Laurence Robertson Portrait

Laurence Robertson

Conservative - Tewkesbury

Select Committees
Panel of Chairs (since January 2020)
Panel of Chairs
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Liaison Committee (Commons)
10th Sep 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee
18th Jun 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Liaison Committee (Commons)
19th Jul 2010 - 30th Mar 2015
Northern Ireland Affairs Committee
10th Jun 2010 - 30th Mar 2015
Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland)
10th May 2005 - 6th May 2010
Shadow Minister (Treasury)
30th Oct 2003 - 10th May 2005
Shadow Minister (Trade and Industry)
1st Jun 2003 - 30th Oct 2003
Opposition Whip (Commons)
1st Jun 2001 - 1st Jun 2003
European Scrutiny Committee
26th Jul 1999 - 23rd May 2002
Education & Skills
16th Jul 2001 - 12th Nov 2001
Social Security
22nd Nov 1999 - 11th May 2001
Consolidation etc. Bills (Joint Committee)
28th Jul 1997 - 11th May 2001
Environmental Audit Committee
12th Nov 1997 - 18th Jan 2000


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

Before we begin, I encourage Members to wear masks when they are not speaking, in line with current Government guidance …

Written Answers
Monday 18th October 2021
Aviation: Coronavirus
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what support he is offering to the civil aviation industry while covid-19 …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
None available
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Monday 18th October 2021
3. Gifts, benefits and hospitality from UK sources
Name of donor: Arena Racing Corporation Ltd
Address of donor: Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London SW1P 4QP
Amount of donation …
EDM signed
Monday 20th September 2021
Play therapy
That this House recognises the importance of play therapy in helping children who are experiencing mental illness or trauma and …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Laurence Robertson has voted in 286 divisions, and 1 time against the majority of their Party.

27 Apr 2021 - Delegated Legislation - View Vote Context
Laurence Robertson voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 77 Conservative No votes vs 222 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 431 Noes - 89
View All Laurence Robertson Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

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

Sparring Partners
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(16 debate interactions)
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
(8 debate interactions)
Michael Gove (Conservative)
Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
(6 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Cabinet Office
(20 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(12 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Laurence Robertson's debates

Tewkesbury 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).

Petitions with highest Tewkesbury signature proportion
Petition Debates Contributed

The government should allow BTEC students to achieve teacher predicted grades rather than being forced into a system that is unethically downgrading thousands of students grades.

Please don’t send students back until we know we have had the priority groups vaccinated such as the elderly, the extremely clinically vulnerable, and those with underlying health conditions.

Cancel all standardise testing for year 11 and year 12 students in 2021. By replacing tests with smaller amounts of course work and teacher assessment, students would have a fair chance at achieving their target grades and it would relieve stress for teachers and students.

Schools can be a breeding ground for the spread of coronavirus. Children are mingling at schools and returning to families who are potentially vulnerable, keeping rates high.

It's only been since schools opened that infection rates have been high in Kent, and keeping them open may keep it high.

Pet Theft Reform 2020: Revise the sentencing guidelines in the Theft Act 1968 to reclassify pet theft as a specific crime. Ensure that monetary value is irrelevant for the categorisation of dog and cat theft crime for sentencing purposes. Recognise pet theft as a category 2 offence or above.


Latest EDMs signed by Laurence Robertson

8th September 2021
Laurence Robertson signed this EDM on Monday 20th September 2021

Play therapy

Tabled by: Lisa Cameron (Scottish National Party - East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow)
That this House recognises the importance of play therapy in helping children who are experiencing mental illness or trauma and considers that therapy to be an essential component of the covid-19 recovery programme; notes that play therapy is an internationally recognised and highly cost effective health intervention for children for …
23 signatures
(Most recent: 18 Oct 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 8
Scottish National Party: 5
Liberal Democrat: 4
Democratic Unionist Party: 3
Independent: 1
Green Party: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
Conservative: 1
9th January 2020
Laurence Robertson signed this EDM on Monday 27th January 2020

Ban on trophy hunting imports

Tabled by: Tracey Crouch (Conservative - Chatham and Aylesford)
That this House welcomes the Government's public consultation on controls on the import and export of hunting trophies; notes the strong cross-party support for EDM 1829, Session 2017-19 and that 86 per cent of the British public support an end to trophy hunting; further notes that most UK trophy imports …
168 signatures
(Most recent: 12 Apr 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 80
Scottish National Party: 44
Conservative: 16
Liberal Democrat: 11
Democratic Unionist Party: 6
Independent: 5
Alba Party: 2
Plaid Cymru: 2
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 2
Green Party: 1
Alliance: 1
View All Laurence Robertson's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Laurence Robertson, and are more likely to reflect personal policy preferences.

MPs who are act as Ministers or Shadow Ministers are generally restricted from performing Commons initiatives other than Urgent Questions.


1 Urgent Question tabled by Laurence Robertson

Monday 14th June 2021

Laurence Robertson has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Laurence Robertson has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Laurence Robertson has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


156 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
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what methodology his Department uses when calculating excess deaths.

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

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many excess deaths there have been in (a) England and (b) UK in each of the last ten years.

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

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make it his policy to allow companies to adopt policies to abide by Wates Review principles, rather than impose a public interest entities system; and if he will make a statement.

