to manage any issues if they arise. This applies to both where the employee is attending the workplace and where they are working from home.

12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will require all utility companies to provide the Warm Homes Discount to both the (a) core group and (b) broader group.

Currently, energy suppliers with over 150,000 domestic customer accounts are obligated to deliver the Warm Home Discount Core Group, and those with over 250,000 are obligated to deliver both the Core and Broader Groups. These thresholds are in place following a consultation in 2020, and are set out in Regulations. Energy suppliers below these thresholds are able to voluntarily participate in the delivery of rebates.

The Government consulted last summer on the future of the scheme, which included proposals to reduce the energy supplier participation thresholds to 50,000 domestic customer accounts in 2022/23, and 1,000 domestic customer accounts from 2023/24 onwards. These balances are increasing access to the scheme, while ensuring costs are not prohibitive for new market entrants. The Government has also proposed to reform the scheme and replace the Broader Group in order to better target households in fuel poverty. The Government will be publishing its response to the consultation in Spring 2022.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will commission a public information campaign to raise awareness of the Warm Homes Discount Scheme.

In the 2021/22 scheme year, all low-income pensioners who are potentially eligible for a rebate under the Warm Home Discount Core Group will have received a letter from the Government by mid-December 2021. Most will receive the rebate automatically; in 2020/21, around 95% of Core Group recipients received their rebates automatically. In addition, the Warm Home Discount website is widely signposted and used by consumer groups, charities, and energy comparison websites to maximise uptake.

Energy suppliers are responsible for administering their Broader Group rebates, including setting their eligibility criteria and providing the rebates to eligible households. Suppliers make their customers aware of the scheme and are usually over-subscribed with applications.

Last summer, the Government consulted on extending, expanding, and reforming the scheme such that from winter 2022/23 the vast majority of all Warm Home Discount rebates would be provided automatically.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will standardise the eligibility criteria for the Warm Homes Discount.

The Government consulted last summer on the future of the Warm Home Discount scheme. While the Core Group of low-income pensioners would be maintained, the Government has proposed to replace the Broader Group and instead identify households on low incomes with the highest energy costs through data matching. Eligibility would be the same across all participating energy suppliers and this would enable most rebates to be provided automatically without customers having to apply, including working-age households for the first time.

The Government will be publishing its response to the consultation in Spring 2022, with the reforms coming into force from the 2022/23 scheme year.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will remove the limits on the number of Warm Home Discounts a supplier can issue.

The Government sets the overall spending target for each Warm Home Discount scheme year. For 2021/22, the spending target is £354 million, and around 2.2 million households will receive a rebate worth £140. However, the Warm Home Discount is not funded by the Government – it is paid for by energy suppliers, who generally recoup the costs from customers’ energy bills. This is currently estimated to be around £14 per customer bill.

Having a spending target is therefore necessary to balance providing significant numbers of rebates to as many households as possible, while minimising the impact on consumers’ bills. Energy suppliers can also support their customers through other means, such as through Industry Initiatives under the Warm Home Discount, or measures outside of the scheme.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
2nd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make representations to Northern Powergrid on creating a fast-track streamlined compensation system for residents left without power as a result of Storm Arwen.

Ofgem, the independent regulator for the UK’s energy networks, sets service levels which Distribution Network Operators must meet, with rules on how quickly compensation payments are issued to consumers if the standards are not met. This is set out in the Quality of Service Guaranteed Standards.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
2nd Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, once power has been restored, if he will commission an independent public inquiry into the national and local response to Storm Arwen.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has commissioned a post-incident review into Storm Arwen to identify lessons and best practice for communications, resourcing and system resilience.

As the independent regulator for energy, Ofgem has also announced a review into the impact of Storm Arwen. This will focus on the role of the network companies in maintaining resilience of the system and their emergency response.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
29th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will take steps to climate proof basic infrastructure, such as utility cabling, from extreme weather conditions by encouraging the use of underground ducting in preference to overhead cabling.

Great Britain has one of the most robust energy systems in the world, however, we recognise that risks from climate-related hazards will become more common as our dependence on electricity grows and the variability of our weather increases.

BEIS is working with the energy industry, regulators and other stakeholders to reduce vulnerabilities and ensure an effective response to actual or potentially disruptive incidents to ensure security of supply.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing grants to support the transition of the GKN Driveline factory in Birmingham to produce components for electric vehicles.

The Government has no role in setting the strategic direction or priorities of private sector businesses. As part of the mandatory consultation process on the future of the GKN Driveline factory in Birmingham, the government secured assurances from GKN Automotive that they would consider viable alternatives to closure, including repurposing the plant to produce components for electric vehicles.

Alternative proposals were submitted as part of the consultation. After careful consideration, GKN regrettably concluded there were no viable alternatives to closure.

The government is maintaining a dialogue about the site’s future, actively marketing the site and is working with GKN and local partners to provide support and guidance to the GKN employees. Any potential future commercial propositions for the Birmingham site will be assessed on their own merits.

The Government remains fully committed to working in partnership with industry to support the automotive sector’s transition to zero emission vehicles. Nearly £500m has been made available through the Automotive Transformation Fund to build an internationally competitive electric vehicle supply chain as part of my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan. This will create thousands of well-paid green jobs in our industrial heartlands, including the West Midlands.

7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will maintain the existing ban on animal testing for cosmetics and the sale of newly tested cosmetics ingredients.

Animal testing of cosmetics for the purposes of meeting the Cosmetics Regulation has been banned in the United Kingdom since 1998. No animal testing on finished cosmetic products, or ingredients or combinations of ingredients may take place in the United Kingdom. There are no plans to change this position.

20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what support is available to businesses forced to close as a result of staff shortages from employees self-isolating following a notification from the NHS Test and Trace app.

As of 16 August, fully vaccinated individuals in England are exempt from self-isolation. They are instead advised to take a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test following a notification from the NHS COVID-19 app or a call from NHS Test and Trace. Those who are not yet fully vaccinated and those who test positive for COVID-19 are still required to self-isolate following a notification from the app or a call from NHS Test and Trace.

Daily contact testing (DCT) was also introduced to further support businesses in critical sectors, such as energy and food supply, and help them remain open. DCT enables employees to take a supervised test at their workplace every day instead of self-isolating. This has helped to minimise disruption to critical sectors and ensured staff are not put at risk.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has provided unprecedented support to businesses and employees, such as through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. In England, the Government has provided £25 billion through cash grants, including through Restart Grants of £18,000 per business premises and over £2 billion in discretionary grant funds made available to local authorities to provide support in their local areas.

Eligible businesses have also not had to pay business rates in the 15 months to 30 June 2021. Most businesses continue to receive 66% relief for the remainder of the year.

26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the development of the review of research bureaucracy, what recent discussions he has had with third sector organisations that are working to reduce and replace animal experiments.

The Review of Research Bureaucracy is continuing its evidence gathering across the research sector. To date, there have been no discussions with third sector organisations about animal experiments.

The use of animals in research is carefully regulated and remains important in ensuring new medicines and treatments are safe. At the same time, the Government believes that animals should only be used when there is no practicable alternative and it actively supports and funds the development and dissemination of techniques that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research (the 3Rs). This is achieved primarily through funding for the National Centre for the 3Rs, which works nationally and internationally to drive the uptake of 3Rs technologies and ensure that advances in the 3Rs are reflected in policy, practice and regulations on animal research. Across the UK, the NC3Rs has invested £71 million in research through grants to universities, and almost £27 million in contracts through its CRACK IT Challenges innovation scheme to UK and EU-based institutions, mainly focusing on new approaches for the safety assessment of pharmaceuticals and chemicals that reduce the use of animals.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans for there to be a public consultation as part of the review of research bureaucracy.

The Review of Research Bureaucracy has been engaging broadly across the research sector. The intention is to launch a call for evidence to build on this initial engagement.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much and what proportion of the Government’s £14.9 billion funding for research and development in 2021-22 will be allocated to developing non-animal methods of testing.

Overall Government spending on R&D in 2021/22 is at its highest level in four decades, this means UK scientists will have access to more public funding than ever before.

We recognise the importance of the independence of researchers and our investment in multiple disciplines and methodologies will be guided by experts.

We are not able to provide figures on the proportion of R&D funding dedicated to developing non-animal methods of testing as funding is not categorised in this way.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department plans to hold a public consultation on the Innovation Strategy.

In the recently published ‘Build Back Better: our plan for growth’, published alongside the Budget, we announced the publication of a new Innovation Strategy in the summer.

As well as working across Government and with our Innovation Expert Group, BEIS has been engaging with the innovation community on the development of this work, to ensure the evidence base is sound and the policy proposals in the Strategy are well developed. As part of this process, BEIS has met with over 300 organisations and businesses already.

Our engagement with the community will continue during the implementation phase after the publication of the Strategy and beyond we look to drive innovation across the UK.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department plans to hold a public consultation on the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy.

The 2017 Life Sciences Strategy was a joint document between industry and the Government. It was written following significant engagement with organisations, companies, and charities across the life sciences sector. Further to the publication of the Government’s Plan for Growth, we are now developing a new Life Sciences Vision, together with industry and the wider sector, which will build on the successes of the 2017 Strategy.

In developing the Life Sciences Vision, the Department is undertaking extensive engagement with stakeholders representing small and large businesses, charities, patient interest groups, and businesses representative organisations around the country, as well as the NHS and the devolved administrations.

25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much funding the Government has allocated to research and development; and how much and what proportion of that funding was dedicated to animal-free science in each of the last five years for which records are available.

Overall Government spending on R&D in 2021/22 is £14.9 billion, its highest level in four decades.

The Office for National Statistics publishes historical figures on research and development expenditure by the UK Government on their website.

We are not able to provide figures on the proportion of R&D funding dedicated to developing animal-free science as funding is not categorised in this way.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government's policy to increase funding for the life sciences sector will incentivise the (a) development and (b) uptake of non-animal research methods.

Overall Government spending on R&D in 2021/22 is £14.9 billion, its highest level in four decades. UK scientists will have access to more public funding than ever before and our investments confirm the Government’s commitment to cementing the UK's status as a science superpower. The overall UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) budget for 2021/22 will be £7.9 billion, this represents a significant increase on UKRI’s £7.3 billion budget in 2019/20. Our investment across multiple disciplines will be guided by expert researchers.

UKRI work with a variety of stakeholders across the community in the development and uptake of non-animal research methods. Cross-sector collaboration has been at the heart of the success of the work of the National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3Rs) which is funded by UKRI, and their CRACK IT Challenges programme. NC3Rs partners with the third sector to offer collaborative awards with the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK to speed progress in uptake of the 3Rs (replacing, reducing and refining the use of animals in research) in heart disease and cancer research.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with third sector organisations working to reduce and replace animal testing in developing plans to increase funding for the life sciences sector.

Overall Government spending on R&D in 2021/22 is £14.9 billion, its highest level in four decades. UK scientists will have access to more public funding than ever before and our investments confirm the Government’s commitment to cementing the UK's status as a science superpower. The overall UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) budget for 2021/22 will be £7.9 billion, this represents a significant increase on UKRI’s £7.3 billion budget in 2019/20. Our investment across multiple disciplines will be guided by expert researchers.

UKRI work with a variety of stakeholders across the community in the development and uptake of non-animal research methods. Cross-sector collaboration has been at the heart of the success of the work of the National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3Rs) which is funded by UKRI, and their CRACK IT Challenges programme. NC3Rs partners with the third sector to offer collaborative awards with the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK to speed progress in uptake of the 3Rs (replacing, reducing and refining the use of animals in research) in heart disease and cancer research.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the new Innovation Strategy will incentivise the (a) development and (b) uptake of non-animal research methods.

The use of animals in research is carefully regulated and remains important in ensuring new medicines and treatments are safe.   At the same time, the Government believes that animals should only be used when there is no practicable alternative and it actively supports and funds the development and dissemination of techniques that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research (the 3Rs).  This is achieved primarily through funding for the National Centre for the 3Rs, which works nationally and internationally to drive the uptake of 3Rs technologies and ensure that advances in the 3Rs are reflected in policy, practice and regulations on animal research.  Across the UK, the NC3Rs has invested £71 million in research through grants to universities, and almost £27 million in contracts through its CRACK IT Challenges innovation scheme to UK and EU-based institutions, mainly focusing on new approaches for the safety assessment of pharmaceuticals and chemicals that reduce the use of animals.

In ‘Build Back Better: our plan for growth’ published alongside the Budget, the Government announced the publication of a new Innovation Strategy in the summer. We are currently working across government and with our Innovation Expert Group to develop the Strategy. The Strategy will outline how we look to achieve our ambitions in innovation and where we want to focus our efforts over the next decade. It will aim to set out the strategic objective and create the confidence for increased business investment in R&D and innovation.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions he has had with third sector organisations working to reduce and replace animal testing in developing the new Innovation Strategy.

The use of animals in research is carefully regulated and remains important in ensuring new medicines and treatments are safe.   At the same time, the Government believes that animals should only be used when there is no practicable alternative and it actively supports and funds the development and dissemination of techniques that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research (the 3Rs).  This is achieved primarily through funding for the National Centre for the 3Rs, which works nationally and internationally to drive the uptake of 3Rs technologies and ensure that advances in the 3Rs are reflected in policy, practice and regulations on animal research.  Across the UK, the NC3Rs has invested £71 million in research through grants to universities, and almost £27 million in contracts through its CRACK IT Challenges innovation scheme to UK and EU-based institutions, mainly focusing on new approaches for the safety assessment of pharmaceuticals and chemicals that reduce the use of animals.

In ‘Build Back Better: our plan for growth’ published alongside the Budget, the Government announced the publication of a new Innovation Strategy in the summer. We are currently working across government and with our Innovation Expert Group to develop the Strategy. The Strategy will outline how we look to achieve our ambitions in innovation and where we want to focus our efforts over the next decade. It will aim to set out the strategic objective and create the confidence for increased business investment in R&D and innovation.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when his Department plans to publish an update to the Public Attitudes to Animal Research survey last published in 2019.

The Government understands the importance of this research; the Department is working to ensure that this survey can be undertaken and the results published as soon as possible.

19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 11 March 2021 to Question 164417, when the Government plans to respond to the Acas findings on fire and rehire shared with his Department's officials on 17 February 2021; and if he will place in the Library a copy of those findings.

The Department engaged ACAS to gather evidence of how fire and rehire is being used and they have concluded their work.

ACAS engaged with a range of groups, including employer bodies and trade unions, as well as professional bodies with advisory contact with employers, such as employment lawyers, accountants, and payroll services.

Officials are now giving this evidence due consideration, and the Government will communicate our response in due course.

22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for what reasons coach tour operators are ineligible for a Restart Grant payment.

Coach Tour Operators are not eligible for the Restart Grant Scheme. This is because eligible businesses must offer in-person services, where the main service and activity takes place in a fixed rate-paying premises, in the relevant sectors.

However, they may be able to access discretionary support through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). My Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced an additional £425m will be made available via ARG meaning that more than £2bn has been made available to local authorities since November 2020. This funding gives Local Authorities the ability to provide support that suits their local area including to support those businesses not required to close but which have had their trade severely affected by the restrictions. Guidance for the Additional Restrictions Grant identifies that group tour and coach operators can be considered for support through this funding.

22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the exclusion of coach tour operators from the definition of a leisure business in the Restart Grant: guidance to local authorities, what sector definition coach operators come under.

The Restart Grant guidance to local authorities seeks to define in-scope sectors for the purpose of the grants only and not in general terms.

Coach Tour Operators are not eligible for the Restart Grant Scheme. This is because eligible businesses must offer in-person services, where the main service and activity takes place in fixed rate-paying premises, in the relevant sectors.

They are eligible for support through the Additional Restrictions Grant.

8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy of 24 February 2021, Official Report, column 939 on the Supreme Court’s ruling on Uber, if he will place in the Library a copy of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service's report to his Department on fire and rehire.

Acas engaged with a range of groups, including employer bodies and trade unions, as well as professional bodies with advisory contact with employers, such as employment lawyers, accountants, and payroll services. They shared their findings with BEIS officials on 17 February 2021.

Officials are currently considering these findings, and the Government will respond in due course.

8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy of 24 February 2021, Official report, col 939, when he plans to communicate his Department’s response to the findings by ACAS.

Acas engaged with a range of groups, including employer bodies and trade unions, as well as professional bodies with advisory contact with employers, such as employment lawyers, accountants, and payroll services. They shared their findings with BEIS officials on 17 February 2021.

Officials are currently considering these findings, and the Government will respond in due course.

8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy of 24 February 2021, Official report, col 939, on what date ACAS shared its insights with his Department.

Acas engaged with a range of groups, including employer bodies and trade unions, as well as professional bodies with advisory contact with employers, such as employment lawyers, accountants, and payroll services. They shared their findings with BEIS officials on 17 February 2021.

Officials are currently considering these findings, and the Government will respond in due course.

8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy of 24 February 2021, Official report, col 939, which stakeholders ACAS conducted its fact-finding exercise with.

Acas engaged with a range of groups, including employer bodies and trade unions, as well as professional bodies with advisory contact with employers, such as employment lawyers, accountants, and payroll services.

Officials are currently considering these findings, and the Government will respond in due course.

24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will ensure that businesses that are unable to operate due to covid-19 lockdown rules but have not been mandated to close are eligible for the Additional Restrictions Support Grant.

Businesses who are not mandated to close but have had their trade adversely affected by the Covid-19 restrictions may be eligible for the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). The Additional Restrictions Grant is a discretionary scheme with eligibility set by Local Authorities, who are responsible for the administration of the funding. Local Authorities may use this funding for grants for those business not mandated to close or for other related business support as they see fit.

Local Authorities have been allocated a total of £1.6 bn in Additional Restrictions Grant; £1.1 bn in November 2020 and a further £500m in January 2021.

10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he bring forward proposals to ban employers dismissing workers on medical grounds where an employee is waiting for a medical procedure which has been delayed due to the covid-19 outbreak.

Throughout this crisis, our priority has been to protect lives and livelihoods, this includes peoples’ health, their jobs, their businesses, and their financial security. The NHS continues to work hard to deliver the maximum amount of elective activity as possible, with £1 billion announced at Spending Review to address backlogs and waiting lists by facilitating up to 1 million extra checks, scans and additional operations.

Employees who believe they have been dismissed unfairly may be able to raise their case with an employment tribunal which will give special consideration to cases where the employee has been dismissed as a result of ill health. Employers must also behave reasonably in relation to dismissal and avoid discriminating against employees on the grounds of a protected characteristic.

8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of negotiating an agreement with China, similar to that recently agreed between the French Government, and China on allowing for exemptions on animal testing when exporting ordinary cosmetics from the UK to China.

The UK Government recognises the potential benefits to UK businesses of an agreement with China that allows cosmetic products not tested on animals onto the Chinese market. BEIS is working with the Department for International Trade and UK industry to create a certification system that would allow UK businesses to comply with Chinese regulations and take advantage of this growing market whilst maintaining the UK’s clear position and domestic ban on animal testing in cosmetics.

13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many and what proportion of eligible businesses have received (a) Local Restrictions Support Grants and (b) the one-off grants announced in January 2021.

The Government has put forward an unprecedented package of support to help businesses which are severely affected by restrictions put in place to tackle Covid-19 and save lives. This support includes the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) scheme, announced in September 2020, through which businesses that are required by law to close have been able to access grants of up to £4,500 for every six weeks of closure. On 5 January 2021, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced one-off top-up grants of up to £9,000 per property to help retail, hospitality and leisure businesses affected by the new closures through to Spring. This is in addition to the Additional Restrictions Grant, announced in November and which received a £500 million top-up in January, to support other businesses affected by the new lockdown rules.

This funding is shared between all Local Authorities in England and we are working closely with Local Authorities to ensure that support is delivered to businesses that are in scope as quickly as possible.

13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will publish regular updates on how many and what proportion of eligible businesses have received the (a) Local Restrictions Support Grants and b) the one-off grants announced in January 2021.

The Government has put forward an unprecedented package of support to help businesses which are severely affected by restrictions put in place to tackle Covid-19 and save lives. This support includes the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) scheme, announced in September 2020, through which businesses that are required by law to close have been able to access grants of up to £4,500 for every six weeks of closure. On 5 January 2021, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced one-off top-up grants of up to £9,000 per property to help retail, hospitality and leisure businesses affected by the new closures through to Spring. This is in addition to the Additional Restrictions Grant, announced in November and which received a £500 million top-up in January, to support other businesses affected by the new lockdown rules.

We are working closely with Local Authorities to ensure that funding is delivered to businesses that are in scope of these schemes as quickly as possible.

13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how his Department is monitoring the extent to which local authorities are paying available grants to eligible businesses for periods (a) during covid-19 lockdown and (b) when a tier system of covid-19 restrictions was in place.

The Government has put forward an unprecedented package of support in recognition of the disruption caused by Covid-19. This support includes extensive grant funding support for businesses that have been required by law to close, or have been severely impacted by, localised and national restrictions.

We are working closely with all local authorities to deliver funding to businesses that are in scope of these schemes as quickly as possible, while safeguarding public funds. As part of this, we have provided detailed guidance and FAQs to local authorities, as well as regular briefings and one-to-one support from ministers and officials. Local authorities provide reports to the Department on their progress in delivering grants to businesses.

13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what remedial action is being taken where local authorities are not paying grants to eligible businesses for periods of (a) covid-19 lockdown and (b) when a tier system of covid-19 restrictions was in place.

The Government has put forward an unprecedented package of support in recognition of the disruption caused by Covid-19. This support includes extensive grant funding support for businesses that have been required by law to close, or have been severely impacted by, localised and national restrictions.

We continue to work closely with all local authorities to deliver funding to businesses that are in scope of these schemes as quickly as possible, while safeguarding public funds. As part of this, we have provided detailed guidance and FAQs to local authorities, as well as regular briefings and one-to-one support from ministers and officials.

8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the regional distribution is of institutes receiving funding through Government sources for the development and application of New Approach Methodologies.

The Government funds the development and dissemination of techniques that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research primarily through funding for the National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3Rs). The NC3Rs works nationally to drive the uptake of 3Rs technologies and ensure that advances in the 3Rs are reflected in policy, practice and regulations on animal research. Across the UK, the NC3Rs has invested £71 million in research through grants to universities, and almost £27 million in contracts through its CRACK IT Challenges innovation scheme to UK and EU-based institutions, mainly focusing on new approaches for the safety assessment of pharmaceuticals and chemicals that reduce the use of animals.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of Government science, research and innovation funding is allocated to New Approach Methodologies.

