John McNally Portrait

John McNally

Scottish National Party - Falkirk

Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment)

(since October 2017)

Oral Question
Tuesday 12th July 2022
11:30
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Oral Question No. 20
If he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of the report by the Climate Change Committee entitled 2022 Progress Report to Parliament, published on 29 June 2022.
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Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 13th July 2022
13:30
Environmental Audit Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Mapping the path to net zero
13 Jul 2022, 1:30 p.m.
At 1.45pm: Oral evidence
The Rt Hon. the Lord Deben - Chair at Climate Change Committee
Mike Thompson - Chief Economist at Climate Change Committee
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Division Votes
Monday 4th July 2022
Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 33 Scottish National Party Aye votes vs 0 Scottish National Party No votes
Tally: Ayes - 209 Noes - 282
Speeches
Tuesday 5th July 2022
Zero-emission Buses
It is always a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Murray. I, too, thank the right hon. Member for …
Written Answers
Tuesday 5th July 2022
Social Security Benefits
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to allow a …
Early Day Motions
Thursday 28th October 2021
#MyBitYourBit campaign
That this House urges the Government to support the APPG on Youth Action Against Climate Change and the new campaign, …
Bills
None available
MP Financial Interests
Saturday 11th January 2020
7. (i) Shareholdings: over 15% of issued share capital
Until 1 July 2019, The Barber Shop; hair salon. (Registered 8 June 2015; updated 10 January 2020)
EDM signed
Wednesday 29th June 2022
Planned coalmine in Whitehaven, Cumbria
That this House is concerned by Government plans to approve the first new coalmine for 30 years in Whitehaven, Cumbria, …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 10th June 2020
Local Electricity Bill 2019-21
A Bill to enable electricity generators to become local electricity suppliers; and for connected purposes.

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, John McNally has voted in 293 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All John McNally Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.

Sparring Partners
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(7 debate interactions)
Alok Sharma (Conservative)
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
(4 debate interactions)
George Eustice (Conservative)
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(4 debate interactions)
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Legislation Debates
John McNally has not made any spoken contributions to legislative debate
View all John McNally's debates

Falkirk Petitions

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

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

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

Petition Debates Contributed

The Government must introduce legislation to abolish greyhound racing, via managed shutdown of activities, and ensure welfare of redundant dogs through a levy on the industry. In 2019 Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) data confirmed 4970 injuries & 710 deaths (14 per week).


Latest EDMs signed by John McNally

10th May 2022
John McNally signed this EDM on Wednesday 29th June 2022

Planned coalmine in Whitehaven, Cumbria

Tabled by: Caroline Lucas (Green Party - Brighton, Pavilion)
That this House is concerned by Government plans to approve the first new coalmine for 30 years in Whitehaven, Cumbria, in order to supply steelworks; notes that industry figures say there’s no demand for the mine, and that a former British Steel Chief Executive has warned the plans will delay …
38 signatures
(Most recent: 5 Jul 2022)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 17
Liberal Democrat: 8
Scottish National Party: 5
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 2
Green Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Alba Party: 1
14th June 2022
John McNally signed this EDM on Monday 20th June 2022

Domestic sale and advertisement of animal experiences abroad

Tabled by: Martyn Day (Scottish National Party - Linlithgow and East Falkirk)
That this House notes the urgent need for a ban on the domestic sale and advertisement of cruel animal experiences abroad, such as elephant rides and captive dolphin shows, to be brought into legislation; acknowledges the cruel methods used to train elephants for entertainment, such as repeated beatings with hooks, …
23 signatures
(Most recent: 4 Jul 2022)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 15
Plaid Cymru: 3
Labour: 2
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Green Party: 1
Independent: 1
View All John McNally's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by John McNally, 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.



104 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
2 Other Department Questions
9th Jun 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that young people, such as those involved in the all-party Parliamentary group on Youth Action Against Climate Change, are adequately engaged in the run up to COP26 in line with target 13.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We have established a dedicated COP26 youth engagement team in the Cabinet Office who are coordinating the UK Government’s strategy to ensure youth voices are heard at COP26. We are harnessing young people’s expertise through the COP26 civil society and youth advisory council, which I chair alongside Elizabeth Wathuti, a 25-year-old climate activist from Kenya, and Bella Lack, an 18-year-old climate activist from the UK.

In addition, this month we are proud to have launched the Together for Our Planet Schools Pack, designed to engage students on climate action, encourage conversations about tackling climate change, and help students learn more about the COP26 summit in Glasgow this year.

Internationally, we are working hard to champion and amplify youth voices from across the world, particularly those on the frontline of climate change, including through our regular engagements with Mock COP26 and YOUNGO (official youth constituency to the UNFCCC).

On the road to COP26, we are working on two youth events, including Italy’s ‘Youth4Climate2021: Driving Ambition’ event held in Milan this September and YOUNGO’s sixteenth Conference of Youth event held in Glasgow this October.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the President of COP26, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) the Youth Action on climate Change All-Party Parliamentary Group and (b) other youth groups can engage digitally with the activities of COP26.

All over the world, young people are leading the charge against climate change, whether through advocating climate action, or developing climate solutions. This is why we are committed to amplifying young people's voices on the road to and at COP26 in Glasgow, this November.

The Cabinet Office’s dedicated youth and civil society team host regular online open calls for civil society and youth organisations to hear the latest planning developments for the conference. We would welcome the participation of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Action Against Climate Change at these meetings. The contact to join is rebecca.thurston@cabinetoffice.gov.uk. We have also established the COP26 Civil Society and Youth advisory council, where young activists, NGOs, indigenous peoples and faith groups are very much part of our conversations in planning COP26. Which I chair alongside Elizabeth Wathuti, a 25-year-old climate activist from Kenya, and Bella Lack, an 18-year-old climate activist from the UK.

In addition, this month we are proud to have launched the Together for Our Planet Schools Pack, designed to engage students on climate action, encourage conversations about tackling climate change, and help students learn more about the COP26 summit in Glasgow this year.

Alok Sharma
COP26 President (Cabinet Office)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many people declared themselves as self-employed in each of the last three years in Falkirk constituency.

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

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that (a) suppliers and (b) employees are not adversely affected financially by the clothing retailer Missguided's fall into administration.

On 1st June 2022 it was announced that Missguided had been bought out of administration by the Frasers Group. The company will be supervised by the administrators for a transition period of eight weeks, after which the new owners will take over responsibility for running the business. The Government has no role in the strategic direction or management of private retail companies.

No announcement has yet been made regarding redundancies. However, we recognise that this will be a worrying time for Missguided’s employees and their families and the Government stands ready to support those who may be affected. As a consequence of Missguided’s administration, any employees who have been made redundant can apply to the Insolvency Service’s Redundancy Payments Service to claim for redundancy, unpaid wages, holiday pay and loss of notice pay. To qualify for a redundancy payment, employees must have at least two years’ continuous employment with their former employer. Employees who do not have two years’ continuous employment can still claim for wages, holidays and loss of notice. Further information regarding how to submit a claim will be provided by the joint administrators.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to help support (a) suppliers and (b) small businesses affected by the clothing retailer Missguided's fall into administration.

On 1st June 2022 it was announced that Missguided had been bought out of administration by the Frasers Group. The company will be supervised by the administrators for a transition period of eight weeks, after which the new owners will take over responsibility for running the business. The Government has no role in the strategic direction or management of private retail companies.

No announcement has yet been made regarding redundancies. However, we recognise that this will be a worrying time for Missguided’s employees and their families and the Government stands ready to support those who may be affected. As a consequence of Missguided’s administration, any employees who have been made redundant can apply to the Insolvency Service’s Redundancy Payments Service to claim for redundancy, unpaid wages, holiday pay and loss of notice pay. To qualify for a redundancy payment, employees must have at least two years’ continuous employment with their former employer. Employees who do not have two years’ continuous employment can still claim for wages, holidays and loss of notice. Further information regarding how to submit a claim will be provided by the joint administrators.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department has taken to help ensure that petrol and diesel companies are not overcharging for fuel by charging in greater than normal excess compared to the wholesale cost of oil.

The Department monitors the fuel supply market and publishes weekly national average pump prices.

BEIS analysis shows that both rises and falls in crude oil prices are passed through to consumers over the course of 6-7 weeks and found no evidence to suggest that, for given changes in crude oil prices, retail prices rise faster than they fall.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate his Department has made of the reduction of CO2 emissions in tonnes as a result of Drax being in receipt of £832 million in direct Government subsidies to biomass in 2020.

The Renewables Obligation and Contracts for Difference Scheme currently requires that solid biomass used to generate electricity does not exceed a greenhouse gas emission of 200 kg per MWh. Emissions from coal generation in 2020 were equivalent to 997 kg per MWh, so biomass currently delivers at least an 80% greenhouse gas saving over coal.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
5th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that energy companies are offering affordable and flexible energy tariffs to customers who operate lifesaving and enhancing medical equipment from their homes.

