Julian Sturdy Portrait

Julian Sturdy

Conservative - York Outer

Consolidation Bills (Joint Committee)
6th Nov 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Consolidation, &c., Bills (Joint Committee)
6th Nov 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Consolidation Bills (Joint Committee)
9th Nov 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Consolidation, &c., Bills (Joint Committee)
9th Nov 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Energy and Climate Change Committee
8th Jul 2015 - 17th Oct 2016
Transport Committee
12th Jul 2010 - 5th Nov 2012


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Wednesday 9th June 2021
Information Commissioner (Remuneration)
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 359 Conservative Aye votes vs 0 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 369 Noes - 2
Speeches
Monday 12th July 2021
Covid-19 Update

I very much welcome this statement today on the back of the successful vaccine roll-out programme. However, given the rising …

Written Answers
Thursday 22nd July 2021
Surgical Mesh Implants
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to draw on …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
Wednesday 2nd July 2014
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Saturday 11th January 2020
1. Employment and earnings
I am a partner in G E Sturdy and Son; a farming partnership. Address: Westgate Farm, North Deighton, Wetherby, LS22 …
EDM signed
Tuesday 12th December 2017
BLUE BELT CHARTER
That this House congratulates Sir David Attenborough and the BBC on the spectacular Blue Planet 2 series; notes that, with …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Julian Sturdy has voted in 278 divisions, and 8 times against the majority of their Party.

25 Mar 2021 - Coronavirus - View Vote Context
Julian Sturdy voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 35 Conservative No votes vs 305 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 484 Noes - 76
10 Feb 2021 - Public Health - View Vote Context
Julian Sturdy voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 24 Conservative No votes vs 327 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 526 Noes - 24
9 Feb 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Sturdy voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 13 Conservative No votes vs 341 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 351 Noes - 276
19 Jan 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Sturdy voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 11 Conservative No votes vs 344 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 353 Noes - 277
12 Oct 2020 - Agriculture Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Sturdy voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 14 Conservative No votes vs 327 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 332 Noes - 279
20 Jul 2020 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Julian Sturdy voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 12 Conservative Aye votes vs 323 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 263 Noes - 326
17 Jun 2020 - Health and Personal Social Services - View Vote Context
Julian Sturdy voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 104 Conservative Aye votes vs 124 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 253 Noes - 136
13 May 2020 - Remote Division result: New Clause 2 - View Vote Context
Julian Sturdy voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 22 Conservative Aye votes vs 326 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 277 Noes - 328
View All Julian Sturdy 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
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
(21 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(9 debate interactions)
Grant Shapps (Conservative)
Secretary of State for Transport
(7 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
View all Julian Sturdy's debates

York Outer 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).

Julian Sturdy has not participated in any petition debates

Latest EDMs signed by Julian Sturdy

5th December 2017
Julian Sturdy signed this EDM on Tuesday 12th December 2017

BLUE BELT CHARTER

Tabled by: Angela Smith (Liberal Democrat - Penistone and Stocksbridge)
That this House congratulates Sir David Attenborough and the BBC on the spectacular Blue Planet 2 series; notes that, with the fifth largest marine estate in the world, the UK and its Overseas Territories are custodian to the largest coral atoll on earth, globally significant populations of albatross, whales and …
103 signatures
(Most recent: 23 Apr 2018)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 61
Scottish National Party: 16
Liberal Democrat: 12
Conservative: 6
Independent: 4
Democratic Unionist Party: 2
The Independent Group for Change: 1
Plaid Cymru: 1
Green Party: 1
6th July 2015
Julian Sturdy signed this EDM on Thursday 16th July 2015

VOLUNTEER VOCATIONAL CO-WORKERS AT BOTTON VILLAGE COMMUNITY FOR ADULTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

Tabled by: Catherine West (Labour - Hornsey and Wood Green)
That this House notes that, until recently, Botton Village, a Camphill Community of 60 years' standing, offered a shared way of life for learning-disabled adults alongside volunteer co-workers, living as equals, sharing home, work, culture and recreation; further notes that Camphill Village Trust (CVT) is now insisting that co-workers become …
49 signatures
(Most recent: 4 May 2016)
Signatures by party:
Scottish National Party: 11
Labour: 6
Conservative: 6
Democratic Unionist Party: 6
Independent: 4
Liberal Democrat: 3
Green Party: 1
Plaid Cymru: 1
View All Julian Sturdy's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Julian Sturdy, 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 Sturdy has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Julian Sturdy has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Julian Sturdy


This Bill received Royal Assent on Thursday 26th March 2015 and was enacted into law.

Julian Sturdy has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


325 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
17th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether his Department has plans to ensure official recognition of the efforts of the creators of UK-made covid vaccines through the Honours List.

We appreciate there is a huge appetite across the country to say thank you to all those who are supporting the nation through these unprecedented times.

Both the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020 and the New Year Honours 2021 included COVID-19 recognition - and have been symbolic of the nation’s gratitude to those involved in the response to the pandemic on the frontline and in their communities. We anticipate more awards will be made over forthcoming honours rounds to recognise the work of those who have gone above and beyond across all key sectors.

On 12 May the Prime Minister announced that the Government will establish a UK Commission on COVID Commemoration to consider the appropriate way to remember those who have lost their lives and to recognise those involved in the unprecedented response. The Government will set out the Commission membership and terms of reference in due course.



Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
17th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether his Department has plans to ensure official recognition for the efforts of the creators of UK-made covid-19 vaccines.

We appreciate there is a huge appetite across the country to say thank you to all those who are supporting the nation through these unprecedented times.

Both the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020 and the New Year Honours 2021 included COVID-19 recognition - and have been symbolic of the nation’s gratitude to those involved in the response to the pandemic on the frontline and in their communities. We anticipate more awards will be made over forthcoming honours rounds to recognise the work of those who have gone above and beyond across all key sectors.

On 12 May the Prime Minister announced that the Government will establish a UK Commission on COVID Commemoration to consider the appropriate way to remember those who have lost their lives and to recognise those involved in the unprecedented response. The Government will set out the Commission membership and terms of reference in due course.



Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the level of covid-19 antibodies in the population that would be necessary to enable the Government to lift all legal limits on social contact from 21 June 2021.

In the Government’s Roadmap - ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’ - we set out four steps for easing restrictions. The Government aims to lift social contact limits at Step 4, which will happen no earlier than 21 June.

The dates for these steps are indicative “no earlier than” dates, which are five weeks apart and wholly contingent on the data and subject to change. Before moving to Step 4 and lifting legal social contact limits, the Government will examine the impact of the previous Step 3 and the four tests:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully

  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated

  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS

  • Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential to lift all covid-19 restrictions on social contact on or from 21 June 2021.

In the Government’s Roadmap - ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’ - we set out four steps for easing restrictions. The Government aims to lift social contact limits at Step 4, which will happen no earlier than 21 June.

The dates for these steps are indicative “no earlier than” dates, which are five weeks apart and wholly contingent on the data and subject to change. Before moving to Step 4 and lifting legal social contact limits, the Government will examine the impact of the previous Step 3 and the four tests:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully

  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated

  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS

  • Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the effect on UK businesses exporting to the EU of the decision by many European pallet delivery businesses to require EORI numbers from customers for business to customer deliveries, when only businesses have EORI numbers; and what urgent steps the Government is taking in response to that decision.

The Government maintains regular contact with the logistics industry both in the UK and in the EU. Logistics companies - on both sides of the Channel - will make their own commercial decisions on customer deliveries.

Individuals can obtain EORI numbers in order to import or export goods, although EORI numbers are not required if they are importing for their own personal use.

Further to the answer to PQ 175723 on 19 April 2021, the Government is continuing to support businesses and hauliers in navigating new systems and processes.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, for what reason his Department has issued guidance during the covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021 re-classifying self-serve jet car washes as not fully automatic, and therefore required to close, unlike in previous covid-19 lockdowns.

Throughout the pandemic, we have consistently adapted our response as we have learnt more about the virus and how best to tackle it. Automatic car washes were permitted to operate during the most recent lockdown, recognising the low risk of transmission they posed. Jet car washes, including those that are self-serviced, are not fully automatic and were therefore required to close.

The Government published the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’, on 22 February, providing a roadmap out of lockdown restrictions in England. As a result of progress made against the virus, England was able to move to Step 2 on 12 April. All car washes, including jet washes, are now permitted to open.

We keep our measures under constant review so as to reflect the latest science and clinical data. Scientific evidence supporting the government response to coronavirus is regularly published here - https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/scientific-evidence-supporting-the-government-response-to-coronavirus-covid-19

Revised guidance for businesses can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reopening-businesses-and-venues-in-england/reopening-businesses-and-venues

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Government's announcement of 14 June 2021 not to move ahead with Step 4 of the Government's roadmap for the easing of covid-19 restrictions from the 21 June 2021, whether his Department has made an estimate of the value of business that will be lost by the weddings industry as a result of continued limits on capacity for that sector.

BEIS Ministers and officials meet with representatives of the sector-led UK Weddings Taskforce on a regular basis to discuss the challenges faced by the sector and how best to support it through the reopening period.

Over the course of the pandemic the Government has provided an unprecedented package of financial support to businesses, including those in the wedding industry, which we keep under regular review.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many covid-19 vaccine doses England has available for use in reserve supply.

The UK Government has secured early access to 397 million vaccine doses through supply agreements with six separate vaccine developers, of which four have received regulatory approval and three are currently in deployment. This includes agreements with:

  • Pfizer/BioNTech for 100 million doses
  • University of Oxford/AstraZeneca for 100 million doses
  • Moderna for 17 million doses
  • Novavax for 60 million doses
  • Janssen for 20 million doses
  • Valneva for 100 million doses

In addition, the Government has a reservation agreement with GlaxoSmithKline/Sanofi Pasteur for 60 million doses and a non-binding agreement with CureVac for 50 million doses.

We are in constant contact with the vaccine manufacturers and are confident that the supply of vaccines to the UK will not be disrupted and that we will meet the vaccination targets set out by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 14 June:

  • All adults aged 18 and over to be offered a first dose by 19 July, 2 weeks earlier than planned.
  • By 19 July, all those aged over 50 and the clinically extremely vulnerable to have been offered their second dose.
  • Second doses for all over 40s will be accelerated by reducing the dosing interval from 12 weeks to 8 weeks. All over 40s who received a first dose by mid-May will be offered a second dose by 19 July.
Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Government's announcement of 14 June 2021 not to move ahead with Step 4 of the Government's roadmap for the easing of covid-19 restrictions from the 21 June 2021, whether his Department has made an estimate of the value of business that will be lost by the hospitality sector as a result of continued limits on capacity for that sector.

The Department regularly meets with representatives from across the sector to discuss how it can recover and build back better from the pandemic. The Government recognises the impact the pandemic has had on hospitality businesses. That is why we have provided an unprecedented support package of £352 billion including grants, loans, business rates relief, VAT cuts and the job retention scheme.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what guidance his Department has given to (a) travel companies and (b) insurers on refunds for holidays booked to green list destinations that are subsequently moved to the amber or red travel list under covid-19 regulations.

The Government is clear that businesses should treat their customers fairly and responsibly and in accordance with their statutory rights, and where disagreements arise in respect to holiday cancellations and refunds, they should seek to find a mutually acceptable solution.

The Package Travel Regulations 2018 and the Consumer Rights Act 2015 outline the conditions under which a consumer is entitled to a refund from travel companies if a travel package is cancelled or severely disrupted. The Competition and Markets Authority has made clear, for instance in its open letter to the package travel sector of 13 May 2021, that organisers of package holidays are expected to comply with travellers’ statutory rights, for example by offering consumers a right to cancel and receive a full refund within 14 days if, due to circumstances beyond its control, the organiser needs to alter significantly any of the main characteristics of the package. Travelling to countries against FCDO advice is likely to invalidate customers’ travel insurance.

Furthermore, the Passenger Covid-19 Charter was published by Department for Transport on 17 May 2021, providing information on the rights and responsibilities of passengers booking travel while Covid-19 restrictions remain in place. It also sets out reasonable expectations for industry, including offering flexibility, where possible, for bookings affected by changes to Covid-19 restrictions and to traffic light categories.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to engage with the work of Animal Free Research UK on reducing the use of animals in medical research.

Animal Free Research UK have recently shared their report: ‘Modernising Medical Research: How Britain can become a global leader in animal free science’.

We are already taking steps to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research. This is an area that is carefully regulated and one that remains important in ensuring new medicines and treatments are safe. The Government believes that animals should only be used when there is no practicable alternative and it actively supports and funds the development and dissemination of techniques that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research (the 3Rs). This is achieved primarily through funding for the National Centre for the 3Rs, which works nationally and internationally to drive the uptake of 3Rs technologies and ensure that advances in the 3Rs are reflected in policy, practice and regulations on animal research.

Since the NC3Rs was launched it has committed £100 million through its research, innovation, and early career awards to provide new 3Rs approaches for scientists in academia and industry to use.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has made an assessment of the value of business the travel sector has lost since the first lockdown compared to how much business support has been directed to the travel sector.

We are aware that the sector has been severely impacted by continued travel restrictions. The Government is continuing to engage with stakeholders - such as the Association of British Travel Agents, the Association of Independent Tour Operators and UKInbound - to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the sector.

The Government has continued to support travel businesses and individuals during this period of restrictions - including through the extension of various government-backed loans, grants and the extended furlough and self-employed support schemes.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent estimate his Department has made of the average length of time a first registration of a property with the Land Registry takes to complete; and what steps his Department is taking to reduce that time.

HM Land Registry processes over 70,000 applications every day (based on 2020/21 figures). Over 80% are completed within three days. The vast majority of the remainder are completed within 5 weeks.

Of these applications, 1.4% are complex, including first registrations, creation of a new lease or transferring part of a property. It currently takes HMLR an average of seven months to complete an application for first registration of a property.

HM Land Registry is making significant investment in long-term transformation to improve customer experience and efficiency. It is improving processing times by greater digitisation and automation, and by building more operational capacity.

HM Land Registry will fast track applications, on request, where a delay would put a property sale or any kind of property transaction at risk, or cause any other problems not related to a land transaction.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has plans to further increase Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings for rental properties to band C for existing tenants in 2025 and for new tenants in 2028; what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of that increase on the supply of private rented housing as a result of affected landlords potentially leaving the sector; and what assessment his Department has made of the potential for damage to older properties with original features as a result of the work necessary to meet that increased EPC rating.

The Department recently consulted on raising the energy performance standards in the domestic private rented sector to EPC band C for new tenancies from 2025 and all tenancies by 2028. As part of the consultation, we sought evidence on the possible impacts of the policy on the size of the private rented sector and on listed buildings and those in conservation areas. We are currently analysing the responses and will be publishing the Government response in due course.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the use of animals in scientific experiments through promoting investment in human-relevant life sciences.

The use of animals in research is carefully regulated and remains important in ensuring new medicines and treatments are safe.   At the same time, the Government believes that animals should only be used when there is no practicable alternative and it actively supports and funds the development and dissemination of techniques that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research (the 3Rs).  This is achieved primarily through funding for the National Centre for the 3Rs, which works nationally and internationally to drive the uptake of 3Rs technologies and ensure that advances in the 3Rs are reflected in policy, practice and regulations on animal research.  Across the UK, the NC3Rs has invested £71 million in research through grants to universities, and almost £28 million in contracts through its CRACK IT Challenges innovation scheme to UK and EU-based institutions, mainly focusing on new approaches for the safety assessment of pharmaceuticals and chemicals that reduce the use of animals.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funds a portfolio of research projects involving humans, human materials, animal models, and non-animal technologies. At this time, no artificial model or simulation can replicate the complexity of disease processes in a living organism and as such, whole organism approaches continue to be important; animal models are used when experimentation in human volunteers is not possible for safety or ethical reasons. However, we do recognise the increasing value of in vitro and in silico models, including organs-on-chips and 3-dimensional mini-brains, which can greatly aid the development of new healthcare innovations and also reduce, refine or replace the use of animals in research.

The Medical Research Council (MRC), part of UKRI, has for a number of years prioritised experimental medicine research, in which studies are undertaken in humans to identify disease mechanisms and provide early evidence and validity of new discoveries or treatments. In order to accelerate progress in this area a vision for a new Precision Medicine Accelerator (PMA) was approved by MRC in December 2019. The first step of the PMA, a new Experimental Medicine Panel, has been launched to fund academic-led, interventional clinical studies in humans.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
23rd Mar 2021
What steps his department is taking to support UK research and development.

We have announced an investment of £14.6 billion in R&D for 2021/22, and we are taking forward the ambitious commitments in our R&D Roadmap.

As announced in the Plan for Growth at Budget 2021 we will publish a new Innovation Strategy in the summer to unleash innovation across the UK to complement this investment.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what progress has been made on the creation of the Events Research Programme, as set out in the Government’s COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021 roadmap published on 22nd February; what the timeframe is for the publication for the programme’s conclusions; what factors are being assessed for the reopening of that sector; if he will announce the role of the business events industry within the programme; and if he will make a statement.

The Events Research Programme aims to examine the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from attendance at events and explore ways to enable people to attend a range of events safely. We anticipate that the research pilots will take place in April, with a view to reporting findings to my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister at the end of May, to feed into wider discussions around Step 4 of the lockdown restrictions. Departments are currently working up plans and further details regarding the Events Research Programme will be published in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to implement climate change policies that (a) ensure the UK makes a proportionate contribution to limiting global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, (b) accurately record all UK carbon emissions, including shipping and aviation, (c) protect and restore diverse habitats along overseas supply chains and (d) restore UK soils, wildlife habitats and species populations.

As the independent Climate Change Committee recognise, we have made world-leading progress in cutting our emissions while growing the economy. Since setting our net zero target, we have announced my Rt hon Friend the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan, as well as our Energy White Paper, which demonstrates our commitment to eradicating our contribution to climate change by 2050.

For its carbon targets, the UK follows the agreed international approach for estimating and reporting greenhouse gas emissions under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, which is for countries to report the emissions produced within their territories. We are considering recommendations on International Aviation and Shipping carefully ahead of setting the sixth carbon budget.

The UK will be dedicating at least £3bn of international climate finance in the next five years to climate change solutions that protect and restore nature. In 2019, we launched the Global Resource Initiative (GRI) to advise on reducing the deforestation impacts of key UK supply chains. The GRI published 14 recommendations for action and government responded in November 2020, detailing how it would take this forward. As part of its COP26 Presidency, the UK also launched the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) dialogue to bring together governments of major producer and consumer countries to agree actions which reduce deforestation.

We are committed to protecting and restoring the UK’s natural environment. The 25 Year Environment Plan will create or restore 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat in England. We have also doubled funding to £80m for the Green Recovery Challenge Fund to kick start a programme of nature-based projects to address the twin challenges of halting biodiversity loss and tackling climate change.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of citizens' assemblies on Government climate change policy.

Achieving our net zero target must be a shared endeavour between governments, businesses and individuals.

The Climate Assembly UK was commissioned by six Parliamentary Select committees to explore how the UK should reach net zero by 2050. We welcome the Climate Assembly UK’s recommendations, which demonstrate strong public support for the Government’s intention to deliver a UK economy which is stronger, cleaner, more sustainable and more resilient.

In September 2020 we invited the Climate Assembly UK expert leads to present the Assembly’s findings to officials. These briefings were attended by over 400 officials. We are looking closely at the Climate Assembly UK report’s findings and government departments will consider its findings as we develop our plans for reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

As we develop our plans for reaching net zero emissions by 2050, we will continue to engage the public on the changes that are needed to develop our ambitions on net zero and we will listen very attentively to feedback.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if the Government’s roadmap for exiting the covid-19 lockdown will include a timeframe for weddings and the wedding industry to resume without restrictions.

As set out in Step 4 of the Government’s 'COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’, which will be introduced no earlier than 21 June, the attendee limit for wedding celebrations will be removed, subject to the outcome of the scientific Events Research Programme.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of easing regulations to allows pubs to temporarily trade as off-licenses during the covid-19 lockdown announced in January 2021 to give consumers the option of buying bottled and canned alcoholic products from their local pubs.

While hospitality venues are not allowed to sell alcohol for takeaway under the new National Lockdown restrictions, they are allowed to continue to sell food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway until 11pm. All food and drink (including alcohol) can continue to be provided by delivery.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of allowing pubs to sell takeaway alcohol in sealed containers during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown.

Hospitality venues are not allowed to sell alcohol for takeaway under the new National Lockdown restrictions, although they are allowed to continue to sell food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for what reason the Government made the decision to close specialist shops classified as non-essential retail and allow mixed retailers deemed essential to continue to sell the same non-essential retail items during the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown; and what assessment his Department has made of the equity of that decision.

Throughout the national restrictions, we sought to keep as much of the retail sector open as possible, whilst balancing the need to reduce our day-to-day contact. All shops could continue offering?click and collect?and delivery services.

The decision to close non-essential retail was part of a wider package of measures to ensure that people stayed at home except for a limited set of exemptions.

We were clear that a business selling a significant amount of essential retail may also continue to sell goods typically sold at non-essential retail. For example, a supermarket that sells food was not required to close off or cordon off aisles selling homeware.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what guidance his Department received to inform its decision to include car showrooms on the list of businesses that have to close apart from facilitating collections while national covid-19 restrictions are in place from 5 November to 2 December 2020.

The Department for Health and Social Care created the guidance for the new national restrictions.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that customers are refunded the whole ticket price, including the booking fee, for live events that have been cancelled as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued guidance to explain to consumers and business the circumstances when refunds are due as a consequence of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. The Government has always been clear that these refunds must be paid when asked for by the consumer.

The guidance is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cma-to-investigate-concerns-about-cancellation-policies-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic.

The CMA has also created a Covid-19 taskforce and set up an online form to enable consumers to report any business they believe is behaving unfairly during the pandemic. The CMA has taken enforcement action in a number of cases as a result.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether unmanned automated car washes are required to close alongside hand car washes under the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 4) Regulations 2020 laid by the Department for Health and Social Care, car washes must be closed during England’s new national restrictions.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of amending the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to (a) extend the repayment period from six to over 10 years and (b) increase the level of Government support for the loan from partial to total, to assist businesses in accessing the finance they require.

The Government continues to hold a regular dialogue with the British Business Bank and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) lenders to monitor its implementation.

We regularly engage with businesses themselves, and the finance industry association – UK Finance – to gather feedback on all the support schemes to identify areas for improvement.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what additional support he plans to make available to businesses that remain closed as a result of covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The Government has introduced a comprehensive package of support to help businesses during this difficult period. These include the small business grants, the coronavirus loan schemes, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, deferral of VAT and income tax payments, and more.

There has been significant support to date, and there is still funding to be disbursed. BEIS will continue to work closely with local authorities, businesses, and business representative organisations to understand whether there is additional need.

The Government’s priority has been to act to reduce the high levels of Covid-19 infection and, ultimately, it is only by controlling the virus that lockdowns can be lifted, allowing businesses to reopen and operate more normally.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what discussions his Department is having with the events and weddings sector on the effect on that industry of covid-19 lockdown restrictions on gathering size.

Ministers and officials from this Department are currently discussing COVID-19 secure guidance, and the effect of the COVID-19 restrictions, with representatives from the weddings industry.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport continues to engage with business events stakeholders to monitor the ongoing impact on exhibitions and events businesses.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what plans he has to enable beauticians who work from their own homes to reopen in the event that they make their workplace covid-secure.

All Close Contact Services were allowed to reopen from 13 July, subject to them following COVID-secure guidelines. On 17 July, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced that Close Contact Services including treatments on the face are allowed to resume as of 1st August in a COVID-secure way.

We appreciate that this is difficult for some businesses. Our approach is guided by the scientific and medical advice, and every step is weighed against the evidence, remembering that the more we open up the more vigilant we will need to be.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when the Government plans to announce the reopening date for businesses not allowed to reopen on 4 July 2020 as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

All Close Contact Services were allowed to reopen from 13 July, subject to them following COVID-secure guidelines. On 17 July, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced that Close Contact Services including treatments on the face are allowed to resume as of 1st August in a COVID-secure way.

We appreciate that this is difficult for some businesses. Our approach is guided by the scientific and medical advice, and every step is weighed against the evidence, remembering that the more we open up the more vigilant we will need to be.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether hospitality businesses will be able to open their outdoor spaces only from 4 July 2020.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister has announced that, from 4 July pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes (including workplace canteens) in England will be able to reopen both their outdoor and indoor spaces and offer on-site services to customers, provided they are COVID-secure and follow Government guidance. The updated guidance can be found at the GOV.UK website.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will confirm as soon as possible whether hospitality businesses will be able to open (a) indoor and (b) outdoor spaces from 4 July 2020.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister has announced that, from 4 July pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes (including workplace canteens) in England will be able to reopen both their outdoor and indoor spaces and offer on-site services to customers, provided they are COVID-secure and follow Government guidance.