The Wates Principles provide a way to complying with corporate governance reporting requirement on large private companies in the Companies (Miscellaneous Reporting) Regulations 2018. Reporting started from January 2020. The Government and the Financial Reporting Council are in the process of evaluating its effectiveness, including use of the Wates Principles.

The Government’s White Paper ‘Restoring trust in audit and corporate governance’ set out proposals to introduce a wider definition of ‘public interest entity’ to ensure that large businesses of all types which are of public importance are subject to appropriate regulation. The Government is currently considering responses and will respond in due course.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he plans to take to encourage more clinical trials of vaccines in the UK; and if he will make a statement.

The UK has an existing national clinical trial infrastructure, which has enabled a rapid rollout of new clinical trials, such as that for the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Novavax, Janssen, and Valneva vaccines. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) provides support and critical infrastructure for clinical trials, making the UK well-suited to facilitate clinical trials that are essential to the development of any vaccine.

The Government launched an NHS service in July 2020 to enable people across the UK to sign up to participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials. The NHS COVID-19 vaccine research registry, developed in partnership with NHS Digital, has helped to facilitate the rapid recruitment of large numbers of people into trials. As of 2 March 2021, over 453,000 individuals have signed up to the vaccine registry.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is planning to take to help increase the turnover of hospitality businesses once the covid-19 restrictions begin to be lifted; and if he will make a statement.

Over the course of the pandemic, the Government has worked closely with the hospitality sector to understand the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses and has responded with a substantial package of business support. We keep all restrictions under constant review.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the extent to which utility companies have responsibility to replace worn-out cut-out fuses in domestic properties; and if he will make a statement.

Fuses and the fuse box (consumer unit) are the responsibility of the property owner, but some customers may have included maintenance of the consumer unit as part of a contract for the supply of electricity, or as a separate contract.

The regional Distribution Network Operator is responsible for maintenance of the main cut-out fuse (usually a 60, 80 or 100 amp fuse).

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of the UK remaining on British Summer Time to help (a) people's health and wellbeing and (b) limit the spread of covid-19.

The Government believes that the current daylight-saving arrangements represent the optimal use of the available daylight across the UK.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what compensation he plans to make available to small businesses for loss of revenue as a result of covid-19; and if he will make a statement.

The Government is closely monitoring developments in relation to potential economic impacts on the UK economy, including on individuals, businesses, supply chains, and for consumers.

On 17 March, the Government announced a major new package of loans and guarantees. Any good business in financial difficulty that needs access to cash to pay their rent, the salaries of their employees, pay suppliers, or purchase stock, will be able to access a Government-backed loan on attractive terms, with no cap on lending capacity. The Government will make an initial £330 billion of guarantees available – equivalent to 15% of UK GDP.

The Government also announced £20 billion of business rates support and grant funding to help the most-affected firms to manage their cashflow through this period by:

  • giving all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months
  • increasing grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000
  • providing further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000

At last week’s Budget, the Government also provided £30 billion of support to the economy to deal with the crisis by investing in public services, increasing support for vulnerable people and providing business with tax reliefs and loans.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what compensation he plans to make available to small businesses for loss of revenue as a result of government-imposed restrictions in relation to covid-19; and if he will make a statement.

The Government is closely monitoring developments in relation to potential economic impacts on the UK economy, including on individuals, businesses, supply chains, and for consumers.

On 17 March, the Government announced a major new package of loans and guarantees. Any good business in financial difficulty that needs access to cash to pay their rent, the salaries of their employees, pay suppliers, or purchase stock, will be able to access a Government-backed loan on attractive terms, with no cap on lending capacity. The Government will make an initial £330 billion of guarantees available – equivalent to 15% of UK GDP.

The Government also announced £20 billion of business rates support and grant funding to help the most-affected firms to manage their cashflow through this period by:

  • giving all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months
  • increasing grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000
  • providing further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000

At last week’s Budget, the Government also provided £30 billion of support to the economy to deal with the crisis by investing in public services, increasing support for vulnerable people and providing business with tax reliefs and loans.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
12th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of capacity of the UK manufacturing sector to produce electric heavy goods vehicles.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), showed the UK manufactured 78,270 commercial vehicles in 2019; 18,420 of these were Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) manufactured by Leyland Trucks.

Alongside industry, we have committed approximately £1 billion over 10 years up until 2023. With this funding, the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) will research, develop, and commercialise the next generation of low carbon technologies to keep the UK at the cutting edge of low carbon automotive innovations.

The Government continues to work alongside industry to unlock the significant opportunity to support the electrification of the HGV sector through the Faraday Battery Challenge and Driving the Electric Revolution.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on providing compensation to people with petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles ahead of the ban on the sale of new versions of those vehicles in 2035; and if he will make a statement.

My rt. hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced on the 4th February that we are consulting on bringing forward the end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans to 2035, or earlier if a faster transition appears feasible, as well as including hybrids for the first time. We are consulting on the Committee on Climate Change recommendation that any new vehicles sold after the phase out date must be zero emission at the tailpipe. The proposals relate to new cars and vans - owners of existing petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans will still be able to use these vehicles and buy and sell them on the used market. The purpose of the consultation is to inform our understanding of what the measures will need to be will need to be to enable the transition and minimise the impacts on businesses and consumers across the UK, building on the significant demand and supply side measures already in place.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
11th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps she is taking to increase the amount of electricity generated from hydro sources; and if he will make a statement.

