Julian Lewis Portrait

Julian Lewis

Conservative - New Forest East

Liaison Committee Sub-committee on the effectiveness and influence of the select committee system
13th Feb 2019 - 6th Nov 2019
Liaison Committee (Commons)
6th Nov 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
National Security Strategy (Joint Committee)
30th Oct 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Defence Sub-Committee
12th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Defence Committee
12th Jul 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Committees on Arms Export Controls
10th Feb 2016 - 3rd May 2017
Committees on Arms Export Controls (formerly Quadripartite Committee)
10th Feb 2016 - 3rd May 2017
National Security Strategy (Joint Committee)
30th Nov 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Liaison Committee (Commons)
10th Sep 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Defence Sub-Committee
8th Sep 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Defence Committee
18th Jun 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Committees on Arms Export Controls
3rd Nov 2014 - 30th Mar 2015
Defence Committee
3rd Nov 2014 - 30th Mar 2015
Committees on Arms Export Controls (formerly Quadripartite Committee)
3rd Nov 2014 - 30th Mar 2015
Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament
13th Sep 2010 - 16th Mar 2015
Shadow Minister (Defence)
10th May 2005 - 6th May 2010
Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)
1st Jul 2004 - 10th May 2005
Shadow Minister (Defence)
1st Jul 2002 - 1st Jul 2004
Opposition Whip (Commons)
1st Jul 2001 - 1st Jul 2002
Defence Committee
3rd Feb 2000 - 29th Oct 2001
Welsh Affairs Committee
22nd Jun 1998 - 11th May 2001


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Tuesday 26th October 2021
Judicial Review and Courts Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 313 Conservative Aye votes vs 0 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 321 Noes - 220
Speeches
Tuesday 26th October 2021
Oral Answers to Questions

I realise that the Government can do much more for at-risk Afghan women who have managed to cross the border …

Written Answers
Tuesday 26th October 2021
AUKUS: Disclosure of Information
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if she will publish the obligations of the …
Early Day Motions
Monday 19th July 2021
Mountbatten diaries
That this House notes with concern that the personal diaries of Lord and Lady Mountbatten were purchased from the family's …
Bills
None available
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Saturday 11th January 2020
6. Land and property portfolio: (i) value over £100,000 and/or (ii) giving rental income of over £10,000 a year
Flat in London, purchased on 22 December 2014 and from which rental income has been received since 5 February 2015: …
EDM signed
Monday 13th September 2021
Communication of changes to the state pension age for 1950s-born women
That this House notes the recent findings of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's report entitled Women's State Pension Age: …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 4th March 2020
June Bank Holiday (Creation) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to make provision for an annual national public holiday on the Friday nearest to 23 June; and for …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Julian Lewis has voted in 263 divisions, and 11 times against the majority of their Party.

22 Mar 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Lewis voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 29 Conservative Aye votes vs 318 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 300 Noes - 318
22 Mar 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Lewis voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 26 Conservative No votes vs 318 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 319 Noes - 297
22 Mar 2021 - Fire Safety Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Lewis voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 33 Conservative No votes vs 320 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 322 Noes - 253
9 Feb 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Lewis voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 31 Conservative No votes vs 318 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 318 Noes - 303
20 Jan 2021 - National Security and Investment Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Lewis voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 6 Conservative Aye votes vs 350 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 269 Noes - 351
20 Jan 2021 - National Security and Investment Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Lewis voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 1 Conservative Aye votes vs 356 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 265 Noes - 355
19 Jan 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Lewis voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 34 Conservative No votes vs 319 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 319 Noes - 308
26 Apr 2021 - National Security and Investment Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Lewis voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 1 Conservative No votes vs 357 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 366 Noes - 260
27 Apr 2021 - Fire Safety Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Lewis voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 31 Conservative No votes vs 320 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 320 Noes - 256
28 Apr 2021 - Fire Safety Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Lewis voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 32 Conservative No votes vs 321 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 322 Noes - 256
28 Apr 2021 - National Security and Investment Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Lewis voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 1 Conservative No votes vs 357 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 358 Noes - 269
View All Julian Lewis 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
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(30 debate interactions)
Ben Wallace (Conservative)
Secretary of State for Defence
(23 debate interactions)
Dominic Raab (Conservative)
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
(19 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Cabinet Office
(38 debate contributions)
Ministry of Defence
(35 debate contributions)
Home Office
(25 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Julian Lewis's debates

New Forest East 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

Being the first to close and still no clue as to when we can open, this seasonal industry is losing its summer profits that allows them to get through the first quarter of next year.

Even if we are allowed to open in December, 1 months profit won't be enough to keep us open in 2021. We need help

The UK hospitality industry. Responsible for around 3m jobs, generating £130bn in activity, resulting in £38bn in taxation. Yet, unlike the Arts or Sports, we do not have a dedicated Minister.

We are asking that a Minister for Hospitality be created for the current, and successive governments.


Latest EDMs signed by Julian Lewis

6th September 2021
Julian Lewis signed this EDM on Monday 13th September 2021

Communication of changes to the state pension age for 1950s-born women

Tabled by: Andrew Gwynne (Labour - Denton and Reddish)
That this House notes the recent findings of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's report entitled Women's State Pension Age: our findings on the Department for Work and Pensions' communication of changes; urges the Government to recognise the negative effects of successive DWP maladministration; calls for compensation for 1950s-born women; …
92 signatures
(Most recent: 25 Oct 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 43
Scottish National Party: 28
Democratic Unionist Party: 6
Liberal Democrat: 5
Independent: 3
Plaid Cymru: 3
Conservative: 2
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Green Party: 1
Alba Party: 1
12th May 2021
Julian Lewis signed this EDM on Monday 6th September 2021

Giving every child the best start in life

Tabled by: Wera Hobhouse (Liberal Democrat - Bath)
That this House notes the work of WAVE Trust and its 70/30 campaign to reduce levels of child abuse, neglect and domestic abuse by 70 per cent by 2030; further notes that over two-thirds of this House have endorsed that campaign, including a majority from all parties; recognises the role …
100 signatures
(Most recent: 27 Oct 2021)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 34
Labour: 33
Liberal Democrat: 12
Conservative: 8
Democratic Unionist Party: 5
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 3
Alba Party: 2
View All Julian Lewis's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Julian Lewis, 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.


Julian Lewis has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Julian Lewis has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Julian Lewis has not introduced any legislation before Parliament


239 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
22nd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what further steps he plans to take to prevent costs resulting from cladding remediation from being passed on to leaseholders to pay.

The Building Safety Bill will ensure that those responsible for occupied higher-risk buildings will be required to actively manage building safety risks, evidencing this through the safety case regime overseen by the Building Safety Regulator. This will ensure major fire and structural hazards are effectively and proportionately managed, mitigated and remedied and that effective steps are taken, which take into account safety and cost.

We have been clear that building owners and industry should make buildings safe without passing on costs to leaseholders and where they haven't stepped up, we have stepped in. The Government has announced a globally unprecedented investment over £5 billion in building safety and hundreds of thousands of leaseholders will be protected from the cost of remediating unsafe cladding from their homes.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, if the Commission will publish the (a) dates and (b) changes that have been made to policing arrangements in the vicinity of the parliamentary estate in the last 10 years in relation to (i) demonstrations and (ii) the (A) obstruction, (B) abuse and (C) intimidation of hon. Members at entrances to the Palace of Westminster; and what steps the Commission plans to take with (1) City of Westminster local authority, (2) the Greater London Authority and (3) the Metropolitan Police to ensure the safety of (x) hon. Members, (y) parliamentary staff and (z) other people entering and exiting the parliamentary estate.

The Parliamentary Security Department (PSD) has a Special Services Agreement for provision of policing on the Parliamentary Estate; external policing is a matter for the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). The House of Commons Commission cannot therefore provide the requested information pertaining to policing arrangements in the vicinity of the Parliamentary Estate in the last 10 years.

PSD is in frequent communication with the MPS to assess expected protest activity and other events in the surrounding area that may impact access to and/or the safety of Parliament and those working or visiting here. During extended and heightened protest activity, for example around the debates on Brexit, PSD has worked with the MPS and with other parties such as broadcasters to protect Members, staff and the public. PSD also issues advice to Members and other passholders around personal security, including any specific guidance around ongoing events.

PSD and other Parliamentary officials also liaise with Westminster City Council (WCC), the Greater London Authority (GLA), the MPS and others on issues of safety and security in the nearby area. Parliament has supported the Parliament Square Streetscape Project, which is led jointly by the GLA and WCC and with the involvement of the MPS, to consider the feasibility of improvements to the Streetscape around the Palace of Westminster.

Pete Wishart
Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will introduce a scheme to remove the limit for attendees at weddings held indoors, provided that such attendees can produce verifiable evidence that they (a) have twice been vaccinated in time for the vaccine to have fully taken effect or (b) are not infected with covid-19, demonstrated by means of tests the results of which remain valid for the duration of the wedding celebrations.

From 21 June, there is no longer a maximum number of attendees at weddings set out in law. Instead, the number of attendees at weddings, civil partnerships and receptions will be determined by how many people the venue or space can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place.

The Government committed to explore whether and how COVID-status certification might be used to reopen our economy, reduce restrictions on social contact and improve safety. As set out in the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021,’ the Government will set out its conclusions on the COVID-status Certification Review in advance of Step 4 of the Roadmap, in order to inform the safe reopening of society and the economy.

An update on the Roadmap Reviews was published on 5 April and can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021-reviews-terms-of-reference/roadmap-reviews-update.


The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster further updated via a Written Ministerial Statement on 29 April 2021, which can be found below: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2021-04-29/hcws947

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer to Question 11456 of 5 June 2021 on the vetting of Lord and Lady Mountbatten's private diaries prior to access being given to historians, what the source is of the statement that, prior to retiring as Chief of Defence Staff in 1965, Lord Mountbatten accepted that such vetting would apply to private diaries; for what reason those diaries were not vetted prior to being (a) purchased with money from the public purse and (b) transferred to Southampton University; what work his Department carried out to support the release of those diaries to the public in the years prior to Dr Andrew Lownie's Tribunal case in 2020; and what categories of information are capable of being deemed too sensitive for publication (i) 42 years and (ii) 62 years after the deaths of Lord and Lady Mountbatten respectively.

As the Rt. Hon. Member will be aware, there are several FOI exemptions that remain in place for historic records. As I said in my previous answer, this case is currently before the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) and it would not be appropriate to make further comment whilst this is subject to ongoing legal proceedings.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to the Answer of 24 May to Question 2854 on the Mountbatten archive, what the terms were of the undertakings given by Lord Mountbatten in 1969 on the publication of the material in the archive; for what reason private diaries and letters that could have been sold on the open market are deemed to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000; for what reason the full archive has not been made public a decade after its publicly-funded acquisition by Southampton University; what the timeline is for the publication of that part of the archive that remains currently unpublished; and if he will list the criteria according to which any part of the archive can be deemed to be too sensitive for publication.

Before he retired as Chief of Defence Staff in 1965, the first Earl Mountbatten accepted that personal diaries could not be put into the public domain without first being vetted. Earl Mountbatten made clear that ownership of all of these papers would be handed over to the Broadlands Trustees. In 1969, the Broadlands Trustees entered into undertakings not to give general or particular access to these papers without the express permission of the Prime Minister of the day through the Cabinet Secretary. A copy of the Undertakings is available at the National Archives. In line with this agreement, the Cabinet Office is continuing to work with the University of Southampton to support the release of the Mountbatten archive whilst ensuring sensitive and official information is handled appropriately and in line with the Freedom of Information Act and Data Protection Act.

This case is currently before the Information Tribunal. It would not, therefore, be appropriate to make further comment whilst this is subject to ongoing legal proceedings.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, for what reason his Department has prevented release of Lord Mountbatten’s diaries.

The Cabinet Office is working with the University of Southampton to support the release of the Mountbatten archive whilst ensuring sensitive information, including personal data, is handled appropriately and in line with Freedom of Information Act.

Diaries from 1918 to 1934 have already been released. Further volumes will be released in due course as necessary sensitivity work is completed. This is in line with undertakings given by Earl Mountbatten in 1969 on the publication of the archive.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the weekly totals of covid-19-related deaths in the UK (a) have been and (b) will be published, by (i) age range and (ii) specified serious underlying condition.

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)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether it is Government policy to proceed unilaterally with its current timetable for achieving net zero emissions in the event that (a) the United States and (b) China fail to take similar steps on a multilateral basis.

In June 2019, following advice from the Climate Change Committee, the UK Government became the first major economy to set a legally binding target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This will bring an end to the UK's domestic contribution to climate change.

The Net Zero Strategy outlines measures to transition to a green and sustainable future, helping businesses and consumers to move to clean power, supporting hundreds of thousands of well-paid jobs and leveraging up to £90 billion of private investment by 2030.

When the UK took the role of incoming COP Presidency in December 2019, coverage was less than 30% of world GDP. Countries that are covered by a commitment to net zero or carbon neutrality now account for around 75% of global GHG emissions, and around 80% of global GDP, this includes both US and China.

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, what recent assessment he has made of the level of (a) economic and ( b) political vulnerabilities caused to the UK by (i) direct and (ii) indirect dependence on supplies from (A) Russia and (B) continental European countries; and if he will publish a breakdown of the proportion of UK energy supplies sourced from overseas.

Energy security is an absolute priority for this Government. We meet around half of our annual gas supply through domestic production and the vast majority of imports come from reliable suppliers such as Norway. Less than 3% of our gas was sourced from Russia in 2020.The UK is not dependant on Russian oil or gas.

The UK’s exposure to volatile global gas prices underscores the importance of our plan to build a robust domestic renewable energy sector to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

The Government has published a full breakdown of where UK energy comes from at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/digest-of-uk-energy-statistics-dukes.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to take steps in respect of the reported attempt by China to take over Bacanora Lithium.

Mergers and takeovers are primarily commercial matters for the parties involved. The Government has powers under the Enterprise Act 2002 to intervene in transactions which raise national security concerns. The Government has recently strengthened those powers through the National Security and Investment Act 2021.

The Government is aware of this proposed transaction and is monitoring developments closely.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 18 March 2021 to Question 168810, on Parliamentary scrutiny of the proposed Investment Security Unit, on how many occasions since 2016 the BEIS Select Committee has been given access to material protectively marked as Top Secret; and whether any Top Secret material was disclosed to that Committee during its scrutiny of the (a) civil nuclear programme and (b) other matters referred to in the Answer to that Question and described as sensitive.

Details of the frequency and subject matter of what sensitive or highly classified information is transmitted outside Government can itself be sensitive, and its disclosure may give rise to national security risks. I therefore cannot publish the information in the detail my Rt. Hon. Friend has requested.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 11 March 2021 to Question 164331 on parliamentary scrutiny of the new Investment Security Unit, under what provisions the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee could have oversight of that part of the work of the Unit which will involve (a) interaction with the Intelligence and Security Agencies and (b) consideration of highly classified material not normally made available to parliamentary Select Committees; and what the Government's policy is on effective parliamentary scrutiny of activities of the Unit involving material classified at the level of Top Secret.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee is well-placed to have oversight of the Investment Security Unit. The Committee already provides scrutiny on a number of sensitive areas, such as the civil nuclear programme, and it is well placed to consider how effectively and efficiently the Investment Security Unit is interacting with the business community and investors in delivering the National Security and Investment regime.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, by what means Parliamentary scrutiny will be carried out of the classified aspects of the work of his Department’s proposed Investment Security Unit.

The Government intends to follow the appropriate procedures for reporting to Parliament on the work of the Investment Security Unit (ISU), by having the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee oversee the Investment Security Unit’s work. The Committee already provides scrutiny on a number of sensitive areas, such as the civil nuclear programme, and it is well placed to consider how effectively and efficiently the Investment Security Unit is interacting with the business community and investors in delivering the National Security and Investment regime.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to Secretary of State for Health and Social Care's oral contribution of 19 October 2020, Official Report, column 785 on vaccine production schedules, what the respective (a) starting dates were and (b) planned end dates are for the current trials of the (i) AstraZeneca, (ii) Imperial College and (iii) Novavax vaccines; and if he will list any factors, other than adverse reactions by subjects receiving these vaccines on an experimental basis, which may delay the completion of the trials beyond the planned end dates.

The AstraZeneca and University of Oxford vaccine started clinical trials in April 2020 and is currently in phase 2/3. The Imperial College London vaccine started clinical trials in June 2020 and is currently in phase 1/2. The Novavax vaccine clinical trials started in May 2020 and is currently in phase 3. The end date of each trial is dependent on the clinical results and the data.

Government is working closely with vaccine developers to monitor progress of clinical trials.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to bring forward (a) regulations and (b) legislative proposals to ensure that products offered for sale (i) online and (ii) in other markets are adequately labelled with their principal country of origin to enable shoppers to (A) buy British and (B) avoid purchasing from countries of which they disapprove.

Aside from certain specified products (e.g. food), there is no requirement for goods to be labelled with their country of origin. We have no plans to introduce such a requirement. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 bans traders from using misleading statements about the geographical or commercial origin of products.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the risk to business owners' personal assets of banks, that supply loans as part of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, requiring the owners of the applicant businesses to provide personal guarantees of the 20 per cent of the value of the loan which is not covered by the Government's guarantee on applicants' personal financial circumstances; and if he will make a statement.

We have made no specific assessment.

We would expect a lender to follow its normal credit policy when assessing additional security generally. Personal guarantees of any form cannot be used in respect of any Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) facilities up to £250,000. For facilities of £250,000 and over, claims on personal guarantees applied to the scheme facility cannot exceed 20% of losses on the scheme facility after all other recoveries have been applied. A Principal Private Residence cannot be taken as security to support a personal guarantee.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy that (a) businesses that have become profitable after recent restructuring should not be precluded from being granted emergency business loans on the basis of unprofitable trading figures prior to their restructuring and (b) those businesses should be assessed on their recent profitability on the same basis as start-up businesses of a similar size.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) provides support to small businesses which were viable before the Covid-19 outbreak but are experiencing temporary adverse impacts due to Coronavirus.

In order for a business to be eligible for the CBILs, it must be considered “viable” by the lender. The lender must consider that the applicant (or its business group) has a viable business proposition determined by the lender’s underwriting policies. Any concerns over its short-to-medium term business performance due to the uncertainty and impact of COVID-19 cannot be taken into account. The applicant must still satisfy the other eligibility criteria of the CBILS.

For smaller value facilities (e.g. those of £30,000 or below) in determining the eligibility of the applicant, lenders may decide to determine the applicant’s credit worthiness based on its internal credit scoring models.

Corresponding changes have been made to the eligibility criterion which previously required the applicant (or its business group) to have a business proposition that can reasonably be expected to enable it to meet its repayment obligations under a proposed facility.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme cannot be used where an applicant was an “undertaking in difficulty” (UID) as at 31 December 2019. UID is defined to include businesses that have accumulated losses greater than half of their subscribed share capital as at 31 December 2019. In practice this means certain fast growth businesses may not be eligible for the CBILS (unless the business is less than three years old).

The requirement for an UID assessment is a requirement under the European Commission’s Temporary State Aid measures and a direct result of State Aid clearance. The need for UID checks to be carried out for CBILS facilities below £30k has already been removed by the British Business Bank on the basis that loans of this size are considered to involve a de minimis amount of State Aid. For facilities above £30k, lenders are required to gain comfort that an SME is not an UID, but this includes the option for lenders to rely on self-certification for facilities of any size (i.e. up to £5m).

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the cost of phasing out the use of natural gas in domestic dwellings; what the planned timescale is for phasing out the use of natural gas in such dwellings; whether such phasing out will be carried out by the UK (a) only on a multilateral basis or (b) irrespective of what the governments of other countries plan to do; and what funding he plans for implementing that policy.

Meeting our net-zero target by 2050 will require virtually all heat in buildings to be decarbonised, and heat in industry to be reduced to close to zero carbon emissions. It will involve large-scale transformation and wide-ranging change to energy systems and markets. The way heating is supplied to over 28 million homes, businesses and industrial users will need to change. Given the diversity of heat demand in the United Kingdom, no one solution can provide the best option for everyone. We are currently exploring and testing the different approaches to heat decarbonisation, including heat networks, heat pumps, hydrogen and biogas and improving energy efficiency in new buildings. - a mix of technologies and customer options will need to be available to decarbonise heat at scale.

The Department is developing policies to deliver low carbon heating in the 2020s and meet our climate targets. We are planning to publish a Heat and Building Strategy later this year, which will set out the immediate actions we will take for reducing emissions from buildings. These include the deployment of energy efficiency measures and low carbon heating as part of an ambitious programme of work required to enable key strategic decisions on how we achieve the mass transition to low-carbon heat and set us on a path to decarbonising all homes and buildings.

Alongside the action we are taking at home, the UK remains committed to demonstrating global leadership in tackling climate change. The UK is already demonstrating practical leadership across all aspects of the fight to tackle climate change. We’ve decarbonised faster than any other G20 nation since 2000, and through our Clean Growth Strategy and annual reports have a comprehensive and publicly available strategy. The UK is among the largest contributors of climate finance, providing at least £5.8 billion between 2016 to 2020 to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, reduce deforestation and support cleaner economic growth. At the UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019, the Prime Minister announced that the UK will double our International Climate Finance to at least £11.6 billion from 2021 to 2025 to drive clean and resilient growth in developing countries.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will publish the Government's estimate of the cost to the UK economy of achieving the Government's target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050; whether the Government plans to maintain that target as Government policy (a) in the event that major greenhouse gas emitting countries also embark on large-scale carbon emission reductions and (b) irrespective of the steps to reduce carbon emissions other countries take; and what assessment he has made of the effect on climate change as a result of the UK achieving net zero carbon emissions under each of those two scenarios.

The UK has led the world as the first major economy to set a net zero 2050 target in law. Given the need for international action to address climate change, it is imperative that other countries similarly increase their ambition, and we are working to deliver that including through our hosting of COP26 this year. The UK will conduct a further assessment within 5 years to confirm that other countries are taking similarly ambitious action, multiplying the effect of the UK’s lead and ensuring that our industries do not face unfair competition.

As part of our commitment to net zero, and in line with the recommendation of the Committee on Climate Change, HM Treasury is carrying out a review of the costs of net zero. The Government will also publish full impact assessments as we legislate for future carbon budgets.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to encourage community participation in celebrations marking the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee; and whether she plans to provide advice to organisers of community events on how to achieve live screenings, in community halls, of BBC coverage of the national celebrations without incurring costs required by the BBC for such screenings.

My department is delighted to be working with Buckingham Palace, and a range of partners, to develop UK-wide opportunities to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

DCMS’s Platinum Jubilee website includes guidance on how Local Authorities, communities and individuals can get involved in the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations.

TV licensing is a matter for the BBC, though I am aware it has applied dispensation for public community screenings of events of national importance in the past. I am assured the BBC will be looking into arrangements around the Platinum Jubilee in due course.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Jun 2021
BBC
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make an assessment of the contribution to public service broadcasting made by the BBC’s Regional Political Unit in (a) scrutinising parliamentary (i) debates and (ii) committees and (b) providing regionally-tailored input to (A) 13 television regions and (B) 39 local radio stations in England; and if he will make representations to the BBC that the proposal to reduce the size of that seven person Unit by more than half of its personnel should not proceed.

The government has been clear that the BBC needs to be closer to, and understand the perspectives of, the whole of the United Kingdom and avoid providing a narrow urban outlook.


However, the BBC is editorially and operationally independent of the government and the government has no say over its decision making, including any proposed changes to its Regional Political Unit.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will (a) review current covid-19 restrictions on the activities of amateur choirs in respect of (i) necessity and (ii) consistency with with those on other groups and (b) issue new guidance accordingly.

Non-professional groups of up to six people can now sing indoors, and can perform or rehearse in groups of up to 30 outdoors. In addition, multiple groups of 30 can now sing outdoors, provided the groups are kept separate throughout the activity. This is an important step forward in the return of non-professional performing arts activity from Step 2.

It is important that we take a cautious approach in easing restrictions. We will continue to keep guidance and restrictions under review, in line with the changing situation. Further detail on step 4 will be set out as soon as possible.

6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect on research by historians of the reduction in (a) opening hours, (b) visit appointments and (c) numbers of documents which can be accessed per visit at the National Archives; and whether such reductions are planned to be reversed in entirety after the covid-19 outbreak.

The National Archives suspended its reading room service as of 5 November 2020, in line with the new national restrictions in England and in alignment with other national cultural institutions, however access to its collections and services remains available online.

The pandemic has impacted The National Archives’ ability to meet demand from researchers and throughout the pandemic I have received regular updates from officials at The National Archives on the provision and expansion of its public services and the measures adopted to ensure a COVID safe environment.

With the benefit of user feedback, The National Archives continues to review all elements of its public service offer and will restore and then seek to increase services when it is safe to do so and in line with national regulations and guidance.

I and The National Archives remain committed to the provision of public services that maximise access to the public record for users of all kinds, whilst ensuring the safety both of users and staff.