The updated guidance can be found at the GOV.UK website.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether the planned reopening of hospitality venues from 4 July 2020 will occur simultaneously with potential revisions to the two metre social distancing rule.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister has announced that, from 4 July pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes (including workplace canteens) in England will be able to reopen both their outdoor and indoor spaces and offer on-site services to customers, provided they are COVID-secure and follow Government guidance. Businesses should refer to the guidance that has been issued, and the updated guidance can be found at Gov.uk website.

Our advice is changing to state that people should either stay 2m apart or, where this is not possible, ‘1m plus’ – which is one metre plus mitigations. These mitigations will depend on the workplace or setting.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of the core science budget was allocated to fund medical trials of new drugs during the last period for which data is available.

UK Research and Innovation is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and supports basic research into the development of new drugs including pre-clinical research and early stage clinical trials. It does not routinely analyse data on the number of trials specifically relating to the development of new drugs.

UK Research and Innovation supports clinical trials through the Medical Research Council (MRC) including early phase clinical stage trials through ‘response mode’ schemes such as the Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme, which supports pre-clinical development and early clinical trial of novel therapeutics including new and repurposing of existing therapies.

Later stage trials are funded through the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme (which is a jointly funded partnership between MRC and the National Institute for Health Research). The MRC also supports:

  • The Joint Global Health Trials programme in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research, the Department for International Development and the Wellcome Trust.
  • The European Developing Countries Clinical Trials programme (EDCTP), with a specific focus on poverty-related infectious diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa.

These provide funding to later stage trials including studies evaluating the efficacy and effectiveness of interventions with potential to make a step-change in the promotion of health, treatment of disease and improvement of rehabilitation or long-term care.

A recent example of a clinical trial project for a new medicine is the award of over £2.7 million for a Clinical Trial of a Novel Treatment for Clostridium difficile (associated diarrhoea) from Innovate UK as part of the Biomedical Catalyst. This was awarded to MGB Biopharma Ltd based in Glasgow for this new class of small molecule antibiotic.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what notice the Government plans to give businesses closed due to covid-19 on reopening, when appropriate, to allow them to undertake necessary forward planning; and what discussions the Government is having with business representatives on planning for reopening.

We have set out five clear tests that will need to be met before making any changes to our current approach. As my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said, we will gradually refine the economic and social restrictions at the appropriate time.

The Department has been looking at how we can ensure workplaces are safe - for those in work now and for those who will go back to work once the measures in place are relaxed.

As this work is complex and multifaceted, we are working with industry, business representative organisations, unions, Public Health England, and the Health and Safety Executive. Together, we are considering what is needed to adapt workplaces to further improve safety, thereby minimising the risk of transmission.

Through this engagement activity, we are welcoming views and best practice that might support us in ensuring that businesses can reopen whilst adhering to the social distancing guidelines. We will continue to engage with businesses and industry stakeholders throughout the process to gain a better understanding of wider implications and what needs to be put in place for businesses to reopen.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to encourage and facilitate the ordinary operation of (a) takeaway and drive-through food services and (b) other businesses who can operate safely during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department has published sector specific advice for a number of industries which can currently remain open. This advice can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/social-distancing-in-the-workplace-during-coronavirus-covid-19-sector-guidance. This is to enable companies and their employees remain safe.

The health of our people and the protection of our NHS is the Government’s top priority. The Government has been very clear that in order to limit the transmission of coronavirus, people should only travel to work where they absolutely cannot work from home, and provided that they and members of their household are well. This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer. We have on going discussions with businesses, trade unions and BRO’s on how we can keep everyone safe both now and as the Government framework adjusts in the future.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps her Department is taking to help connect off-grid households to the electricity network.

The Department is working with Ofgem and network companies to help improve the network connection process, for example through making advice and information clearer for customers. Ofgem also published a call for evidence, in November 2019, to gain a better understanding of the number, location and characteristics of off-grid households. It is available at https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/call-evidence-households-not-connected-electricity-distribution-network. Ofgem is currently considering the responses.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what representations she has received from members of the public and civil society groups on tighter restrictions on the use of fireworks; and what she steps she is taking in response to those representations.

We receive representations from a wide range of stakeholders, including members of the public, organisations and charities, all with ranging views on what the issues are and what action they would like to see.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards is developing a fact-based evidence base on the key issues that have been raised around fireworks, including noise, anti-social behaviour, non-compliance, environmental impact, and the impact on humans and animals. This will build a fuller picture of the data around fireworks in order to identify whether further action is appropriate. This work is an ongoing exercise, which is not time limited and we will report in due course.

14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of the current regulatory framework on the sale and use of fireworks for preventing their anti-social use.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is developing a fact-based evidence base on the key issues that have been raised around fireworks. This includes looking at data on noise and disturbance, anti-social behaviour, non-compliance, environmental impact, and the impact on humans and animals. This will build a full picture of the data around fireworks in order to identify whether further action is appropriate.

17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the Government's announcement of 14 June 2021 not to move ahead with Step 4 of the Government's roadmap for the easing of covid-19 restrictions from the 21 June 2021, whether his Department has made an estimate of the value of business that will be lost by the indoor play sector as a result of continued limits on capacity for that sector.

We recognise the challenging times facing all sectors currently, and continue to support in line the prime minister's roadmap to the full reopening of the economy. The Department has been working closely with stakeholders across the indoor play sector throughout the pandemic to understand both the nature and scale of the impact that this sector has faced.

Since 17 May, indoor play sectors have been able to reopen, with COVID safety guidance in place. We are committed to helping the Indoor play sector reopen fully, and while we know that the loss of some business that may occur as a result of the delay to step 4, public health must remain the top priority. The roadmap sets out a cautious and gradual approach, led by data, not dates.

Throughout the pandemic, businesses have had access to an unprecedented £350 billion package of support including cash grants, government-backed loans, the extended furlough scheme and £5 billion for new Restart Grants.

To ensure that people and businesses have time to plan as the economy reopens in line with the easing of restrictions, schemes such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will continue until September 2021. Support for businesses through grants and loans, business rates and VAT relief is also still available.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the Government's announcement of 14 June 2021 not to move ahead with Step 4 of the Government's roadmap for the easing of covid-19 restrictions from 21 June 2021, whether his Department has made an estimate of the value of business that will be lost by the events sector as a result of continued limits on capacity for that sector.

We recognise the challenging times currently facing all sectors, and continue to support in line with the prime minister's roadmap to the full reopening of the economy. Events sectors experienced a 50-60% drop in GVA in Spring 2020, relative to 25% in other sectors. The Department has been working closely with stakeholders across the events sector throughout the pandemic to understand both the nature and scale of the impact that this sector has faced.

Since 17 May, events have been able to reopen subject to capacity caps which vary depending on whether the event is indoors or outdoors. The Government has also launched the Events Research Programme which is looking at how best to mitigate transmission risks across a number of event settings.

We are committed to helping the events sector reopen fully, and while we know that the loss of some business that may occur as a result of the delay to step 4, public health must remain the top priority. The roadmap sets out a cautious and gradual approach, led by data, not dates.

Throughout the pandemic, businesses have had access to an unprecedented £350 billion package of support including cash grants, government-backed loans, the extended furlough scheme and £5 billion for new Restart Grants.

To ensure that people and businesses have time to plan as the economy reopens in line with the easing of restrictions, schemes such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will continue until September 2021. Support for businesses through grants and loans, business rates and VAT relief is also still available.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what evidence, research or data the Government has assessed on the effectiveness of (a) limiting numbers based on the venue size, (b) maintaining social distancing and (c) other covid-19 safety measures on helping to limit transmission of the covid-19 virus within an amateur choir setting.

Decisions on Step 3 were taken collectively across Government before 17th May. The updated Performing Arts guidance sets out how venues and organisers should operate in Step 3.

I know that the restrictions on singing are frustrating to large numbers of amateur choirs and performance groups across the country and that many people have made sacrifices in order to drive down infections and protect the NHS over the last year. I want to assure you that everyone across the government wants to ease these restrictions as soon as possible.

However, it is important that we take a cautious approach in easing restrictions. We have followed the views of public health experts on singing. We are aware, through the NERVTAG and PERFORM studies that singing can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission through the spread of aerosol droplets. This was backed up by a consensus statement from SAGE, resulting in the suggested principles of safer singing being published.

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.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for what reason there was a 24 to 36 hours delay from (a) the Step 3 easing of covid-19 restrictions coming into effect to (b) the covid-19 guidance for indoor amateur choirs being updated; and whether Ministers received any new covid-19 guidance or data within that time period.

Decisions on Step 3 were taken collectively across Government before 17th May. The updated Performing Arts guidance sets out how venues and organisers should operate in Step 3.

I know that the restrictions on singing are frustrating to large numbers of amateur choirs and performance groups across the country and that many people have made sacrifices in order to drive down infections and protect the NHS over the last year. I want to assure you that everyone across the government wants to ease these restrictions as soon as possible.

However, it is important that we take a cautious approach in easing restrictions. We have followed the views of public health experts on singing. We are aware, through the NERVTAG and PERFORM studies that singing can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission through the spread of aerosol droplets. This was backed up by a consensus statement from SAGE, resulting in the suggested principles of safer singing being published.

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.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on what date the Government decided not to include indoor amateur choir practice for more than six persons in the Step 3 easing of covid-19 restrictions that came into effect on 17 May 2021.

Decisions on Step 3 were taken collectively across Government before 17th May. The updated Performing Arts guidance sets out how venues and organisers should operate in Step 3.

I know that the restrictions on singing are frustrating to large numbers of amateur choirs and performance groups across the country and that many people have made sacrifices in order to drive down infections and protect the NHS over the last year. I want to assure you that everyone across the government wants to ease these restrictions as soon as possible.

However, it is important that we take a cautious approach in easing restrictions. We have followed the views of public health experts on singing. We are aware, through the NERVTAG and PERFORM studies that singing can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission through the spread of aerosol droplets. This was backed up by a consensus statement from SAGE, resulting in the suggested principles of safer singing being published.

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.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of the effect on levels of funding available to small charities of the UK ceasing to participate in the European Solidarity Corps programme; and what steps the Government is taking to mitigate that effect with replacement funding.

The UK continues to participate fully in the 2018-2020 European Solidarity Corps programme. This means that projects that successfully bid for funding during the 2018-2020 programme will continue to receive EU funding for the full duration of the project, including where funding runs beyond 2020 and the end of the transition period.

International opportunities for young people outside of formal education settings, such as the types of activities funded under the European Solidarity Corps programme, are being considered as part of the DCMS-led Youth Review, which was commissioned by the Treasury at the 2020 Spending Review. Future funding is subject to decisions at the next Spending Review.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing targeted support to (a) the events sector and (b) other sectors that remain closed as a result of covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

DCMS appreciates the important role that the events sector plays in the UK’s economy, and that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to many businesses operating in these sectors.

The Secretary of State announced an unprecedented £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors which will benefit self-employed and freelance workers by helping music venues and many other organisations in the Creative Industries that host live events, to stay open and continue operating.

From 15th August and as part of the Government’s 5 stage roadmap to get performing arts and live entertainment sectors back up and running as soon as possible, venues and organisations have been able to put on live indoor performances in front of a socially-distanced audience. This is in addition to the earlier announcement that from 11 July we can all enjoy performances outdoors with social distanced audiences.

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

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to provide targeted support to the events sector during the covid-19 outbreak.

DCMS appreciates the important role that the events sector plays in the UK’s economy, and that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to many businesses operating in these sectors.

The Secretary of State provided a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors. This support package will benefit cultural sector services by providing support to cultural venues and many other organisations in the Creative Industries that host live events, to stay open and continue operating.

From 15th August, and as part of the Government’s 5 stage roadmap to get performing arts and live entertainment sectors back up and running as soon as possible, organisations can now put on live indoor performances in front of a socially-distanced audience. This is in addition to the earlier announcement that from 11 July we can all enjoy performances outdoors with social distancing.

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

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to provide targeted support to (a) the events sector and (b) other sectors that remain closed as a result of covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

DCMS appreciates the important role that the events sector plays in the UK’s economy, and that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to many businesses operating in these sectors.

The Secretary of State announced an unprecedented £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors. This package aims to support sectors across the Arts, Culture, and Heritage to reopen or ensure they do not permanently close their doors.

From 15th August and as part of the Government’s 5 stage roadmap to get performing arts and live entertainment sectors back up and running as soon as possible, venues and organisations have been able to put on live indoor performances in front of a socially-distanced audience. This is in addition to the earlier announcement that from 11 July we can all enjoy performances outdoors with social distanced audiencesing.

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

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the Government support to the events sector during the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps his Department is taking to increase its support for that sector.

DCMS appreciates the important role that the events sector plays in the UK’s economy, and that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to many businesses operating in these sectors.

The Secretary of State provided a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors. This support package will benefit cultural sector services by providing support to cultural venues and many other organisations in the Creative Industries that host live events, to stay open and continue operating.

From 15th August, and as part of the Government’s 5 stage roadmap to get performing arts and live entertainment sectors back up and running as soon as possible, organisations can now put on live indoor performances in front of a socially-distanced audience. This is in addition to the earlier announcement that from 11 July we can all enjoy performances outdoors with social distancing.

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

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what estimate his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on (a) jobs and (b) revenues in the events sector; and what steps the Government is taking to mitigate that effect.

DCMS appreciates the important role that the events sector plays in the UK’s economy, and that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to many businesses operating in these sectors.

The Secretary of State provided a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors. This support package will benefit cultural sector services by providing support to cultural venues and many other organisations in the Creative Industries that host live events, to stay open and continue operating.

From 15th August, and as part of the Government’s 5 stage roadmap to get performing arts and live entertainment sectors back up and running as soon as possible, organisations can now put on live indoor performances in front of a socially-distanced audience. This is in addition to the earlier announcement that from 11 July we can all enjoy performances outdoors with social distancing.

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

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans the Government has to increase accessibility to files held by the National Archives for people living outside London.

Like many archives within the sector, The National Archives has adapted its services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and for the remainder of 2020, anticipate limited on-site access to their physical collections. Therefore, The National Archives remains committed to expanding remote access to its collections, with a focus on making content discoverable and, where possible, available online.

In response to its temporary closure in the spring, The National Archives provided free online access to a wide range of digital and digitised records through its Digital Downloads Service, for which demand has increased more than 2,000%. While The National Archives reopened to the public on 21 July 2020, it has continued to provide this free online access alongside its present onsite service offer.

Since 2003 The National Archives has captured, preserved, and made freely accessible the UK Government Web Archive, which includes billions of webpages, videos, tweets and images from government dating from 1996 to the present day. Throughout the pandemic, the UK Government Web Archive has been critical in capturing the comprehensive record of fast paced coronavirus information published by the UK Government, through high-intensity web archiving.

Finally, as the Queen's Printer and the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO), The National Archives aids legal certainty through legislation.gov.uk, with the registration and publication of legislation which is freely accessible to anyone regardless of locality.

Caroline Dinenage
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what information his Department holds on the average broadband speed in rural areas in 2010.

Ofcom’s UK Broadband Speeds report, published in May 2010, estimated that the average download speed delivered to residential fixed-line broadband consumers in rural areas was 2.7Mbps. This was actual experienced speed, measured using a sample panel, and would have reflected the package chosen by the consumer, even if a higher speed service was available to them. Ofcom’s latest UK Broadband Speeds report, published in May 2020, found that the average peak time download speeds for rural areas was 38.5Mbps.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what proportion of households were able to access a broadband service delivering (a) a download speed of at least 10 Mbps and (b) an upload speed of at least 1 Mbps, in 2010.

In 2010, neither the Department nor Ofcom published the data requested.

The broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) provides every household with the legal right to request a broadband connection that provides download speeds of at least 10Mbps and an upload speed of at least 1Mbps up to a Reasonable Cost Threshold of £3,400 per premise. However, the legislation underpinning the USO was not passed until 2018.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what proportion of rural households were able to access a broadband service delivering (a) a download speed of at least 10 Mbps and (b) an upload speed of at least 1 Mbps, in 2010.

In 2010, neither the Department nor Ofcom published the data requested.

The broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) provides every household with the legal right to request a broadband connection that provides download speeds of at least 10Mbps and an upload speed of at least 1Mbps up to a Reasonable Cost Threshold of £3,400 per premise. However, the legislation underpinning the USO was not passed until 2018.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many community radio stations have been awarded grants through the Community Radio Fund since its creation.

The Community Radio Fund was set up in 2005 and has an annual budget of £400,000, which is used to help support community radio stations across the UK. It is administered by Ofcom, and applications are assessed by an independent panel.

Information on all grants provided via the Community Radio Fund prior to the financial year 2020-21, including the recipients, the amount of funding awarded to each, and the posts and projects that have been supported, can be found on Ofcom’s website (from 2018 to date) and the National Archives (pre-2014 and 2014-2018).

For the financial year 2020-21, given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the sector, the Community Radio Fund is being used to provide stations with an emergency source of funding to help them to meet urgent liabilities and to keep themselves in business. Given the sensitive commercial nature of this situation, it has been agreed between the Government, Ofcom and the Community Media Association (the representative body for the sector) that the names of the supported stations and the amount that each has received will not be disclosed.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
6th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of working from home during the covid-19 lockdown on the quality of rural broadband.

Overall, the UK's broadband network has stood up well to mass home working and leisure usage as a result of COVID-19, including in rural areas. This is a result of the contingency planning that the Government has done with industry and also the Government's £1.7 billion superfast broadband programme, which has ensured that 96% of UK premises have access to superfast broadband.

However, the Government recognises that rural coverage lags behind the rest of the UK, which is why we legislated to create the first-ever broadband Universal Service Obligation, which went live in March 2020. The scheme allows everyone in the UK to request a decent broadband connection of at least 10 megabits per second from a designated universal service provider, up to a reasonable cost threshold of £3,400.

At Budget, we also committed to invest £5 billion to roll out gigabit broadband in the hardest to reach areas of the UK. At present, our £200 million Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme remains open, offering voucher-based support for eligible consumers to request gigabit-capable connections from a variety of providers.

Matt Warman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether school children can be included in the pilot to test the viability of daily covid-19 tests rather than self-isolation following an alert of a close contact from NHS Test and Trace.

Daily contact testing, used as an alternative to self- isolation if a positive case is detected, continues to have the potential to be a valuable tool to identify positive contacts and break chains of transmission, while keeping more students and staff at school and college, which is the best place for their development and wellbeing.

A trial is being coordinated by the Department of Health and Social Care, the Department for Education, and the Office of National Statistics. It is being overseen by an independent Data Monitoring Committee and evaluated by researchers at the University of Oxford. The trial was also given ethical approval by the Public Health England Research Ethics and Governance Group.

The findings of the independent clinical trial are due to report in the summer and, if beneficial, a roll out could commence in secondary schools and colleges during the autumn term.

With respect to daily contact testing for the adult population, on the 29 April 2021, a randomised controlled study started in England to evaluate the home use of seven daily lateral flow tests plus two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, with the option for study participants to be released from self isolation for up to 24 hours following a negative result. A business as usual comparison group will be offered a single PCR test and asked to self-isolate for the 10 day period as usual.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) effectiveness of the steps it has taken to ensure that parents are aware of the (a) existence and (b) role of the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability); and what steps his Department is taking to improve parental awareness of that body.

The Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Code of Practice sets out the issues about which parents and young people can appeal to the SEND Tribunal and the timescales within which they are required to register an appeal. The Code is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25. In addition, the department has also published guidance on the SEND system for parents and carers, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-guide-for-parents-and-carers.

When a local authority makes certain decisions in relation to Education, Health and Care needs assessments and plans that can be appealed to the SEND First-tier Tribunal, they must notify the child’s parents or the young person of their right to appeal to the Tribunal and the time limit for doing so, of the requirement for them to consider mediation should they wish to appeal and the availability of information, advice and support and disagreement resolution services. This requirement on local authorities is set out in the SEND Code of Practice.

We are also providing £3.7 million in the 2021-22 financial year to ensure that parents and young people are able to access high-quality, impartial information, advice and support on matters relating to SEND, including the SEND Tribunal where appropriate. This includes funding for the continued provision of a national helpline and online support service for parents whose children have SEND, and training, development and support for local SEND Information, Advice and Support Services.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) has not extended the six month deadline for complaint submission to 12 months to reflect disruption caused by the covid-19 outbreak, in line with the Department for Education's deadlines.

During COVID-19 restrictions, the Department published school complaint guidance on GOV.UK and provided advice on telephone helplines, and in writing, when parents or carers requested advice on appeals to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal and other bodies.

There was no specific advice given in this guidance regarding appeals to the SEND Tribunal as this is a separate process and does not require completion of the school’s complaints procedure to proceed. The timescale for registering an appeal with the SEND Tribunal has remained unchanged throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the advice his Department issued to schools on delaying answering parental complaints until schools had re-opened after covid-19 restrictions were eased, what steps his Department took to ensure that parents were informed of the effect of that advice on reducing the time available to them to subsequently make appeals to (a) the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) and (b) other bodies.

During COVID-19 restrictions, the Department published school complaint guidance on GOV.UK and provided advice on telephone helplines, and in writing, when parents or carers requested advice on appeals to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal and other bodies.

There was no specific advice given in this guidance regarding appeals to the SEND Tribunal as this is a separate process and does not require completion of the school’s complaints procedure to proceed. The timescale for registering an appeal with the SEND Tribunal has remained unchanged throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to assist schools in securing refunds for school trips that have been cancelled as a result of covid-19 restrictions.

The Department has updated its advice to schools and other educational settings on the planning and booking of educational day and residential visits: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/schools-coronavirus-covid-19-operational-guidance#educational-visits.

Any disputes regarding travel provider and/or travel insurer performance or behaviour should be resolved in line with the contractual arrangements and in line with the relevant industry and sector representative body disputes process.

The Association of British Insurers provide information and support at: https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/coronavirus-hub/travel-insurance/.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the feasibility of holding mini-exams for (a) GCSE and (b) A-level students in summer 2021.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Government considers that exams cannot be held in a way which is fair. We have therefore announced that GCSE, AS and A level exams will not go ahead this summer as planned. To provide clarity to the sector as soon as possible, and to ensure that our approach is developed with the sector, Ofqual and the Department have launched a two-week consultation.

Ofqual and the Department will consult on the evidence needed to inform teachers’ assessments of their pupils’ grades, including providing externally set papers to support their assessments. Teachers’ assessments of the evidence of the standard at which their pupils are performing should indicate their demonstrated knowledge, understanding and skills. To support this, teachers will be provided with training and guidance.

Further details of alternative arrangements to exams will be confirmed as soon as possible, ensuring that students have the confidence that they will be fairly treated for assessments in 2021.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to draw on international best practice, including the use of online teaching, for continuing the teaching of children of clinically extremely vulnerable parents without exposing their parents to the risk of catching covid-19.

Schools continue to remain open for all children and young people, as they have since the start of the autumn term. Being at school is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing. It continues to be the aim of the Department that all pupils, in all year groups, remain in school full-time.

The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 is very low, and there are negative health impacts of being out of school. For most children, the benefits of being back in the classroom far outweigh the low risk of COVID-19, and schools can take action to further reduce risks.

The Department published actions for schools during the COVID-19 outbreak to support them to welcome back all children from the start of the autumn term. The full guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

Schools should continue to undertake risk assessments and implement the system of controls set out in this guidance. These measures provide a framework for school leaders to put in place proportionate protective measures for pupils and staff. If schools follow the guidance and maximise control measures, they can be confident they are managing risk effectively. The measures in place include schools minimising contact between individuals. This can be achieved through keeping groups separate and maintaining distance between individuals.

From 5 November 2020, following guidance on new national restrictions in schools, children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should continue to attend education. The full guidance for schools and nurseries can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020#schools.

New guidance for shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 was published on 4 November 2020. The guidance can be viewed here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/advice-for-people-at-high-risk/

Where a pupil is unable to attend school because they are complying with clinical advice or public health advice, schools are expected to immediately offer them access to remote education.

To support schools in meeting the remote education expectations, the Department announced a further remote education package of support, which can be found on the remote education service at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

Support includes an additional 340,000 laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children, and development resources for staff, including a good practice guide and school-led webinars.

The Department is also investing £1.5 million of additional funding to expand the EdTech Demonstrator programme, which provides peer-to-peer support for schools and colleges.