The Government is committed to ensuring fair energy prices for consumers. The Government introduced the Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Act, which requires the energy regulator Ofgem to cap standard variable and default energy tariffs in 2019. The Energy Price Cap will remain in place at least till the end of 2022 to protect millions of customers and ensure they pay a fair price for their energy.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of entering a collective bargaining agreement with Europe to regulate high gas prices enforced by Norway.

Norway is a significant, longstanding and reliable gas supplier to the UK with supply based on commercial arrangements between buyers and sellers. Current gas prices are high for many reasons including rebounding global demand as COVID-19 lockdowns ease; greater LNG demand in Asia; upstream maintenance affecting supply capacity over summer, and higher demand for gas in electricity generation on the Continent as coal is disincentivised.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the Government has plans to (a) consider the hairdressing and barber industry for Mandatory Registration or (b) devolve that decision to the devolved Administrations; and if his Department will hold discussions with his counterparts in the devolved Administrations on the potential merits of devolving licensing of the hair and barber industry.

The Department regularly engages with the devolved administrations and officials on a variety of issues.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to ensure young people are consulted on plans to promote climate action and a green recovery from the covid-19 pandemic ahead of COP26.

Achieving our net zero target must be a shared endeavour. As we work to kickstart our economy and building back greener from the pandemic, we are setting out bold policies in place. For instance, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan brings together £12 billion of government investment to support up to 250,000 green jobs by 2030. It is green jobs such as these, that many young people have expressed a preference to work in.

Global appetite for climate action has never been bigger and young people play a vital role in harnessing this appetite to drive forward real-world action. This is why we have set up an International COP26 Civil Society and Youth Advisory Council, so that we can hear the views of young people. In addition, our dedicated COP26 youth engagement team continue to meet with diverse young climate leaders to involve them in our planning for COP26.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will meet with representatives of (a) garment manufacturers, (b) fashion creatives, (c) retailers, (d) and brands to discuss the effect of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on the UK fashion industry.

I regularly meet with representatives from those industries, as part of my frequent engagement with stakeholders from across the retail and consumer goods sectors. The last such meeting took place on 9 February where both the economic recovery from Covid-19 and the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement were discussed.

The Government recognises the significant contribution of the UK’s world-leading fashion and textiles sector to the UK economy, and is committed to supporting it.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the UK fashion industry on the effect on that industry of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

I last spoke with various representatives from the UK fashion industry, including the UK Fashion and Textiles Association (UKFT), on the effect of the Trade and Cooperation agreement on 9 February.

Across Government, we have recently held specific workshops for Retail & Consumer Goods stakeholders as well as a webinar with the British Fashion Council (BFC) on key Trade and Cooperation Agreement issues including Rules of Origin.

We are also working closely with UKFT on guidance and case study examples for businesses to help them understand and adapt to new requirements.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether it his policy that the National Grid should become carbon neutral by 2050.

The Government has already legislated to deliver net zero emissions in the UK, becoming the first major economy to do so, and is working closely with Ofgem, the independent energy regulator, and industry to support the transition to a smarter, more flexible energy system. In April 2019, National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) announced it will be able to fully operate Great Britain’s electricity system with zero carbon by 2025. The ability to operate a zero-carbon electricity system in 2025 is a major stepping stone to full decarbonisation of the entire electricity system in 2050.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what additional (a) funding and (b) resources his Department has allocated to the National Grid for increased resilience of the grid since the blackouts of August 2019.

Following the power disruption that occurred on 9th August 2019, the Energy Emergencies Executive Committee (E3C) conducted a review of the incident to identify lessons learnt and put in place a robust action plan for the prevention of similar disruptions occurring and the management of future power disruptions.

The E3C’s report and 10 recommendations were published on 03 January, alongside the finding from Ofgem’s investigation, and work continues at pace to implement the action plan in full.

On completion of these actions, any significant changes to improve the resilience of the network will be agreed by Ofgem and factored into industry price controls to ensure they are allocated sufficient funding and resources.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made an assessment of the effect of changes to the level of energy operator (a) transmission and (b) connector charges on the development of localised electricity grids.

Network charging is a matter for Ofgem as the independent regulator. Ofgem is leading two major charging reforms: the Targeted Charging Review; and Access and Forward Looking Charges Significant Code Review (Access SCR). Collectively, this programme of work seeks to ensure that regulatory and market arrangements reflect and enable the energy system transition, as we move towards net zero emissions, and that consumers benefit from the changes.

The Access SCR is most relevant to localised electricity grids. It seeks to ensure electricity networks are used efficiently and flexibly, reflecting users’ needs and allowing consumers to benefit from new technologies and services while avoiding unnecessary costs on energy bills. Ofgem published illustrative examples to help explain the potential benefits of its reforms to different users, including a wind generator and local energy scheme (available at: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/system/files/docs/2019/12/winter_2019_-_working_paper_-_illustrative_examples_note_publish.pdf). It will be publishing a full impact assessment, alongside its minded-to decision on its proposed changes under the Access SCR, later this year.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to use the UK's potential economic recovery from the covid-19 outbreak to accelerate a transition to a carbon neutral economy.

In his speech of June 30, the Prime Minister made clear that in recovering from COVID-19, we must build back better, build back greener, build back faster, and to do that at the pace that this moment requires. Our economy must be greener, more sustainable, and more resilient.

The UK has shown that growing our economy and cutting emissions can be achieved at the same time. We have grown our economy by 75% while cutting emissions by 43% over the past three decades. The UK has over 460,000 jobs in low carbon businesses and their supply chains and many of the actions we need to take to reach our target of net zero emissions by 2050 will support jobs and growth across the UK.

The Government announced an ambitious support package for our low carbon economy at the Spring budget, including £800m fund for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and £1bn in support for ultra-low emission vehicles infrastructure. In his 30 June speech, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced further measures including up to £100m of new funding to research and develop Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology; a Green Recovery Challenge Fund of up to £40m to kick start a programme of nature-based projects to address the twin challenges of halting biodiversity loss and tackling climate change; and, recommitting to planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year by 2025.

On July 8, my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered an economic update setting out the next stage in our plan to support the UK’s recovery from the pandemic. The Government announced an additional £3 billion green investment to create thousands of green jobs and upgrade buildings. This includes £50m to demonstrate innovative approaches to retrofitting social housing at scale, to start the decarbonisation of social housing over 20/21; a £2 billion ‘Green Homes Grant’ to help people improve the efficiency of their homes accelerating progress towards net zero, while supporting jobs and reducing energy bills; and, £1 billion investment over the next year in a new Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to upgrade public sector buildings, including schools and hospitals, making them fit to help meet net zero with energy efficiency and low carbon heat measures.

We will continue to build on this even further and deliver a stronger, greener, more sustainable economy after this pandemic. The Government will continue to set out further measures as part of its green agenda in the run up to COP26 in November 2021.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of the costs for the National Grid's transition to carbon neutrality will be covered via the bills of rate payers.

Energy network companies, which transport energy to homes and businesses, are regulated by the independent energy regulator, Ofgem, to ensure that they adequately maintain a safe and secure network whilst investing for the future and ensuring a fair price for consumers. In order to do this, Ofgem uses price controls to determine the revenues network companies may recover, the investment they may make and the performance standards they must deliver. Energy network companies are subject to price controls because they are regional monopolies and customers do not generally have a choice of provider.

Energy suppliers are charged by network companies for the costs they incur in building, maintaining and operating the energy network, and suppliers pass on these costs to their customers. Ofgem will ensure – through its regulatory framework – that energy networks will be able to deliver our net zero target, while keeping costs down for consumers. Government will continue to engage with Ofgem on these issues.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
8th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether she has had discussions with (a) her Spanish counterpart and (b) UEFA on the public drinking water shortage at the UEFA Europa League final in Seville in May 2022; and if she will make a statement.

My officials have met with representatives of Rangers Football Club and discussed their submission to UEFA on their experiences at the Europa League Final. Fans deserve better than experienced in Seville, and subsequently in Paris. I look forward to UEFA's consideration of both these events.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport, what recent discussions her Department had held with Ofcom on revoking the licences of Russian state-backed broadcasters.

Broadcasting regulation is a matter for the independent regulator Ofcom. The Secretary of State wrote to Ofcom on 23 February setting out her concerns over Russian propaganda following the crisis in Ukraine. Ofcom responded on the same day, informing the Secretary of State that it had already stepped up its oversight of coverage of these events by broadcasters in the UK, in recognition of the serious nature of the crisis in Ukraine.