29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make an assessment of the adequacy of provision of support for the proprietors of (a) bed and breakfast and (b) other establishments offering overnight accommodation that are deterred from reopening by the potential for residents with covid-19 symptoms being required to self-isolate on their premises as a result of the absence of guidance on who is liable for the costs of the (i) food, (ii) other supplies and (iii) round-the-clock accommodation of those residents.

From 4 July, people will be allowed to travel to holiday accommodation - including bed and breakfasts - for overnight stays in England. Guidance has been published on how to open guest accommodation businesses safely whilst minimising the risks of COVID-19.

If a guest is displaying signs of the COVID-19 virus while staying in overnight accommodation, they should inform the accommodation provider, immediately self-isolate where they are to minimise any risk of transmission, and request a test. If they are confirmed to have COVID-19, they should return home if they reasonably can. If a guest cannot reasonably return home, their circumstances should be discussed with an appropriate health care professional and, if necessary, the local authority.

We regularly assess the nature of the tourism sectors’ engagement with the Government’s comprehensive economic support package. Tourism businesses - including those that do not plan to reopen on 4 July - can continue to access schemes such as the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and the Bounce Back Loans scheme.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for what reason (a) leisure parks have been provisionally scheduled for reopening only in step 3 of the covid-19 recovery strategy and (b) open-air facilities have been grouped for reopening with (i) cinemas and (ii) other indoor leisure venues; and if he will make it his policy to reallocate leisure parks to an earlier reopening phase of the recovery strategy.

The Government will look at reopening sites such as leisure parks and outdoor recreation facilities no earlier than 4 July, in line with the wider hospitality sector. Any decisions will be subject to further scientific advice and the risk assessment at the time.


As part of the Government’s leisure and recreation taskforce, my Department has set up a Visitor Economy Working Group to specifically focus on the practicalities and guidelines for opening up the sector during the recovery period. We will issue further guidance shortly on our phased reopening approach, including which businesses could be covered in each phase and the timeframes involved.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the financial effect of the covid-19 outbreak on (a) Age-concern, (b) other county-based charities and (c) large charities; what assessment he has made of the contribution of such charities to the delivery of front-line services to vulnerable elderly people; and if he will urgently make it his policy to allow larger charities that are continuing to deliver front-line services to benefit from support from the National Lottery Community Fund.

We recognise the huge value that charities like Age-UK are providing to the Covid-19 response as they provide advice and support to over 8.5 million older people who have been told to self-isolate.

My department is continuing to monitor the health of the sector, its contribution to the nation’s Covid-19 response and the financial impacts on charities, including Age-UK and other county-based charities, and is establishing mechanisms to collate robust and ongoing insights. The £750 million VCSE support package is available to support all charities - large or small - at risk of financial hardship that are providing key frontline services to vulnerable people affected by the pandemic.

Government remains committed to ongoing data collation and in depth engagement with the voluntary sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to work closely to assess how we can support charities in doing their important work.

We are working at pace to finalise the grant agreement, processes and criteria for the fund this week, with a view to launch as soon as possible.

19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will list (a) any powers he has to prevent investment in UK universities by hostile states and (b) the legal basis for each of those powers.

We are recognised across the world for our higher education system and we encourage the sector to collaborate with international partners. However, to be open, we must also be secure, and we will not accept collaborations which compromise our national security.

On the 29 April 2021, the National Security and Investment (NSI) Act was passed. The NSI Act enables the UK Government to protect all sectors, including research and Higher Education Institutions from hostile foreign interference through mandating notification and requiring approval of investments and other acquisitions in key areas. It also extends the UK Government’s screening powers to include acquisitions of control over assets such as intellectual and tangible property. Universities and other research organisations should have regard to the NSI Act when collaborating with other parties to acquire, sell or develop entities and assets.

In addition, I commissioned Universities UK to produce comprehensive security guidelines to advise universities on engaging in secure international collaborations published in October 2020, ‘Managing risks in internationalisation: security-related issues’. Among the recommendations in the guidelines were that due diligence be conducted on all international partnerships.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
6th Sep 2021
If he will take steps with Cabinet colleagues to assist Afghan scholars who have been validated by the Council for At-Risk Academics to take up their sponsored posts offered by universities in the UK.

The government is committed to providing protection for vulnerable people fleeing Afghanistan, including Afghan students and scholars. In its first year, the Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme will welcome up to 5,000 vulnerable Afghans to the UK, who have been forced to flee the country, with up to a total of 20,000 in the long-term. Further details will be announced in due course.

21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the of the compatibility of recent advice issued to schools by a campaigning organisation not to refer to children as (a) boys and (b) girls and the prohibition on political indoctrination in schools.

The Department trusts schools to make sensible and reasonable decisions to determine what is best for their pupils. It is important that schools take full responsibility for ensuring their teaching is age appropriate, suitable, and politically impartial, particularly when using materials produced by external organisations. The Department does not generally comment on external materials or advise schools on which specific resources to use. In September 2020, as part of the package of support for the implementation of Relationship, Sex and Health Education, the Department produced non-statutory guidance, which includes some general principles to help schools choose the right resources. This is available to view here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/plan-your-relationships-sex-and-health-curriculum.

The law is clear that schools must remain politically impartial. Schools must not promote partisan political views and should ensure the balanced treatment of political issues. The Department is developing further guidance to support schools to understand and meet their duties in this area.

16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of whether the recent teaching materials issued to primary schools by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education is in breach of the prohibition on political propaganda in the classroom; and if he will make a statement.

The law is clear that schools must remain politically impartial. Head teachers and staff have a responsibility to ensure that they act appropriately, particularly in the political views they express. When political issues are discussed, schools must offer pupils a balanced presentation of opposing views and should not present materials in a politically biased or one sided way.

Schools should not teach contested theory or opinions as fact and must ensure they uphold their duties with regard to political impartiality. Schools should be mindful of the need to offer a balanced presentation of opposing views as well as the age appropriateness of teaching, given that balanced treatment of such issues may not be possible with younger pupils.

Political impartiality in our education system is an important principle to uphold. The Department is developing further guidance to support schools to understand and meet their duties in this area.

26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to take steps in response to the reported planned introduction by the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University of arrangements (a) defining racism as an exclusively white phenomenon, (b) encouraging the anonymous reporting of perceived microaggressions by named individuals and (c) other related measures; and what steps the Government plans to take through forthcoming legislative proposals to tackle such arrangements in UK universities.

I understand that the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge has issued a statement setting out that the website referred to has been temporarily taken down while some material is removed, and I welcome this decision.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 3 March 2021 to Question 159265 on Outdoor Education: Coronavirus, how much notice he plans to give suppliers of such services of the date on which they can reopen as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased; and if he will make it his policy to permit the resumption of such outdoor activities as soon as is safely practicable.

Schools are advised against all educational visits at this time. The Department is working on advice for schools and colleges on the planning and booking of residential visits when it is safe to do so and in line with the Government’s roadmap to recovery, as set out here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021/covid-19-response-spring-2021. The advice will be published shortly.

10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 29 January 2020 to Question 5319 on freedom of speech at Sheffield University, what steps he plans to take to block reported proposals by Durham University Student Union to (a) vet in advance external speakers invited to address student societies, (b) require such speakers to submit their speeches to the Union in advance and (c) cancel the invitations to such speakers or require that additional speakers should also be invited; what the legal basis is for student unions to exercise such powers against speakers whom they judge to be controversial; what recent assessment he has made of whether universities are meeting their obligations to (i) protect freedom of speech and (ii) exercise any necessary restrictions on speaker invitations by student societies which pose an identifiable threat to students on campus; and what assessment he has made of whether those obligations require review.

This government has been clear in its commitment to strengthen academic freedom and ensure that our universities are places where free speech can thrive. That is why tougher legal measures have been announced by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, on 16 February, to stamp out unlawful ‘silencing’ on campuses.

The Education Act 1986 imposes a legal duty on those involved in the government of universities to secure lawful free speech. If it has been accurately reported in the press, the decision by Durham University is gravely disappointing and not in line with our high expectations for universities in this area. To give a student union this power over external speakers is wholly inappropriate: no university should ever grant a student union any authority or role in vetting, limiting or otherwise overseeing which external speakers may be invited to speak on campus, or under what circumstances they may do so.

Although it is true that when considering external speakers, higher education providers should, under the Prevent duty, consider the risks that the event may pose in drawing students into terrorism, this must be balanced against their duty to secure freedom of speech; it is only rarely that speakers will form into this category, and applying intrusive procedures on a blanket basis, such as asking all speakers to submit their speeches in advance, is unnecessary and inappropriate. In the vast majority of cases these risks can be mitigated without shutting down speech. In any case, to outsource such decisions to a Student Union, giving them de facto control of who can speak on campus, is completely unacceptable.

At my request, officials have asked the Office for Students, the independent regulator, to investigate this matter and have also contacted the Vice Chancellor of the university to express my concerns.

The new measures set out in the February 2021 policy paper are a part of this government’s commitment to strengthen free speech and academic freedom at universities in England.

The policy paper can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-free-speech-and-academic-freedom.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent progress he has made in developing a scheme for the financing of the fees of British Muslim students in a way which is compatible with the provisions of the Islamic faith.

I refer my right hon. Friend, the Member for New Forest East, to the answer I gave on 14 January 2021 to Question 135997.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
19th May 2020
To ask the hon. Member for City of Chester, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, whether the Commission (a) plans to enable itself to take prosecutions to court without prior police investigation, and (b) currently is entitled to empower itself to do so.

Later this year the Electoral Commission will be consulting with political parties, with police and prosecution authorities, and with the public on changes to its Enforcement Policy. This will include proposals setting out how we will decide to bring prosecutions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This does not require a change in legislation and will bring the Commission’s regulatory work in line with a wide range of other regulators.

When the capability is in place, the Commission will be able to investigate and bring lower order offences before the courts in a way which is swift and proportionate, and complies with the necessary investigation standards. It will act as an important deterrent to those tempted to break electoral law, deliver more effective regulation of political finance and support public confidence. It will also free up the resources of the police and prosecutors, although they will remain in the lead on complex and more serious criminal investigations.

Christian Matheson
Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has in place to ensure that the GCSE and A-level grades awarded to pupils at improving schools in disadvantaged areas including New Forest Academy which are projected to achieve significantly better results in 2020 than in 2019 are an adequate reflection of those projections; and if he will put in place means of appeal other than on administrative grounds for students awarded grades that their school considers to be inappropriate or unfair.

These are matters for the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) and I have asked its Chief Regulator, Sally Collier, to write directly to the Honourable Member. A copy of her reply will be placed in the House of Commons Library.

24th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what contingency arrangements are in place for the care of (a) SEN children and (b) dependent children in the event that their parents are unable to care for them as a result of covid-19.

The welfare of all children and young people, including those with special educational needs or disabilities, and their parents or carers is a high priority for the government, especially during this period of uncertainty. We are working closely with colleagues across government to ensure that appropriate arrangements and support are in place for all department sectors – from the early years and childcare, to schools and children’s social care, and for vulnerable groups including children with special educational needs.

We have given local authorities £1.6 billion of additional funding to help address the pressures arising from COVID-19. That includes funding to meet the costs of securing additional placements should that be needed. We are also considering what more can be done to increase the supply of foster care placements.

We have published guidance on ongoing support for vulnerable children and children’s social care:

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to take steps in response to proposals by Sheffield university to pay some students to monitor and report on statements made by other students which might be regarded as micro-aggressions; what progress he has made on bringing forward proposals to safeguard free speech in colleges and universities; and if he will draw the lessons of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four to the attention of college and university staff during this 70th anniversary year of the author’s death.

This government will ensure that our universities are places where free speech can thrive and work to strengthen academic freedoms. The freedom to express views openly, challenge ideas and engage in robust debate is crucial to the student experience and to democracy. Lawful freedom of speech and the right to discuss all kinds of issues is an integral part of our higher education system.

Under the Education (No 2) Act (1986), higher education providers have a specific duty to take reasonably practicable steps to secure freedom of speech within the law for staff, students and visiting speakers. Higher education providers also have clear responsibilities under the Equality Act (2010).

Higher education providers should discharge their responsibilities fully and have robust policies and procedures in place to comply with the law and to investigate and address incidents reported to them. Universities, as autonomous bodies regulated by the Office for Students, should ensure that they are balancing their legal duties carefully and proportionately.

The government worked with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who published clear guidance in February 2019 on freedom of speech in higher education to support higher education providers and students’ unions in delivering their duties.

The government will be looking closely at how well higher education providers are meeting their obligations and will consider whether further action is needed, working with a range of partners.

20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of seasonal workers from abroad on UK food security; for what reason the pilot Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS), currently underway, caters for only one-third of the number of such workers permitted prior to the UK's withdrawal from the EU; what recent discussions he has held with the Home Secretary on restoring the previous total permitted to enter the UK; what steps he will take to reduce the paperwork involved in processing applicants to become seasonal workers; and when a permanent SAWS will be established.

The UK's food supply is highly resilient and the food industry is well versed in dealing with scenarios that can impact food supply. However, Defra is aware of the impact that labour shortages are having on the supply chains and we continue to work with stakeholders like the NFU to monitor the situation.

Defra is working closely with industry and the Home Office - which engages with a wide range of stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations, when designing and implementing immigration policy - to understand better the effectiveness of interventions and to ensure there is a long-term strategy for the food and farming workforce beyond 2021.

Horticulture, in particular, relies heavily on seasonal labour, and whilst the number of workers needed varies throughout the year, Defra estimates approximately 50,000 seasonal workers are needed annually to bring in the harvest. For 2021 we envisaged that growers will recruit more from an increasing pool of domestic labour, supported with 30,000 workers from the Seasonal Workers Pilot extension.

Although the numbers of workers have increased based on the success of the Pilot so far, it is not designed to meet the full labour needs of the horticulture sector. The extension and expansion of the Pilot for 2021 will allow for further review of the Pilot, including how growers will reduce their reliance on migrant labour now we have left the EU , whilst also easing some of the pressure felt on farms when they are at their busiest.

The Government encourages all sectors to make employment more attractive to UK domestic workers through offering training, careers options, wage increases and to invest in increased automation technology. To support these efforts, Defra is working with the Department for Work and Pensions to raise awareness of career opportunities within the horticulture sector among UK workers.

The Home Office is responsible for the visa licensing system that processes applicants to become seasonal workers, including the paperwork involved with that process.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent estimates his Department has made of the (a) ranking of the UK in the international table of plastic produced per head of population, (b) proportion of plastic waste recycled within the UK and (c) reasons for the level of recycling (i) overall and (ii) within the UK; what steps his Department has taken to recycle plastic waste since 2010; what the results were of implementing such plans; and if he will make it his policy to (A) formulate and (B) implement a nationwide policy on reduction of single-use plastic products.

In our 25 Year Environment Plan, the Government has already set out its policy of eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042, which will include avoidable single-use plastic waste. In December 2018 we published the Resources and Waste Strategy, which sets out how we want to achieve this and move towards a circular economy and keep resources in the system for as long as possible. We know more needs to be done, and for the most problematic plastics we are going faster - which is why we have committed to work towards all plastic packaging on the market being recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025.

We have made significant progress on reducing single-use plastic products. In October 2020, we introduced measures to restrict the supply of plastic straws, plastic drink stirrers, and plastic-stemmed cotton buds. The single-use carrier bag charge, which has led to a 95% reduction in the use of single-use carrier bags by the main supermarkets, has been increased to 10p and extended to all retailers to encourage customers to bring their own bags to carry shopping and reduce the volumes of single-use plastic being used. We will continue to review the latest evidence on problematic products and materials to take a systematic approach to reducing the use of unnecessary single-use plastic products, including problematic packaging materials. However, we must think carefully about introducing bans and other policy solutions to avoid unintended consequences, such as a switch to another single-use material. To note, waste and environmental policy is a devolved area and therefore devolved administrations are taking their own approach.

Whilst plastic appears separately in some of our published data sets, we do not hold statistics for all plastic waste. Plastic waste contained within the residual waste stream will appear in mixed waste categories.

We do publish information on the amount of plastic packaging that is recycled. The latest figures are for 2018 and the amount of plastic packaging recycled was 43.8%. From April 2022, plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled content will be subject to a tax of £200/tonne. The tax will provide a clear economic incentive for businesses to use recycled material in the manufacture of plastic packaging, which will create greater demand for this material. In turn, this will stimulate increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste, diverting it away from landfill or incineration. Further details on the development of this tax can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/introduction-of-plastic-packaging-tax-from-april-2022/introduction-of-plastic-packaging-tax-2021.

The Government has not made a recent estimate of how the UK compares internationally regarding plastic production per capita.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what consultation (a) Forestry England and (b) Camping in the Forest undertook with New Forest District Council before the announcement that 10 campsites in the New Forest would not reopen until Spring 2021; which of those organisations took that decision; what assessment (i) Forestry England, (ii) the New Forest National Park Authority and (iii) his Department made of the potential effect of those closures on (A) the local economy and (B) unauthorised camping on the open forest; what (1) financial and (2) legal sanctions are available to the district council and others to reverse that decision; and whether he plans to take steps to secure the reversal of that decision.

Camping in the Forest is an independent operator of campsites in Great Britain. It is majority owned by the Camping and Caravanning Club. The decision not to open in 2020 was taken by Camping in the Forest. Any engagement or assessment of potential effect of the closures would be a matter for that independent business.

Forestry England (FE) is disappointed with this decision and is in dialogue with Camping in the Forest to request that the decision be reconsidered, but the ultimate decision rests with Camping in the Forest.

FE is in active discussion with the New Forest National Park Authority and other interested local parties about steps that can be taken to manage unauthorised camping.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to safeguard British farmers from the adverse effects of future imports of food that would be illegal to produce in the UK; what role he plans for the compulsory labelling of food products in those safeguarding arrangements; and whether he will establish a permanent body to ensure that the UK's high standards in (a) animal welfare, (b) food production and (c) food processing are maintained in the implementation of future trade deals.

At the end of the transition period, the Withdrawal Act will convert all EU food safety, animal and plant health, animal welfare and environmental standards into domestic law. This includes a ban on using artificial growth hormones in both domestic and imported products. Nothing apart from potable water may be used to clean chicken carcasses. Any changes to these standards would have to come before Parliament.

The Government has also committed to a rapid review and a consultation on the role of labelling to promote high standards of animal welfare.

Finally, this Government was elected on a manifesto commitment that in all of our trade negotiations we will not compromise on our high environmental protections, animal welfare and food standards. The UK will maintain its own autonomous sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regime to protect public, animal and plant life and health and the environment, reflecting its existing high standards. We will repatriate the functions of audit and inspections to ensure that trading partners, including those we secure trade deals with, continue to meet our import conditions. This will provide a standing, robust system that will work alongside border controls to maintain our high standards going forward.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of techniques of maintaining social distancing applied by Jersey Zoo since its reopening on 12 May 2020; whether the site-specific plans for safe reopening of UK zoos have been evaluated by his Department; if he will make it his policy to allow zoos to reopen in Step Two in accordance with the safety plans currently prepared by them; and how many days' notice he plans to give to zoos once a reopening date has been chosen.

We understand the challenges faced by zoos and aquariums during these unprecedented times.

Defra officials have met with Jersey zoo since they reopened and have discussed the measures they have put in place, including:

- Visitors to wear masks

- Use of Protective screens at indoor contact points

- Signage reminding visitors and staff of social distancing, frequent handwashing and the need to cover mouths if sneezing etc.

- Floor taping to identify distances

- Keeping indoor attractions closed

- Social areas including café/playgrounds to remain closed

- Limited entry numbers with pre-booking slots

- Provision of hand sanitiser at frequent points

- No public talks

Defra officials have been engaging with the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) on their industry guidelines for reopening.

While each individual attraction can be made safer, it’s vital that we do not move too quickly in reopening to ensure public health is protected. Zoos have therefore not been included in the list of outdoor ticketed venues that can reopen yet. As of 1 June 2020 aquariums, zoos and safari parks were added to the list of venues that are legally required to remain closed.

Work is ongoing to understand how and when zoos and aquariums may be able to reopen in a safe way to the public whilst maintaining social distancing.

We are meeting regularly with BIAZA to provide updates on the reopening position and have also emailed all licenced zoos with an update for 1 June. We will notify these again when there any further updates to the current position.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the benefits to mental health of access to green spaces during the lockdown due to the covid-19 outbreak; what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of reopening garden centres; and if he will make it his policy to allow (a) garden centres and (b) private gardens to admit members of the public subject to the strict maintenance of social distancing requirements.

The Secretary of State regularly discusses a range of issues with Cabinet colleagues including the Health Secretary and, as set out in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan published in January 2018, is aware of the benefits of connecting people to the natural environment for both mental and physical health and wellbeing.

As this is the International Year of Plant Health, we have been promoting the benefits of our plants in all settings and are planning a National Plant Health Week in September.

The benefits of being outside are noted in the Government guidance for the public on mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19). You will be aware of the announcement the Communities Secretary made on 18 April with regard to ensuring public parks stay open.

The Government is keeping the situation on garden centres under review, but concluded last week that it was too early to ease any restrictions on such retail environments. Social distance requirements will continue to be considered in accordance with this review.

We will continue to work closely with the representatives from the horticulture supply chain to understand what short-term and long-term support the sector needs and how we might be able to support them. We are ready to respond to emerging issues quickly and effectively.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent comparative assessment he has made of the effect of (a) increases in the volume of rainfall and (b) decreases in the volume of river dredging on the (i) quantity and (ii) extent of flooding in each of the last 10 years; if he will make it his policy to increase river dredging; and if he will make a statement.

Dredging is one of the interventions used by the Environment Agency (EA) to manage rivers. The EA prioritises those interventions which achieve the greatest benefit in terms of better protecting people and property from flooding. Dredging and clearing channels are important parts of the EA’s maintenance regime. Dredging is used where it is technically effective, good value for money, does not significantly increase flood risk for others downstream, and is environmentally acceptable. Dredging is unlikely to be effective in isolation but it can be part of a solution involving multiple interventions.

A useful reference on the effectiveness of dredging was published by CIWEM in 2014, entitled, ‘Floods and dredging, A reality check’.

Other activities the EA uses to manage rivers include clearing aquatic weed within rivers, removing blockages such as shoals of silt, clearing debris from screens and gates and removing obstructions such as trees, so that water can flow freely along the channel.

Over each of the past three years, in real terms, the EA has spent between £45 million and £55 million per year on channel maintenance compared with between £39 million and £55 million per year in each of the three years to April 2013.

Without these interventions more flooding would have occurred over the last decade, although it is difficult to quantity this benefit.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps she is taking with her counterparts in Commonwealth countries to ensure that UK aid is directed effectively to communities which are disproportionately affected by lockdowns due to the covid-19 outbreak; and if she will make a statement.

Multilateral organisations, including the United Nations, International Financial Institutions and the Commonwealth, have an important role to play in the global response to COVID-19. We are working with all our international partners in order to galvanise a stronger global effort.

We are preventing the poorest countries, which represent a quarter of the world’s population, from collapse by supporting their economies and access to skills and education. Economic disruption hits the world’s poor the most, and would deepen a global recession, making it harder for all of us to bounce back and prosper.

DFID has programming and/or a presence in 40 of the 54 Commonwealth member countries. We have assessed existing DFID bilateral programmes that are relevant, wholly or in part, for our response to COVID-19. Some existing DFID bilateral programmes are already being adapted to support vulnerable communities affected by COVID-19 in partner countries. For example, in Bangladesh UKAID is providing a package of assistance that includes support towards the Government’s National Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19 and help to maintain essential humanitarian services. It is also helping to prepare Rohingya and host communities for COVID-19 preparedness in the Rohingya refugee camps. Further changes to bilateral programmes will be considered in response to the evolving situation.

We will continue to engage with Governments and international organisations in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that the perspectives and interests of Commonwealth member states – particularly the smallest and most vulnerable – are well understood in international fora.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, with reference to her oral contribution of 20 May 2020, Official Report, col. 612, that (a) the Government Procurement Agreement to which the Trade Bill relates will not apply to the procurement of UK health services, and (b) the NHS is not on the table, what safeguards will exist to ensure that (i) the NHS cannot be exposed to action in international courts as a result of any new trade arrangements facilitated by the Bill for (A) pharmaceuticals and (B) medical services, and (ii) personal data of NHS clients cannot be transferred abroad as a result of any aspect of the provisions of that Bill once enacted.

When HM Government is negotiating trade agreements, we have been clear that the NHS will not be on the table. The price the NHS pays for drugs will not be on the table. The services the NHS provides will not be on the table.

The NHS is protected by specific carve outs, exceptions and reservations in the trade agreements to which the United Kingdom is party. HM Government will continue to make sure these are included in future trade agreements.

The Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) provides British businesses with guaranteed access to overseas procurement opportunities, estimated to be worth £1.3 trillion per year. Health and social care services are not, and will not, be included in the United Kingdom’s market access schedule to the GPA, meaning that they will not be opened to GPA competition.

Patient data will only ever be shared where used lawfully, treated with respect, held securely and where the right safeguards are in place.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what (a) preventive measures and (b) sanctions are in place to ensure that e-scooters are used only within the law; what safety criteria must be met before e-scooters are judged fit for use; what data have been analysed in his Department on casualties resulting from the use of e-scooters on (i) roads and (ii) pavements in other countries; how and by whom the success or failure of UK experimental use of e-scooters is being assessed; and if he will list the (A) advantages and (B) disadvantages his Department has assessed will result from permitting the widespread use of e-scooters in the UK.