BEIS’ R&D settlement has increased to £11.1bn for 2021/22. This settlement supports our commitments set out in the R&D Roadmap and helps consolidate our position as a science superpower. We are revitalising the science, research and innovation ecosystem and releasing its potential. We recognise the importance of the independence of researchers and our investment in multiple disciplines and methodologies will be guided by experts.

Specific funding is subject to our Departmental allocations process, which is now underway and progressing at pace.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much funding is allocated to the development and uptake of New Approach Methodologies; and which sources that funding comes from.

BEIS’ R&D settlement has increased to £11.1bn for 2021/22. This settlement supports our commitments set out in the R&D Roadmap and helps consolidate our position as a science superpower. We are revitalising the science, research and innovation ecosystem and releasing its potential. We recognise the importance of the independence of researchers and our investment in multiple disciplines and methodologies will be guided by experts.

Specific funding is subject to our Departmental allocations process, which is now underway and progressing at pace.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the timeframe for the European Commission's response to the UK’s notification of 20 October 2020 requesting approval for providing greater support to businesses under the Temporary Framework.

On 20 October, the Government notified the European Commission that it wished to amend the Covid-19 Temporary Framework for UK authorities to increase the budget of the scheme from £50bn to £80bn, to provide for subsidised interest rates for subordinated loans and to include support for uncovered fixed costs.

The Commission approved the re-notified scheme on 8th December 2020. This was within the two-month period which the Commission has to make a preliminary examination of notified aid.

2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how much of the £14.6 billion for Research and Development, announced in the Spending Review 2020 will be allocated to medical research.

Medical research is an important part of the UK research landscape. The Government recognises this and already provides significant support within the tax system, the research funding system and through the many measures that have been introduced to counter the impacts of the pandemic.

Despite the fiscal challenges, the Government has set out plans at Spending Review to cement the UK’s status as a global leader in science and innovation by investing £14.6 billion in R&D in 2021/22. Departments will now undertake an allocations process to decide how this funding should be spent across the R&D activities for which they are responsible. Funding for medical research will be subject to this allocations process and further details of how funding will be allocated will be announced in due course.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 4 November 2020 to Question 109298 on Small Businesses: Coronavirus, on what date the Government notified the European Commission of its intention to take up that new provision; and what the timetable is for the Commission to provide its approval to the UK Government relating to that provision.

The UK authorities submitted a notification to the European Commission, under its Temporary Framework, on 20 October 2020. The notification included a request to take advantage of the new measure to enable greater support to companies facing a decline in turnover during the eligible period of at least 30% compared to the same period of 2019, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The European Commission is currently considering the notification and will provide a response in due course.

30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 12 October 2020 to Question 100352 on Small Businesses: Coronavirus, if he will take account of the European Commission’s revised framework allowing for an additional provision of €3m funding for businesses materially impacted by the covid-19 outbreak and notify local authorities of that increased provision immediately.

On October 13 2020 the European Commission announced a further amendment to its State aid Framework - introducing a new measure to enable greater support to be provided to companies facing a decline in turnover during the eligible period of at least 30% compared to the same period of 2019 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The UK has notified the European Commission of its intention to take up this new provision and must await approval to do so.

7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of (a) notifying the European Commission that local authority grants to businesses impacted by local lockdown restrictions fall outside of any state aid provisions restricting businesses receiving full compensation and (b) directing local authorities that payments can be made to local businesses outside of such state aid restrictions.

The United Kingdom left the EU on 31 January 2020. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, EU State aid rules continue to apply during the transition period, subject to regulation by the EU Commission.

In administering the Local Restrictions Support Grant, the Government will provide to an eligible business up to £1,500 of funding for each three-week period that the business is required to close by local restrictions implemented by Government. Local authorities administering the schemes must be satisfied that all State Aid requirements have been fully met and complied with when making grant payments.

Although payments under this scheme and certain other Covid-19 related business grant schemes are treated as State aid and therefore count toward the total de minimis State Aid limit of €200,000, if firms have reached that threshold they may still be eligible for funding under the Covid-19 temporary State aid framework where the limit is €800,000.

7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to include heat pumps in the Green Homes Grant.

In his Summer Economic Update, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a £2bn Green Home Grant scheme that will support homeowners and landlords in England to improve the energy efficiency of their properties, reducing energy bills and carbon emissions, and supporting a green economic recovery.

The funding will be spent on paying for accredited tradespeople to install a range of measures, for example insulation, to improve the energy performance of their homes. Further detail on the range of measures will be announced in the coming days, before the scheme’s full launch.

7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will include ground source heat pumps in the Green Homes Grant.

In his Summer Economic Update, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a £2bn Green Home Grant scheme that will support homeowners and landlords in England to improve the energy efficiency of their properties, reducing energy bills and carbon emissions, and supporting a green economic recovery.

The funding will be spent on paying for accredited tradespeople to install a range of measures, for example insulation, to improve the energy performance of their homes. Further detail on the range of measures will be announced in the coming days, before the scheme’s full launch.

1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for what reason (a) version 2 of the Construction Leadership Council guidance stated that no construction work should be carried out on site if social distancing could not be enforced and (b) version 3 of that guidance changed those guidelines.

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has developed Site Operating Procedures (SOP), which align with Public Health England (PHE) guidance on social distancing. The SOP were developed in consultation with the construction industry, and provide practical advice to those seeking to implement the guidance on construction sites so they can work safely.

This approach is based on the Health and Safety Executive(HSE) Hierarchy of Controls and HSE should consider enforcement action if a site is not consistently implementing the measures set out by PHE .

1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy whether he has plans to enforce staggered start times for construction sites to enable the social distancing of construction workers on public transport during rush hour.

The health and safety of construction workers is a priority for the Government. In order to help ensure that it is safe for construction workers to operate in their workplace, the Government has worked with Public Health England (PHE) to develop sector-specific guidance on social distancing. We have also worked with the Construction Leadership Council to develop Site Operating Procedures (SOP), which provide practical advice to those seeking to implement the guidance.

The SOP set out that sites should consider introducing staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion and contact, and plan site access and egress points to enable social distancing. The Health and Safety Executive should consider enforcement action if a site is not consistently implementing the measures set out by PHE.

27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will allow local authorities to retain any surplus funding allocated for the business support grant to distribute further grants to local businesses that did not qualify under that scheme’s initial criteria.

The Department is in regular contact with local government to understand how the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund are rolling out, as well as the impact they are having on businesses. The main priority of the Government is that funding can get out to eligible businesses as quickly as possible.

On 1 May 2020, the Business Secretary announced the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund, which is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs - not linked to the business rates system. Where local authorities have surplus funding from their original allocations, they can use up to 5% of their allocation to provide these discretionary grants. Local authorities that have used, or expect to use, all of their allocation will receive an additional 5% to meet the cost of these discretionary grants.

18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department will take to ensure that the additional equity commitments from the Life Sciences Investment Programme to the British Business Bank announced in Budget 2020 are allocated to support innovative health and life sciences firms that are developing new approach methodologies to replace animal experiments.

The Life Sciences Investment Programme (LSIP), delivered by the British Business Bank, will provide investment to support innovative health and life science companies that are looking to grow and scale in the UK. This programme is intended to support all areas of UK life science innovation.

18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of funding for science and research and development has been allocated to new approach methodologies to replace animal experiments.

The National Centre for Replacement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3R) is the UK’s national centre dedicated to replacing, refining and reducing the use of animals in research and testing (the 3Rs). Their core funding is from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), both of which are part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Over the last five years the NC3Rs, as the main conduit for research to develop new methods that replace the use of animal experiments, has committed £20.39 million.

Further detailed plans, will be set out at Spending Review later this year.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of the £400 million in funding for research, infrastructure and equipment announced in Budget 2020 for 2020-21 will be allocated to the development of new approach methodologies to replace animal experiments.

The National Centre for Replacement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3R) is the UK’s national centre dedicated to replacing, refining and reducing the use of animals in research and testing (the 3Rs). Their core funding is from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), both of which are part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Over the last five years the NC3Rs, as the main conduit for research to develop new methods that replace the use of animal experiments, has committed £20.39 million.

Further detailed plans, will be set out at Spending Review later this year.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on funding to support new approach methodologies to replace animal experiments.

My rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State has regular discussions with ministerial colleagues, including my rt. hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer on a range of issues.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will reinstate the traditional May Day Bank Holiday on Monday 4 May 2020 and make Friday 8 May 2020 an additional bank holiday in 2020 to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

The Government has no plans to revisit the decision regarding the early May Bank Holiday.

Moving the early May Day Bank Holiday to mark VE Day is a right and fitting tribute to our heroes of the Second World War, and an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices of a very special generation. The decision ensures as many people as possible have the opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to members of the Armed Forces who have served and who continue to serve our country.

6th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether it remains his policy to make sure that no Mansfield miner, or any other miner signed up to the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme, is out of pocket; and what his policy is on the surplus sharing arrangements for that Scheme.

The Government provides a Guarantee for the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme that ensures that:

  • A member’s guaranteed pension, including inflation increases, will always be paid; and
  • A member’s total pension (including bonus pension) will not fall in cash terms.

In addition, the Government has agreed to changes to the scheme rules that will protect all bonuses that have accrued to date. The Government continues to work with the scheme Trustees on implementing those changes.

The surplus sharing arrangements have worked well for all parties and I do not intend to review those arrangements.

27th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans the Government has to review the existing surplus sharing arrangements of the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme.

The Government does not intend to change the current surplus sharing arrangements that have worked well for all parties. I have, however, agreed to the Trustees’ proposals for changes to the scheme that include protection of bonuses already accrued. BEIS officials are working with the Trustees to implement the changes.

21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will allocate research and development funding to reduce the time it takes to fully charge an electric vehicle at a charging point.

The Government has committed £274m between 2017-2021 into the Faraday Battery Challenge to support the research, development and scale-up of world-leading battery technology in the UK. The aims of the Faraday Battery Challenge include developing batteries with higher energy and power densities and longer life, to enable electric vehicles with long-range on a single charge and quick recharging.

The Government, through Innovate UK, is also supporting a range of infrastructure innovation projects including on street and wireless charging. In addition, action from both Government and industry has resulted in the installation of over 24,000 public chargepoints.

5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on raising the small brewers relief threshold.

HM Treasury is reviewing small brewers relief and further announcements will be made in due course through the Budget process.

4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans her Department has to extend the Warm Home Discount scheme beyond 2021.

We are currently considering the future of the scheme past 2021 with the aim of consulting in the first half of this year. This will include the consideration on the expansion of data matching to allow more households to receive rebates automatically.

4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps her Department is taking to increase the reach of the Warm Home Discount scheme by using current data matching powers to allow more households to receive rebates automatically.

We are currently considering the future of the scheme past 2021 with the aim of consulting in the first half of this year. This will include the consideration on the expansion of data matching to allow more households to receive rebates automatically.

23rd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps she is taking to promote the UK Space Agency’s SateLife Competition to young people living in Easington constituency.

The UK Space Agency’s SatelLife competition is a national competition open to anyone aged between 11-22 who is resident in the UK. The UK Space Agency launched the competition on the 14th Jan 2020 on their website, and gave interviews on national TV and radio channels (Radio 4, BBC5 live, BBC News Channel) also offering information to all local radio stations across the country (11 took up an interview offer from the UK Space Agency). The competition has also been promoted through multiple social media channels including including in the North East.

The North East has had three previous winners of the SatelLife competition, one every year:

  • 2017 – Razzia Gafur, from Newcastle – Imaging in Space, using satellite data to support virtual reality activities.
  • 2018 – Jasmine Hurley, Jack Whinnom, Megan Goss, Kieron Robson, and Matthew Jones from Bedlington, Northumberland – Displaced Person Aid. An idea that looks at people who are internally displaced and how satellites can help meet their needs rather than those who are refugees.
  • 2019 – Race Spectator – Daniel Currie, from Middlesbrough – This app will allow supporters to track friends and family members competing in running races.

The UK Space Education and Resource Office, ESERO-UK which is co-funded by the European Space Agency, the UK Space Agency and the Science and Technology Facilities Council and provides resources to promote the teaching of STEM topics, has a regular e-mail shot that is sent to almost all schools across the UK – this will include the SatelLife competition.

Should the Honourable Member know of further opportunities to promote the SatelLife competition in Easington, the UK Space Agency, supported by my office, would be pleased to do so.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps she is taking to reduce the number of households in fuel poverty in Easington constituency.

Improving energy efficiency is the best long-term solution to tackle fuel poverty and the Energy Company Obligation Scheme provides such support for low income and vulnerable households. Since ECO launched it has delivered energy efficiency measures to more than 2 million households.

ECO has delivered improvements to more than 4000 homes in Easington, representing 11% of households in the area.

Tenants living in energy inefficient properties are some of the most at risk of fuel poverty. The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards now require landlords spend up to £3500 improving their properties to energy efficiency Band E before renting them out.

In addition to support to improve energy efficiency the Warm Home Discount provides support to more than 2 million low income and vulnerable households each year through a £140 rebate. Over £2.7 billion has been provided by the scheme over the last nine years.

Our 2020 Fuel Poverty Strategy will set out further detail around our future plans to tackle fuel poverty.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the increase in the National Living wage announced by the Government on 31 December 2019, what discussions she is having with private sector companies undertaking facility management work for her Department to ensure that the cost of wage increases for their employees are not passed on to her Department.

We value the work of all staff, whether employed directly by the Department or employed by our contractors. All staff employed by our facilities management contractor are already paid above the rates of the National Living Wage for 2020.

Our facilities management contract is sourced from the Crown Commercial Service Framework and reviewed annually in line with the Consumer Price Index and is not linked to any increase in the National Living Wage.

In order to ensure value for money to the UK taxpayer, a fixed fee formula is used. The fixed fee means that any significant cost changes beyond the annual Consumer Price Index are negotiated with the contractor to ensure the financial viability of the contract and value for money. We have set contractor pay rates following this process.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many and what proportion of staff in her Department would receive an increase in their salary in the event that their hourly pay rate was (a) £8.72, (b) £9.30 and (c) £10.

This government is committed to paying people a decent living wage, which is being addressed through the statutory National Living Wage. In April 2020, the National Living Wage increases to £8.72 per hour. By 2024 the National Living Wage will rise to £10.50 per hour, reaching 66% of median UK earnings. The scope will be expanded to everyone aged 21 and over and is expected to benefit over 4 million low paid workers

All Civil Servants working in BEIS are paid above these hourly rates.

8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans his Department has to implement a nationwide training programme to develop high professional standards and skills for energy efficiency and low carbon heating in the building and heat supply trades.

Building a highly skilled workforce is key to delivering our net zero ambitions on energy efficiency and low carbon heating.

In October last year, the Department announced that the TrustMark scheme would be expanded, so that any contractor installing energy efficiency measures under the Energy Company Obligation must be registered with the scheme. Industry is now delivering training to comply with the scheme, which ensures contractors meet industry standards and are committed to good customer service.

The Department is also working closely with industry to improve the offer to those seeking to train to become low carbon heating installers, and we are testing a range of options through engagement with industry, including where there might be opportunities for standardisation in the approach to training. Further details on this will be provided later this year.

8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if she will make it her policy to introduce a support framework for low-carbon heating after March 2021.

In the 2019 Spring Statement, the Government committed to support low carbon heating by accelerating the decarbonisation of our gas supplies. We will consult on how to deliver our commitment to increase the proportion of green gas in the gas grid in due course.

The budget for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has been set out to the end of March 2021. Decisions on the future funding for the RHI and any other low-carbon heat support schemes will be a matter for future fiscal events.

8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if she will allocate new capital grant funding for the installation of heat pumps after March 2021.

The budget for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has been set out to the end of March 2021. Decisions on the future funding for the RHI and any other low-carbon heat support schemes will be a matter for future fiscal events.

8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if she will undertake a review the Standard Assessment Procedure to ensure that it includes the carbon savings that can be delivered by (a) heat pumps and (b) other electricity-based heating systems.

The Department is commencing work on the development of the next version of Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP), SAP 11. As a part of this we are considering how we can ensure that SAP remains accurate, which will take into account a range of technologies including heat pumps and other electricity-based heating systems.

7th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to formally consult (a) BBC trade union representatives and (b) the wider public on the review of the BBC funding model.

The BBC Funding Review will look at how alternative models could help secure the broadcaster’s long-term sustainability amid an evolving media landscape, increased competition and changing audience behaviour, while reducing the burden on licence fee payers.

We will not be running a public consultation as part of this review, as a formal public consultation will be launched as part of Charter Review itself. Charter Review is the right time for decisions on funding to be made, as only through amending the Charter and associated legislation can the BBC’s funding model be changed for the next Charter period.

As part of the review, we will appoint an expert panel that incorporates a broad range of views from across the sector to support the Government throughout the review. Its role will be to provide advice and external challenge.

23rd Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, if she will make an assessment of the potential impact of trends in the number of journalists on the sustainability of local media reporting.

We are working to support journalism and local newsrooms to ensure the sustainability of this vital industry.

This includes our new digital markets regime, which will help rebalance the relationship between online platforms and those who rely on them – including local press publishers.

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

13th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the potential impact of changes to BBC local radio coverage on (i) elderly, (ii) disabled and (iii) black and minority ethnic people.

The Government remains disappointed that the BBC is planning to reduce parts of its local output. Ministers have met with the BBC on several occasions since the announcement where they have expressed the concerns shared across the House about the BBC’s plans.

While it is up to the BBC to decide how it delivers its services, 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 BBC is editorially and operationally independent, and the decision over whether to proceed with, and consider the potential impacts for audiences of these changes under their public sector equality duty, is for them.

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. As part of this, the BBC will be required to monitor the impact of changes on audiences and publish more information about how it delivers high quality, distinctive content and services for audiences across the UK.

13th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions she has held with (a) BBC management and (b) Ofcom on conducting equality impact assessments on changes to BBC local radio coverage for (i) elderly, (ii) disabled and (iii) black and minority ethnic people.

The Government remains disappointed that the BBC is planning to reduce parts of its local output. Ministers have met with the BBC on several occasions since the announcement where they have expressed the concerns shared across the House about the BBC’s plans.

While it is up to the BBC to decide how it delivers its services, 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 BBC is editorially and operationally independent, and the decision over whether to proceed with, and consider the potential impacts for audiences of these changes under their public sector equality duty, is for them.

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. As part of this, the BBC will be required to monitor the impact of changes on audiences and publish more information about how it delivers high quality, distinctive content and services for audiences across the UK.

12th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to improve broadband upload speeds in Easington constituency.

According to the independent website thinkbroadband.com, the estimated mean upload speed in the Easington constituency during the third quarter of 2022 stood at 20 Mbps. This is slightly lower than the national average of 22 Mbps across the UK. These averages are derived from crowd-sourced data and it is worth noting that users may not opt for the fastest speeds available when selecting a broadband package.

Almost 99% of premises in the Easington constituency are able to access superfast broadband (>=30Mbps), which meets the vast majority of everyday requirements such as high definition streaming and video calling on multiple devices. This is higher than the national average. I am also pleased to share that 74% of premises in the Easington constituency can access a gigabit-capable connection, which is ahead of the national average of 72%.

Further improvements to broadband speeds in the Easington constituency will be delivered as part of our £5 billion investment in Project Gigabit, which is upgrading and future-proofing network infrastructure for decades to come. Easington is included in Project Gigabit’s North East England regional procurement, which covers up to an estimated 53,000 premises and has an indicative contract value of £82 million. Building Digital UK (BDUK) plans to award a contract between April and May next year.

Alongside direct Government investment, we have created a competition-friendly environment in areas where deployment is commercially viable. As a result, there is now a thriving market of over 80 providers investing nearly £35 billion rolling out gigabit broadband all over the UK.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
12th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for what reason average download speeds in Easington constituency are below the regional and national average; what steps she is taking to improve broadband upload speeds in Easington constituency; and how much funding has been allocated to upgrading broadband infrastructure in (a) Easington constituency, (b) the North East and (c) nationally in each of the last five years.

According to the independent website thinkbroadband.com, the estimated mean download speed in the Easington constituency during the third quarter of 2022 stood at 90 Mbps. This is slightly lower than the North East regional average of 96 Mbps and the UK average of 95. These averages are derived from crowd-sourced data and it is worth noting that users may not opt for the fastest speeds available when selecting a broadband package.

Further improvements to broadband speeds in the Easington constituency will be delivered as part of our £5 billion investment in Project Gigabit, which is upgrading and future-proofing network infrastructure for decades to come. Easington is included in Project Gigabit’s North East England regional procurement, which covers up to an estimated 53,000 premises and has an indicative contract value of £82 million. Building Digital UK (BDUK) plans to award a contract between April and May next year.

In addition to our Project Gigabit procurements, we are providing additional support through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher scheme to support rural communities across the UK with the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections. Through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme and its previous iterations, we have issued over 100,000 vouchers worth more than £214 million.

Projects under the previous Superfast Broadband Programme in the North East covering Durham, Northumberland and Newcastle benefitted from UK Government funding of £24 million, alongside £24 million from the local authorities, £2 million European funding and £26 million from suppliers, to upgrade over 170,000 premises to superfast speeds over the lifetime of the programme. BDUK also delivered a Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) project in the North of Tyne area, with more than £5.8 million in government funding.

At national level, spend through BDUK on broadband in each of the last five years is as follows:

£m

Year

18/19

19/20

20/21

21/22

22/23

Nationally

38.6

29.9

9.6

10.0

12.5

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
9th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to improve average download speeds in the Easington constituency; and whether she will take steps to increase download speeds in Easington constituency to the (a) North East and (b) UK average.

According to the independent website www.thinkbroadband.com, the estimated mean download speed in the Easington constituency during the third quarter of 2022 stood at 90 Mbps. This is slightly lower than the average of 96 Mbps in the North East, and UK average of 95 Mbps. It should be noted that these estimates are derived from crowd-sourced data and that users may not opt for the fastest speeds available when selecting a broadband package.

I am pleased to share that almost 99% of premises in the Easington constituency can already access superfast broadband and just over 74% of premises can access a gigabit-capable connection. This is higher than the national averages of over 97% and 72% for superfast and gigabit-capable, respectively.

We are investing £5 billion through Project Gigabit to enable hard-to-reach communities across the UK to access lightning-fast gigabit-capable broadband. Project Gigabit is focused on connecting homes and businesses that are not included in broadband suppliers’ commercial rollout plans.

The constituency of Easington is included in Project Gigabit’s North East England regional procurement, which covers up to an estimated 53,000 premises and has an indicative contract value of £82 million. Building Digital UK (BDUK) plans to award a contract between April and May next year.

