Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.
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).
Extend maternity leave by 3 months with pay in light of COVID-19Gov Responded - 14 May 2020 Debated on - 5 Oct 2020 View Laura Farris's petition debate contributions
In light of the recent outbreak and lock down, those on maternity leave should be given 3 extra months paid leave, at least. This time is for bonding and social engaging with other parents and babies through baby groups which are vital for development and now everything has been cancelled.
These initiatives were driven by Laura Farris, 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.
Laura Farris has not been granted any Urgent Questions
Laura Farris has not been granted any Adjournment Debates
Laura Farris has not introduced any legislation before Parliament
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) operates as a delegated scheme, so all lending decisions are at the discretion of the lender. However, lenders are required to agree to and adhere to the Scheme’s Legal agreement.
Furthermore, all CBILS accredited lenders must undergo thorough due diligence as part of the British Business Bank’s accreditation process. Thereafter, lenders undergo periodic audits (including an audit prior to moving from a probationary to a full lender under the Scheme) to check that scheme eligibility rules and processes have been followed. The British Business Bank can suspend a lender from new lending or remove its accreditation if it is not following the correct lending practices.
The Smart Export Guarantee has been successful in bringing forward a range of competitive offerings to the market. Renewable generators now have a several tariffs to choose from, in some cases higher than the FIT export tariff.
Ofgem will prepare an annual report on the provisions made by suppliers for smaller scale exporters. The government will review this to monitor whether the market is delivering an effective and competitive range of options.
Government has provided unprecedented support to businesses through tax reliefs, cash grants and employee wage support, which many sport clubs have benefited from. On 22 October, the Government announced a £100m support fund for local authority leisure centres. We will be releasing further information on the scheme and how local authorities with outsourced leisure centre provision can apply in the coming weeks.
We are aware that many in the sector seek clarity on when the events industry will be able to hold larger scale events.
From 2 December, we will return to a regional, tiered approach to COVID-19 restrictions. In tiers 1 and 2, spectator sport and business events can now resume inside and outside with tight capacity limits and social distancing, providing more consistency with indoor performances in theatres and concert halls.
In tier 3, there should be no public attendance at spectator sport or indoor performances and large business events should not be taking place.
The Government will also introduce spectator capacity limits for sports stadia, business events and live performances in tiers where these are permitted. These limits will vary depending on whether the event is held indoors or out. At tier 1 these will be 50% capacity or 4,000 outdoors and 1,000 indoors, whichever is lower and at tier 2 these will be 50% capacity or 2,000 outdoors and 1,000 indoors, whichever is lower.
We continue to engage with stakeholders - including through the Tourism Industry Council and the Events Industry Senior Leaders Panel - to assess how we can best support the sector’s safe reopening.
The business events pilots we carried out in September will ensure that the correct advice and guidance is put in place to help larger events reopen when it is safe to do so.
DCMS appreciates the important role that the live music sector plays in the UK’s cultural 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. Businesses supplying technical and musical equipment are not eligible to apply for this funding, however this support package will benefit these businesses by providing support to music venues and many other organisations in the Creative Industries that host live events, to stay open and continue operating.
From 15th August, 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 distancing. This follows the government’s five-stage roadmap outlining how DCMS will get audiences back into performing arts venues. We are now at Stage Four of the roadmap.
We are committed to continuing to work with the live events sector to understand the difficulties they face and help them access support through these challenging times and through recovery.
On 5 July, the Government announced a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. Guidance has been published by Arts Council England, the British Film Institute, Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund for applicants to the Culture Recovery Grants application rounds, and by Arts Council England for applicants to the Repayable Finance Scheme. Further details on eligibility and application processes are available in the published guidance.
This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of sectors, with one of our core objectives being to support the cultural organisations that are crucial to places across the whole country. We will ensure that funding is distributed fairly, and that smaller organisations and cultural venues that are at the centre of their communities are protected.
We also recognise the crucial role that individuals play in making our arts and creative industries world-leading. As a result of these grants and loans, organisations will be more able to resume cultural activity, albeit in a socially distanced way, which will increase employment opportunities for freelancers.
The government fully funds access to free period products in schools and colleges across England, for learners that need them. This scheme enables all learners to participate fully in education by making period products available as and when they are needed.
Schools and colleges know their learners best and therefore have the freedom to select the most suitable products for their learners, considering cost and type of product. The scheme provides a wide range of period products for organisations to choose from and the department will keep this range under review. The department knows that many schools use their pupil premium grant for wider strategies to meet their pupils’ basic needs, and schools may wish to use this funding to provide clothing items such as underwear if required. Providers in colleges and other 16-19 provision may wish to use their 16-19 Bursary Fund to provide similar items to their students.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Government considers that examinations cannot be held in a way which is fair. The Department has announced that GCSE, AS and A level examinations will not go ahead this summer as planned.