We welcome Ofcom’s decision to revoke RT’s licence to broadcast in the UK so that Putin can no longer spread insidious propaganda on UK television. We will not hesitate to take any necessary action against key individuals and bodies responsible for disseminating misinformation and are exploring options to stop the spread of such material in the UK.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Government plans to allocate a proportion of the £1.57 billion funding for cultural, arts and heritage institutions to direct support for (a) performers and (b) technicians and craftspeople who work on performances.

DCMS recognises the crucial role that individuals play in the UK’s events industry, and that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to many individuals operating in this sector.

The Secretary of State announced an unprecedented £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors. This package will benefit craftspeople by providing support to Arts, Cultural, and Heritage organisations to stay open and continue operating.

To complement the funding for organisations made available by Government, Arts Council England (ACE) have announced £95m of additional support for individuals, including freelancers. This involves:

  • an additional £75m in project grants. These will be focused on applications that maximise employment opportunities and those from under-represented groups. Freelancers and National Portfolio Organisations are eligible to apply directly. National Portfolio Organisations can also apply to create new work with bids that create employment opportunities prioritised.

  • A further round of the ACE programme ‘Discover Your Creative Practice’ will open in the autumn. This will make approximately £18m available for individuals looking to develop new creative skills that will help them to further develop their career.

  • ACE will also be adding £2m into relevant benevolent funds to support those less well supported by the programmes outlined above, including stage managers and technicians.

We are committed to continuing to work with the events sector to understand the difficulties they face and help them access support through these challenging times and through recovery.

14th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to introduce a ban on the domestic (a) advertising and (b) sale of wild animal experiences, including elephant rides overseas.

This Government takes the welfare of all animals seriously and the Government has been made aware that animals including Asian elephants, that are part of tourist attractions, can be subjected to cruel and brutal training practices to ensure their compliance.

As set out in our Action Plan for Animal Welfare, we are committed to promoting high animal welfare standards, both at home and abroad. We have engaged with the travel industry and other stakeholder organisations, and we support measures which ensure that money from tourists from this country is not channelled towards animal experiences abroad that involve the unacceptable treatment of animals.

The Government is committed to exploring available options to deliver the action plan, including to limit the advertising and offering for sale of these experiences.

17th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has made an assessment of the views of stakeholders in respect of the Marine Stewardship Council’s certification of unsustainable fisheries.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label is a voluntary initiative and operates independently of the Government. Defra has no plans to take forward an assessment of the accessibility of the MSC label to small-scale fisheries.

Further to the Government's response to the Environmental Audit Committee's 'Sustainable Seas' report of 2019, Defra continues to encourage non-governmental organisations and individuals to participate in the frequent stakeholder consultations that MSC holds. The MSC standard has evolved positively over time and constructive comments will help ensure this continues to happen.

The Government is fully committed to sustainable fishing. Fisheries Management Plans will be a key tool through which we will work with industry to improve the sustainability and management of our fisheries, making it easier for the fishing sector then to secure independent accreditation if they wish to do so. We are actively discussing this issue with stakeholders across the seafood sector as part of the public consultation on the draft Joint Fisheries Statement.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has made an assessment of the accessibility of the Marine Stewardship Council ecolabel to small-scale fisheries.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label is a voluntary initiative and operates independently of the Government. Defra has no plans to take forward an assessment of the accessibility of the MSC label to small-scale fisheries.

Further to the Government's response to the Environmental Audit Committee's 'Sustainable Seas' report of 2019, Defra continues to encourage non-governmental organisations and individuals to participate in the frequent stakeholder consultations that MSC holds. The MSC standard has evolved positively over time and constructive comments will help ensure this continues to happen.

The Government is fully committed to sustainable fishing. Fisheries Management Plans will be a key tool through which we will work with industry to improve the sustainability and management of our fisheries, making it easier for the fishing sector then to secure independent accreditation if they wish to do so. We are actively discussing this issue with stakeholders across the seafood sector as part of the public consultation on the draft Joint Fisheries Statement.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if the Government will take steps to (a) mitigate against and (b) effectively monitor bycatch in high-risk fisheries.

We recognise that accidental bycatch in fisheries is one of the greatest threats faced by sensitive marine species such as dolphins and seabirds, and we remain fully committed to tackling this issue. The Fisheries Act 2020 and Joint Fisheries Statement have an “ecosystem objective” which includes an objective to minimise and, where possible, eliminate incidental catches of sensitive marine species.

Since 2020, Defra has funded Clean Catch UK, a research programme which is developing and trialling a range of bycatch monitoring and mitigation measures in Cornwall (a known high-risk area for sensitive species bycatch). This programme has developed a bycatch self-reporting mobile application validated by observers and electronic monitoring and an online ‘Bycatch Mitigation Hub’ with information on different approaches to reduce bycatch. In addition, we are working with the fishing industry to trial various innovative technologies to reduce cetacean bycatch.

The UK Government funds a comprehensive and well-respected bycatch monitoring programme which provides essential observer data on incidents of sensitive species bycatch. The programme focusses primarily on gear types with a high expected or known risk of sensitive species bycatch. A new contract for the bycatch monitoring programme is expected to begin in April 2022.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to ensure that the Joint Fisheries Statement expected in November 2022 contains a commitment to establishing specific, time-bound and measurable objectives to minimise and where possible eliminate bycatch of sensitive species.

We recognise that accidental bycatch in fisheries is one of the greatest threats faced by sensitive marine species such as dolphins and seabirds, and we remain fully committed to tackling this issue. The Fisheries Act 2020 and Joint Fisheries Statement (JFS) have an “ecosystem objective” which includes an objective to minimise and, where possible, eliminate incidental catches of sensitive marine species.

The JFS is out to consultation until 12 April 2022. After the consultation, we will summarise the responses and place this summary on the UK Government and all devolved administrations’ websites.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to improve transparency in the fashion supply chain by (a) providing the information on clothing labels or (b) other steps to allow consumers to easily access information on a garment's carbon footprint when making a purchase.

In the Government’s Resources & Waste Strategy we committed to provide consumers with better information on products when they purchase items, such as textiles and clothing. Our draft Waste Prevention Programme for England published in March 2021 identified textiles as one of seven key sectors for action and outlined the steps we are taking to improve information.

Through our landmark Environment Act 2021 we have powers to require better information on the resource efficiency of products to enable informed consumer choice.

We will be assessing options this year on what type of information would best support more sustainable purchasing decisions for textiles products, before making decisions. We are also providing funding to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to update their environmental footprint modelling tool later this year, working with industry signatories to the Textiles 2030 scheme. This will increase the level, availability and transparency of data relating to carbon emissions across the life cycle of garments.

7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if the Government will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a one pence per garment levy to support better clothing collection and sorting.

The Government's Resources & Waste Strategy identified textiles as a priority for consideration for an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme. EPR works to ensure producers, rather than taxpayers, pay the costs of their products when they become waste – and incentivise them to cut waste and make their products more sustainable and easier to recycle. Research is underway and we will engage stakeholders on options by the end of 2022.

7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions the Government has had with the fashion industry to encourage major fashion outlets to take part in voluntary initiatives including (a) the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan and (b) Textiles 2030 over the last two years.

Government worked closely with WRAP on the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) 2020 and to develop and launch the ambitious new voluntary agreement, Textiles 2030

Building on the success of SCAP, Textiles 2030 was launched in April 2021 and we are pleased that within six months 92 signatories have joined, including ASOS, Boohoo, Dunelm, John Lewis, M&S, New Look, Next, Primark, Sainsbury’s, Ted Baker and Tesco. 62% of all clothing put on the UK market is represented by Textiles 2030 members. The new initiative is underpinned by ambitious targets including halving the carbon footprint of new products by 50% and reducing the water footprint by 30%, both by 2030.

Defra ministers have been proactively engaging with industry to drive participation in both SCAP (now closed) and now Textiles 2030. This included chairing a roundtable with industry in February 2021 ahead of the launch of Textiles 2030 and events to mark the 6-month celebration of Textiles 2030 and closing of SCAP in October last year.

We are now working closely with Textiles 2030 to support our policy development.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of reviewing commercial fishing practices to ensure that fishing practices that are incompatible with the delivery of the Government's climate objectives are phased out in a fair and transparent manner.

The Climate Change Objective in the Fisheries Act ensures that future fisheries management policy will mitigate against the effects of fishing on climate change, as well as adapting to any future impacts of climate change. Fisheries administrations will introduce legally binding policies, for example, to mitigate and reduce emissions, to achieve this objective in the Joint Fisheries Statement.

In addition, UK Fisheries Authorities will develop Fisheries Management Plans (FMPs) which will set out in detail the management measures needed for sustainable harvesting and measures to minimise the impact of fishing activity on the environment. Plans will be regularly reviewed against indicators to monitor the FMPs effectiveness in meeting its goals and targets against stock health and sustainability, levels of compliance and wider ecosystem health.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy immediately to ban industrial fishing in offshore Marine Protected Areas.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Belfast South on 6 November 2020, PQ UIN 107768.

[questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020-10-22/107768]

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department has taken to arrange UK driving licenses as being acceptable within the Spanish transport system.

UK driving licences are recognised by Spain for temporary visits. The Department for Transport has been working to secure arrangements so that where a UK licence holder is resident in Spain, they may exchange their licence for a Spanish one without having to take a driving test but unfortunately an agreement has not yet been reached.

The Secretary of State for Transport held a call with Spain’s Minister for the Interior on Friday 29 April to agree a way forward to include rapidly accelerating talks on driving licence exchange which are on-going.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
29th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to support local councils to buy zero emissions buses produced in the UK.

As set out in the Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021, £355 million of new funding has been made available for zero emission buses. £150 million of this funding has been made available for 2021-22 with the remaining funding available over the Spending Review period.

In addition, up to 900 zero emission buses and associated infrastructure will be supported through existing funding made available since February 2020 from the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme, the All Electric Bus Town or City scheme and the Ultra Low Emission Bus scheme. Local transport authorities have been able to apply for funding for zero emission buses under all these schemes.

Under the ZEBRA scheme, £70.8 million has been awarded so far to five local transport authorities: Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority, Leicester City Council, Kent County Council, Milton Keynes Council and Warrington Borough Council. The Department is in the process of formally awarding funding to these areas. A further 17 local transport authorities are working to produce business cases under the standard process of the scheme. The Department will award funding to successful business cases under the standard process in Spring 2022.

UK bus manufacturers are well placed to benefit from this funding for zero emission buses.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of whether the target of 4,000 new UK-made zero emission buses will be met.

The Government remains committed to support the introduction of 4,000 zero emission buses.

As set out in the Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021 £355 million of new funding has been made available for zero emission buses. £150 million of this funding has been made available for 2021-22 with the remaining funding available over the Spending Review period.

In addition, up to 900 zero emission buses and associated infrastructure will be supported through existing funding made available since February 2020 from the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme, the All Electric Bus Town or City scheme and the Ultra Low Emission Bus scheme.

The Government has also committed to reforming the Bus Service Operators Grant, increasing it for zero emission buses from April 2022, and to setting an end date for the sale of new diesel buses, further incentivising the adoption of zero emission buses.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment the Government has made of the potential merits of extending the time period to two years for foreign driving licence holders to exchange those licences for GB driving licences; and what his timetable is for making that decision.

Holders of driving licences issued outside of the European Union who become resident in Great Britain can drive small vehicles (motorcars and motorcycles) for up one year from the date they become resident.

To continue driving after this period the driver must either exchange their licence, if it was issued by a country which has been designated for licence exchange purposes, or apply for a provisional driving licence and pass both a theory and practical driving test. There are no plans to review these arrangements.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential risk of allowing D4 drivers categorised as healthy to defer their medicals for a year.

An analysis of the temporary change which allows lorry and bus drivers to renew their licences for one year without the requirement for a medical report was published as part of the legislative changes made to support the scheme in the Business and Planning Act 2020. The analysis is available on the Parliament UK website and the specific provisions relating to bus and lorry driving licences starts on page 33.

Drivers renewing their licence without a medical report remain legally obliged to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of the onset or worsening of any medical conditions that may affect their driving. If a medical condition is declared, a licence will not be issued unless an investigation by the DVLA confirms that the relevant medical standards are met.

21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with UK bus (a) manufacturers and (b) operators on the February 2020 Government announcement on purchasing at least 4,000 zero emission buses.

The Department is in regular dialogue with bus operators and manufacturers. The Minister responsible for Buses, Baroness Vere, recently chaired a roundtable which was attended by the Chief Executives of the largest UK bus manufacturers, bus trade associations and operators, and this topic was on the agenda.

14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking ensure that funding from his Department for the ultra-low emissions bus scheme is released to transport operators by September 2020 to protect jobs in that sector.

The Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme (ULEBS) awarded £48 million across 19 local authorities and bus operators, and will support 263 zero emission buses and infrastructure. To release the funding to operators, government must be presented with evidence of purchase of the vehicles.

More recently the Government has announced £5 billion of new funding to overhaul bus and cycling links across England outside of London, which includes funding for at least 4,000 new zero-emission buses.

3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many electric vehicles were registered in Falkirk constituency in the most recent period for which records are available.

At the end of 2019, there were 107 battery electric vehicles licensed to an address in the Falkirk constituency, which comprised of 104 cars and 3 other vehicles.

28th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make it her policy to allow a person to move back to legacy benefits from Universal Credit where that person decided to move from legacy benefits to Universal Credit owing to staff in her Department incorrectly advising that they would receive a higher payment on Universal Credit; and if she will make an estimate of how many people have been misdirected by her Department in that way in each of the last three years.

DWP staff should not advise claimants what to do in terms of whether to submit a claim to benefit, nor if a claimant would be ‘better off’ moving to Universal Credit or remaining on legacy benefits. However, staff will signpost claimants to information available via the Understanding UC website and independent benefit calculators for further information.

The replacement of six legacy benefits by UC is a large and complex undertaking, introduced in a controlled and phased manner. It is therefore as a matter of fundamental policy design that once a claimant makes a claim for Universal Credit their existing legacy benefits will come to an end; this includes Tax Credits.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential impact of not providing supplementary fuel payments to people who receive Contributory Employment and Support Allowance on those claimants.

Winter Fuel Payments are an age-related payment payable to those who have reached state pension age. The payment provides reassurance to older customers that Government help is available during the winter months to help with their energy bills. This winter 2022/23 winter fuel payments will be increased by £300 and households with someone of state pension age and under 80 will receive £500 and households with someone aged 80 or over will receive £600.

Cold Weather Payments are made to people in receipt of certain income-related benefits. People who receive contribution-based benefits, such as contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, are not eligible for Cold Weather Payments. This is because the Cold Weather Payment scheme was specifically designed to target the most vulnerable people in society, by providing help with additional heating costs during periods of severe weather. The Government firmly believes that the fairest way of managing this is by linking eligibility to income-related benefits, as this ensures that public funds are used in the most effective way possible.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the sufficiency of legacy benefits in supporting constituents with rising fuel costs and costs of living; and if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of backdating the £20 uplift to those who were ineligible.

The uplift to Universal Credit was a temporary measure. We have no plans to complete an assessment of backdating it.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of financial support available to people who operate and require the use of medical equipment within their homes.

We are committed to supporting disabled people and people with health conditions to realise their potential and live independently. Dedicated financial support for equipment at home is available to some disabled people and can be explored through Apply for equipment for your home if you're disabled - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) or Financial help if you're disabled - GOV.UK.

The Department recognises the extra costs disabled people can face in their everyday lives. Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment are intended to help with these extra costs. Claimants are able to use their benefit according to their own priorities. These benefits are tax-free, non-contributory and are uprated annually in line with inflation. They are paid in addition to other benefits which someone may be able to receive.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will take steps to respond to the urgent matter from the hon. Member for Falkirk of 21 July 2021, CMS ref 121026584364 on a constituent.

A response was sent to the Hon Member on the 23 July 2021.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to paying parents who receive income from rental property being required to pay more in child maintenance payments as a result of changes in the calculation of their gross income, if she will make a make an assessment of (a) the equity of that policy, (b) the effect of those changes on the amount affected individuals are required to pay and (b) the effect on paying parents affected by those circumstances.

We believe that both parents have a financial responsibility to contribute towards the cost of bringing up their child. The calculation represents an amount of money that is broadly similar to the amount that a paying parent would spend on the child if they were still living with them.

Variations of a Child Maintenance calculation can be requested on grounds of unearned income; such as rental income from property or land, where the paying parent receives unearned income of at least £2,500 a year. This amount is then included in the gross income figure used to calculate the amount of maintenance owed.

As landlords can claim tax relief for certain costs linked to their properties, the rental income used in the calculation is usually net of HMRC allowable expenses (i.e. mortgages, maintenance of the property, rent, ground rent and service charges).

The Service runs through broad rules set out in child support legislation. The statutory scheme aims to provide the best overall outcome and protect the welfare of all of its clients.

10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will take steps to ensure that the Child Maintenance Service provides additional financial support to people affected by parental alienation as a form of domestic abuse.

The Child Maintenance Service's responsibility is limited to maintenance payments. There are no plans for the Child Maintenance Service to provide additional financial support to people affected by parental alienation as a form of domestic abuse.

The Government takes the issue of domestic abuse seriously. The Child Maintenance Service will continue to monitor the service offered to clients who have experienced domestic abuse.

11th May 2020
What steps she is taking to ensure that her Department’s response to the covid-19 outbreak does not disadvantage women.