The Department is in regular contact with officials in British embassies overseas to collect the latest international intelligence and evidence about how other countries have approached distance learning for pupils.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to ensure schools put in place (a) enhanced social distancing in classrooms, including through the use of rotas, (b) online learning for the children of extremely clinically vulnerable parents and (c) other measures to prevent the transmission of covid-19 to clinically extremely vulnerable parents whose children are attending school.

Schools continue to remain open for all children and young people, as they have since the start of the autumn term. Being at school is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing. It continues to be the aim of the Department that all pupils, in all year groups, remain in school full-time.

The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 is very low, and there are negative health impacts of being out of school. For most children, the benefits of being back in the classroom far outweigh the low risk of COVID-19, and schools can take action to further reduce risks.

The Department published actions for schools during the COVID-19 outbreak to support them to welcome back all children from the start of the autumn term. The full guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

Schools should continue to undertake risk assessments and implement the system of controls set out in this guidance. These measures provide a framework for school leaders to put in place proportionate protective measures for pupils and staff. If schools follow the guidance and maximise control measures, they can be confident they are managing risk effectively. The measures in place include schools minimising contact between individuals. This can be achieved through keeping groups separate and maintaining distance between individuals.

From 5 November 2020, following guidance on new national restrictions in schools, children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should continue to attend education. The full guidance for schools and nurseries can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020#schools.

New guidance for shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 was published on 4 November 2020. The guidance can be viewed here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/advice-for-people-at-high-risk/

Where a pupil is unable to attend school because they are complying with clinical advice or public health advice, schools are expected to immediately offer them access to remote education.

To support schools in meeting the remote education expectations, the Department announced a further remote education package of support, which can be found on the remote education service at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

Support includes an additional 340,000 laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children, and development resources for staff, including a good practice guide and school-led webinars.

The Department is also investing £1.5 million of additional funding to expand the EdTech Demonstrator programme, which provides peer-to-peer support for schools and colleges.

The Department is in regular contact with officials in British embassies overseas to collect the latest international intelligence and evidence about how other countries have approached distance learning for pupils.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the teaching of children of clinically extremely vulnerable parents can continue without exposing their parents to the risk of catching covid-19.

Schools continue to remain open for all children and young people, as they have since the start of the autumn term. Being at school is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing. It continues to be the aim of the Department that all pupils, in all year groups, remain in school full-time.

The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 is very low, and there are negative health impacts of being out of school. For most children, the benefits of being back in the classroom far outweigh the low risk of COVID-19, and schools can take action to further reduce risks.

The Department published actions for schools during the COVID-19 outbreak to support them to welcome back all children from the start of the autumn term. The full guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

Schools should continue to undertake risk assessments and implement the system of controls set out in this guidance. These measures provide a framework for school leaders to put in place proportionate protective measures for pupils and staff. If schools follow the guidance and maximise control measures, they can be confident they are managing risk effectively. The measures in place include schools minimising contact between individuals. This can be achieved through keeping groups separate and maintaining distance between individuals.

From 5 November 2020, following guidance on new national restrictions in schools, children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should continue to attend education. The full guidance for schools and nurseries can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020#schools.

New guidance for shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 was published on 4 November 2020. The guidance can be viewed here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/advice-for-people-at-high-risk/

Where a pupil is unable to attend school because they are complying with clinical advice or public health advice, schools are expected to immediately offer them access to remote education.

To support schools in meeting the remote education expectations, the Department announced a further remote education package of support, which can be found on the remote education service at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

Support includes an additional 340,000 laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children, and development resources for staff, including a good practice guide and school-led webinars.

The Department is also investing £1.5 million of additional funding to expand the EdTech Demonstrator programme, which provides peer-to-peer support for schools and colleges.

The Department is in regular contact with officials in British embassies overseas to collect the latest international intelligence and evidence about how other countries have approached distance learning for pupils.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
5th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of participation levels in the home learning curriculum set by schools during the covid-19 lockdown.

The Department is continuing to assess the impact of the potential effect of school closure on children and young people’s education attainment. We are working closely with schools and nurseries, sector organisations, international institutions and across Government to understand the risks to education attainment and wellbeing, and identify how best to help children and young people make up for the time spent out of school.

It is up to each school to determine how to deliver education to its pupils and whether and how to monitor participation. We recognise that many schools have already shared resources – both online and printed resources – for children who are at home, and we are committed to ensuring that all children at home can continue to learn remotely in a number of ways during these very difficult circumstances.

We are supporting sector-led initiatives such as the Oak National Academy – a new enterprise which has been created by 40 teachers from schools across England. It will provide 180 video lessons for free each week, across a broad range of subjects, for every year group from Reception through to year 10. By 24 May, over 2.3 million users had visited the Oak Academy site and over 10.7 million lessons had been accessed.

Additionally, the Government has committed over £100 million to boost remote education, including by providing devices and internet access for those who need it most, ensuring every school that wants it has access to free, expert technical support to get set up on Google for Education or Microsoft’s Office 365 Education, and offering peer support from schools and colleges leading the way with the use of education technology.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of pupils at key stage four were studying a foreign language in 2010.

The percentage of pupils[1] at the end of key stage 4 entering a modern foreign language[2] in state-funded schools[3] in England for 2009/10 was 42.6%. The percentage of pupils between the ages 16-18 eligible for reporting in performance tables, who entered A level exams a modern foreign language in state-funded schools and colleges[4] in England at the end of key stage 5 for 2009/10 was 7.5%.[5]

[1] Includes attempts and achievements by these pupils in previous academic years.

[2] For key stage 4 entries are those counted as part of the language element in the English Baccalaureate. For key stage 5, A level languages include: French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Polish, Russian, Other.

[3] State-funded schools include academies, free schools, city technology colleges, further education colleges with provision for 14 to 16 year-olds and state-funded special schools. They exclude independent schools, independent special schools, non-maintained special schools, pupil referral units and alternative provision. Alternative provision includes academy and free school alternative provision.

[4] Covers all state-funded mainstream schools, academies, free schools, city technology colleges, state-funded special schools and FE sector colleges. Excludes pupil referral units, alternative provision, hospital schools, non-maintained special schools, other government department funded colleges, independent schools, independent special schools and independent schools approved to take pupils with special educational needs.

[5] Comparisons over time should be treated with caution due to issues such as changes in methodology over time, and subject reform.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of pupils at key stage five were studying a foreign language in 2010.

The percentage of pupils[1] at the end of key stage 4 entering a modern foreign language[2] in state-funded schools[3] in England for 2009/10 was 42.6%. The percentage of pupils between the ages 16-18 eligible for reporting in performance tables, who entered A level exams a modern foreign language in state-funded schools and colleges[4] in England at the end of key stage 5 for 2009/10 was 7.5%.[5]

[1] Includes attempts and achievements by these pupils in previous academic years.

[2] For key stage 4 entries are those counted as part of the language element in the English Baccalaureate. For key stage 5, A level languages include: French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Polish, Russian, Other.

[3] State-funded schools include academies, free schools, city technology colleges, further education colleges with provision for 14 to 16 year-olds and state-funded special schools. They exclude independent schools, independent special schools, non-maintained special schools, pupil referral units and alternative provision. Alternative provision includes academy and free school alternative provision.

[4] Covers all state-funded mainstream schools, academies, free schools, city technology colleges, state-funded special schools and FE sector colleges. Excludes pupil referral units, alternative provision, hospital schools, non-maintained special schools, other government department funded colleges, independent schools, independent special schools and independent schools approved to take pupils with special educational needs.

[5] Comparisons over time should be treated with caution due to issues such as changes in methodology over time, and subject reform.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of Key Stage Four students are studying a foreign language.

The percentage of pupils[1] at the end of Key Stage 4 entering a modern foreign language[2] in state-funded schools[3] in England is 46.7% for 2018/19.

[1] Includes attempts and achievements by these pupils in previous academic years.

[2] For Key Stage 4 entries are those counted as part of the language element in the English Baccalaureate.

[3] State-funded schools include academies, free schools, city technology colleges, further education colleges with provision for 14 to 16 year-olds and state-funded special schools. They exclude independent schools, independent special schools, non-maintained special schools, pupil referral units and alternative provision. Alternative provision includes academy and free school alternative provision.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
13th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of Key Stage Five students are studying a foreign language.

The percentage of pupils between the ages 16 to 18, eligible for reporting in performance tables, who entered a modern foreign language for A level exams in state-funded schools and colleges[1] in England at the end of Key Stage 5 was 6.4%[2] for 2018/19.

[1] Covers all state-funded mainstream schools, academies, free schools, city technology colleges, state-funded special schools and FE sector colleges. Excludes pupil referral units, alternative provision, hospital schools, non-maintained special schools, other government department funded colleges, independent schools, independent special schools and independent schools approved to take pupils with special educational needs.

[2] Compared to all students in this group who entered A levels, who were eligible for reporting in performance tables.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to change school exclusion guidance to strengthen the protection available to children with SEND; and if he will make a statement.

The department publishes statutory guidance on exclusion titled ‘Exclusion from maintained schools, Academies and pupil referral units in England’. This guidance covers the entirety of the exclusion process and includes specific requirements in relation to pupils with Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Schools have a legal duty under the Equality Act 2010 not to discriminate against disabled pupils by excluding them from school because of their disability. Head teachers should make additional efforts to consider what extra support may be required to avoid exclusion of pupils with SEND, and as far as possible, should avoid permanently excluding pupils with an education, health and care plan (EHCP).

Our statutory guidance is clear that head teachers should, as far as possible, avoid excluding permanently any pupil with an EHCP, and that early intervention to address underlying causes of disruptive behaviour should include an assessment of whether appropriate provision is in place to support any SEN or disability that a pupil may have. The head teacher should also consider the use of a multi-agency assessment for a pupil who demonstrates persistent disruptive behaviour. Such assessments may pick up unidentified SEN but the scope of the assessment could go further, for example, by seeking to identify mental health or family problems.

The government previously committed to revising guidance on exclusions and behaviour and we will provide an update on plans to publish revised guidance in due course.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what representations the Government has received from (a) members of the public and (b) civil society groups on the campaign for Owen’s law; and whether the Government plans to take steps to implement to enact those proposals.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk on 2 June, PQ UIN 6370.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of food labelling requirements in eateries in relation to the protection of people with allergies; and what plans his Department has to improve those requirements.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk on 2 June, PQ UIN 6370.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential risk of water shortages in Yorkshire within the next 25 years as a result of population growth and climate change; and what steps his Department is taking to address that risk.

Water companies have a statutory duty to provide a secure water supply for customers by developing and maintaining efficient and economical systems of water service provision.

Statutory water resources management plans show how water companies will meet this duty by managing water supply and demand for at least the next 25 years. The plans must take account of the implications of population growth and climate change. The plans must be subject to public consultation, including with statutory consultees Ofwat and the Environment Agency before the Secretary of State allows their publication.

Yorkshire Water published its water resources management plan in 2020. The plan must be reviewed annually and revised at least every five years.

The Environment Bill will enhance the water resources management planning processes. The measures will complement the Environment Agency's National Framework for water resources, published in 2020, which sets out England's future water needs and our expectations for how regional groups will inform the delivery of those needs, including Water Resources North informing Yorkshire Water's water resources management plan. The measures will allow improved collaboration between water companies and with other water users, to aid environmental improvement and the sustainable use of water resources.

The Environment Bill will also give the Environment Agency additional powers to vary or revoke permanent abstraction licences without the liability to pay compensation where it is necessary to protect the environment from damage, or where the licence holder has abstracted at least 25% less water than their licensed volume (underused their licence) in every year over the previous 12-year period. The Environment Agency already have powers to vary or revoke water company abstraction licences without being liable to pay compensation but these additional powers will tackle unsustainable abstraction from other water abstractors.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what (a) grants and (b) other provisions are available to support householders in replacing domestic lead water pipes beyond the stopcock; and what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of support for householders to replace those pipes.

As with other parts of a home, pipes on the customer’s property are the customer’s/homeowner’s responsibility. However, we are aware there can be problems relating to lead content and leakage issues in these supply pipes. Some water companies provide help to customers to replace these pipes, but this is not consistent.

Defra is gathering evidence on policies to reduce lead exposure. The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) has published a review of the currently available evidence on lead in drinking water and the possible long-term strategies to reduce exposure, which is available on the DWI’s website. Ofwat recently approved two trial projects to replace customer supply pipes made of lead by South West Water and Severn Trent.

With regard to leakage, a response to the 2019 ‘Water conservation: measures to reduce personal water use’ consultation, is expected to be published this spring. Measures to address leakage were considered as part of this consultation, and protecting our water resources is a priority for this Government. The consultation response will more clearly set out our intentions with regard to reducing leakage on customer supply pipes.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to reduce food waste.

Defra supports a range of action to reduce food waste.

At the household level, we are tackling food waste through supporting campaigns such as Love Food, Hate Waste and Wasting Food: It’s Out of Date as well as the UK’s first Food Waste Action Week which was held in March 2021. We also support the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and its work with retailers and other food businesses who play a key role in influencing household food waste through interventions such as pack sizing and labelling. These measures all help consumers to buy what they need and use what they buy.

For reducing waste in the supply chain, we support the Courtauld 2025 voluntary agreement delivered by WRAP that looks to reduce food waste by 20% by 2025. Action here is primarily through the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap and the Target, Measure, Act approach where businesses set a reduction target, measure food waste and act to reduce it. This is currently voluntary under the Roadmap, but we will consult this year on introducing regulations to make the transparent reporting of food waste mandatory for businesses of an appropriate size. We also support resource efficiency in the hospitality sector through the Guardians of Grub campaign delivered by WRAP.

Since 2018 Defra has made a series of grants available to help redistribute more surplus food to those who have a need and to stop it from going to animal feed or disposal destinations. In total over £11 million has been awarded to both large and small redistribution organisations across the country.

Defra has appointed Ben Elliot as Food Surplus and Waste Champion. Ben is motivating business leaders to tackle food waste from farm to fork, including through support for the delivery of the Courtauld 2025 commitments.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of glue traps on (a) bats, (b) other endangered species and (c) animal welfare.

We are aware of the concerns around the use of glue traps, which can cause immense suffering to both target and non-target animals.

It is an issue we are looking at very closely as part of our continued drive to maintain the highest animal welfare standards in the world.

Anyone using glue traps has a responsibility under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to act within the law to ensure their activities do not cause any unnecessary suffering.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the animal welfare evidence for prohibiting the use of whips during horseracing.

The Horse Welfare Board’s five-year Horse Welfare Strategy (HWS) “a life well-lived” was published on 20 February 2020. The HWS contains 20 recommendations for improving the welfare of horses bred for racing. The HWS recommends that, as a minimum, the penalties for misuse of the whip need to increase and that the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) should conduct a consultation on the use of the whip. The Strategy also recommends that this consultation should gather views on future restrictions on whip use and on a possible ban. The opening of this consultation has been delayed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Defra officials will remain engaged with the BHA on the progress being made with the consultation. I would encourage anyone with evidence that a racehorse has suffered unnecessarily from being whipped to get in touch with the BHA and share their concerns. In the most severe cases of misuse, an individual may be investigated under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act, as well as receiving significant sanctions from the sport.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the risk to the marine environment from the clearance of unexploded ordnance; and what steps his Department is taking to mitigate that risk.

Defra recognises the significant impact underwater noise from ordnance clearance and other activities can have on vulnerable marine species. We are working closely with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), other Government departments, Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies (SNCBs) and marine industries to manage and reduce underwater noise but must ensure any clearance method for the removal of unexploded ordnance is both safe and effective.

The Government is currently investigating low order techniques as alternatives to detonation in the removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO) from the seabed. Defra welcomed controlled quarry testing of deflagration, a specific low order technique which burns out the explosive material in a controlled manner, funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which showed positive noise reductions.

Defra’s recently formed Offshore Wind Enabling Actions Programme includes a dedicated team focusing on reducing, monitoring and managing the impacts of underwater noise, including from UXO clearance, to reduce harm and enable the sustainable and responsible growth of the offshore wind sector. This team will be working with BEIS through its Strategic Environmental Assessment programme to collect the further evidence needed on low order techniques for the clearance of UXO, to ensure safety and efficacy as well as confirming if findings are transferable to the offshore marine environment. Our aim is to commence further research this summer.

Additionally, any removal of UXO must be individually assessed in accordance with our Habitats Regulations. As the relevant marine regulator, the MMO considers all forms of potential mitigation to effectively manage underwater noise prior to issuing a marine licence under the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009). A marine species licence is also required if the activity is likely to negatively affect a protected species, which includes all dolphins, whales and porpoises. Further, marine mammal specialists are deployed to ensure there are no marine mammals in the vicinity and where appropriate bubble curtains are used to limit the sound travelling through the water.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of including fast-growing Sequoia and Giant Redwood trees in the Government’s tree planting and climate change programmes.

The UK has a robust and widely welcomed forestry standard in place – the UK Forestry Standard. This is the UK governments’ guide to sustainable forestry. It is based on international scientific evidence. The relevant public authority in each UK country assesses woodland creation proposals against this standard before giving approval to such schemes. This robust regulatory framework provides a high level of scrutiny to protect landscapes and the wider environment to ensure the right tree is planted in the right place for the right reason.

Both species are included in the Ecological Site Classification Decision Support System to aid the selection of species suited to site conditions. It is accessible online via a web browser to help guide forest managers and planners to select ecologically suited species to sites.

There is some limited experience of growing both species in British conditions. The Coast Redwood is available from some forest nurseries and is being used by Forestry England on land they manage.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of reinstating the waiver on the plastic bag charge for home-delivery purchases that applied during the covid-19 lockdown announced in March 2020, to help prevent virus transmission via delivery drivers through allowing the doorstep deposit of delivered goods.

The obligation for supermarkets to charge for single-use carrier bags (SUCBs) supplied with online deliveries was temporarily removed in response to the first Covid-19 lockdown. This change was only temporary to allow retailers time to adapt their delivery systems, and the charge was reinstated in September 2020.

The department does not have any plans to further assess the need to reinstate the suspension of the charge for online deliveries. Since March, supermarkets have updated and improved their delivery systems to meet the increased demand due to the pandemic. They have also developed new practices to improve safety for both drivers and customers, and citizens are far more aware of the importance of social distancing. Retailers can still provide single-use carrier bags as a delivery option for customers so long as the charge is still in place.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress the Health and Safety Executive has made in their review of regulations on the use of pesticides by voluntary conservation groups for environmental conservation purposes.

Pesticides regulations do not prohibit voluntary conservation groups from using glyphosate and other pesticides in environmental conservation work. Volunteers may use products that are authorised for amateur use; they may also use products that are authorised for professional use providing they are trained and hold a recognised certificate in the application of pesticides. Untrained conservation volunteers may apply pesticides that are authorised for professional use but only if they are under the supervision of a trained certificated user and are working towards gaining a recognised certificate in the application of pesticides.

At the request of Defra, the Health and Safety Executive reviewed this aspect of the pesticide regulations and the options identified are being considered.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
6th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on the natural environment in the event that voluntary conservation groups are prohibited from using glyphosate in environmental conservation work.

Pesticides regulations do not prohibit voluntary conservation groups from using glyphosate and other pesticides in environmental conservation work. Volunteers may use products that are authorised for amateur use; they may also use products that are authorised for professional use providing they are trained and hold a recognised certificate in the application of pesticides. Untrained conservation volunteers may apply pesticides that are authorised for professional use but only if they are under the supervision of a trained certificated user and are working towards gaining a recognised certificate in the application of pesticides.

At the request of Defra, the Health and Safety Executive reviewed this aspect of the pesticide regulations and the options identified are being considered.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to allocate additional funding to compensate City of York Council for the emergency expenditure it is incurring on prolonged flood readiness measures.

In cases of localised flooding, we expect local authorities to have well established contingency measures in place and both the existing budgets and resources to respond and support their local communities.

The emergency Bellwin scheme was activated after Storm Ciara on 10 February and Storm Dennis on 17 February 2020. The scheme was activated for qualifying areas in West Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire which have seen significant impacts following Storm Ciara. It has also been activated for qualifying areas in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Worcestershire and Herefordshire which have seen significant impacts following Storm Dennis. Under the scheme, local authorities dealing with the flooding can apply to have 100% of their eligible costs, above a threshold, reimbursed by the government. This could be for items including rest centres, temporary accommodation and staff overtime.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to compensate local authorities in areas at high risk of flooding that have yet to flood for maintaining emergency flood defence measures for a prolonged period.

In cases of localised flooding, we expect local authorities to have well established contingency measures in place and both the existing budgets and resources to respond and support their local communities.

The emergency Bellwin scheme was activated after Storm Ciara on 10 February and Storm Dennis on 17 February 2020. The scheme was activated for qualifying areas in West Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire which have seen significant impacts following Storm Ciara. It has also been activated for qualifying areas in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Worcestershire and Herefordshire which have seen significant impacts following Storm Dennis. Under the scheme, local authorities dealing with the flooding can apply to have 100% of their eligible costs, above a threshold, reimbursed by the government. This could be for items including rest centres, temporary accommodation and staff overtime.

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 proportion of Official Development Assistance was allocated to the World Health Organisation in the latest period for which figures are available.

Around 1.3% of UK Official Development Assistance was delivered through the World Health Organisation in 2018 calendar year (latest period for which figures are available).

This reflects that WHO is a primarily technical and policy-focused agency and is one, important, aspect of the UK’s operational delivery of health and humanitarian programmes.

This percentage is likely to be higher for 2020 onwards due to the UK’s significant additional contribution to WHO for the COVID-19 response (an additional £75 million committed specifically for COVID-19 on top of existing programming, for 2020).

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment her Department has made of representations from civil society groups and the general public on concerns about the inclusion of an ISDS clause in the proposed UK-Australia trade agreement; and what steps her Department is taking to review the proposed ISDS clause in light of such representations.

The UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement Investment chapter will not include Investor-State Dispute Settlement. Throughout the negotiation process, the UK Government has engaged and consulted widely with a range of stakeholders on a variety of issues pertaining to this negotiation.

Further details on the agreement in principle can be found on gov.uk.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to support learner drivers whose receipt of a provisional drivers licence has been affected by delays at the Driver and Vehicle License Agency.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) online services have been available throughout the pandemic and are the quickest and easiest way to renew a driving licence. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their driving licence within a few days.

To enable more customers to apply online for a provisional driving licence the DVLA has introduced changes to the service. Since 24 June, customers applying for their provisional driver’s licence can upload their signature for the first time and track or update their application.

However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application for a driving licence. The DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day which must be dealt with in person. Ongoing industrial action by members of the Public and Commercial Services union, along with fewer operational staff on site to allow for social distancing in line with Welsh Government requirements and an increased demand for its services has led to delays in dealing with paper applications. The DVLA has leased an additional building to accommodate more operational staff.

Currently, paper applications are likely to take between six and ten weeks to process. There may be additional delays in processing more complex transactions, for example, if medical investigations are needed as part of a driving licence application. The latest information on turnaround times for paper driving licence applications can be found here.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will work with the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs to ensure that covid-19-related guidance for travel issued by that Department is in-line with the guidance issued by his Department via its travel lists.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice, and the “traffic light" country allocation system are two independent processes based on different risks.

FCDO travel advice considers the risk to British nationals travelling overseas, while measures at the UK border aim to mitigate the overall risk to UK public health of inbound travel to the UK.

Passengers are advised to check foreign travel advice for the country or territory they wish to travel to and the rules for testing and quarantine on return to England before they book any foreign travel.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what percentage of 2019 outbound travel passenger flows do destinations on the covid-19 green list represent.

Data collected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shows that countries and territories which are currently on the green list accounted for 7% of departing international air passengers on direct flights handled at UK airports in 2019.

There were no direct sea or international rail passenger services in 2019 between the UK and countries or territories that are currently on the green list.

This analysis is based on countries and territories on the green list for COVID-19 as of 04:00 hours on Wednesday 30 June 2021.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the annual cost to the Government was to operate the outgoing railways franchise model in each of the last five years.

The Office of Rail and Road publishes annual statistics on the finances of the rail industry in the UK, which show the value of the Government’s financial support provided in each financial year. The publication provides data up to and including the 2019/20 financial year and is available on the following link at:

https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/statistics/finance/rail-industry-finance.

The previous commercial model for rail franchising was superseded in March 2020 (at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK) with the introduction of Emergency Measures Agreements with train operators. Under those agreements, and their successors, most financial risk on franchised passenger train operations has been borne by the Government.

The Department published statistics on operational support payments, and fees paid to operators, under the new arrangements that have applied since March 2020. The most recent published data covers the period until early February 2021 and is available on the Government website at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/dft-payments-to-passenger-rail-operators-under-emergency-agreements.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the annual running costs of Great British Railways from 2023 when all franchises will have ended.