Eligible premises in Easington can also receive gigabit-capable connections through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. We recently announced an increase in the value of these vouchers so that new projects can receive as much as £4,500 towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband in rural and particularly hard-to-reach areas.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for what reason the Gambling Commission has not yet published annual statistics for society lotteries.

The Gambling Commission’s production and publication of the most recent Industry Statistics for the period April 2020 to March 2021, including the latest full year statistics for society lotteries, has been affected by the impact of Covid-19, the lack of and quality of data submissions from some lottery operators and resources required for the consequential quality assurance.

The Gambling Commission will next publish these statistics, covering the period April 2020- March 2021, in November 2022, which is in line with regular twice-yearly publication cycles.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the compliance of her Department's staff working from home with the Working Time Regulations 1998.

Staff at DCMS work a standard 36 or 37 hour week and paid overtime is allowed on an exceptional basis in priority areas. Staff are encouraged to discuss their working hours with their Line Manager and, where they may be working beyond their standard hours, to record their hours of work with managers keeping oversight. A flexi time sheet template is made available for individuals to use to record their hours; records are not held centrally. Managers are responsible for ensuring employees are working their hours and not working excessive hours in line with Regulation 9 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 and this requirement has not been different where staff have been working from home. There are currently no staff at DCMS who have chosen to opt out of the Working Time Directive.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will bring forward proposals to part-refund television licenses for people affected by the Bilsdale transmitter fire.

Under the Communications Act 2003, the BBC are entitled to make refunds for the TV licence fee in such circumstances as they may determine.

Following the Bilsdale mast fire, the BBC has announced that affected households which have been unable to receive TV coverage for over a month, and are also unable to view BBC programming through BBC iPlayer, and satellite and cable platforms, will be able to claim a refund or be offered a free extension to their TV Licence, depending on their TV Licensing payment plan. The BBC will make information available on these arrangements from 10 September on the TV Licensing website: https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/transmitter.

7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to protect television signal infrastructure following the Bilsdale transmitter fire and the time taken to restore television services.

Arqiva - a private infrastructure company - operates the UK’s terrestrial broadcast transmitter sites which carry BBC and commercial operators’ TV services. We remain in close contact with Arqiva and broadcasters who are working as fast and as safely as they can to restore TV and radio services in the areas served by Bilsdale by using existing and new alternate transmission sites.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to increase public awareness of the copper broadband switch off and the potential effect of that switch off on internet access.

There is currently no set date for the withdrawal of the copper broadband network. Ofcom, the independent telecoms regulator, set out clear criteria in their April 2021 wholesale fixed telecoms market review for the withdrawal of copper services, which includes 100% ultrafast broadband coverage in the exchange area.

11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will prohibit the use of wooden telegraph poles for communication cabling where a less visibly obtrusive alternative, such as underground cabling, is available.

The Electronic Communications Code gives Code Operators the rights to install apparatus for the purposes of providing electronic communication networks. The apparatus installed is subject to commercial considerations and any relevant planning requirements. Operators are also expected to adhere to the Cabinet and Pole Siting Code of Practice to ensure new apparatus is installed sensitively.

15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he has taken to assist the UK Safer Internet Centre in securing a long-term funding settlement.

The UK Safer Internet Centre plays an important role in improving online safety in the UK, particularly for children, and is a valued member of the UK Council for Internet Safety. Officials engage regularly with the Centre on its funding position following the UK’s exit from the EU.

The Centre has applied for further funding from the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility programme for the calendar year of 2021, for which the government provided a letter of support. We understand the Centre has been successful in its bid for funding but we await formal confirmation from the Centre regarding its outcome.

15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the UK Safer Internet Centre; and if he will ensure that the level of funding for that centre is maintained when that centre no longer receives funding from the EU.

The UK Safer Internet Centre plays an important role in improving online safety in the UK, particularly for children, and is a valued member of the UK Council for Internet Safety. Officials engage regularly with the Centre on its funding position following the UK’s exit from the EU.

The Centre has applied for further funding from the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility programme for the calendar year of 2021, for which the government provided a letter of support. We understand the Centre has been successful in its bid for funding but we await formal confirmation from the Centre regarding its outcome.

14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will have discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Transport on support for the coach industry to maintain capacity in that sector to help sustain the leisure and tourism sector post-covid.

We will continue to engage across the Government to monitor the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the coach industry. I have discussed the problems facing the coach travel sector in detail with my Ministerial counterparts in the Department for Transport, who hold overall responsibility for coach travel. My Department also continues to engage with the Coach Tourism Association via the Tourism Industry Events Response Group (TIER).

Coach tour operators can access the Government’s support package - including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, various government-backed loans, plus the new Local Restriction Support Grants and Additional Restrictions Grants delivered via Local Authorities.

We are engaging with a broad range of stakeholders to assess how we can most effectively support tourism’s recovery, and we recognise the importance of coaches in connecting visitors with tourism destinations.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had and with whom on the financial viability of English Football League Clubs while they are unable to generate matchday revenues.

Football clubs are the bedrock of our local communities and it is vital they are protected. That is why we have provided unprecedented support to businesses through tax reliefs, cash grants and employee wage support, which many football clubs have benefited from.

We have worked closely with football throughout the pandemic including getting the Premier League and English Football League back behind closed doors and continue to do so. We have been clear that we expect the game - where it can at the top tiers - to support itself. The Government will then focus our support on those in the sector most in need as a result of the October 1 decision not to readmit spectators.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will bring forward proposals for a Premier League funded financial assistance scheme for English football clubs.

Football clubs are the bedrock of our local communities and it is vital they are protected. That is why we have provided unprecedented support to businesses through tax reliefs, cash grants and employee wage support, which many football clubs have benefited from.

We have worked closely with football throughout the pandemic including getting the Premier League and English Football League back behind closed doors and continue to do so. We have been clear that we expect the game - where it can at the top tiers - to support itself. The Government will then focus our support on those in the sector most in need as a result of the October 1 decision not to readmit spectators.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will publish guidance on the conditions required to facilitate the safe return of fans to football league grounds.

We are committed to getting spectators back into stadiums as soon as it is safe to do so. The evidence we received from the Chief Medical Officer was very clear that at a time of rapidly rising infections, and when we were considering restrictions elsewhere, it was not the right time to undertake any further easements.

We will continue to work closely with a whole range of sports, including football, to understand the latest thinking that might allow spectators to return. This includes the creation of a new Sports Technology Innovation Working Group of sporting bodies and health experts to analyse new technologies which might support this. This will supplement the draft government guidance, and the SGSA supplementary guidance to their Green Guide, which has been internationally welcomed.

We will take the earliest opportunity to look again at getting spectators safely back into stadiums but this must clearly be very carefully judged against the prevailing health conditions. When these conditions are right, we will revisit our draft guidance in this area.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will have discussions with the (a) Chancellor of the Exchequer and (b) Secretary of State for Transport on the importance of coach operators in supporting the UK leisure and tourism sector.

Coach tour operators play a vital role in the UK tourism sector, connecting holidaymakers with our country’s vibrant seaside resorts and areas of natural beauty.

We recognise that these remain extremely difficult conditions for tourism businesses, and we are alert to the specific pressures that coach tour operators face.

My officials and I regularly speak with the Association of British Travel Agents through the Visitor Economy Working Group, as well as the Coach Tourism Association through the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group.

I will continue to engage with my colleagues in the Treasury and the Department for Transport on the importance of all aspects of the tourism sector, including coach operators.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Jan 2020
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with representatives from the BBC on the decision to remove the free TV licence for pensioners aged 75 and over.

The Secretary of State has met with the Chairman of the BBC Board and the Director-General of the BBC and asked them to do more to help those affected by the BBC’s decision.

The Government is disappointed with the BBC's decision to restrict the over 75 licence fee concession to only those aged over 75 and in receipt of Pension Credit.

We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe that they should be funded by the BBC.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the increase in the National Living wage announced by the Government on 31 December 2019, what discussions she is having with private sector companies undertaking facility management work for her Department to ensure that the cost of wage increases for their employees are not passed on to her Department.

Facilities Management is provided to DCMS through arrangements with other government departments. DCMS therefore has no discussions with such private sector companies about cost increases.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many and what proportion of staff in her Department would receive an increase in their salary in the event that their hourly pay rate was (a) £8.72, (b) £9.30 and (c) £10.

No members of staff in DCMS would receive an increase in salary.

This government is comitted to paying people a decent living wage, which is being addressed through the statutory National Living Wage. In April 2020, the National Living Wage increases to £8.72 per hour. By 2024 the National Living Wage will rise to £10.50 per hour, reaching 66% of median UK earnings. The scope will be expanded to everyone aged 21 and over and is expected to benefit over 4 million low paid workers.

19th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to ensure that pop-up adverts in mobile gaming apps for children are age appropriate.

Advertising in the UK is regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the industry’s independent regulator, which for online advertising enforces the Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) through a system of self-regulation. The CAP Code incorporates all relevant legislation, and sets standards for accuracy and honesty to which advertisers must adhere, including specific conditions on advertising to children, causing offence and social responsibility.

The ASA has issued guidance to advertisers (https://www.asa.org.uk/resource/children-age-restricted-ads-online.html) on using data and targeting tools to minimise children’s exposure to age restricted or age inappropriate advertising online, including in mobile gaming apps, in order to ensure compliance with the CAP Code.

Last year the government also announced its intention to review how online advertising is regulated in the UK, looking at how well the current regime is equipped to tackle the challenges posed by developments in the market.

2nd Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 19 January 2024 to Question 8408 on Offences against Children, whether she plans to take further steps with Cabinet colleagues to incorporate Article 19 into UK legislation (a) in non-online contexts and (b) other than through the Online Safety Act 2023.

The government remains committed to protecting and upholding children’s rights. The department is confident that existing domestic legislation gives effect to the rights within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child, including Article 19.

The Children Act 1989 and Children Act 2004 set out a range of duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Furthermore, the government’s multi-agency statutory guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ is clear that children at risk of or experiencing harm from within or outside their home must receive the support they need, recognising harms may arise from school, peer groups, online or the wider community. This guidance was updated in December 2023 to strengthen multi-agency working across the whole system of help, support and protection. More information on the guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-safeguard-children--2.

Importantly, the department introduced new national multi-agency child protection standards setting out what every individual, at every level, in every agency should do to work together and understand their role, to improve child protection practice and outcomes for children. The department has also strengthened expectations about the role of other agencies, including police and health, in child protection processes.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she has made an estimate of the number of SMEs that have recruited (a) 10, (b) between 10 and 20, (c) between 30 and 40 and (d) more than 50 apprentices since April 2023.

The below table shows the breakdown of non-levy paying employer accounts, often small and medium-sized enterprises, that have recruited more than ten apprentices since April 2023.

Number of starts since April 2023 (grouped)

Number of non-levy employer accounts

10

90

11-19

214

20-29

33

30-39

6

40-49

1

50+

2

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
8th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 18 December 2023 to Question 6458 on Special Educational Needs: County Durham, whether she is providing additional resources to Durham County Council to meet demand for Education, Health and Care plans.

County Durham are part of the department's Delivering Better Value (DBV) programme. DBV aims to work with selected authorities to review how services are structured and delivered to achieve better outcomes for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in a sustainable way. The DBV programme achieves this by helping each of the participating local areas complete a diagnostic to work out the root causes of their challenges and identify local opportunities to sustainably improve the outcomes and experiences of the children and young people with SEND in their care.

On completion of their diagnostic, Durham created an action plan to address their key local challenges and implement service reforms; based on this the department provided grant funding of £1 million to support the delivery of their plans.

Durham County Council have also been involved with the Targeted Performance Improvement programme which has supported them with embedding Ordinarily Available Provision.

In addition, SEND funding to the Local Authority of County Durham has increased by 35% to £94 million over the past three years.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 11 December 2023 to Question 5246 on Special Educational Needs: County Durham, if he will make it his policy to conduct an investigation into why the rate of Education, Health and Care plans excluding exceptions issued within 20 weeks in County Durham reduced from 76.2% in 2021 to 29.2% in 2022.

Through the work of the department’s Regions Group, the department is working closely with Durham County Council to understand the reasons why the rate of Education, Health and Care plans excluding exceptions issued within 20 weeks has reduced. The department will work with the local area to monitor the issuing of completed plans and support them in to improving this rate.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 11 December 2023 to Question 5246 on Special Educational Needs: County Durham, what interim support is available to families waiting for an Education, Health and Care plan to be issued.

Durham County Council publish information on their Local Offer outlining what support is available for children, young people and their families in County Durham. This information is available here: https://www.durham.gov.uk/localoffer. The Durham Local offer outlines Durham’s approach to Special Education Needs and Disabilities in schools and the graduated approach.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the average waiting time is for an Education, Health and Care plan to be completed following a Special Educational Needs and Disability referral in County Durham.

Data on the number of Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans is available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/education-health-and-care-plans. The latest data was published on 8 June 2023. This includes the number of EHC Plans that were issued within a 20-week timeframe in County Durham.

The department will continue to work with County Durham to monitor the issuing of completed Plans.


David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
8th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to p.19 of the Stable Homes, Built on Love consultation, published in February 2023, how will the investment of £9 million for training and support for kinship carers be spent.

Following on from the progress and positive impact of the peer-to-peer support contract, the department will deliver a package of training and support that all kinship carers in England can access if they wish to, regardless of whether they have a legal order in place. This will go live from Spring 2024.

​The department was successful in obtaining a supplier, providing the best value for money, to deliver the training commitment made in Stable Homes, Built on Love. The department will be working with the charity Kinship to deliver this £3 million programme of training and support.

This programme will include online and face-to-face training on all aspects of kinship care.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of funding allocated to the maintenance and renewal of school buildings.

It is the responsibility of those who run schools - academy trusts, Local Authorities and voluntary-aided school bodies - to manage the safety and maintenance of their schools and to alert the Department if there is a serious concern with a building. It has always been the case that where the Department is made aware of a building may pose an immediate risk, immediate action is taken.

The Department provides extensive guidance for responsible bodies to help them make effective spending decisions and manage their estates strategically and effectively through resources such as the Good Estate Management for Schools guidance.

The 2021 Spending Review announced over £19 billion of capital funding to support the education sector between 2022/23 and 2024/25. In addition to targeted work on RAAC, the Department has continued to invest in improving the condition of the school estate, with over £15 billion allocated since 2015, including £1.8 billion committed for the 2023/24 financial year. On top of this, the Department is transforming 500 schools through the School Rebuilding Programme. A total of 400 schools have been confirmed, with 100 places reserved for later in the programme. Buildings in the poorest condition and those with evidence of potential safety issues have been prioritised, including some now known to contain RAAC. The Department is committed to the projects that have already been announced as being rebuilt or refurbished through the School Rebuilding Programme.

​The Department will always put the safety and wellbeing of children and staff in education settings at the heart of its policy decisions. The Government has taken more proactive action to identify and mitigate RAAC in education settings than the devolved administrations in the UK, or indeed, governments overseas.

15th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many schools closed classrooms due to (a) maintenance and (b) structural issues in the last 12 months.

The Department will always put the safety and wellbeing of children and staff in education settings at the heart of its policy decisions. It is the responsibility of those who run our schools, academy trusts, local authorities, and voluntary-aided school bodies, who work with their schools on a day-to-day basis, to manage the maintenance of their schools. Most building and refurbishment works within schools and colleges do not involve RAAC and will not require the involvement of the Department. The Department does not therefore hold information on the number of buildings closed due to maintenance and structural issues.

16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of reallocating potential underspend from the 16-18 education budget to the adult education budget for further education colleges.

The department manages its budget within the Departmental Expenditure Limit to best achieve government objectives, including re-purposing underspends on some budgets to help with pressures and priorities elsewhere.

The department recognises the importance of adult education. Through a range of programmes, we are targeting provision at adults to equip them with the skills employers look for, and the skills that will lead to better jobs, better wellbeing, and better options for the future.

This includes through the Adult Education Budget, apprenticeships, Skills Bootcamps, and Free Courses for Jobs.

The Adult Education Budget, worth £1.34 billion this year, funds skills provision for adults to help them gain the skills that they need for work, an apprenticeship or further learning.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), worth over £2.6 billion, will help to level up and create opportunity across the UK. The first skills priority for UKSPF will be to help adults improve their maths skills via the Multiply programme, worth up to £559 million.

The department is also investing £1.6 billion through the National Skills Fund across the 2022 to 2025 financial years, including an investment of up to £550 million to significantly expand Skills Bootcamps, and investment to expand the eligibility for delivery of the Free Courses for Jobs offer, which is now open to more adults.

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Further education reclassification: government response, published on 29 November 2022, what assessment she has made of the potential impact of new private sector borrowing rules on further education colleges.

Following the decision by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to reclassify colleges to the public sector, the department is supporting colleges to meet the requirements of managing public money, while retaining many of their key areas of autonomy and flexibility.

Managing public money means public sector organisations may only borrow from private sector sources if the transaction delivers value for money for HM Treasury. The department has put in place a consents process for any new commercial borrowing that colleges would like to undertake. Department officials are working through the requests for January in priority order and will respond to colleges as quickly as possible.

Where the department has been unable to consent to commercial borrowing, it will consider if there is any scope for finding alternative ways to support projects that colleges were intending, pre-reclassification, to self-fund through commercial borrowing.

In response to the ONS decision on reclassification, the department has designed a package of measures to enable colleges to deliver on the priorities in the Skills for Jobs White Paper, and to continue to invest in their estates. This includes an additional £150 million allocation of capital grant funding for condition improvement for 2023/24. These allocations are available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/fe-capital-funding#fe-reclassification-capital-allocation. Allocations will be paid in April 2023.

The department is bringing forward £300 million of funding by March 2023 to smooth the payment profile and help colleges with their cashflow. This was communicated to the sector on 18 January.

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the further education reclassification: government response, published 29 November 2022, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing further education colleges to recover VAT.

The government keeps VAT policies under review. Any proposals to changes in the tax system would need to be considered in the context of broader public finances.

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will take steps to help support recruitment of teachers in further education colleges.

The department has launched the national Further Education (FE) Recruitment Campaign and Teach in FE Digital Service, a recruitment campaign that aims to deliver simple, accessible information and comprehensive support for prospective teachers. The campaign is expected to reach millions of prospective FE teaching staff, and target those with valuable experience and skills in industry to train the next generation of technical experts.

The department is also increasing the level of overall investment in the FE sector, which will help colleges to recruit, retain, and develop the staff they need. The 2021 Spending Review made available an extra £1.6 billion for 16-to-19 education in 2024/25 financial year compared with 2021/22. In the 2023/24 financial year, the department will be using £125 million of available funding to invest an extra £85 million to support all institutions’ costs by increasing the national funding rate by 2.2% from £4,542 in 2022/23 to £4,642, along with investing £40 million in subject specific funding, including through uplifting 16-to-19 programme costs weights for engineering, construction and digital sector subject areas. This will support additional costs of recruiting and retaining teachers in this high value, vocational provision.

The department is providing bursaries worth up to £26,000 tax-free per individual, to support FE teacher training in priority subject areas for 2022/23.

A teacher training apprenticeship for those planning to work in the FE sector has recently been updated and strengthened, and employers can use levy funding of up to £7,000 per apprentice to put their new teachers through a high quality work-based training programme.

Robert Halfon
Minister of State (Education)
20th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many contracts were awarded to Surgo Construction relating to the (a) construction, (b) repair and (c) maintenance of schools in each of the last five years.

There have been no contracts awarded by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, to Surgo Construction in the last five years, comprising calendar years 2018 to 2022.

6th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will extend the 30 hours free childcare provision to student (a) midwives, (b) nurses and (c) paramedics.

The government is not currently planning to extend 30 hours free childcare. The department recognises the value of parents continuing in education and provides a range of support for students in further or higher education to support them with childcare.

Support available to students includes the Childcare Grant and Parents’ Learning Allowance. These schemes are available for full-time students with dependent children, including student nurses, midwives and paramedics.

For additional financial support to help with childcare costs, since September 2020, all eligible nursing, midwifery, paramedic and other allied health profession students have received a non-repayable training grant of a minimum of £5,000 per academic year. Eligible students with child dependants can also access a further £2,000 per academic year.

Additionally, all parents are eligible for the universal 15 hours of free early education which is available to all three and four-year olds, regardless of family circumstances.

Working parents of three and four-year-olds may also be eligible for an additional 15 hours of free childcare if they earn the equivalent of 16 hours a week at national minimum/living wage and under £100,000 per year. Students who participate in paid work in addition to their studies and meet the income requirements will be eligible for the additional hours.

Parents who meet these income criteria may also be able to receive support from Tax-Free Childcare, which can be worth up to £2,000 per year for children aged 0-11, or up to £4,000 per year for disabled children aged 0-16.

Further information on the childcare offers available to parents can be accessed at: https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.

The department remains committed to improving the cost, choice, and availability of childcare, and we continue to look at ways to make childcare more affordable and to encourage families to use government-funded support they are entitled to.

Claire Coutinho
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
12th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much Government funding has been provided to schools in Easington constituency through the National Tutoring Programme in each month since the Programme was launched.

The Department does not hold information on tuition partners or academic mentors in the required format at constituency level.

School-led tutoring grant allocations by school and local authority for the academic year 2021/2022 have been published at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1071234/School_Led_Funding_Publication_File_flat_values_v1.ods

Payment information relating to school-led tutoring for the academic year 2021/2022 will be published by the Educational Skills and Funding Agency once the reconciliation process has been completed for that period.

School-led tutoring grant allocations for the academic year 2022/23 have been published at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-tutoring-programme-ntp-allocations-for-2022-to-2023-academic-year.

12th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the level of affordability of childcare provision in Easington constituency.

The department continues to look at ways to make childcare more affordable and to encourage families to use government-funded support they are entitled to.

The department collects data on the main characteristics of childcare and early years provision in England and fees data can be broken down to local authority level.

Easington constituency falls within Durham County Council, where the latest data shows the average hourly fee for childcare to be £5.00 for two-year-old children, and £4.75 for three and four-year-old children.

12th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will undertake a review of the operating resilience of early years childcare providers in Easington constituency; and if he will make a statement.

According to Ofsted records, as of 31 March 2022, 0 providers on non-domestic premises and 10 childminders had left the Early Years Register in Easington between March 2021 and March 2022. Over the same period, 1 provider on non-domestic premises and 1 childminder joined the Early Years Register in Easington.

Ofsted’s publication provides data on both joiners and leavers to the register, but not at a parliamentary constituency level, so this analysis is based on the differences in the Early Years register between March 2021 and March 2022.