The Government acknowledges the valuable contribution of hydropower to the UK energy mix over many decades, including at times when other renewables do not generate.

Hydropower accounts for almost 2% of total electricity generation in the UK. Studies in Scotland, England and Wales indicate that there is a maximum remaining technical potential of around 1.5GW for small-scale hydro across these countries, with the majority in Scotland. Economic and environmental constraints mean that in practice the viable remaining resource is less than 1GW or 1% of total electricity generation capacity.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for what reason stadia with seating are allowed greater spectator capacities under covid-19 restrictions than those without; and if he will make a statement.

The government recognises the importance of spectators to competitive sport and remains committed to working towards their full return to stadiums as soon as it is safe to do so.

Step 3 of the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’ has permitted fans to return to both indoor and outdoor elite sporting events, albeit under capacity caps. from 17 May.

Only the largest seated stadia (16,000+) are able to benefit from the provision for higher capacities - where crowds can be safely dispersed around a large stadium area, and social distancing maintained at all times. The maximum attendance for these events is 10,000 people or 25% of seated capacity, whichever is lower.

It is important to note that the requirement that social distancing is maintained applies to all venues in Step 3, and events organisers are encouraged in guidance to ensure that crowds remain seated throughout performances and events.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing a Government-backed insurance scheme to musical festivals that may have to cancel events planned for summer 2021 as a result of the covid-19 oubreak; and if he will make a statement.

We are aware of the concerns which have been raised about securing insurance for live events.

Understandably, the bar for considering Government intervention is set extremely high. Given the high costs involved in setting up a scheme we need to make sure it is the most effective use of funds at a time when we are looking at how best to support the sector.

The evidence of market failure must clearly demonstrate that such a scheme is the only barrier to staging events. At the moment, progress with the vaccine rollout and beating the virus is crucial in achieving the next stages for large events as set out in the roadmap.

We are working closely with the sector to determine the appropriate and most effective response within the public health context. We will continue to engage with HMT on this matter.

10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps the Government is taking to increase opportunities for cycling in the countryside; and if he will make a statement.

Sports and physical activity are incredibly important for our physical and mental health, and are a vital weapon against coronavirus. That’s why we have made sure that people can exercise throughout the national and local tiered restrictions including cycling.

Last month Sport England published its new strategy Uniting the Movement which sets out their 10 year vision to transform lives and communities through sport and physical activity. A key part of the strategy is creating and protecting the places and spaces that make it easier for people to be active including encouraging walking and cycling.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether people living in sheltered accommodation are entitled to television licence fee concessions in the event that there are (a) one and (b) two rooms within their building which are used for overnight accommodation lasting for no more than 28 days; and if he will make a statement.

The concession available for a TV Licence for those in eligible residential care - known as the ‘accommodation for residential care concession’ - is set out in the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004.

Paragraph 3(5)(g) of Part 2 of Schedule 4 to the Regulations provides that a group of specially provided dwellings which is eligible for the concession will remain eligible even if one of the dwellings within the group is used for overnight accommodation, for no longer than 28 nights in any consecutive period, for any member of the family of any eligible person who lives in that group of dwellings.

There is no provision in the Regulations for a situation in which two of the dwellings within the group are used for overnight accommodation.

2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to consider the Gambling Commission’s consultation and call for evidence on Remote Customer Interaction as part of the Government's wider review of the Gambling Act 2005; and if he will make a statement.

The Gambling Commission requires operators to monitor play and to intervene where players may be at risk of harm. Its consultation and call for evidence on Remote Customer Interaction is considering whether further requirements are needed for how operators identify and interact with customers who may be at risk.

The Commission will be led by the evidence it receives in deciding its next steps, and its findings may also inform its advice to government on the Review of the Gambling Act 2005. Following a one month extension to allow extra evidence to be submitted, the deadline for submissions is now 9 February.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with Public Health England on the reasons for not allowing casinos to reopen as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased; and if he will make a statement.

DCMS officials are in regular contact with Public Health England and the casino sector to discuss the protections that are needed to allow casinos to reopen safely. This includes arranging a visit for public health representatives to assess the measures which are in place. I have spoken with representatives of the sector about the impacts of closure, and the government is working to ensure casinos can open as soon as the medical and scientific advice is that it is safe to do so.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the safety measures planned to be introduced by casinos to protect customers during the covid-19 outbreak; and what the timescale is for allowing casinos to be reopened.

DCMS officials are in regular contact with Public Health England and the casino sector to discuss the protections that are needed to allow casinos to reopen safely. This includes arranging a visit for public health representatives to assess the measures which are in place. I have spoken with representatives of the sector about the impacts of closure, and the government is working to ensure casinos can open as soon as the medical and scientific advice is that it is safe to do so.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the financial effect of the lockdown restrictions due to the covid-19 outbreak on casinos; and if he will make a statement.

DCMS officials are in regular contact with Public Health England and the casino sector to discuss the protections that are needed to allow casinos to reopen safely. This includes arranging a visit for public health representatives to assess the measures which are in place. I have spoken with representatives of the sector about the impacts of closure, and the government is working to ensure casinos can open as soon as the medical and scientific advice is that it is safe to do so.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will visit a casino to observe the safety measures being put in place to counter the spread of covid-19.