In the UK, e-scooters are treated like any other motor vehicle under the Road Traffic Act 1988. However, as the law was not drafted with e-scooters in mind, it is not possible for an e-scooter user to comply with the legal requirements for motor vehicles, such as having appropriate insurance, driving licences, number plates, and helmets.

It is, therefore, illegal to use an e-scooter on a public road without it complying with these legal requirements. It is also illegal to use an e-scooter, not approved for use in trials, in spaces which are set aside for use by pedestrians, cyclists, and horse-riders. This includes on the pavement and in cycle lanes.

A range of offences may apply, including those relating to speeding and dangerous driving, drink and drug driving, as well as insurance and licensing. Users can be fined up to £300, have 6 points put on their driving licence, and the e-scooter can be impounded.

In 2020, the government permitted trials of rental e-scooters by introducing legislation for trials. To be eligible, local authorities and operators had to show how they would use controls such as geo-fencing, parking restrictions and driver licence checks. The Department for Transport provided guidance to e-scooter operators and local authorities which can be found on GOV.UK: www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-scooter-trials-guidance-for-local-areas-and-rental-operators/e-scooter-trials-guidance-for-local-areas-and-rental-operators

With regard to safety criteria that must be met before rental scheme e-scooters are judged fit for use as part of e-scooter trials, the Department established a set of vehicle design and construction standards and approvals requirements. These are also outlined in guidance to e-scooter operators and local authorities on GOV.UK.

The Department is continuously reviewing a variety of evidence on e-scooter related casualties from other countries. For example, the International Transport Forum (ITF) collated evidence on e-scooter fatality rates from various sources in its 2020 study on ‘Safe Micromobility’.

To assess the experimental use of e-scooters, the Department has in place a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation programme managed by our evaluation contractor, Arup. We will be publishing reports in autumn 2021 and spring 2022.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the effect on casualty (a) removal from crash scenes and (b) prospects of survival, of the inability of emergency service vehicles to reach serious accident locations on smart motorways, following the conversion of their hard shoulder into an extra lane; and if he will make a statement.

Throughout the design and development of All Lane Running (ALR) motorways, there has been extensive consultation with the emergency services to ensure that they have safe and effective operating procedures. Highways England has signed a national agreement with the Police, Fire and Ambulance services, setting out the principles of operating ALR motorways and responding to incidents, along with regional operating agreements to cover individual schemes.

Highways England undertakes regular stakeholder engagement events across all regions, which the emergency services attend. Highways England's regional teams routinely engage with key stakeholders, including police forces and other emergency services. In light of its extensive engagement with the emergency services, Highways England has not made a specific assessment of the effect on casualties of the ability of emergency service vehicles to reach the scene of serious incident locations on ALR motorways. Highways England is not aware of this issue being one which is consistently raised through its various forums.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the (a) economic contribution and (b) historic significance of the Hythe ferry service and associated (i) pier and (ii) light railway; what additional assistance is available to that ferry operating company from (A) the provisions of Budget 2021 and (B) other public purse sources; and if he will make a statement.

The Department does not have a recent assessment of the economic contribution and historic significance of the Hythe ferry service or associated pier and light rail to the surrounding areas. However, we recognise the important role the Hythe ferry provides to the local area and residents.

We recognise the difficulties companies continue to face as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the unprecedented £330 billion worth of financial guarantees announced last March, the Chancellor has launched a new package of support measures to protect businesses and jobs beyond the spring as part of the 2021 Budget. Amongst them is the Government’s flagship Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which will now be extended until September.

My Department’s officials and I continue to engage closely with all parts of the maritime sector to support them as best we can during this challenging period.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what representations he has made to the French authorities on their recent decision to withdraw access to Roaming Permits to UK abnormal load hauliers for use on the French road network; what assessment his Department has made of the disadvantages to the UK abnormal load hauliers sector of having to apply for Route Specific Permits in lieu of those Roaming Permits; and if he will make it his policy to seek to negotiate a bilateral agreement with French authorities to resume UK access to Roaming Permits on the model of that agreement which exists between France and Switzerland.

The Department for Transport is working to resolve this disruption as quickly as possible through diplomatic channels and at ministerial level. We are working urgently with our colleagues in the British Embassy in Paris to engage with the French Government on this critical issue.

The Department has been engaging with the Abnormal Loads Haulage Sector to establish the impact that this change in process will have on the industry, and we recognise that the process of applying for Route Specific Permits is more time consuming and provides less flexibility for UK hauliers transporting loads from the UK to France, which will have an immediate impact on the sector.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, for what reason solo motorcycle driving tests have been suspended during covid-19 lockdown; whether learner-riders of motorcycles who have already passed their theory tests are liable to financial loss caused by having to re-sit them in future, as a result of the suspension of the practical test modules; and what his policy is on people who have lost their employment because of the covid-19 outbreak being facilitated to retrain as motorcycle dispatch riders.

While social distancing can be achieved during motorcycle training and testing to an extent, there is still an element of exchanging equipment, such as radio microphones. This cannot be avoided and increases the risk of virus transmission. In addition, attending motorcycle training and tests is not in line with the current Government’s guidance and would be considered non-essential travel. It is also contrary to the ‘stay at home’ message and would increase movement of both people and vehicles.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) pays its contractor, Pearson, per theory test delivered. If candidates were exempted from having to pay for a re-take, then the DVSA, and in turn other fee payers, would incur the costs. This would be unfair to the other fee payers who would not benefit from the arrangement.

When it is safe to resume testing, the DVSA will put measures in place to increase testing availability wherever possible; this will include offering overtime to examiners and buying back annual leave, asking all those qualified but who do not normally do so to carry out tests, and conducting out of hours testing (such as on public holidays). These measures will also enable those wishing to retrain as motorcycle dispatch riders to take a practical test.

The DVSA will continue to assess further options for increasing testing capacity and reducing the backlog as quickly as possible.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the potential safety benefits of requiring yellow box junctions at the intersection of road and rail at small level crossings; and if he will make it his policy to require those yellow boxes to be installed by highway authorities.

Network Rail, in its role as the national railway infrastructure manager, is responsible for ensuring the safe operation of public level crossings on the rail network in Great Britain and for assessing what safety measures are suitable at each crossing. It undertakes this in consultation with the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), as the safety regulator, and with local highway authorities. There are no plans to require local highways authorities to install yellow box junctions at level crossings.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 21 April to Question 34894 on renewal of driving licences for volunteers who cannot obtain medical certificates from their general practitioners, if he will make appropriate arrangements for drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles, in addition to the arrangements for bus and lorry drivers.

The temporary provisions for bus and lorry drivers outlined in the answer to Question 34894 extend to drivers of passenger carrying vehicles, providing the licence holder has passed the required driving test.

Drivers who have passed a car test and wish to drive a minibus as a volunteer can do so without obtaining a medical report, provided they can meet certain criteria. These are:

  • that they are driving on behalf of a non-commercial body for social purposes but not for hire or reward (unless operating under a permit)

  • they are 21 years old or over

  • they have held a category B (car) licence for at least two years

  • they are providing their services on a voluntary basis

  • the minibus has a maximum weight of no more than 3.5 tonnes (excluding any specialist equipment for the carriage of disabled passengers) and is not towing a trailer.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
25th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will extend the expiry dates for (a) passenger carrying vehicle and (b) other higher categories of driving licences for volunteer specialist drivers (i) whose age requires a medical certificate to accompany their licence renewal application and (ii) who cannot access a GP appointment to obtain a medical certificate to accompany that licence renewal application during the covid-19 outbreak.

To keep bus and lorry drivers on the road, the Government has made temporary provisions for bus and lorry drivers aged 45 and over. A D4 medical report will not be required when applying to renew a bus or lorry driving licence until further notice. Provided they have no notifiable medical conditions, drivers will be issued a licence that is valid for one year instead of the usual five. This will only apply if the licence is due to expire or has expired since 1 January 2020.

As is always the case, drivers must ensure they are medically fit to drive and they are legally obliged to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency of any onset or worsening medical conditions.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress he has made in providing frontline supply-chain logistics personnel with (a) hand sanitiser, (b) anti-bacterial wipes and (c) relevant protective clothing in order to maintain reliable deliveries to supermarkets and other distribution outlets.

We are working very closely with the logistics industry to keep supply chains moving, including to address this and other matters to keep workers safe. Public Health England updated advice on 24th March and 7th April. Advice is at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/social-distancing-in-the-workplace-during-coronavirus-covid-19-sector-guidance

13th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's findings on the Department for Work and Pensions’ communication of changes to women's state pension age, published on 20 July 2021, that changes to the State Pension age for women were not satisfactorily communicated after 2004 affecting the notice period for those changes, what plans her Department has to compensate people affected by that maladministration.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has not completed his investigation. This a multi staged process and the report published on 20 July 2021 concludes stage-one of the investigation.

It would not be appropriate to comment on the PHSO’s report whilst the investigation is ongoing; and section 7(2) of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 states that Ombudsman investigations “shall be conducted in private”.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, which principal factors her Department has identified as causing the shortage of (a) UK and (b) EU workers for reopening UK businesses, with particular reference to the impact of (i) the furlough scheme and (ii) travel restrictions; what steps she is taking to (A) vary or (B) bring to an end arrangements which are restricting the availability of workers for reopening businesses; and if she will publish a timetable for taking those steps.

Official data from the independent Office for National Statistics shows that the number of advertised vacancies across the UK economy was 657,000 in February to April 2021 – 154,000 (19%) below their pre-COVID-19 level.

Our Plan for Jobs is an ambitious programme of job creation and support to help people of all ages move into work or gain the skills that will open up job opportunities.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the extent to which the rise in retirement age for women has resulted in vulnerable 60 to 65 year-olds continuing to work during the covid-19 outbreak; what progress she has made in developing a fair transitional scheme to delayed retirement for women born in the 1950s; and what extra support will be given to the poorest women in that category.

Parliament set out in the Pensions Acts fair transitional arrangements when it introduced the changes to State Pension age, including measures in 2011, costing £1.1 billion, to ensure that no woman’s pension age changed by more than 18 months. It is not proposed to amend the Pensions Act of 1995, 2008 or 2011 or change the £1.1billion transitional provision. There are no plans for further transitional provisions. The government strengthened the financial safety net for those who need it during the COVID-19 pandemic. Support is available through the welfare system for people who are unable to work or are on a low income, including those that are nearing their State Pension age.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Child Maintenance Service standard practice of making reassessments when there is a 25 per cent reduction in income, if she will make it her policy to provide financial assistance to low-income, divorced parents on furlough at 80 per cent of their normal income to help them meet their child maintenance payments.

The Government recognises that the income of many separated parents is being impacted by the public health emergency. No one should use this time as an excuse to avoid their child maintenance payments however where parents experience a change in income, we can review their case and check if the amount paid should change. If it does not, they should continue to make payments.

The Government has been clear in its commitment to support those, including both paying and receiving parents, whose income drops as a result of the public health emergency and we have made a number of changes to the welfare system to ensure people are receiving the support they need. These include increasing the standard rate of Universal Credit and working tax credit for this year by around £1000 per year. People who need money urgently continue to be able to access up to a month’s Universal Credit advance upfront by applying online. We are increasing the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that it covers the cheapest third of local rents – which is on average £600 in people’s pockets.

Taken together, these measures represent an injection of over £6.5 billion into the welfare system and, along with the other job and business support programmes announced by the Chancellor, represent one of the most comprehensive packages of support introduced by an advanced economy in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy, when publishing daily figures for new fatalities after confirmation of covid-19 infection, to include a breakdown showing how many of them had been (a) unvaccinated, (b) partially vaccinated, and (c) fully vaccinated (i) with and (ii) without a classification of being clinically extremely vulnerable; and what additional steps he will take to provide data to the public advertising the role of vaccination in preventing deaths from covid-19 infection.

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

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress he has made in tackling the backlog of cancer cases resulting from covid-19 outbreak; what steps he has taken to cover the shortage of specialist cancer nurses; what steps he will take to encourage trainee nurses to become specialist cancer nurses; and if he will make a statement.

Data for July 2021 shows fewer than 19,000 people waiting longer than 62 days for treatment following an urgent referral for suspected cancer in England. This is a decrease from 35,000 in May 2020 and is just above pre-pandemic levels.

In 2021/22 Health Education England will continue to take forward the priorities outlined in the Cancer Workforce Plan. Training grants are being offered for 250 nurses to become cancer nurse specialists and 100 nurses to become chemotherapy nurses.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether vulnerable residents in (a) care homes and (b) hospital facilities will be less at risk of serious illness in the event that they are infected with covid-19 by staff who have been fully vaccinated against that disease; to what extent being fully vaccinated against covid-19 prevents a person from transmitting that virus to vulnerable people; and if he will make a statement.

Several studies have provided evidence that vaccines are effective at preventing infection and symptomatic disease. Uninfected individuals cannot transmit the virus, therefore the vaccines are also likely to be effective at preventing transmission from staff to vulnerable patients. Data from Scotland has also shown that household contacts of vaccinated healthcare workers are at reduced risk, which is in line with the studies on infection. There may be additional benefit due to prevention of infection, if some individuals who become infected despite vaccination are also at a reduced risk of transmitting because of reduced duration or level of viral shedding.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the debate on the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review on 8 July 2021, Official Report, columns 1148 to 1187, what steps he plans to take to research new and improved techniques for removal of eroded surgical mesh implants; and if he will make it his policy to establish a unit for developing such techniques in order to train a new generation of mesh-removal specialists to treat people experiencing the effects of failed mesh implants in the future.

There are no current studies specifically relating to new and improved techniques for the removal of eroded surgical mesh. However, there are five studies ongoing on surgical mesh implants and the National Institute for Health Research welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including on the removal or implantation of vaginal mesh. There are currently no plans to establish a unit in order to train mesh removal specialists.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
7th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to answer Question 10131, tabled on 29 May 2021, by the Rt hon. Member for New Forest East.

I refer the Rt hon. Member to the answer of 26 July to Question 10131.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to his oral contribution of 7 June 2021, Official Report 685, what progress his Department has made towards publishing on a daily basis the number of patients in hospital with covid-19 who have previously had (a) one, (b) two and (c) no injections of vaccine; and if he will publish a similar analysis of the daily number of covid-19 fatalities.

There are currently no plans to publish this data on a daily basis.

However, the information requested is published weekly in Public Health England’s technical briefings, which form part of ongoing surveillance and vaccine effectiveness monitoring activity and are available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/investigation-of-novel-sars-cov-2-variant-variant-of-concern-20201201

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the efficacy of current techniques for the removal of failed vaginal mesh implants; what support the Government is providing to research on how to remove that mesh (a) more completely and (b) less traumatically than at present; and whether that research includes any technique for dissolving mesh prior to removal.

There is very little published evidence linked to the efficacy on the removal of failed vaginal mesh implants. In order to effectively monitor outcomes of the procedures carried out, the specialist mesh services will be required to record data on a central patient–identifiable database, subject to patient consent.

NHS England has published a service specification to support the delivery of specialised services for women with complication of mesh, which sets out the standards for these services. The specification requires that all mesh services are to meet annually in a clinical summit to present data and discuss surgical and non-surgical outcomes. NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Pelvic Floor Health Programme is to establish a research and education group to promote pelvic floor health research and education. This will include mesh complications and removal.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 28 May 2021 to Question 6161 on the vaccination status of people hospitalised with the Indian variant of covid-19, for what reason those essential data are not held centrally in the format requested; in what format those data are held centrally; and if he will make it his policy without further delay to (a) gather centrally and (b) subsequently release to the media each day the numbers of people that have been hospitalised with the Indian variant of covid-19 who are (i) vaccinated with (A) one and (B) both doses and (ii) unvaccinated against coronavirus.

Data concerning the numbers of people hospitalised with the Delta variant who have received one dose, two doses and are unvaccinated is collected centrally for inclusion in Public Health England’s (PHE) ‘Investigation of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern: technical briefings’ which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/investigation-of-novel-sars-cov-2-variant-variant-of-concern-20201201

This data was first included on 27 May and form part of ongoing surveillance and vaccine effectiveness monitoring activity. Public Health England collates data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations and COVID-19 vaccination status from a number of different data sources, including the Office for National Statistics, National Health Service trusts, private laboratories and Lighthouse Laboratories There are currently no plans to provide daily statistics due to varying reporting timelines of the data sources.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to release to the media, on a daily basis, the numbers of people hospitalised with covid-19 who are (a) vaccinated and (b) unvaccinated against the virus.

The data requested is not currently held centrally in the format requested.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people have been (a) recorded as infected and (b) hospitalised with the Indian variant of the covid-19 virus; and how many people in each of those categories had previously been vaccinated against the virus.

The statistics for infections for each variant of concern, including the Indian variant, are available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-variants-genomically-confirmed-case-numbers/variants-distribution-of-cases-data

Data on hospitalisations and vaccination status are not currently available in the format requested.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance the NHS has given to General Practitioners on the (a) necessity of and (b) timetable for reinstating face-to-face meetings with NHS patients; and if he will make a statement.

General practice is open and has been throughout the pandemic. Practices must ensure they offer face to face appointments and respect patient preferences for face to face care where clinically appropriate, in line with the NHS England and Improvement letter to general practice on 13 May 2021.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason data on the number of people admitted to hospital with covid-19 more than three weeks after having been vaccinated against covid-19 (a) once and (b) twice is not being collected; and if he will take immediate steps to implement a system for the (i) collection and (ii) daily publication of that data.

Data on the number of people admitted to hospital with COVID-19 more than three weeks after having been vaccinated with either one dose or two doses is being collected through Public Health England’s (PHE) Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Watch surveillance system. These data are used for vaccine effectiveness studies and for vaccine impact analysis.

PHE has published early data on vaccine effectiveness based on pillar two positive results in those who are over 80 years old which is linked to the national emergency care dataset. This analysis differentiates those who are unvaccinated, those who are within two weeks of first dose and those who are more than two weeks on from their first dose. This analysis is available at the following link:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/phe-monitoring-of-the-effectiveness-of-covid-19-vaccination

PHE has no plans to publish data on a daily basis as there is a lag before hospitalisations are observed. In addition, analysis needs to allow for a vaccine induced immune response to be able to measure risk of hospitalisation from time since first and second dose of a vaccine.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the NHS has for the use of Ovestin cream in preference to mesh removal surgery for the future treatment of victims of the vaginal mesh scandal; whether advocates of that alternative method of treatment include surgeons who previously supported the implantation of vaginal mesh; what evidence base there is for the use of Ovestin cream to diminish symptoms arising from mesh implantation; and what assessment has been made of possible harmful side-effects of using cream as a substitute for mesh removal surgery.

NHS England has not considered Ovestin cream as an alternative to mesh removal surgery, nor the evidence behind its use to diminish symptoms arising from mesh implantation. However, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines NG123 recommend that non-surgical treatment options for mesh removal can include the use of vaginal oestrogen cream, including Ovestin cream, for patients who have a single area of vaginal mesh exposure that is smaller than 1 cm2.

Side-effects relating to Ovestin cream can be found in the accompanying leaflet to the medicine which is available at the following link:

https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/5384/pil

No assessment made of whether advocates for the use of Ovestin cream include surgeons who previously supported the implantation of vaginal mesh.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy, in response to data that some covid-19 vaccines significantly reduce transmission rates, that people sharing households with extremely vulnerable individuals for whom vaccination may not give full protection, should receive their vaccination at an early stage, regardless of age or other factors, in order to protect their shielding fellow-residents.

The Government continues to follow the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which agrees priority groupings for vaccination. The Interim advice has been published by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommending an age-based approach which the Government has accepted in principle.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 22 July 2020 to Question 73681 on specialist treatment centres for victims of the vaginal mesh scandal, if he will make it his policy to (a) reimburse and (b) otherwise defray the reasonable relevant (i) travel, (ii) accommodation, (iii) prescription and (iv) medical appliance costs incurred by NHS patients having to travel substantially out of area to obtain specialist treatment; and if he will list those treatment centres (A) already and (B) scheduled to be established, together with the operational dates in each case.

From 1 April 2021, the following trusts will provide specialised services for women with complications of mesh inserted for urinary incontinence and vaginal prolapse:

- Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

- Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

- Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

- Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

- University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

- University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

- Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

NHS England will establish services in South East and South West regions as soon as possible.

All health care costs associated with treatment are met by the National Health Service. This includes in-patient services, medical assessment, treatment, surgery if appropriate, outpatient services and follow-up. There are no current plans to provide for repayments of travel expenses or accommodation outside the scope of the existing Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme which is provided for in the NHS (Travel Expenses and Remission of Charges) Regulations 2003. The Government also has no plans to review or amend the list of medical conditions that provide entitlement to exemption from prescription charges.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason pharmacies have not been used to administer covid-19 vaccinations; and if he will make it his policy to utilise the pharmacy network for that purpose.

As from 26 January 2021, 65 community pharmacies have started to offer the COVID-19 vaccination service, with more pharmacies joining the service over the coming weeks.

Some pharmacists and members of their team have also been working with general practitioners (GPs) to deliver the vaccine in many areas of the country.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with all the national pharmacy organisations on plans to ensure that community pharmacies are used to optimal effect in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, starting with the sites that can do this at scale.

There is now a list of vaccine sites on the NHS website regularly updated as they come on stream, so you can check what services are available in your constituency including pharmacy sites. This is available at the following link: https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/hospital-hubs-and-local-vaccination-services/

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to add the opening of windows as a fourth element to the hands, face, space public messaging formula for minimising the spread of covid-19 among people when indoors; and if he will make a statement.

The latest ‘Hands, Space, Face’ campaign launched on 3 December 2020 and has introduced the need to ‘let fresh air in’ to the core set of protective actions we are asking the public to incorporate into their daily lives to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to publish a substantive Answer to Named Day Question 83653 on Domiciliary Care Companies and the Infection Control Grant Scheme, tabled by the hon. Member for New Forest East on 1 September 2020 and due for Answer on 7 September 2020.

We take parliamentary scrutiny incredibly seriously and it is fundamentally important that hon. Members are provided with accurate and timely information to enable them to hold the Government to account. We are working rapidly to provide all Members with accurate answers to their questions, as well as supporting the Government’s response to the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Rt hon. Member’s question will be answered as soon as possible.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an exception to the Rule of 6 covid-19 policy by allowing a higher overall total when applied to families with three or more children.

Until 3 December, tiers requirements will not apply because of the new national restrictions. As part of the national restrictions, however, we continue to recognise providing informal social care to relatives and vulnerable people is of the highest importance.

People may meet with a maximum of one person from another household outdoors for the purposes of exercise and recreation. Children under school age, as well as those dependent on round-the-clock care, such as those with severe disabilities, who are with their parents will not count toward the limit on meeting two people outside. People can continue to exercise outdoors as a household or support bubble.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the delayed Answers on 20 August 2020 to Questions 59658 asked on 16 June and 74414 asked on 15 July, on the delay to answer substantively Question 49568 on Diabetes and Question 49569 on Coronavirus: Screening, both tabled on 20 May 2020, for what reason the original two Questions have still not been substantively answered; and when he plans to provide those Answers.

I refer the Rt hon. Member to the responses to Question 49568, answered on 21 September, and Question 49569, answered on 14 September.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent comparative assessment he has made of the effectiveness of pain medication and antidepressants for victims of the vaginal mesh scandal to help them cope with the after-effects of that mesh insertion; if he will make representations to NICE against proposals that prescription of pain medication should be withdrawn for those victims in cases where there is an absence of highly specific diagnoses of pain being the result of that mesh insertion; and for what reason such mesh insertions are still being permitted to take place provided that the insertion is carried out via the stomach.

Departmental officials have been working with NHS England and NHS Improvement to establish means of specialist support for those women requiring it. While NHS England and NHS Improvement complete the process of commissioning mesh removal centres, there are hospitals in England where this type of treatment is available. Both the British Association of Urological Surgeons and the British Society of Urogynaecology have information on their respective websites about the hospitals and surgeons that will provide the specialist support required.

On managing chronic pain, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advises that the draft guideline is still out for consultation in line with their standard processes. This will close on Monday 14 September after which their guideline committee will meet to consider comments received.

On pain specifically experienced as a result of mesh insertion, NICE advises that its specific guideline is ‘Urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse in in women: management’, which includes advice on managing complications.

On the use of mesh to treat hernias (abdominal wall reinforcement), the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has not had any evidence which would lead it to change its position on use of surgical mesh for hernia repairs.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support he is giving to Domiciliary Care Companies during the covid-19 outbreak; what recent assessment he has made of the (a) importance of their role and (b) the potential merits of facilitating their work on behalf of vulnerable people; for what reason those companies have been denied access to the infection control grant scheme; and if he will make it his policy to (i) provide such access, and (ii) put in place other measures of financial support for those companies during the covid-19 outbreak.

We recognise the importance of supporting the domiciliary care sector.

The £3.7 billion already granted to local authorities can be used to support adult social care, including domiciliary care. Moreover, local authorities can use some of the Infection Control fund for infection control measures in domiciliary care.