The department has no plans to make a statement on the operating resilience of early years childcare providers in Easington constituency.

12th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an estimate of the number of (a) nurseries and (b) other early years childcare settings which have closed in Easington constituency since March 2021.

According to Ofsted records, as of 31 March 2022, 0 providers on non-domestic premises and 10 childminders had left the Early Years Register in Easington between March 2021 and March 2022. Over the same period, 1 provider on non-domestic premises and 1 childminder joined the Early Years Register in Easington.

Ofsted’s publication provides data on both joiners and leavers to the register, but not at a parliamentary constituency level, so this analysis is based on the differences in the Early Years register between March 2021 and March 2022.

The department has no plans to make a statement on the operating resilience of early years childcare providers in Easington constituency.

12th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of the adequacy of childcare provision in Easington constituency.

The department continues to monitor the sufficiency of childcare nationally. The key measure of sufficiency is whether the supply of available places is sufficient to meet the requirements of parents and children. Ofsted data currently shows that the number of places offered by providers on the Early Years Register has remained broadly stable at 1.3 million places since August 2015.

Officials from the department also discuss sufficiency of provision in regular conversations with local authorities. Under Section 6 of the Childcare Act 2006, local authorities are responsible for ensuring sufficient childcare places in their area. The department has not been made aware by any local authority of any current sufficiency problem. Durham Council, which holds the statutory duty to secure sufficient childcare in Easington, is not reporting that these closures will affect their ability to fulfil this duty.

According to findings from the 2021 childcare and early years providers survey, 7 in 10 group-based providers reported having spare places in their full day provision and 49% of childminders reported having spare capacity on average across the week.

1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure the new National Children’s Social Care Framework works with the proposed new National SEND Standards, as outlined in the SEND Review, to meet the social care needs of families with disabled children.

The government is committed to building a coherent children’s social care system that has the interests of families and vulnerable children at its heart.

The department will align its implementation strategy for children’s social care with reforms to the special educational needs and disabilities system that it is consulting on through the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Green Paper.

1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to include people with lived experience of childhood disability on the new National Implementation Board for children’s social care.

The department recognises the importance of engaging directly with people with lived experience, building on the impressive work of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in hearing and accounting for the voices of children and their families, including people with lived experience of childhood disability.

We are committed to continuing this approach, by keeping the views and interests of those with lived experience at the heart of our work as we develop our implementation strategy for children’s social care. The new National Implementation Board will include people with their own experience of the care system, alongside those with experience of leading transformational change.

13th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Answer of 28 April 2022 to Question 158937, what assessment he has made of the prospect of the policy proposal in the SEND Review on deciding the levels of support disabled children get from a national banding system having the potential effect of reducing the level of support disabled children and families currently receive.

The special education needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision green paper sets out our proposals to improve the outcomes and experiences of children and young people with SEND and their families so that they can fulfil their potential and lead happy, healthy, and productive adult lives. The proposals aim to drive national consistency in how needs are assessed, identified, and met across education, health and care through the introduction of national standards.

The department wants to ensure the most effective use of our investment in high needs funding and the proposal for national framework of funding bands has the potential to ensure far greater consistency in funding arrangements throughout the system. The department is consulting on how it can best develop a national framework for funding bands and tariffs, to achieve its objectives and help make it easier for all children and young people and their families to understand not only the provision they can access locally but also the funding levels that provision would attract, giving them greater assurance that their child’s needs will be met appropriately.

13th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Answer of 28 April 2022 to Question 158936, what discussions he has had with families with disabled children when formulating the policy proposal in the SEND Review to only allow families with disabled children to pick a school from a pre-defined list where those families have had to take a local authority to the SEND tribunal to get the school their disabled child needs.

Throughout the SEND Review, the department has engaged hundreds of people, including children, young people, and their families, as well as working with a cross-sector steering group which had representation from parents and carers. In March 2022, we addressed questions about the review at a webinar attended by 200 parents and carers of children and young people with SEND. Earlier this month, the department hosted a meeting of 14 SEND charities convened by the Council for Disabled Children. These charities include representation of children and young people, and their parents.

The department recognises that the significant set of proposals outlined in the green paper need to be subject to a full public consultation. For this reason, over 120 consultation events have been arranged, allowing direct engagement with a broad range of people, including children, young people, and their families. The department is committed to ensuring everyone has an opportunity to take part in the consultation and we encourage everyone to do so.

25th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the proposal in his Department's SEND review on determining the level of support that disabled children receive from a national banding system, what assessment he has made of the compatibility of that proposal with the aim of providing support to each disabled child based on individual need, as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014.

The SEND and AP green paper sets out our proposal to establish a single national SEND and AP system setting national standards for how needs are identified and met across education, health, and care to address inconsistency across the SEND system in how and where needs are assessed and met.

This includes consistent processes for how individual needs are identified and recorded and the appropriate provision to meet those needs, including best practice in reasonable adjustments for disabled children, such as those children with a sensory impairment and the full range of appropriate types of support and provision for meeting different needs.

The department is consulting on the proposals for a tailored list of placements and the development of a national framework of bands and tariffs and will fully consider the impact of these proposals on disabled children, including the impact on their health and meeting their individual needs as the department takes this forward.

25th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the proposal in his Department's SEND review to allow families with disabled children to pick a school from a pre-defined list, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of that proposal on the health of disabled children in the event that schools on that list do not meet their needs.

The SEND and AP green paper sets out our proposal to establish a single national SEND and AP system setting national standards for how needs are identified and met across education, health, and care to address inconsistency across the SEND system in how and where needs are assessed and met.

This includes consistent processes for how individual needs are identified and recorded and the appropriate provision to meet those needs, including best practice in reasonable adjustments for disabled children, such as those children with a sensory impairment and the full range of appropriate types of support and provision for meeting different needs.

The department is consulting on the proposals for a tailored list of placements and the development of a national framework of bands and tariffs and will fully consider the impact of these proposals on disabled children, including the impact on their health and meeting their individual needs as the department takes this forward.

8th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to Let Us Learn Too and the Disabled Children’s Partnership’s SEND Money Survey, published on 7 February 2022, what steps he is taking to prevent families with disabled children from having to pay for essential support for their children’s development privately.

In July 2021 the government published the National Disability Strategy, setting out a range of commitments over supporting children and young people with disabilities in their education and preparation for adulthood.

The department is providing over £42 million during this financial year 2021-22 to continue funding projects to support children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This investment will ensure that specialist organisations around the country can continue to help strengthen local area performance, support families and provide practical support to schools and colleges. It will strengthen participation of parents and young people in the SEND system, ensuring they have a voice in designing policies and services and have access to essential support. This also includes £27.3 million in the financial year 2021-22 to support families on low incomes raising disabled or seriously ill children.

Additionally, councils will be funded £30 million for the next three years to set up more than 10,000 additional respite placements, helping to provide positive opportunities for disabled children and young people.

The department is conducting a review of the SEND system and looking at ways to make sure the system is more consistent, high quality, and integrated across education, health and care. The outcome of that review will be published as a green paper for full public consultation in the first quarter of this year.

12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the compliance of his Department's staff working from home with the Working Time Regulations 1998.

The department does not centrally monitor working hours for any employee but requires all employees, regardless of work location, to keep an accurate record of the hours they work.

All employees are able to work flexibly under the department’s Flexible Working and Flexitime Policies; these policies discourage long hours working. Under these policies, managers are responsible for organising workloads, and must avoid imposing workloads or deadlines that oblige their employees to work excessive hours. Managers are also encouraged to check their employees' flexitime sheets on a monthly basis to ensure they are not working excessive hours.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
3rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities over the use of the £4.8 billion additional grant funding for local authorities, announced at the Spending Review on 27 October 2021, to help ensure that the short breaks and respite care that families with disabled children have may missed during outbreak of covid-19 are restored.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, and the Department for Education, discuss and work with other government departments on a regular basis, including with my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, on a range of issues, including local government funding and services.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the finding of Scope and the Disabled Children’s Partnership’s report, The gap widens, published September 2021, that there is a £573 million funding gap in disabled children’s social care, what steps he is taking to ensure that every family with a disabled child can access the care they need.

The department believes it is right for local authorities, who know their areas’ needs best, to determine what services are required locally, including early help.

In line with this, respite care services for disabled children are provided on the basis of an individual assessment of each child and family’s needs.

This year councils have access to £51.3 billion to deliver their core services, including a £1.7 billion grant for social care. The government has also given over £6 billion in unringfenced funding directly to councils to support them with the immediate and longer-term impacts of COVID-19 spending pressures, including children’s services.

The department will continue to work with other government departments, including the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to ensure the upcoming Spending Review reflects the needs of children’s services.

In addition to statutory services, the department is providing £27.3 million to the Family Fund in financial year 2021-22 to support over 60,000 families on low incomes raising children and young people with disabilities or serious illnesses. Grants can be used for a range of purposes, including family breaks.

18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will introduce compulsory education focused on water safety and drowning prevention for school aged children and young people.

Swimming and water safety is a compulsory element of the physical education curriculum at Key Stages 1 and 2. It sets out the expectation that pupils should be taught to swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres, use a range of strokes effectively, and perform safe self rescue in different water based situations.

The Department has made new virtual water safety lessons available through Oak National Academy and has supported the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s Drowning Prevention Week 2021. The Department is working closely with Swim England, Royal Life Saving Society UK and other organisations to support pupils returning safely to swimming and promoting water safety education.

17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Disabled Children’s Partnership’s No End In Sight report, if he will implement ring-fenced catch-up funding for disabled children’s services to support (a) physical and mental recovery from the covid-19 pandemic and (b) disabled children to catch up with their non-disabled peers.

The Department is committed to helping all pupils, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. We recognise that extended school and college restrictions have had a substantial impact on children and young people’s education, health and wellbeing. Sir Kevan Collins has been appointed as the Education Recovery Commissioner and is considering how schools and the system can more effectively target resources and support at pupils in greatest need.

As part of the £1.7 billion funding announced so far for education recovery, the £302 million Recovery Premium will help schools to deliver evidence based approaches for supporting the most disadvantaged pupils. Whilst funding is not ring fenced, the Department has applied additional weighting to special schools, alternative provision and hospital schools to recognise the significantly higher per pupil costs they face. Eligible pupils attending special units within mainstream schools will also attract the higher funding rate.

The Department is also making £200 million available to all secondary schools, including specialist settings, to deliver face to face summer schools, providing opportunities for social interaction. The aim of the programme is for secondary schools to deliver a summer school which offers a blend of academic teaching and enrichment activity. Schools have the flexibility to target provision towards those pupils they feel would benefit the most as well as determining the size and shape of the summer schools, allowing them to tailor support for pupils with SEND. Eligible pupils in special schools, special units in mainstream primary and secondary schools and alternative provision will attract a higher rate of funding for summer schools.

In addition, the National Tutoring Programme provides additional, targeted tuition to disadvantaged children who have been hardest hit from disruption to their education as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Young people with SEND aged 19 to 24 who have an education, health and care plan will be eligible for support via the 16 to 19 tuition fund, where they meet the fund criteria.

20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the minimum number of teaching hours required to be taught at (a) primary and (b) secondary schools is per week.

The Education (School Day and School Year) (England) Regulations 1999 require all maintained schools to be open to educate their pupils for at least 380 sessions (190 days) in each school year.

Academies are not bound by the School Day and School Year regulations and can make changes to their term and holiday dates.

Schools should organise the school day and school week in the best interests of their pupil cohort, to provide them with a full-time education suitable to their age, aptitude and ability.

16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the report by the Disabled Children’s Partnership entitled Loneliest lockdown, if he will ensure that the Government’s education recovery, led by Sir Kevan Collins, will include a dedicated recovery policy for disabled children and their families that addresses the physical and mental health impacts of the covid-19 pandemic on those groups.

The Department is committed to helping all pupils, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. We recognise that extended school and college restrictions have had a substantial impact on children and young people’s education, health and wellbeing. We are committed to supporting them and their families.

We have and continue to develop plans for COVID-19 recovery. Sir Kevan Collins has been appointed as the Education Recovery Commissioner and is considering how schools and the system can more effectively target resources and support at pupils in greatest need. In the development of this recovery plan, Sir Kevan is regularly meeting with a variety of stakeholders including disabled young people and their families. Sir Kevan is reviewing how evidence-based interventions can be used to address the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had not just on academic outcomes, but on the physical and mental health of children and young people.

As part of this plan, both special schools and alternative provision will be able to access funding to provide summer schools and the National Tutoring Programme. We recognise the additional costs associated with offering provision to pupils in specialist settings, and eligible pupils in special schools, special units in mainstream primary and secondary schools and alternative provision settings will attract a higher rate of funding for summer schools. We have also consistently prioritised children who attend specialist settings by providing additional uplifts both in the 2020 Catch-up Premium and in the 2021 Recovery Premium.

Young people with SEND aged 19 to 24 who have an education, health and care plan will be eligible for support via the 16 to 19 Tuition Fund, where they meet the fund criteria. Colleges are asked to have regard for the needs of students with SEND when prioritising students that would benefit most for small group tuition. Furthermore, the proposals to support early language and literacy catch up will benefit all children including those with SEND.

In addition, £200 million will be available to all secondary schools, including specialist settings, to deliver face to face summer schools. Schools will be able to target provision based on pupils’ needs. We also announced, on 10 February 2021, over £42 million SEND funding for the 2021-22 financial year to continue funding projects to support children with SEND. This investment will ensure that specialist organisations around the country can continue their work to help strengthen local area performance, support families, and provide practical support to schools and colleges. It will strengthen participation of parents and young people in the SEND system – ensuring they have a voice in designing policies and services and have access to high quality information, advice, and support.

The Department will continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and its subsequent COVID-19 recovery plans on all pupils, including those with SEND, to ensure it targets support across the system most effectively.

10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of the Disabled Children Partnership’s recommendation in its The Longest Lockdown report that a specific catch-up plan for disabled children and their families should be implemented, covering (a) plans to scale up therapeutic interventions and (b) short breaks and transition support for disabled children and young people.

The COVID-19 outbreak has been extremely challenging for many families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Supporting them is a priority for this government, and their wellbeing remains central to our response to the outbreak.

We want pupils and students with SEND, including those in specialist settings, to continue to receive high-quality teaching and specialist professional support. This is because we know that these pupils and students and their families can be disproportionately impacted by being out of education.

We have put in place a range of measures to support children and young people with SEND through the outbreak. We have provided £40.8 million for the Family Fund in financial year 2020-21 to support over 80,000 families on low incomes raising children with disabilities or serious illnesses. This includes £13.5 million to specifically respond to needs arising from the outbreak, which may include, for example, assistive technology to aid remote learning. The National Tutoring Programme has increased access to high-quality tuition for disadvantaged pupils, helping to accelerate their academic progress and tackle the attainment gap between them and their peers. We have announced a major investment in education, including an additional £730 million into high needs in the 2021-22 financial year, coming on top of the additional £780 million in the 2020-21 financial year, which means high needs budgets will have grown by over £1.5 billion, nearly a quarter, in just two years. Additionally, 16-19 tuition fund providers are asked to have regard to the needs of students with SEND when prioritising students that would benefit most from small group tuition.

A priority of the education recovery work is to ensure the specific needs of children and young people with SEND are considered, so they do not fall further behind their peers. Sir Kevan Collins has been appointed as the Education Recovery Commissioner to deliver this work.

On 24 February, the government announced a new £700 million package for a range of additional measures to give early years settings, schools, providers of 16-19 education, including specialist settings, the tools they need to target support for all students. This builds on the £1 billion catch-up package announced in June 2020, and forms part of the wider response to help pupils make up their lost learning.

Specific targeted support for children and young people with SEND includes a new one-off Recovery Premium for state primary and secondary schools, building on the Pupil Premium, which will be provided to schools to use as they see best to support disadvantaged students. This funding can be used to lay on additional clubs or activities or for other evidence-based approaches for supporting the most disadvantaged pupils, including those with SEND, from September.

We continue to encourage local authorities to prioritise respite support for disabled children, and to consider flexible and pragmatic options to deliver that support including using direct payments and carrying out activities virtually. Where children and young people with an education, health and care plan are in receipt of health provision, settings should work collaboratively with their local authority, Clinical Commissioning Group and health providers to agree appropriate support in view of the latest and current local public health guidance. Therapists and other professionals may continue to visit education settings to provide therapies and support, where this is reasonably necessary.

We are committed to supporting children’s and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during this period. We have recently announced a £79 million boost to children and young people’s mental health support, including through Mental Health Support Teams.

Schools can use their additional funding from the COVID-19 “catch-up” package for pastoral support for mental wellbeing where pupils need it. We have also set up Wellbeing for Education Return, an £8 million scheme funding expert advisers and training in every local authority area, to support education staff to respond to the emotional and mental health pressures some children and young people may be feeling because of COVID-19.

10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Disabled Children Partnership’s report, The Longest Lockdown, if the Government will make an assessment of the potential merits of implementing a cross-departmental covid-19 catch-up plan for disabled children covering (a) education and (b) health and wellbeing.

The COVID-19 outbreak has been extremely challenging for many families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Supporting them is a priority for this government, and their wellbeing remains central to our response to the outbreak.

We want pupils and students with SEND, including those in specialist settings, to continue to receive high-quality teaching and specialist professional support. This is because we know that these pupils and students and their families can be disproportionately impacted by being out of education.

We have put in place a range of measures to support children and young people with SEND through the outbreak. We have provided £40.8 million for the Family Fund in financial year 2020-21 to support over 80,000 families on low incomes raising children with disabilities or serious illnesses. This includes £13.5 million to specifically respond to needs arising from the outbreak, which may include, for example, assistive technology to aid remote learning. The National Tutoring Programme has increased access to high-quality tuition for disadvantaged pupils, helping to accelerate their academic progress and tackle the attainment gap between them and their peers. We have announced a major investment in education, including an additional £730 million into high needs in the 2021-22 financial year, coming on top of the additional £780 million in the 2020-21 financial year, which means high needs budgets will have grown by over £1.5 billion, nearly a quarter, in just two years. Additionally, 16-19 tuition fund providers are asked to have regard to the needs of students with SEND when prioritising students that would benefit most from small group tuition.

A priority of the education recovery work is to ensure the specific needs of children and young people with SEND are considered, so they do not fall further behind their peers. Sir Kevan Collins has been appointed as the Education Recovery Commissioner to deliver this work.

On 24 February, the government announced a new £700 million package for a range of additional measures to give early years settings, schools, providers of 16-19 education, including specialist settings, the tools they need to target support for all students. This builds on the £1 billion catch-up package announced in June 2020, and forms part of the wider response to help pupils make up their lost learning.

Specific targeted support for children and young people with SEND includes a new one-off Recovery Premium for state primary and secondary schools, building on the Pupil Premium, which will be provided to schools to use as they see best to support disadvantaged students. This funding can be used to lay on additional clubs or activities or for other evidence-based approaches for supporting the most disadvantaged pupils, including those with SEND, from September.

We continue to encourage local authorities to prioritise respite support for disabled children, and to consider flexible and pragmatic options to deliver that support including using direct payments and carrying out activities virtually. Where children and young people with an education, health and care plan are in receipt of health provision, settings should work collaboratively with their local authority, Clinical Commissioning Group and health providers to agree appropriate support in view of the latest and current local public health guidance. Therapists and other professionals may continue to visit education settings to provide therapies and support, where this is reasonably necessary.

We are committed to supporting children’s and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during this period. We have recently announced a £79 million boost to children and young people’s mental health support, including through Mental Health Support Teams.

Schools can use their additional funding from the COVID-19 “catch-up” package for pastoral support for mental wellbeing where pupils need it. We have also set up Wellbeing for Education Return, an £8 million scheme funding expert advisers and training in every local authority area, to support education staff to respond to the emotional and mental health pressures some children and young people may be feeling because of COVID-19.

22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to extend the availability of school attendance to the children of people who are not classed as key workers but are expected to by their employers to attend the workplace.

During this period of national lockdown, schools should allow only vulnerable children and the children of critical workers to attend. All other pupils should not attend and should learn remotely. We have resisted restrictions on attendance at schools since the first lockdown but, in the face of the rapidly rising numbers of cases across the country and intense pressure on the NHS, we now need to use every lever at our disposal to reduce all our social contacts wherever possible. Limiting attendance is about supporting the reduction of the overall number of social contacts in our communities.

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 and EU transition response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors. The guidance for children of critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings sets out who is able to attend school to receive face-to-face education, in order to support these parents to provide vital services: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision. The document sets out the high-level role types, and the list in the guidance is not exhaustive, but it should offer sufficient information to help parents and carers to identify if their work falls under one of the umbrella groups.

We will continue to review the restrictions on schools and will ensure that children and young people return to face-to-face education as soon as possible.

8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will bring forward proposals for a tuition fee rebate for students who have had to study remotely as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

This has been a very difficult time for students, and the government is working with the sector to make sure all reasonable efforts are being made to enable students to continue their studies. The government’s clear and stated expectation is that universities should maintain the quality and quantity of tuition and seek to ensure that all students, regardless of their background, have the resources to study remotely. This is more important than ever now, with the vast majority of students studying solely online.

Universities are autonomous and responsible for setting their own fees, up to a maximum of £9,250 for approved (fee cap) institutions. The Office for Students (OfS), as regulator for higher education (HE) providers in England, has made it clear that HE providers must continue to comply with registration conditions relating to quality and academic standards, which set out requirements to ensure that courses are high-quality, that students are supported and achieve good outcomes and that standards are protected, regardless of whether a provider is delivering its courses through face-to-face teaching, remote online learning, or a combination of both. The OfS has published information for providers providing practical guidance on how best to ensure students continue to receive a high-quality academic experience. The OfS is actively monitoring providers to ensure: that they maintain the quality of their provision; that it is accessible for all; and that they have been clear in their communications with students about how arrangements for teaching and learning may change throughout the year.

Whether or not an individual student is entitled to a refund of fees will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between the provider and student. If students have concerns, there is a process in place. They should first raise their concerns with their university. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

The OIA website is available via the following link: https://www.oiahe.org.uk/.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published guidance on consumer contracts, cancellation and refunds affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. This sets out the CMA’s view on how the law operates to help consumers understand their rights and help businesses treat their customers fairly. This is available via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cma-to-investigate-concerns-about-cancellation-policies-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic/the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-consumer-contracts-cancellation-and-refunds.