Transformation on this scale cannot happen overnight. The government is setting up a Rail Transformation Programme within the department and the rail industry to establish a common understanding of the vision, set out the phases of delivery and work collectively with the sector to design and implement this major programme. As a respected leader in the sector, Andrew Haines has been asked to develop plans for establishing interim arrangement, drawing on expertise across industry and beyond.

Great British Railways will be able to make substantial net savings without detriment to service or fare levels by reducing duplication, interface costs and complexity. Savings from reform will take several years to realise, but industry experts suggest that after an initial five-year implementation period, substantial annual costs savings could be achieved.

We will make an announcement on next steps in relation to setting up Great British Railways in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how long the red, amber and green traffic light travel lists will be in place.

The International Travel and Operator Liability Regulations, which give legal effect to the traffic light country system, will expire at the end of 16 May 2022, unless revoked earlier.

A statutory review clause is included in the Regulations. The Secretary of State must review whether the Regulations remain effective, necessary and proportionate on public health grounds at least every 28 days.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if his Department will publish the dates when travel lists will be reviewed and updates announced.

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

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

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) including and (b) not including an amber travel list in the covid-19 traffic light system prior to the introduction of that list.

The “traffic light” country system was developed in conjunction with industry and international partners to facilitate the return of international travel.

The three categories of countries (red, amber and green), to which different restrictions are applied depending on risk, are designed to help the public to understand the health requirements when travelling to England.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of updating the watch lists between official reviews of the red, amber and green travel lists to offer an indication of which countries are most likely to change lists.

We have always been guided by the science and that remains the case. The allocation of countries is regularly reviewed, and we will respond to emerging evidence. The Joint Biosecurity Centre will publish data and analysis to support the process of allocating countries.

To give passengers more certainty when travelling, a ‘green watchlist’ will be introduced to help identify countries most at risk of moving from ‘green’ to ‘amber’. The watchlists will provide greater assurance for those who wish to travel abroad to countries on the ‘green’ list.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of holidaymakers taking an initial covid-19 lateral flow test before flying and only requiring a PCR test in the event that the first test returns a positive or inconclusive result.

Holidaymakers are able to use a lateral flow test for pre-departure testing before travel to England as long as it meets the minimum performance standards. Testing post-arrival remains an important tool in our wider measures to manage the risk of imported cases of Covid-19, as well as allowing us to identify variants of concern. We are exploring options to reduce the cost of testing, including cheaper tests being used when holidaymakers return home and whether the Government would be able to provide pre-departure tests.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether bilateral arrangements with Danish authorities require certificates of entitlement issued by the UK to UK citizens resident in Denmark to be recognised by the Danish authorities during the application process when a person has (a) lost their driving licence and (b) is applying for a replacement.

UK licence holders are required to present a valid UK driving licence to exchange it for a Danish licence. So, if the UK licence has been lost, stolen or expired it cannot be exchanged and the UK licence holder will need to apply for a Danish licence and may have to take a test. A certificate of entitlement will not be recognised by Denmark in these circumstances.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when the Government plans to implement the recommendations of the Global Travel Taskforce that (a) foreign holidays can resume from 17 May 2021 and (b) to create a traffic light country list system.

It is too early to predict which countries will be on which ‘traffic light’ list.The Government continues to consider a range of factors to inform the restrictions placed on them, such as the percentage of their population that have been vaccinated, the rate of infection, any emerging coronavirus variants and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing. We will set out by early May which countries will fall into which category, as well as confirming whether international travel can resume from 17 May.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what urgent steps his Department is taking to (a) work with test providers to reduce the costs of compulsory PCR tests for UK residents travelling overseas prior to the projected reopening of international leisure travel from 17 May 2021 and (b) assess the potential merits of using (i) lateral flow tests and (ii) other cheaper alternatives to PCR testing for overseas travellers.

The government recognises that the cost of tests for international travel can be high and is currently reviewing all options available to reduce the cost of Covid-19 tests. This includes working with the travel industry and private testing providers to further reduce the cost of travel while continuing to protect public health and monitor variants of concern.

Testing post-arrival remains an important tool in our wider measures to manage the risk of imported cases of Covid-19, as well as allowing us to identify variants of concern, however the Government is clear that we want the tests to be as cheap and convenient as possible.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what (a) recent progress he has made on and (b) future plans he has to electrify rail networks in the north of England.

We are continuing to progress development and design of the TransPennine Route Upgrade, including the examination of the case for full electrification of the route. The electrification of the Midland Main Line, from Market Harborough to Nottingham and Sheffield, is also currently being examined by the Department and Network Rail and is at an early stage of development.

Electrification of the rail network will be an important part of how we will decarbonise the railway and meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Therefore, the Department will consider further electrification schemes with Network Rail to ensure that they can be delivered efficiently and affordably.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of basing the Northern Transport Acceleration Council in the north of England.

The Department has established the Northern Transport Acceleration Council, an advisory forum to progress and unblock existing priority transport projects, to speed up the delivery of vital infrastructure projects and connect communities across the North’s towns and cities. It has successfully brought together leaders from across the north of England to meet and engage with Ministers.

Given the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings have so far been held online. However, we look forward to engaging with leaders in the North in person as soon as it is safe to do so.

The council is supported by a small secretariat team of officials based in the North. They work alongside regionally based area leads and DfT’s Acceleration Unit to connect with local transport authorities and northern leaders.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of expanding the English national concessionary travel scheme to enable eligible people to travel on bus services prior to 9:30am.

Under the terms of The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme a holder of a concessionary bus pass is able to travel between 09.30am and 11.00pm on weekdays and all day at weekends and on Bank Holidays

Local authorities in England have the power to offer additional local concessions, such as extending the hours of the concession, and three quarters of authorities already do so.

This area is kept under review. The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme costs around £1 billion annually so any changes, such as extending the concession to include morning peak time travel, would need to be carefully considered for their impact on the scheme’s financial sustainability.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make it his policy to extend the MOT eligibility period for vehicles that are due an MOT before 2 December 2020 when the owner of that vehicle is clinically vulnerable.

At present there are no plans to further extend MOT due dates, for either the public as a whole or those who are clinically vulnerable. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency have published guidance on how to safely conduct an MOT test while adhering to social distancing measures, and they continue to work with the industry on reducing the potential risk of transmission of COVID-19.

The Department continues to monitor the situation as it evolves and any further changes made to MOT expiry dates will be made based on the evidence available.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what support his Department is providing for open access train operators during the covid-19 outbreak.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, open access operators have been able to draw upon the extensive support measures that Government has made available across the economy, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Government has supported applications by Hull Trains and Grand Central for extensions to their track access contracts, in order to allow them to seek more favourable terms from lenders and suppliers. The British Transport Police Authority has allowed Hull Trains and Grand Central to defer the contributions they make towards the cost of policing the railway during the period when the companies were in hibernation and not running trains.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he next plans to review the list of countries not subject to covid-19 travel quarantine exemptions; and how frequently those reviews are being undertaken.

The Health Regulations relating to the self-isolation requirements remain under constant review, and are updated as required. The country exemption review takes place each week.

14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how frequently his Department updates the list of counties not subject to covid-19 travel quarantine exemptions; and when he plans to next update that list.

The Health Regulations relating to the self-isolation requirements remain under constant review, and are updated as required. The next formal review will be on 27 July 2020.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to support drivers that are required to renew their driving licence during the covid-19 lockdown but who are unable to apply online and have been advised not to apply by post.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency announced on 4 June 2020 that drivers with a photocard driving licence due to expire between 1 February and 31 August 2020 will be granted a seven-month extension to their licence.

For those drivers who need to renew their entitlement to drive, the quickest and easiest way to do so is to use DVLA’s online service. Drivers who are unable to use the online service should submit a paper application in the normal way. However, paper applications will take longer to process in the current circumstances.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
9th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assurances he can provide to employees based at Arriva Rail North's offices in York who are concerned about the uncertainty around the future of the Northern franchise.

The current financial position of the Northern franchise will not impact on the railway’s day-to-day operations. The business will continue to operate as usual with no impact on Northern services or staff.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the provision of water fountains at UK airports to reduce reliance on single-use plastic bottles.

The Government recognises the importance of making drinking water more readily available in public places, as a means of reducing single-use plastic bottles. As laid out in the 25 Year Environment Plan, and Resource and Waste Strategy we are already taking action in this area. The Government has encouraged retailers, coffee shops and transport hubs, including airports, to provide tap water to support refilling water bottles.

19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment the Government has made of the potential effect on elderly people and people with mobility issues in towns and villages without bank branches of the discontinuation of the Post Office card system.

The Department is committed to supporting the Department’s customers to access their benefit and pension payments as we transform our payment exception services.

Access to a standard account through a bank, building society or credit union enables citizens to benefit from the wider range of financial services and to achieve greater financial inclusion.

The Post Office delivers every day banking services for a large number of banks and building societies to enable citizens with a standard account to withdraw cash, free of charge, deposit cash and cheques and make balance enquires at any Post Office counter including mobile Post Office branches.

The full range of every day personal banking services that the Post Office delivers from any Post Office branch, and for whom they deliver them, is available on the Post Office website https://www.postoffice.co.uk/everydaybanking.

The new payment exception service will ensure that customers can continue to access cash in their local area.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment the Government has made of the potential effect on elderly people and people with mobility issues in towns and villages without bank branches of the discontinuation of the Post Office card system.

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

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 8 February 2021 to Question 145788, for what reasons local data is not available for the Kickstart scheme; and what steps his Department plans to take to assess the effectiveness of that scheme.

The Department for Work and Pensions collects data on the uptake of the Kickstart Scheme. We have published information on the number of young people who have started in each region, here: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-04-12/179100, but we are unable to break this down below the regional level at present.

The need to deliver and operate the Kickstart Scheme at pace has led to a current limited clerical data set which, in turn, makes it harder to accurately present a snapshot of a smaller geographical area, such as a Parliamentary constituency. Information is contained across multiple systems as more than one Jobcentre could cover a single constituency. Conversely, Kickstart placements and vacancies are not allocated to one JCP, so we have many vacancies which may be connected to a company based or headquartered in one area, but the vacancies can be filled from a wider geographical area.

As such, it is not currently possible to provide the data below the regional level. We are, however, continuing to develop our management information tools and data collection system which may help in sharing more localised information at a local authority level in due course.

The Government is monitoring and evaluating the Kickstart Scheme throughout its implementation, and will continue to evaluate the longer term outcomes and impact for Kickstart participants.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of extending the one calendar month deadline to request a mandatory reconsideration to allow claimants sufficient time to compile necessary information in the context of delays caused by the covid-19 (a) outbreak and (b) lockdown announced in January 2021.

The law provides that if an application is made outside the one month time limit but within 13 months of the decision being disputed, the application will be admitted as in time where the claimant can show there were special circumstances for the late application.

Claimants do not have to submit all of the supporting information within one month. When they apply for a Mandatory Reconsideration, they can inform the Decision Maker they intend to provide further information. In these cases, more time will be allowed for this to be provided and no decision will be made until it is received.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many residents of the City of York are accessing support through the (a) Kickstart programme and (b) Plan for Jobs measures in the most recent period for which figures are available.

The requested local data is not available.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment his Department has made of representations from civil society organisations on the efficacy of extending the £20 universal credit uplift to a permanent level of universal credit payment, in order to tackle financial hardship as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The £20 per week temporary Universal Credit increase remains in place until April 2021. As the Government has done throughout this crisis, it will continue to assess how best to support low-income families, which is why we will look at the economic and health context in the new year before making any decisions.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to implement all the recommendations of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review on pelvic mesh.

We have implemented the recommendation of the Independent Medicines and Medical Device (IMMDS) Review which calls for the establishment of specialist mesh centres. As of April 2021, eight National Health Service trusts are working with NHS England and NHS Improvement to provide specialised services for women with complications of mesh inserted for urinary incontinence and vaginal prolapse.

The Review recommended a patient-identifiable database for the implantation of all devices, including vaginal mesh. NHS Digital has developed a pelvic floor registry under the Surgical Devices and Implants Direction, which will collect information from pelvic floor and mesh related procedures. Specialist mesh removal centres will be required to provide information to the pelvic floor registry.

We are considering the associated actions for improvement that relate to mesh and we will respond in full to the IMMDS Review this year.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to draw on the experiences of patients adversely affected by pelvic mesh implants to inform medical safety regulations.

The Department established a patient reference group to provide challenge, advice and scrutiny to the Government’s response to the Report of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Review. There were 14 members of the Group, of which two people have been affected by, or hold an interest in, pelvic mesh.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is developing a world-leading regulatory regime for medical devices that prioritises patient safety. This includes an expectation that all devices placed onto the market will hold a UK Conformity Assessed mark by July 2023. A public consultation on the regulation of medical devices, which will provide an opportunity for views to be gained from patients and the wider public, is expected to launch this summer and new regulations are planned to follow the consultation in late spring 2022.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing alternative quarantine arrangements for British citizens who have been stranded abroad in red list countries since before the current covid-19 lockdown and cannot return to the UK until that list is updated without incurring the cost of that accommodation.

We have made no such assessment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what urgent steps his Department is taking to ensure that (a) local authorities, (b) the police and (c) public officials enforcing covid-19 regulations understand that the children’s indoor play sector is permitted to operate under the current covid-19 restrictions; and what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of enforcement officials failing to understand that the children's indoor sector is entitled to operate in a covid-secure manner under current restrictions on that sector.

The ‘rule of six’ applies in all indoor settings, including the children’s indoor play sector and this clear and consistent approach assists the public and enforcement officials such as the police, local authorities and public health officials to understand the requirements.

We have not made a specific assessment of potential effect of such misunderstandings of the rule of six. However, the Government continues to work closely with local authorities and the police to support effective enforcement. We keep all social distancing restrictions under continuous review.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what urgent steps his Department is taking to communicate an accurate official and public understanding of the operation of the rule of six within covid-secure venues; and what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of misunderstanding of the rule of six among (a) enforcement officials and (b) the general public on the children’s indoor play sector.

The ‘rule of six’ applies in all indoor settings, including the children’s indoor play sector and this clear and consistent approach assists the public and enforcement officials such as the police, local authorities and public health officials to understand the requirements.

We have not made a specific assessment of potential effect of such misunderstandings of the rule of six. However, the Government continues to work closely with local authorities and the police to support effective enforcement. We keep all social distancing restrictions under continuous review.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the daily capacity for covid-19 vaccinations is in England.

The information requested is not held centrally.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, on how many days has the maximum number of vaccinations possible, according to the logistical capabilities rather than supply, been administered in England.

The information requested is not held centrally.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the most recent date is on which the maximum possible number of covid-19 vaccinations according logistical capabilities rather than supply was administered in England.

The information requested is not held centrally.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an assessment of which age groups would benefit from a covid-19 booster vaccine in the autumn and winter months of 2021-22.

We are preparing for a potential booster vaccination programme from the autumn. Whilst we are planning for several potential scenarios, final decisions on the timing and scope of the booster programme will be taken in line with results from key clinical studies. Any decision on a booster vaccination programme will be informed by independent advice from the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve (a) community and (b) inpatient care for people with learning disabilities and autism in response to the Winterbourne View scandal.

‘Building the right support’, published in October 2015, is the national plan to improve care, reduce avoidable admissions and provide support in the community for people with a learning disability and autistic people. The ‘Building the right support’ Delivery Board has been established to drive and monitor progress and can commission any work considered necessary to ensure the target is met.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is leading a new programme of work to transform the way they regulate services for people with a learning disability and autistic people. The CQC set out their expectations for providers in ‘Right support, right care, right culture’, as well as in their updated guidance, which gives inspectors further support to identify warning signs of a closed culture in services. This supports improvements in the quality of care provided to people with a learning disability and autistic people.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to Government commitments in response to the Winterbourne View case, what progress his Department has made in moving all patients with learning disabilities and autism inappropriately placed in inpatient units into community care.

As of April 2021, there has been a 30% reduction since 2015 in the number of people with a learning disability and autistic people in specialist inpatient settings.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that women pregnant again after the death of a child are able to access midwife-led continuity of carer support; and (a) what funding and (b) other measures his Department is putting in place to help ensure a comprehensive nationwide transition to offering a midwife-led continuity of carer model in maternity services.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are committed to delivering continuity of carer to most women, so that it becomes the default model of care for women in maternity services across England. In 2018/19, Health Education England (HEE) distributed £745,000 to support the implementation of Continuity of Carer models in maternity care. In 2020/21 HEE has also been delivering a £300,000 national training package to support Continuity of Carer.

The NHS Long Term Plan commits to ensuring that 75% of black and Asian women and a similar percentage of women from the most deprived neighbourhoods are offered Continuity of Carer by March 2024, with an interim ambition of 51% by March 2022.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to assess the level of public concern on the transfer of patient records from GPs to a centralised NHS Digital system; and what steps he is taking to protect patient confidentiality under that new system.

NHS Digital has engaged widely with stakeholders over several years on the new system, including patient groups and professional clinical organisations. NHS Digital has publicised this coming into effect through a press notice, web content, social media, engagement with the media and through stakeholder channels. The new system will now start on 1 September, allowing an additional two months to engage with patients, doctors, health charities and others.

Applications to use data are always subject to the greatest scrutiny. Access to data can only be requested for specific purposes, such as medical research and planning and audits are carried out to ensure it is only being used for the purpose given.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the transfer of patient records from GPs to a centralised NHS Digital system, what steps his Department has taken to publicise the patient opt-out option before 23 June 2021.

NHS Digital proactively promoted this new data collection through their website, engagement with media, stakeholder and patient groups and social media channels. They sought to raise awareness of the collection and its importance to the health and care system, but also to provide patients with a choice if they do not want their data to be used in this way by registering a data-opt-out.

The new system will start on 1 September, allowing a further two months where we will engage with patients, doctors, health charities and others to strengthen awareness and understanding.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to encourage hospitals to participate in the GBS3 clinical trial investigating Group B Strep infection.

The Department is working with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), including the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network, NHS England and NHS Improvement and the GBS3 team to encourage trusts to take part in this important trial and to mitigate any individual challenges that might prevent their participation.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to (a) assess the effectiveness of covid-19 vaccines for people with blood cancer and (b) establish a testing programme to clarify whether people with blood cancer retain compromised immune systems against covid-19 even after vaccination.

All of the currently authorised COVID-19 vaccines are suitable for use in immunocompromised individuals, including those with blood cancer. The clinical studies for these vaccines excluded immunocompromised subjects and therefore no data is currently available regarding the use of these vaccines when used at the same time as immunosuppressant medicines or the immune response in those on such medications. However, data is being collected on use of the vaccines in immunocompromised subjects and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency will assess this data as soon as it become available. Public Health England is also monitoring the impact of COVID-19 vaccines on a broad range of outcomes including symptomatic disease, infection and hospitalisations as set out in the vaccine surveillance strategy, including protection in different clinical risk groups.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of publishing the Government's internal review into the handling of the covid-19 pandemic; and what steps his Department is taking to immediately apply the lessons of that internal review to its ongoing pandemic response.

An informal review was carried out to help inform future working. We are unable to provide the information requested as it relates to the ongoing formulation of Government policy. A full review in the form of a statutory inquiry will take place.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the number of covid-19 infections attributed to international travel during the summer of 2020.

Public Health England has not made an assessment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of emergency covid-19 triage arrangements on access to GP appointments across the City of York area.

General practice is open and has been throughout the pandemic. In March 2021 over half of all appointments were face to face. On 20 May 2021, NHS England and NHS Improvement published updated standard operating procedures for general practice in the context of COVID-19. A blended approach of both face to face and remote appointments should be available to patients according to clinically appropriateness. Patient preferences for face to face and remote care need to be respected unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary. Practice receptions should be clearly open, so patients without access to phones or online services are not disadvantaged. Practices are to review communications to ensure patients understand how to access general practitioner services.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have an independent evaluation underway to understand the impact for staff, patients and the wider health and care system of using digital tools in primary care and in particular the effectiveness of online consultation systems and triage approaches in general practice. NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group will also work with the Local Medical Committee to improve understanding of local general practice access issues.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure access to face-to-face GP appointments across the City of York area.

General practice is open and has been throughout the pandemic. In March 2021 over half of all appointments were face to face. On 20 May 2021, NHS England and NHS Improvement published updated standard operating procedures for general practice in the context of COVID-19. A blended approach of both face to face and remote appointments should be available to patients according to clinically appropriateness. Patient preferences for face to face and remote care need to be respected unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary. Practice receptions should be clearly open, so patients without access to phones or online services are not disadvantaged. Practices are to review communications to ensure patients understand how to access general practitioner services.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have an independent evaluation underway to understand the impact for staff, patients and the wider health and care system of using digital tools in primary care and in particular the effectiveness of online consultation systems and triage approaches in general practice. NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group will also work with the Local Medical Committee to improve understanding of local general practice access issues.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what his Department's timetable is for publishing proposals for social care reform.

The Government is committed to sustainable improvement of the adult social care system and will bring forward proposals in 2021.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what (a) steps his Department is taking and (b) resources have been allocated to reduce NHS endoscopy waiting times.

Endoscopy is a key part of diagnostic activity. The 2020 Spending Review committed £325 million for diagnostics in 2021/22, including the development of community diagnostics hubs. The exact allocations of this funding will be confirmed in due course.

In addition, the Accelerator programme has commenced in May 2021 which supports 13 integrated care systems and £160 million has been allocated to support new rapid programmes of work over a 13 week period, which include diagnostic recovery. Learning from these sites will be applied rapidly across England to support wider elective recovery. Alongside the Accelerator programme, £1 billon is being invested in 2021/22 through the Elective Recovery Fund. Endoscopy activity is one of the activities included as part of the Elective Recovery Fund. This fund is available across England for all providers of secondary care services to increase levels of elective activity including diagnostics.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the feasibility of donating unused returned prescribed drugs to developing countries as part of UK aid projects.

The NHS had since taken a range of further measures to further optimise the use of medicines and reduce wastage.

Medicines cannot normally be reused as the quality of returned medicines cannot be assessed on physical inspection alone. The World Health Organization’s guidelines state that if the quality of an item is unacceptable in the donor country, it is also unacceptable as a donation. Moreover, there are patent issues involved in donating medicines to other countries.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the annual cost to the NHS of mandating the disposal of all unused returned drugs; and what assessment his Department has made of the feasibility of the NHS re-prescribing unused returned drugs instead.

The NHS had since taken a range of further measures to further optimise the use of medicines and reduce wastage.

Medicines cannot normally be reused as the quality of returned medicines cannot be assessed on physical inspection alone. The World Health Organization’s guidelines state that if the quality of an item is unacceptable in the donor country, it is also unacceptable as a donation. Moreover, there are patent issues involved in donating medicines to other countries.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether childcare is a permitted reason to travel abroad during covid-19 restrictions; and whether childcare bubbles can be international.

Anyone who is travelling abroad and who is not exempt from these restrictions should provide a reasonable excuse for doing so. This does not include travel overseas to visit a childcare bubble or travel overseas to provide childcare. However, there are express reasonable excuses such as for access or contact arrangements between parents and children that live in different countries, or where it is reasonably necessary to provide care to a child with an underlying health condition.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the average waiting time for child orthodontic treatment; and what steps he is taking to reduce waiting times for that treatment.

No such assessment has been made. Data on National Health Service orthodontic waiting times is not available at a national level due to regional variation in the collection of data.

Contractual arrangements for the first six months of the 2021/22 financial year have been communicated to practices by NHS England and NHS Improvement. NHS orthodontists have been asked to maximise safe throughput to meet as many prioritised needs as possible. A revised unit of orthodontic activity threshold has been set at 80% for full payment of NHS contractual value, based on data that indicates practices have capacity to safely achieve more activity than in the final quarter of 2020/21. It is expected that this increased threshold will improve patient throughput and reduce waiting times for treatment.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of NHS dental provision in the City of York area.

No such assessment has been made.

National Health Service dentists throughout the country have been asked to focus on urgent care and vulnerable groups followed by overdue appointments. This has been underpinned by the requirement for dental providers to deliver 60% of normal activity volumes for the first six months of 2020/21 for full payment of the NHS contractual value. As dental activity increases, a new flexible commissioning initiative will be relaunched in the City of York for dental providers this financial year, which in conjunction with a flexible commissioning toolkit introduced by NHS England and NHS Improvement, will allow available capacity to be focused on those that need it most and increase access for patients.