We continue to review and update the support measures that we have put in place for the home care sector.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to publish a substantive Answer to (a) Named Day Question 49568 on Diabetes: Coronavirus, (b) Named Day Question 49569 on Coronavirus: Screening tabled on 20 May 2020 and due for Answer on 2 June 2020 and (c) Named Day Question 59658 that was tabled on 16 June and was due for Answer on 22 June 2020 on the delay in answering Questions 49568 and 49569.

We take parliamentary scrutiny incredibly seriously and it is fundamentally important that hon. Members are provided with accurate and timely information to enable them to hold the Government to account. We are working rapidly to provide all Members with accurate answers to their questions, as well as supporting the Government’s response to the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Rt hon. Member’s questions will be answered as soon as possible.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department holds data on the number of victims of the vaginal mesh implants scandal that have undergone mesh removal surgery (a) within and (b) outside the NHS, and have subsequently found significant mesh residue that was overlooked during remedial surgery; what plans he has to certify NHS specialists as competent to undertake that surgery; and what steps he plans to take to reimburse the cost to victims of the mesh scandal who had to pay for private (i) therapy and (ii) surgery, as a result of a refusal by NHS specialists to accept that their symptoms were (A) physical rather that mental and (B) had been caused by their mesh implants.

NHS Digital advises that it publishes finished consultant episodes for National Health Service hospitals where a procedure for treatment of urogynaecological prolapse or stress urinary incontinence (insertion or removal) is recorded. This provisional data is published monthly and the final data is included in the Annual Hospital Episode Statistics publication.

On mesh removal, NHS England is assessing bids from NHS providers to be specialist centres providing treatment for women with complications of mesh inserted for urinary incontinence and vaginal prolapse. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, every effort is now being made to finalise this quickly and stakeholders will be kept up to date with progress.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the vaginal mesh implants scandal, if he will take steps to ensure that the establishment of specialist treatment centres are multidisciplinary in order to permit an holistic approach to treatment and to avoid multiple referrals by GPs to (a) neurology, (b) orthopaedic, (c) rheumatology, (d) urology, and (e) other specialists lacking mesh-specific skills; and if he will ensure that NHS personnel previously involved in denying the harmful effects of vaginal mesh implants are excluded from staffing those remedial treatment centres.

NHS England is assessing bids from National Health Service providers to be specialist centres providing treatment for women with complications of mesh inserted for urinary incontinence and vaginal prolapse. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, every effort is now being made to finalise this quickly and stakeholders will be kept up to date with progress.

The service specification requires that providers of complex mesh services must use the trust appraisal system to ensure surgeons are appropriately trained and current in their practice; adhere to clinical guidance; comply with national data requirements; and report complications. Clear documented evidence demonstrating competency to perform complex vaginal mesh removal surgery for all surgical members of the multidisciplinary team is also required.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the vaginal mesh implants scandal, if he will take steps to require (a) medical personnel who are consultants to firms making medical products that they propose to use for their patients (i) declare their interest and (ii) draw their patients' attention to such a declaration when recommending the use of those products and (b) victims of that scandal of whatever age do not have to pay prescription charges for medication required to treat their resultant injuries and symptoms.

The General Medical Council already has guidance covering financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest, which all medical practitioners must adhere to and which came into effect on 22 April 2013. We will consider whether these arrangements should be strengthened.

National Health service prescription charge exemptions are in place to help those with greatest need.

The Government will consider the recommendations in the First Do No Harm report published on 8 July very carefully.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the oral statement of 9 July 2020 by the Minister for Patient Safety on the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, Official Report, column 1147, what the timescale is for the Government's response to the Review's recommendations; what form that response will take; and whether he plans for that response to be subject to a debate on the floor of the House.

The Government received the report on 8 July and now needs to consider it carefully. We will provide a further update in due course.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on that country’s development of a passive vaccine treatment for covid-19 using convalescent plasma.

Experts at Public Health England have had several conversations with their Israeli counterparts, including on Israeli research into a potential vaccine for COVID-19.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the additional stress placed on carers, during the covid-19 lockdown as a result of the (a) continued closure of Day Care Centres and other organisations which normally provide respite time to carers; (b) withdrawal of other measures of support for carers, unless a care package is in place and (c) unavailability of people to substitute for carers, by day or night, when those carers would usually be at work; what the impact will be on carers and those for whom they care of the continued absence of sources of respite and support; what assessment he has made of the effect on NHS resources in the event that carers suffer mental breakdown as a result of an inability to cope; and if he will take steps to facilitate the (i) reopening of Day Care Centres, with suitable safeguards in place and (ii) provision of other measures of support to carers.

We recognise the crucial role unpaid carers play, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak and the important role that day services play in providing care and providing an essential form of respite or short breaks for unpaid carers which can allow them to continue to work and support their health and mental wellbeing.

We want access to these important services to continue as soon as it is possible for them to safely reopen.

Decisions on the running and re-opening of day services are made on a local basis and will be subject to appropriate risk assessments based on the latest public health advice. We are working with the Social Care Institute of Excellence, local government and other sector partners, to publish guidance which will help get day services up and running again. In addition, Public Health England is developing guidance on the use of personal protective equipment in community settings, which will be applicable to day services.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of expert engineers in containing the covid-19 pandemic in Hong Kong; if he will extend an invitation to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers to join the expert team conducting the Government’s review of the two-metre social distancing rule; and what further steps he plans to take to ensure that evidence from highly skilled engineering sources is obtained and evaluated by the review team.

The Government commissioned a review into the two metre social distancing rule and took advice from a range of experts, including the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Scientific Advisor, behavioural scientists and economists.

Given the significant fall in the prevalence of the virus, the Prime Minister announced that we can change the two-metre social distancing rule from 4 July to a “one-metre-plus” approach. This means members of the public can be one metre away from each other as long as other measures are put in place to limit the transmission of the virus. It remains better for managing the risk of transmission of the virus to stay two metres away from others outside your household wherever possible. Where it is possible to keep two metres apart people should continue to do so.

The Department is regularly in discussions with other countries on a wide range of issues of issues relating to COVID-19. The Department will continue to learn from and work with other countries throughout the crisis and beyond.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to publish a substantive Answer to Named Day Question 49568 on Diabetes: Coronavirus and Named Day Question 49569 on Coronavirus: Screening that were tabled on 20 May 2020 and were due for Answer on 2 June 2020.

We take parliamentary scrutiny incredibly seriously and it is fundamentally important that hon. Members are provided with accurate and timely information to enable them to hold the Government to account. We are working rapidly to provide all Members with accurate answers to their questions, as well as supporting the Government’s response to the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Rt hon. Member’s questions will be answered as soon as possible.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent estimate the Government has made of the level of risk of incorrect negative covid-19 test results due to ineffective application of swabs to the (a) throat and (b) nose; and what steps the Government is taking to reduce that risk.

International peer reviewed evidence, and real-world assessments from the Department’s testing programme has shown that swab tests taken by non-clinically trained individuals are just as effective as those taken by clinicians. The Department has clear guidance included with all self testing swab kits and material on GOV.uk and a video guide on Youtube detailing the process of self-swabbing.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of the deaths associated with covid-19 comprised people with diabetes in each of the last 12 weeks; for what reason people with diabetes have not been classed as extremely vulnerable; and whether he will make it his policy to include on the shielded list, people living with all types of diabetes .

The proportion of deaths associated with COVID-19 of people with diabetes in each of the last week 12 weeks is shown in the following table.

Week ending

All COVID-19 deaths

COVID-19 deaths where the person had diabetes

Percentage of COVID-19 deaths where the person had diabetes

12 June 2020

945

275

29.1

19 June 2020

675

185

27.4

26 June 2020

585

165

28.2

3 July 2020

425

110

25.9

10 July 2020

335

85

25.4

17 July 2020

225

65

28.9

24 July 2020

190

65

34.2

31 July 2020

160

50

31.3

7 August 2020

130

45

34.6

14 August 2020

135

45

33.3

21 August 2020

90

30

33.3

28 August 2020

55

20

36.4

The guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 has been developed by expert doctors identifying specific medical conditions based on what we know about the virus so far. The clinical evidence does not currently support classing people with diabetes as extremely vulnerable. We will continue to keep this evidence under review.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 13 May to Question 38861 on Coronavirus: Disease Control, for what reasons people living with post-polio syndrome have not been included in the clinically extremely vulnerable category; and if he will make it his policy to include those people in that category.

Those on the clinically extremely vulnerable list include those who have specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about the virus so far, place someone at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Disease severity, history or treatment levels will also affect who is in this group.

Some conditions are not suitable for blanket inclusion in the clinically extremely vulnerable and this is the case for post-polio syndrome where there is a spectrum of severity. Some patients with post-polio syndrome experience mild symptoms, and it would not be proportionate for them to be included in the clinically extremely vulnerable and advised to shield.

General practitioners and hospital clinicians can exercise their clinical judgement and continue to add people to, or remove them from, the list depending on the circumstances of each individual case. People will only be removed from the list following a discussion with their clinician.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what mechanism will replace the EU Early Warning and Response system on pandemics after the end of the transition period.

The United Kingdom uses a range of international information-sharing systems to monitor global health threats, including the European Union’s Early Warning and Response System.

As set out in the UK's approach to negotiations with the EU published on 27 February, the UK is open to exploring cooperation in other specific and narrowly-defined areas, where this is in the interests of both sides, for example on health security. The detail of the UK’s future relationship with the EU on health security is subject to the outcome of ongoing negotiations.

The UK will maintain its domestic health protection system following the end of the Transition Period through continued access to international systems and we will continue to work alongside other countries and multilateral groups on the response to the COVID-19 and other future cross-border health threats.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many and what proportion of NHS volunteer responders have been cleared to undertake tasks to support the NHS; and whether it is his policy that those volunteers should also undertake tasks in support of (a) care homes and the (b) National Care Force.

As of 7 May 2020, out of the 750,000 people who have signed up to the NHS Volunteer Responders programme, 589,731 have completed the necessary identity checks to begin helping those most vulnerable. The volunteers will undertake four community-based tasks, including shopping and collecting medication for someone who is self-isolating and telephone support to individuals at risk of loneliness.

The NHS Volunteer Responders programme was set up to provide direct support to vulnerable people, and to reduce the pressure on the National Health Service and social care during the pandemic. Social care providers and local authorities are able to refer vulnerable people into the programme, while individuals themselves and carers can now also self-refer for volunteer support. NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Department are engaging with the social care sector to consider how volunteers can further support social care services, taking into account social distancing and infection control measures.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the performance of (a) reusable respirator hoods designed at Southampton University, (b) reusable surgical gowns manufactured in Derbyshire and (c) other recent developments of reusable personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS staff; for what reason reusable items of PPE have so far only been ordered by individual NHS trusts; and if he will make it his policy to allocate resources to the acquisition of adequate supplies of reusable PPE.

The Government’s personal protective equipment (PPE) guidance has been revised according to clinical guidance and clearly sets out that re-usable PPE can be used. Advice on suitable decontamination arrangements should be obtained from the manufacturer, supplier or local infection control.

Strategies for optimising the supply of PPE are being explored. Other countries have begun sterilising to decontaminate PPE. Public Health England, NHS England and the Health and Safety Executive are looking at these methods and are working at pace to assess the evidence base.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to publish a substantive response to Named Day Question 37374 Care Homes: Cleaning Services; Named Day Question 38411 on Protective Clothing: Procurement and Named Day Question 38861 on Coronavirus: Disease Control that were due for answer on 27 April 2020.

The Rt hon. Member’s questions were answered on 13 May.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will urgently make it his policy to include people living with (a) pulmonary fibrosis and (b) the after-effects of polio in the list of people classified as vulnerable and at high risk during the covid-19 outbreak.

Expert doctors in England have identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about the virus so far, place someone at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. These are signed off by the UK Senior Clinicians Group (including four United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers and clinical leadership at NHS England, NHS Digital, and Public Health England).

Individuals who have been identified with one of these medical conditions are classed as being clinically extremely vulnerable and are advised to shield to protect themselves. Shielding involves staying at home at all times and avoiding all face to face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks.

Pulmonary fibrosis is an interstitial lung disease. Patients with interstitial lung disease (which includes pulmonary fibrosis) have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the contact details for a team in his Department that companies able to supply large quantities of PPE from abroad can use to explain what PPE products they are able to supply; and if he will take steps to ensure that those companies receive a timely response.

The Government’s Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) plan was published on 10 April and can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe-plan

As Strand 3 details, we have set up a cross-Government PPE sourcing unit to secure new supply lines from across the world and a call to industry has been issued to companies at home to manufacture and supply additional PPE at scale.

All offers to supply PPE must be made through the United Kingdom Government’s online portal:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-from-business

All offers will receive an immediate automated response and then follow up contact once the team have assessed the offer.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the value of the role of local commercial laundries in cleaning contaminated bedding and other substantial soiled items from care homes; whether the coloured water-soluble bags needed to process soiled items safely have been designated under the category of PPE for essential laundry staff; and if he will urgently allocate resources to manufacturers of water-soluble laundry bags to meet the shortfall of availability to local commercial laundries serving care homes arising from the increased use of such bags by hospitals serving NHS patients.

The Government is not currently considering the wider use of local commercial laundries in regard to care homes. The Government has published guidance related to laundry in care homes which can be accessed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care-supported-living-and-home-care-guidance/covid-19-guidance-for-supported-living-provision

Public Health England published a COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) guide to those working in care homes on 17 April. This advises that suitable decontamination arrangements for some PPE items should be obtained from the manufacturer, supplier or local infection control. Public Health England’s publication can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-how-to-work-safely-in-care-homes

Water-soluble bags are not designated under PPE at this current time. A list of PPE recommendations for social care workers can be accessed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control/covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect on average waiting times for patients seeking GP surgery appointments caused by (a) changes to GP contracts and (b) other (i) administrative and (ii) clinical factors over the past 20 years; what plans he has to improve the present situation; and if he will make a statement.

The data in question is not currently held in the format requested.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of (a) the extent of and (b) the potential effect on (i) the health outcomes of patients and (ii) the average waiting time for an appointment of the requirement by GPs that one ailment is discussed at each surgery visit; whether he has plans to ban this practice; and if he will make a statement.

General practitioner (GP) practices are contracted by the National Health Service to provide essential services as are appropriate to meet the reasonable needs of their patients. Those contracts do not specify how GP practices organise their appointment systems or how long each appointment should be as ultimately that will be a professional judgement for GPs on how best they can meet the reasonable needs of their patients, safely and effectively.

Patients are generally advised to plan ahead for their appointments to make sure they cover everything they may want to discuss. Writing a list of problems, starting with the most important is commonly advised and patients with complicated or multiple problems may need to ask for a longer appointment when they book.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to (a) increase investment in research into pancreatic cancer, (b) establish a dedicated awareness campaign to enable the earlier identification of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and (c) improve consistency in the application of treatment and care standards for patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The Department invests £1 billion per year in health research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The NIHR does not allocate funding for specific disease areas. The following table shows the NIHR’s Programme funding for pancreatic cancer in each of the last three years:

Year

2016/17

2017/18

2018/19

Total

NIHR Research Programmes total

£350,870

£411,444

£534,170

£1,296,484

In addition, the NIHR Clinical Research Network supported 62 studies over the last three years.

Several factors are considered when deciding which ‘Be Clear On Cancer’ (BCOC) campaigns to develop and run, with one of the main criteria being the scope to save lives through earlier diagnosis. This can only be effective through broad awareness campaigns if the cancer has a high enough incidence to be able to impact upon through marketing campaigns, as well as a clear early sign or symptom that the public can act upon should it arise.

In 2017, Public Health England (PHE) also ran a pilot campaign in the East and West Midlands which focussed on a range of abdominal symptoms, such as diarrhoea, bloating and discomfort that can be indicative of several cancers, including pancreatic cancer. Further information on the pilot is available at the following link:

https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/16-be-clear-on-cancer/Abdominal%20Symptoms%20Regional%20Pilot

PHE is currently undertaking new data analysis and research to determine the future direction of BCOC activity.

Over the next three years every patient with cancer will receive a Personalised Care and Support Plan based on holistic needs assessment, end of treatment summaries and health and wellbeing information and support. All patients, including those with secondary cancers, will have access to the right expertise and support, including a Clinical Nurse Specialist or other support worker.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to (a) allocate additional funding from the public purse to research on pancreatic cancer; (b) launch a campaign to help enable earlier identification of the symptoms of that cancer; and (c) ensure consistency in the application of treatment and care standards to people diagnosed with that cancer.

The Department invests £1 billion per year in health research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The NIHR does not allocate funding for specific disease areas. The following table shows the NIHR’s Programme funding for pancreatic cancer in each of the last three years.

Year

2016/17

2017/18

2018/19

Total

NIHR Research Programmes total

£350,870

£411,444

£534,170

£1,296,484

In addition, the NIHR Clinical Research Network supported 62 studies over the last three years.

Several factors are considered when deciding which ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ (BCOC) campaigns to develop and run, with one of the main criteria being the scope to save lives through earlier diagnosis. This can only be effective through broad awareness campaigns if the cancer has a high enough incidence to be able to impact upon through marketing campaigns, as well as a clear early sign or symptom that the public can act upon should it arise.

In 2017, Public Health England (PHE) ran a pilot campaign in the East and West Midlands which focussed on a range of abdominal symptoms, such as diarrhoea, bloating and discomfort that can be indicative of several cancers, including pancreatic cancer. In 2017, PHE also ran a pilot campaign in the East and West Midlands which focussed on a range of abdominal symptoms, such as diarrhoea, bloating and discomfort that can be indicative of several cancers, including pancreatic cancer. Further information on the pilot is available at the following link:

https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/16-be-clear-on-cancer/Abdominal%20Symptoms%20Regional%20Pilot

PHE is currently undertaking new data analysis and research to determine the future direction of BCOC activity.

Over the next three years every patient with cancer will receive a Personalised Care and Support Plan based on holistic needs assessment, end of treatment summaries and health and wellbeing information and support. All patients, including those with secondary cancers, will have access to the right expertise and support, including a Clinical Nurse Specialist or other support worker.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what funding from the public purse has been allocated to research into pancreatic cancer in each of the last three years; what progress has been made on the early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer; for what reasons pancreatic cancer patients in the UK have lower rates for surviving five years after diagnosis compared with other European countries; and if he will make a statement.

The Department invests £1 billion per year in health research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). As with other Government funders of health research, the NIHR does not allocate funding for specific disease areas. The level of research spend in a particular area, is driven by factors including scientific potential and the number and scale of successful funding applications.

Early diagnosis rates for pancreatic cancer increased by 2.9 percentage points between 2014 and 2017, from 21.0% to 23.9%, and improving early diagnosis of cancer is a top priority for the NHS. One of the core ambitions in the NHS Long Term Plan is to diagnose 75% of cancers at stage 1 or 2 by 2028 to save 55,000 lives a year. Cancer Alliances in England are using the Rapid Diagnostic Cancer model to improve the diagnostic experience for patients who are suspected of having particular cancers including pancreatic cancer.

United Kingdom survival rates for cancer have never been higher and continue to improve, but there is more work to do to boost survival for all cancers. However, the rates of five year survival for pancreatic cancer are unfortunately very low everywhere. The rates in England (4%) are below the reported average in Europe (6%). The differences between countries may reflect differences in cancer biology, varying availability of diagnostic tests, the stage at diagnosis and data collection practices. Access to computed tomography scanning (the most commonly-used diagnostic test) is important which is why the Government recently announced £200 million to upgrade cancer diagnostic equipment in England.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what criteria are applied in determining the level of funding of research into pancreatic cancer relative to investment in research into other types of cancer; what assessment has been made of the prognosis for surviving pancreatic cancer relative to that for surviving other types of cancer; and what assessment he has made of whether pancreatic cancer survival rates would be improved by (a) greater public awareness of its symptoms and (b) earlier diagnosis of the disease.

The Department invests £1 billion per year in health research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The NIHR welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including pancreatic cancer. As with other Government funders of health research, the NIHR does not allocate funding for specific disease areas. The level of research spend in a particular area, is driven by factors including scientific potential and the number and scale of successful funding applications.

United Kingdom survival rates for cancer have never been higher and continue to improve, but there is more work to do to boost survival for all cancers. The rates of five year survival for pancreatic cancer are unfortunately very low everywhere.

Improving early diagnosis of cancer is key for cancer survival, and is a priority for this Government. In October 2018, the Government announced a package of measures that will be rolled out across the country with the aim of seeing three quarters of all cancers detected at an early stage by 2028. The early diagnosis ambition includes rare and less common cancers and those that are less survivable, such as pancreatic cancer. Success cannot realistically be achieved without making progress on these cancers. Early diagnosis rates for pancreatic cancer increased by 2.9 percentage points between 2014 and 2017, from 21.0% to 23.9%.

NHS England is establishing Rapid Diagnostic Centres (RDCs) across the country to bring together the latest diagnostic equipment and expertise. This programme builds on the Multidisciplinary Diagnostic Centre model piloted through the Accelerate, Coordinate and Evaluate programme, which focussed on diagnosing cancers where patients often present with non-specific symptoms and may go to their general practitioner many times before being sent for appropriate tests.

Cancer Alliances are using the RDC model to improve the diagnostic experience for patients who are suspected of having particular cancers including pancreatic, head and neck, and skin cancers.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if she will publish the obligations of the countries participating in the AUKUS agreement towards one another; whether those obligations (a) have been or (b) will be included in a formal treaty document; and whether those obligations include an obligation to consider an attack upon one as an attack against all participating states.

Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (AUKUS) is a concrete articulation of the UK's ambition, made in the Integrated Review, to deepen defence, security and foreign policy ties with like-minded allies across the globe.

The first step is an 18-month programme of work to identify the optimum way to deliver a nuclear-powered (not armed) submarine capability to the Royal Australian Navy. The exact nature of any future agreement on submarines will be worked out as part of this feasibility study.

In addition, our three countries have committed to enhance the development of joint capabilities and technology sharing. And we will foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains.

AUKUS is an enhanced security partnership, reflecting the unique level of trust and cooperation between the UK, US and Australia. It does not include an obligation to consider an attack upon one as an attack against all participating states.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions she has had with allies on the future security of Taiwan.

Her Majesty's Government considers the Taiwan issue one to be settled peacefully by the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait through constructive dialogue. We are concerned by any activity which raises tensions and risks destabilising the status quo, and underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait alongside partners in the recent G7 Foreign and Development Ministers' and Leaders' communiques.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent steps she has taken with the Home Secretary to facilitate the rescue of scholars from Afghanistan who have been (a) validated by the Council for At-Risk Academics and (b) awarded funded research posts at UK Universities.

The Government is working through the details of the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS). The Scheme will provide protection for people at risk and identified as in need. The ACRS will prioritise those people who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan who face a particular risk from the Taliban, for example because of their stand for democracy and human rights, or because of their gender, sexuality, or religion. The Government has committed to welcome around 5,000 people in the first year and up to 20,000 over the coming years. The scheme in not yet open. Further details will be announced in due course.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he plans to take to ensure the safety in Afghanistan of the staff of (a) BBC World Service, (b) other free media and (c) charities with links with the UK, including the Nowzad animal rescue organisation; and if he will make a statement.

Between 15 and 29 August, the UK evacuated over 15,000 people from Afghanistan. That includes: over 8,000 British Nationals, close to 5,000 Afghans who loyally served the UK, along with their dependents, and around 500 special cases of particularly vulnerable Afghans, including Chevening scholars, journalists, human rights defenders, campaigners for women's rights, judges and many others. All these figures include dependants.

We are now looking at all possible avenues to ensure that any British nationals and local staff remaining in Afghanistan, as well as at-risk individuals who have already been offered a visa to the UK, are able to leave safely if they wish to. We have been clear that the Taliban must allow safe passage for those who want to leave

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he plans to take (a) in response to the recent letter sent to him by the CEO of Adam Smith International on the risk to Afghan civilians, employed to administer UK-funded programmes between 2002 and 2018, who were (i) staff members of contractors and (ii) not directly employed by the UK Government and (b) to honour all offers previously made to Afghan students of Chevening Scholarships for the academic year 2021-22.

In addition to schemes offering resettlement for Afghan staff who have assisted the UK government, and their families, we are also setting up the Afghan Citizens' Resettlement Scheme (ACRS). This scheme will provide protection for Afghan citizens identified as most at risk. The Government has committed to take around 5,000 refugees in the first year and 20,000 over the coming years.

All offers made to Afghan Chevening scholars for 2021-22 are valid. We successfully evacuated the majority of Afghan Chevening scholars in this year's cohort and will continue to do all we can to support the small number who remain in Afghanistan. We are clear that the Taliban must ensure safe passage for these people out of Afghanistan and any engagement with them will emphasise this first and foremost.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the announcement of 1 May 2021, whether any of the additional £8 million being made available by his Department to the BBC World Service will be allocated to the work of the BBC Monitoring Service; and if he will make a statement.