The government is committed to ensuring that the services and benefits it offers works for everyone including women, as we tackle the Covid 19 crisis. This Government has invested over £6.5bn in strengthening the safety net overall, including making changes to the benefits system to ensure claimants receive the support they need. Notably Universal Credit claimants, and people receiving Working Tax Credits, are receiving an increase in the standard rate of up to £1040 per year for the next 12 months, additional to the uprating announced in November 2019.

Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants have also been increased.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Health and Social Care, whether the Government undertook a modern slavery impact assessment before procuring PPE overseas in the context of evidence of modern slavery in PPE supply chains in Malaysia and China.

The Government uses standard contracts, which include clauses on modern slavery. Labour standards are a part of the NHS Supply Chain Coordination Limited framework suppliers contract award process.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the commitment by the Prime Minister in October 2020 to make 70 per cent of PPE in the UK, how much and what proportion of PPE is being made in the UK; and how much and what proportion of Government spending on PPE is on PPE made in the UK.

‘Personal protective equipment (PPE) strategy: stabilise and build resilience’, published in September 2020, committed to ensure that for the following winter, the supply of United Kingdom manufactured PPE would be sufficient to meet 70% of demand for all categories, except gloves. In that period, UK manufactured goods met 82% of demand. The Department has ordered over 36 billion items of PPE, of which 3.9 billion or approximately 11%, was ordered from UK manufacturers. The total cost was £14.4 billion, of which £1.3 billion or 9%, was for orders with UK manufacturers.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether foreign dignitaries are able to travel to the UK without proof of receipt of a UK-approved covid-19 vaccine.

Exemptions from mandatory testing may apply in limited circumstances to representatives of a foreign country or territory and representatives of the Government of a British overseas territory, travelling to the United Kingdom (UK) to conduct official business with the UK. But For public health reasons they are strongly encouraged to take tests on days two and eight after arrival.

Foreign dignitaries may also be eligible for exemption from quarantine if they are amber arrivals and can show proof of being fully vaccinated under any of the following:

  1. the UK vaccination programme
  2. the UK vaccine programme overseas
  3. an approved vaccination programme in Europe or the USA

Those without proof of vaccination will need to take a COVID-19 test on day two and day eight after arrival in England unless they are issued with an exemption by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to onshore personal protective equipment manufacturing.

Lord Deighton is leading the Government effort to unleash the potential of British industry to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) for the health and social care sectors. This will maximise opportunities for United Kingdom-based companies to fulfil orders of PPE.

We are building up UK manufacturing with signed contracts to manufacture over three billion items of PPE through UK-based manufacturers, including facemasks, visors, gowns and aprons.

It is anticipated that around 20% of all PPE will be manufactured in the UK by the end of the year.

24th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether she has discussed with relevant stakeholders the potential merits of proposals to hold a referendum in Ukraine's separate regions on joining the Russian state.

The UK is steadfast in our commitment to upholding Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. Any referendum that takes place on sovereign Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Government of Ukraine would be a further violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and we would not recognise it. Our position remains clear: Russia must withdraw its forces and military equipment from the entirety of Ukraine and cease its illegal war.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
1st Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what diplomatic approaches the Government supports in relation to the war in Ukraine; and what steps her Department has taken to support a diplomatic approach to de-escalation of that conflict.

President Zelenskyy has stated that the only way to halt the war is through diplomacy. The UK supports this view and Ukraine's desire for a just negotiated outcome that ensures a full Russian withdrawal, respects Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and deters Russia from future aggression. The UK calls upon Russia to halt its illegal war and to engage in genuine and meaningful negotiations. The Foreign Secretary continues to lead the diplomatic effort, regularly meeting and speaking with Foreign Minister counterparts, including the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, G7 and NATO Foreign Ministers.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of available peaceful methods of de-escalation of conflict in Ukraine.

The UK welcomes Ukraine's ongoing commitment to a diplomatic path to de-escalate, and we will continue to support them in achieving an outcome that delivers for Ukraine and its people. President Putin seems determined to pursue his path of violence and aggression, as evidenced by his increased military action in the Donbas and continued barbaric assault of Mariupol. We are therefore continuing to increase our economic pressure on him through sanctions, as well as providing the military assistance Ukraine needs to defend itself.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
26th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment she has made of available peaceful methods of de-escalation of conflict in Ukraine.

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

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
14th Apr 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if she will ask the Minister for Europe and North America to review correspondence from the hon. Member of Falkirk dated 1 March 2022 regarding an 88 year old man who seeks to be reunited with his partner in Canada.

I [Minister Cleverly] responded to the referenced correspondence from the hon. Member of Falkirk dated 1 March 2022 on 14 April 2022.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Minister for Europe)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will take steps to ensure that his Department responds to the letter to the Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth from the hon. Member for Falkirk of 17 May 2021, regarding a constituent, Nabila Khan, who is stranded in Pakistan.

A response was sent on 25 May 2021, and an additional copy has been sent to the Member's office.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
27th Jun 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he plans to take to ensure that victims of financial abuse are not (a) disallowed from mortgages, (b) given poor credit ratings and (c) negatively impacted in other ways by the finance industry.

The Government is strongly committed to tackle financial exclusion and discrimination and aims for everyone, whatever their background or income, to be able to access useful and affordable financial products and services. The Government works closely together with regulators, the financial services industry and other stakeholders, to ensure that all consumers of financial services are appropriately protected.

Industry-agreed principles, rather than government policy, determine what and how information is shared between organisations and Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs). CRAs then hold this information on individuals’ credit files and use it to create a credit score.

Consumers can add a Notice (of up to 200 words) to their credit file explaining any circumstances, such as being a victim of financial abuse, that may impact decisions made about their applications for credit, including mortgages. Lenders should take the content of this Notice into account alongside the other information on the credit file. In addition, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is currently undertaking a Credit Information Market Study which is assessing how the sector is working now and how it may develop in the future. The FCA will publish an interim report in summer 2022.

The FCA is also currently developing a new Consumer Duty, which would require firms to place more emphasis on the needs of all customers, including those who are vulnerable or at risk of being financially excluded. The FCA is required to publish its final rules before the end of July.

Prior to this, in February 2021, the FCA also published its finalised guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers, setting out a number of best practices (https://www.fca.org.uk/publications/finalised-guidance/guidance-firms-fair-treatment-vulnerable-customers).

This applies to all firms where the FCA Principles for Business apply, regardless of sector and in respect of the supply of products or services to retail customers.

23rd May 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the number of people of state pension age who will not be eligible for the £150 council tax rebate because they live in properties with tax bands E to H; and what assessment the Government made of the potential impact on that group before restricting eligibility to people in properties in Council Tax bands A to D.

The Government understands the pressures that people across the UK are facing with the cost of living. This is why the Government is providing over £15 billion in further support targeted towards those with the greatest need. From the Autumn, over eight million pensioner households who receive the winter fuel payment, will receive an extra one-off pensioner cost-of-living payment of £300 this year to help cover the rising cost of energy this winter.

Local authorities in England have received £144 million of discretionary funding to support households that are not eligible for the council tax rebate, including households in bands E-H. Local authorities are best-placed to determine how this support should be targeted, informed by guidance from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are receiving Barnett funding as a result of the council tax rebate and associated discretionary funding in England.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th Mar 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to negotiate with European counterparts to streamline regulation to allow vital humanitarian aid to reach Ukrainians.

The UK is committed to working with partners, including the EU, as well as humanitarian agencies to ensure a well-coordinated and well-funded response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and the surrounding region.

We have initiated a number of conversations with the EU and its Member States to understand their plans to ease the movement of humanitarian supplies. The EU has been working with Member States on this issue and several of them have eased their entry and exit regime to support the humanitarian effort for Ukraine.

The UK Government has also introduced a simplified customs process to support the export of aid goods destined for victims of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. More information about this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/taking-humanitarian-aid-out-of-great-britain-to-support-ukraine.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to protect pensioners at risk of financial hardship as a result of increases in the cost of energy.

The Government is committed to ensuring that older people are able to live with the dignity and respect they deserve, and the State Pension is the foundation of state support for older people.

Over the last two years, the basic and new State Pension have increased by more than 5.6%. This means that from April, the full yearly amount of the basic State Pension will be around £720 more in 2022/23 than if it had been up-rated by prices since 2010. That’s a rise of over £2,300 in cash terms.

The overall trend in the percentage of pensioners living in poverty is a dramatic fall over recent decades. There are 200,000 fewer pensioners in absolute poverty, both before and after housing costs, than in 2009/10.

The Government is providing support worth over £20 billion across this financial year and next that will help households, including pensioners, with the cost of living. This includes the £9.1 billion package announced this February to help with rising energy bills.

Our generous package includes a non-repayable £150 council tax rebate from April and a further reduction of £200 on energy bills in October. The £200 reduction in households’ energy bills from October will help people manage the increase in energy bills by spreading the increased costs over a few years, so they are more manageable for households.