In circumstances where patients are unable to access an urgent dental appointment directly through a NHS dental practice, they are advised to call NHS 111 who will assist in booking an appointment at one of over 100 designated urgent care centres, which continue to stay open across Yorkshire and the Humber.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce dental appointment waiting lists created by cancellations and postponements due to the covid-19 outbreak; what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of waiting lists for NHS dental appointments on the cost of treatment where practices offer private appointments at higher rates.

National Health Service dentists have been asked to maximise safe care, focussing on urgent care and vulnerable groups followed by overdue appointments. This has been underpinned by the setting of activity thresholds for full payment of NHS contractual value. In addition, NHS England and NHS Improvement have provided a flexible commissioning toolkit to local commissioners to help focus the available capacity on those that need it most and to reduce oral health inequalities.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what urgent steps the Government is taking to help prevent transmission of the South African variant of covid-19 from continental Europe.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) produces risk assessments on the spread of variants of concern internationally to inform Ministerial decisions on borders policy. These risk assessments cover a range of factors for each country including assessment of surveillance and sequencing capability, available surveillance and genome sequencing data, evidence of in-country community transmission of COVID-19 variants, evidence of exportation of new variants to the United Kingdom or other countries and travel connectivity with the UK.

Decisions to ‘red list’ countries are taken by Ministers, informed by evidence including the JBC’s analysis as well as other relevant information about the risk of the spread of variant. Working in partnership with local authorities, enhanced testing and sequencing has been and will be targeted towards areas and communities assessed to potentially be at risk. Positive tests will be sequenced to identify any further spread of the COVID-19 variant first found in South Africa.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of covid-19 restrictions on the health of the population.

Whenever restrictions are being considered, the Government assesses the impact those restrictions may have on the health of the public. Any potentially negative impacts have to be considered against the public health benefits associated with controlling the spread of COVID-19.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of covid-19 restrictions on (a) the mental health of the population and (b) mental health care outcomes.

Public Health England publishes and updates the ‘COVID-19: mental health and wellbeing surveillance report’, which presents close to real-time surveillance on the mental health and wellbeing of the population in England during the pandemic and is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-mental-health-and-wellbeing-surveillance-report

No specific assessment has been made of the effect of COVID-19 restrictions on mental health care outcomes.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of date at which the health effect of covid-19 restrictions outweighs the risk of the virus when the covid-19 vaccine has been rolled out to the most vulnerable people.

The Government published the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’ on 22 February, to provide a roadmap out of restrictions that balances social and economic priorities while remaining vigilant to the latest scientific evidence.

At each step of the roadmap we will make an assessment against the following four tests: the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully; the evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated; infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the National Health Service; and our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern. Following these tests will manage the risk of needing to increase restrictions, including further lockdown.

In order to set out a strategy for full relaxation, we will learn more about the impact of the vaccination programme and the effects of easing of restrictions. We are conducting a number of reviews, including on social distancing and other baseline measures. The results of these reviews will help inform the timing and circumstances under which we may be able to lift remaining restrictions.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of current funding arrangements for community pharmacy.

Discussions are ongoing with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) about additional funding for costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of its assessment of COVID-19 costs incurred by the sector the Government will take account of the £370 million increased advance payments paid to community pharmacies


The support package for community pharmacy also included general COVID-19 business financial support, funding for Bank Holiday openings, social distancing measures and the medicine delivery service to shielded patients and free personal protective equipment, as well as non-monetary support, including the removal of some administrative tasks, flexibility in opening hours and the delayed introduction of new services. The Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework 2019-24 five-year deal was agreed with the PSNC in 2019. Negotiations on year three 2021/22 with the PSNC will begin shortly, which will take account of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on community pharmacy.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of whether the performance of community pharmacy during the covid-19 outbreak necessitates the creation of a new national pharmacy contract.

Discussions are ongoing with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) about additional funding for costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of its assessment of COVID-19 costs incurred by the sector the Government will take account of the £370 million increased advance payments paid to community pharmacies


The support package for community pharmacy also included general COVID-19 business financial support, funding for Bank Holiday openings, social distancing measures and the medicine delivery service to shielded patients and free personal protective equipment, as well as non-monetary support, including the removal of some administrative tasks, flexibility in opening hours and the delayed introduction of new services. The Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework 2019-24 five-year deal was agreed with the PSNC in 2019. Negotiations on year three 2021/22 with the PSNC will begin shortly, which will take account of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on community pharmacy.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of writing off the repayment of advance funding extended to community pharmacy in 2020 to maintain services during the covid-19 outbreak.

Discussions are ongoing with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) about additional funding for costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of its assessment of COVID-19 costs incurred by the sector the Government will take account of the £370 million increased advance payments paid to community pharmacies


The support package for community pharmacy also included general COVID-19 business financial support, funding for Bank Holiday openings, social distancing measures and the medicine delivery service to shielded patients and free personal protective equipment, as well as non-monetary support, including the removal of some administrative tasks, flexibility in opening hours and the delayed introduction of new services. The Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework 2019-24 five-year deal was agreed with the PSNC in 2019. Negotiations on year three 2021/22 with the PSNC will begin shortly, which will take account of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on community pharmacy.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of Ivermectin as a prophylactic and treatment for covid-19; and what plans his Department has to use Ivermectin to treat covid-19.

Currently, ivermectin for oral use is not a licensed human medicine in the United Kingdom. For ivermectin to be granted a marketing authorisation in the UK, an application must be submitted to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for review. The MHRA has processes in place to expedite such an application, and assess this for quality, efficacy and safety.

The MHRA is aware that ivermectin, administered orally, is being studied for safety and efficacy in numerous clinical trials worldwide and is used in some countries in the treatment of COVID-19. While some studies have reported findings, other large studies are still on-going.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of vitamin C in the treatment of covid-19; and what steps his Department has taken to make use of vitamin C as part of covid-19 treatment.

The Department is continuing to monitor any new, high quality evidence from clinical trials in both the United Kingdom and overseas on the effectiveness of vitamin C as an intervention for COVID-19. One of the UK priority clinical trial platforms, REMAP-CAP, is trialling high-dose vitamin C in patients who have been admitted to an intensive care unit with COVID-19.

In parallel, the Department is working closely with RAPID C-19 as part of a multi-agency initiative to ensure any products deemed safe and effective in clinical trials to treat COVID-19 can rapidly be brought into wider use across the National Health Service.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of adding further ports of entry in the north for travellers required to quarantine in quarantine hotels.

There has been no formal assessment. The Government is keeping all measures under constant review, including any expansion of the list of designated ports.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the needs of people with dementia are included in plans to ease the covid-19 lockdown; and what priority is being given to the reinstatement of care home visits as part of those plans.

New visiting arrangements will start on 8 March. From then, we will support care homes to allow every resident to nominate one named person who can have regular indoor visits. More detail on these changes will be published in updated visiting guidance. We will continue to look carefully at the latest data and set out plans for the next phase of visits for people in residential care.

We commissioned research through the National Institute for Health Research on how to manage or mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on people with dementia and their carers living in the community. We have supported day care services in implementing good Infection Prevention and Control by providing personal protective equipment and testing. We recognise the need for support groups to continue and as such formally organised groups of up to 15 can continue to meet.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how long his Department estimates the new international travel covid quarantine, enforcement and testing measures announced on 9 February will have to remain in force once the top nine vaccine priority groups have been vaccinated.

On 9 April the Global Travel Taskforce published its report setting out a framework for the safe return of international travel from 17 May at the earliest, including the introduction of a ‘traffic light’ system for England, with different requirements for travellers based on whether a country is categorised as red, amber or green. The system will be flexible and able to respond to changes in the level of risk. Measures will be formally reviewed on or before 28 June, 31 July and 1 October.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the financial effect on middle and low-income families in the event that the new international travel covid-19 testing measures announced on 9 February 2021 are maintained beyond when holidays abroad are allowed to resume.

Under the current national restrictions, it is illegal to go on holiday. For those facing significant financial hardship as a result of testing charges, there is support available detailed on GOV.UK. This is available for individuals who already receive income-related benefits and they will be required to pay back their debt to the Government in 12 monthly instalments. All of these measures will be kept under constant review including the impact on families and those with protected characteristics.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to introduce a sunset clause for the international travel covid-19 quarantine rules, enforcement and testing measures announced on 9 February 2021.

The managed quarantine and testing measures have been introduced in Regulations that have a ‘sunset’ date of 8 June 2021.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to tackle vaccine misinformation.

We are working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to help social media platforms identify and take action against incorrect claims about the virus in line with their terms and conditions. This includes anti-vaccination narratives that could endanger people’s health.

The Government created the cross-Whitehall Counter Disinformation Unit in March 2020, bringing together cross-Government monitoring and analysis capabilities to tackle online misinformation and disinformation. The Counter Disinformation Unit looks for trends on social media platforms so that we can work with them and other partners to respond to misleading content rapidly. Given the importance of protecting freedom of expression, this can be a range of actions from labelling, to downranking, to removal where there is significant risk of harm, in line with a platform’s terms and conditions.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has for a second priority vaccine list once the priority list of vaccinations has been completed; and whether that list would include people with health conditions such as ME and chronic fatigue syndrome who are not classed as clinically vulnerable.

For phase two of the COVID 19 vaccination programme, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation published its interim advice on 26 February, setting out that the most effective way to minimise hospitalisations and deaths is to continue to prioritise people by age.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of (a) fill-finish capacity and (b) the effect of that capacity on plans to upscale vaccine rollout.

We have been monitoring the requirements across the supply chain from supplier through to patients for some time. All vaccine candidates’ supply and onward deployment have clear supply chain plans across the value chain, including materials, manufacturing, transportation, storage, and distribution. Three of the United Kingdom's seven COVID-19 vaccines are being manufactured in the UK. The Government has worked closely with the manufacturers to ensure that we have sufficient capacity secured.

The Government has also invested over £300 million in securing and scaling up the UK’s manufacturing capabilities to be able to respond to this pandemic, which includes investments in Wockhardt where the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is filled and finished. As of 25 January 2021, 6,573,570million people in the UK had been vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine. We continue to plan to hit our target of vaccinating all four priority groups by 15 February.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to encourage the take-up of covid-19 vaccines using information on the proportion and severity of adverse reactions to each vaccine.

No vaccine would be authorised for supply in the United Kingdom unless the expected standards of safety, quality and efficacy are met.  Each COVID-19 vaccine candidate is assessed on a case by case basis and is only authorised once it has met robust standards of effectiveness, safety and quality by the medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The independent expert working group have supported the MHRA’s proposals for a proactive safety monitoring strategy. This comprises the Yellow Card scheme and a special active monitoring programme which is available at the following link:

https://coronavirus-yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/

The Department is leading extensive communications activity to reassure the public, providing advice and information to support those who have been prioritised to receive a vaccine and anyone who has questions about the vaccination process.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including covid-19 mass testing centre staff to the priority list for receiving the covid-19 vaccine alongside frontline NHS staff.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) consists of independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccines the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level.  For the first phase, the JCVI has advised that the vaccine be given to care home residents and staff, people aged over 80 years old and frontline health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors.

If testing centre staff are captured in phase one due to their age or clinical risk factors, then they will be prioritised accordingly. Prioritisation decisions for the next phase of delivery are subject to the surveillance and monitoring of data and information from phase one, as well as further input from independent scientific experts, such as the JCVI. Phase two may include targeted vaccination of those at high risk of exposure and/or those delivering key public services.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether visiting a person who is terminally ill is a permissible reason for staying away from home overnight under the January 2021 lockdown restrictions.

Visiting a person who is terminally ill is a permissible reason for staying away from home overnight under the January 2021 lockdown restrictions.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to utilise community pharmacies in the roll-out of covid-19 vaccines.

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
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of including teachers on the priority covid-19 vaccine list.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) consists of independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccines the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level.  For the first phase, the JCVI has advised that the vaccine be given to care home residents and staff, as well as frontline health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors.

If teachers are captured in phase one due to their age or clinical risk factors then they will be prioritised. However, as advised by the JCVI, we are not considering vaccinating teachers in phase one. Prioritisation decisions for the next phase of delivery are subject to the surveillance and monitoring of data and information from phase one, as well as further input from independent scientific experts such as the JCVI. Phase two of the deployment may include further reduction in hospitalisation and targeted vaccination of those at high risk of exposure and/or those delivering key public services, such as teachers.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to publish vaccine rollout data.

The Department, the National Health Service and Public Health England are committed to providing accurate and timely data in order to improve the transparency of the COVID-19 vaccine programme.

Since 24 December 2020, we have published weekly data on the total number of vaccinations among those aged under 80 years old and over in England. From 11 January, daily data for the United Kingdom has been published showing the total number vaccinated to date, including first and second doses.

More detailed data of vaccinations by age group and region in England was published on 14 January. This will now be a weekly publication. As the programme develops it is hoped more reliable data will be able to be extracted and published.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has received guidance from (a) Israel or (b) other countries on improving the covid-19 vaccination rollout programme.

The Department is regularly in discussions with other countries, including Israel, on a wide range of COVID-19 issues, to share learnings and collaborate internationally on the vaccination programme.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, on what date he estimates that (a) all members of the phase one priority group identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will have received the covid-19 vaccine and (b) it will be safe to begin easing covid-19 restrictions.

By 15 February we aim to have offered a first vaccine dose to everyone in the top four priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

As large numbers of people from at risk groups are given an effective vaccine, we will be able to gather the evidence to prove the impact on infection rates, hospitalisation and reduced deaths. If successful, this should lead to a substantial reassessment of current restrictions.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of when progress on the covid-19 vaccine programme could make it safe to start lifting general covid-19 restrictions.

Over 6.5 million people in the United Kingdom have now received their first dose of the vaccine.

However, we need to understand the full impact the vaccines have on infection rates and transmission rates, which will become clearer as more people receive their vaccination. As this evidence is gathered and analysed, we will gain a greater understanding of infection rates, hospitalisation and reduced deaths and if successful, this should lead to a reassessment of current restrictions.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of high dependency hospital beds to reduce waiting lists for minor operations for people who have additional medical issues that require a high dependency bed.

As part of their response to the current pandemic, providers have increased critical care surge beds. However, this has not been to specifically help reduce waiting lists. The use of these beds will be dependent upon the prevailing priorities for treatment.

Each provider will carry out a risk assessment to determine whether a patient requires a period of time within critical care post procedure and ensure that a bed is available if required.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the national average waiting time is for knee surgery in most recent period for which figures are available.

Information on average waiting times for knee surgery is not published in the format requested. Knee surgery is included in the category ‘trauma and orthopaedics’, for which the median waiting time in weeks for October 2020 was 14.3 weeks.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the timetable is for a covid-19 vaccination hub to be opened in York.

The National Health Service (NHS) has a tried and tested track record for delivering vaccination programmes and is working with existing partners across the healthcare system to ensure a COVID-19 vaccine can be deployed safely and effectively across every region of the United Kingdom.

Alongside local partners, the NHS has been working to ensure fair access and maximum uptake of the vaccine which is why it has developed three different models of delivery. Included in this are hospital hubs, local vaccination services and vaccination centres. More than 730 vaccination sites have already been established across the UK and hundreds more are opening this week to take the running total to over 1,000.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reasons the 119 covid-19 NHS test and trace service is only able to contact testing labs to enquire about progress on returning covid-19 test results five days after those tests have been taken.

NHS Test and Trace allow sufficient time to identify samples which exceed the median turnaround time and aim to automatically resolve before a complaint is received.

Any referrals are passed on to a dedicated team which specialises in tracking down missing results.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of covid-19 lab tests returned results within the routine 24-72 hour window in the latest period for which figures are available.

Between 24 December to 30 December, for in-person tests (local test sites, mobile testing units and regional test sites), 33.0% were received within 24 hours compared to 16.9% in the previous week. Between 24 December and 30 December, the median time taken to receive a test result for regional test sites decreased to 29 hours, compared to 38 hours in the previous week. The median time for local test sites decreased to 29 hours from 42 hours and mobile testing units decreased to 29 hours from 32 hours during the same period.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 11 June to Question 48980, why the contract with Deloitte for covid-19 testing did not require that company to report positive cases to Public Health England; and to local authorities, and what steps his Department took to ensure that this information was available to Public Health England and local authorities.

Deloitte’s role has focused on work to help set up testing facilities, home and satellite delivery channels and designing the digital platform that enables people to book a test and register their kit. Deloitte does not have a role in the generation of results, handling of results data or the digital flow of results data. This is carried out by NHS.

Results are generated in our laboratories and are then passed to the National Pathology Exchange, NHS Digital and the NHS Business Service Authority where results are communicated back to individuals. Results are also sent to Public Health England who then communicate positive case information to Directors of Public Health.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether a person is able to stay overnight at another residence to assist a vulnerable relative while that relative’s spouse is in hospital under the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown restrictions; and what plans he has to ensure that people are able to provide care in a vulnerable relative's home after 2 December 2020 under a new tiered system of restrictions.

Under the November 2020 COVID-19 lockdown regulations, carers can arrange for friends or family to care for a vulnerable or disabled person that they usually look after as a form of respite care. If a carer needs a break, or to receive medical treatment, they can arrange for a friend or family member to come into the home of the person who needs care, to stay and provide care overnight. This arrangement is permissible if it is reasonably necessary for the purpose of respite care to be provided for the person being cared for.

Cabinet Office guidance published on GOV.UK sets out further information on the permitted reasons for an overnight stay during the November 2020 COVID-19 lockdown. The Government is keeping this guidance under constant review, and any changes to this guidance will be announced in due course.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, on what date his Department will be making assessments of what covid-19 local alert level tier each local authority will revert to from 2 December 2020.

On 26 November, the Government announced the alert level tier for each area which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-local-restrictions

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will instruct NHS England to amend the guidelines they issue to clinical commissioning groups to extend the criteria for the prescription of the freestyle libre glucose monitoring device to people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

The criteria for being prescribed the freestyle libre glucose monitoring device were extended on 11 November 2020 to include both people with Type 1 diabetes and people who have insulin treated Type 2 diabetes who are living with a learning disability and who are recorded on their general practitioner’s learning disability register.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department is making for the City of York to be placed in tier 1 local covid alert level when the November 2020 lockdown restrictions expire on 2 December 2020.

Nationwide restrictions came into effect from 5 November due to exponential rates of infection across England. On 2 December, they will expire and we intend to return to a tiered system on a local and regional basis according to the latest data and trends and Parliament will have a vote to agree the way forward.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when his Department will publish the criteria which the City of York will have to fulfil to be downgraded from tier 2 to tier 1 local covid alert level when the national November 2020 lockdown restrictions expire on 2 December 2020.

Nationwide restrictions came into effect from 5 November due to exponential rates of infection across England. The restrictions imposed by local COVID alert level regulations will be removed by the regulations imposing this new national intervention, so these reviews are no longer required. On 2 December, they will expire and we intend to return to a tiered system on a local and regional basis according to the latest data and trends and Parliament will have a vote to agree the way forward.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on public health of the November 2020 lockdown restrictions in England.

Nationwide restrictions came into force in England on 5 November. A typical new infection takes in the region of five days to produce symptoms and time is then required for them to request and take a test, and for the results to be processed. There is a further delay before changes in infection numbers become apparent in hospitalisation and death statistics. It is therefore too early to measure the impact of the new restrictions on COVID-19 levels in England, as current data will be reflective of infections occurring before those restrictions came into force.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre is developing methodology to measure the effectiveness of these restrictions once sufficient time has elapsed for any impact to be apparent in data sources.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on public health of any extension of the November 2020 lockdown restrictions in England beyond 2 December 2020.

Nationwide restrictions came into force in England on 5 November. A typical new infection takes in the region of five days to produce symptoms and time is then required for them to request and take a test, and for the results to be processed. There is a further delay before changes in infection numbers become apparent in hospitalisation and death statistics. It is therefore too early to measure the impact of the new restrictions on COVID-19 levels in England, as current data will be reflective of infections occurring before those restrictions came into force.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre is developing methodology to measure the effectiveness of these restrictions once sufficient time has elapsed for any impact to be apparent in data sources.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the medical evidential basis was for his Department's guidance on children resident in households with clinically extremely vulnerable people that children should continue to attend school as normal during the covid-19 outbreak; and what assessment his Department has made of the covid-19 risk to clinically extremely vulnerable parents of their children attending school during the November 2020 lockdown restrictions.

A lack of schooling is known to have a negative impact on children, reducing their life chances and exacerbating physical and mental health issues. This was made clear by the United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers in their statement on schools and childcare. Therefore, any decisions on children missing school need to be taken in light of this risk to their overall wellbeing. Furthermore, there is strong evidence that children are much less susceptible to severe illness from COVID-19. This has been detailed in the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies’ paper on children, schools and transmission.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of exempting (a) leisure centres, (b) gyms, (c) golf clubs, (d) tennis clubs and (e) other outdoor sports facilities from the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The Chief Medical Officer is clear that being physically active is important to long-term health and crucial for keeping people healthy during the ongoing pandemic. Evidence suggests that regular physical activity can promote good physical health and help manage stress and anxiety.

The national restrictions are designed to get the ‘R’ rate under control through limiting social contact and reducing transmissions. People are still allowed to leave their homes for exercise and recreation outdoors, with their household or on their own, or with one person from another household or support bubble. However, the Government have not introduced further exemptions because it is important that the restrictions are simple to understand.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what comparative assessment he has made of the risk of covid-19 transmission at automated and hand car washes; and what the evidential basis is for shutting (a) automated and (b) hand car washes under covid-19 lockdown restrictions from 5 November 2020.

No such assessment has been made.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies provided advice and evidence to the Department on the risks of transmission through different routes and environments which is available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/933225/S0824_SARS-CoV-2_Transmission_routes_and_environments.pdf

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when he plans to publish the scientific evidential basis for the closure of leisure centres, gyms, golf clubs, tennis clubs and other outdoor sports facilities under the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

In recognition of the importance of transparency in these unprecedented times, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has been publishing the statements and the accompanying evidence it has reviewed to demonstrate how the scientific understanding of COVID-19 has continued to evolve as new data emerges, and how SAGE’s advice has quickly adapted to new findings that reflect a changing situation.

The Government has these restrictions constantly under review.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will enable NHS Test and Trace contact tracers to refer people who are self-isolating to a helpline if they are experiencing mental health difficulties.

We have no plans to do so.

Contact tracers continue to direct individuals to COVID-19 guidance on mental health, their general practitioner or NHS 111 for the appropriate support.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether households in tier 2 local covid-19 alert areas can host bereaved relatives from a household outside that area.

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.

If the relatives are being hosted for a gathering for the purposes of a commemorative event to celebrate the life of a person who has died, such as a wake, the gathering cannot consist of more than 15 persons, it must take place at premises other than a private dwelling, and the gathering organiser must adhere to the precautions in relation to the gathering as laid down in the local COVID-19 alert level restrictions.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the local covid-19 alert levels, whether residents of a Tier 2 area are permitted to stay overnight with friends resident in a Tier 1 area, if social distancing is observed.

Persons resident in a local Covid alert level high area can only meet indoors with a person living in a local Covid alert medium, including staying overnight, whether socially distanced or not, if one of the exemptions apply. This includes where they are in linked households, otherwise known as a social bubble, amongst others.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when data will be available to enable an assessment of the effectiveness in suppressing the transmission of covid-19 with the rule of six and mandated table service conditions imposed on hospitality businesses.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies will continue to publish minutes from its meetings and the supporting scientific papers on the GOV.UK website, as has been the case since the start of the pandemic.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on the supply of the Dutch-made medicine Enzalutamide to UK patients of the UK and EU being unable to conclude a free trade agreement by the end of the transition period.

It remains our objective to negotiate a future relationship with the European Union to ensure that patients across the United Kingdom continue to have unfettered access to the medicines and medical products they need at the end of the transition period.

In consultation with the devolved administrations and crown dependencies, we are working with trade bodies, suppliers and the health and care system to implement detailed plans to help ensure the continued supply of medicines and medical products, including Enzalutamide, in all scenarios. In the Department’s letter to industry of 3 August, we asked suppliers to get trader ready, consider alternative routes away from potential disruption and stockpile medicines that come from or via the EU on UK soil to a target level of six weeks where this is possible. The letter is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/letter-to-medicines-and-medical-products-suppliers-3-august-2020/letter-to-medicine-suppliers-3-august-2020

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the supply to UK patients of the Dutch-made medicine Enzalutamide after the transition period.

It remains our objective to negotiate a future relationship with the European Union to ensure that patients across the United Kingdom continue to have unfettered access to the medicines and medical products they need at the end of the transition period.