The FCDO will provide £94.4m to the BBC World Service for 2021-22, including an £8m uplift for 2021-22 to fund disinformation work and digital enhancements. The FCDO has allocated £3m of the £8m uplift to support disinformation work including a boost to investigative journalism and the remaining £5m for digital enhancements to help the BBC develop its digital platforms in order to support audience growth. It is for the BBC to decide how this funding is spent.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when he plans to respond to (a) Question 162501 tabled on 3 March 2021 and (b) Question 163140 tabled on 4 March 2021 by the Rt. hon. Member for New Forest East.

My officials have been in touch with the Table Office and discovered an IT issue with the submission portal. This has now been corrected to show that these questions were both answered on time on 8 and 9 March.

Responses to these questions can be found on the Parliamentary website at https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-03-04/163140 and https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-03-03/162501

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what estimate he has made of the approximate numbers of captive Isil/Daesh fighters held, respectively, in regions of Syria under the control of (a) Syrian, (b) Turkish, (c) Kurdish and (d) any other armed forces or groups hostile to Isil/Daesh; under what circumstances and to which destinations those fighters are being released, if at all, from captivity in each of those differently controlled areas; and to which of those four categories of armed forces or groups is the UK giving military assistance to suppress Isil/Daesh.

The UK has not made an estimate of the numbers of Daesh fighters held across Syria. We are aware of reports that provide an estimate, including by the UN. Any decision in relation to the continued detention, transfer or prosecution of detainees is ultimately a matter for the authorities under whose jurisdiction the individuals are detained. The UK continues to encourage all parties to adhere to their legal obligations. As a leading member of the Global Coalition we work with all Coalition members and the Coalition's partner forces to continue tackling the threat from Daesh.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) regional and (b) global implications for tackling terrorism of a return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The US-Taliban agreement includes conditions about preventing international terrorists operating from Afghan soil. The UK will remain committed to tackling the threat from terrorist groups in Afghanistan, including from Daesh/ISKP (Islamic State in Khorasan Province), Al Qaeda and their affiliates. We continue to work closely with the US and NATO Allies to protect our shared interests. Regional stability and human and economic development are interconnected with reducing the threat from terrorism.


Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the BBC World Service in expanding (a) its reach to additional countries, (b) the number of its language services broadcast and (c) the overall size of its global audience; what recent assessment has has made of the contribution of the World Service to global understanding of major developments in (i) Burma, (ii) China and (iii) Russia; what plans his Department has to restored ring-fenced funding of the BBC World Service for 2021-22; what plans he has to make an assessment of the role of the BBC World Service as part of the Integrated Review; and if he will make a statement.

The FCDO strongly values the work of the BBC World Service in promoting UK values globally through its independent and impartial broadcasting, which is vital especially in places where media freedom is limited or otherwise curtailed.

We have provided the World Service with over £378m over 5 years (2016-21) through the World2020 programme, in order to fund enhancements to existing language services and 12 new language services. The World Service now reaches a record breaking 351m people weekly, an over 40% increase since the programme began in 2016, demonstrating the impact of FCDO investment. Future funding for the World Service is being considered alongside other FCDO spending priorities at SR20 and the role of the BBC World Service, and other soft power assets, is being considered as part of the Integrated Review.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the BBC Monitoring Service in providing open source information to (a) his Department, (b) the Ministry of Defence and (c) the Cabinet Office; what recent assessment he has made of the contribution that Service to the Government's understanding of (i) the covid-19 pandemic in affected countries and (ii) the poisoning of Alexei Navalny in Russia; what plans he has to (A) make an assessment of trends in the level of workload of the Service and (B) reverse Service staff funding reductions made on relocation from Caversham Park to Central London; if he will make it his policy to restore ring-fenced funding to the Service; what plans he has to make an assessment of the role of the Service as part of the Integrated Review; and if he will make a statement.

BBC Monitoring (BBCM) provides services for the whole of Government and consistently meets or exceeds all agreed performance metrics as set out in the Monitoring Agreement. The use of BBCM across government is increasing with 30 departments and agencies using the service. For example, BBCM outputs make a direct contribution to situational awareness in support of MOD activities worldwide, and the Open Source Unit (OSU) in the FCDO, relies on BBCM's unique media monitoring, reporting and analysis alongside other sources to provide situational awareness and understanding of the wider context to FCDO policy leads.

The BBC is operationally and editorially independent of Government and therefore it is not appropriate for us to comment on matters such as staffing. The Government is satisfied with the current funding model and BBC Monitoring's ability to deliver the service based on agreed performance targets. The full conclusions of the Integrated Review will be published in due course.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effect on the rights of UK citizens facing trial in US courts of the application of the US plea-bargaining process.

The US plea-bargaining process is a domestic policy issue for the US authorities. The assistance we can, and cannot, provide to British nationals abroad is set out in the publication 'Support for British nationals abroad: A Guide' on GOV.UK (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-britishnationals-abroad-a-guide).

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for UK relations with Russia of the recording of alleged dialogue between Alexei Navalny and Konstantin Kudryavtsev on a failed assassination attempt, published by Bellingcat on 21 December 2020.

The recording of an alleged dialogue between Alexei Navalny and Konstantin Kudryavtsev, published by Bellingcat on 21 December 2020, underlines the need for the Russian authorities to undertake a thorough and transparent investigation into Mr Navalny's poisoning with a banned chemical weapon. The UK has been clear that Russia has a case to answer and that there is currently no other plausible explanation for Mr Navalny's poisoning other than Russian involvement and responsibility.

Any use of a chemical weapon is unacceptable. All States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), including Russia, are obliged to observe the Convention's complete prohibition of development, possession and use of chemical weapons as set out in the CWC. We have worked with international partners at the OPCW to call on Russia to investigate and credibly explain the use of a chemical weapon on its territory in line with its commitments under the CWC. So far, Russia has failed to do so. We will continue to work with international partners on our response to this attack.

The confirmed use of a chemical weapon against Mr Navalny and his latest detention further undermine democracy and political plurality in Russia.

We urge Russia to fulfil its commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, and all other relevant instruments of the Council of Europe and Organisation for Security and Co- operation in Europe (OSCE) and to guarantee these rights, including the right to freedom of expression, to its citizens.

The current relationship with Russia is not the one we want. But there can be no normalisation in our bilateral relationship until Russia stops its irresponsible and destabilising activity that threatens the UK and its allies.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the recent report of the assassinations in Iran of a leading al-Qaeda organiser, what assessment he has made of the implications of that report for future UK policy to counter international terrorism.

We are looking into media reports that Abu Muhammad al-Masri, a senior leader within Al-Qaeda, has been killed in Iran. These reports come on the back of a number of successful operations against senior leadership figures over the past year. However, the terrorist threat from Al-Qaeda remains. We will continue to work with international partners to fight all forms of terrorism globally, and we will work tirelessly to support those affected by it.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his US counterpart on the US Government’s Clean Network initiative; what assessment the Government has made of the potential efficacy of that initiative in protecting the UK's digital network from (a) exploitation and (b) potential disruption by hostile states; and whether the Government plans to subscribe to that project.

The forthcoming Telecoms Security Bill will establish a robust framework to drive up security standards across the UK's telecoms providers and control the presence of equipment from High Risk Vendors in the UK's telecoms networks. We are aware of the US Clean Networks initiative and look forward to discussing further the detail of the initiative with the US to inform our assessment. We have a close dialogue with the US on telecoms security and the importance of diversification in the global telecoms market. We have engaged with them extensively following our decision in July that operators should remove all Huawei equipment from the 5G network by the end of 2027. For example we held senior expert level talks with them this September and the Foreign Secretary discussed telecoms with Secretary of State Pompeo during his visit in July.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what notice was given to the Government by the US Administration of its intention to cut the number of US troops in Germany by almost one-third; and what representations the Government have made on this proposal (a) directly and (b) via NATO to President Trump (i) before and (ii) since its announcement.

The UK Government does not comment on speculation. The United States and United Kingdom are strong partners and allies, with a uniquely close and active defence and security partnership. Ministers and officials regularly engage with the US on a wide range of security issues, both bilaterally and in NATO, including the deployment of US troops in Europe.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assistance the British Embassy in Guatemala is providing to (a) New Forest East constituents confined to the island of Utila and (b) other UK citizens stranded in Honduras to enable their return to the UK, and if he will make a statement.

Following the change to date for answer of this PQ, I submitted a response by email on 27 March, with the following response. The Table Office have agreed this approach.

We are closely monitoring the presence of UK nationals in Honduras, and their wellbeing remains our priority. Our Embassy in Guatemala continues to explore all possible options for their safe return to the UK, working closely with the relevant authorities and commercial airlines and potentially including the facilitation of clearance for chartered flights to enter. Our Embassy has been in touch with British Nationals stranded on Utila and the Bay Island

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what urgent assistance is being provided to UK citizens stranded on board the Coral Princess cruise vessel near Montevideo to facilitate their return to the UK.

Following the change to date for answer of this PQ, I submitted a response by email on 2 April, with the following response. The Table Office have agreed this approach.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is working relentlessly with the cruise company to facilitate the return home of UK passengers on the Coral Princess and enable them to take advantage of available onward flights to London. We are doing all we can to help British people on board and have contacted them directly.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
27th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to the written statement of 26 February 2020, HCWS126, on Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, whether interested (a) groups and (b) individuals may make submissions to that review; what the (i) format, (ii) word limit and (iii) deadline for those submissions should be; and when that review will be completed.

The review will engage with a range of stakeholders here and abroad to ensure proper consultation and challenge. The Government will utilise expertise from both inside and outside government for the review, ensuring the UK's best minds are feeding into its conclusions and challenging traditional Whitehall assumptions and thinking as needed.

The consultation process will include a variety of methods both formal and informal including meetings, roundables, workshops and focus groups. The review will be closely aligned to the Comprehensive Spending Review and an announcement of the timings will be made in due course.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what lessons his Department has learned from UK (a) diplomatic and (b) military involvement in the removal of Colonel Gaddafi from power in Libya in 2011; what assessment his Department has made of the compliance of that involvement with the Resolution of the House of 21 March 2011 on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 establishing a no-fly zone to protect Benghazi; and if he will make it his policy not to endorse no-fly zones to facilitate UK military intervention in Syria in support of Islamist fighting groups.

The UK participated in the international military action in Libya in 2011 in order to protect Libyans against Colonel Qadhafi's regime, which was intent on violently suppressing their uprising. The Qadhafi regime subsequently fell, and since then we have been working to support a political transition in Libya. The UK supports UN-led efforts as the best way of securing an end to the conflict and delivering the stability and security that all Libyans deserve. In Syria, the UK does not believe that a no-fly zone is currently a feasible option.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what his policy is (a) on support for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and (b) Turkish military intervention in northern Syria; what armed forces in Syria the Government supports; what recent assessment he has made of the implications for Article 5 of the NATO Treaty of conflict between (i) Turkish and (ii) other forces in Syria; and if he will make a statement.

On the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), we pay tribute to courage and sacrifices made by the SDF, as partner of the Global Coalition against Daesh, in successful efforts against Daesh in Syria. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have regular contact with representatives from different Kurdish political groups about the situation in Syria. The UK was clear in its opposition to Turkey's military operation in north-east Syria in October 2019, and welcomes the fact that the ceasefire in this area is broadly holding. On Idlib, we welcome Turkey's diplomatic efforts to seek an urgent and lasting ceasefire which is urgently needed. No request to trigger Article 5 has been made, and any decision on this would be taken collectively by allies at the North Atlantic Council. Finally, I responded to an urgent question on the situation in Idlib on 24 February.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what the (a) names and (b) political composition are of all groups fighting in Idlib against the Assad regime in Syria; what recent assessment his Department has made of the prevalence of (i) Islamists and (ii) democratic pluralists among those groups; and whether the estimated 70,000 moderate rebel fighters referred to in the oral contribution of the former Prime Minister of 26 November 2015, Official Report, column 1491, have been located in Syria since that date.

Given the complex and evolving situation on the ground in Syria, it is difficult to assess the political composition, names, and numbers of all groups believed to be fighting in Idlib against the Assad regime or to determine where the moderate fighters referred to by the then Prime Minister in 2015 are now located.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential effect of a cliff-edge ending of the stamp duty holiday on property sales and purchases that are currently underway and which fail to complete before the chosen deadline; and if he will make it his policy to reintroduce that duty in graduated phases when the stamp duty holiday ends.

The temporary increase in the Stamp Duty Land Tax nil rate band was designed to create immediate momentum within the property market, where property transactions fell by as much as 50 per cent during the COVID-19 lockdown in March.

The Government is monitoring delays in the buying process closely. As the relief was designed to provide an immediate stimulus to the property market, the Government does not plan to extend this relief.

27th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) effectiveness of the Scottish Wholesale Food and Drink Resilience Fund in safeguarding food and drink wholesale businesses from collapse and (b) potential merits of a scheme based on that model in other parts of the UK.

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the Government has protected people’s jobs and livelihoods while also supporting businesses and public services across the UK. Food and drink wholesalers have been eligible for a number of economic support schemes, including:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of April 2021 for all parts of the UK;
  • The opportunity to defer VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020; and
  • The Bounce Back Loan Scheme for small businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, with no interest payments or fees for the first 12 months.

Wholesalers in England may also receive further support with their fixed costs from local authorities through the £1.6 billion in funding made available for discretionary Additional Restrictions Grants to support local businesses.

Businesses may also be eligible for other elements of the Government’s support package including government-backed loans, tax deferrals, Business Rate reliefs, and general and sector-specific grants. The Government urges businesses to visit the online Coronavirus Business Support Finder Tool for tailored information on how to access support available to them.

To give the Scottish Government the certainty to plan and deliver their Covid-19 response, we have provided them with an upfront guarantee that they will receive at least £8.6bn in additional funding this year on top of their Spring Budget funding. It is for the Scottish Government to determine how to use this funding.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) effectiveness of the Scottish Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Hardship Fund in safeguarding food and drink wholesale businesses from collapse and (b) potential merits of a scheme based on that model in other parts of the UK.

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the Government has protected people’s jobs and livelihoods while also supporting businesses and public services across the UK. Food and drink wholesalers have been eligible for a number of economic support schemes, including:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of April 2021 for all parts of the UK;
  • The opportunity to defer VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020; and
  • The Bounce Back Loan Scheme for small businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, with no interest payments or fees for the first 12 months.

Wholesalers in England may also receive further support with their fixed costs from local authorities through the £1.6 billion in funding made available for discretionary Additional Restrictions Grants to support local businesses.

Businesses may also be eligible for other elements of the Government’s support package including government-backed loans, tax deferrals, Business Rate reliefs, and general and sector-specific grants. The Government urges businesses to visit the online Coronavirus Business Support Finder Tool for tailored information on how to access support available to them.

To give the Scottish Government the certainty to plan and deliver their Covid-19 response, we have provided them with an upfront guarantee that they will receive at least £8.6bn in additional funding this year on top of their Spring Budget funding. It is for the Scottish Government to determine how to use this funding.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
15th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many people have been actively pursued for payment of the Loan Charge (a) in each lockdown period and (b) overall since the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak; what estimate he has made of the numbers of (i) bankruptcies and (ii) suicides associated with Loan Charge payment demands; what steps HMRC has taken against companies which advised their clients to use disguised remuneration schemes; and what data has been collected on contractors who worked for HMRC while utilising disguised remuneration schemes.

Taxpayers had until 30 September 2020 to file and pay the Loan Charge or agree a Time to Pay arrangement. Since then, HMRC have contacted taxpayers with a Loan Charge liability to establish what, if any, support they need to pay the amount due. HMRC’s helpline and the dedicated Loan Charge helpline are available to support taxpayers in managing their debt and agreeing arrangements to pay their liability, including referral for independent debt advice and explaining guaranteed Time to Pay criteria.

HMRC do not want to make anyone bankrupt, and insolvency is only ever considered as a last resort. HMRC will work with individuals to reach sustainable and manageable payment plans wherever possible. In line with current practice, HMRC will pause recovery action where a taxpayer has no ability to pay, until there is a significant change of circumstances. HMRC are not always the only creditor and some individuals may choose to enter insolvency themselves based on their overall financial position. HMRC have not made an estimate of the number of people who may become bankrupt and have a Loan Charge liability.

HMRC records show that in six cases taxpayers have very sadly taken their lives and have also been identified as having used a disguised remuneration scheme. On each occasion HMRC referred the case to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), and HMRC undertook an internal investigation. Four investigations have been concluded and in all no staff misconduct was identified which might warrant disciplinary action.

In March 2020, HMRC published on GOV.UK their strategy for tackling promoters of tax avoidance schemes, including those who promote disguised remuneration schemes. The strategy sets out HMRC’s work to date and outlines how HMRC will continue to take robust action against promoters of tax avoidance.

HMRC collect certain details of all the contractors they engage as contingent labour, including names, National Insurance numbers and engagement periods. As with other taxpayers, HMRC also hold information returned through PAYE. HMRC maintain a compliance database with information on both individuals and employers who are associated with known avoidance schemes. HMRC do not engage in, or enter into, disguised remuneration schemes. It is possible for a contractor providing services to HMRC to use a disguised remuneration scheme without HMRC’s knowledge or participation.

15th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of current practice by French customs authorities requiring (a) UK Export Declaration documentation to be terminated on arrival of UK goods at their point of entry into France and (b) fresh Transit documentation to be initiated at that point of entry in order for UK goods to proceed through France to other destinations within the EU; for what reason goods imported from the EU to the UK require only EU Export Declaration documentation to proceed through the UK; how many EU countries apply this asymmetric arrangement to their trade with the UK; what estimate he has made of the competitive disadvantage to UK exporters of having to pay additional charges both to (i) obtain and (ii) terminate the extra documentation required for transiting through France to another EU destination; and for what reason that additional paperwork is required for the high proportion of UK exports to EU countries which are zero-tariff rated.

Customs formalities apply on both sides of the UK-EU border. This involves an export declaration in the country of dispatch and an import declaration in the country of destination. UK import controls are similar to those of the EU. However, recognising the impact of COVID-19 on businesses’ ability to prepare and following the announcement in February 2020 that the Government will implement full border controls on imports coming into GB from the EU, the UK Government has taken the decision to introduce new border controls in stages up until 1 July 2021. Until 30 June 2021 traders (or their intermediaries) can import non-controlled goods from the EU by making a declaration in their own records at the point the goods enter GB followed by a delayed supplementary declaration.

The Government also successfully negotiated the UK’s accession to the Convention on Common Transit. This procedure can facilitate border crossings and defer payment of import duties while the goods travel under it throughout the Common Transit Area. Goods moving under a transit declaration do not need to undertake import and export procedures at every border. Instead the goods are exported once in the country of dispatch before being declared into transit. The goods may then cross over multiple customs territories before arriving at their final destination. The goods then will only need to be imported once they reach their final destination. The transit procedure is not mandatory but may be particularly helpful if the goods are for an EU country other than the one in control of the border where they arrive.

1st Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to ensure that mortgage lenders follow official guidance and look favourably on loan applications during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The Chancellor and I are in regular discussions with mortgage lenders regarding the availability of competitive mortgage products on the market and to encourage lenders to assess applications for these products fairly considering the unprecedented circumstances.

Beyond these discussions, the assessment of mortgage loan applications are commercial decisions and the Government does not seek to intervene. When assessing loan applications, lenders consider several factors such as market conditions, the funding they possess and the applicant’s affordability.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the eligibility criteria for business rates relief.

Eligibility for business rates relief is set out in the guidance on GOV.UK. In line with previous Governments, discussions in Cabinet are not revealed publicly.

6th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to include the Roadchef Employee Benefits scheme in the schedule of tax-exempt share ownership schemes as outlined in EDM 268 on Fair tax and employee share ownership.

The administration of the tax system is a matter for HM Revenue and Customs, who have indicated that they are in dialogue with the taxpayer. It would not be appropriate for Treasury ministers to become involved in the administration of the tax system in specific cases.

29th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will takes steps to assist the 77 poorest countries to meet the (a) challenges and (b) effect of the covid-19 pandemic by (i) cancelling the bilateral debt payments already suspended for 2020 between those countries and the UK for 2020 and 2021, (ii) encouraging the (A) World Bank and (B) IMF to cancel such payments, (iii) discouraging other UK creditors not to initiate legal action against any of the 77 poorest countries that default on their 2020 and 2021 debt payments and (iv) initiating an international arrangement for the restructuring of the debts owed by those countries to render their future payments economically sustainable.

The Chancellor joined his G20 counterparts to commit to a temporary suspension on debt service repayments from the 77 poorest countries under the debt service suspension initiative (DSSI). The DSSI extends to the end of the 2020, but the G20 will review the possibility for extension later this year, based on advice from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group (WBG).

At Budget, the Chancellor announced a leading contribution of up to £150m to the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, which will provide the world’s poorest countries relief on IMF repayments. The WBG has made available significant amounts of new finance to help countries counter the effects of the pandemic, ensuring net positive financing flows to all DSSI eligible countries. For the poorest countries at high risk of debt distress, support from the World Bank’s International Development Association is provided on grant terms and does not add to debt vulnerabilities.

The Chancellor and his G20 counterparts called upon commercial creditors to participate in the DSSI on comparable terms to the official sector on a voluntary basis. It will be important that developing countries do not see their access to international capital markets become too costly or restricted as mobilising private finance will be essential for crisis recovery and long-term sustainable development.

The DSSI provides time to assess what further assistance for may be needed for these countries on a case-by-case basis. If debts do require restructuring, the UK will work with the Paris Club of official creditors, IMF, and WBG to support equitable debt reductions to long-term sustainable growth.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the value of business rates relief allocated to UK supermarkets; whether supermarkets have experienced an (a) expansion or (b) contraction in retail revenue since the start of the covid-19 outbreak; and by what criteria are (i) supermarkets eligible and (ii) food and drink wholesalers not eligible for business rates relief.

The Government has provided enhanced support through business rates relief worth almost £10billion to businesses occupying properties used for retail, hospitality and leisure that are accessible to visiting members of the public, given the direct and acute impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on those sectors.

Recent ONS figures show that, in the three months to May 2020, the volume of retail sales decreased by a record 12.8%, with declines across all stores except food and non-store retailing. The proportion spent online rose to the highest proportion on record in May 2020 at 33.4%.

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

23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reasons business rates relief (a) has been granted to businesses in the hospitality sector and (b) has not been granted to food and drink wholesalers; what assessment has been made of the effect of this decision on the food and drink supplies of (i) hospitals and (ii) schools; and if he will discuss with Ministerial colleagues the applications of business rates relief to the food and drink wholesale sector.

The Government has provided enhanced support through business rates relief worth almost £10billion to businesses occupying properties used for retail, hospitality and leisure that are accessible to visiting members of the public, given the direct and acute impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on those sectors.

Recent ONS figures show that, in the three months to May 2020, the volume of retail sales decreased by a record 12.8%, with declines across all stores except food and non-store retailing. The proportion spent online rose to the highest proportion on record in May 2020 at 33.4%.

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

23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to Sir Amyas Morse's Review of the Loan Charge, what estimate he has made of the the number of people now due for a repayment of Voluntary Restitution relating to payroll loan schemes covered by the 2019 Loan Charge; and of those cases how many (a) companies and individuals have already entered into insolvency and (b) individuals are known to have sold a property in order to pay the Voluntary Restitution which will now be repaid.

An estimated 1,000 individuals and 1,000 employers who have already settled their disguised remuneration liability will be due a repayment of voluntary restitution.

HMRC do not have estimates of the number who have entered insolvency or sold properties.

HMRC currently estimate that about £380m of voluntary restitution could be refunded to employers and individuals as a result of the change, with the vast majority estimated to be due to employers. The final value could depend on whether all eligible taxpayers claim their refund and whether, in line with the recommendation of the independent review accepted by the Government, refunds need to be reduced to prevent an unintended windfall, for example where an employer has enjoyed corporation tax relief on the voluntary restitution that they paid.

23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to Sir Amyas Morse's Review of the Loan Charge, what estimate he has made of the (a) amount that HMRC will repay in Voluntary Restitutions in relation to payroll loan schemes covered by the 2019 Loan Charge already received, (b) number of employers that will receive a payment and (c) the value of the repayments received by employers.

An estimated 1,000 individuals and 1,000 employers who have already settled their disguised remuneration liability will be due a repayment of voluntary restitution.

HMRC do not have estimates of the number who have entered insolvency or sold properties.

HMRC currently estimate that about £380m of voluntary restitution could be refunded to employers and individuals as a result of the change, with the vast majority estimated to be due to employers. The final value could depend on whether all eligible taxpayers claim their refund and whether, in line with the recommendation of the independent review accepted by the Government, refunds need to be reduced to prevent an unintended windfall, for example where an employer has enjoyed corporation tax relief on the voluntary restitution that they paid.

16th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for what reason his Department has not allocated financial support to food and drink wholesalers; whether food and drink wholesalers are classified as part of the same supply chain as the supermarkets which they supply; and if he will make it his policy to extend (a) business rates relief and (b) the Hospitality, Retail and Leisure Grant, to the food and drink wholesale sector.

The Government has provided enhanced support through business rates relief and business grants 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 (LAs) in England on eligible properties for the business rates relief. It is for LAs to determine eligibility for reliefs, having regard to guidance issued by the Government.