This is on top of existing support available through Pension Credit, Winter Fuel Payments for households with people over State Pension age, the Warm Home Discount Scheme, and Cold Weather Payments.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make it his policy to reconsider the Government's changes to the entitlement for farmers' use of red diesel, so that farmers are not required to drain tractors' tanks to refill with white diesel for a single day of ploughing competition, and the following day drain the tank of white diesel and refill with red diesel.

The Chancellor confirmed at Spring Budget 2021 that the Government will remove the entitlement to use red diesel from most sectors from April 2022, other than for agriculture and a limited number of other users. This will help to ensure fairness between the different users of diesel fuels and that the tax system incentivises the development and adoption of greener alternative technologies.

Agricultural vehicles will be entitled to run on rebated fuel after April 2022 for purposes relating to agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fish farming. They will also be able to use rebated fuel when cutting verges and hedges that border a road, clearing snow, gritting, and clearing or otherwise dealing with flooding.

The activities accepted as falling within the definition of agriculture, horticulture and forestry are defined in HMRC Excise Notice 75. As agricultural shows and ploughing matches provide information and education that benefits agricultural purposes, the Government considers that running or participating in these activities are purposes relating to agriculture, for which rebated fuel may be used in qualifying vehicles and machines, and will be updating Excise Notice 75 accordingly. Rebated fuel can also be used to travel to and from where the vehicles or machines are to be used for these activities.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what comparative assessment he has made of the equity of his policies on the recovery of fraudulently claimed covid-19 support funds and the pursuance of the retrospective loan charge.

The Covid-19 support funds and the Loan Charge are two distinct polices.

In relation to the Covid-19 support funds, throughout the pandemic, the Government’s number one priority has been to protect jobs and livelihoods while also supporting businesses and public services across the UK.

The overwhelming majority of people that claimed Covid-19 support did so legitimately. However, HMRC are aware that mistakes can happen, which is why they are supporting people who made a mistake to correct it. Those who keep money claimed from any of the Covid-19 support schemes despite knowing they were not entitled to it face having to repay up to double the amount they received, plus interest, and potentially criminal prosecution in the most serious of cases.

The Loan Charge was announced at Budget 2016 and was a new tax charge on disguised remuneration loan balances outstanding on 5 April 2019. The Government recognises the Loan Charge can have a significant impact. Anyone who is worried about being able to pay their Loan Charge liability should contact HMRC. They may be able to agree an instalment arrangement based on their financial circumstances.

No comparative assessment of the recovery of Covid-19 support and liabilities related to the Loan Charge has been made, as they are not directly comparable.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many people seeking refunds as a result of the changes to the Loan Change made in response to the Morse Review have been refunded by HMRC.

This question is answered on the basis that your question is about HMRC’s Disguised Remuneration (DR) Repayment Scheme 2020. Following Lord Morse’s Independent Loan Charge Review in 2019, the Government introduced legislation requiring HMRC to establish a scheme to repay relevant Voluntary Restitution elements of DR settlements.

These amounts were voluntary payments that taxpayers had agreed to make as part of settlements concluded before changes were made to the scope of the Loan Charge. Individuals and employers had until 30 September 2021 to apply to HMRC for a refund or waiver.

HMRC repays amounts that were paid in DR scheme settlements, and/or waives amounts of instalments due that have not yet been paid if certain conditions are met.

As of 28 January 2022, HMRC had processed approximately 1500 applications, of which approximately 1000 had received either a repayment, a waiver, or both. Approximately 500 of the applications processed at that date were either invalid or ineligible.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will announce a further review of the Loan Charge policy.

An independent review of the Loan Charge has already taken place. The 2019 Review, conducted by Lord Morse, concluded that it was right for the Loan Charge to remain in force and for the Government to collect the tax due. The Government accepted all but one of the 20 recommendations in the Review.

The charge on Disguised Remuneration loans is targeted at contrived tax avoidance schemes which seek to avoid Income Tax and National Insurance contributions by paying users their income in the form of loans, usually via an offshore trust. This kind of tax avoidance deprives the Exchequer of funds to deliver vital public services.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the obligations on employment agencies and umbrella companies set out under Chapter 10 Part 2 of The Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003.

The Tax Information and Impact Note published in March 2021 set out the expected impacts of the April 2021 reform of the off-payroll working rules, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/off-payroll-working-rules-from-april-2021/off-payroll-working-rules-from-april-2021

Research into the effects of the off-payroll working rules reforms on employment agencies was published in March 2021, and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/effects-of-the-off-payroll-working-reforms-on-employment-agencies

During the debate on the Finance Bill 2020, the Government committed to commission independent research into the short-term impacts of the reform by October 2021. That research has been commissioned. The Government will publish its findings once complete.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
7th Feb 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps the Government is taking to recoup monies lost to fraud in the coronavirus grant schemes.

The Government has consistently stated that fraud is totally unacceptable. We are taking action on multiple fronts to recover money lost to error and fraud and, where necessary, taking legal action against those who have sought to exploit our schemes.

The Government takes the issue of potential fraud relating to covid support schemes extremely seriously. Robust measures were put in place to control error and fraud in the key covid support schemes from their inception. For instance, to minimise the risk of fraud and error and unverified claims, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) were designed in a way to prevent ineligible claims being made up front, and made payments for employees and businesses using existing data held on HMRC’s systems. That included cut-off dates around scheme eligibility and the need for customers to be registered for pay-as-you-earn online or self-assessment.

To further bolster anti-fraud measures, at the Spring Budget last year, the Government invested more than £100 million in a Taxpayer Protection Taskforce of more than 1,200 HMRC staff to combat Covid-related fraud. This Taskforce is expected to recover between £800 million and £1 billion from fraudulent or incorrect payments during 2021-22 and 2022-23. In addition, HMRC has so far stopped or recovered £743 million of overclaimed grants in 2020/21.

Local authorities are responsible for ensuring the safe administration of Covid support grants to businesses and that appropriate measures are put in place to mitigate against the increased risks of both fraud and payment error. Guidance for the grant schemes requires that local authorities have assurance plans in place which set out the steps they would take to minimise fraud. Government has mandated pre-payment checks (company and bank account searches) as well as post-event assurance, and a Fraud Risk Assessment, as standard elements of this plan.

Where grants have been paid in error, non-compliantly or to a fraudster, local authorities must seek to recover these funds and return them to BEIS. If local authorities have been unable to reclaim the grant, the case may be referred to BEIS under the Debt Recovery Policy to establish the next steps. Local Authorities are required to demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable and practicable steps to reclaim incorrectly paid grant funds. 93 cases are currently being triaged and debts assigned to BEIS for referral to Indesser, a Cabinet Office procured debt recovery service, to action.

24th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will take steps to ensure that all LCF bondholders will be compensated.

I know that this has been a very difficult time for LCF bondholders. The Government has announced that it will establish a compensation scheme that will provide 80% of LCF bondholders’ principle investment up to a maximum of £68,000. The scheme will be available to all LCF bondholders who have not already received compensation from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

The FSCS will administer the scheme. They are committed to ensuring that payments are made to all eligible LCF bondholders within 6 months of the Compensation (London Capital & Finance plc and Fraud Compensation Fund) Bill securing Royal Assent. This Bill was brought forward by the Government at the earliest possible opportunity and was introduced on 12 May 2021.

I hope that the compensation offered by the Government scheme will offer some relief to the distress and hardship suffered and provide closure on this difficult matter.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what further support he plans to make available to small businesses that have so far been ineligible for financial support during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will amend the eligibility criteria to include previously ineligible businesses.

Since the beginning of this crisis, the Government has put in place an unprecedented package of support for businesses worth over £280 billion. These schemes were designed with two principles in mind: the need to target support at those who need it most, and the need to protect the exchequer against error, fraud, and abuse. This is because the Government needs to balance its commitment to support people through the pandemic, with its duty to protect the taxpayer to ensure that public funds are managed responsibly.

The Government has acknowledged that it has not been possible to support everyone in the way they might want. However, businesses not eligible for certain forms of support may still be able to benefit from government-backed loans and general and sector-specific grants.

In January, all local authorities in England received a top-up worth a total of £500m to their allocation from the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), which has already provided local authorities with £1.1 billion. This funding will ensure that local authorities can make discretionary grants to businesses which are not eligible for other forms of support, but which are nonetheless experiencing a severe impact on their business due to the national lockdown. We encourage businesses in this position to contact their local authority to discuss what support may be available.

The Treasury is working intensively with employers, delivery partners, industry groups and other Government departments to understand the impacts of COVID-19 and specific challenges in the economy. We will continue to take a flexible approach and keep all policies under review to explore how we can better support different groups and ensure that the support provided is right for the economy as a whole over the coming months.