In consultation with the devolved administrations and crown dependencies, we are working with trade bodies, suppliers and the health and care system to implement detailed plans to help ensure the continued supply of medicines and medical products, including Enzalutamide, in all scenarios. In the Department’s letter to industry of 3 August, we asked suppliers to get trader ready, consider alternative routes away from potential disruption and stockpile medicines that come from or via the EU on UK soil to a target level of six weeks where this is possible. The letter is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/letter-to-medicines-and-medical-products-suppliers-3-august-2020/letter-to-medicine-suppliers-3-august-2020

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the creation of the covid-19 testing lab in Newcastle will deliver an increase in the number of available lab slots for tests from residents of the City of York.

Our laboratories are already processing more than a million tests a week and we recently announced new facilities and technology to process results more quickly. Due to unprecedented demand, we continue to target testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak and prioritising at-risk groups.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the potential increase of coronavirus testing capacity for the residents of the City of York in October.

We increased our testing capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October, expanding our network of testing sites. For the residents of York, there is a local testing centre at Wentworth Way Car Park at the University of York and a regional testing centre at Poppleton Bar Park and Ride.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the 10pm curfew on the hospitality industry.

Early data suggests that a significant proportion of exposure to the virus is seen in the hospitality sector, which is even more pronounced in younger age groups.

10pm closure seeks to strike the balance of allowing people to continue to socialise while reducing social contact and minimising negative impact on the economy. This relies on us ensuring that businesses remain COVID-secure.

We have put in place an unprecedented package of support to support impacted businesses, including over £11 billion already been paid out through the Small Business Grants Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund to over 897,000 businesses across the country, with a further £617 million available to councils to use at their discretion to support small businesses which are not eligible for the main grant scheme.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department sought behavioural science guidance before implementing (a) the 10pm curfew on the hospitality industry and (b) the rule of six.

The Government receives a range of inputs in order to make all its decisions relating to COVID-19 restrictions - including monitoring the impact of restrictions in local areas via the Joint Biosecurity Centre and monitoring international experience.

We have also seen in Belgium that the package of measures introduced, including early closures in some regions, was effective in controlling transmission rates

The Government keeps all its COVID-19 restriction measures under review and will closely monitor the impact of this policy.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, by what process his Department is reviewing the effectiveness of each covid-19 protective measure enacted by the Government.

Where the Department has used secondary legislation to put in place measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, those Regulations stipulate that a review of these measures must take place within 28 days. In making a decision on how to proceed, we comply with our legal duties under the Equality Act 2010 (particularly the Public Sector Equality Duty) and the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, Part 1 of the National Health Service Act 2006 and the Family Test. We keep the situation under continuous review, to consider whether the measures contained in the Regulations are still a necessary component of an effective response.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on cancer waiting times.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the National Health Service faced significant pressures as it responded to patient demand from COVID-19 cases. The action taken to free up capacity included the postponement of non-urgent elective treatment while protecting urgent services.

However, during the pandemic, key waiting times were at maintained at pre-pandemic levels. From March to July 2020, over 91% of people referred urgently were seen by a consultant within two weeks - the same as in March to July 2019 - and 95% of people started a first treatment for cancer within a month of a decision to treat, compared to 96% in March to July 2019.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of using the network of Nightingale hospitals as the primary treatment centres for covid-19 patients to enable local hospitals to concentrate on delivering planned and routine care.

The National Health Service Nightingale hospitals are an unprecedented response to an unprecedented challenge and created additional capacity to ensure the NHS can respond to demand if needed.

The Nightingale hospitals are available to support the NHS when needed. Local clinical leaders are working to determine how this is done whilst considering the needs of all patients requiring NHS care.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that covid-19 tests are available for patients who require a negative test in order to begin treatment for other conditions.

Patients currently awaiting treatment under the elective care pathway for non-urgent day case or overnight stay are able to undertake a COVID-19 test via the elective care COVID-19 home test service. Any suitable elective care patient can be submitted for a test and this service also covers parents who need to accompany their child to the hospital and partners who need to attend elective caesarean births with the mother.

The patient receives specific elective care test instructions to ensure they take the test three days before their procedure date, in line with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s clinical guidance.

A courier then picks up the test from the patient and delivers the sample to a laboratory where it is processed, ensuring a rapid turnaround time to result. When the sample is processed, the result is issued simultaneously to the patient and hospital via SMS and e-mail respectively.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what comparative assessment his Department has made of the number of people diagnosed with cancer in (a) 2020 and (b) the last five years.

In the most recent year for which data are available, 2018, 320,395 primary cancers were diagnosed in England. The total for the most recent five years for which data are available, 2014-2018, was 1,528,923.

The data is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/cancer-registration-statistics-england-2018-final-release

The data presented represents diagnoses of cancer rather than individual people as people may be diagnosed with more than one type of cancer in a given year.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many covid-19 testing sites are operating with spare capacity.

The Government does not publish data in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many covid-19 testing sites are operating at maximum capacity.

The Government does not publish data in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many requests for covid-19 tests have been made on average each day in each region in the latest period for which figures are available.

The Government does not publish data in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many covid-19 tests have been available on average each day in each region in the latest period for which figures are available.

The Government does not publish data in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure covid-19 test capacity matches local demand.

The Department uses local data and intelligence to establish demand and based on this information offers capacity through its delivery channels of home testing, mobile testing and walk-through and drive-through testing to support the requirement of the area. The Department is continuing to work to boost capacity which has now increased to over 500,000 tests a day.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what advice his Department assessed before devising the rule of six; during the covid-19 outbreak; and whether his Department made an assessment of the potential merits of other capacities.

As the Prime Minister set out, if we are to beat the virus then everyone, at all times, needs to limit social contact as much as possible. We are seeing daily case numbers rise rapidly and across the country, which is why the Government, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser jointly agreed the changes we announced.

The rules have been simplified and strengthened so they are easier to understand, and so the police can identify and disperse illegal gatherings. We are also acting now to get the virus under control and, if we achieve that, we may be able to make changes and potentially lift the restrictions.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has set a timetable for reviewing the covid-19 restrictions announced on 9 September 2020.

The Government is keeping its social distancing measures under continual review and will only make changes when we are confident we can do so safely.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care keeps the restrictions and requirements under constant consideration, to ensure the measures continue to be both proportionate and necessary. The Government will continue to issue guidance to support the public.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will publish a timetable for easing the rule of six in stages to allow larger groups to meet as infection rates fall.

The Government is keeping its social distancing measures under continual review and will only make changes when we are confident we can do so safely.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care keeps the restrictions and requirements under constant consideration, to ensure the measures continue to be both proportionate and necessary. The Government will continue to issue guidance to support the public.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department made of the potential merits of exempting children from the covid-19 restrictions announced on 9 September 2020.

We have set out a clear and consistent limit of six people of any age in all settings. This makes things easier to understand for the public and easier to enforce by the police and public health officials.

Health is a devolved matter, and each administration has the discretion to manage the risks as they see fit.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of a one-off financial bonus for NHS staff who worked on covid-19 wards during the outbreak.

Over 1 million National Health Service staff received pay rises in April from existing multi-year deals and in July we accepted the independent pay review body’s recommendations of a 2.8% pay rise for specialty and associate specialist doctors, dentists, consultants and salaried general practitioners. The Government will carefully consider the pay review bodies’ recommendations for other staff groups next year when we receive them.

The NHS reward offer is about much more than basic pay and includes excellent benefits such as generous annual leave and a much-valued pension scheme. We want to ensure that the NHS employment offer continues to attract, retain and reward staff and this offer continues to be kept under review.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of introducing exemptions to the covid-19 limits on social gatherings announced on 9 September 2020 for meetings of (a) Alcoholics Anonymous and (b) other support groups.

From 14 September, social gatherings, both indoors and outdoors, must be limited to six people. There are several exemptions including where a household or support bubble is larger than six and for support groups which meet qualifying conditions.

The majority but not all support groups are not subject to the six person social gathering limit if they are in COVID-secure settings or public outdoor spaces, and are organised by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support to its members or those who attend its meetings. This includes, but is not limited to, providing support:

- to victims of crime (including domestic abuse);

- to those with, or recovering from, addictions (including alcohol, narcotics or other substance addictions) or addictive patterns of behaviour;

- to new and expectant parents;

- to those with, or caring for persons with, any long-term illness, disability or terminal condition or who are vulnerable;

- to those facing issues related to their sexuality or identity including those living as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender; and

- to those who have suffered bereavement.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether funeral receptions and wakes will be exempt from the covid-19 lockdown restrictions announced on 9 September 2020.

Up to 30 people can attend funerals. This does not include wakes. Wakes are included in the revised guidelines of up to six people only.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when an effective test, track and trace app will be available to the public.

The NHS COVID-19 app was made available in England and Wales on 24 September.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of increasing the maximum permitted number of attendees at funeral services where the venue allows for more than 30 people to be safely accommodated whilst adhering to social distancing rules.

There remains an increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 where families and communities come together following the death of a loved one, from any cause. While recognising the importance of these rituals and gatherings, it is strongly advised, in order to stay safe, that numbers of mourners in physical attendance are kept to a modest number.

The premises will limit capacity based on how many people it can safely accommodate with social distancing in place. The guidance advises that the number of attendees should be restricted to a maximum of 30 persons for public health reasons. This is on the basis there is a high risk of social mixing and contact due to the nature of the events. In some cases the premises may restrict attendance to less than 30 people.

Guidance for managing a funeral during the COVID-19 pandemic is provided at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on the long-term muscle development of child patients by the current delay in hospital splint replacements as a result of their classification as a non-essential service under national NHS policy.

NHS England and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are responsible for commissioning a comprehensive health service. CCGs make decisions about the planning and commissioning of healthcare services that meet the needs of their local population. The Government supports CCGs in local, clinically-led commissioning of services, as they are best placed to know the different needs of their areas.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of directing NHS England to reclassify splint replacements for children by hospital orthotics departments as an essential service so that their ordinary treatment routines can resume.

NHS England and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are responsible for commissioning a comprehensive health service. CCGs make decisions about the planning and commissioning of healthcare services that meet the needs of their local population. The Government supports CCGs in local, clinically-led commissioning of services, as they are best placed to know the different needs of their areas.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of whether it would be safe to amend Government covid-19 guidance applying to non-cohabiting couples in multiple-occupancy households to allow them to meet up without social distancing.

We recognise how hard the impact of COVID-19 has been on people's relationships with their loved ones. Since 4 July, Government guidance has allowed couples to meet both indoors and outdoors. Single-adult households are able to form a support bubble which allows for close contact as normal. The guidance on social distancing from people you do not live with is critical to controlling the spread of the virus and keeping people safe, but we recognise that this is particularly challenging for people who do not cohabit with their partners to comply with. We are looking closely at this issue at present.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to review Government covid-19 guidance applying to non-cohabiting couples in multiple-occupancy households to allow them to meet up without social distancing.

We recognise how hard the impact of COVID-19 has been on people's relationships with their loved ones. Since 4 July, Government guidance has allowed couples to meet both indoors and outdoors. Single-adult households are able to form a support bubble which allows for close contact as normal. The guidance on social distancing from people you do not live with is critical to controlling the spread of the virus and keeping people safe, but we recognise that this is particularly challenging for people who do not cohabit with their partners to comply with. We are looking closely at this issue at present.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of amending the single adult household rule for covid-19 support bubbles for households with severely disabled children to allow grandparents to assist with childcare.

The Government recognises that the effect of long-term social distancing is likely to impact different groups in a variety of ways, including disabled people and their families. These impacts have been carefully considered as part of the process for determining what measures to include in the Coronavirus Regulations and guidance, in line with the Public Sector Equality Duty. We appreciate this is an ongoing concern which is why we are engaging with a wide range of charities and representative organisations.

Guidance on social distancing can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing

This guidance outlines that it may not always be possible or practicable to maintain social distancing when providing care to a young child, or person with a disability or health condition. People should still limit close contact as much as possible when providing these types of care and take other precautions such as washing hands and opening windows for ventilation.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending support bubble arrangements to include all grandparents in addition to those who live in single adult households.

We recognise how difficult it has been for people to be cut off from their friends and family throughout the past few months. Support bubbles are to assist the loneliest and most isolated in society. They were introduced to provide extra support to some of those most impacted by the difficult effects of the social restrictions, while ensuring we continue to keep the rate of transmission low. The policy has been targeted at single-adult households.

People should socially distance from those not in their household or support bubble in order to keep people around them safe, limit the risk of the transmission of the virus and limit chains of transmission. We recognise that it may not always be possible or practicable to maintain social distancing when providing care to a young child or infant. People should still limit close contact as much as possible when providing childcare and take other precautions such as washing hands and clothes regularly.

Guidance on meeting people from outside of your household has been published and can be accessed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/meeting-people-from-outside-your-household

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect on (a) key workers and (b) their employers of those workers having to reduce their hours to care for children in place of grandparents as a result of covid-19 restrictions on household contact.

The Government recognises the crucial role played by key workers and the huge efforts they have been making to balance their work and childcare responsibilities during this difficult period. We acknowledge that for some keyworkers, COVID-19 restrictions will create challenges for managing these responsibilities. We equally appreciate the challenges faced by the employers of key workers, who have ensured that our critical services have kept running.

People should socially distance from those not in their household or support bubble in order to keep people around them safe, limit the risk of the transmission of the virus and limit chains of transmission. We recognise that it may not always be possible or practicable to maintain social distancing when providing care to a young child or infant. People should still limit close contact as much as possible when providing childcare and take other precautions such as washing hands and clothes regularly.

We do not record this data directly, but the Office for National Statistics provides information on employment rates and hours worked comparing men and women with and without dependent children. The 2019 release is available at the following link:


https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/familiesandthelabourmarketengland/2019

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the timetable is for the release of the covid-19 contact tracing app.

We have already released a pilot version of the app to a selected group of ‘Early Adopter’ users - NHS Volunteer Responders and residents of the Isle of Wight and the London Borough of Newham. The pilot is helping us test how the app performs at scale and learn about the user experience. This will inform national roll out in due course.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to covid-19 restrictions on contact between households, what assessment the Government has made of the challenges faced by households that rely on grandparents to assist with childcare; and what advice his Department has published for households in that situation.

From Monday 14 September, people must not meet with those from other households socially in groups of more than six. This rule will not apply to individual households or support bubbles of more than six who will still be able to gather together.

Single-adult households are able to form a support bubble which allows for close contact as normal. The guidance on social distancing from those who people do not live with is critical to controlling the spread of the virus and keeping people safe, but we recognise that this is particularly challenging for people who rely on grandparents for childcare to comply with. We are looking closely at this issue at present.

Guidance on meeting people from outside of the household has been published and is available at the following link:

See refreshed guidance on social contact, including the exceptions to the 6 person limit

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to produce a timetable for the upward revision of the limit on the size of gatherings, provided such events are organised with safety precautions.

There is a requirement for the Government to review the restrictions set out in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) Regulations (England) 2020 at least every 28 days, including the restrictions on the size of gatherings, based on the available scientific evidence on whether these measures continue to be needed to control the virus.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care conducts the review in consultation with with other Ministers. Decisions on when to change the limit on the size of gatherings will be informed by expert advice to ensure that the measures continue to be both proportionate and necessary to protect against, control or provide a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection in England.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of Capita's performance as the contractor administering the NHS pension scheme for doctors.

The NHS Pension Scheme requires participating employers to perform certain duties including remittance of scheme contributions and providing information on employment and pension records. NHS England and NHS Improvement are the responsible employer for performing such duties in relation to general practitioner (GP) contractors, surgery based salaried GPs and freelance GP locums in England. In September 2015 they contracted Capita to provide a service administering these functions on their behalf.

Whilst Capita are reliant on GP practices to submit information promptly, several historic and current issues relating to the administration of GP pension records have been identified. NHS England and NHS Improvement have initiated a comprehensive action plan to remedy the situation, working closely with the Scheme Administrator and in dialogue with The Pensions Regulator and the British Medical Association.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to further reform and simplify the annual allowance for NHS doctors' pensions to prevent financial penalties for working.

The Chancellor announced changes to the annual allowance taper thresholds in the March 2020 budget.

Following the changes, no one with net income before tax below £200,000 will be caught by the tapered annual allowance. We estimate that this will take up to 96% of general practitioners and up to 98% of National Health Service consultants outside the scope of the taper. Those who still experience tapering are the very highest earners in the NHS.

We are continuing to work with NHS Employers to ensure that NHS staff have access to information and advice about their pensions.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has for extending maternity exemption certificates for dental services to new mothers during the covid-19 outbreak.

There are no plans to extend the existing charges exemption for pregnant women and those who have given birth in the last 12 months due to the pandemic.

Urgent dental care was available through the peak pandemic period via urgent dental centres and all dental practices providing NHS services were able to restart face to face care from 8 June.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to utilise Nightingale Hospital Harrogate to help the NHS in York tackle the backlog of cancelled and delayed appointments and operations resulting from the covid-19 outbreak.

The Nightingale hospitals were built to treat COVID-19 patients and do not have, for example, the operating theatres that would be required for elective surgery. The NHS Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate is now providing elective diagnostic services (computerised tomography) to local patients.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of how rapidly routine cancer screening and care in the Vale of York CCG area can return to normal timetables now the Nightingale Hospital Harrogate is being used as a testing centre.

The Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group is working with its health partners to ensure cancer screening in the area can return to full capacity. General practitioner (GP) and hospital services have adapted to manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic but are now starting to re-introduce screening safely and in line with national guidance.

Throughout the pandemic response, cancer specialist teams at York and Scarborough hospitals have worked to ensure urgent cases continue to be seen promptly, and patients continue to be encouraged to contact their GP via phone or online consultation if they have any concerns.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the feasibility of designating certain hospitals for covid-19 patients only, to allow other NHS hospitals to return to normal operations and tackle the backlog of non-covid 19 patients.

On 14 May 2020, NHS England published an ‘Operating Framework for urgent and planned services in hospital settings during COVID-19’ which is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/05/Operating-framework-for-urgent-and-planned-services-within-hospitals.pdf

As part of this guidance, local healthcare systems and individual providers were asked to “maximise opportunities for creating physical and / or visible separation between clinical and non-clinical areas used by patients on a planned and elective care pathway and those on an urgent and emergency care pathway” and to “maintain consistency in staff allocation where possible and reduce movement of staff and the crossover of care pathways where feasible”.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that emotional support through contact with family members for adults in supported living is included in the planning for the easing of covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The Government acknowledges that social distancing policy is having an impact on mental health and wellbeing.

Public Health England has published guidance on social distancing and self-isolation, and advice on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak, together with guidance for parents and carers about supporting their children’s mental health and wellbeing.

On 5 June, the Government published guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. On 12 June, the Government also updated its guidance on staying alert and safe (social distancing), which sets out advice on staying safe when meeting family members, friends and how to form a support bubble. Both sets of guidance are must be referred to when planning visits to supported living environments.

We are also reviewing and updating the specific guidance on supported living environments, which will be published shortly.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he made of the need for adults in supported living to receive emotional support through contact with family members when drafting his Department's guidance on covid-19 social distancing measures.

The Government acknowledges that social distancing policy is having an impact on mental health and wellbeing. Public Health England has published guidance on social distancing and self-isolation, and advice on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

On 23 June, the Prime Minister announced changes to the Regulations which come into effect on 4 July. Included in these changes is that two households of any size can now meet inside and outdoors. This change in the Regulations enables more opportunity for emotional support through contact with family members for those in supported living.

The Department and Public Health England are currently updating the guidance for supported living provision to include advice on visiting in light of the easing of rules for social gatherings. We expect this guidance to be published shortly.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when his Department plans to set out a timetable for the resumption of routine dental services.

To meet the Government social distancing measures and to contain the spread of COVID-19 all routine dentistry was suspended at the start of the pandemic.

NHS England and NHS Improvement announced on 28 May that National Health Service dentistry outside urgent care centres will begin to gradually restart from 8 June where practices assess that they have the necessary personal protective equipment and infection prevention and control. The aim is to increase levels of service as fast as is compatible with maximising safety.

A copy of the letter that was published can be found at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/03/Urgent-dental-care-letter-28-May.pdf

We still expect all NHS dental practices to provide urgent telephone advice and triage. Dentists are giving urgent advice remotely and, if needed, prescriptions for painkillers or antibiotics. All urgent face to face treatment that is clinically necessary will still be available for patients who are triaged by their dentist or NHS 111 into one of over 600 urgent dental care centres set up by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

To ensure the safety of all dental care professionals and patients NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Chief Dental Officer have published the latest standard operating procedure guidance.

This can be found at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/dental-standard-operating-procedure-transition-to-recovery/

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that all dental practices can access the (a) personal protective and (b) other equipment they require to safely resume routine dental services when covid-19 lockdown measures are eased.

NHS England and NHS Improvement announced on 28 May that National Health Service dentistry outside urgent care centres will begin to restart from 8 June with the aim of increasing levels of service as fast as is compatible with maximising safety. The letter outlines that practices need to consider the Public Health England guidance on infection control protocols and personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to deliver care in a way that is safe, operationally deliverable and allows dental practices flexibility to do what is best for patients and their teams.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of personal protective equipment for the health service has been sourced from domestic suppliers in each of the last five months.

There has been limited domestic manufacture of personal protective equipment (PPE) to date. Lord Deighton is leading the Government effort to unleash the potential of British industry to manufacture PPE for the health and social care sectors. We have identified opportunities and sourced new supply channels for materials to make PPE at pace, enabling new manufacturing to commence. The Government is also working to support the scale-up of engineering efforts for small companies capable of contributing to supplies.

The Government has signed contracts to manufacture over 2 billion items of PPE through United Kingdom-based manufacturers, including aprons, facemasks, visors and gowns and has already taken delivery of products from new, certified UK manufacturers. These will contribute to the national effort to meet the unprecedented demand for PPE.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of personal protective equipment for the health service was sourced from domestic suppliers in 2019.

There has been limited domestic manufacture of personal protective equipment (PPE) to date. Lord Deighton is leading the Government effort to unleash the potential of British industry to manufacture PPE for the health and social care sectors. We have identified opportunities and sourced new supply channels for materials to make PPE at pace, enabling new manufacturing to commence. The Government is also working to support the scale-up of engineering efforts for small companies capable of contributing to supplies.

The Government has signed contracts to manufacture over 2 billion items of PPE through United Kingdom-based manufacturers, including aprons, facemasks, visors and gowns and has already taken delivery of products from new, certified UK manufacturers. These will contribute to the national effort to meet the unprecedented demand for PPE.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
4th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when and how the Government plans to communicate changes to shielding advice to people with cystic fibrosis and other people in the extremely vulnerable group during the covid-19 outbreak.

Shielding advice is kept under review, taking into account currently available evidence. We will issue further guidance about shielding and social distancing for clinically vulnerable groups as new evidence emerges.

The Government understands how challenging this period is, especially for those with long term conditions, and is doing everything possible to support the clinically extremely vulnerable. This includes clearly communicating any changes in advice for this group so those shielding are confident they are receiving the correct information for them.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that any UK-based research breakthroughs on a covid-19 vaccine are prioritised for mass production by the UK's pharmaceutical sector.

The Government has established a Vaccines Taskforce to coordinate the work going on across Government, academia and industry to accelerate the development and manufacture of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Work is proceeding at pace, with the support of industry and academic partners, to ensure that the United Kingdom has capacity to deliver across different vaccine types while those vaccines are still under development.

As the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has said, we are working closely with the industry-led BioIndustry Association Manufacturing Taskforce. It brings together a range of businesses keen to use their expertise to ensure the UK can produce a vaccine at scale, once it has been found.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase manufacturing capacity to mass produce a potential coronavirus vaccine.

The new Government ‘Vaccines Taskforce’ is working with the BioIndustry Association Taskforce to review options for increasing the capacity of domestic capability to manufacture vaccines, in response to COVID-19, including how to support the acceleration and expand the capacity of the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, so that it becomes operational earlier than planned and is able to manufacture population level doses.

For COVID-19, the type of vaccine manufacturing capacity needed will be determined by the nature of the vaccine that is developed and the technology used to produce the vaccines. The scale of facility needed will depend on how potent the vaccines are, and the productivity of the processes used to produce them.

This work is proceeding at pace, with the support of industry and academic partners, to ensure that we are identifying suitable capacity across different vaccine types, while those vaccines are still under development.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to make an assessment of whether the World Health Organisation’s decision-making regarding the covid-19 outbreak has been influenced by political considerations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has an important role to play in leading the global health response. We want to see WHO continue to learn lessons on how to improve its response to global health emergencies and as such would expect a full review of all elements of their response to COVID-19 to take place once they are out of response mode, as has occurred after previous Public Health Emergencies of International Concern.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to make an assessment of the adequacy of the World Health Organisation’s response to initial evidence of the covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has an important role to play in leading the global health response. We want to see WHO continue to learn lessons on how to improve its response to global health emergencies and as such would expect a full review of all elements of their response to COVID-19 to take place once they are out of response mode, as has occurred after previous Public Health Emergencies of International Concern.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much new funding from the public purse he plans to allocate to suicide prevention under the NHS Long Term Plan.