LAs can choose to make discretionary grants to businesses in wider supply chains, like the wholesale food and drink sector, if the LA considers there is a particular local economic need.

Businesses that are not eligible for business rates relief or business grants can still benefit from the wider business and employment support package the Government has made available.

10th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent progress his Department has made on resolving the dispute between HMRC and the Roadchef Employee Benefits Trust; whether that case can be used as a precedent for other claims; and if he will make it his policy to include a relevant clause in legislative proposals brought forward by his Department to remove the obstacle to payments being made from the Trust to its beneficiaries.

The administration of the tax system is a matter for HM Revenue and Customs, who have indicated that they are in dialogue with the taxpayer. It would not be appropriate for Treasury ministers to become involved in the administration of the tax system in specific cases.

1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will ensure that the earnings limit set for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme is consistent with Government financial support for employees who earn more than £50,000 per annum; and if he will make it his policy to introduce a capped grant of up to £2,500 per month to for self-employed people during the covid-19 outbreak.

The different designs of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) reflect their different objectives. The CJRS is designed to prevent employers making staff redundant, whereas the SEISS is designed to support the incomes of those self-employed individuals whose businesses are adversely affected by COVID-19.

Individuals can at present claim a taxable grant under the SEISS worth 80 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total.

The extension of the SEISS announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 29 May 2020 means that eligible individuals whose businesses are adversely affected by COVID-19 will be able to claim a second and final grant when the scheme reopens for applications in August. This will be a taxable grant worth 70 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

The SEISS, including the £50,000 threshold for average trading profits, is targeted at those who most need it, and who are most reliant on their self-employment income. The self-employed are very diverse and have a wide mix of turnover and profits, with monthly and annual variations even in normal times, and in some cases with substantial alternative forms of income too: for example, those who had more than £50,000 from trading profits in 2017-18 had an average total income of more than £200,000. Some 95 per cent of those with more than half their income from self-employment in 2018-19 could be eligible for this scheme.

Those with average trading profits above £50,000 may still be eligible for other elements of the unprecedented financial support package made available by the Government. These measures include Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support, increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants.

12th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 May to Question 43822 on endowment mortgage policies, if he will take steps to work closely with the financial sector to ensure that the providers of such policies offer an option to people dependent upon them to discharge mortgages, to extend the policies' maturation dates until after the covid-19 outbreak.

The current size of the endowment linked mortgage market is small, with no new endowment linked mortgage products and few coming to maturity.

Banks and buildings societies stand ready to support all of their customers affected by Covid-19, including those with an endowment mortgage shortfall.

Firms will consider customer circumstances with endowment mortgages on a case-by-case basis and UK Finance have instructed lenders to treat all customers sympathetically at this time. Customers are also protected under the FCA’s overarching Treating Customers Fairly principle.

Given this, we believe that existing lender forbearance and regulatory guidance is sufficient in supporting customers with endowment mortgages through Covid-19.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will provide additional support to SMEs such as dental and other medical practices by (a) requiring insurers to honour covid-19 claims under business interruption policies which covered notifiable diseases, even if covid-19 was not explicitly listed; and (b) allowing the directors of limited companies a monthly grant comparable to those given to employees and the self-employed.

The Government recognises the important role all medical business play to protect and improve the health of the population and is taking many steps to support them during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Dentists will be fully remunerated for the NHS work they would have otherwise undertaken, subject to some basic requirements.
  • On 2 April, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced a £300 million cash advance for community pharmacies.
  • The NHS has committed to securing funding for NHS ophthalmic contractors based on average month NHS General Ophthalmic Services fees from the previous year.

Medical practices may also benefit from the range of economic support measures the Government has announced. The Business Support website provides further information about how businesses can access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support.

Most commercial insurance policies are unlikely to offer cover for unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19. However, those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers both pandemics and government ordered closure, should be able to make a claim – subject to the terms and conditions of their policy. Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers.

Income from dividends is a return on investment in the company, rather than wages. HMRC are not able to distinguish between dividends derived from an individual’s own company and dividends from other sources, so do not have a clear mechanism through which to support dividend income from an individual’s own company, without also supporting dividend income from other investments. Company directors who pay themselves a salary through a PAYE scheme may be eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
6th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions his Department has had with representatives of the financial sector on endowment mortgage policies due to mature during the covid-19 outbreak with no prospect of discharging the mortgages to which they are linked; and if he will make it his policy to require companies providing such policies to extend their maturity dates until the after the outbreak.

The Government has been working closely with the financial sector to ensure appropriate forbearance is being shown across the mortgage market, including a 3-month mortgage holiday to enable affected borrowers to defer their mortgage payments and a 3-month moratorium on possession action to provide customers with reassurance that they will not have their homes repossessed at this difficult time.

Endowments are a form of investment, therefore, any extension to maturity dates would be a bespoke commercial decision and down to individual providers. We advise any customer whose endowment is to mature, to seek advice from both their lender and insurer on how to proceed.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will instruct HMRC to suspend the (a) pursuit and (b) enforcement of loan charge revenues until after the covid-19 outbreak.

There is currently no HMRC debt collection activity being pursued in relation to taxpayers in respect of the loan charge.

Where a taxpayer has included the loan charge on their 2018/19 tax return, HMRC will respond to any contact from them, including agreeing payment plans if requested, but will not initiate any contact or take any enforcement action ahead of the revised filing and payment deadline of 30 September 2020.

There does remain a risk that, with large scale delivery at pace, some taxpayers may be contacted in error. In that case, they should contact HMRC, who will confirm that they do not need to pay until the 30 September 2020 payment deadline.

HMRC have been clear on their commitment to support all taxpayers who need help to manage their disguised remuneration (DR) liabilities, including those affected by COVID-19.

4th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 29 April 2020 to Question 39450 on financial support to small-to-medium transport companies engaged in importing and distributing PPE and other essential supplies, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on (a) cancelling and (b) deferring until at least the end of the covid-19 outbreak Business Rates for those companies; what assessment he has made of implications for his policies of the reluctance of some companies to continue trading with the prospect of facing substantial accumulated loan debt by the end of the crisis; and what steps the Government is taking to encourage otherwise viable companies not to cease trading for fear of that outcome.

The current business rates holiday policy aims to provide support to all eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector at this challenging time. These businesses are likely to face particularly high fixed costs, such as fixed rents and other building-related costs and are wholly or mainly being used by visiting members of the public. However, businesses outside of these sectors, such as small-to-medium transport companies, may benefit from a range of other support measures including:

  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  • The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL) for small and micro enterprises
  • VAT deferral for up to 12 months
  • The Time To Pay scheme, through which businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, can receive support with their tax affairs
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
  • Protection for commercial leaseholders against automatic forfeiture for non-payment until June 30, 2020

The Business Support website provides further information about how businesses can access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support.

Additional debt will not be the right answer for all businesses, and it is important that businesses consider carefully before applying for a loan. The Government will provide CBILS lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to viable SMEs. The government will not charge businesses for this guarantee. On the BBL scheme, the Government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee on each loan, to give lenders the confidence they need to support the smallest businesses in the country. For both schemes the Government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments and fees charged by the lenders. This is called the Business Interruption Payment.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
4th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what (a) grants and (b) other support, apart from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, he plans to make available to medium-size businesses which are (a) run from home, (b) not being paid for their services during the covid-19 outbreak and (c) required to pay their suppliers in advance; and what guidance he plans to issue to banks that are awarding loans under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme on flexibility in administering that scheme for businesses that are under financial pressure as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Local Authority grants schemes have been designed to ensure that payments are made quickly and efficiently to small businesses facing particularly high fixed-property costs. Businesses which are not eligible for the grants may benefit from other measures in the Government’s unprecedented package of support for business, including:

  • The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  • The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL) for small and micro enterprises
  • VAT deferral for up to 12 months
  • The Time To Pay scheme, through which businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, can receive support with their tax affairs
  • A three-month mortgage holiday

On 3 April the Government extended CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those viable businesses unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible if the lender believes they will need finance to see them through these unprecedented times. This exceptional support is designed to enable all long-term viable businesses experiencing difficulties as a result of the coronavirus outbreak to access finance.

The Government has also removed the forward-looking viability test, that required an assessment of whether the business can trade out of the crisis, and the per lender portfolio cap, to give lenders the full 80% guarantee across all CBILS lending. Finally, no lender can take a personal guarantee for a loan of less than £250,000. For loans over the value of £250,000, a personal guarantee can only be taken for 20% of the outstanding balance. However, a lender is not allowed to take a personal guarantee against a borrower's principle residence under the scheme.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will ensure that directors of businesses, who cannot be themselves be furloughed while administering the payments of their staff members on furlough, receive financial support comparable to that received by such members of staff; and what other steps he plans to take to support directors of small businesses during the covid-19 outbreak.

Those who pay themselves a salary through their own company may be eligible to claim for 80% of usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The CJRS is available to employers, including personal service companies, and individuals paying themselves a salary through a PAYE scheme are eligible. Where furloughed directors need to carry out particular duties to fulfil the statutory obligations they owe to their company, they may do so provided they do no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose, i.e. they should not do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provides services to or on behalf of their company.

Income from dividends is a return on investment in the company, rather than wages, and is not eligible for support. Under current reporting mechanisms it is not possible for HM Revenue and Customs to distinguish between dividends derived from an individual’s own company and dividends from other sources, and between dividends in lieu of employment income and as returns from other corporate activity. Expanding the scope would require HMRC to collect and verify new information. This would take longer to deliver and put at risk the other schemes which the Government is committed to delivering as quickly as possible.

Those who are not eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme might be able to access the other support Government is providing, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce Back Loans Scheme for small businesses, and the deferral of tax payments. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at?www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/

24th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support he is providing to small-to-medium transport companies that are substantially engaged in the importing and distribution of personal protective equipment and other essential medical supplies; and if he will make it his policy to offer such companies (a) business rate relief and (b) support grants similar to those available to retail, hospitality and tourism businesses.

The Government recently announced a trilateral agreement, with the French and Irish governments, committing to keeping freight routes open throughout the crisis. In addition, the Government has announced additional support to protect key maritime freight routes. This includes up to £17m to support routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and up to £10.5m for links to the Ilse of Wight and the Scilly Isles, to ensure the continued operation of essential services. The Department for Transport is continuing to engage with the haulage industry to understand the impact of Covid-19 on the sector.

The business rates relief and grant schemes for eligible retail, leisure and hospitality businesses have been designed to support the smallest businesses, and smaller businesses in some of the sectors which have been hit hardest by the measures taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Small and medium-sized businesses which are not eligible for these schemes may be able to benefit from other measures in the Government’s unprecedented package of support, including:
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  • The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL)
  • VAT deferral for up to 12 months
  • Through the Time To Pay scheme, businesses in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, can receive support with their tax affairs
  • Protection for commercial leaseholders against automatic forfeiture for non-payment until June 30, 2020

The Business Support website provides further information about how businesses can access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what financial support he plans to allocate to (a) optometrists, (b) physiotherapy, chiropractic and osteopathy clinics, (c) podiatrists and (d) other healthcare practices that are receiving near-zero patient income due to the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make it his policy to exempt such healthcare practices from fees normally payable to their regulators.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) recognises this is a challenging and uncertain period for providers of health and social care, with some suspending their routine services, changing how services are delivered or developing and expanding their service to support the national response to COVID-19. The CQC are asking providers to contact them if they are facing any difficulties in paying CQC’s fees. In these circumstances the CQC will work constructively to find an appropriate solution. Additionally, to give providers in financial difficulty space during this period the CQC will not seek to recover aged debt for the next three months.

NHS England and NHS Improvement issued guidance on 1 April setting out that all routine NHS eye care services should be suspended during COVID-19 to ensure compliance with social distancing measures. Essential services will continue to be provided from a limited number of optical practices. NHS England and Improvement has committed to securing funding for NHS ophthalmic contractors based on average monthly NHS General Ophthalmic Services fees from the previous year. Where activity exceeds the average monthly costs, this will attract additional funding and be reimbursed in the usual way.

Practices are still able to access central Government support for the private element of their business, as can practices who have not been selected to provide essential eye care services.

Support available for private medical businesses includes a commitment to pay 80% of the regular monthly wages, up to £2,500, of furloughed workers for four months, via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), and help for the self-employed with the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), which will provide grants to those who are self-employed, or members of partnerships, worth 80% of their trading profits/partnership trading profits, also up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

Healthcare practices may also benefit from other measures, including:

  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief;
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  • The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL)
  • VAT deferral for up to 12 months
  • Through the Time To Pay scheme, businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, can receive support with their tax affairs
  • Protection for commercial leaseholders against automatic forfeiture for non-payment until June 30, 2020

The Business Support website provides further information about how businesses can access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply - https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential effect of making it his policy to (a) reduce and (b) abolish Entrepreneurs' Relief on (i) incentives for entrepreneurs to start and build up new businesses for ultimate profitable sale, (ii) decisions being taken by entrepreneurs to locate new businesses in the UK in preference to other countries and (iii) financial outcomes for retiring entrepreneurs.

The Government’s manifesto set out its intention to review and reform Entrepreneurs’ Relief. Any changes to the tax system, including any reform of Entrepreneurs’ Relief, will be set out in the Budget on 11 March.

2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 27 February 2020 to Question 18428 on War Widows: War Pensions, whether it is a requirement of the estimated 265 war widows whose pensions were withdrawn on remarriage to (a) divorce and (b) divorce and remarry (i) their husband and (ii) a different person; and if he will publish the alternative methods his Department is examining to resolve this situation.

In 2014, the Government made prospective changes to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) and War Pension Scheme (WPS). These provided that any Military Widow(er) who remarried or cohabited from 1 April 2015 onwards would retain their pension for life. There was no underlying assumption that those who had lost their pension on remarriage or cohabitation prior to these reforms should divorce or separate from their partner.

The Government currently has no plans to reinstate war widow(er)s pensions with retrospective effect. The Government’s policy presumption is that changes will not be made retrospectively. This policy is the foundation for keeping public service pensions sustainable.

‘Pensions for life’ for surviving widow(er)s and civil partners were introduced across most public service pension schemes from the late 1990s to the late 2000s, with prospective effect. Existing members of pension schemes who were accruing pensions were usually given the option to remain on former schemes or move across to new schemes.

Survivors’ pension entitlements are still subject to cessation if the survivor remarries or cohabits under the rules of many legacy public service pension schemes. Examples of such schemes are: the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme ‘Classic’ section, the Police Pension Scheme 1987, the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 1992, and, for members whose service ended before April 2008, the NHS Pension Scheme 1995 section and, for members whose service ended before 2007, the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 27 February 2020 to Question 18425 on Pensions: War Widows; if he will make an assessment of (a) the potential merits and (b) compliance with financial legislation of introducing ex gratia awards of compensation of sacrifice made to the estimated 265 war widows whose pensions were withdrawn on remarriage or cohabitation and have not been restored.

In 2014, the Government made prospective changes to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) and War Pension Scheme (WPS). These provided that any Military Widow(er) who remarried or cohabited from 1 April 2015 onwards would retain their pension for life. There was no underlying assumption that those who had lost their pension on remarriage or cohabitation prior to these reforms should divorce or separate from their partner.

The Government currently has no plans to reinstate war widow(er)s pensions with retrospective effect. The Government’s policy presumption is that changes will not be made retrospectively. This policy is the foundation for keeping public service pensions sustainable.

‘Pensions for life’ for surviving widow(er)s and civil partners were introduced across most public service pension schemes from the late 1990s to the late 2000s, with prospective effect. Existing members of pension schemes who were accruing pensions were usually given the option to remain on former schemes or move across to new schemes.

Survivors’ pension entitlements are still subject to cessation if the survivor remarries or cohabits under the rules of many legacy public service pension schemes. Examples of such schemes are: the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme ‘Classic’ section, the Police Pension Scheme 1987, the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 1992, and, for members whose service ended before April 2008, the NHS Pension Scheme 1995 section and, for members whose service ended before 2007, the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 27 February 2020 to Question 18425 on Pensions: War Widows, which groups other than war widows have had pensions withdrawn on (a) cohabitation and (b) remarriage.

In 2014, the Government made prospective changes to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) and War Pension Scheme (WPS). These provided that any Military Widow(er) who remarried or cohabited from 1 April 2015 onwards would retain their pension for life. There was no underlying assumption that those who had lost their pension on remarriage or cohabitation prior to these reforms should divorce or separate from their partner.

The Government currently has no plans to reinstate war widow(er)s pensions with retrospective effect. The Government’s policy presumption is that changes will not be made retrospectively. This policy is the foundation for keeping public service pensions sustainable.

‘Pensions for life’ for surviving widow(er)s and civil partners were introduced across most public service pension schemes from the late 1990s to the late 2000s, with prospective effect. Existing members of pension schemes who were accruing pensions were usually given the option to remain on former schemes or move across to new schemes.

Survivors’ pension entitlements are still subject to cessation if the survivor remarries or cohabits under the rules of many legacy public service pension schemes. Examples of such schemes are: the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme ‘Classic’ section, the Police Pension Scheme 1987, the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 1992, and, for members whose service ended before April 2008, the NHS Pension Scheme 1995 section and, for members whose service ended before 2007, the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 12 February 2020 to Question 13939, what assessment he has made of the implications for his Department's policies on withdrawn pensions of the potential reinstatement of pensions to war widows who lost them on remarriage or cohabitation; which groups other than war widows have had pensions withdrawn; and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of restoring war widows’ pensions to war widows who divorce their subsequent spouses and then remarry them.

It has been the policy of successive Governments that changes to public service pension and compensation schemes should not be applied retrospectively where benefits have already been awarded. This principle is a foundation for keeping the schemes sustainable and given this, the Government currently has no plans to reinstate war widow(er)s pensions with retrospective effect.

‘Pensions for life’ for surviving widow(er)s and civil partners were introduced across all public service pension schemes during the late 1990s – early 2000s, with prospective effect. Existing members of pension schemes who were accruing pensions were usually given the option to remain on former schemes or move across to new schemes.

However, in 2014, the Government made prospective changes to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) and War Pension Scheme (WPS). These stated that any Military Widow(er) who remarried or cohabited from 1 April 2015 onwards would retain their pension for life. This change was welcomed by campaigners, including the War Widows Association (WWA), who recognised at the time that such changes would not be applied retrospectively.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
7th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the consistent application of the principle of retrospectivity in the cases of the (a) loan charge and (b) war widows' pension.

The Loan Charge is not retrospective as it is a new charge on disguised remuneration loan balances which were outstanding at 5 April 2019.

However, Sir Amyas Morse’s independent Review recommended that the Loan Charge should be applied to disguised remuneration loans which were entered into on 9 December 2010 or afterwards, as the law about the tax treatment of these loans was clear from this date. The Government accepted this recommendation.

It has been the policy of successive Governments that changes to public service pension and compensation schemes should not be applied retrospectively where benefits have already been awarded. The Government currently has no plans to reinstate war widows’ pensions with retrospective effect.

23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 16 September to Question 46919 on Afghanistan: Refugees, for what reason the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme has not yet commenced; when that scheme will commence; whether her Department or the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will be responsible for determining the priority given to applicants for that scheme; if the Government will give priority under that scheme to Afghans who followed UK ministerial advice to cross borders to countries adjacent to Afghanistan, even if they were undocumented, and who are consequently at risk of detention and deportation back to Afghanistan; and if she will make an assessment of whether a scholar in Pakistan who is (a) female, (b) politically prominent, (c) a Hazara, (d) validated by the Council for At-Risk Academics, (e) capable of being extracted without difficulty from her current location and (f) in danger of deportation back to Afghanistan would fit the criteria for prioritisation for that scheme as set out in that Answer.

As set out in the answer to Question 46919 on 16 September, the Government has issued a policy statement which gives further information on the eligibility, prioritisation and referral of people for the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS).

Eligible people will be prioritised and referred for resettlement to the UK as set out in the policy statement.

The ACRS is being developed at pace and further details will be released in due course.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether scholars from Afghanistan who have been (a) validated by the Council for At-Risk Academics and (b) awarded funded research posts at UK universities will be required to pay in advance (i) visa fees and (ii) health surcharges if they are in hiding without access to funds in (A) Afghanistan and (B) hostile countries adjacent to Afghanistan whilst awaiting safe passage to the UK; and whether the dependants of such scholars will be required to provide in advance evidence of ability to support themselves for a specified period.

The Government has issued a policy statement which gives further information on the eligibility, prioritisation and referral of people for the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS). The policy statement can be found on the GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/afghanistan-resettlement-and-immigration-policy-statement

Those who were not called forward as part of Op PITTING, or who are not offered resettlement under the ACRS, will need to apply to come to the UK under the existing economic or family migration rules. They will be expected to meet the eligibility requirements of their chosen route, which includes paying relevant fees and charges, and providing biometrics.

Dependants are able to apply as a dependent on their partner or parents application. However, they must provide information to show they meet the specific requirements of the Immigration Rules.

The ACRS is not yet open and is being developed at pace. Further details will be released in due course.

Eligible people will be prioritised and referred for resettlement to the UK as set out in the policy statement.

More details, as soon as they are available, will be published on the GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/afghan-citizens-resettlement-scheme

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the scale of the threat posed to farmers by illegal hare coursing on their land, in respect of (a) personal intimidation, (b) damage to gates when forcing access and (c) risk of retaliation against vulnerable farm property, in response to intruders being challenged; what estimate she has made of the scale of the illegal betting rings involved in that criminality; and what discussions her officials have held with the Ministry of Justice on (i) raising substantially the maximum fine from its present level of £1,000 and (ii) imposing custodial sentences on serious offenders.

This government remains committed to driving down crime in communities, including those which particularly affect rural areas such as hare coursing. Although the scale of harm associated with hare coursing is not captured centrally, this government recognises its impact, which is why we are investing in the financial and operational capabilities of the police, as well as working closely with DEFRA to develop its legislative proposals contained in its Action Plan for Animal Welfare, which will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.

All decisions on sentencing is a matter for our independent courts, which upon making a decision take into account the circumstances of the offence and any aggravating and mitigating factors. Any changes to the sentencing guidelines will be a decision for the Independent Sentencing Council.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
10th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether places on the Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme will be prioritised according to the degree of risk faced by applicants; for what reason at-risk applicants accepted for inclusion in the scheme will not all be brought to the UK during its first year; and by what means at-risk applicants for the scheme who are still in Afghanistan will be expected to keep themselves safe while awaiting the second and third years of the scheme.

On Monday 13 September the Government published a policy statement which set out further details on the policy and operation of the ACRS, and the package of integration support that will be offered to those arriving through the scheme.

This policy statement confirms that the following groups of people will be prioritised through the ACRS:

  • those who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights, freedom of speech, and rule of law; and
  • vulnerable people, including women and girls at risk, and members of minority groups at risk (including ethnic and religious minorities and LGBT+).

To help identify those most at risk, the Government is working closely with the UN’s Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to identify and resettle refugees who have fled Afghanistan based on their protection and humanitarian needs. The Government is also working with international partners and NGOs in the region to implement a referral process for people inside Afghanistan, where safe passage can be arranged, and for those that have recently fled to other countries in the region.

Further details on eligibility and selection can be found on gov.uk.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
10th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what comparative assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of (a) turning back illegal immigrants at sea in the English Channel and (b) picking up illegal migrants and returning them France; and if she will make a statement.

Managing the illegal crossings by migrants using small boats and disrupting the criminal enterprises that facilitate this deadly trade is a top priority for my officials. They have explored the different options open to the UK and their effectiveness in the context of both domestic and international law. Turning back migrant vessels at sea is one of a range of potential possibilities, and the new Borders Bill includes additional powers enabling Border Force to act in international waters and potentially return boats to their country of embarkation, where there are agreements in place to do so.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for what reason the wives of some Afghan former (a) interpreters and (b) other locally employed civilians who assisted British armed forces and have been granted permission to settle in the UK, are not being allowed to accompany their husbands; and if she will urgently make representations to resolve this issue.

The UK owes a huge debt of gratitude to all locally employed staff (LES) who have supported our troops and embassy in Afghanistan, and we are significantly accelerating the pace of their relocation, with their family members, to the UK ahead of our military withdrawal.

There is a small number of family members who applied to relocate under the ex gratia scheme, but who do not meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules because they were not married or living together in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least two years prior to the date on which the LES relocated to the UK.

We have recently published updated guidance to enable us to consider such cases outside the Rules and will review these cases in line with this guidance.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the Written Statement of 8 March 2021, Government response to Consultation: Strengthening Police Powers to Tackle Unauthorised Encampments, HCWS826, what criteria the courts will be required to apply to determine whether the (a) damage, (b) disruption and (c) distress which a person (i) has or (ii) is deemed likely to cause is significant; and what assessment her Department has made of whether it will be feasible to provide sufficient clarity in such criteria to allow for the practical application of that proposed legislation.

The Government will issue guidance relating to the exercise of the functions of police officers and constables in respect of trespassers on land. It will be for the courts to determine on a case by case basis when damage, disruption and distress is deemed to be significant.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 25 February 2021 to Question 156232 on hate crime, subjectivity and equality before the law, whether the people conducting the review of hate crime legislation will have regard to the content of John Stuart Mill's essay On Liberty; what the principles underlying that review are; and if she will make a statement.