My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education has asked the Chief Regulator at Ofqual to find a clear and accessible route for private candidates, and those not in school this year, to be assessed and receive a grade. The Department and Ofqual have launched a two week consultation on how to fairly award all pupils a grade that supports them to progress to the next stage of their lives, including consulting specifically on four different approaches for private candidates to receive a grade.
The consultation can be accessed from the Ofqual website and will be open until 29 January 2021. The Department and Ofqual strongly encourage all our stakeholders, including private candidates and their parents, to respond. We will continue to engage with a range of relevant stakeholders when developing plans for our policy on GCSE, AS and A level assessments in 2021, as will the examinations regulator Ofqual.
The guidance for full school opening continues to advise against UK overnight educational residential visits. This guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.
This advice will remain under review and will be updated in line with guidance from Public Health England, the Cabinet Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
During the summer term, we are advising children who live in a household with someone who is shielding to only attend school if stringent social distancing can be adhered to and if they are able to understand and follow those instructions. This may not be possible for very young children and older children without the capacity to adhere to the instructions on social distancing. If stringent social distancing cannot be adhered to, we do not expect those individuals to attend. They should be supported to learn at home.
To aide this, we have published a list of high-quality online resources, which have been assessed with support from some of the country’s leading educational experts, to help pupils learn at home. We have also worked with schools to produce case studies guidance on remote education practice. This guidance provides an opportunity for schools to learn from each other's emerging practice as they develop their own approaches.
In addition, we are supporting sector-led initiatives such as the Oak National Academy. This new enterprise 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 21 June, 3.9 million unique users had accessed the Oak National Academy website and 13.2 million lessons had been viewed.
The BBC has also developed resources for families as part of a comprehensive new education package, which is now available on TV and online at BBC Bitesize.
The Government has committed over £100 million to support vulnerable and disadvantaged children in England to access remote education and social care services, including by providing laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers.
We are providing laptops and tablets to disadvantaged and vulnerable children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examinations in year 10, receiving support from a social worker or are a care leaver. Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and children in year 10 do not have internet connections, we are providing 4G wireless routers.
Shielding advice for all adults and children will pause on 1 August, subject to a continued decline in the rates of community transmission of COVID-19. This means that even the small number of pupils who remain on the shielded patient list can return to school, as can those who have family members who are shielding.
Our guidance for fully reopening schools in the autumn sets out a ‘system of controls’ which schools should adopt to minimise the risk of transmission. Where schools apply the full measures in this guidance, the risks to all pupils and staff will be mitigated significantly, including those who were previously classed as extremely clinically vulnerable and clinically vulnerable. This guidance also sets out our expectations of the remote education schools should provide if a pupil is unable to attend school because they are complying with clinical and/or public health advice, including if they are required to self-isolate or a local outbreak occurs.
This guidance can be found here:
The Government has well-established ways of working with the food industry during disruption to supply situations. Our retailers already have highly-resilient supply chains and they are working around the clock to ensure people have the food and products they need. Industry is adapting quickly to any changes in demands, and food supply into and across the UK is resilient.
The Secretary of State is holding regular conversations with industry, including the British Retail Consortium and supermarket Chief Executives, to discuss any additional support the Government can provide. To help supermarkets respond to this unprecedented demand we have already introduced new measures to keep food supply flowing. We have issued guidance to local authorities to allow extended delivery hours to supermarkets so that shelves can be filled up quicker, and we have implemented extensions to drivers’ hours. We are also temporarily relaxing certain elements of competition law to ensure retailers are able to collaborate effectively in the national interest.
We fully recognise the additional pressures on our food supply chain as a result of recent events. The UK’s major supermarkets have last weekend issued a statement to encourage everyone to shop as they normally would, and pull together to support those staying at home.
We will continue to work closely with the industry over the coming days and months.
The Department for Transport is working with the Kent Resilience Forum to prepare for the end of the transition period. Our plans for the lorry holding areas in Kent at Sevington and Manston include facilities for HGV drivers, including toilet and washing provision. The delivery plans will be carried out in accordance with the latest covid-19 guidance.
Expanding access to children’s mental health services nationally is a priority for this Government, and it is a core part of the NHS Long Term Plan. The National Health Service has set an ambitious goal of an extra 345,000 children and young people aged 0-25 receiving support via NHS-funded mental health services and schools-based mental health support teams (MHSTs) by 2023/24.
MHSTs are a proposal of our Green Paper on improving children and young people’s mental health provision. We are trialling the proposals in trailblazer areas. The first 25 areas, announced in December 2018, are running the first wave of 59 MHSTs. West Berkshire is one of those 25 areas.
Twelve of the first trailblazer areas have also been chosen to pilot a four-week waiting time.