From 2019/20, we are investing £57million in suicide prevention through the NHS Long Term Plan. A breakdown of funding for each year to 2023/24 is shown in the attached table.

This funding will see 100% of sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) having received investment for localised suicide reduction programmes by the end of 2022/23, and 80% of STPs having received investment for bereavement support services. By 2023/24, 100% of STPs will have received investment for both suicide reduction programmes and bereavement support services.

Other mental health commitments in the NHS Long Term Plan will support suicide prevention, such as 24 hours a day, seven days a week crisis care for all ages available via NHS 111, and integrated community support for adults with severe mental illness.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the regional variation in suicide rates; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure the allocation of the NHS mental health budget reflects those variations.

From 2019/20 to 2023/24, we are investing a total of £57 million in suicide prevention through the NHS Long Term Plan. This will see investment in all areas of the country by 2023/24 to support local suicide prevention plans and establish suicide bereavement support services.

The NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan 2019/20 – 2023/24 sets out how funding allocations for suicide reduction programmes will be phased through a targeted allocation process, based on rates of suicide in each sustainability and transformation partnership area, with funding amounts being based on the number of suicides in an area and as a proportion of suicides in England.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of the resources allocated to the NHS Long Term Plan will be dedicated to reduce waiting times for child and adolescent mental health services.

The following table shows, in cash terms, the total additional funding available in each year above what was available in 2018/19:

2018/19

2019/20

2020/21

2021/22

2022/23

2023/24

Long Term Plan funding for children’s and young people’s mental health - £ billion

£0

£0.193

£0.267

£0.389

£0.538

£0.739

NHS Revenue Departmental Expenditure Limit - £ billion, excluding. depreciation and impairment

£0

£6.2

£12.4

£18.7

£25.4

£33.9

Source: NHS England

This funding will support local organisations to maintain and build on the two existing waiting time standards for children and young people with eating disorders and for those experiencing a first episode of psychosis.

Funding for generic children’s and young people’s mental health community services, however, has been allocated on the basis of increased activity rather than on waiting times.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Dec 2019
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to (a) monitor and (b) reduce waiting times for CAMHS services.

We have introduced two waiting time standards relating to mental health services for children and young people and the National Health Service is currently on track to meet both of these by April 2021.

The first is for 95% of children (up to 19 years old) with eating disorders to receive treatment within a week for urgent cases and four weeks for routine cases. The second aims for 50% of patients of all ages experiencing a first episode of psychosis to receive treatment within two weeks of referral.

Our Green Paper on transforming children and young people’s mental health provision, jointly published with the Department for Education, sets out how we plan to go further. We are piloting a four-week waiting time in 12 areas to improve access to children and young people’s specialist mental health services and are introducing new schools- and college-based mental health support teams.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations (a) he and (b) his officials are making to counterparts in France on allowing British travellers arriving in France who have received the AstraZeneca/Oxford covid-19 vaccines sourced from the Serum Institute of India to follow regulations in France in-line with people who are fully vaccinated with other approved covid-19 vaccines.

The Government is in close touch with partners across Europe, including France, on the issue of the 5 million doses of AstraZeneca that were manufactured by the Serum Institute of India for use in the UK, called Vaxzevria. The European Medicines Agency has authorised this vaccine and we are confident travel will not be affected. The Government stands ready to share further details of the MHRA's approval of this particular batch should it be required.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations (a) he and (b) his officials are making to counterparts in Malta on allowing British travellers arriving in Malta who have received the AstraZeneca/Oxford covid-19 vaccines sourced from the Serum Institute of India to follow regulations in Malta in-line with people who are fully vaccinated with other approved covid-19 vaccines.

The Government is in close touch with partners across Europe, including Malta, on the issue of the 5 million doses of AstraZeneca that were manufactured by the Serum Institute of India for use in the UK, called Vaxzevria. The European Medicines Agency, as well as our own medicines regulator, has authorised this vaccine and travel should not be affected. We have confirmed with the Maltese authorities that all vaccines delivered in the UK, regardless of type, batch or location of manufacture, are sufficient for entry into Malta.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations (a) he is and (b) officials of his Department are making to counterparts in Lithuania on allowing British travellers arriving in Lithuania who have received the AstraZeneca/Oxford covid-19 vaccines sourced from the Serum Institute of India to follow regulations in Lithuania in-line with people who are fully vaccinated with other approved covid-19 vaccines.

The Government is in close touch with partners across Europe, including Lithuania, on the issue of EMA approval of the 5 million doses of AstraZeneca that were manufactured under license by the Serum Institute of India for use in the UK. Officials are currently in discussions with Lithuanian counterparts to confirm that Lithuanian authorities will regard those vaccinated in the UK with these doses as vaccinated for the purposes of entry to Lithuania. The Government stands ready to share further details of the MHRA's approval of this particular batch should it be required.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if his Department will work with the Department for Transport to ensure that travel lists issued by that Department are in-line with the covid-19-related guidance for travel issued by his Department.

The FCDO Travel Advice and the Traffic Lights System are two independent processes based on different risk analyses. FCDO travel advice considers the risk to British nationals travelling overseas, while the Traffic Light System assesses and aims to mitigate the overall risk to UK public health of inbound travel to the UK. At present, Travel Advice advises against all but essential travel to all countries on the 'Red' list and does not advise against travel to any country on the 'Green' list.

The traffic light system is currently signposted across all FCDO Travel Advice pages: firstly, at the top of the page, where the 'should not travel to Amber or Red list countries' message is emphasised; and, secondly, within the country page where the Traffic Light status of that country is given.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to help ensure that international law is upheld in relation to the eviction of Palestinian households the Silwan area of East Jerusalem.

The UK regularly raises the issue of demolitions and forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes with the Government of Israel. The Foreign Secretary raised ongoing evictions, demolitions and settlement activity with the Israeli Authorities during his visit to the region on 26 May. The UK is clear that in all but the most exceptional of circumstances, demolitions and evictions are contrary to International Humanitarian Law. We monitor the situation in Silwan closely, and officials regularly visit and attend related court hearings.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what role officials in his Department are undertaking in negotiations for a settlement on the island of Cyprus between North Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus.

The UK remains committed to supporting the UN process to reach a Cyprus Settlement, which will be good for Cyprus, regional stability and UK interests. On 27-29 April, in support of the efforts led by the UN Secretary General to find common ground on a way forward to resolve the Cyprus Issue, the Foreign Secretary represented the UK as a Guarantor Power at informal UN talks in Geneva. He was supported by Officials from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

At the meeting, the Foreign Secretary continued to urge all sides to demonstrate flexibility and compromise to find a solution to the Cyprus Issue within the UN Security Council parameters. This followed UK messaging to the parties ahead of the talks, including the Foreign Secretary's visit to the island on 4 February where he met President Anastasiades, Turkish Cypriot leader Tatar and the UN. Ahead of the talks, during my visit to Cyprus (7-9 April), I reiterated this message and the UK's support for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus issue. To this end, FCDO Ministers and Officials will continue to engage with all parties in support of the UN process.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department has plans to authorise direct flights to North Cyprus.

In line with the rest of the international community, with the sole exception of Turkey, the UK does not recognise the self-declared "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" as an independent state, and Ercan airport in the north of Cyprus is not recognised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation as an international airport. As a result, we cannot negotiate an Air Services Agreement with the administration in the north of Cyprus, so there are no direct flights. The UK Court of Appeal has also confirmed that direct flights between the UK and the north of Cyprus would breach the UK's international obligations under the 1944 Chicago Convention on Civil Aviation. The UK Government remains convinced that a comprehensive settlement is the best chance of resolving these complex issues.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what support his Department is offering to Trinidad and Tobago to manage the outbreak of covid-19 in that country.

The UK is committed to rapid equitable access to safe and effective vaccines. We are among the largest donors to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), committing £548 million which leveraged through match funding $1 billion from other donors in 2020. This support to COVAX has been critical to it supplying COVID-19 vaccines to over 120 countries and economies. We have also committed to share the majority of our supply of any surplus vaccine doses with COVAX. Trinidad and Tobago are a self-financing participant of COVAX and have received 67,200 AstraZeneca doses to date out of an initial order of 100,800 doses.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support Commonwealth countries with their covid-19 vaccine rollout.

The UK is committed to rapid, equitable access to safe and effective vaccines, treatments, and tests globally. The UK has committed £548 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) to support access to COVID-19 vaccines for up to 92 developing countries, approximately one third of which are in the Commonwealth. I am pleased to note that 31 Commonwealth countries across four regions will be receiving COVID-19 vaccines as part of the first set of COVAX AMC deliveries, of which 29 have already received their first batches. The UK is encouraging all countries to continue working with COVAX and partners to roll out vaccines, and prepare for future deliveries, which have reached over 127 countries overall so far.

On 2 June, the UK Government launched the G7 Global Vaccine Confidence Campaign, which aims to share best practice, establish partnerships, and build a platform for increasing vaccine confidence internationally. Any Commonwealth country will be able to access the best practice material shared on this platform to increase vaccine confidence.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what plans the Government has to negotiate a bilateral agreement with Spain to allow UK nationals to have the same right to travel there visa-free for 180 days..

During negotiations with the EU, the Government discussed arrangements for British Citizens travelling to the Schengen Area. Regrettably, the EU consistently maintained that British Citizens will be treated as Third Country Nationals under the Schengen Borders Code from 1 January 2021. This means that British Citizens are able to travel visa-free for short stays for up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period. This is the standard length of stay that the EU offers to nationals of eligible third countries, in line with existing EU legislation. British Citizens who are planning to stay longer than 90 days in a rolling 180-day period will need permission from the relevant Member State. This may require applying for a visa and/or permit.

The UK's Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU notes that both the UK and EU currently provide for visa-free travel for short-term visits for each other's nationals in accordance with their respective laws. The detail of those arrangements is set by domestic law, reflecting the UK's position as a non-EU Member State. The Government does not typically enter into bilateral agreements on visa-free travel.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the Government's progress towards the Prime Minister’s G7 commitment in February 2021 to collaborate globally on cutting the development time for new vaccines by two-thirds within 100 days.

The rapid development of vaccines for COVID-19 has demonstrated the power of science, collaboration, and innovation across the public and private sectors. On 20 April, the UK Government launched a new Pandemic Preparedness Partnership (PPP), chaired by the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, which will advise the UK G7 Presidency on how to meet the Prime Minister's ambition to slash the time for developing and deploying high quality vaccines from 300 to 100 days. The PPP is bringing together industry, international organisations, and leading experts, and met for the first time on 20 and 21 April for a two-day virtual Pandemic Preparedness Partnership Conference. The Partnership will report to leaders at June's G7 Summit in Cornwall, with a roadmap outlining the steps the G7 could take to protect people against future pandemics, including on this ambitious target for vaccine development.

This is backed by additional funding from the UK Government to support CEPI's work on global vaccine supply. The £16 million investment will fund global vaccine manufacturing capacity, and critical research and development to rapidly respond to the threat of new strains, supporting the development of new variant-specific vaccines. CEPI's work to coordinate research, development, and manufacturing of vaccines will aid efforts to have millions of vaccines available for emergency use within 100 days of a variant of concern being identified.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the potential merits of allocating additional funding to COVAX and other international coronavirus programmes to increase the pace of global vaccination and help tackle new overseas virus variants before they arrive in the UK.

The UK is committed to rapid equitable access to safe and effective vaccines. We are among the largest bilateral contributors to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), committing £548 million in 2020. Our contribution included a match-funding pledge that helped encourage $1 billion of commitments from other donors. The UK's support and contribution to COVAX has helped it reach the milestone of supplying vaccines to over 100 countries and economies.

We recognise the need to improve global coverage, and address new variants to end the acute phase of the pandemic. This is why on Thursday 15 April, I spoke at the AMC Investment Opportunity Launch, supporting the COVAX Advance Market Commitment 2021 investment case to secure a further $2 billion from donors. This aims to procure 500 million more doses to increase vaccine coverage from 20% to 30% in developing countries in 2021. The UK is championing global access through our Presidency of the G7, and we have committed to share the majority of our surplus vaccine doses with COVAX.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 5 November to Question 109332, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of making bilateral agreements with EU member states to allow UK nationals to travel visa-free in the EU beyond the 90/180 day period set out in the Schengen Borders Code for third-country nationals, if the EU continues to maintain that UK nationals will be treated as Third Country Nationals under the Schengen Borders Code from January 2021.

The Government has discussed arrangements with the EU for UK nationals travelling to the Schengen Area. UK nationals will only be able to travel visa-free for short stays for up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period. This is the standard length of stay that the EU offers to nationals of eligible third countries that offer visa-free travel for EU citizens, in line with existing EU legislation. The provisions on visa-free short-term visits that will apply from 1 January 2021 reflect the UK and EU's respective border and immigration rules. They are existing provisions that are already applied to nationals of eligible third countries. From 1 January, free movement of people between the UK and EU will come to an end and we will have full control of our immigration system. The UK keeps its visa system under regular review to ensure that visit visas remain an effective tool in reducing immigration, tackling organised crime, and protecting national security.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government has taken to secure reciprocal rights for UK nationals to travel visa-free in the EU beyond the 90/180 day period set out in the Schengen Borders Code for third-country nationals to reflect proposals by the UK Government for visa-free travel to the UK by EU nationals for up to six months.

The Government has discussed arrangements for UK nationals travelling to the Schengen Area and understands concerns about the impact of these arrangements on UK nationals who travel for extended periods of time. Regrettably, the EU has consistently maintained that UK nationals will be treated as Third Country Nationals under the Schengen Borders Code from January 2021. They will only be able to travel visa-free for short stays for up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period. UK nationals planning to stay longer will need permission from the relevant Member State. This may require applying for a visa and/or permit. Information about travel to Europe after the transition period is available on gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of making bilateral agreements with EU member states to allow UK nationals to travel visa-free in the EU beyond the 90/180 day period set out in the Schengen Borders Code for third-country nationals.

The Government has discussed arrangements for UK nationals travelling to the Schengen Area and understands concerns about the impact of these arrangements on UK nationals who travel for extended periods of time. Regrettably, the EU has consistently maintained that UK nationals will be treated as Third Country Nationals under the Schengen Borders Code from January 2021. They will only be able to travel visa-free for short stays for up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period. UK nationals planning to stay longer will need permission from the relevant Member State. This may require applying for a visa and/or permit. Information about travel to Europe after the transition period is available on gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on UK nationals who (a) make regular extended trips to EU states, (b) have close family in EU states and (c) own property in EU states of a future relationship with the EU which does not include visa-free travel across the EU for UK nationals beyond the 90 day or 180 day limit prescribed by the EU Schengen Border Code for third-country nationals.

The Government has discussed arrangements for UK nationals travelling to the Schengen Area and understands concerns about the impact of these arrangements on UK nationals who travel for extended periods of time. Regrettably, the EU has consistently maintained that UK nationals will be treated as Third Country Nationals under the Schengen Borders Code from January 2021. They will only be able to travel visa-free for short stays for up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period. UK nationals planning to stay longer will need permission from the relevant Member State. This may require applying for a visa and/or permit. Information about travel to Europe after the transition period is available on gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the role of the British Council in providing foreign exchange opportunities for UK students.

The British Council is the UK's international organisation for cultural and educational opportunities, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office recognises the importance of its work in providing a variety of foreign exchange programmes for UK students to widen their career prospects. The Council delivers or part-funds eight schemes for UK students to study or work abroad. For example, over 2,000 students participate annually in the Language Assistants programme, which supports UK students and recent graduates in taking up a placement in a school to assist in English language teaching. Between now and 2025, the British Council is aiming to provide international mobility opportunities to over 125,000 UK students and researchers.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department has conducted an impact assessment for the ongoing covid-19 restrictions on international travel and the economic impact of those restrictions on the economy.

The Government’s priority remains to protect public health, and we have to take a cautious approach to opening up international travel, given the risk posed by variants remains significant. The traffic light system commenced on 17 May and the list is reviewed every 3 weeks; decisions are taken by Ministers based on the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) risk assessments and wider factors. The Government has also announced the intention to remove isolation rules for those travelling from amber list countries who are fully vaccinated, which will support the safe return of international travel.

The Government recognises the challenging circumstances facing sectors, including the travel industry, that are dependent on international travel as a result of Covid-19. The Government will continue to support the travel industry, businesses and individuals during this period - including through various government-backed loans, new grants and the extended furlough and self-employed support schemes. The aerospace sector and its aviation customers are being supported with over £11 billion made available through loan guarantees, support for exporters, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility and grants for research and development.

As set out last November in the Government’s published analysis of the health, economic and social effects of Covid-19, we cannot forecast with confidence the precise impact of specific changes to specific restrictions, as this will depend on a broad range of factors which are, in many cases, difficult to estimate. This includes the economic impact of restrictions on international travel.

The Treasury does not prepare forecasts for the UK economy and public finances, these are the responsibility of the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). The OBR’s latest forecast (March 3) highlighted that the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the unprecedented fiscal support has caused significant but necessary increase in borrowing and debt.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of providing business rates relief to vacant retail units that are being used to facilitate temporary routine covid-19 testing for employees of nearby businesses.

The Budget announced a three-month extension to the business rates holiday for eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors that was provided at Budget 2020. This means over 350,000 properties will pay no business rates for three months.

From 1 July 2021, 66% relief will be available subject to a cash cap that depends on whether businesses have been required to close or were able to open. This additional relief takes the total value of support in 2021-22 to £6 billion and means that the vast majority of businesses will receive an average 75% relief across the year.

Local authorities are responsible for awarding this discount, having regard to the guidance provided by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department had made of the potential merits of extending the zero interest period for Bounce Back Loans from 12 months to 18 months to allow for all covid-19 lockdown restrictions to have been lifted before the first businesses must begin paying interest.

Under the Bounce Back Loan scheme, no repayments are due from the borrower for the first 12 months of the loan, giving businesses the breathing space they need during this difficult time. In addition, the Government covers the first 12 months of interest payments charged to the business by the lender.

In order to give businesses further support and flexibility in making their repayments, the Chancellor has announced “Pay as You Grow” (PAYG) options. Under Pay as You Grow, following the end of the 12-month payment-free period, businesses can pause their repayments for six months – the interest in this case will accrue to the borrower, for payment later. This means that businesses can opt not to make any repayments on their Bounce Back loan for up to 18 months after they received the loan. Borrowers will also have the option to move temporarily to interest-only payments for periods of up to six months (an option which they can use up to three times), and to extend the term of their loan from six to ten years, reducing their monthly payments by almost half.

Together, the 12-month payment holiday and interest-free period for borrowers, along with the PAYG options, form part of the Government’s unprecedented support package for businesses to protect jobs - including paying wages through the furlough schemes and self-employed support payments, generous grants, tax deferrals.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to create a version of Scotland's Wholesale Food and Drink Resilience Fund for England.

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;
  • 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, 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.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of retrospectively applying the temporarily reduced rates of stamp duty to house purchases completed between 23 March and 7 July 2020.

The temporary SDLT relief was designed to stimulate immediate momentum in a property market where property transactions fell by as much as 50 per cent during the COVID-19 lockdown in March. This has also supported the jobs of people whose employment relies on custom from the property industry, such as retailers and tradespeople.

The relief applies to sales that have been completed or substantially performed before 31 March 2021 and will not be backdated for those who purchased a property before the relief was introduced.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a scheme similar to the Scottish Government's Brewers Support Fund.

The Government recognises that breweries have been acutely disrupted by recent necessary restrictions to hospitality businesses.

In January the Chancellor announced that £594 million is being made available for Local Authorities and the Devolved Administrations to support businesses ineligible for grants for closed businesses, but who might be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, such as the hospitality supply chain. This funding comes in addition to the £1.1 billion discretionary grant for Local Authorities previously announced. Local Authorities have discretion to determine how much funding to provide to businesses and have the flexibility to target local businesses that are important to their local economies.

The Government is also delivering support to the hospitality sector and its supply chain through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which has been extended until April; Government backed finance through loan schemes, ‘Pay as You Grow’ long-term repayments options, a VAT cut, a VAT deferral for up to 12 months, a 12-month business rates holiday; and a moratorium on evictions to protect commercial tenants.

In addition, Small Brewer’s Relief (SBR) provides reduced rates of beer duty for small brewers producing less than 60,000 hectolitres. Following requests from brewers to look again at the scheme, the Treasury is currently in the process of reviewing SBR to ensure it further supports growth in the sector. A technical consultation launched on 7 January 2021, and can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/small-brewers-relief-sbr-technical-consultation.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of levying a separate, lower level of duty on cask ale to protect it as an important national product.

The Government has consulted industry and other stakeholders on the possibility of charging different alcohol duty rates in different places as part of its Alcohol Duty Review. As noted in the call for evidence document, while beneficial to recipients, such a differential would add complexity and cost to the existing duty arrangements. The Government is now analysing the feedback received and will respond in due course.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of lowering the tax burden on pubs and small breweries to support recovery after the covid-19 lockdown.

Alcohol duties are kept under review and any announcements would be made at the next fiscal event.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the need for support during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown for (a) breweries and (b) other businesses within the hospitality supply chain that do not qualify for covid-19 Government grants.

The Government recognises that breweries, and other businesses within the hospitality supply chain have been acutely disrupted by recent necessary restrictions to hospitality businesses. Throughout the crisis the Government’s priority has been to protect lives and livelihoods. The Government has acted to deliver support to these businesses through:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which has supported 1.4 million jobs across the hospitality sector, and has been extended until the end of April 2021.
  • Local Authorities (in England) have been given an additional £500 million of discretionary funding to support local businesses. This builds on the £1.1 billion discretionary funding which local authorities in England have already received to support their local economies and help businesses impacted. Local Authorities have discretion to determine how much funding to provide to businesses and exactly which businesses to target.
  • A VAT deferral ‘New Payment Scheme’ whereby businesses which deferred their VAT due between March and June until March 2021 will have the option of making 11 payments spread throughout the year rather than one lump sum.
  • Access to affordable, Government backed finance through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBLS) for and larger firms, along with the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL) for small and micro enterprises.
  • A reduced rate of VAT (5 per cent) to goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors.
  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all eligible retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England, saving around 350,000 ratepayers a combined £10bn.

Breweries have and will continue to benefit directly from Government support schemes, and indirectly from the support offered to the pubs and restaurants they supply, protecting jobs in the industry. The Government is continuing to collect evidence on the impact of the pandemic on the sector and to work with businesses and representative groups to inform our efforts to support this sector.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the need for Government support during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown for self-catered accommodation owners, who do not qualify for Government grants.

Throughout this crisis, the Government has sought to support businesses, jobs and public services up and down the UK. That is why it has spent over £280 billion to make a package of support available for businesses which has included billions in wage support, loans, tax deferrals, Business Rate reliefs and general and sector-specific grants.

Following the implementation of the latest national lockdown in January, the Government announced additional funding for businesses worth £4.6 billion across the UK. This includes a £500m payment to local authorities, to top up their allocation from the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), which has already provided local authorities with £1.1 billion.

This funding will ensure that local authorities can provide discretionary grants to businesses, such as self-catered accommodation owners, which are not eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grants but which are nonetheless experiencing a severe impact on their business due to the national lockdown. These businesses may also be eligible for further aspects of our generous support package outlined above.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the need for support during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown for business in the coach and minibus sector, which do not qualify for Government grants.

The Government recognises the challenging times facing the coach sector as a result of Covid-19. Firms experiencing difficulties are able to draw upon the unprecedented package of cross-economy measures the government has put in place, including Time to Pay flexibilities with tax bills, financial support for employees and tax deferrals. These measures have been designed to ensure that firms of any size receive the help they need to get through this difficult time.

In addition, local authorities will receive an additional £500 million discretionary funding to support their local businesses. This builds on the £1.1 billion discretionary funding (worth £20 per head of population) which they have already received to support their local economies and help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Local authorities have a significant amount of discretion when it comes to deciding which businesses receive payments from the ARG; we encourage them to use their allocations to set up discretionary grant schemes using this funding, e.g. for businesses who are affected by closures but who are not legally closed themselves. The coach sector may be able to benefit from these schemes. We encourage businesses to contact their local authority for more information on the ARG.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the need for Government support during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown for businesses in the travel agency industry, which do not qualify for Government grants.

Businesses are eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grant (closed) if their main form of in person business is legally closed.