The Law Commission is conducting the hate crime review. The terms of reference for the review ask it to review the adequacy and parity of protection offered by the law relating to hate crime and to make recommendations for its reform.

This includes:

• Reviewing the current range of specific offences and aggravating factors in sentencing, and making recommendations on the most appropriate models to ensure that the criminal law provides consistent and effective protection from conduct motivated by hatred of protected groups or characteristics.

• Reviewing the existing range of protected characteristics, identifying gaps in the scope of the protection currently offered and making recommendations to promote a consistent approach.

Full details can be found at:

https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/hate-crime/

In the consultation that it issued in relation to this review, the Law Commission noted John Stewart Mill’s essay in relation to discussing the principles of free expression.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential merits of (a) updating the law on treason and (b) bringing forward legislative proposals to ensure that British citizens who travel to conflict zones in order to support groups which promote terrorist attacks on the UK will thereby make themselves liable for substantial terms of imprisonment on return to the UK.

Treason offences are being considered as part of the Home Office’s ongoing wider review of legislation that also includes countering hostile activity by states. This work has not reached any conclusions yet.

Individuals can be convicted in UK courts of offences committed overseas (including preparation of terrorism, encouragement of terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation). Where individuals do return to the UK after engaging in conflict overseas, they will be investigated and, where there is evidence crimes have been committed, they should expect to face prosecution.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether the definition of hate crime as any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic is compatible with the principles of the (a) objective application of justice, (b) equal treatment under the law and (c) presumption of innocence unless proved guilty; what (i) internal and (ii) cross-departmental assessments have recently been carried out of the operation of (A) legislation and (B) guidelines defining crimes in terms of people’s perceptions; and if she will make a statement.

The police and Crown Prosecution Service define and record hate crime as “any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.”

Part of the purpose of this definition is to encourage victims of hate crime to come forward to report, reflecting the recommendations from the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. It is the responsibility of the police to investigate allegations of criminal activity and decide whether or not a specific incident should be treated as a hate crime.

In 2018 the Government asked the Law Commission to undertake a full review of the coverage and approach of current hate crime legislation. That review is due to conclude this year.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 3 June 2020 to Question 53989 on Hong Kong former naval and military personnel and other former servants of the Crown, that the situation was being kept under review, what conclusions have been drawn about the eligibility of the estimated 250-300 veterans and their families, who were not previously selected for resettlement, to (a) apply for British passports and (b) relocate to the UK; and if she will make a statement.

Under the British Nationality Selection Scheme, introduced in 1990 and run until 1 July 1997, a limited number of Hong Kong Military Service Corps personnel who were settled in Hong Kong could apply to register as British citizens.

We are giving careful consideration to representations made on behalf of those former Hong Kong Military Service Corps personnel who did not obtain citizenship through the selection scheme.

Hong Kong Military Service Corps personnel who hold British National (Overseas) citizenship or are a relevant family member of someone who holds this status, may be eligible for the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa which was launched on 31 January 2021.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what restrictions are in place on the public display of (a) flags and (b) other symbols of terrorist organisations proscribed in the UK; what steps she is taking to (i) collate data on and (ii) report to Parliament on the numbers of people (A) arrested and (B) prosecuted for the public display of those items; what recent assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of proscribing terrorist organisations in the UK; and if she will make a statement.

The Government takes proscription offences seriously. It is an offence under section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to carry or display articles supporting a proscribed organisation, or to publish an image of an item of clothing or other article, such as a flag or logo, in the same circumstances.

Data relating to these section 13 offences are grouped with other proscription offences (sections 11 and 12 of the Act) in the publication ‘Operation of Police Powers under the Terrorism Act 2000’. The most recent publication, up to year ending March 2020, was published on 11 June on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/operation-of-police-powers-under-the-terrorism-act-2000-financial-year-ending-march-2020.

Proscription sends a strong message that terrorist organisations are not tolerated in the UK and deters them from operating here. It is one of the key tools available to the Government, police and Security Service to disrupt terrorist activity. Between 2001 and the end of March 2020, 83 people have been charged with proscription-related offences as a primary offence in Great Britain, and 45 have been convicted.

Proscription can also support other disruptive activity including the use of immigration powers such as exclusion, prosecution for other offences, encouraging removal of on-line material, and messaging and EU asset freezes.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the oral statement of 2 June 2020 by Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Official Report, column 682 on Hong Kong National Security Legislation: UK Response, and his response at column 691 that the Home Office is considering representations on behalf of former Hong Kong Military Service Corps personnel who were not awarded UK passports between 1990 and 1997, if she will take steps with the Foreign Office to ensure that those estimated remaining 250 to 300 military and naval veterans and their families are now permitted to apply for UK passports.

As the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday 2 June 2020, as a Government and as a country we are extremely grateful to those who served in the Hong Kong Military Service Corps.

This situation is being kept under review in light of recent events in Hong Kong.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the oral statement of 2 June 2020 by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Official Report, column 682 on Hong Kong National Security Legislation: UK Response, and his response at column 691 that the Home Office is considering representations on behalf of former Hong Kong Military Service Corps personnel who were not awarded UK passports between 1990 and 1997, if she will make it her policy that the estimated remaining 250 to 300 military and naval veterans and their families will now be permitted to apply for UK passports.

As the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday 2 June 2020, as a Government and as a country we are extremely grateful to those who served in the Hong Kong Military Service Corps. This situation is being kept under review in light of recent events.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what (a) instructions and (b) procedures respectively have been (i) issued to UK Border Force vessels, and (ii) agreed between the UK Border Force and the French authorities, for the safe handover of overloaded inflatables containing illegal immigrants by French escorting vessels to British vessels once they enter UK territorial waters; and whether any representations have been made to the French Government that such journeys should be impeded while still within French territorial waters.

Border Force vessels covering the South East Channel are usually tasked to identified migrant events by the Coastguard, with the priority being search and rescue and the safety of life. BF work closely with the Coastguard and French Authorities to ensure we provide an effective response to migrant events at sea. Migrants undertaking these dangerous journey’s in unsuitable and overloaded small boats are putting the lives of themselves and others at considerable risk and the priority at sea for all assets deployed is safety.

At sea, under international law, the preservation of life is paramount. In some cases, French boats will remain with migrants if they refuse rescue. But we are clear no-one should be crossing at all and we are developing plans to re-form policies and laws to help to stop these crossings completely.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the rules are on dismissal of Service personnel for a single offence of drug abuse; if he will list the criteria for allowing a second chance before dismissal; whether there is a consistent policy on dismissal for a first offence across all (a) units and (b) Services; what provision is made for personnel summarily dismissed to access a standardised, monitored and evaluated care pathway giving the individual time to find alternative (i) accommodation and (ii) employment; and if he will make a statement.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) deems substance misuse within the Armed Forces unacceptable. It threatens the efficiency and discipline of the Services, where individual responsibility and teamwork are essential to operate highly technical, expensive, and potentially lethal equipment. The Services campaign against substance misuse and have a comprehensive education programme to inform personnel of the dangers and consequences of substance misuse, including dismissal. This is complemented by the Compulsory Drug Testing programme that reinforces our stance that substance misuse is not be tolerated.

A standard tri-Service policy governing the handling of substance misuse is in place across the Armed Forces via Joint Service Publication (JSP) 835: Alcohol and Substance Misuse and Testing: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/425401/20131101-JSP_835-V2_0-U.pdf

Personnel who misuse substances will be removed from the Services by disciplinary or administrative means following a single offence, except in exceptional circumstances where it is determined that the retention of an individual is desirable and achievable. There are no plans to change the current zero tolerance policy.

Personnel dismissed from Service for substance misuse are able to access pastoral and welfare support via their unit and retain access to their Service accommodation up to the point of dismissal. Unless there are individual circumstances which may mean the individual becomes a burden on the state once they are discharged, dismissal is swift. If an individual has particular health needs, including mental health needs, the process can be slowed to ensure smooth transition into NHS care. Access to Defence Transition Services, which provides tailored advice and support, is also retained following dismissal.

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what plans the Government has to commission a new Royal Yacht for use by the Royal family and for other national purposes.

We are currently reviewing our National Shipbuilding Strategy, which will outline the Government's future plans for shipbuilding programmes and how we will set the conditions for a globally successful, innovative and sustainable shipbuilding enterprise. The Government is open to considering a range of capabilities which can help to meet our strategic objectives and national requirements.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps the Government will take, following the killing by extremists of Afghan girl students at school, to use air power from external bases, in conjunction with the US, to assist the Afghan Government resist terrorism by (a) Daesh and (b) the Taliban, after all NATO land forces have been withdrawn from Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement.

We deplore the attack on the Sayed al-Shuhada School in Kabul and send our deepest condolences to the families of those killed.

NATO partners, including the UK, confirmed on 14 April that an orderly and coordinated withdrawal of NATO forces will begin by May. As agreed by NATO Foreign and Defence Ministers, the withdrawal of Resolute Support Mission forces from Afghanistan will be complete within a few months. The UK's Operation TORAL forms a part of the Resolute Support Mission and as such we will draw down this operation in line with our NATO Allies and Partners.

The UK has not engaged in combat operations, including close air support, since the end of Operation HERRICK in 2014. We have no plans to restart combat operations believing instead that the political process must now move forward.

The UK remains committed to supporting Afghanistan on its path to a more peaceful and positive future. Only a negotiated and inclusive settlement will bring sustainable peace. For there to be any chance of a lasting peace, the Taliban must engage meaningfully in a dialogue with the Afghan government. The UK remains committed to supporting the development of the Afghan Security Forces on their path to becoming fully self-sufficient and in maintaining security for the people of Afghanistan. We are committed to continue providing financial support to sustain Afghan forces through to at least 2024.

The Taliban has committed to preventing terrorist groups using Afghanistan to launch international attacks; they must deliver on their commitments. We need to see action that matches their word.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many Afghan (a) present and (b) former (i) interpreters (ii) other locally employed civilians have applied for resettlement to the UK and are currently awaiting a decision; whether all such applications will be fully decided before 11 September 2021; what arrangements will exist after that date to enable further applications to be made in the event that the security situation deteriorates; and if he will take immediate steps to ensure that applications to resettle in the UK made by bona fide former employees of UK armed forces receive positive responses.

Her Majesty's Government has so far relocated 1,358 locally employed Afghan staff and their families to the UK. A total of 532 eligible locally employed staff have applied for relocation to the UK, of which 84 are currently awaiting a decision. Of these, all but six are interpreters and all are former locally employed staff. These applications will be fully decided before 11 September 2021. I cannot comment on arrangements to enable further applications to be made after that date in the event that the security situation deteriorates, as doing so would require me to reveal the details of live operational planning. I have tasked my officials to work in concert with partners across government to explore all options to ensure that current and former locally employed staff who are eligible for relocation under the terms of the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy and the Ex-Gratia Scheme are relocated.

22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what estimate his Department has made of the total of nuclear warheads deployed by (a) Russia, (b) China, (c) the US and (d) France on (i) intercontinental and (ii) intermediate-range missiles in each of the last five years.

The Ministry of Defence continues to track the threat from nuclear and advanced novel weapons systems held by potential adversaries. Our estimates of our adversaries' nuclear warhead stockpiles remains classified. We judge that Russian strategic and intermediate nuclear capabilities continue to grow, both in terms of warheads and delivery systems. Figures declared by Russia under the New START Treaty do not provide an accurate picture of the growth in the nuclear threat that Russia presents. China does not declare its nuclear warhead numbers but is currently undertaking a significant modernisation programme with an expansion of its nuclear arsenal and development of a nuclear triad. Both countries are also investing heavily in novel weapons systems.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 22 June 2020 to Question 60642 on Navy: Coronavirus, what recent assessment his Department has made of the risk of covid-19 infection spreading throughout a ship's company at sea; and what priority he is giving to vaccinating ships' companies before embarkation.

COVID risk assessments across RN ships are carried out on a continuous basis. All measures are being taken to ensure that risk is as low as is reasonably possible. The priority for the administration of the COVID vaccine has been defined by the Department of Health and Social Care. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has determined the overarching priority order for administration of the vaccine. Healthcare personnel and key vulnerable/age specific groups, are being vaccinated as part of Phase 1, with others following in Phase 2 onwards. Personnel across Defence are assessed under the same criteria.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the effect of standing down the Royal Naval Reservists (RNR) on the incomes of (a) part-time and (b) full-time RNR personnel; how many in each category have served on immigration-related duties in each of the last five years; what contingency plans exist to use RNR personnel for fishery-protection duties; what recent estimate he has made of the value to the (i) reputation and (ii) recruitment goals of the Royal Navy of the role of Royal Naval Reservists as ambassadors for the Royal Navy in wider society; and if he will make a statement.

The Maritime Reserve is an integral and highly valued part of the Royal Navy and the brief cessation of some activity will not diminish the relationship between Reservists and their local communities or affect Regular recruitment which is currently experiencing a surge of interest.

There will be no effect on the income of those Royal Naval Reservists who currently have a full-time commitment. It is recognised that there may be some impact for those unable to complete their authorised training due to the current pause, but advice and support will be provided by their Reserve units.

In each year since 2015, less than five Naval Reservists have been deployed to provide assistance to the UK Border Force, except for 2016-17 when 36 Reservists were deployed.

A small number of Reservists are routinely employed in the Overseas Patrol Squadron which conducts fishery patrols alongside their other Defence tasks.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will publish the reasons for the decision to stand down Reservists serving in the Royal Navy but not those serving in the (a) Army and (b) Royal Air Force; and if he will make it his policy to (i) reconsider and (ii) reverse that decision.

As a result of significant pressure on the Defence budget, sensible and timely decisions have been taken to reduce the in-year financial challenge and this has resulted in the temporary cessation of some Maritime Reserves activity until the beginning of the next financial year.

This decision is part of a package of broader in-year savings measures across the Ministry of Defence, taken following consultation with each of the services , it forms part of the first and necessary step of Defence reform.

These are short term measures and don't reflect our longer-term plans that continue to place an emphasis upon the Maritime Reserve, and nor will they impact the necessary support that is required of the Navy this winter in support of the nation.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many (a) Royal Naval and (b) Royal Marines reservists received their bounty in 2019-20; what estimate he has made of those respective personnel who will receive their bounty in 2020-21; and if he will make it his policy to award their bounty to those reservists who would have qualified for it in 2020-21 but for the decision to stand them down.

In 2019-20, the reserves bounty was paid to 1,587 Royal Naval Reserves and 335 Royal Marines Reserves. It is estimated that approximately 65% of the maritime reserves will achieve the Certificate of Efficiency and consequent bounty payment in 2020-21 compared to 55% in 2019-20.

Reservists who are unable to complete the authorised training due to the current pause in activity will be invited to apply for a waiver to the Bounty Waiver Board.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many (a) Royal Naval and (b) Royal Marines Reservists have served on operations in (i) Afghanistan and (ii) Iraq for each year for which figures are available; what recent estimate his Department has made of the added value to each campaign of such service; what specialist skills Reservists have brought to those campaigns from their full-time civilian careers; what assessment he has made of how such skills would have been made available in the absence of volunteer Reservists; and what estimate he has made of the effect on the morale of volunteer Reservists of standing them down for a protracted period.

Since 2006, 95 Royal Naval Reservists (RNR) and seven Royal Marine Reservists (RMR) have served on operations in Iraq and since 2005, 180 RNR and 330 RMR have served on operations in Afghanistan.

As you know, Reservists bring valuable skills from their civilian employment and their contribution to operations is fully understood and appreciated. This year, Maritime Reserves have used their civilian skills on numerous occasions as part of the Defence contribution to the UK's Government COVID-19 campaign, providing niche expertise, including pandemic statistical modelling, chemistry and pharmaceutical expertise, communications, logistics supply and contract management.

The temporary cessation of some in-year Maritimes Reserves activity may result in disappointment for individual Reservists during the short period that it remains in force, but the current measure will not impact on any Royal Navy operational tasking. Activity undertaken by those on FTRS or Additional Duties Commitments will continue as normal; as will some Transformation projects that are deemed critical to meeting future Royal Navy and Defence outputs.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the out-of-service dates for HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark will remain 2033 and 2034 respectively.

On current plans, the out-of-service dates for HMS ALBION and HMS BULWARK will remain 2033 and 2034 respectively.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many (a) present and (b) former armed forces personnel have been investigated more than once for allegations of human rights abuses where such investigations have resulted in (i) a prosecution and (ii) no prosecution being brought in each year since 2001 for which figures are available.

There is no criminal offence of "human rights abuse" nor any category thereof, and therefore the records management system cannot be searched for such data.

The information is therefore not held in the format requested.

21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether it is his Department's (a) plan and (b) assessment that the time-limiting provisions of the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill will have the effect of ending any prospect of nuclear test veterans bringing to court with any prospect of success cases for compensation for serious health consequences which emerged many years after the tests in which they were required to participate.

The nuclear test programme of the 1950s and 1960s does not fall within the definition of "overseas operations" which applies to the limitation longstops in Part 2 of the Overseas Operations Bill. This means that any personal injury or death claims brought by the Nuclear Test Veterans will not be impacted by the limitation longstop for those claims.

Nuclear Test Veterans who believe they have suffered ill health due to their service have the right to apply for no-fault compensation under the War Pensions Scheme.

21st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the ways in which the provision for a presumption against prosecution in the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill ensures the prevention of repeated cycles of reinvestigation; and what recent assessment he has made of the adverse effects on (a) present and (b) former Service personnel who have undergone repeated reinvestigation for alleged offences for which ultimately they were not prosecuted.

I refer the right hon. Member to paragraphs 27 to 29 of the Impact Analysis for the Overseas Operations Bill, which was published on 17 September 2020.

We assess that, over time, as prosecutors become familiar with the presumption against prosecution, they will be able to advise investigators earlier in the process as to whether this new statutory requirement - that it is to be exceptional for a decision to be made to prosecute for an alleged offence - would be met in a particular case. This may therefore reduce the likelihood of investigations being reopened without compelling new evidence.

A thorough investigation is important, as it can serve both to exculpate - which is a good thing for the reputation of our Armed Forces - as well as to incriminate. We do, however, recognise not only the inherent difficulties, but also the adverse impacts on our personnel, of investigations regarding allegations of offences committed on overseas operations. These investigations are all the more difficult when a period of time has elapsed since the alleged incident. It is to the benefit both of alleged victims and alleged offenders that investigations are conducted as expeditiously and effectively as possible, so that decisions on whether or not to prosecute are made without delay in the interest of all parties knowing the outcome of these proceedings.

We have learned lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan, and will take the necessary steps to try to ensure that future incidents are reported and appropriately investigated at the time, thereby reducing the risk for our personnel of historical investigations, and reinvestigations, into their conduct.

The Secretary of State for Defence announced on 13 October a judge-led review into how allegations of wrongdoing are raised and investigated. The review will make sure the guidance and policy framework for investigating allegations during overseas operations is fit for the future. This will help ensure that all allegations are taken forward in a timely manner, providing reassurance to victims and closure to innocent personnel caught up in investigations.

21st Sep 2020
What recent assessment he has made of the utility of offensive cyber in countering conventional aggression.

We recognise cyber as a domain of military operations alongside air, land, sea and space.

Offensive cyber is now a critical part of our arsenal. Defence has integrated this into our military planning alongside the full range of military effects. We will continue to develop and exploit Offensive Cyber’s potential to complement and enhance our conventional military capabilities and assets.

Offensive Cyber has already demonstrated its utility, against Daesh, where the UK suppressed Daesh propaganda, hindered their ability to coordinate attacks, and protected coalition forces on the battlefield.

For reasons of safeguarding national security, I cannot discuss our cyber capability in greater detail or be specific on how it is employed.

Ben Wallace
Secretary of State for Defence
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, in which multi-national military exercises UK armed forces (a) are participating and (b) have participated since the UK left the EU conducted under the aegis of (i) NATO, (ii) defence organisations that are part of EU structures and (iii) other defence organisations; and what the (A) location, (B) duration and (C) purpose has been of each military exercise.

The UK is only participating in two NATO exercises in the coming months.

NATO

JOINT WARRIOR 20-2

West Coast Scotland

2 Weeks (Sep 20)

NATO Force Generation and Validation Exercise

NATO

LOYAL LEDA

UK

3 Weeks (Nov 20)

NATO Collective Training Exercise

The UK has participated in the following exercises under the auspices of NATO, the European Union or other Defence Organisations since 31 January 2020.

NATO

JOINT WARRIOR 20-1

West Coast Scotland

2 Weeks (Mar 20)

Carrier Strike Group 21 NATO Force Generation and Validation Exercise

NATO

PILA BESOK

Norway

2 Weeks (Mar 20)

Planning Exercise

NATO

COLD RESPONSE 20

Norway/North Sea

2 Months (Feb 20)

Maritime Amphibious Task Group and Lead Commando Group NATO Chapter 4 LIVEX

EU

QUICK RESPONSE

Bosnia & Herzegovina

3 Weeks (Aug 20)

OP ALTHEA Annual reinforcement rehearsal exercise

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
30th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the engine modification programme for the six Type-45 destroyers, if he will publish for each destroyer the (a) nature of the original engine design fault; (b) proposed remedy; (c) estimated sea-time lost annually; (d) scheduled completion date for each upgraded vessel; (e) estimate of the additional cost of the upgrade and (f) recovery of the additional cost of making the ships seaworthy to be borne by (i) the engine designer, (ii) defence manufacturers and (iii) the public purse; and if he will make a statement.

In 2011, an independent study commissioned by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) reported there was "no single root cause underlying the low reliability" experienced in the Type 45 Destroyers but a "large group of unconnected individual causes". It nevertheless concluded that Integrated Full Electric Propulsion remained a sound choice for the Type 45 Class. The nature of the interrelated defects associated with the fully integrated propulsion system masked the true extent of the inherent design shortcomings.

Subsequent experience gained by deploying the ships to the most demanding operational environments revealed that the original design intent of operating the ship whilst running the WR21 gas turbine alone was flawed. The system in this mode was still not capable of delivering the desired level of reliability and the power generated by the ships' diesels meant that they could not provide the resilience required. Only the installation of additional diesel generators would allow these shortfalls to be addressed.

For further details of the technical issues with the Type 45 Power and Propulsion System I would refer the rt. hon. Member to the Independent Power and Propulsion System Performance Review, dated March 2011, a copy of which, redacted in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, was placed in the Library of the House on 13 May 2016.

In 2014, Project Napier was established with two core strands. First, the Equipment Improvement Plan (EIP) which has built on the work to enhance system reliability and to meet the original design intent in the near term. This work has delivered positive results with increases to availability across the fleet. In the longer term, the Power Improvement Plan (PIP) will improve system resilience by adding upgraded diesel generators to provide the electrical generation capacity required to meet many propulsion and power requirements without reliance on WR21 gas turbine.

All Type 45 Destroyers will receive new diesel generators under the £160 million PIP conversion programme. Work is currently underway on HMS DAUNTLESS, the first ship to enter the programme, and she will return to sea for trials in 2021. Following completion of these sea trials, she will re-join the fleet. It is planned that all six Type 45 ships will have received the upgrade by the mid-2020s.

The programme is dependent on the availability of ships to undertake the upgrade, balanced against the Royal Navy's current and future operational commitments. PIP conversions will be planned to take into account the regular Upkeep cycle to maximise the overall class availability. The first of class embodiment is expected to take 13 months from docking to enable a comprehensive suite of sea trials to prove the capability.

The issue of liability stems from decisions taken early in the programme. This includes the main investment decision by the MOD in July 2000 to proceed with a Type 45 design based on an Integrated Full Electric Propulsion solution and subsequent selection of the WR21 gas turbine. As the issues now being addressed result from those earlier decisions, it is appropriate that liability for funding this work now rests with the MOD. A number of early modifications were implemented under the Type 45 Destroyer Contract for Availability arrangement with BAE Systems at no additional cost to the MOD.

The Type 45 Destroyers are hugely capable ships and have been deployed successfully on a range of operations world-wide and they continue to make an enormous contribution to the defence of the UK and our international partners.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether outbreaks of covid-19 infection have occurred on (a) Royal Naval and (b) Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels; whether those vessels' deployments have been affected as a result of covid-19 infection; whether naval personnel are kept in barracks for a sufficient period to check for infection with covid-19 before deployment at sea; and what his policy is to minimise the effect of naval personnel embarking on a deployment soon after taking leave in numerous different locations within the UK.

For reasons of operational security, we cannot comment on the number of COVID-19 cases that have occurred on Royal Navy (RN) or Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessels. As of 31 May, there have been 45 confirmed cases of Royal Navy Service personnel with COVID-19. No deployments of RN or RFA vessels have been affected as a result of these infections.

The RN has a policy on COVID-19 risk mitigation measures, which includes direction on the use of quarantining and COVID-19 testing to minimise the risk of COVID infection onboard deploying RN vessels to as low as reasonably practicable. The nature of these measures depends on the vessel and activity that is being undertaken, and may require personnel to be quarantined ashore in a cabin or onboard the vessel if they display symptoms or have been in contact with others who have displayed symptoms.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what guidance is provided to Commonwealth Service personnel on discharge from the UK armed forces on the steps they must take to regularise their immigration status when seeking to exercise their right to remain in the UK after having served for at least four years; and how that guidance has changed since that right to remain was first granted.