West Berkshire, Reading and Wokingham co-operate at local leadership level to support a shared children’s mental health Local Transformation Plan, which promotes resilience, and good mental health and wellbeing. It can be found at the following link:
We recognise how important it is to allow care home residents to meet their loved ones safely, and appreciate the particular challenges visiting restrictions pose for people with dementia, learning disabilities and autistic adults, amongst others and their loved ones.
In the face of a new variant of the virus we have acted to protect those most at risk in care homes and ensure visits can go ahead safely in some form. As set out in national lockdown guidance, visits to care homes can continue to take place with arrangements such as outdoor visiting, substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows. Close-contact indoor visits are not currently allowed. Visits in exceptional circumstances including end of life should always be supported and enabled.
We have also published guidance on visits out of care homes such as to the family home during this period of this national lockdown. People, including care home residents, must stay at home and must not gather indoors unless one of the specified exemptions apply. This means that a resident will not in general be able to meet another household indoors, for example, visiting their family in the family’s home.
We are keeping all our guidance under regular review, and will seek to provide further opportunities for families to visit and spend time together as it becomes safer to do so.
The Government supports behaviour change through the Eatwell guide, catering guidance, its social marketing campaigns, the reduction and reformulation programme and providing advice to the consumer through the National Health Service website to promote making the healthier choice, the easiest choice.
We published ‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ on 27 July. This strategy demonstrates an overarching campaign to reduce obesity, takes forward actions from previous chapters of the childhood obesity plan and sets our measures to get the nation fit and healthy, protect against COVID-19 and protect the NHS. The strategy is available at the following link:
Public Health England also launched Better Health, a campaign which helps people to make healthier choices by providing the most up to date evidence based healthy eating and physical activity advice including calorie intakes, portions of fruit and vegetables and recommended physical activity levels. As well as teaching skills to prevent weight gain and providing helpful tools like balanced recipes and the Food Scanner app which helps shoppers make healthier product choices, Better Health also supports people who wish to lose weight.
The COVID-19 pandemic guidance on infection prevention and control (IPC) is issued jointly by the Department, Public Health Wales, Public Health Agency Northern Ireland, Health Protection Scotland, Public Health England and NHS England. The IPC guidance is available to view at the following link:
The guidance provides advice on the use of personal protective equipment by healthcare staff which is dependent on the clinical care and procedures being undertaken, and the closeness of contact between staff and patients.
The UK has committed over £3.3 billion to support the humanitarian response in Syria and neighbouring countries hosting its refugees, such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. This includes a pledge of at least £300 million at the 2020 Brussels IV 'Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region' donor conference.
Our aid provides life-saving support such as healthcare, food and water in camps for displaced Syrians, and in communities across the country. Our aid also supports education and job creation initiatives for Syrian refugees in the region.
The UK works to bring an end to the conflict through supporting the UN-facilitated political process to reach a lasting political settlement to the conflict which protects the rights of all Syrians. The UK uses its position at the UN Security Council to call on all parties to respect agreed ceasefires and to focus the international community on the conflict's impact on the civilian population.
A zero rate of VAT has applied to women’s sanitary products since 1 January 2021. This applies to those products which were previously subject to the reduced rate of 5 per cent, such as tampons and pads, and reusable menstrual products, such as keepers.
The relief specifically excludes articles of clothing, such as period pants. Such exclusions are designed to ensure that the relief is properly targeted, since difficulties in policing the scope of the relief create the potential for litigation, erosion of the tax base, and a reduction in revenue. Under existing rules period pants may already qualify for the zero rate, if they have been specifically designed to be worn by a child, meet the sizing criteria, and are held out for sale specifically for use by girls under the age of 14 years old.
Details are provided in VAT Notice 714: zero-rating young children's clothing and footwear: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-notice-714-zero-rating-young-childrens-clothing-and-footwear/vat-notice-714-zero-rating-young-childrens-clothing-and-footwear#items-suitable-only-for-young-children
All women’s prisons provide free sanitary products, however, prisoners can also purchase branded items from the canteen provision. The provision of free sanitary products also extends to any under 18 girls in the Youth Custody Young Offenders Estate. The Early days in custody Prison Service Instruction, 07/2015, also states that prisoners should be given any items required to meet essential personal needs for their first 24 hours in custody.
The department has ongoing engagement with the death management sector focusing on the pressure of increased demand, maintaining the welfare of staff, ensuring the deceased are treated with dignity and respect and the bereaved with compassion.
As part of this work, organisations across the funeral sector are sharing key information with Government and in turn the Government is sharing relevant information and exploring whether additional support may be needed. The Government has produced an online hub collating government guidance for the funeral sector and those involved in the management of deaths (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-those-involved-in-managing-covid-19-deaths) so that it is easily accessible for those who need it.