Businesses that are ineligible for LRSG (closed) may be able to benefit from the Additional Restrictions Grant. The Government recently increased the funding available under this scheme to £1.6 billion across England. It is up to each local authority to determine eligibility for this scheme based on their assessment of local economic need; however, we encourage local authorities to support businesses which have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, but which are ineligible for the other grant schemes.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the need for Government support during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown for businesses in the (a) wedding industry and (b) wider events sector that do not qualify for currently available grants.

The Government recognises the extreme disruption the necessary actions to combat Covid-19 are having on sectors like the wedding industry and wider events.

During this difficult time the Treasury is working intensively with employers, delivery partners, industry groups, and other government departments to understand the long-term effects of Covid-19 across all key areas of the economy.

Some businesses that are not eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grant schemes or from the one-off grants for closed businesses may still benefit from the £1.6bn of discretionary funding (the Additional Restrictions Grant) which has been allocated to local authorities to support their local businesses.

In addition, the Chancellor has extended Government loan schemes until the end of March 2021, and introduced ‘Pay as You Grow’ options for businesses which have taken out loans through BBLS or CBILS, giving a longer repayment period and allowing further flexibility on repayments.The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) have also been extended until the end of April 2021.

Eligible events and businesses may have also benefit from business rates relief, a moratorium on commercial tenant evictions and the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund supporting thousands of cultural organisations including theatres, music venues, comedy clubs and festivals.

We will continue to monitor the impact of government support on public services, businesses, individuals and sectors, including the events and wedding industry, as we respond to this pandemic.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Dec 2020
What steps his Department is taking to support job retention during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has taken unprecedented action to protect jobs during the pandemic, most notably through the CJRS which has seen 1.2 million employers apply to help to pay the wages of 9.6 million furloughed jobs. The CJRS has been extended until March, and the OBR have forecast this is set to support up to 6 million jobs. Employers have also received billions in loans, tax deferrals, Business Rate reliefs, and general and sector-specific grants.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will publish an economic impact assessment of the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown restrictions in England.

As the Chancellor said in his letter to the TSC on 4 November, HM Treasury does not prepare formal forecasts for the UK economy, which are the responsibility of the independent OBR. They will publish their next forecast on 25 November.

In addition, within their statutory mandates, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) produce analysis which reflect their independent judgements regarding the impact of Covid-19 on the likely path of the economy. They updated their projections in their Monetary Policy Report published on 5 November. This reflected UK restrictions announced up to 31 October, including “heightened England-wide measures for the period 5 November to 2 December”. In this scenario, GDP was revised downwards and is now expected to contract by 2% in Q4 reflecting the impact of stricter measures to control Covid-19.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate his Department has made of the potential economic effect of an extension to the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown restrictions in England beyond 2 December 2020.

The Prime Minister has been clear that the measures that were announced on 31 October and came into force on 5 November are time-limited. They will end on Wednesday 2 December, when the Government will seek to ease restrictions, going back into the tiered system on a local and regional basis.

Throughout the pandemic, the government’s economic priority has remained the same: to protect jobs and livelihoods. Since the start of the pandemic the government has provided support for people, businesses, and public services totalling an estimated £200 billion.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the Digital Services Tax does not result in cost increases for the customers and selling partners of large technology corporations.

The Digital Services Tax is designed to ensure that digital businesses pay UK tax reflecting the value they derive from UK users. It is a fair, proportionate, and temporary measure, to be removed once an appropriate global solution is in place.

It is for businesses to decide their own pricing strategies.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of a sector specific extension to the Self Employment Income Support scheme for industries that are adversely affected by the rule of six and other covid-19 restrictions.

The Chancellor has announced the SEISS Grant Extension, which is a targeted form of support for the self-employed and viable traders who are actively trading but suffering from low demand, to help them continue to trade in the forthcoming winter months.

The Government will provide eligible claimants with a taxable grant covering 20 per cent of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £1,875 in total.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending business rates relief to the events sector.

The Government has provided enhanced support through business rates relief to businesses occupying properties used for retail, hospitality and leisure.

A range of other measures to support all businesses, including events companies, has also been made available. On 8 July the Chancellor set out a package of measures to support jobs across the UK, including a Job Retention Bonus to help firms keep furloughed workers and a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people. The Chancellor has also announced a cut in VAT to 5% for accommodation, attractions and the hospitality sector.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to encourage the provision of mobile bank branches.

The branch strategy of individual firms may be driven by a variety of factors, including customer interests, market competition and other commercial considerations. These are commercial decisions for firms and the Government does not intervene in this decision-making.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has been working closely with the financial regulators, banks, building societies and credit unions to ensure they continue to maintain branch access for essential services while balancing the needs of their customers with the safety and welfare of staff. Though many firms have reduced their opening hours the vast majority of branches have remained open for customers. Furthermore, several retail banks have put in place solutions for vulnerable customers, including enabling them to make payments through a trusted person or have their cash securely delivered to them at home. Many firms have also set up dedicated phone lines so these customers can speak to their provider as quickly as possible.

The way consumers interact with their banking is changing. In recent years, over two-thirds of UK adults have used contactless payments and online banking and nearly half have used mobile banking, according to UK Finance. As a result of the pandemic, many customers may have used these channels for the first time. However, the Government still firmly believes that the impact of branch closures should be understood, considered, and mitigated where possible so that all customers, wherever they live, continue to have access to over-the-counter banking services if they wish to use them. That’s why the Government supports the industry’s Access to Banking Standard which informs customers of the bank’s reason for closure and helps customers to understand the options they have locally to continue to access banking services.

The Post Office also allows 95% of business and 99% of personal banking customers to carry out their everyday banking at 11,500 Post Office branches across the UK. Customers have been able to use the Post Office for essential banking services as an alternative to their branch throughout the pandemic. Customers can also use ATMs or cash machines as normal for cash withdrawals and balance enquiries.

In July 2020, the regulator the Financial Conduct Authority published draft guidance setting out their expectation of firms when they are deciding whether and how to reduce their physical branches or the number of free to use ATMs. Firms are expected to carefully consider the impact of a planned closure on their customers’ everyday banking and cash access needs, and other relevant branch services and consider possible alternative access arrangements, which may include mobile branches. This will ensure the implementation of closure decisions is done in a way that treats customers fairly.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment his Department has made of the accessibility of in-branch banking services for people living in a rural setting.

The branch strategy of individual firms may be driven by a variety of factors, including customer interests, market competition and other commercial considerations. These are commercial decisions for firms and the Government does not intervene in this decision-making.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has been working closely with the financial regulators, banks, building societies and credit unions to ensure they continue to maintain branch access for essential services while balancing the needs of their customers with the safety and welfare of staff. Though many firms have reduced their opening hours the vast majority of branches have remained open for customers. Furthermore, several retail banks have put in place solutions for vulnerable customers, including enabling them to make payments through a trusted person or have their cash securely delivered to them at home. Many firms have also set up dedicated phone lines so these customers can speak to their provider as quickly as possible.

The way consumers interact with their banking is changing. In recent years, over two-thirds of UK adults have used contactless payments and online banking and nearly half have used mobile banking, according to UK Finance. As a result of the pandemic, many customers may have used these channels for the first time. However, the Government still firmly believes that the impact of branch closures should be understood, considered, and mitigated where possible so that all customers, wherever they live, continue to have access to over-the-counter banking services if they wish to use them. That’s why the Government supports the industry’s Access to Banking Standard which informs customers of the bank’s reason for closure and helps customers to understand the options they have locally to continue to access banking services.

The Post Office also allows 95% of business and 99% of personal banking customers to carry out their everyday banking at 11,500 Post Office branches across the UK. Customers have been able to use the Post Office for essential banking services as an alternative to their branch throughout the pandemic. Customers can also use ATMs or cash machines as normal for cash withdrawals and balance enquiries.

In July 2020, the regulator the Financial Conduct Authority published draft guidance setting out their expectation of firms when they are deciding whether and how to reduce their physical branches or the number of free to use ATMs. Firms are expected to carefully consider the impact of a planned closure on their customers’ everyday banking and cash access needs, and other relevant branch services and consider possible alternative access arrangements, which may include mobile branches. This will ensure the implementation of closure decisions is done in a way that treats customers fairly.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the accessibility of in-branch banking services for people living in urban areas.

The branch strategy of individual firms may be driven by a variety of factors, including customer interests, market competition and other commercial considerations. These are commercial decisions for firms and the Government does not intervene in this decision-making.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has been working closely with the financial regulators, banks, building societies and credit unions to ensure they continue to maintain branch access for essential services while balancing the needs of their customers with the safety and welfare of staff. Though many firms have reduced their opening hours the vast majority of branches have remained open for customers. Furthermore, several retail banks have put in place solutions for vulnerable customers, including enabling them to make payments through a trusted person or have their cash securely delivered to them at home. Many firms have also set up dedicated phone lines so these customers can speak to their provider as quickly as possible.

The way consumers interact with their banking is changing. In recent years, over two-thirds of UK adults have used contactless payments and online banking and nearly half have used mobile banking, according to UK Finance. As a result of the pandemic, many customers may have used these channels for the first time. However, the Government still firmly believes that the impact of branch closures should be understood, considered, and mitigated where possible so that all customers, wherever they live, continue to have access to over-the-counter banking services if they wish to use them. That’s why the Government supports the industry’s Access to Banking Standard which informs customers of the bank’s reason for closure and helps customers to understand the options they have locally to continue to access banking services.

The Post Office also allows 95% of business and 99% of personal banking customers to carry out their everyday banking at 11,500 Post Office branches across the UK. Customers have been able to use the Post Office for essential banking services as an alternative to their branch throughout the pandemic. Customers can also use ATMs or cash machines as normal for cash withdrawals and balance enquiries.

In July 2020, the regulator the Financial Conduct Authority published draft guidance setting out their expectation of firms when they are deciding whether and how to reduce their physical branches or the number of free to use ATMs. Firms are expected to carefully consider the impact of a planned closure on their customers’ everyday banking and cash access needs, and other relevant branch services and consider possible alternative access arrangements, which may include mobile branches. This will ensure the implementation of closure decisions is done in a way that treats customers fairly.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of amending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to not require businesses who have yet to reopen and have no income to start contributing to the scheme from August 2020.

The furlough scheme will remain open until October. It is right that in the final months of this eight-month scheme, the Government asks employers to make a reasonable contribution towards their employees’ wages.

An early assessment of CJRS claims suggested that about 40% of employers had not made a claim for employer NICs costs or employer pension contributions and so were likely to be unaffected by the change in August, assuming their employment patterns did not change.

If an average claim lasted 8 months, the total cost of employer contributions would represent 5% of the gross employment costs an employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme beyond the second grant for (a) musicians, (b) other performers and (c) other self-employed workers who remain unable to (i) work and (ii) work enough hours to earn their usual income as a result of covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said there will be no further extension or changes to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The SEISS will remain open for applications for the second and final grant until 19 October.

Those who require more support may be able to benefit from other elements of the comprehensive package of support for individuals and businesses.

This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support,?increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at

www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

As the economy reopens, it is right that state support is reduced and the focus shifts to getting people back to work. On 8 July, the Government introduced the Plan for Jobs which will make available up to £30 billion to assist in creating, supporting and protecting jobs. The Plan includes the Kickstart Scheme, reduces the level of VAT for the hospitality and accommodation sector, and creates jobs through £8.6 billion of infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects. More information can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-plan-for-jobs-documents/a-plan-for-jobs-2020.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing targeted support beyond the second grant of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme for (a) musicians, (b) other performers and (c) other self-employed workers who remain unable to work as a result of covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said there will be no further extension or changes to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The SEISS will remain open for applications for the second and final grant until 19 October.

Those who require more support may be able to benefit from other elements of the comprehensive package of support for individuals and businesses.

This package includes Bounce Back loans, tax deferrals, rental support,?increased levels of Universal Credit, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at

www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

As the economy reopens, it is right that state support is reduced and the focus shifts to getting people back to work. On 8 July, the Government introduced the Plan for Jobs which will make available up to £30 billion to assist in creating, supporting and protecting jobs. The Plan includes the Kickstart Scheme, reduces the level of VAT for the hospitality and accommodation sector, and creates jobs through £8.6 billion of infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects. More information can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-plan-for-jobs-documents/a-plan-for-jobs-2020.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the personal protective equipment VAT zero rating beyond 31 October 2020.

The temporary zero-rate of VAT on sales of Personal Protective Equipment for protection from infection has been extended to 31 October 2020. This extension forms part of the Government’s response to the coronavirus emergency.

The Government has taken extraordinary action to introduce this zero-rate. A temporary measure is appropriate to ensure the widest range of businesses, charities and individuals can benefit from this tax relief during the coronavirus emergency. The Government will continue to respond dynamically to this emergency, and will take all necessary steps in the future.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what proportion of Beer Duty receipts were paid by small breweries that produce no more than 60,000 hectolitres of beer per year, in each of the last three years.

HMRC publishes quarterly statistics of beer duty receipts, as well as quantities of production. Information on the proportion of annual receipts that are paid by small brewers producing no more than 60,000 hectolitres of beer per year is not readily available.

HMRC publishes annual statistics on small brewers reliefs, this includes the number of people claiming the relief and the cost of the relief. Information on proportion of claimants receiving the maximum 50 per cent and at least 25 per cent reduction in their beer duty rate is not readily available.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what proportion of small breweries received the maximum 50 per cent small breweries relief from their beer duty rate in each of the last three years.

HMRC publishes quarterly statistics of beer duty receipts, as well as quantities of production. Information on the proportion of annual receipts that are paid by small brewers producing no more than 60,000 hectolitres of beer per year is not readily available.

HMRC publishes annual statistics on small brewers reliefs, this includes the number of people claiming the relief and the cost of the relief. Information on proportion of claimants receiving the maximum 50 per cent and at least 25 per cent reduction in their beer duty rate is not readily available.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what proportion of small breweries in receipt of small breweries relief received at least a 25 per cent reduction in their beer duty rate, in the latest period for which figures are available.

HMRC publishes quarterly statistics of beer duty receipts, as well as quantities of production. Information on the proportion of annual receipts that are paid by small brewers producing no more than 60,000 hectolitres of beer per year is not readily available.

HMRC publishes annual statistics on small brewers reliefs, this includes the number of people claiming the relief and the cost of the relief. Information on proportion of claimants receiving the maximum 50 per cent and at least 25 per cent reduction in their beer duty rate is not readily available.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what policy changes he plans to make in response to the findings of a Federation of Wholesale Distributors survey that (a) 50 per cent of the 150 food and drink wholesale businesses surveyed, all of which have a turnover of £45 million or lower, are in danger of going into liquidation in the next three months to a year, (b) 70 per cent of those respondents supply food and drink to schools, care homes, hospitals and (c) £270 million worth of public sector contracts are at risk without urgent financial support; and if he will make a statement.

The Government has announced unprecedented support for business and workers to protect them against the current economic emergency including almost £300 billion of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of UK GDP. Local Authorities (LAs) can choose to make discretionary grants to businesses in supply chains, like wholesale distributors, if they feel there is a particular local economic need. The Government has allocated up to £617 million to LAs to enable them to give discretionary grants to businesses in this situation. LAs may choose to focus payments on those priority groups which are most relevant to their local areas or to businesses outside of these priority groups, so long as the business was trading on 11th March, and has not received any other cash grant funded by central Government.

Wholesale distributors continue to have access to other elements of the Government’s unprecedented package of support for business, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the four government-backed loan schemes for firms of all sizes. The Business Support website provides further information about how businesses can access the support that has been made available, who is eligible and how to apply - https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder.

On 11 May the Government published its COVID-19 recovery strategy which sets out our plan for moving to the next phase of our response. The strategy sets out a cautious roadmap for easing existing measures in a safe and measured way. On 15 June the non-essential retail sector reopened. The roadmap will be kept constantly under review, and we will continue to work hard to support business and workers as the situation evolves.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend the application of business rates relief to food and drink wholesalers who supply hospitals, schools, care homes and the hospitality industry.

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

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

A range of further measures to support all businesses, including those not eligible for the business rates holiday, such as wholesalers, has also been made available.
Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on consumer spending of reducing the rate of VAT during the covid-19 outbreak.

VAT raised £130 billion in revenue in 2019/2020 for the Exchequer and plays an important part in funding the Government’s spending priorities, including hospitals, schools and defence.

Reducing the standard rate would come at a considerable cost to the Exchequer. However, the Government keeps all taxes under review.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chancellor has announced a range of measures to help individuals and businesses through the crisis, including grants, loans and relief from business rates worth more than £300 billion.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate his Department has made of the number of leisure and hospitality businesses that would benefit from an increase in the business rate relief threshold to £150,000.

The business rates holiday for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties in 2020-21 does not have a rateable value threshold, meaning properties of any size can benefit.

The Chancellor announced the removal of the previous £51,000 threshold from this relief on 17 March 2020.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to monitor the use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by businesses that are able to continue operating at full staff strength during the covid-19 outbreak to ensure that resources are prioritised for the businesses and employees in most need.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to retain their employees and protect the UK economy. The Government recognises that businesses will face different impacts from coronavirus.

The scheme is open to employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19 March 2020, are enrolled for PAYE online and have a UK bank account. It is for employers to decide whether to offer to furlough employees. There is no limit on the amount of funding available for the scheme.

The Government expects employers to do the right thing, but HMRC reserve the right to follow up on claims and take whatever action is necessary if people abuse the CJRS scheme.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to ensure banks offer flexibility in meeting monthly mortgage repayments to households whose finances may be disrupted by the economic effect of covid-19.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules set out requirements that mortgage lenders are expected to treat borrowers fairly and show forbearance when customers are in financial difficulty. The Government has made sure that repossession is always a last resort after other reasonable attempts to resolve the position have failed.

Banks and building societies are ready and able to support consumers impacted by COVID-19. On the 17 March, the Chancellor announced on behalf of the sector that banks and building societies will offer a 3-month ‘mortgage holiday’ for borrowers that are financially struggling with their repayments. This forbearance measure will enable affected borrowers to defer their mortgage payments for up to 3 months while they get back on their feet. Customers who are concerned about the current financial situation should get in touch with their lender at the earliest possible opportunity.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many self-isolation home visits took place in June 2021 for travellers returning from amber list countries under covid-19 travel restrictions.

Throughout the month of June, the service conducted up to 10,000 checks per day on non-exempt amber list arrivals.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many travellers returned from amber list countries in June 2021.

The Home Office regularly publishes migration statistics, including the number of daily air passenger arrivals to the UK on gov.uk. The latest publication covers up to the end of April 2021 and can be found at:

Border Force transparency data: Q1 2021 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department has investigated the cause of the error whereby British citizens have incorrectly received letters urging them to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme; and whether the relevant databases have been updated to prevent that error from occurring again.

The Government is using every possible channel to encourage everyone who is eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to apply.

The Home Office is currently working with HMRC and DWP to encourage EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who receive benefits to apply to the EUSS if they have yet to do so. Letters are being sent out to encourage recipients to apply to the EUSS to protect their existing rights in the UK before the deadline of 30 June 2021.

In trying to reach as many people as possible, there may be a small number of instances where these letters are sent to recipients who are naturalised as a British citizen. The letter may also be received by a small number of individuals who have already applied to the EUSS, for example because they applied after the initial exercise with DWP or HMRC was completed, but before the letter was sent out. The letter makes clear anyone who is a British citizen or already has EUSS status does not need to take any action.

As of 30 April 2021, 4.9m grants of EUSS status have been made. The Home Office urges anyone eligible for the EUSS to apply before the 30 June deadline to ensure their rights are protected following the end of the grace period.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of trends in pet theft in 2020 and 2021; and what steps her Department is taking to tackle that crime.

The Government recognises the distress pet theft causes will consider the evidence and what more could be done to prevent these cruel crimes. That is why we launched the Pet Theft Taskforce on 8 May. The Taskforce will:

  • Work with police, law enforcement, and experts to understand and tackle pet theft.
  • Consider the issue from end to end, including causes, prevention, reporting, enforcement and prosecution.
  • Make clear and timely recommendations on ways to reduce pet theft.

Further information about the Pet Theft Taskforce, including its full terms of reference, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/taskforce-launched-to-investigate-reported-rise-in-pet-thefts

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of reviewing the policy governing the award of military medals for the purposes of establishing whether the case for a national defence medal has improved since the last review in 2012.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Armed Forces (James Heappey) on 19 March 2020 to Question 30067 to the hon. Member for Broadland (Mr Jerome Mayhew).

Leo Docherty
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to ensure there are adequate catering and food arrangements for armed forces personnel deployed at very short notice to assist with covid-19 testing and other covid-19 projects.

Catering contracts have been established to support personnel deployed on COVID-19 tasks, to provide them with a balanced diet in line with the Joint Service Publication 456 (MOD policy). We ensure food options and menus are routinely monitored and scrutinised by military Food Service Warrant Officers to guarantee the highest standard of food is being delivered to our Armed Forces.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
20th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to ensure the wellbeing of armed forces personnel deployed at very short notice to assist with covid-19 testing and other covid-19 projects.

The safety and welfare of our personnel is paramount. Defence has numerous internal and external wellbeing measures in place to safeguard personnel deployed on COVID-19 tasks, including provisions for food, accommodation, and dedicated pastoral and welfare staff. Joint Service Publication 770 (MOD policy) sets out further details of the extensive wellbeing support available to deployed personnel.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what alternative methods to reinstating war widow's pensions for war widows who remarried between 1973 and 2005 his Department is assessing to mitigate the effect on those widows of changes to that pension.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 24 March 2020 to Question 30112 to the hon. Member for Lanark and Hamilton East (Ms Crawley)

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment his Department has made of the value of wool as a thermal insulator in the construction of new environmentally-friendly homes.

The Government is committed to meeting its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The National Planning Policy Framework sets out how we expect the planning system to help mitigate and adapt to climate change. In their development plan policies, local planning authorities can encourage the use of sustainable materials like wool in new development


We have not made any assessment of the value of wool as a thermal insulator. The Building Regulations are generally couched in performance terms and do not prescribe the technologies, materials or fuels to be used, allowing builders the flexibility to innovate and select the most practical and cost-effective solutions in particular circumstances. Developers are able to use wool products in construction projects where it is safe to do so and where it can be shown to meet all applicable Building Regulations requirements.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, for what reasons the Government is advertising COVID-19 Marshal roles with contracts running in excess of six months beyond the end of the final step of the Government’s roadmap for the easing of covid-19 restrictions.

COVID-19 Secure Marshals or their equivalents are employed by local authorities, not central government.

The Government has provided £400 million of funding to local authorities through the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) to manage the pandemic at the local level. The funding can be used on a range of activities that support the management of local COVID-19 outbreaks including COVID-19 compliance and enforcement activity, such as the hiring of COVID-19 Secure Marshals or their equivalents. Local authorities have played an integral role in the nation’s pandemic response and have the expertise and understanding to inform what activities will best manage COVID-19 in their local areas.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of strengthening protection for heritage in the planning system.

The Government is committed to the ongoing protection of the historic environment. In our recent Planning for the Future White Paper, we have set out our intention to review and update the planning framework for listed buildings and conservation areas, to ensure their significance is conserved while allowing, where appropriate, sympathetic changes to support their continued use and address climate change.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what support his Department is providing to local authorities to help them encourage covid-19 vaccine take-up within their communities.

Local authorities and Directors of Public Health have an important role in the vaccine programme including working with the NHS to maximise uptake. MHCLG are supporting this in a number of ways: for example we are funding the £25 million Community Champions scheme in 60 local authorities, to encourage vaccine uptake and in reaching out to those communities who might be disproportionately impacted or hesitant about engaging, tackling disinformation, and supporting vulnerable people to meet appointments.

The learning from these 60 will be shared across all local authorities. We have also hosted roundtables with faith leaders to understand barriers to access for faith groups. Recognising the importance and priority status of the care sector for this programme, we have worked closely with local authorities and the national programme on a protocol for social care to ensure responsibilities for maximising uptake are well understood across the system. Ensuring access and take up across all of our communities is critical to the success of the vaccination programme and we will continue to support local authorities and Directors of Public Health in their important role.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether all tenants of houses of multiple occupation count as separate households for the purposes of forming support bubbles during the covid-19 outbreak; and what guidance on managing covid-19 infection risks his Department is providing to people in that situation.

Tenants in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) cannot act as separate households for the purpose of forming support bubbles. As set out in our guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities, all occupants of an HMO should act as a single household if one or more occupants have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). Our guidance for landlords and tenants includes guidance on steps to minimise the spread of infection, including within HMOs.

Guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when he plans to publish the Accelerated Planning White Paper.

We will be publishing an ambitious Planning White Paper in due course. This will transform the planning system so that it is more responsive, accessible and certain for all users, including home owners and small businesses.