When Commonwealth citizens (and Gurkhas) are enlisted in the UK Armed Forces the Home Office grant them Exempt from Immigration Control status under section 8(4) of the Immigration Act 1971. This is valid for the duration of their Regular Service, and they receive a letter from the Home Office advising them of this and that on discharge they must regularise their UK immigration status or leave the UK.

The Home Office has immigration rules specific to the Armed Forces – the Appendix Armed Forces – under which they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK on discharge if they meet all necessary criteria including having served for a minimum of four years. The Home Office allows applications to be submitted up to 10 weeks before discharge.

The Army has produced guidance for Units since 2004 which summarises these immigration rules including the need to regularise immigration status on discharge or leave the UK. Units must also notify the Home Office when a Commonwealth citizen (or Gurkha) is being discharged so their Exempt status can be cancelled, and the individual signs the notification to indicate they understand the need to regularise their status At that point the Home Office will write to the individual to advise them that they have 28 days from days from date of discharge to either regularise their UK immigration status, if they have not already submitted an application, or leave the UK.

Although the Guide is regularly updated to reflect any changes to the immigration rules it has always included the requirement for regularising immigration status on discharge and to notify the Home Office. The guidance is used by all three Services. Information is also included within Ministry of Defence and single Service policy documents such as Joint Service Publication 100 – Defence Holistic Transition Policy and the Service Leavers Guide which is issued to all personnel on discharge. These give clear instruction to both the Chain of Command and the individual about their responsibilities.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what preliminary assessment he has made of the reduction in NATO's (a) potential for deterrence and (b) fighting capability as a result of result the implementation of President Trump's proposal to cut the total of US troops based in Germany by almost one-third; what discussions he had with his counterpart in the US Administration (i) before and (ii) after the announcement of that proposal; and if he will make a statement.

The UK Government does not comment on speculation. The United States and United Kingdom are strong partners and allies, with a uniquely close and active defence and security partnership. Ministers and officials regularly engage with the US on a wide range of security issues, both bilaterally and in NATO, including the deployment of US troops in Europe.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will list the short- to medium-term equipment procurement projects which, if brought forward ahead of schedule, could provide economic support to (a) the UK aerospace industry and (b) its supply-chain companies; and if he will hold urgent discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to obtain flexibility in his Department's budget to enable the acceleration of procurement projects for this purpose.

The Ministry of Defence is working closely with HM Treasury and our industry partners to fully assess the impact of the pandemic on the UK Defence Sector. The Ministry of Defence has continued to place orders throughout the COVID pandemic and we continue to identify opportunities within the departmental portfolio to provide economic support to UK industry.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the retirement of the RAF Nimrod fleet, for what reason the UK has not replaced its maritime surveillance capability; and what assessment he has made of (a) the disadvantages of the lack of UK maritime patrol aircraft, (b) when such capability could be restored, and (c) the requirement to restore the capability.

In the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the Government confirmed that it would close the Maritime Patrol Aircraft capability gap with the procurement of nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft. The UK's first aircraft was delivered to the Royal Air Force in October 2019 and we declared an initial operating capability on 1 April 2020.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
15th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, in which (a) conventional and (b) counterinsurgency campaigns Sentinel aircraft have seen action since their entry into service; what the original design life of each Sentinel aircraft is, and by how much this can practicably be increased by a life extension project; whether the UK possesses alternative systems that can provide (i) strategic and (ii) tactical surveillance coverage over land equivalent to that currently provided by Sentinel; and how future land campaigns will adequately be conducted if a capability gap is created by the retirement of the Sentinel fleet.

The Sentinel R1 has been operationally deployed in support of a number of operations. Some operations are considered to be both conventional and counter-insurgency; for example operations in Afghanistan (Op HERRICK) and Iraq (Op SHADER). It has also been deployed on operations in Libya (Op ELLAMY), Nigeria (Op TURUS) and Mali (Op NEWCOMBE), all considered conventional operations.

Sentinel was introduced in 2008 in the knowledge that a significant equipment upgrade would be required in the mid 2010’s.

The Defence Review in 2010 cancelled this expected upgrade bringing forward the likely out of service date.

The SDSR 2015 determined that Sentinel should be retained for a further period and set a new out of service date of March 2021. While some work was conducted on the on-board equipment this fell well short of a full system upgrade.

The radar and mission system are now increasingly obsolescent and will face increasing reliability issues as time progresses.

Retaining the capability would have required significant upgrade expenditure and the March 2021 out of service date has been retained.

No identical capability is operated by the UK (though similar capabilities exist in the NATO inventory).

The UK does however have a number of other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that collect different types of intelligence information, including long-range strategic assets (Sentry, Rivet Joint and Poseidon) and shorter-range more tactically-focused assets (including Shadow, Reaper and Watchkeeper).

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will list the Royal Navy vessels (a) currently available and (b) which will be made available for fishery protection at the end of the transition period; and whether any further role is planned for HMS Clyde.

The Royal Navy does not maintain vessels exclusively employed for fishery protection activities; however, it does have and operate three River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels currently in UK waters, that conduct fishery patrol tasking alongside their other Defence tasks. HMS MERSEY, TYNE and SEVERN are, and will continue to be, used to fulfil the Royal Navy's commitments under the Memorandum of Understanding between the Royal Navy and the Marine Management Organisation. In addition, the Royal Navy maintains a number of high readiness forces in UK waters that could be called upon to assist if requested.

HMS CLYDE was operated by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) under lease from BAE Systems. This arrangement ended at the end of March 2020, and the ship was returned to the company. The MOD has no plans for a further role for HMS CLYDE.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the preparedness of UK (a) nuclear and (b) conventional forces to deter and respond respectively to military threats and aggressive behaviour; and whether an increase in (i) disinformation campaigns and (ii) aggressive behaviour by (A) Russia, (B) China, (C) Iran and (D) North Korea has been observed since the onset of the pandemic.

It is taking longer than expected to respond to the hon. Member's question, therefore I will write to him shortly.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
13th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the value of (a) independence from Government and (b) interaction with communities to the operation of Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations.

The Reserve Forces and Cadet Associations (RFCAs) are trusted partners of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and have been instrumental in delivering several Defence priorities, not least the External Scrutiny Team and the Cadet Expansion Program. The RFCAs have a clear and significant rolein making the Reserve and Cadet experience an increasingly rewarding way to learn key skills for younger people and our dedicated Reservists.

They significantly contribute to the security of the United Kingdom and our citizens, both at home and across the globe. We appreciate and recognise the ongoing value the RFCAs add in achieving Defence objectives, whilst concurrently building and maintaining vital links between the Defence community and the general public.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
13th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the role of Lord Lieutenants as presidents of regional Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations in raising their (a) prominence and (b) popularity in their respective communities.

I welcome the enduring, active, and valuable support that Lord Lieutenants give in their role as Presidents of the Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations. As regional representatives of Her Majesty the Queen, they provide an important link between the Crown and local communities, which facilitates civic engagement on Defence issues. This is of great importance to the Armed Forces, including the Reserves, and to the Cadet organisations, as it serves to raise the profile of these commendable institutions, whilst demonstrating endorsement at the highest levels.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what (a) advantages and (b) disadvantages his Department has identified in the application of the principle of voluntarism to Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations.

Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations (RFCAs) are a key partner to Defence in maintaining and developing links with the communities in which they are based and with society at large. This is thanks in no small part to the sterling commitment of their voluntary membership and executive staff, the regional networks, and the close links that they have forged within their communities.

However, the RFCAs also need to be representative of the communities they serve and accountable for their use of public money. These responsibilities cannot be placed upon volunteers and must lie with executive staff who conduct the day-to-day professional operations of the Associations.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will make it his policy to retain (a) regional committees and (b) a national council of volunteers in overall control of the Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations; and if he will make a statement.

The regional structure of the Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations (RFCAs) is a key enabler of the support they provide for the Reserve Forces and the Cadet organisations at a local level, and of community engagement. The Reserve Forces Act 1996 sets out how the RFCAs can be established, along with their roles and responsibilities. The legislation also outlines the flow of executive authority and allows the Associations to convene a joint committee - in this case, the Council of RFCAs - for any purpose in respect of which they are jointly interested.

I remain committed to enabling the RFCAs to continue in carrying out their vital role, supported by appropriate governance and stronger national corporate functions such as finance, legal and human resources.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing legislative proposals to compensate the estimated 265 war widows that lost their war widow's pension on remarriage; and if he will make a statement on the progress his Department is making on resolving this situation.

This Government is acutely aware of the unique sacrifice that Service Families make to our country, and appreciates the situation in which those War Widows whom remarried or cohabited prior to 1 April 2015 have been placed in. However, due to the complex legal and financial ramifications surrounding this issue, the Government currently has no plans to reinstate war widows' pensions for those who remarried or cohabited before the 2015 changes took effect. On 3 February 2020, the Defence Secretary made a statement informing this house that we are examining alternative methods in order to mitigate the impact for the estimated 265 war widows whose pension ended as a result of this change - this work is enduring in order that we may explore all appropriate options to mitigate those affected.

21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the oral contributions of the Minister for Defence People and Veterans and the rt hon member for New Forest East of 30 January 2020, official report cols 1037-1044, if he will establish a task group for the restoration of pensions to war widows who have remarried or co-habited; and if he will take steps to ensure that task group considers the (a) armed forces covenant, (b) recognition of such pensions as an award of compensation for sacrifice and not a benefit, and (c) need for legal safeguards against setting precedents for claims by other groups; and if he will make a statement.

The Government recognises the unique commitment that Service families make to our country and remains sympathetic to the circumstances of those widows who remarried and cohabited before 1 April 2015. However, the Government currently has no plans to reinstate war widows’ pensions for war widows who remarried or cohabited before the 2015 changes took effect.

As the Secretary of State for Defence said to the House on 3 February 2020, we are examining alternative methods to see whether we can mitigate the impact. However, this is a complex policy area and it is taking time to carefully consider the potential options within both financial and legal constraints. This work is ongoing, and any recommendations will have to first be agreed with other Government Departments. As a Department, we make sure the Armed Forces Covenant is reflected in all our work.

The War Pensions Scheme is a no-fault scheme which provides compensation for Service personnel who are disabled or die due to injury caused or made worse by service in the UK Armed Forces before 6 April 2005. There are also a range of supplementary benefits and allowances payable, including for dependants. A War Widows Pension is an example of a survivor’s benefit. The War Widows Pension is paid to assist with maintenance and is not the same as compensation for the recipient having been injured as a result of service or for the loss of a spouse.

24th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when he plans to publish the findings of the recent Review of the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association; and if he will publish the terms of reference for that review.

The Ministry of Defence intends to publish the review of the Reserve Forces and Cadets Associations in February 2020.

The terms of reference for the review can be found at the following address:

http://qna.files.parliament.uk/qna-attachments/1140326/original/RFCA%20Review%20TORs%20(PQ).docx

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what protection he has made available to leaseholders to prevent freeholders making them forfeit their leases due to inability to pay (a) cladding and (b) other fire safety-related costs demanded in service charge bills rendered for payment prior to the introduction of planned government fire-safety remedial compensation schemes; and if he will make a statement.

The Government believes that forfeiture is a draconian measure and should only be used as a last resort. In practice forfeiture happens very rarely and is subject to the right of relief, to be exercised at the court’s discretion. Any changes to forfeiture will require a careful balancing of the rights and responsibilities of landlords and leaseholders. As a first step, we have asked the Law Commission to update their 2006 report Termination of Tenancies for Tenant Default given the passage of time, and to take into account the implications of the reforms currently underway. We will then consider what action may be needed, including potential legislative measures.

The Government is providing £5 billion of funding to protect leaseholders living in residential buildings over 18 metres with unsafe cladding from the costs of remediation. Leaseholders in buildings between 11 and 18 metres will be able to access finance for cladding remediation, with a commitment that they will not have to pay more than £50 per month towards these remediation costs. Government funding does not absolve building owners of their responsibility to ensure their buildings are safe.  They should consider all routes to meet costs, protecting leaseholders where they can – for example through warranties and recovering costs from contractors for incorrect or poor work.  We have seen many responsible developers and building owners stepping up to take responsibility for correcting these defects - for example, in more than half of the high-rise private sector buildings with ACM.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what additional steps he plans to take to protect leaseholders from costs arising from (a) the misuse of flammable cladding and (b) other unsafe structural design features used in the (i) construction and (ii) modification of the apartment blocks containing their flats.

Longstanding independent safety advice has been clear that unsafe cladding poses the greatest risk to buildings, because it can act as a fuel to a fire. Our approach prioritises action on the risks of unsafe cladding – the costs for remediating this are high, and the risks posed by it are also high. The Government has announced a globally unprecedented investment in building safety and hundreds of thousands of leaseholders will be protected from the cost of remediating unsafe cladding on their homes. On 10 February the Government announced it will provide an additional £3.5 billion grant funding for remediation of unsafe cladding on buildings over 18 metres, which brings the total investment in building safety to an unprecedented £5.1 billion.

Lower-rise buildings between 11 and 18 metres, with a lower risk to safety, will gain protection from the costs of cladding remediation through a generous financing scheme. As part of this financing scheme, no leaseholder will pay more than £50 per month towards the cost of cladding remediation. This builds on steps already taken to support leaseholders, including the £30 million waking watch fund to help end excessive costs and new legislation in the Building Safety Bill which will ensure homes are made and kept safer in future. We will publish more details on how the schemes will work as soon as we are in a position to do so.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department has taken to survey the extent to which inflammable cladding has been used in significant quantities in (a) NHS hospitals and (b) other publicly-owned buildings; and what requirements he plans to promulgate for the replacement of that material.

MHCLG publishes data on the identification and remediation progress of high-rise residential and publicly owned buildings (hospitals and schools) in England with ACM cladding systems unlikely to meet building regulations. The latest data is available here .

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
5th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the (a) rights and (b) quality of life of existing leaseholders in apartment blocks of policies that encourage the construction of additional floors above them while they are in residence.

We have recently introduced new permitted development rights to allow certain existing buildings to extend upwards by two storeys to create new homes. The rights are subject to prior approval by the local planning authority on specific matters including a proposals potential impact on the amenity of neighbours. This ensures that people who might be affected by such a development can feed their views into the decision making process.

The terms of individual leases will determine whether a freeholder can add additional floors to a property with or without the consent of existing leaseholders.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what (a) assessment has been made of lessons learned and (b) directives have been issued by his Department as a result of the cyber-attacks on (i) Hackney and (ii) Redcar and Cleveland Borough Councils; what other Councils have been cyber-attacked; whether each of those Councils had effective data back-up systems in place prior to being attacked; and what assessment he has made of whether all local authorities now have adequate back-up capabilities.

MHCLG continues to work with local government, industry and other government agencies to monitor and assess the cyber threats faced by councils. We are working with partners to help councils improve and strengthen their resilience and defences. We would not comment on individual incidents, but recent attacks on Redcar & Cleveland and Hackney have helped to refine our response to ever changing threats.

The recent Spending Review made £16 million available to support the modernisation of local authorities’ cyber security systems. This funding will support the development of a cyber health framework, a clear universal baseline for all councils. In addition, it will see more than 2000 staff trained across England, and offer support to modernise old, insecure legacy systems.

3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what progress he has made in implementing recommendations 20 and 21 of the Committee on Standards in Public Life review of local government ethical standards relating to misconduct by town and parish councillors; and if he will make a statement.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life report of their review recommends some strengthening of the local government standards and conduct system with numerous legislative changes and amendments. Of the 26 recommendations, 22 were aimed at Government and we have been considering these carefully. I will be issuing the Government response to the report in due course.

3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how many town and parish council clerks have (a) resigned, (b) taken long-term sick leave and (c) been placed on long-term suspension as a result of (i) bullying by councillors and members of the community and (ii) refusing to implement ultra-vires decisions of the council in each of the last three years; and what recourse is available to clerks that (A) are subjected to bullying by councillors and members of the community and (B) refuse to implement ultra-vires decisions of the council.

We do not hold this information. Local authorities – including parish councils - are independent employers, responsible for the management and organisation of their own workforce, including on pay, redundancy and other terms and conditions. Any employee subjected to bullying or harassment may find it helpful to speak to ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), who offer independent and impartial help to employees.

3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what sanctions are (a) available and (b) proposed for use against town and parish (i) councils that implement ultra-vires decisions and (ii) councillors that instruct clerks to implement ultra-vires decisions leading to the resignation of those clerks; and what mechanisms there are to enforce those sanctions.

The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 enables local electors to ask the auditor of a parish council to apply to the High Court for a declaration that an item of account is ultra vires or unlawful, or to issue a report on matters which are in the public interest (‘a public interest report’). The auditor may also make such a declaration or issue a public interest report without any request from a local elector. The council is required to publicly respond to any report in the public interest issued by the auditor.

Under the Localism Act 2011 parish councils are required to adopt a code of conduct for members. Parish councillors that fail to observe the highest standards of conduct in their civic role may be investigated by the principal council’s monitoring officer on receipt of a complaint. Currently, the parish council may locally determine its response, following advice from the Monitoring Officer or legal team and the involvement of an independent person to advise the council before it makes a decision.

3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how much and what proportion of spending by town and parish councils that was found to be ultra vires was recovered in each of the last three years; and through what mechanisms that ultra-vires spending was recovered.

We do not hold information relating to ultra vires spending in parish councils.

3rd Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent comparative assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the reporting requirements under the system of external auditors and under the previous audit commission arrangements for town and parish councils.

The Government has asked Sir Tony Redmond to undertake an independent review of the arrangements in place to support the transparency and quality of local authority financial reporting and external audit in England. The scope of the review includes the arrangements in place for town and parish councils. Sir Tony will publish his report in due course.

29th Jun 2021
If he will take steps to invite all magistrates under the age of 75 who were automatically retired at the age of 70 to state whether or not they wish to rejoin the Bench.

When the new judicial mandatory retirement age comes into force, there will be a transitional provision to enable retired magistrates to apply to return to the bench, subject to business need.

We will be contacting recently retired magistrates later this year to invite them to express their interest in rejoining the bench.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 17 March 2021 to Question 170517 on the reinstatement, after the enactment of forthcoming legislation, of retired magistrates between the ages of 70 and 75, whether (a) all such magistrates will be invited individually to indicate whether they wish to return to the Bench and (b) the transitional process for those magistrates to be reinstated will provide for (i) preference to be given to the most senior magistrates who are willing to travel to courts throughout designated areas facing backlogs of cases, (ii) decisions on reinstatement to be taken at regional level and not at the level of individual courts to maximise (A) availability and (B) flexibility in the deployment of the most experienced reinstated magistrates and (iii) use to be made of the network of Justices' Training, Approvals, Authorisations and Appraisals Committees in managing the return and reallocation of magistrates who retired at age 70 but are about to become eligible for reinstatement.

When the new mandatory retirement age (MRA) comes into force, there will be a transitional provision to enable retired magistrates to apply to return to the bench, subject to business need. The process by which such applications are to be made and considered will be set out in due course.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, for what reason the (a) hearings and (b) deliberations of the Parole Board for England and Wales are not held in public; and if he will take steps to alter this policy in the interests of (i) transparency and (ii) accountability.

It is a statutory requirement under the terms of the current Parole Board Rules for all hearings to be heard in private. That gives the Parole Board no flexibility to consider holding a public hearing even where that may be justified in all the particular circumstances of the case. In February, following a public consultation last year, the Government announced its intention to amend the current rules so that hearings can be held in public when the Parole Board determines it would be in the interests of justice to do so. These changes will be made to the Parole Board Rules later this year.

This is being taken forward as part of the root and branch review of the parole system which was launched in October 2020. The Terms of Reference for the review, and one of the government’s priorities, includes looking at ways to increase the transparency and openness of the parole system so as to improve public confidence and accountability. We plan to build on previous reforms to improve transparency, such as the introduction of Parole Board decision summaries in 2018 which provide reasons for its decisions, mainly to victims. The review is due to report later this year and will set out how the new transparency measures and other reforms to the parole system will be implemented.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 11 March to Question 164329 on reinstating recently retired magistrates under 75 years of age who wish to rejoin the Bench, if he will set up an application process based on establishing a regional pool of magistrates who can (i) be called upon at short notice to support different courts in a given area, and (ii), in the case of highly experienced, recently retired Presiding Justices, assist in the conducting of JP appraisals.

When the new mandatory retirement age comes into force, there will be a transitional provision to enable retired magistrates to apply to return to the bench, subject to business need. The process by which such applications are to be made and considered will be set out in due course.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the answer of the Under Secretary of State to the Rt Hon Member for New Forest East on 20 January 2021, Official Report, col 980, on reinstating recently retired magistrates, if he will make it his policy to permit people aged 70 or over to resume their duties if this would enable them to serve for a significant further period prior to reaching any newly-raised maximum age for magistrates to continue in post.

On 8 March 2021 the government announced its intention to legislate to increase the mandatory retirement age for judicial office holders, including magistrates, to 75. The legislation will include a transitional provision to enable retired magistrates to apply to return to the bench, subject to business need. The process by which such applications are to be made and considered will be set out in due course.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to his oral contribution of 9 June 2020, Official Record, column 150, to the hon. Member for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, on retirement ages for magistrates, what form will the proposed consultation take; when that consultation will (a) open and (b) close; what degree of urgency will be applied in the light of the backlog of cases resulting from the effects on the court system of the covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make it his policy temporarily to suspend the existing retirement age for (i) magistrates and (ii) the wider judiciary, in order to process that backlog in a timely manner.

We will be issuing a public consultation on proposals to raise the mandatory retirement age for most judicial office holders, including magistrates in the near future.

Many judges can already be authorised to sit past the mandatory retirement age but this provision does not exist for magistrates. Primary legislation would be required to amend the mandatory retirement age or to enable magistrates to temporarily sit beyond the existing mandatory retirement age.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate his Department has made of the rate of escalation of cases awaiting trial in magistrates courts; what the size of the backlog has been in each of the last three months; what recent assessment he has made of the likelihood of witnesses' testimonies being held to be reliable, if up to five years elapse between alleged offence and the accused facing trial; what the effect of such delay is likely to have on public confidence in the Justice system; and if he will take steps, on a temporary basis if necessary, to reduce that backlog.

The work to reduce the backlog is moving at pace so we can continue to increase the number of trials. More than 150 courts remained fully open to the public throughout the pandemic and by the middle of July all court centres will have reopened. We have prioritised the most urgent cases, such as domestic abuse and COVID-19 related cases, to keep the public safe, and the interests of victims and witnesses are continually considered as a part of the reopening of courts.

Data showing the number of outstanding cases in the Magistrates Court is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/hmcts-weekly-management-information-during-coronavirus-march-to-may-2020

A courts recovery plan has been published which will sets out the urgent next steps that we are taking to increase capacity in the courts: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/court-and-tribunal-recovery-update-in-response-to-coronavirus

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will take steps to instruct the Coroner's Service to ascertain and record, in all cases of suicide, whether the deceased was a (a) present or (b) former member of the (i) Regular Armed Forces or (ii) Reserves.

Every suicide is a tragedy and we take the welfare of our service men and women, whether veterans or current members of the Armed Forces or Reserves, very seriously.

The Government recognises that personal information about victims of suicide can be used to improve understanding of “at risk” groups and, from that, to support better targeted interventions. But for data on suicides amongst veterans and serving members of the Armed Forces or Reserves to be of value, the information collected must be reliable, consistent and comprehensive. For a number of practical and administrative reasons, including the parameters of the coroner’s role, this isn’t possible in the context of coroner suicide conclusions and there are no plans, therefore, to require coroners to record whether the deceased had served in the Armed Forces or Reserves.

The Chief Coroner has given coroners clearer guidance so that deaths, including suicide, are recorded more consistently.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether it is a criminal offence to (a) threaten and (b) actually (i) spit, (ii) cough and (iii) sneeze upon another person; whether any such offence is aggravated by a claim by the assailant to be infected with the covid-19 virus; whether it is in the public interest to prosecute such cases during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will review any recent decision to take no action against such an assailant on grounds that the subsequent death of the victim could not be directly attributed to the assault.

Whether such behaviour amounts to a criminal offence will depend on the circumstances. Threatening to infect someone with covid-19, for example, can be charged as an assault and if a direct causal link can be established between one person’s unlawful act and another person contracting the virus then other more serious offences could be charged. Each case is considered on its own specific facts.

Provided there is sufficient evidence, whether it is in the public interest to prosecute such cases is a matter for the CPS. The Director of Public Prosecutions has made clear that the CPS will not hesitate to prosecute those using covid-19 to threaten people in this way and CPS data shows that more than 300 such prosecutions were brought in the first month of lockdown alone.

The Sentencing Council has published interim guidance clarifying that, when sentencing common assault offences involving threats or activity relating to the transmission of covid-19, courts should treat this as an aggravating feature of the offence and take this into account when sentencing.

The Government has no remit for reviewing operational decisions of the police or the CPS in individual cases.

Alex Chalk
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)