DCMS officials are in regular contact with Public Health England and the casino sector to discuss the protections that are needed to allow casinos to reopen safely. This includes arranging a visit for public health representatives to assess the measures which are in place. I have spoken with representatives of the sector about the impacts of closure, and the government is working to ensure casinos can open as soon as the medical and scientific advice is that it is safe to do so.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
13th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to promote apprenticeships in the digital, culture, media and sport sectors to help support the Government’s agenda of levelling up across the UK.

We are committed to supporting more employers in all sectors, including digital, culture, media, and sport, to use apprenticeships to develop the skilled workforces they need, and to supporting more people, from all backgrounds, to benefit from the high-quality training that apprenticeships offer.

In August, we launched a new £7 million flexi-job apprenticeship fund to support the greater use of apprenticeships in sectors, such as the creative industries, where flexible working practices are commonplace, including short periods of project-based employment. Flexi-job apprenticeships will enable apprentices to move between different host employers in a given sector or region as they complete the training requirements for their apprenticeship.

In addition, we are making it easier for large employers to transfer levy funds to support new starts in small businesses or in a certain sector or region. On 13 September, we launched a new online service to allow levy paying employers to advertise funding pledges, enabling a much wider range of businesses to browse and apply for available funds. It is brilliant to see that employers have already begun to take advantage of this opportunity, including Amazon who have made a pledge on the new service of £50,000 to support apprenticeships in the creative industries.

We are also working closely with Screenskills who are piloting a flexi-job apprenticeship training model funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with the support of Netflix and Warner Bros. The pilot is funding 20 apprentices in Production Assistant and Production Accountant roles and aims to widen participation in the film sector.

To further help employers offer new apprenticeships, employers can claim £3,000 for each apprentice they take on as a new employee until 30 September, under the government’s Plan for Jobs.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase the awareness among school pupils of mental health issues; and if he will make a statement.

The government is committed to promoting and supporting the mental health of children and young people.

Since September 2020, all pupils and students in state-funded schools are being taught about mental health as part of compulsory relationship, sex and health education. We are providing support for teaching that covers all of the key teaching requirements and prioritised the production of the training module covering mental wellbeing, so that it was available before the end of the summer term last year. Further information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teaching-about-mental-wellbeing and https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teaching-about-relationships-sex-and-health.

The government is also providing information and advice directly to children, young people and families. Public Health England have produced guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people's mental health and wellbeing and adapted its Every Mind Matters and Rise Above platforms in the context of the outbreak. Further information can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/?WT.tsrc=Search&WT.mc_id=Brand&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIuKSHjPr97gIVCbDtCh2XSwvcEAAYASAAEgKgJfD_BwE and https://riseabove.org.uk/.

We know that the COVID-19 outbreak is having an effect on the mental wellbeing of children and young people. Our Wellbeing for Education Return programme, backed by £8 million, has trained local experts to provide additional advice and resources for schools and further education providers to help support pupil and student, parent and carer, and staff wellbeing, resilience and recovery in light of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown. It will give staff the confidence to support pupils and students, their parents, carers and their own colleagues, and know how and where to access appropriate specialist support where needed. Additional information can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/supporting-pupils-wellbeing.

The department is convening a Mental Health in Education Action Group, to look at the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and staff in nurseries, schools, colleges, and universities. It will consider how to support mental wellbeing while children and young people are being taught remotely, as they return to education settings and with transitions between education settings in September 2021.

The government remains committed to long term improvements to support children and young people’s mental health, set out in the government’s response to its green paper and NHS Long Term Plan. This includes rolling out new Mental Health Support Teams to work with a fifth to a quarter of schools and colleges across the country by academic year 2023/24, offering training for a senior mental health lead in every state school in the country, and Link Programme training for all schools and colleges to help frontline health and education professionals work together effectively.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will continue to pay providers of early years education for children who are not able to attend; and if he will make a statement.

On 17 December 2020 the Government announced a return to funding early years settings for the spring term on the basis of attendance, as measured by the January 2021 census. The Early Years census count is still going ahead as expected and the census guidance is unchanged. To support local authorities, we have issued some technical advice on how that guidance can be applied this year.

In summary, children who are ill or self-isolating can be counted, as can those whose parents have temporarily withdrawn their children from open nurseries and childminders out of caution, and so long as the parent/guardian has not altered their parental declaration relating to expected hours with the provider.

Children should not be counted in the census where a setting has closed or restricted attendance, unless as a result of situations as set out in the supporting technical advice eg. staff sickness, COVID-19 isolation, staff shielding.

We stay in regular contact with the early years sector and have heard from them already on this subject. We will be closely monitoring both parental take-up of places and the capacity and responses of providers.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will enable apprenticeship levy costs to be temporarily used to fund existing staff wages in addition to training during the time restrictions imposed due to the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

We are developing guidance in partnership with the sector to support all parts of the apprenticeship system in response to the Covid-19 outbreak which is consistent with advice issued by Public Heath England. The specifics on this will follow as soon as possible.

Gillian Keegan
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to ensure that all wines sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are (a) treated as not at risk, (b) exempt from VI-1 certificates, (c) exempt from EU and Northern Ireland labelling requirements and (d) exempt from import declarations; and if he will make a statement.