The OfS has also published guidance on student consumer protection during the COVID-19 outbreak which is available via the following link: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/for-students/student-and-consumer-protection-during-coronavirus/.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to funding for schools from Parent Teacher Associations, what assessment his Department has made of (a) the amount and (b) the potential merits of meeting the decrease in that funding as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Getting all children and young people back into school for the new academic year has been a national priority. To support schools with this, they have continued to receive their core funding allocations throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Following last year’s Spending Round, school budgets are rising by £2.6 billion in the 2020/21 financial year, £4.8 billion in 2021/22 and £7.1 billion in 2022/23, compared to the 2019/20 financial year. On average, schools are attracting 4.2% more per pupil in 2020/21 compared to 2019/20.

The Department recognises that many publicly funded schools were not able to secure income from private sources during the period of lockdown, for example letting their facilities, providing wrap around childcare or offering catering services. As schools continued to receive their core funding allocations, regardless of any periods of closure or reduced operation, lost self-generated income was not covered by the exceptional costs fund.

25th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for its policies of the results of the fourth covid-19 survey conducted by Parentkind, published 17 November 2020; and if he will increase the frequency of parent consultation on the Government's response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department works with, and uses information provided from, a wide range of stakeholder organisations, including those that represent the views of parents, to inform its response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes organisations such as Parentkind.

The Department is continuing to do all that it can to support schools and to reassure parents that schools are the best place for children to be. We have published guidance for parents, together with online information leaflets, and delivered online live Q&As with parents. Relevant guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-in-the-autumn-term. Further to this, the Department has carried out parent consultation in the form of various pieces of research.

8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, who will be responsible for (a) setting up and (b) managing the Parent and Pupil Online Panel to help monitor the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on children and young people.

Researchers at the Department for Education are currently developing a research panel with pupils and parents. We will confirm how this will be set up and managed in due course.

As is standard practice, the research data and analysis will be used to underpin policy decisions and communications. Data from pupils and parents will also help us monitor the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on these groups.

8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how information from the Parent and Pupil Online Panel will be used to inform education policy.

Researchers at the Department for Education are currently developing a research panel with pupils and parents. We will confirm how this will be set up and managed in due course.

As is standard practice, the research data and analysis will be used to underpin policy decisions and communications. Data from pupils and parents will also help us monitor the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on these groups.

24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the report entitled Rapid evidence assessment examining the potential impact of school closures on the attainment gap, published on 2 June 2020 by the Education Endowment Foundation, what steps he is taking to mitigate any attainment gap among students due to school closures during the covid-19 outbreak.

As plans continue for a full return to education from September, we have announced a £1 billion COVID-19 ‘catch-up’ package to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time.

£650 million will be provided to schools over the 2020-21 academic year. This one-off grant to support pupils recognises that all young people have lost time in education as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, regardless of their income or background.

Whilst school leaders will decide how it is used, the intention is that this money will be spent on the most effective interventions. On 19 June, the Education Endowment Foundation published a guide to help school leaders and staff decide how to use this universal funding to best support their pupils:
https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/public/files/Publications/Covid-19_Resources/Covid-19_support_guide_for_schools.pdf.

In addition, a National Tutoring Programme, worth £350 million, will increase access to high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged young people. This will help to accelerate their academic progress and tackle the attainment gap between them and their peers.

This £1 billion package is on top of the £14.4 billion three-year funding increase announced last year – recognising the additional work schools will need to do to help pupils to catch up. Schools continue to receive pupil premium, worth £2.4 billion this year, to help them support their disadvantaged pupils.

Our commitment of over £100 million to support remote education and social care is providing laptops and tablets to disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examination in Year 10 and those receiving support from a social worker, including pre-school children, and care leavers. Where these pupils do not have internet connections, we are providing 4G wireless routers so that they can learn at home. Over 200,000 laptops and tablets have been ordered. We started deliveries to local authorities and academy trusts in May and these deliveries are continuing throughout June. To date, we have shipped over 150,000 devices.

24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the report entitled Rapid evidence assessment examining the potential impact of school closures on the attainment gap, published on 2 June 2020 by the Education Endowment Foundation, whether his Department plans to offer additional home-learning resources to disadvantaged families to mitigate any attainment gap following school closures during the covid-19 outbreak.

As plans continue for a full return to education from September, we have announced a £1 billion COVID-19 ‘catch-up’ package to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time.

£650 million will be provided to schools over the 2020-21 academic year. This one-off grant to support pupils recognises that all young people have lost time in education as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, regardless of their income or background.

Whilst school leaders will decide how it is used, the intention is that this money will be spent on the most effective interventions. On 19 June, the Education Endowment Foundation published a guide to help school leaders and staff decide how to use this universal funding to best support their pupils:
https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/public/files/Publications/Covid-19_Resources/Covid-19_support_guide_for_schools.pdf.

In addition, a National Tutoring Programme, worth £350 million, will increase access to high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged young people. This will help to accelerate their academic progress and tackle the attainment gap between them and their peers.

This £1 billion package is on top of the £14.4 billion three-year funding increase announced last year – recognising the additional work schools will need to do to help pupils to catch up. Schools continue to receive pupil premium, worth £2.4 billion this year, to help them support their disadvantaged pupils.

Our commitment of over £100 million to support remote education and social care is providing laptops and tablets to disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examination in Year 10 and those receiving support from a social worker, including pre-school children, and care leavers. Where these pupils do not have internet connections, we are providing 4G wireless routers so that they can learn at home. Over 200,000 laptops and tablets have been ordered. We started deliveries to local authorities and academy trusts in May and these deliveries are continuing throughout June. To date, we have shipped over 150,000 devices.

24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his announcement in June 2020 that parents will not be fined for the non-attendance of children in school during the covid-19 outbreak, what his policy is on the length of time that moratorium will be in operation for.

In March when the COVID-19 outbreak was worsening, we made clear no parent would be penalised or sanctioned for their child’s non-attendance at school.

Now the circumstances have changed and it is vital for all children to return to school to minimise as far as possible the longer-term impact of the outbreak on children’s education, wellbeing and wider development.

This means that from the beginning of the autumn term, the usual rules on school attendance will apply. This includes parents’ duty to ensure their child attends school regularly, where the child is a registered pupil at school and they are of compulsory school age, and the availability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices, in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct.

15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to make an announcement on Schools Sport Premium funding for 2020-21.

The Government will confirm arrangements for the PE and Sport Premium in the 2020/21 academic year as soon as possible.

8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to enable parents to request that their child resits the current school year in the event that educational progress has been significantly affected by the covid-19 outbreak and subsequent school closure.

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

We do not currently anticipate that children and young people will need to repeat a school year as a consequence of the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to look at all options to make sure children and young people get the support they need to continue their education and make up for time spent out of school. However, it remains possible for headteachers to agree this in individual cases, if they think it is appropriate.

15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish the medical and scientific advice on covid-19 transmission that indicates it will be safe to re-open schools.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) established the Children’s Task and Finish Working Group to provide consolidated scientific health advice to the Government. This advice has been used, alongside other sources of information, to inform decision making on potential schools’ reopening options.

SAGE are publishing papers from SAGE meetings in tranches. The first batch was released on 20 March 2020 and a second on 5 May 2020. Further batches will be released regularly.

The list of papers to be released to date are available by following the link below, including several schools-related papers. This list will be updated to reflect papers considered at future meetings:
https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/scientific-advisory-group-for-emergencies-sage-coronavirus-covid-19-response.

15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reasons different rules on social distancing are being applied in schools compared to other sectors.

Keeping people safe continues to be the Government’s main priority. We want all children and young people to be able to get back into school as soon as the scientific advice allows – it is the best place for them to be educated and we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers and teachers.

Our approach for education and childcare settings to prepare for a gradual returning of pupils from 1 June is underpinned by our latest understanding of the science, which indicates that we need to take a phased approach to limit the risk of increasing the rate of transmission. We have specifically factored in:

  • severity of disease in children – there is high scientific confidence that children of all ages have less severe symptoms than adults if they contract coronavirus;
  • the age of children – there is moderately high scientific confidence that younger children are less likely to become unwell if infected with coronavirus;
  • numbers of children going back – which needs to be limited initially then increased gradually as the science permits; and
  • systems to reduce the size of the groups coming into contact with each other – such as smaller class sizes spread out across setting.

Early years and primary age children cannot be expected, unlike older children and adults, to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to bring more children back to early years and schools, we have also taken this into account. Protective measures are possible which, when implemented, substantially reduce the risk of transmission of infection.

It is still important to reduce contact between people as much as possible, and we can achieve that and reduce transmission risk by ensuring children, young people and staff where possible, only mix in a small, consistent group; and that small group stays away from other people and groups. Public Health England is clear that if early years settings, schools and colleges do this, and crucially if they are also applying regular hand cleaning, hygiene and cleaning measures and handling potential cases of the virus as per the advice, then the risk of transmission will be lowered. Where settings are able to keep children and young people in those small groups 2 metres away from each other, they should do so. We have published guidance on implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings to support settings to get this right, available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings.

15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance he has issued to schools on maintaining social distancing within schools with (a) early years children and (b) limited classroom space.

The safety of pupils and staff returning to school is key. We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to bring more children back to early years and schools, we are taking this into account. Protective measures are possible which, when implemented, substantially reduce the risk of transmission of infection. Schools should therefore work through the hierarchy of protective measures:

  • avoiding contact with anyone with symptoms;
  • frequent hand cleaning and good respiratory hygiene practices;
  • regular cleaning of schools; and
  • minimising contact and mixing.

It is still important to reduce contact between people as much as possible, and we can achieve that and reduce transmission risk by ensuring children, young people and staff where possible, only mix in a small, consistent group and that small group stays away from other people and groups. Public Health England is clear that if early years settings, schools and colleges do this, and crucially if they are also applying regular hand cleaning, hygiene and cleaning measures and handling potential cases of the virus as per the advice, then the risk of transmission will be lowered. Where schools are able to keep children and young people in those small groups 2 metres away from each other, they should do so.

Each school's circumstances will be slightly different. Any school that cannot achieve these small groups at any point should discuss options with their local authority or trust. This might be because there are not enough classrooms or spaces available in the school. Solutions might involve children attending a nearby school, or schools prioritising the younger age groups of newly eligible children.

We have published guidance on implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings to support settings to get this right, available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings.

17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make additional funding available to schools for increased costs of supply staff to cover absences during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department understands the sector’s concerns about the additional cost pressures associated with COVID-19, especially following our announcement on 18 March, about schools only remaining open to make provision for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

The Department recognises that schools may face additional costs as a result of COVID-19. We are working with other Government departments and public sector buying organisations with the aim of prioritising schools. All schools will continue to receive core funding payments as normal, and we will put in place a new process to reimburse schools for exceptional costs that they face as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Department will discuss how best to deliver this funding with stakeholders over the next few days. We will publish details of the scheme shortly and we trust that this will give head teachers the reassurances they need to enable them to concentrate on their vital role in supporting the nation through this crisis.

17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to protect school staff required to work during advised covid-19 social distancing from infection with that disease.

All of those who work in our schools, colleges, nurseries and other registered childcare settings rightly take their place next to our NHS staff and other critical workers as central to our efforts as a country in battling COVID-19 and we recognise their contribution.

It is important to underline the fact that schools, colleges, nurseries and all other registered childcare settings remain safe places for children and staff. The fewer children making the journey to school and the fewer children in school, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.

On 24 March, guidance on implementing social distancing in education and childcare settings was made available to staff working in settings providing childcare for the most vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. This seeks to support staff working in schools and other childcare settings to operate in the safest way possible, focusing on measures they can put in place to help limit the risk of the virus spreading further within local communities. This guidance is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-social-distancing-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-social-distancing-in-education-and-childcare-settings.

28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding allocated by his Department to support the provision of free (a) activities and (b) food during school holidays.

We have invested £2 million on this programme in 2018 and £9 million in 2019 and have previously announced a £9 million programme for summer 2020.

In summer 2019 we invested £9 million in 11 local authority areas reaching around 50,000 children and received 53 eligible bids for funding in 2019 that were unsuccessful with a total value of £29.8 million. We also received 28 further bids that did not meet the basic eligibility criteria for the fund and so did not receive substantive assessment. Feedback was offered to all the unsuccessful bidders.

For our 2020 programme, we have received 9 bids from the North East region and 62 bids in total across England. The total value of bids in the North East is £6.3 million and the total across England is £41.4 million. The assessment process for bids for the 2020 summer programme remains ongoing and we will announce the outcome of the process shortly.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to increase the level of funding allocated to the provision of free school holiday activities and food in the 2019 Parliament.

We have invested £2 million on this programme in 2018 and £9 million in 2019 and have previously announced a £9 million programme for summer 2020.

In summer 2019 we invested £9 million in 11 local authority areas reaching around 50,000 children and received 53 eligible bids for funding in 2019 that were unsuccessful with a total value of £29.8 million. We also received 28 further bids that did not meet the basic eligibility criteria for the fund and so did not receive substantive assessment. Feedback was offered to all the unsuccessful bidders.

For our 2020 programme, we have received 9 bids from the North East region and 62 bids in total across England. The total value of bids in the North East is £6.3 million and the total across England is £41.4 million. The assessment process for bids for the 2020 summer programme remains ongoing and we will announce the outcome of the process shortly.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department's news story of 4 January 2020, Free meals and summer holiday activities for children, how many bids have been received for the £9milllion of allocated funding from organisations operating in (a) the North East and (b) England.

We have invested £2 million on this programme in 2018 and £9 million in 2019 and have previously announced a £9 million programme for summer 2020.

In summer 2019 we invested £9 million in 11 local authority areas reaching around 50,000 children and received 53 eligible bids for funding in 2019 that were unsuccessful with a total value of £29.8 million. We also received 28 further bids that did not meet the basic eligibility criteria for the fund and so did not receive substantive assessment. Feedback was offered to all the unsuccessful bidders.

For our 2020 programme, we have received 9 bids from the North East region and 62 bids in total across England. The total value of bids in the North East is £6.3 million and the total across England is £41.4 million. The assessment process for bids for the 2020 summer programme remains ongoing and we will announce the outcome of the process shortly.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department's news story of 4 January 2020, Free meals and summer holiday activities for children, what the total value of bids received was for the £9milllion of allocated funding from organisations operating in (a) the North East and (b) England.

We have invested £2 million on this programme in 2018 and £9 million in 2019 and have previously announced a £9 million programme for summer 2020.

In summer 2019 we invested £9 million in 11 local authority areas reaching around 50,000 children and received 53 eligible bids for funding in 2019 that were unsuccessful with a total value of £29.8 million. We also received 28 further bids that did not meet the basic eligibility criteria for the fund and so did not receive substantive assessment. Feedback was offered to all the unsuccessful bidders.

For our 2020 programme, we have received 9 bids from the North East region and 62 bids in total across England. The total value of bids in the North East is £6.3 million and the total across England is £41.4 million. The assessment process for bids for the 2020 summer programme remains ongoing and we will announce the outcome of the process shortly.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the number of children living in poverty in (a) Easington constituency, (b) County Durham and (c) the North East who are unable to access the provision of free school holiday activities and food.

Since 2018, the department has invested £11 million of funding to provide free healthy food and activities to children and families in some of the most disadvantaged areas during the summer school holidays, including thousands in the North East.

The department has announced our programme for 2020 where we will again invest £9 million to support children and their families. Officials are currently processing the bids received and we will announce the outcome in due course.

The department has also commissioned an independent evaluation of the 2019 programme, which will report on the number of disadvantaged children who accessed the clubs across the country, including our work in the North East. This will be published in 2020.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 27 January 2020 to Questions 6080, 6081 and 6082 on Holiday Activities and Food Research Fund, what the total value was of the unsuccessful bids received by his Department for the provision of free holiday activities and food in 2019.

We have invested £2 million on this programme in 2018 and £9 million in 2019 and have previously announced a £9 million programme for summer 2020.

In summer 2019 we invested £9 million in 11 local authority areas reaching around 50,000 children and received 53 eligible bids for funding in 2019 that were unsuccessful with a total value of £29.8 million. We also received 28 further bids that did not meet the basic eligibility criteria for the fund and so did not receive substantive assessment. Feedback was offered to all the unsuccessful bidders.

For our 2020 programme, we have received 9 bids from the North East region and 62 bids in total across England. The total value of bids in the North East is £6.3 million and the total across England is £41.4 million. The assessment process for bids for the 2020 summer programme remains ongoing and we will announce the outcome of the process shortly.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the reasons for holiday hunger that resulted in the piloting of funding for free holiday activities and meals for disadvantaged families.

In January 2018, following the All-Party Parliamentary Group report “Hungry Holidays” and the subsequent Private Members' Bill introduced by Frank Field, we announced a programme of research and pilots to explore ways of supporting disadvantaged families during school holidays.

The department awarded £2 million of funding to 7 organisations to deliver free healthy food and activities to children and families in some of the most disadvantaged areas in the country during the 2018 summer holidays. The organisations informed us that with this money they were able to support around 280 clubs and reach around 18,000 children.

In summer 2019, we invested £9 million in 11 local authority areas reaching around 50,000 children and we will announce the winners of the summer 2020 bidding round in due course.

We have commissioned an independent evaluation of the programme which will be published in 2020.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what criteria his Department used to determine which regions received funding from the free holiday activities and meals for disadvantaged families scheme.

In December 2018, we announced £9 million for the Holiday Activities and Food Programme 2019 and invited organisations to bid to coordinate free holiday provision for disadvantaged children in a local authority area during the 2019 summer holidays.

92 bids were received and each bid was assessed against the criteria published in our “Invitation to Bid”, which has been attached.

Each bid was then ranked according to their score and we selected the highest scoring bid from each of the nine English regions for funding, along with two further high scoring bids. The level of funding allocated to each successful bid was in line with the scale and nature of their proposed programme, as detailed in their respective bids.

For the North East region, the StreetGames programme in Newcastle was selected as the highest scoring bid, with an allocation of £1,028,000. Our allocations to the other successful areas were as follows:

  • Gateshead - £204,000
  • Leeds - £507,000
  • Bradford - £799,000
  • Cheshire West and Chester - £555,000
  • Leicestershire - £799,000
  • Birmingham - £1,999,000
  • Suffolk - £999,000
  • Croydon - £657,000
  • Hampshire - £766,000
  • Plymouth - £604,000

We received a bid from Durham County Council which included coverage of the Easington and County Durham constituencies but the bid was unsuccessful as it scored lower than a number of other bids in the North East region, including those in Newcastle and Gateshead. Officials provided feedback to Durham County Council in May 2019.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reasons his Department decided not to allocate funding from the free holiday activities and meals for disadvantaged families scheme to (a) Easington constituency and (b) County Durham.

In December 2018, we announced £9 million for the Holiday Activities and Food Programme 2019 and invited organisations to bid to coordinate free holiday provision for disadvantaged children in a local authority area during the 2019 summer holidays.

92 bids were received and each bid was assessed against the criteria published in our “Invitation to Bid”, which has been attached.

Each bid was then ranked according to their score and we selected the highest scoring bid from each of the nine English regions for funding, along with two further high scoring bids. The level of funding allocated to each successful bid was in line with the scale and nature of their proposed programme, as detailed in their respective bids.

For the North East region, the StreetGames programme in Newcastle was selected as the highest scoring bid, with an allocation of £1,028,000. Our allocations to the other successful areas were as follows:

  • Gateshead - £204,000
  • Leeds - £507,000
  • Bradford - £799,000
  • Cheshire West and Chester - £555,000
  • Leicestershire - £799,000
  • Birmingham - £1,999,000
  • Suffolk - £999,000
  • Croydon - £657,000
  • Hampshire - £766,000
  • Plymouth - £604,000

We received a bid from Durham County Council which included coverage of the Easington and County Durham constituencies but the bid was unsuccessful as it scored lower than a number of other bids in the North East region, including those in Newcastle and Gateshead. Officials provided feedback to Durham County Council in May 2019.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much funding in real terms has been allocated to schools in Easington constituency in each of the last five years.

Funding for schools is given to local authorities through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG), which in turn distribute this money to schools in their area through their own local formulae. The following table outlines the schools block DSG allocations for Durham County Council since 2015-16 in cash terms. Prior to the introduction of the National Funding Formula (NFF), schools block allocations were only calculated at local authority level.

Schools block DSG allocations for Durham

Funding per pupil (£)1

Total schools block (£)

2015-16

£4,641

£287.1 million

2016-17

£4,649

£288.8 million

2017-18

£4,674

£293.0 million

2018-19

£4,694

£298.6 million

2019-20

£4,758

£306.1 million

2020-21

£4,937

£319.5 million

Since 2018-19, schools block allocations have been calculated through the NFF, based on individual schools’ characteristics. The following table outlines in cash terms notional NFF allocations for schools in Easington in 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21.

NFF allocations for Easington

Funding per pupil (£)

Total cash funding (£)

NFF 2018-192

£4,817

£51.6 million

NFF 2019-202

£4,862

£52.8 million

NFF 2020-212

£5,012

£54.7 million

To smooth the transition to the NFF, local authorities have continued to be responsible for designing the distribution of funding in their areas in 2018-19 through to 2020-21. The actual amount that schools receive may be different from the amount they are attracting through the NFF. Local authorities set their local formula in consultation with local schools. The Department will now move to a single national formula as soon as possible to complete our reforms to make the funding system fair and equitable for every school in the country.

1 The schools block unit of funding has been calculated by dividing the local authority’s total schools block allocation.

2 Notional NFF allocations for individual schools were calculated based on available pupil data at the time, which was pupil data from the previous year. Final allocations given to local authorities were calculated based on updated pupil data. The figures in these tables are therefore not directly comparable.

21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, which Parliamentary constituencies were allocated funding for the free holiday activities and meals for disadvantaged families scheme; and how much funding was allocated to each project.

In December 2018, we announced £9 million for the Holiday Activities and Food Programme 2019 and invited organisations to bid to coordinate free holiday provision for disadvantaged children in a local authority area during the 2019 summer holidays.

92 bids were received and each bid was assessed against the criteria published in our “Invitation to Bid”, which has been attached.

Each bid was then ranked according to their score and we selected the highest scoring bid from each of the nine English regions for funding, along with two further high scoring bids. The level of funding allocated to each successful bid was in line with the scale and nature of their proposed programme, as detailed in their respective bids.