17th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in circumstances where a business has a successful Business Interruption policy claim met and the loss adjuster deducts from that claim the amount the business had received in furlough payments, whether insurance companies are paying to HM Treasury that deduction; and if it is Government policy that deductions of furlough payments from insurance claims should be paid to the Government.

The Financial Conduct Authority has advised that all deductions from business interruption insurance settlements should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The individual policy wording generally sets out the basis on which the sum due to the policyholder following an insured event will be calculated. Insurers should therefore calculate claims payments in accordance with the terms and conditions of the relevant policy.

The Government is in continual dialogue with the insurance sector regarding its response to this unprecedented situation, and is encouraging insurers to do all they can to support customers during this difficult period.

16th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reason he decided to withdraw the Job Retention Bonus.

The objective of the Job Retention Bonus (JRB) was to incentivise employers to retain employees between November and the end of January through a £1,000 bonus paid to the employer. The extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) allows employers to do that until the end of April by covering 80% of the furloughed employees’ wages. The policy intent of the JRB therefore fell away with the extension of the CJRS. The Government will set out details of how a revised retention incentive will work in due course.

16th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether online purchases from the EU made by UK customers by credit card will have to be made by (a) bank transfer and (b) in Euros after the transition period in the event of no deal being reached with the EU.

Online purchases by payment card from EU retailers are still possible now that the UK has left the Transition Period of EU Withdrawal. Whether a retailer accepts credit or debit cards as a payment method is a commercial decision for individual retailers.

Furthermore, the UK has maintained its participation in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), enabling continued Euro credit transfers and direct debits through the SEPA payment schemes.

21st Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether the UK is exporting fabric for use in personal protective equipment.

HMRC are responsible for the collection and publication of data on UK imports and exports of goods to and from the UK. HMRC release this information monthly as a National Statistic: the Overseas Trade in Goods Statistics.

However, the trade data collected does not enable HMRC to determine the ultimate end use of exported goods, and so cannot be used to confirm whether fabric is exported for use in personal protective equipment.

There is aggregated trade data available for fabrics on HMRC’s uktradeinfo.com website, under ‘Build your own data tables’. The site also contains a ‘Help’ function with information on how to extract trade data.

Trade data relating to the value of textiles and textile articles, including fabrics, can be searched for using commodity codes in chapters 50 to 63 of the Trade Tariff: https://www.trade-tariff.service.gov.uk/sections.

17th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps are being taken to protect the (a) relationship and (b) data sharing between the UK and European partners on tackling illicit trade.

The UK is committed to continued cooperation with European partners on tackling illicit trade. As part of negotiations with the EU, the UK has proposed provisions for customs cooperation and mutual administrative assistance. This would enable the parties to work together while upholding their respective customs regimes, to protect revenue and combat criminality through efficient and reciprocal exchange of information and mutual assistance across customs matters.

The Government is clear that everyone must pay tax that is legally due, no matter who they are. The Government has a strong record in tackling tax avoidance, evasion and non-compliance. With regard to collaboration with private prosecutors, the information that HMRC can lawfully share with third parties is restricted by the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 (CRCA). However, HMRC have existing structures in place to allow for the receipt, management and exploitation of information and intelligence from individuals and private sector sources.

17th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the merits of collaborating with private prosecutors in tackling illicit trade in the UK.

The UK is committed to continued cooperation with European partners on tackling illicit trade. As part of negotiations with the EU, the UK has proposed provisions for customs cooperation and mutual administrative assistance. This would enable the parties to work together while upholding their respective customs regimes, to protect revenue and combat criminality through efficient and reciprocal exchange of information and mutual assistance across customs matters.

The Government is clear that everyone must pay tax that is legally due, no matter who they are. The Government has a strong record in tackling tax avoidance, evasion and non-compliance. With regard to collaboration with private prosecutors, the information that HMRC can lawfully share with third parties is restricted by the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 (CRCA). However, HMRC have existing structures in place to allow for the receipt, management and exploitation of information and intelligence from individuals and private sector sources.

10th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including hair and beauty sector in the temporary VAT cut for the hospitality sector.

The temporary VAT reduction is designed to support businesses and jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chancellor has announced a range of measures to help individuals and businesses through the crisis, including grants, loans and relief from business rates worth more than £300 billion.

All eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will pay no business rates in England for 12 months from 1 April 2020 and the Government deferred Value Added Tax (VAT) payments so UK VAT-registered businesses did not need to pay any VAT due with VAT returns from 20 March through to the end of June 2020, until 31 March 2021.

A range of further measures has been made available. This includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms keep people in employment. The Bounce Back Loan Scheme has also been launched to help small businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Government will continue to consider how best to support the economic recovery.

10th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reason the hair and beauty sector was included in the wider hospitality and retail sectors in relation to guidance issued during the covid-19 lockdown but not included in the temporary VAT cut for the hospitality sector.

The temporary VAT reduction is designed to support businesses and jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chancellor has announced a range of measures to help individuals and businesses through the crisis, including grants, loans and relief from business rates worth more than £300 billion.

All eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will pay no business rates in England for 12 months from 1 April 2020 and the Government deferred Value Added Tax (VAT) payments so UK VAT-registered businesses did not need to pay any VAT due with VAT returns from 20 March through to the end of June 2020, until 31 March 2021.

A range of further measures has been made available. This includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms keep people in employment. The Bounce Back Loan Scheme has also been launched to help small businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Government will continue to consider how best to support the economic recovery.

10th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to reduce the tax burden (a) companies and (b) people operating in the hair and beauty sector.

The temporary VAT reduction is designed to support businesses and jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chancellor has announced a range of measures to help individuals and businesses through the crisis, including grants, loans and relief from business rates worth more than £300 billion.

All eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will pay no business rates in England for 12 months from 1 April 2020 and the Government deferred Value Added Tax (VAT) payments so UK VAT-registered businesses did not need to pay any VAT due with VAT returns from 20 March through to the end of June 2020, until 31 March 2021.

A range of further measures has been made available. This includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms keep people in employment. The Bounce Back Loan Scheme has also been launched to help small businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Government will continue to consider how best to support the economic recovery.

10th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to support owners of hair and beauty businesses in the UK as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

The temporary VAT reduction is designed to support businesses and jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chancellor has announced a range of measures to help individuals and businesses through the crisis, including grants, loans and relief from business rates worth more than £300 billion.

All eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will pay no business rates in England for 12 months from 1 April 2020 and the Government deferred Value Added Tax (VAT) payments so UK VAT-registered businesses did not need to pay any VAT due with VAT returns from 20 March through to the end of June 2020, until 31 March 2021.

A range of further measures has been made available. This includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms keep people in employment. The Bounce Back Loan Scheme has also been launched to help small businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Government will continue to consider how best to support the economic recovery.

10th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to extend eligibility for the temporary VAT cut for the hospitality sector to the hair and beauty sector.

The temporary VAT reduction is designed to support businesses and jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chancellor has announced a range of measures to help individuals and businesses through the crisis, including grants, loans and relief from business rates worth more than £300 billion.

All eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will pay no business rates in England for 12 months from 1 April 2020 and the Government deferred Value Added Tax (VAT) payments so UK VAT-registered businesses did not need to pay any VAT due with VAT returns from 20 March through to the end of June 2020, until 31 March 2021.

A range of further measures has been made available. This includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms keep people in employment. The Bounce Back Loan Scheme has also been launched to help small businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Government will continue to consider how best to support the economic recovery.

1st Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether Virgin Atlantic is eligible to apply to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for support with staff redundancy payments.

The Government is committed to protecting as many jobs as possible and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is one of the ways it is doing so.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) grants cannot be used to substitute redundancy payments.

Comprehensive guidance on eligibility for and the purpose of the scheme can be found on the GOV.UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme page: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

1st Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the economic benefits of extending business rates relief to wholesalers.

Business rates are devolved in Scotland, and so are a matter for the Scottish Government.

In England, the Government has provided enhanced support through business rates relief to businesses occupying properties used for retail, hospitality and leisure given the direct and acute impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on those sectors.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published guidance for local authorities on eligible properties. As set out in the guidance, support is targeted at premises that are wholly or mainly being used as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues; for assembly and leisure; or as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation. It is for local authorities to determine eligibility for reliefs, having regard to guidance issued by the Government.

A range of further measures to support all businesses, including those not eligible for the business rates holiday, such as wholesalers, has also been made available.

11th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how much funding the Government has allocated to (a) public services and (b) capital projects in Falkirk constituency in each year since 2010.

Falkirk benefits from UK-wide spending by the UK Government in reserved policy areas, but this is not generally managed on a constituency basis.

Falkirk will also benefit from a Growth Deal which builds on the UK Government’s commitment for 100% coverage of City and Growth deals across Scotland.

In devolved policy areas the UK Government funds the Scottish Government via the Barnett formula. It is for the Scottish Government to allocate its funding on devolved public services and infrastructure across Scotland, including Falkirk.