The Government set out in our 21 July Command Paper The Northern Ireland Protocol – the way forward, proposals to find a new balance in the operation of the Protocol. To provide space for potential further discussions, and to give certainty and stability to businesses while any such discussions proceed, my Rt Hon Friend the Northern Ireland Secretary said in his most recent Statement that the Government had announced the previous day that we would continue to operate the Protocol on the current basis.

For the time being, this means that movements of wine from Great Britain to Northern Ireland must be accompanied by a simplified VI-1 certificate as outlined in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and meet the labelling standards required by the EU. Wine that is moved within the UK is not subject to tariffs.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to set a maximum bottle size of 700ml in the event that a deposit return scheme is introduced; and if he will make a statement.

Government undertook a second consultation on a deposit return scheme (DRS) earlier this year and we are currently analysing the responses to that consultation. The government response to the second consultation will include a final decision on the container size to be included in the scheme.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his policy to co-ordinate the introduction of a deposit return scheme and an extended producer responsibility; and if he will make a statement.

We have consulted on implementing a deposit return scheme (DRS) alongside a consultation on the extended producer responsibility (EPR) reforms to the packaging producer responsibility system – we are currently analysing responses to these consultations. As we finalise policy in both areas, we will ensure that we consider how these reforms work together well so they are as effective as possible.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will remove the requirement for imported wines to carry VI-1 certificates; and if he will make a statement.

On 25 July, the Government announced its intention to remove the requirement of VI-1 certification for all wine imports entering Great Britain. The removal of this barrier will cut unnecessary red tape for importers from both the EU and Rest of the World. This is great news for businesses and consumers, who will now see a significant trade burden lifted, which will ultimately lead to a reduction in the cost of wine. Industry analysis suggests that on average VI-1 certificates add 10p to every bottle of imported wine; British wine consumers can expect to save up to £130 million each year.

We are taking the necessary steps to begin the implementation process. On 9 September, we launched the consultation process for the removal for businesses who are directly impacted by the change. Once we have completed the consultation, we will then look to ensure that the necessary legislation is put in place as soon as possible.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department provides grants to help towards the recovery of a person's home following flooding; and if he will make a statement.

Following severe weather with significant impacts across multiple local authorities the Government can deploy the Flood Recovery Framework (Framework). Run by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), there are several Government schemes available for people whose properties have been flooded.

The Framework includes:

o Community Recovery Grant: Eligible local authorities will receive funding equivalent to £500 per flooded household.

o Business Recovery Grant: Eligible local authorities will receive £2,500 per eligible small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) which have suffered severe impacts from the floods that cannot be recovered from insurance.

o Council Tax Discount: The Government will reimburse eligible local authorities for the cost of providing residents with 100% council tax relief for a minimum of three months.

o Business Rates Relief: The Government will reimburse eligible local authorities for the cost of providing a minimum of three months of 100% relief from business rates, or longer if the business is unable to resume trading.

In addition, Defra may implement the Property Flood Resilience (PFR) Repair Scheme in exceptional circumstances. This provides flood-hit homes and businesses in eligible district and unitary authorities, to receive a contribution of up to £5,000 towards making properties more resilient against future flooding.

Both the Framework and PFR Repair Scheme were activated following severe flooding in November 2019 and February 2020. Tewkesbury is eligible for both the Framework and PFR Repair Scheme for both events.

With localised flooding incidents local authorities are expected to have contingency arrangements in place to respond and support the recovery from within their existing budgets. They have discretionary powers to fund grants, loans or other payments for home improvements. This can include funding for PFR measures.

The Government has doubled the amount it invests in the flood and coastal defence programme in England to £5.2 billion over six years. This will better protect a further 336,000 properties including homes and non-residential properties such as schools and hospitals. On 1 February 2021, Defra published a Call for Evidence which included looking at potential changes to the funding formula to provide further benefit to frequently flooded communities. It also explored ways to increase the uptake of PFR measures to enable householders and businesses to better prepare for flooding. The Call for Evidence closed in March and the Government is currently considering the responses received.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what grants are available to people to carry out work in their homes to protect them from flooding; and if he will make a statement.

Flooding has a devastating impact on communities, businesses and individuals, both in terms of physical damage and impacts on health, including mental health. The government closely monitors the impact on affected areas. With localised flooding incidents, local authorities are expected to have well established contingency arrangements in place and to be able to respond and support their local communities from within existing budgets.

Property measures that resist flood water, such as floor doors, which can reduce both the probability and damage from flooding, are eligible for Defra flood risk grant in aid. This eligibility is restricted to those properties that are at a very significant risk of flooding and that will move to a lower risk band as a result of the intervention. The Government has today published a Call for Evidence to explore potential changes for the future of the flood defence programme focusing on how we can strengthen our assessment of local circumstances. This includes looking at changes to how our flood defence investment programme can further benefit frequently flooded communities, and also exploring ways to increase the uptake of Property Flood Resilience measures

Local Councils also have discretionary powers to fund grants, loans or other payments for home improvements. This can include funding for Property Flood Resilience (PFR) measures. When opportunities for renewal, replacement or refurbishment arise for a property at flood risk; owners should consider integrating PFR measures that increase the 'flood recoverability' of the building. Following severe weather with significant impacts across multiple local authorities, the Government is able to deploy the Flood Recovery Framework.