For the North East region, the StreetGames programme in Newcastle was selected as the highest scoring bid, with an allocation of £1,028,000. Our allocations to the other successful areas were as follows:

  • Gateshead - £204,000
  • Leeds - £507,000
  • Bradford - £799,000
  • Cheshire West and Chester - £555,000
  • Leicestershire - £799,000
  • Birmingham - £1,999,000
  • Suffolk - £999,000
  • Croydon - £657,000
  • Hampshire - £766,000
  • Plymouth - £604,000

We received a bid from Durham County Council which included coverage of the Easington and County Durham constituencies but the bid was unsuccessful as it scored lower than a number of other bids in the North East region, including those in Newcastle and Gateshead. Officials provided feedback to Durham County Council in May 2019.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many and what proportion of staff in his Department would receive an increase in their salary in the event that their hourly pay rate was (a) £8.72, (b) £9.30 and (c) £10.

There are no Department for Education staff who would receive an increase in their salary if their hourly pay rate was either £8.72, £9.30 or £10 as all staff are already paid above these hourly rates.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the increase in the National Living wage announced by the Government on 31 December 2019, what discussions he is having with private sector companies undertaking facility management work for his Department to ensure that the cost of wage increases for their employees are not passed on to his Department.

Facilities Management (FM) at the Department for Education offices is delivered via the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) FM contract.

Changes to the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage are covered by the ‘change of law’ provisions within the MoJ FM contracts. As a result, the MoJ discusses with each of the FM service providers the potential impact of any such changes in order to assess the financial impact, considering the overall contractual terms and conditions.

19th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the findings of the Children’s Society in its report entitled Children and young people’s services: Funding and spending 2010-11 to 2017-18, that funding per child and young person has fallen by 32 per cent, if he will provide additional funding for local children’s services in County Durham.

For 2020-21, the government has focused on providing early certainty and stability though a fast-tracked Spending Round, ahead of a full spending review next year.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that for 2020-21 local authorities will have access to £1 billion additional funding for social care, including children’s social care. This is in addition to the continuation of the existing £410 million adult and children’s social care grant. The settlement is the largest increase in core spending power since 2015 and is an estimated increase of 4.4% in real terms.

We are also investing £84 million in targeted, evidence-based interventions to improve the support provided to vulnerable children and their families.

Beyond 2020-21, longer term funding decisions will be taken at the spending review. The government will continue work to make the funding formula fairer and increase the amount of business rates growth which local authorities retain, aiming to implement major reforms in 2021-22.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
2nd Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what data his Department holds on the number of hunting trophies imported in (a) 2022 and (b) 2023.

The UK records data on import permits for hunting trophies of certain species. An import permit is required for hunting trophies of all species listed on Annex A of the Wildlife Trade Regulations, and 6 species listed on Annex B.

Data on the international trade in endangered species, including information about UK imports of hunting trophies, is published in the CITES trade database (available online at trade.cites.org. For 2022, 14 instances of hunting trophies imported into GB are recorded. The UK will be submitting data for 2023 imports in due course, which will be publicly available later this year.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential implications for his Department's policies of the report entitled Progress in improving the natural environment in England 2022 to 2023 published by the Office for Environmental Protection on 17 January 2024.

This Government is committed to leaving the environment in a better state than we found it. The Office for Environmental Protection’s (OEP) report covers the period 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023. Toward the end of this reporting period, in January 2023, the Government published its revised Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP23) and set its suite of ambitious 13 Environment Act targets. We are now firmly rooted in delivery mode.

Their 200-page report recognises the scale of ambition of EIP23, including our challenging interim targets. The OEP reports some environmental trends are improving, with most progress in reducing air pollutants, greenhouse gases and chemical pollutants.

We will carefully review the OEP’s findings and respond in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to reply to Question 8408 on Offences against Children tabled on 8 January 2024 by the hon. Member for Easington for answer on 11 January 2024.

The answer to question 8408 was published on 19 January 2024.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child adopting General Comment 26, what steps he plans to take to incorporate into UK law Article 19 on the Right to freedom from all forms of violence including protecting children from exposure to violence inflicted on animals.

The Government recognises the psychological harm that encountering animal cruelty content online can have on children. Content that depicts real or realistic serious violence or injury against an animal has been listed as ‘priority’ content that is harmful to children in the Online Safety Act.


Services will be required to assess the nature and level of risk of children encountering this kind of content on their service, and then take an age-appropriate approach to protect children from encountering it. Companies must also ensure that users, including children and their parents and carers, are able to easily access reporting mechanisms to report content and activity that is harmful to children. Platforms should respond quickly and effectively to protect users and other affected persons, which could include the removal of harmful content and sanctions against offending users.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what training police staff receive to equip them with the skills to respond to reports of dangerous dog attacks from XL bullies.

The police have a range of powers available to tackle dangerous dogs of all breeds, and Defra officials are working in partnership with police forces across England and Wales to ensure the full range of existing dog control powers are effectively applied. As part of this, we have been collaborating with police to deliver sessions to share best practice in preventive dog control enforcement and encourage multi-agency working to ensure dog control issues are addressed before they escalate.

Regarding the XL Bully ban specifically, Defra will be supporting the police to deliver additional training to officers to make sure the ban is effectively enforced. We are liaising with the four training centres that deliver Dog Legislation Officer training to ensure officers are upskilled and able to consistently apply the breed standard for the XL Bully breed type.

Mark Spencer
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of high levels of debt in the water industry.

Water companies are allowed to raise debt to fund the delivery of their services. This is normal practice across all parts of the private sector. At sensible levels, debt can be an appropriate way to fund investment for essential infrastructure over the longer term, avoiding sharp increases in customer bills in the immediate term.

However, both Government and Ofwat recognise that levels of debt at some companies in the sector are too high. Ofwat has encouraged water companies to de-gear and the weighted average gearing across the sector fell by 4% from 72.8% in 2021 to 68.5% in 2022.

There are measures in place through ring fenced license conditions to improve the financial resilience of the sector and to protect customers. These were introduced in 2007 and were strengthened this year, following new licence modification powers that this Government gave to Ofwat via the Environment Act 2021.

The industry continues to be financially resilient and capable of raising the required investment to meet Government targets. For example, £2 billion of new equity has been injected across the industry since 2020 and in addition, in the last few weeks, we have seen £500 million of new shareholder equity going into Yorkshire Water, £120 million into Portsmouth Water and a further £750 million into Thames Water.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to prohibit dividend payments by water companies that do not meet Ofwat performance delivery targets.

Government and Ofwat have been clear that companies must be transparent about how dividends are linked to services for customers.

Government supports Ofwat’s recent consultation on improving financial resilience in the water sector, including strengthening the current licence condition related to water companies' dividends policies. These proposals would enable Ofwat to take enforcement action against companies that don’t link dividend payments to their environmental performance, or those failing to be transparent about their dividend pay-outs.

The consultation closed on 29 September and Ofwat will publish their decision document in early 2023. We are working closely with Ofwat to understand the findings and next steps.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will revise sentencing for fly-tipping to include a community service element to all sentences in addition to fines.

Ending the menace of fly-tipping is a priority – and measures such as digital waste tracking and improvements to waste licensing will significantly enhance our ability to prosecute waste criminals. Whilst sentencing is a matter for the independent courts, they already have powers to impose punishments of up to five years imprisonment and an unlimited fine, in the most serious instances, as well as community orders, when they see it as appropriate.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the compliance of his Department's staff working from home with the Working Time Regulations 1998.

We have not made a central assessment of the compliance of staff working from home against the Working Time Regulations (WTR) 1998. While we do not centrally monitor or hold records of employees’ working time (whether working from home, a Defra workplace or other location), we do ask managers and employees to ensure compliance and keep local records in accordance with WTR 1998.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will introduce a public awareness campaign targeting young people on water safety and drowning prevention.

The Environment Agency encourages safe and responsible recreation on inland and coastal water and is responsible for safety on waterside assets it owns, operates or occupies (such as locks, weirs and bridges). It has published advice on how to stay safe while visiting waterways: www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-around-water. The Environment Agency is also a member of the National Water Safety Forum.

Local councils often play an important role in ensuring that people stay safe around water in public spaces in their areas. The Local Government Association has published a water safety toolkit for councils: Water safety toolkit | Local Government Association.

Fire and rescue services have also been pivotal in raising public awareness in this area, through their work with landowners and partner organisations.

Water safety is a vital life skill, which is why it is a mandatory part of the curriculum for Physical Education at primary school. The Department for Education recognises that children have missed out on opportunities to learn to swim due to COVID-19 restrictions and is working closely with Swim England and other swimming and water safety organisations to support pupils returning safely to swimming and promoting water safety education.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will introduce a statutory duty for water companies to display pollution alerts near bathing waters for at least 48 hours after a sewage discharge event.

We currently have no plans to introduce such a statutory duty. Local authorities are required to display signage providing the classification of all designated bathing waters. Throughout the bathing season, the Environment Agency will issue warnings of any forecasted pollution risk on its Swimfo website, covering over 170 sites. Signs are also put up at these swimming spots to inform bathers about a possible dip in quality as a result of factors like rainfall, wind and high tides. Members of the public can also access real time information on water quality using data on storm overflow spills direct from water companies using the Safer Seas app, a collaboration between Surfers Against Sewage and the Environment Agency.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on what dates water samples have been taken at (a) Seaham Beach and (b) Seaham Hall Beach for the Environment Agency Bathing Water Quality tests for the current bathing season.

The Environment Agency (EA) took water samples at Seaham Beach on the following dates of the current bathing season:

06/05/2021

18/05/2021

24/05/2021

01/06/2021

07/06/2021

16/06/2021

22/06/2021

01/07/2021

08/07/2021

15/07/2021

23/07/2021

29/07/2021

03/08/2021

08/08/2021

16/08/2021

The EA took water samples at Seaham Hall Beach on the following dates of the current bathing season:

06/05/2021

18/05/2021

24/05/2021

01/06/2021

07/06/2021

16/06/2021

22/06/2021

01/07/2021

08/07/2021

15/07/2021

23/07/2021

29/07/2021

03/08/2021

08/08/2021

16/08/2021

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the European Environment Agency's assessment entitled State of bathing water 2020, what assessment he has made of the reasons for which UK bathing water quality regularly lags behind that of other European countries.

Bathing water quality for the UK was reported to Europe for the last time in 2020 even though no classification was produced in England and Scotland due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 European Environment Agency (EEA) league table ranked the UK last because this missed all of the normally ‘Excellent’ English and Scottish bathing waters that were not classified.

The most recent classification, from 2019, showed that in England 98% of bathing waters met at least the minimum standard of the Bathing Water Directive and the percentage of ‘Good’ and ‘Excellent’ bathing waters was 93%, with 72% in the highest ‘Excellent’ category.

The UK’s ranking is usually better, but it traditionally still appears in the lower rankings of the league table for a number of reasons. The EEA figures ranking countries by compliance against Directive standards takes no account of the geographical challenge faced by northern European countries versus those in the south.

Bathing waters in southern Europe benefit from the natural disinfection effect of bright sunlight and infrequent runoff from rainfall, so the task of ensuring compliance is much easier for some countries than for the UK with a northerly latitude, frequent rainfall and a high population density.

The EEA ranking of countries also doesn’t take account of the different standards applicable to fresh and coastal waters. Coastal bathing waters are subject to standards that are twice as stringent as those for freshwater bathing waters. As an island nation, nearly all of our bathing waters are on the coast and subject to the more stringent standards. This is in contrast to many countries in mainland Europe who have many more freshwater bathing waters; subsequently, this has an effect on the UK’s ranking versus other countries’.

If English bathing waters are compared to other equivalent northern European coastal bathing waters, our position is broadly comparable, despite the arguably larger challenges from high population density, high rainfall totals and often turbid waters. That being said, this Government is committed to delivering clean and plentiful water, as set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan, and will shortly be setting ambitious targets for water quality under the Environment Bill framework to drive further action in this area.

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 steps he is taking to increase the number of blue flag award beaches on the North East coast of England.

Blue Flag is an international award of the Foundation for Environmental Education for beaches and marinas which meet a range of criteria. Blue Flag is independent of government and in England is administered by Keep Britain Tidy. There are four criteria for a Blue Flag:

  • Water quality - beaches must be classified as ‘Excellent’
  • Environmental education and information
  • Environmental management
  • Safety and services

In 2019, 72% of bathing waters in England were classified as ‘Excellent’ - the highest water quality standard. The Government has made clear that we will keep working to improve our environment and make sure it is protected for future generations. The 25 Year Environmental Plan sets out our commitment to continue to improve the cleanliness of our waters.

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, if he will bring forward proposals to prohibit water companies from paying shareholder dividends until the number of combined sewer overflows incidents are reduced and bathing waters in their locality meet blue flag water quality standards.

Between 2020 and 2025, water companies will invest £3.1 billion in storm overflow improvements to reduce sewage discharges to our waters. This includes £1.9bn investment on the Thames Tideway Tunnel super sewer, as well as £1.2bn of other investment throughout England. £144m of this is new, additional investment as a result of a call to action from the Storm Overflows Taskforce.

Reducing sewage discharges and tackling their harm is one of our top priorities and I recognise there is more to be done. On 8 June 2021 the Government tabled amendments to the Environment Bill to introduce measures on storm overflows.

Bathing water quality can be affected by a number of pollution sources, including wastewater and run-off from agriculture. One of the four criteria for a Blue Flag is that beach water quality must be classified as Excellent. In 2019, 72% of bathing waters in England were classified as ‘Excellent’.

Decisions on dividends for water company shareholders are made by water company boards. Company boards carry out these decisions within the framework of regulatory price controls, licence conditions and company law. Ofwat is responsible for economic regulation of the water companies. Among Ofwat’s statutory duties is a duty to ensure that companies carry out their functions and are able to finance them, and that water companies protect the interests of consumers. Where companies fail to meet their obligations, Ofwat has enforcement powers. To secure compliance and change behaviour they can obtain legally binding undertakings and impose enforcement orders. For the most serious contraventions they can impose financial penalties on companies.

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, if he will bring forward legislation to (a) end the private monopoly in water and (b) bring water into public ownership.

The Government has no plans to bring water into public ownership.

Since privatisation, the private water sector model has unlocked more than £150 billion of investment. This is equivalent to around £5 billion annually in investment and has delivered a range of benefits to customers and the environment.

The Government considers that the private model, supported by strong economic regulation, generates investment, protects consumers, and provides a stable framework for companies and investors. Ofwat, the independent regulator, protects the interests of consumers by controlling prices, making sure water companies carry out their statutory functions and are financially resilient, as well as holding them to account on overall performance and the delivery of essential services.

Holding a monopoly licence to provide these services is a privilege and the Government and regulators have high expectations of the corporate and financial behaviours of owners and investors.

Fully supported by the Government, Ofwat introduced reforms to financial and corporate practices delivered through the 2019 price review, which require water companies to:

  • share any benefits of higher levels of debt with customers;
  • increase financial resilience; and
  • be transparent about how executive performance pay and dividends relate to services for customers.

These reforms strengthen the private model and provide better outcomes for customers.

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, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to end the private monopoly in water through introducing consumer choice.

The Government currently has no plans to introduce competition for household customers.

The Government considers that the private model, supported by a strong independent regulatory system, has generated investment and improved performance, by setting prices, protecting consumers and providing a stable framework for companies and investors.

The Government opened the water retail market for non-household customers in April 2017, giving businesses, charities and public sector organisations choice over their water retailer. The market is still in its infancy. We therefore do not believe that this is the right time to introduce a competitive market for households.

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, how many people have been employed by the Environment Agency to cover the North East of England, in each of the last five years.

The table below provides the Environment Agency staff numbers in the North East Area for the end of the last five years. The headcount is the total number of people employed, not all of whom work full-time. The Full Time Equivalent is the number of full-time posts that the headcount equates to.

Year end

Full Time Equivalent

Headcount

2021

294.82

307

2020

308.6

325

2019

290.38

308

2018

288.14

307

2017

289.7

310

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to end sewage discharges into bathing waters by 2030.

Over £2.5 billion has been invested by English water companies to improve bathing water quality since privatisation. In the early 1990s, just 28 per cent of bathing waters met the highest standards in force at that time. By 2019 this had gone up to 98.3% of bathing waters in England passing the minimum standard. Of these, 72% of bathing waters were classified as 'Excellent' - the highest water quality standard.

Tackling sewage discharges into all our waters, including bathing waters is one of my priorities. I set up the Storm Overflows Taskforce, which brings together Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs. This Taskforce has now agreed to a long-term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows.

Between 2020 and 2025, water companies will invest £3.1 billion in storm overflow improvements. This includes £1.9 billion investment on the Thames Tideway Tunnel super sewer, as well as £1.2 billion of other investment throughout England. £143 million of this is new, additional investment as a result of a call to action from the Storm Overflows Taskforce.

I recognise there is more to be done. On 8 June 2021 the Government tabled amendments to the Environment Bill to introduce measures on storm overflows. These measures complement the ongoing work of the Storm Overflows Taskforce by implementing a statutory requirement for the Government to produce a plan to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows by September 2022 and to report progress to Parliament on implementing that plan.

We are also introducing duties requiring water companies and the Environment Agency to publish data on storm overflow operations on an annual basis. These legally-binding obligations on water companies and government will help to reduce pollution in rivers - protecting wildlife and public health.

Water companies are for the first time currently producing comprehensive Drainage and Sewerage Management Plans to assess the capacity of their wastewater networks. We are also taking steps through the Environment Bill to require water companies to produce such Plans on a statutory basis. These plans will be another tool to help address the risks that storm overflows pose to the environment.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that false marketing of fresh, wholegrain, artisan and sourdough bread will be prohibited by law in order to protect the customer and prevent SME Real Bread bakeries from being undercut by large manufacturers using such descriptors to market fundamentally different products.

Consumers are already protected from false and misleading marketing by both general consumer protection law and specifically by food information law. The rules on the provision of food information to consumers, taken together with requirements on the control of additives in food production, ensure that food is produced safely and labelled effectively in order for consumers to make informed choices on the food they buy and consume.

Bakers, including traditional and artisan bakers of high-quality bread, have the ability to effectively market their products on their own merits and legislation supports such marketing so long as it is not misleading. Any information provided with food, whether in words, pictures or symbols, must not be misleading to consumers.

Officials have had extensive discussions with the Real Bread Campaign over a number of years, have taken their views fully into account and will continue to do so.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the proposed date is to reinstate the General Licence for Gatherings to permit the return of pigeon racing.

The ban on gatherings for birds remains in place. No date for lifting the ban has yet been set.

The general licence for bird gatherings was suspended on 11 November 2020. This followed the first case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in England in 2020 and the risk assessment which concluded that the likelihood of the presence of infection in wild waterfowl had increased to high and the likelihood that poultry would be exposed to disease to be medium.

The risk assessment also found that the likelihood of disease introduction through gatherings was increased because of the cumulative risk relating to multiple places of origin of the birds attending and that the impact of an introduction of infection to poultry because of gatherings could be very severe. The ban is regularly reviewed, including whether gatherings of bird species of lower risk, such as pigeons, might be permitted before allowing gatherings of higher risk species such as ducks and geese.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
28th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions his Department has had with the seven participating supermarkets in the priority delivery slots scheme on reducing minimum spends on deliveries for people using those slots so that they are not penalised financially for following official guidance to stay at home.

Defra is continuing to hold regular conversations with each of the seven supermarkets participating in the priority access to online deliveries offer: Asda, Iceland, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. The department uses these meetings as an opportunity to convey any concerns raised by charities or local authorities around topics such as delivery charges and minimum spends. Although Defra cannot legally dictate the delivery costs and minimum spends applied by supermarkets, our regular conversations ensure that supermarkets understand the impact that delivery charges and minimum spends can have in preventing a clinically extremely vulnerable person from being able to access food.

Alongside encouraging supermarkets to seriously consider the impact delivery charges and minimum spends can have on clinically extremely vulnerable people, the department also monitors delivery charges and minimum spends and circulates this information to local authorities to allow them to advise their residents accordingly.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to end all sewage discharges into UK bathing waters by 2030.

During periods of significant rainfall, untreated sewage diluted by rainwater will discharge through storm overflows to prevent streets, premises and sewage treatment plants from being flooded. Storm overflows are a last resort in modern sewer design, but the age of our sewerage systems means their complete elimination is not practicable or affordable.

However, I recognise that there is more to do with regard to the management of sewage pollution. To achieve this, I have set up a new Taskforce bringing together government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs to work urgently on options to tackle this issue.

As announced on 22 January, this Taskforce has agreed a long-term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows. Water companies have also agreed to make real-time data on sewage discharges available at bathing sites all year round. This data will be made available to help surfers, swimmers and other recreational water users to check the latest information and make informed choices on where to swim.

We recognise there is more that needs to be done beyond providing more and better information, and so we will continue to work with the industry to reduce frequency and harm of discharges from storm overflows.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the request made to his Department by the PCS union under Regulation 9 of the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 to form a building-wide health and safety committee for 2 Marsham Street.

Consideration has been given to the request made to Defra by the PCS union to form a building-wide health and safety committee for 2 Marsham Street. For the purposes of the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 health and safety remains a delegated matter for which each individual departmental employer is responsible.

However, in recognition of Defra’s responsibilities for cooperation and coordination with other employers in shared workplaces, Defra is supportive of trade union health and safety representatives joining the existing 2 Marsham Street joint “House Committee”. We consider this to be a positive step forward in the interest of constructive trade union dialogue in relation to the spaces that are shared between the separate employers based in the building.

I understand that other departments who occupy 2 Marsham Street are also supportive of this approach and the Home Office, who are the lead occupier at 2 Marsham Street, will be working with PCS to take this forward on behalf of all occupants.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the effectiveness of penalties for fly-tipping in reducing the occurance of that offence.

Fly-tipping is an unacceptable blight on local communities and the environment, and in its manifesto, the Government committed to increase the penalties for fly-tipping.

Local authorities have a range of powers available to tackle fly-tipping. These include the power to issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) of up to £400 for fly-tipping offences, including to those caught fly-tipping and householders who pass their waste to a fly-tipper. Local authorities also have enhanced powers to search and seize vehicles of suspected fly-tippers. Recent figures showed that there were 76,000 fixed penalty notices issued by Local Authorities in 2018/19, up by 11% from 2017/18.

Local authorities also have the ability to take those accused of fly-tipping to court. If a prosecution is successful, then a fly-tipper can receive a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment if convicted in a Magistrates' Court, or an unlimited fine and up to 5 years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court. Local authorities carried out a total of 2,397 prosecutions for fly-tipping offences in England in 2018/19, an increase of 7% on 2017/18. The value of total fines increased by 29% to £1,090,000 compared to 2017/18. The success rates for prosecution actions against fly-tipping are consistently above 95% and have been since records began in 2007/08.

The Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS) published in December 2018 includes a number of commitments to improve sentencing of fly-tippers, including working with the Sentencing Council to increase magistrates’ awareness of the prevalence and importance of waste crime; helping local authorities improve the quality of cases; and ensuring the Environmental Offences Definitive guideline is kept up to date and magistrates are effectively trained on it. Defra will continue this work to help to secure tougher penalties in line with our manifesto commitment.

The Environment Bill also delivers commitments set out in the RWS. The Bill amends the Environment Act 1995 to make it easier for enforcing officers to search premises to seize evidence. Additionally, the Bill ensures that FPN levels can be revised as needed to keep them at an adequate level to be an effective and proportionate enforcement tool for local authorities.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 13 February 2020 to Question 14705 on Cremation, when the next process guidance review for crematoria will take place.

The Crematoria process guidance was last reviewed in 2012. In line with the Government ambition to review process guidance notes every 6-8 years it is due to be reviewed shortly.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will take steps to prohibit the opening of any new crematorium that is not fitted with DENOx Technology used to reduce the release of toxic nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide.

All crematoria are required to have an environmental permit in accordance with standards set out in the relevant statutory Process Guidance Note (PGN). The PGN contains guidance on how crematoria can reduce nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide during the cremation process.

PGNs are reviewed on a cyclical basis, as part of a collaborative approach with industry. When the PGN for Crematoria is next reviewed, we will take into account latest developments in best available abatement technologies and techniques for reducing NOx during the cremation process.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will introduce a requirement for all crematoriums to install DENOx Technology, to reduce the release of toxic nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, within the next 12 months.

All crematoria are required to have an environmental permit in accordance with standards set out in the relevant statutory Process Guidance Note (PGN). The PGN contains guidance on how crematoria can reduce nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide during the cremation process.

PGNs are reviewed on a cyclical basis, as part of a collaborative approach with industry. When the PGN for Crematoria is next reviewed, we will take into account latest developments in best available abatement technologies and techniques for reducing NOx during the cremation process.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the increase in the National Living wage announced by the Government on 31 December 2019, what discussions she is having with private sector companies undertaking facility management work for her Department to ensure that the cost of wage increases for their employees are not passed on to her Department.

Defra’s facilities management (FM) contract will not be affected by the announcement on 31 December 2019 of the increase in the National Minimum Wage. This is because we require, and the contract states, that the FM provider will pay the Foundation Living Wage which is already higher than the National Living Wage. As a result there is no need for a contract variation or engagement with the supplier on this subject.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many and what proportion of staff in her Department would receive an increase in their salary in the event that their hourly pay rate was (a) £8.72, (b) £9.30 and (c) £10.

This Government is committed to paying people a decent living wage, which is being addressed through the statutory National Living Wage (NLW). In April 2020, the NLW increases to £8.72 per hour. By 2024 the NLW will rise to £10.50 per hour, reaching 66% of median UK earnings. The scope will be expanded to everyone aged 21 and over and is expected to benefit over 4 million low paid workers.

No staff in core-Defra would require an increase in salary in the event that their hourly pay rate was either £8.72 or £9.30.

Less than 5 staff (0.09% of all staff) in core-Defra would require an increase to salary in the event that their hourly rate of pay was £10.

8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps she is taking to (a) reduce plastic pollution and (b) increase plastic recycling.

The Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS) for England, published in December 2018, sets out our plans to reduce, reuse, and recycle more plastic than we do now. Our target is to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste throughout the lifetime of the 25 Year Environment Plan, but for the most problematic plastics we are going faster - that is why we are working towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

We have already made good progress. The Government’s 5p plastic bag charge has led to a 90% reduction in the use of plastic carrier bags in the main retailers, and last year we consulted on plans to extend the charge to all retailers and on increasing the minimum charge to at least 10p. A summary of responses will be published in due course. We have also introduced a world-leading ban on the sale of microbeads in rinse-off personal care products.

The Government is committed to increasing recycling rates. The Environment Bill, which was cited in the Queen’s Speech, introduces legislation so that a core set of materials, including plastics, will be collected from households and businesses from 2023. We will also introduce measures, through an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme, to encourage producers to use plastic packaging that can be recycled. The Government also consulted on proposals to introduce a world-leading new tax on the production and import of plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content and the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme. Together these measures will increase the quality and quantity of plastics collected for recycling.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps she is taking to reduce the amount of recyclable plastics going to landfill.

The Government is committed to increasing recycling rates. The Queen’s Speech committed the Government to bring forward our ambitious Environment Bill which introduces legislation so that a core set of materials, including plastics, will be collected from households and businesses from 2023. We will also introduce measures, through an extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme, to encourage producers to use plastic packaging that can be recycled. The Government also consulted on proposals to introduce a world-leading new tax on the production and import of plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content and the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS). Together these measures will increase the quality and quantity of plastics collected for recycling.

The Government also continues to incentivise the diversion of waste away from landfill, through the Landfill Tax. For example, the standard rate of Landfill Tax, which applies to household waste, has increased from £11 to £88.95 per tonne between 2000 and 2018; the proportion of local authority collected waste sent to landfill decreased from 79.0% to 10.8% over a similar period (2000/01 to 2018/19).

We will soon consult on proposals to implement changes made to the Landfill Directive as part of the Circular Economy Package, which will restrict waste that has been separately collected for recycling, such as plastic waste, being accepted at landfill sites.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, how many and what proportion of staff in his Department would receive an increase in their salary in the event that their hourly pay rate was (a) £8.72, (b) £9.30 and (c) £10.

There are no DExEU employees who would receive an increase to their salary in the event that their hourly rate was (a), (b) or (c). This is because the lowest paid member of DExEU staff hourly rate is higher than these amounts.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, with reference to the increase in the National Living wage announced by the Government on 31 December 2019, what discussions he is having with private sector companies undertaking facility management work for his Department to ensure that the cost of wage increases for their employees are not passed on to his Department.

Any private sector companies undertaking facilities management work for the Department for Exiting the European Union are managed and employed by building owners. The department operates, and has memorandum of terms of occupations (MOTO’s) with those building owners. As part of those agreements, those building owners employ and manage any third-party facilities management companies, so is therefore not the responsibility of the department. The department was recently onboarded to the Government Property Agency to manage the estate and the contracts between the department and those third-party companies. This responsibility would therefore sit with the Government Property Agency.

13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, with reference to the increase in the National Living wage announced by the Government on 31 December 2019, what discussions he is having with private sector companies undertaking facility management work for his Department to ensure that the cost of wage increases for their employees are not passed on to his Department.

The Department for International Development has two headquarter buildings in the UK, one at 22 Whitehall and the other at Abercrombie House in East Kilbride.

Both HQ buildings share a contract for facilities management. The staff contracted under this agreement are paid London Living wage in Whitehall and National Living wage in Abercrombie House. DFID covers the additional costs associated with the Living wage increases. This is reviewed annually in line with the increments set out by the Living Wage Foundation.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, how many and what proportion of staff in his Department would receive an increase in their salary in the event that their hourly pay rate was (a) £8.72, (b) £9.30 and (c) £10.

All DFID staff are paid at an hourly rate above £10, and therefore would not require a salary increase in any of these scenarios.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to help support the UK food industry to export into the EU.

We support our food producers through all stages of their export journey to the EU. This includes the Export Support Service, GREAT.gov.uk platform, the Export Academy, UK Export Finance and high profile events and trade shows such as SIAL in France and Anuga in Germany. The Department for International Trade has a network of agriculture, food and drink trade advisers across EU markets overseen by our Trade Commissioner in Europe

We have also established a new Food and Drink Export Council which brings together the UK Government, Devolved Administrations, and industry, to harness collective capability, expertise, and resources in boosting UK food and drink exports to global markets, including Europe.

Andrew Bowie
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
12th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many hours officials in her Department have worked to (a) attend and (b) support the policy agenda of the National Council of Maritime UK since 2019-20 to date.

The National Council meets three times a year. Department for International Trade (DIT) officials have generally attended these meetings, which last around three hours. It is one of the mechanisms used to engage with industry. DIT along with other Government Departments attends to provide an update and hear from Stakeholders about their issues. It is a good forum for engagement with the sector on international trade and investment policy as it relates to the maritime sector.

Andrew Bowie
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps she is taking to promote British food and drink exports in foreign markets.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) promotes UK food and drink excellence globally. We have dedicated food and drink export advisers both throughout the UK and globally who deliver a wide range of activities in support of our food and drink producers. These activities include brokered meetings with key overseas food and drink importers and retailers, trade missions, financial support for companies to exhibit at overseas trade fairs, as well as showcasing events aiming at changing perceptions of UK food and drink.

DIT also works in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and industry to target specific market access issues, helping to open markets overseas for high quality UK produce.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of protections of the (a) human rights and (b) safety of workers building the British pavilion for the Dubai Expo in the UAE; and whether there has been any violations of those rights and protections.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has ensured that stringent contract provisions are in place with the suppliers who have been appointed to construct the UK Pavilion, requiring all work to be carried out in accordance with the Expo 2020 Workers Welfare Minimum Standards (which are higher than the UAE’s standard welfare regulations). These suppliers are monitored closely by DIT’s project management supplier to ensure performance against their contractual conditions.

According to the last health and safety audit by the Expo 2020 Dubai authorities the UK was amongst the most positively scored Pavilions. In addition, DIT has appointed a specialist risk management organisation (with expertise in carrying out worker welfare audits in line with the Expo 2020 standards) to carry out regular independent audits of the UK pavilion site and its contractors. Where any issues have been raised, all parties have worked together to rectify these.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
13th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, with reference to the increase in the National Living wage announced by the Government on 31 December 2019, what discussions she is having with private sector companies undertaking facility management work for her Department to ensure that the cost of wage increases for their employees are not passed on to her Department.

The Department for International Trade does not hold any facilities management contracts with private sector companies. All of the department’s facilities management services are provided via the Government Property Agency.

7th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of rail reform on levels of customer satisfaction by 2030.

Rail reform is tackling the challenges facing the railways to create a customer-focused, commercially led industry. This should significantly improve customer experience between now and 2030.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the (a) annual operational budget and (b) full-time equivalent staffing is for the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions as at 5 February 2024.

The annual operating budget for the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions is £800,000.

The Full Time Equivalent staff numbers are 8.7 for the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps he has taken to support (a) training and (b) employment for UK-resident seafarers.

DfT remains committed to future-proofing the training and employment of UK-based seafarers.

Our work includes the ongoing delivery of the Cadet Review recommendations, a Ratings Review which considered the barriers, opportunities, and growth areas for UK ratings, support for the Maritime Training (SMarT) programme and most notably the Seafarer Protections Nine-Point Plan to boost and reform seafarer protections and welfare. As part of the plan, we have delivered the Seafarers’ Wages Act to protects those working on ships operating a regular international service to/from the UK from being paid less than the National Minimum Wage while in UK territorial waters.

We launched the Seafarers’ Charter on 24 July 2023 which sets higher standards for working conditions than international minimum.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the Written Statement of 24 May 2022 on UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions, HCWS50, what progress the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions’ has made on working with the (a) Department for Education and (b) National Shipbuilding Office on maritime skills.

UK SHORE, through Department for Transport officials, work with the Department for Education and National Shipbuilding Office (NSO) to advance shipbuilding and maritime skills and as the new NSO-led Shipbuilding Skills Delivery Group (SDG) is established. The SDG will oversee and drive delivery of the recommendations of the UK Shipbuilding Skills Taskforce, following the publication of its report in September 2023.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many (a) shipowners and (b) vessels were flagged on the UK Ship Register in each year since 2021.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) UK ship Register (UKSR) database is live and is not able to identify the number of vessels and shipowners historically.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
26th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many sets of doors per carriage are listed in the rolling stock procurement specifications HS2 Ltd agreed with Alston and Hitachi on 9 December 2021.

The sets of doors per carriage are not fixed in the rolling stock procurement specification and the final configuration of the train is being developed through the design process.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
26th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the implications for his policies of the consultation by the Great British Railways Transition Team entitled Whole Industry Strategic Plan, published on 9 December 2021.

The Great British Railways Transition Team have factored the consultation and the responses received into their ongoing work on the Long Term Strategy for Rail (formerly known as the Whole Industry Strategic Plan). Alongside this, they are ensuring wider policy announcements, such as Network North, are fully considered.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
24th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what guidance his Department issues to short sea ferry services on application of the threshold for providing a declaration of equivalence under Section 3 (1) of the Seafarers Wages Act 2023.

The Seafarers’ Wages Act 2023 received Royal Assent in March 2023 and its provisions require secondary legislation to bring it fully into force.

The Department consulted on the first part of draft guidance in a public consultation which ran from 13 November to 11 December 2023. We will launch a further consultation on the second part in February 2024 and issue final guidance once we have completed consulting on the guidance and the draft regulations required to bring the Act fully into force.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
23rd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department was involved in the decision of LNER to introduce its Simpler Fares pilot scheme, as announced on 16 January 2024.

The Department has supported London North Eastern Railway (LNER) to introduce its two-year long trial and we will carefully consider the results.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
23rd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the change in the number of people travelling by passenger rail from 2024 to (a) 2030, (b) 2040 and (c) 2050.

In line with our published guidance, the Department has developed a number of possible rail demand forecasts in both the medium and long term. The Department considers a wide range of evidence for our project appraisals and policy decisions.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
23rd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an estimate of the (a) proportion of the UK population that never or rarely uses the railway and (b) the revenue potential of that group.

In 2022, 45 per cent of people in England said that they use surface rail less than once a year or never. A further 18 per cent say they use the rail once or twice per year. (table NTS0313)

The Great British Railways Transition Team and individual rail operators undertake their own work to understand the potential revenue from people that could be attracted to using rail more in the future. The Great British Rail Sale currently underway is a prime example of the initiatives the industry is taking, supported by the department, to attract more people to rail, helping grow revenue and reduce public subsidy.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
23rd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a passenger rail growth target.

We are working closely with the industry and Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) to grow passenger numbers and revenues post-COVID, including introducing revenue growth incentives and targets for individual rail operators.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
23rd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the budget for rail enhancements in England and Wales between 2024 and 2029 is.

The rail enhancement budget has been separated from the overall Network Rail Operations Maintenance and Renewals budget, known as the Statement of Funds Available, since 2018. The government published its approach to rail enhancements across England and Wales in the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline[1] (RNEP) in 2018.

Since Spending Review 2021 we have spent around £2bn a year on rail enhancements on the conventional network. Major projects, including HS2, Crossrail and East West Rail, are funded separately. As previously, the RNEP budget beyond the current Spending Review period (ending in 24/25) will be set at future fiscal events.

[1] Rail network enhancements pipeline - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
23rd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent estimate he has made of the (a) cost of and (b) timeframe for the re-signalling of Cambridge junction.

Cambridge Junction is due to be re-signalled with European Train Control System technology, also known as digital signalling, as part of the East Coast Digital programme (ECDP).

The overall cost of the East Coast Digital Programme is around £1.9bn. This is made up of funding from the Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline and Network Rail infrastructure renewals funding over Control Period 7 (2024-2029). Programme costs have not been broken down further to particular areas and would be complicated by factors such as the overall cost of fitting trains with the equipment required to use digital signalling, and the cost of training railway staff.

The ECDP will implement digital signalling on the East Coast Mainline southern section by 2030, with junctions along this route progressively upgraded in line with asset sustainability and alignment with the overall programme schedule. The re-signalling in the area around Cambridge Junction is expected to be ready from February this year for trains fitted with digital signalling equipment.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
16th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the amount of additional rail capacity which will be available at the end of Network Rail’s Control Period 7 funding settlement between 2024 and 2029.

The Secretary of State was clear in the 2022 High-Level Output Specification that he expects to see an efficient approach to system operation in Control Period 7 (CP7), underpinning allocation of capacity that best supports reliability, informed timetable specification and effective use of the network for rail freight—bolstered by the continued adoption of digital signalling.

Network Rail plans to support passenger train growth on major routes in the next Control Period, expected to be around 1% to 5% by the end of CP7. Across the whole network, operators will continue to be obliged to release any unused capacity to ensure that it can be appropriately allocated.

Network Rail plans support a further 25 rail freight trains per day in CP7, in pursuit of growing rail freight by 7.5% during Control Period 7. The independent regulator, the Office of Rail and Road, will hold Network Rail to account against this growth target.

We continue to support ambitious rail infrastructure upgrades (“enhancements”) across the country which will increase capacity across the rail network. Rail enhancements are funded and managed separately from the Control Period settlements.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
16th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the rail industry’s plans to review Ebbsfleet tunnel flooding that occurred on 29 December 2023.

An investigation is being undertaken by an independent party to determine the cause of the flooding of the Thames Tunnels. The investigation is ongoing and the Department is in regular contact with the relevant parties including HS1 Ltd.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
9th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps is he taking to improve rail services at (a) Horden and (b) Seaham.

The Department, through the Rail North Partnership, will continue to work with train operators and stakeholders to assess potential improvements to train services to Horden and Seaham. Any additional services must take into account network constraints on the Durham Coast Line and be justified by passenger demand, as well as affordable within operators’ existing business plans and budgets.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
9th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department held discussions with the rail industry before the publication of Network North.

Ministers and officials engage regularly with the rail industry, including Network Rail, train operating companies and representative bodies.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he provided consent for Great Western Railway to agree a contract extension with Hitachi for maintenance of Class 802 Intercity Express Trains until 2028.

The consent for the contract extension with Hitachi for maintenance of Class 802 IETs was provided to Great Western Railway in March 2023.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 5 December 2023 to Question 4396 on West Midlands Trains: Rolling Stock, how much funding his Department plans to provide through the West Midlands Trains National Rail Contract for depot and stabling facilities for the Class 730 train fleet.

The Department continues to work closely with West Midlands Trains on new and additional depot and stabling facilities for the Class 730 train fleet. As these projects are live and the size of the final programme is still being determined, the costs are not yet known, and funding options continue to be developed and should be finalised in 2024.

Overall, however, this will be a major investment in the region’s railways.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what consent his Department provided for train operating companies to agree short-term lease options with rolling stock leasing companies in (a) 2021, (b) 2022 and (c) 2023.

Consent was provided to train operators to make short-term lease or sub-lease extensions with rolling stock owners or other operators on (a) 18 occasions in 2021, (b) 54 in 2022 and (c) 11 in 2023. These short-term extensions were mitigations for factors including late delivery of functioning new-build fleets from rolling stock manufacturers or delayed cascades of fleets from other operators.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what his Department’s (a) process and (b) strategy is for procurement of rolling stock.

The procurement of rolling stock is led by train operating companies. Under the previous franchising process this may have formed part of a successful bid. However, under the new operating contract model, operators still lead on the procurement and specification process, but the final business case is subject to a governance review by the Department and HM Treasury. A number of train operators, including Chiltern, Northern, TransPennine and South Eastern, are currently undertaking procurements for new-build fleets, with a particular emphasis on replacing older fleets.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential impact of the decision to not close ticket offices on the budgets of train operators.

We are currently undertaking commercial negotiations with rail operators over their budgets and business plans for the next financial year and it would not be appropriate to provide further details on those negotiations.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has made an equality impact assessment of the Driver Services Recovery Programme.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) takes its Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) responsibilities seriously. The DVSA has advised Ministers about the steps it is taking to reduce car practical driving test waiting times. Ministers have agreed a package of measures that the DVSA is implementing, and the average waiting time for a practical driving test is reducing as a result.

As part of the advice it presented to Ministers, the DVSA included a PSED assessment, as it does with all ministerial advice. The agency did not identify any PSED issues that required action at the time, but the agency keeps the PSED situation under review and would take action if necessary.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to Table 1 of the Mode shift grants review call for evidence, published on 4 December 2023, if he will list the operators that received grants through the Mode shift revenue support scheme for intermodal freight transport (a) to and (b) from ports in 2022-23.

The following operators have received freight grants for flows to and from ports for 2022/23:

Freightliner

DB Cargo

GB Railfreight

PD Intermodal

Newell and Wright Transport

Maritime Transport

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will list the total value of mode shift revenue support granted to operators of intermodal freight transport services (a) to and (b) from ports in each financial year from 2014-15 to 2022-23.

The total value of Mode Shift Revenue Support grant awarded to operators for intermodal flows to and from ports (for years data is currently available) is as follows:

Financial Year

Total Value

2019/20

14,465,869

2020/21

18,734,640

2021/22

18,259,533

2022/23

16,422,410

The table above contains total grant awarded for each financial year. Please note that the actual grant paid out may differ as not all awards are claimed by grantees due to variations in the movement of freight. Grants are awarded for volumes moved to and from ports and the DfT does not differentiate claims for payments based on the direction of the journey.

Details of previous Mode Shift Revenue Support awards are publicly available in the “Grants Awarded” section at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/department-for-transport-delivers-more-grant-funding-to-transport-freight-by-rail/mode-shift-revenue-support-and-waterborne-freight-grant-applications-and-background-information

Please note that the published data does not distinguish ports from domestic flows.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what proportion of the 2023-24 budget for (a) mode shift revenue support and (b) waterborne freight grant had been allocated as of 14 December 2023.

The total freight grant budget for 2023/24 is £20m. As of 14 December 2023, the Department has allocated £19,841,891 for Mode Shift Revenue Support. A Waterborne Freight Grant award of £16,524 has also been made for 1 October 2023 to 30 April 2024. The proportion of the budget awarded is about 99%.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many applications his Department received for (a) mode shift revenue support and (b) waterborne freight grant in each financial year from 2014-15 to 2022-23; and what proportion of those applications were successful in each year.

The Department does not hold the information in the form requested. Applications for these schemes may be subject to iteration and resubmission throughout a financial year as part of the grant management process, due to variations in anticipated and actual freight flows. Some applications are not initially successful, but then are successful when revised or resubmitted.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will list the total value of waterborne freight grants made to operators of (a) coastal and (b) short sea shipping services in each financial year from 2014-15 to 2022-23.

No Waterborne Freight Grant award was made in the periods requested.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment has been made of the adequacy of (a) employment and (b) welfare standards for seafarers employed in transporting freight on (i) coastal and (ii) short sea shipping services.

The UK has a leading global role in protecting and promoting seafarer welfare and employment standards. We have passed the Seafarers’ Wages Act 2023, designed to prevent seafarers working aboard ships operating a regular service from a UK port from being paid less than an equivalent to the UK National Minimum Wage while in UK territorial waters. Our Seafarers’ Charter goes further, committing signatory companies to provide employment and welfare conditions a meaningful step above the international minimum standards. This expands the social welfare entitlements of eligible seafarers, prevents voyage contracts, and requires that roster patterns take into account factors including route intensity, fatigue and welfare.