Steve Barclay
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
27th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what comparative assessment he has made of the equity of the application of the plastic packaging tax to businesses that use (a) recyclable and (b) single use packaging.

In the February 2019 consultation on the plastic packaging tax, the Government proposed that the tax would apply to plastic packaging in the same way as in the Packaging Producer Responsibility scheme, in order to ensure that the tax is clear and simple. This would mean that the tax would include both recyclable and single use packaging. The vast majority of respondents to the consultation agreed with this approach. The Government is considering the most appropriate definitions for plastic packaging and will set out next steps in due course.

The Government is also developing a reformed Packaging Producer Responsibility scheme to encourage businesses to design and use plastic packaging that is easier to recycle.

22nd Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 10 June 2022 to Question 9037 on Refugees: Hotels and Rented Housing, with reference to refugees being accommodated in hotels, whether her Department has set a target for the (a) number of asylum seekers to be hosted in hotels at any one time and (b) date for completing any necessary reduction to meet that target.

The Home Office does not have a target for the number of asylum seekers who should be housed in hotels.

Our aim is to eliminate the use of hotel accommodation as contingency accommodation and we are working with Local Authorities and our Commercial Partners to do so.

This includes moving to a system of full dispersal covering all local authority areas in England, Wales and Scotland, as opposed to the previous position where many, including 31 out of 32 local authority areas in Scotland, did not take part in the dispersal accommodation system.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what her target date is for the completion of her full dispersal accommodation plan for asylum seekers.

On 13 April the Minister for Safe and Legal Migration announced the Home Office would move, with immediate effect, to a policy of full dispersal for the procurement asylum accommodation. We are working in partnership with local authorities to develop full dispersal plans down to a region/nation level. Whilst these plans are being developed procurement under this policy has commenced and any properties procured during the interim period will be accounted for in region/nations plans. This process is being informed by the informal consultation which was launched on 9 May and closes on 1 July.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department has taken to reduce the amount of time it takes to process asylum visa applications.

To help reduce the amount of time it takes to process asylum applications we are investing in a programme of transformation and business improvement initiatives to speed up and simplify our processes, reduce the time people spend in the asylum system and decrease the number of people who are awaiting an interview or decision.

These initiatives include conducting shorter, more focused interviews or omitting interviews where it is appropriate to do so, streamlining decision templates and focusing on improving quality to ensure decisions are right first time. We have introduced specialist Decision Making Units, providing greater ownership and management of cohorts of asylum cases. Additionally, we have extensive ongoing recruitment and training plans in place, including career progression options to aid the retention of staff.

We are continuing to develop existing and new technology to help build on recent improvements such as digital interviewing and move away from a paper-based system. We are streamlining and digitising the case working process to enable more effective workflow, appointment booking and decision-making.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
25th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she has made a comparative assessment of the cost of housing refugees in (a) hotels and (b) rented accommodation; and whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of housing more refugees in rented accommodation.

The Home Office has not made a comparative assessment of the cost of housing asylum seekers in either hotels or in rented accommodation on the basis that hotel accommodation is and always has been contingency accommodation where we are unable to procure sufficient Dispersed Accommodation to meet our statutory obligation. Whilst we are working to reduce our use of hotels, we must continue to ensure there is sufficient capacity in the system to meet our obligations.

That is why we wrote to all Local Authorities on 13 April 2022 to set out plans for Full Dispersal. This will reduce and then eliminate the use of hotels for asylum seekers by moving to a full dispersal model for asylum accommodation.

We will achieve this through three key interventions:

1. To reduce and eliminate the use of hotels for asylum seekers by moving to a full dispersal model for asylum accommodation. This will mean expanding our existing approach of using private rental sector housing to all local authority areas across England, Scotland and Wales.

2. We are committed to working with local authorities to move to a fairer distribution of asylum seekers and have launched an informal consultation with local government to inform how this model will work across England, Scotland and Wales and within regions and nations. The consultation will explore how asylum dispersal can better take account of the impact of other protection based immigration on local authorities, including resettlement and the care of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

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3. Providing specific funding to recognise the existing contribution of local authorities and for new dispersed accommodation. We will continue to work with local government to capture and evaluate data to understand the impact of asylum dispersal on local authorities going forward.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Russian citizens who are in the process of applying for UK Visas.

Part of the government’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been to issue more than 107,000 visas to Ukrainians seeking to come to the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme. This has inevitably had an impact on visa applications from other nationalities coming through normal visa routes.

As a result of the current conflict in Ukraine, applications from Russian nationals to enter the United Kingdom are subject to additional checks. Russia is also subject to sanctions which may impact on the ability of individuals to pay for certain services and a visa will not be granted if the purpose of the travel to the UK would be in breach of them.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what comparative assessment she has made of the efficiency of each HM Passport Office branch for processing passport applications and renewals; and what steps her Department is taking to improve efficiency in branches that are comparatively less efficient.

Due to differences in some of the work undertaken at individual passport offices, such as more complex international work, productivity will vary at a local level. However, Her Majesty’s Passport Office has a range of tried and tested arrangements in place to monitor performance at local and national level, which helps to ensure that there is no disparity in the handling of like-for-like cases across each site.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
13th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will take steps to add further exemptions to her Department's absence policy to include absence related to reactions and side effects caused by covid-19 booster vaccination.

There is an existing exemption in our attendance management policy covering the acute phase of Covid infection.

For absences relating to reactions to, or side effects from, Covid vaccination (which are likely to be of short duration), managers are encouraged to take a sympathetic approach under the normal provisions of our attendance management policy. We have no plans to introduce an exemption covering reactions to Covid vaccinations.

22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure the equity of her Department's decisions to grant indefinite leave to remain to Afghans and spouses of British citizens.

All decisions to grant indefinite leave to those evacuated from Afghanistan, including the spouses of British citizens, are taken on an individual basis and with consideration to the specific circumstances of the case.

These cohorts are treated more generously than other family members of British citizens because of the unique circumstances of the evacuation, alongside the need to quickly move people to safety without being able to assess their ability to meet the normal Immigration Rules.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether the Government plans to add the garment industry to the Shortage Occupation List.

The Skilled Worker route already contains several eligible occupations from this sector, such as weavers, upholsterers, tailors and dressmakers subject to salary and language requirements being met. An occupation at RQF3 or above does not need to be on the Shortage Occupation List to qualify for recruitment under the Skilled Worker Route.

In their last call for evidence the independent Migration Advisory Committee received evidence from several stakeholders from the garment industry, but they concluded this evidence did not warrant occupations from this sector being added onto the SOL. We will also not be creating more general routes allowing recruitment at or near the minimum wage into this sector via immigration as an alternative to investing in UK based staff and offering them rewarding packages of terms and conditions.

More generally those business facing recruitment issues should, in the first instance, engage with the Department for Work and Pensions about the support they can offer in seeking recruits and supporting training.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what information his Department holds on the number of people who have lost money through telephone scams in each of the last five years in (a) the UK, (b) Scotland and (c) Falkirk constituency.

Victims of fraud and cyber-crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are encouraged to report these crimes directly to a centralised reporting centre called Action Fraud. Fraud victims in Scotland also reported crimes directly into Action Fraud until December 2019, when Police Scotland decided that victims should report incidents directly to them, via their 101 service. These reports are now recorded separately from Action Fraud data.

Action Fraud does not categorise fraud reports by the mode in which the fraud was conducted. Fraud can often encompass several different methods of communication, so it may not necessarily be clear to the victim what the primary vector for this kind of criminal attack was. Victim locations are only recorded when sufficient information is provided. For these reasons, the data requested is not held centrally.

22nd Feb 2021
What progress he has made on the Shared Prosperity Fund.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) will help to level up and create opportunity across the UK.

The November 2020 Spending Review set out the main strategic elements of the UKSPF in the Heads of Terms.

The Government will publish a UK-wide investment framework in 2021 and confirm multiyear funding profiles at the next Spending Review.

7th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department made of the role of a prison officer prior to raising the retirement age to 68.

We value our hardworking prison staff and offer access to medical professionals and an employee assistance programme to ensure continued physical and mental wellbeing.

The policy and rules that set the pension age for Prison Officers under the Civil Service Pension Scheme is the responsibility of the Cabinet Office and responsibility is not devolved down to HMPPS.

I meet the Prison Officer’s Association and other Trade Unions to discuss a range of issues, including pension age. I will be meeting with them again to discuss this issue further and remain aware of the position.

29th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, if he will make an assessment of the effect on Scotland of the state of democracy in the UK.

The United Kingdom is a family of nations that embodies parliamentary democracy.

The Scottish Parliament is one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world and the UK Government will continue to respect and uphold the current devolution settlement.

Iain Stewart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scotland Office)