During the unprecedented flooding in November 2019 and the storms which followed in winter 2019/2020, government announced PFR repair grants of up to £5,000 to help eligible properties affected by floods (homes, charities and businesses) become more flood resilient. The repair grants apply to those affected in district or unitary authorities that have 25 or more severely flooded properties.

The PFR repair grants are administered by eligible local authorities, with Defra reimbursing local authorities for grants paid for eligible properties. The most recent figures show that 47 district or unitary councils with over 7000 properties are eligible in England for the November 2019 and February 2020 PFR repair schemes. This includes 235 in the county of Gloucestershire, with 156 of these in Tewkesbury.

Local authorities on the November scheme now have until 31 December 2021 to recover their costs whilst local authorities on the February scheme have until 1 July 2022.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of (a) river dredging and (b) de-silting of minor waterways on reducing the incidence of flooding; and if he will make a statement.

The Environment Agency (EA) refers to dredging as the removal of accumulated material in a river. It is often done to maintain channel conveyance and ensure water can flow freely. Dredging also includes ‘de-silting’ which removes material like gravel or soil washed into rivers, as well as rocks and plant life.

To protect people and properties from flooding the EA prioritises activities that achieve the greatest benefit. Dredging and clearing channels are important parts of the EA’s maintenance regime when they improve the channel’s ability to carry increased river flows and manage flood risk. Over each of the past three years the EA has spent between £45 million and £55 million per year on channel maintenance, and between £5 million and £11 million of that is spent on dredging.

In 2010, the EA carried out a comprehensive series of trials to review and update the understanding of the benefits and effectiveness of dredging. It showed dredging can reduce flood risk, but its effectiveness and value-for-money varies significantly depending on location. Historic records and modelling also show that dredging in some locations can increase erosion and flood risk for communities downstream.

Since then, further studies such as the Thames bathymetry review have validated the results of the 2010 trials. In many cases, rivers naturally and quickly return to their pre-dredged state. Therefore any flood risk benefits are so short lived that the work cannot be economically justified.

The Somerset Rivers Authority and internal drainage boards (IDBs) have trialled alternative methods for dredging. These included both cutter suction and water injection dredging, and a full-scale 5 km trial using water injection dredging on the River Parrett. The trials demonstrated some potential to reduce costs of dredging in tidal rivers. The Environment Agency uses the results of such trials and studies to decide where and how dredging will be effective, on a case-by-case basis.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to speed up payments due to farmers under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme; and if he will make a statement.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has introduced a series of measures to simplify the guidance for Countryside Stewardship (CS) and make it easier to apply for the scheme. As of 24 April 2020, the RPA has issued full payments of £34 million to just over 56% of eligible CS 2019 annual revenue claims in comparison to 2018 where no full payments had been made. In recognition of the disruption caused by Coronavirus (Covid-19) we announced on 28 April that we will issue bridging payments, in May, for eligible 2019 CS annual revenue and Environmental Stewardship claims who have not received a full payment in order to help rural businesses with their cash-flow at this challenging time.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when he plans to publish details of the Farm Flood Recovery Scheme; and how farmers will be able to apply for support from that scheme; and if he will make a statement.

We announced on 20 March that the existing £4 million Farming Recovery Fund would be extended to cover the impacts of storms Ciara and Dennis and the further flooding that occurred in late February 2020. The available funding was increased by £6 million to help those who were most affected by these floods. Farmers in the eligible areas will be able to access up to £25,000 as a single contribution to cover their uninsurable losses. The funding will help with the re-cultivation or re-seeding of arable and grassland and the restoration of features such as field gates and fencing. As part of the announcement, we also confirmed a relaxation of the crop diversification requirements known as the three crop rule for 2020, to help any farmers who may have difficulty complying with the rule this year.

Defra has been working with the Rural Payments Agency to develop a new way to apply for the funding. We are now planning to launch a new application process that uses an online portal. Use of the portal will already be familiar to the many thousands of farmers who applied to the Countryside Productivity Small Grants scheme, and is recognised as being an easily accessible and fast route to access funding. This portal can be accessed via GOV.UK from late May and we will publicise its availability.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what support he is providing to farmers to compensate for the loss of milk sales as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

Defra is working closely with the dairy industry to manage the impact of Covid-19. Though demand for milk and some dairy products has increased in supermarkets, farmers supplying milk to processors that sell into the food service sector have seen a significant reduction in demand.

Between 5 and 10% of total milk production goes to the service trade and there is therefore a small proportion of milk production that currently has no home. The vast majority of Britain’s dairy farmers continue to supply their contracts at the usual price. In order to support affected farmers, we have eased some elements of competition law to make it easier for processors to come together to maximise production, processing and storage efficiency and ensure as much product as possible can be processed into high quality dairy products.

We have asked the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (which supports the interests of dairy farmers) and Dairy UK (which represents the processors) to work with farmers and processors to ensure that the industry can benefit from these easements. We stand ready to support them throughout this pandemic. This approach will allow the market for milk to adjust to the change in demand for milk while allowing production to be restored when shops, restaurants and pubs are able to open again.

The Government took a number of early emergency steps to support dairy farmers and the wider sector. These included designating employees in the food sector as key workers and temporarily relaxing the normal rules on drivers’ hours, enabling the sector to keep supply chains running, including deliveries from farm gate to processors.