We are pleased that operators DFDS, Stena Line, Brittany Ferries and Condor have committed to work to meet those standards and encourage other companies to do so.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to publish the business case for the Transpennine Route Upgrade.

The Transpennine Route Upgrade business case will be published early in 2024, after my recent announcement of further funding of £3.9bn for the next phase of the programme.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
5th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to publish the revised business case for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

All NPR schemes will be subject to the development and approval of business cases and will undergo all formal governance, in line with relevant fiscal and legal duties.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
5th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 27 November 2023 to Question 2557 on published on Rolling Stock: Contracts, how long the leasing arrangements are that his Department has provided consent for Avanti West Coast to enter into with (a) Angel Trains Limited for the Class 390 units and (b) Cross Country for the leasing of Class 170 from Porterbrook; and what assessment he has made of the value for money of these arrangements.

Avanti and CrossCountry recently entered into new National Rail Contracts (NRCs) that started in October. As part of this, the operators negotiated new train leases with the rolling stock owners. Each NRC was subject to a full value-for-money assessment.

(a) The Class 390 trains have the ability to be leased until 1 April 2031.

(b) The Class 170 trains have the ability to be leased until 12 October 2031.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
4th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many driving examiners were recruited between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2022; and how many of these were still employed by the Driver and Vehicle Safety Agency as of 31 October 2023.

To stabilise its workforce, the DVSA is reviewing the contracts of those driving examiners who were recruited on a fixed term basis and converting these to permanent contracts.

The DVSA has increased its training capacity to support more new entrant driving examiners.

The DVSA's examiner recruitment campaigns continue to be successful but due to the extremely competitive job market there are some areas of Great Britain that are challenging to recruit in.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
29th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of rolling stock leasing costs.

Since privatisation rolling stock owning companies (ROSCOs) have invested billions of pounds of capital into improving the national train fleet, including procurement of over 14,000 new vehicles since 1997.

The investments made by the ROSCOs are reflected in lease costs by the operators which will have been tested in competition for new rolling stock. It passes risk from the Government to the private sector and also means that such capital does not need to be spent by the Government on rolling stock but can be invested elsewhere in infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and roads.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
29th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has had recent discussions with (a) Alstom, (b) Corelink and (c) West Midlands Trains on future maintenance (i) requirements and (ii) responsibility for the new Class 730 fleet.

Department officials meet with WMT regularly to monitor and review their delivery of contractual obligations and their progress with National Rail Contract requirements including future maintenance requirements and responsibilities. WMT have prime responsibility for engagement with Alstom and Corelink through their contractual agreements, although those parties also occasionally speak to officials directly.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
29th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what information his Department holds on the number of West Midland Trains depot facilities that will be available for the new Class 730 train fleet.

As part of the West Midlands Trains (WMT) National Rail Contract, WMT is required to provide sufficient depot and stabling facilities for the new Class 730 train fleet and has developed plans to provide these. Work is already underway at Bletchley and should start next year at another site. Until these are completed, interim arrangements will be used as required.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
29th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential impact on people with disabilities of staffing unstaffed stations.

Staffing levels at railway stations is a matter for each train operator which are required by the Office of Rail and Road to establish and comply with an Accessible Travel Policy (ATP). An ATP sets out, among other things, the arrangements and assistance that an operator will provide to protect the interests of disabled people using its services and to facilitate such use.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
29th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the cost to the public purse was of rail enhancements in (a) 2019, (b) 2020, (c) 2021 and (d) 2022.

Rail enhancements are delivered through the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline, which has spent the following in each year in CP6 (including contributions to 3rd party schemes), from 2019 (figures shown in £m, nominal):

a) 2019/20: £1,475m

b) 2020/21: £1,477m

c) 2021/22: £1,685m

d) 2022/23: £1,840m

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
29th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what was the cost to the public purse of rail enhancements in control periods (a) 2014-19, (b) 2009-14 and (c) 2004-2009.

Due to changes in the way that rail enhancements are delivered and spend accounted for, it is challenging to provide accurate and consistent information on the cost to the public purse prior to 2010. The following provides information in a consistent price base (April 2022 to March 2023 prices) from a consistent source, for all enhancements spend excluding HS2 in the time periods requested. Note the figures reflect enhancements spend across Great Britain but rail infrastructure in Scotland is a devolved matter.

A) 2014-2019 - £21,627m.

B) 2009-2014 - £15,183m – note that information for Network Rail enhancements spend is not available for the year April 2009 to March 2010.

C) 2004-2009 – comparable information on enhancements spend is not available for this period.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
29th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many meetings has he had with the Midlands Rail Forum in the last 12 months.

My hon. friend, the Secretary of State and I have met a number of rail industry bodies over the past twelve months including the Rail Industry Association (RIA) and Rail Forum. I have met with the Rail Industry Association nine times and the Rail Forum three times. My officials also engage with them on a regular basis.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
29th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many meetings has he had with the Railway Industry Association in the last 12 months.

My hon. friend, the Secretary of State and I have met a number of rail industry bodies over the past twelve months including the Rail Industry Association (RIA) and Rail Forum. I have met with the Rail Industry Association nine times and the Rail Forum three times. My officials also engage with them on a regular basis.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
22nd Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many times his Department answered Named Day written parliamentary questions stating that it would not be possible to answer a question within the usual time period in the last 12 months.

In the last 12 months, the Department answered all 1,118 Named Day written parliamentary questions it received within the usual time period.

Anthony Browne
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
20th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much his Department spent on rail enhancements in each year since 2019.

Rail enhancements are delivered through the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline, which has spent the following in each year in CP6 (including contributions to 3rd party schemes), from 2019 (figures shown in £m, nominal):

2019/20: £1,475m

2020/21: £1,477m

2021/22: £1,685m

2022/23: £1,840m

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what information his Department holds on the amount that was spent by Network Rail on (a) research and development and (b) rail innovation in each year since 2019.

Network Rail has a dedicated research and development portfolio, to improve infrastructure efficiency and performance. In Control Period 6 (2018/19 to 2023/24), this was allocated £245m in funding.

Network Rail was also allocated a Performance Innovation Fund of £40m to support the testing and implementation of industry proposals to improve train punctuality over this Control Period.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what contracts his Department agreed with (a) Angel Trains, (b) Porterbrook and (c) Eversholt Rail for the leasing of rolling stock as part of the National Rail Contracts agreed with (i) Avanti West Coast and (ii) Cross Country announced on 19 September 2023.

The Department provided consent to Avanti West Coast to enter into leasing arrangements with Angel Trains Limited for the Class 390 units, and to Cross Country for the leasing of Class 170 from Porterbrook.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much funding his Department provided for the Class 769 train development programme in each year since 2018.

No Government funding was provided. Porterbrook funded development of the Class 769 units, currently in use on Northern and previously in use on Great Western. Both operators entered into leasing arrangements with Porterbrook for these units.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
20th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the level of debt held by Network Rail as of 20 November 2023.

Network Rail discloses its net debt position annually as part of the overall company results and detailed financial reporting in its annual report and accounts. As reported in the Network Rail annual report and accounts for the financial year 22/23, Network Rail’s net debt was £59,058m.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what proportion of the projects in Network North have a business case.

Since the Government announced Network North on 4 October, the Department has been working closely with delivery bodies to establish plans for delivery. Announcements on progress of business cases and delivery will be made as schemes develop.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the guidance entitled DfT value for money framework, published on 20 July 2017, how many and what proportion of the Network North projects have been assessed under this framework.

All Network North schemes will be subject to the development and approval of business cases and will undergo formal governance in line with relevant fiscal and legal duties. Benefit Cost Ratios (BCRs) and Value for Money (VfM) categories for Network North schemes will be assessed on an individual basis as part of business case development. We will share further details in due course.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether all projects cited in Network North will be funded from the £36 billion announced.

The Prime Minister set out that all of the savings from Phase 2 of HS2 will be spent on the schemes and projects announced as part of Network North. All schemes will be subject to the development and approval of business cases and will undergo formal governance in line with relevant fiscal and legal duties. Allocations may change as final plans and profiles are agreed.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many projects in Network North are at design stage.

Teams are working through delivery schedules and phasing of spend with delivery partners and within the Government’s overall fiscal plan. We will share further information when that work is complete. All schemes and programmes announced as part of Network North will go through normal business case approval processes to ensure value for money.

In terms of the more mature projects, we have already extended the £2 national bus fare cap, which will now continue to December 2024. We are also making £300m of funding available to improve the conditions of local roads across this financial year and next. Next financial year, there will also be an additional £150m of funding to support bus services through the Bus Service Improvement Plans.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many projects in Network North have been costed.

We have already extended the £2 national bus fare cap, which will now continue to December 2024. We are also making £300m of funding available to improve the conditions of local roads across this financial year and next. Next financial year, there will also be an additional £150m of funding to support bus services through the Bus Service Improvement Plans.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
9th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what funding his Department allocated to train operators for ticket office reform in the last 3 years.

No funding has been provided to train operators for ticket office reform in the last 3 years.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
9th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many and what proportion of rail fares available from (a) Ticket Vending Machines and (b) online ticketing are not available from in-person ticket offices.

Train operators are required under the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement (TSA) to provide certain products at ticket offices they operate, for example Anytime and Off-peak products. It is the responsibility of train operators to determine their own retailing strategy. We would expect train operators to take into consideration a range of factors when determining which fares are available from ticket offices.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
9th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the number of (a) ticket office and (b) station staff at railway stations.

Staffing levels at railway stations is a matter for each train operator, who are obliged under the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement to ensure sufficient staffing to ensure ticket offices are open at the published times.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
8th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the range of rail fares available from ticket offices.

Train operators are required under the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement to provide certain products at ticket offices they operate, for example Anytime and Off-peak products. It is the responsibility of train operators to determine their own retailing strategy. We would expect train operators to take into consideration a range of factors when determining which fares are available from ticket offices.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
8th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an estimate of the cost to train operating companies of the mandates on station reform issued by his Department in 2023.

This was an industry led consultation and no estimate of costs are available.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to reintroduce the sale of Advance Purchase on Departure fares from Northern Trains ticket offices.

This is an independent commercial decision by Northern: operators decide their own retailing strategy.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what information his Department holds on the proportion of time that ticket offices were not open during their regulated hours at (a) Avanti West Coast, (b) Chiltern, (c) C2C, (d) East Midlands, (e) Greater Anglia, (f) Great Western Railway, (g) Govia Thameslink Railway, (h) LNER, (i) Northern Trains, (j) Southeastern, (k) South Western Railway, (l) Transpennine Express and (m) West Midlands Trains in each of the last 12 months.

The Department receives a range of management information to support effective contract management. This data is provided under terms of commercial confidentiality and cannot be released. It is the train operating companies' responsibility to comply with their regulated hours (schedule 17).

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what information his Department holds on the number of FTE vacancies there are in (a) ticket offices and (b) other station staff grades at (i) Avanti West Coast, (ii) Chiltern, (iii) C2C, (iv) East Midlands, (v) Greater Anglia, (vi) Great Western Railway, (vii) Govia Thameslink Railway, (viii) LNER, (ix) Northern Trains, (x) Southeastern, (xi) South Western Railway, (xii) Transpennine Express and (xiii) West Midlands Trains.

The Department does not routinely receive information from train operating companies on vacancies for roles at railway stations.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an estimate of the potential impact on passenger revenue of staffing unstaffed stations.

We are not aware of any proposals to staff stations that currently operate without staffing.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the cost to the public purse has been of processes enacted by his Department following the issuing of mandates to train operating companies on station reform in 2023.

No estimate of these costs are available. Government had asked train operators to reduce the cost of the industry to the taxpayer given the challenging financial situation facing the railways; as well as ensure staff are deployed where they are most needed by passengers.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
23rd Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an estimate of the cost to the public purse of planning sections of HS2 that have since been cancelled.

The Department is working with HS2 Ltd and its supply chain to assess this.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
23rd Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an estimate of the cost to the public purse of preparations by officials for parliamentary scrutiny of sections of HS2 that have since been cancelled.

The High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Act, which covers Phase 2a, received Royal Assent in February 2021. In January 2022, the Government introduced the High Speed Rail (Crewe - Manchester) Bill into Parliament. Spending on phase 2a and b up to and including February 2023 is reported in the Department for Transport’s last HS2 report to Parliament in June 2023.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the transparency data entitled Train operating companies: Passenger’s Charter compensation, published on 25 August 2022, if he will provide updated data for the 2022-23 financial year.

Figures on rail passenger compensation paid by train operating companies for 2022/23 are due to be published imminently.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
19th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the Government issued guidance to Train Operating Companies to commence consulting on ticket offices.

The Government has asked train operators to reduce the cost of the industry to the taxpayer given the dire financial situation facing the railways; as well as ensuring staff are deployed where they are most needed by passengers. As a result, operators have considered potential reforms, including at stations and in July 2023 commenced consultations using the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement (TSA) process, which train operating companies must follow when proposing changes to the opening hours or closure of a ticket office. The proposals are industry led and this is a real opportunity to update and improve the way train operators deliver for customers. We expect train operators to continue to work collaboratively with the passenger bodies to refine their proposals

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
19th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many apprenticeships have been (a) offered, (b) completed and (c) started but not completed with (i) London North Eastern Railway, (ii) Transpennine Express, (iii) Northern Rail and (iv) Southeastern Railway since they have been run by the operator of last resort.

The Department is committed to ensuring that the transport workforce better reflects our diverse society. As part of the ongoing work with the Transport Employment and Skills Taskforce, the Department has been working with a range of stakeholders leading on the skills and employment agenda, which includes Apprenticeships. The Department has also included requirements for Passenger Services rail operators including OLR Operators to recruit Apprentices.

The Train Operators have confirmed as follows:

OLR Operator

Offered

Started but Ongoing

Completed

Northern 2020

1265

762

377

South Eastern 2021

682

392 (The started but not completed figure includes individuals who started an apprenticeship but then left SET before completion, as well as those that are still working to complete their apprenticeship.)

258

TransPennine Trains 2023

0

7

0

London North Eastern Railway 2018

See below

LNER’s apprenticeship data is based on the Apprenticeship Service Status:

All

312

Waiting to start

0

Live

182

Paused

3

Stopped

43

Completed

84

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 11 September 2023 to Question 196081 on Railway Stations, if he will publish a redacted copy of the mandate given to the train operating companies.

There are no plans to publish any such correspondence.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his Answer of 11 September to Question 196079 on Railway Stations: Tickets, if he will publish the Memorandum of Understanding for Modernising Retail between his Department and the Rail Delivery Group dated 29 July 2020.

There are no plans to publish any such correspondence.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
11th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many Network Rail (a) apprenticeships were offered and (b) how many cohorts of Network Rail apprenticeships have there been in for each of the last five years.

Cohort

Start Date

End Date

Original size

Completions

Currently Undertaking

Leavers

3

Sept-17

Sept-20

157

124

4

29

4

Mar-18

Mar-21

150

124

10

16

5

Sept-18

Sept-21

156

97

34

25

6

Mar-19

Mar-22

131

84

31

16

7

Sept-19

Sept-22

197

77

78

42

8

Mar-20

Mar-23

138

36

72

30

The above table reflects the number of apprenticeships by cohort years rather than calendar years.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
11th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many Network Rail apprentices that have (a) completed and (b) dropped out of their apprenticeships in each of the last five years.

Cohort

Start Date

End Date

Original size

Completions

Currently Undertaking

Leavers

3

Sept-17

Sept-20

157

124

4

29

4

Mar-18

Mar-21

150

124

10

16

5

Sept-18

Sept-21

156

97

34

25

6

Mar-19

Mar-22

131

84

31

16

7

Sept-19

Sept-22

197

77

78

42

8

Mar-20

Mar-23

138

36

72

30

The above table reflects the number of apprenticeships by cohort years rather than calendar years.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
11th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will list the intake dates for Network Rail apprentices.

The next intake of Railway Engineering Technician Apprentices is October 2023, with 189 apprentices due to start. The following intake will be October 2024. Network Rail will have one large intake a year for this scheme moving forward.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the train operating companies sought the agreement of his Department on the proposed number of (a) ticket office closures and (b) hours stations would be staffed before beginning its consultation on these matters.

Through the industry-led Ticketing and Settlement Agreement (TSA) process when a train operating company proposes to make a change to the opening hours, or closure of a ticket office, they must follow the rules set out in the TSA.

The Secretary of State and his Department did not approve any of the respective proposals before the companies commenced consultation. Government has asked train operators to reduce the cost of the industry to the taxpayer given the dire financial situation facing the railways; as well as ensure staff are deployed where they are most needed by passengers. These are industry proposals. This is a real opportunity to update and improve the way train operators deliver for customers. The DfT issued mandates to TOCS on station reform earlier in 2023 We expect train operators to work collaboratively with the passenger bodies in the coming weeks, to listen to the concerns raised and to refine their proposals accordingly.

Whilst it is my expectation that no currently staffed station should be unstaffed as a result of industry changes, it is for train operators to decide on their staffing arrangements at each of the stations from which they operate services, so they can best meet the needs of passengers.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the train operating companies sought the agreement of his Department before beginning the consultation on ticket office closures.

Through the industry-led Ticketing and Settlement Agreement (TSA) process when a train operating company proposes to make a change to the opening hours, or closure of a ticket office, they must follow the rules set out in the TSA. The Secretary of State and his Department did not approve any of the respective proposals before the companies commenced consultation. Government has asked train operators to reduce the cost of the industry to the taxpayer given the dire financial situation facing the railways; as well as ensure staff are deployed where they are most needed by passengers. These are industry proposals. This is a real opportunity to update and improve the way train operators deliver for customers. The DfT issued mandates to TOCS on station reform earlier in 2023.

We expect train operators to work collaboratively with the passenger bodies in the coming weeks, to listen to the concerns raised and to refine their proposals accordingly.

Whilst it is my expectation that no currently staffed station should be unstaffed as a result of industry changes, it is for train operators to decide on their staffing arrangements at each of the stations from which they operate services, so they can best meet the needs of passengers.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department approved train company proposals for ticket office closures before consultations began.

Through the industry-led Ticketing and Settlement Agreement (TSA) process when a train operating company proposes to make a change to the opening hours, or closure of a ticket office, they must follow the rules set out in the TSA. The Secretary of State and his Department did not approve any of the respective proposals before the companies commenced consultation. Government has asked train operators to reduce the cost of the industry to the taxpayer given the dire financial situation facing the railways; as well as ensure staff are deployed where they are most needed by passengers. These are industry proposals. This is a real opportunity to update and improve the way train operators deliver for customers. The DfT issued mandates to TOCS on station reform earlier in 2023.

We expect train operators to work collaboratively with the passenger bodies in the coming weeks, to listen to the concerns raised and to refine their proposals accordingly.

Whilst it is my expectation that no currently staffed station should be unstaffed as a result of industry changes, it is for train operators to decide on their staffing arrangements at each of the stations from which they operate services, so they can best meet the needs of passengers.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
12th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department is taking steps to support unprofitable bus routes in hard-to-reach rural areas.

Yes. The Department provides around £200 million every year through the Bus Service Operators Grant to help bus operators run services that might otherwise be unprofitable and could lead to cancellation. In addition, £42 million every year goes directly to local authorities to subsidise bus services, including socially and economically necessary services, helping to ensure communities can stay connected and access vital local services.

On 17 May, the Government announced a long-term approach to supporting bus services, backed by £300 million of funding from July 2023 to April 2025. £160 million will be provided to local transport authorities to protect and improve services and fares while £140 million will go directly to operators to help protect essential services across England. This funding will also help support longer routes, such as those in rural areas, where some services are less likely to be commercially sustainable without additional funding.

We are also trialling 16 innovative demand responsive minibus services in 15 local authority areas, supported by the £20 million Rural Mobility Fund (RMF). The RMF provides us with an opportunity to better understand the challenges associated with introducing bookable bus services in rural and suburban settings.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
29th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a mandate for zero emission shipping fuel to reach five per cent of the UK fuel blend by 2030.

The Government is exploring a range of policy options to increase the use of alternative fuels in maritime and will report on this work as part of the refreshed Clean Maritime Plan.

29th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a shipping fuel levy from 2025 on all (a) domestic and (b) international shipping from 2025, rising to a level consistent with the Government's carbon value by 2035.

On 3 July 2023 the UK ETS (Emission Trading Scheme) Authority confirmed its plans to expand the UK ETS to include emissions from domestic maritime, following on from our commitment to explore economic incentives in the Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

The UK is pressing for greater ambition during the review of the International Maritime Organization Initial Greenhouse Gas Strategy in July and continues to monitor developments of international and regional carbon pricing instruments covering shipping to consider how they may interact with our domestic policy.

The government keeps all taxes under review and any changes are announced by the Chancellor at fiscal events.

21st Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has had discussions with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on the certification of crewing arrangements on the P&O Pioneer; and when he expects that vessel to enter service on the Dover-Calais route.

The P&O Pioneer is a Cyprus flagged vessel and the certification of the vessel is the responsibility of that flag state. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) had carried out an inspection on board the vessel on 9 June 2023 and found the vessel to be in compliance with all the international conventions, including the Maritime & Labour convention, which deals with the working and living conditions and the minimum certification and crewing levels on board. The vessel is already in service on the Dover-Calais route.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
20th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many Officer Cadets completed their training on Tonnage Tax qualifying ships in each financial year between 2020-21 and 2022-23.

The Department does not record this data as it is the total number of training months a company completes that determines whether it has met its minimum training obligation (MTO) under the tonnage tax regime.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
20th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many Officer Cadets completed their training on Tonnage Tax qualifying ships in each financial year between 2002-2003 and 2022-23.

The Department does not record this data as it is the total number of training months a company completes that determines whether it has met its minimum training obligation (MTO) under the tonnage tax regime.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
20th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he expects shoreside electric power to be available for passenger ferries operating from Dover; and what recent discussions he has had on this matter with representatives of Port of Dover.

The Government has committed to publishing an action plan later this year on accelerating grid connections, including grid connections that may support shoreside electrical power at ports such as Dover. The action plan will set out reforms to the connection process and reduce connection timescales.

The Government continues to engage across the sector on this matter and has spoken to Dover about decarbonisation and shore power a number of times in recent months. Alongside those conversations, the Government is considering shore power within a broader context of zero emission ports and will be publishing a call for evidence on this later in the year.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
13th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether any directors of Network Rail are entitled to (a) free rail travel and (b) rail staff travel facilities.