The Government’s Covid-19 Business Interruption Loans scheme is available to the dairy industry. Defra has held urgent discussions with the major banks to ensure they understand that farmers, milk buyers and milk processors are eligible for this scheme and communications are being prepared to increase awareness across the dairy industry.

We will continue to engage closely with representatives from all parts of the dairy supply chain to support the sector throughout this challenging period.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what support he is providing to farmers to compensate for (a) the loss of product sales and (b) lower market prices as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The Government is aware that coronavirus represents a very significant challenge to daily life and to every part of the economy. We are working closely alongside the farming industry to ensure that we understand and manage the impacts to farming and the food supply chain.

Defra’s Food Chain Emergency Liaison Group is meeting regularly to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the food and farming sectors across the UK and what actions are needed to support the sector. This group includes the NFU, other industry stakeholders and the devolved administrations.

The Government is providing £330 billion of guarantees so any business needing cash can access a low-cost, Government-backed loan. If demand is greater than the initial £330 billion, then more capacity will be provided. This includes extension to the COVID-19 Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) as well as a new lending facility for larger firms.

The Government’s CBILS scheme is available to the farming sector and farm businesses are being encouraged to access the loans that are available from this scheme. Defra has held urgent discussions with the major banks to ensure they understand that farmers are eligible for this scheme and communications are being prepared to increase awareness across the industry.

The UK Agricultural Market Monitoring Group has increased the frequency of its meetings. Its aim is to monitor UK agricultural markets and provide forewarning of market movements. During the coronavirus outbreak this is allowing Defra and the Devolved Administrations to share the latest stakeholder information and to prepare the evidence base for a possible range of interventions needed in specific markets or specific geographical regions.

The Secretary of State remains in regular contact with representatives of the farming industry and will continue to engage with them on these important issues. We will continue to monitor the situation and to work closely with the farming sector and to respond to emerging issues as they arise.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure the planting of additional trees to reduce the risk of flooding; and if he will make a statement.

This Government has committed to increase planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares of trees per year by 2025. This will be supported in England by our £640 million Nature for Climate Fund, announced at the spring budget.

Additionally, we will soon consult on our English Tree Strategy. The consultation will seek feedback on policies to increase tree and woodland cover, including riparian planting along rivers and on hillsides. Planting trees can contribute to a wider catchment-based approach to flood alleviation, slowing the flow of water. The right tree in the right place can also improve water quality, biodiversity, air quality, and soil health.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make payments to farmers to use fields to soak up water at times of flood risk; and if he will make a statement.

There are many measures the Government can use to mitigate the risk of flooding and coastal erosion in England, especially when considered across an entire catchment. These include building and maintaining traditional defence schemes and using more natural processes, commonly known as natural flood management.

These natural processes, where appropriately designed and situated, play an important role by slowing the flow of flood water as it moves downstream. These processes can include tree planting, leaky debris dams and peatland restoration on upper slopes, flood washlands and river re-connection mid-catchment and management and creation of coastal marsh and sand dune systems in coastal areas.

Floodplains, and many washlands provide a natural and expected space to receive excess water when watercourses are subject to flood conditions. Outside of flood conditions these lands can provide opportunities for food production and/or useful spaces for wildlife and recreation.

However, there are additional spaces, including farmland, where intervention is needed to store flood water temporarily away from watercourses, when it will help to protect a community or critical infrastructure further downstream. Under the Water Resources Act 1991, Risk Management Authorities, including the Environment Agency, may, where appropriate, make payments to the landowner to allow for such land to be used as part of a scheme to create an area of temporary flood storage. The Environment Agency already has around 500 such arrangements with landowners around England.

Furthermore there is also a funding mechanism through Countryside Stewardship grants to encourage making space for water. This grant aims to help water flow in a winding course across floodplains, flooding temporarily to restore river and wetland habitats. It will also reduce the risk of high energy flows and soil erosion, and allow water to drain freely back into the river channel.

Finally, the new Environmental Land Management scheme will roll out from late 2024. The scheme will incentivise the reduction in and protection from environmental hazards. To deliver this public good it could pay farmers and other land managers for land management practices that can help reduce the impacts of, and enhance resilience to, flooding, for example incentivising temporary flood storage areas.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Environment Agency on the merits of dredging rivers; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Bosworth on 3 March 2020, PQ UIN 20056.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to review the funding arrangements of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities; and if he will make a statement.

Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities are primarily funded from local authorities under powers under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. In recognition that IFCAs were carrying out new functions, Defra has been providing them with £3million per year in New Burdens funding since their creation. The future of this funding will be considered alongside departmental budgetary requirements in the forthcoming Spending Review.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of introducing regulations on animal welfare standards for (a) animal sanctuaries and (b) re-homing organisations; and if he will make a statement.

The Government greatly appreciates the valuable work that responsible animal sanctuaries and rehoming organisations do in caring for animals. Evidence provided by respondents to the consultation on banning commercial third-party sales of puppies and kittens, reflected concerns about profit-driven activity and variations in welfare standards across the sector. The Government is committed to fully understanding the views of rescue and rehoming organisations themselves, and the possible impacts of introducing regulations to the sector and is currently engaging with the sector on assessing these issues. Any proposals to bring forward regulations on animal welfare standards for the sector will be subject to full public consultation.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the Answer of 29 October 2019 to Question 4960 on Dogs: Animal Welfare, when the research on responsible dog ownership her Department has commissioned from Middlesex University will be completed; and if he will make a statement.

The Defra funded research being carried out by Middlesex University on responsible dog ownership will be published in due course.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to ban (a) hand held, remote electric dog collars, (b) dog bark induced electric collars and (c) electric perimeter fencing for the control of dogs; and if he will make a statement.

The Government is committed to banning the use of hand-held remote controlled electronic dog collars and will lay the necessary legislation for such a ban as soon as Parliamentary time allows. The ban will not include dog bark induced collars or collars that work in connection with perimeter fencing.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what recent assessment she has made of the food security situation in Ethiopia; and if she will make a statement.

The worsening food security situation in Ethiopia is a significant concern. Ethiopia faces the triple threat of drought and floods, the worst desert locust outbreak in generations, and Covid-19. The UN and GoE estimate that 15 million people will be in need of humanitarian food assistance in the coming months and over 4 million children and mothers will face acute malnutrition as the full impacts of the triple-threat crisis materialise. The UK is a committed partner to the Government of Ethiopia and is supporting food and nutrition responses for the most vulnerable people. The UK recently announced £17 million for the East Africa desert locust response, bringing our total contribution up to £25 million.

22nd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, if she will allocate additional funding to the World Food Programme to enable it to increase assistance to East African countries; and if she will make a statement.

We are deeply concerned about the food security situation in East Africa, where nearly 25 million people are at crisis levels of food insecurity. Existing humanitarian need will be exacerbated by climate change, the desert locust outbreak and the impact of Covid-19.

The UK is working across East Africa to provide life-saving assistance, cash transfers where markets are still functioning, and tools and seeds to build a longer-term ability to respond to shocks. We are working through both our country programming and multilateral responses, which includes through the World Food Programme (WFP). In 2019, DFID has provided almost USD 700million to support WFP's operations. In 2020, our contribution so far is USD 254million (this includes a USD 19million contribution to WFP's global services in response to Covid-19).

4th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what restrictions the Government has put in place in relation to arms sales to Saudi Arabia; and if he will make a statement.

All arms sales are subject to export licensing. The Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, last updated in a Written Ministerial Statement on 25 March 2014, remains the policy for assessing all licence applications.

Work to develop a revised assessment process enabling my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade to re-take the licensing decisions remitted to her by the Court of Appeal’s judgment of 20 June 2019, has advanced steadily and significantly since the judgment. An announcement will be made once the Secretary of State is in a position to re-take these decisions.

Until such time as these decisions are retaken, or a successful appeal against the judgment is concluded, the Government is under an obligation not to grant any new licences to export items to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the conflict in Yemen.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what support he is offering to the civil aviation industry while covid-19 public health restrictions on international travel remain in place; and if he will make a statement.

The Government recognises the challenging circumstances facing the aviation industry because of Covid-19 and firms experiencing difficulties have been able to draw upon the unprecedented package of measures announced by the Chancellor. In total, we estimate that by the end of September 2021 the air transport sector (airlines, airports and related services) will have benefited from around £7bn of Government support since the start of the pandemic. This includes support through loan guarantees, support for exporters, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Department for Transport works closely with HM Treasury on matters related to aviation. We continue to take a flexible approach and keep all impacts and policies under review.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to provide approved routes for riders of motorised scooters to make pavements safer for pedestrians; and if he will make a statement.

Motorised scooters may refer to either e-scooters or electric mobility scooters and/or powered wheelchairs which are classified as invalid carriages. Trials of rental e-scooters are currently being run by the Department to assess their safety and wider impacts.

For the e-scooter trials, it is a requirement for all operators involved in the trials to provide training to users. This takes place in various forms: apps; training videos; face-to-face training. It is illegal to use any e-scooter in spaces which are set aside for use by pedestrians and horse-riders, this includes the pavement. E-scooters used in trial areas can be used on cycle paths and tracks. We have asked operators in trial areas to develop more robust geo-fencing to tackle pavement riding and other anti-social behaviour. Outside of the trials, e-scooters remain illegal to use, unless ridden on private land with the permission of the landowner.

The Department has published an information sheet for mobility scooter users including where they can be used and how the Highway Code applies to them. It is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/mobility-scooters-and-powered-wheelchairs-on-the-road-some-guidance-for-users.

There are no plans to provide approved routes for either type of vehicle. Local authorities are responsible for running the trials and are able to control how the trials run in their areas, it is for them to determine if they wish to implement approved routes.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that riders of motorised scooters are aware of their safety responsibilities on pavements; and if he will make a statement.

Motorised scooters may refer to either e-scooters or electric mobility scooters and/or powered wheelchairs which are classified as invalid carriages. Trials of rental e-scooters are currently being run by the Department to assess their safety and wider impacts.

For the e-scooter trials, it is a requirement for all operators involved in the trials to provide training to users. This takes place in various forms: apps; training videos; face-to-face training. It is illegal to use any e-scooter in spaces which are set aside for use by pedestrians and horse-riders, this includes the pavement. E-scooters used in trial areas can be used on cycle paths and tracks. We have asked operators in trial areas to develop more robust geo-fencing to tackle pavement riding and other anti-social behaviour. Outside of the trials, e-scooters remain illegal to use, unless ridden on private land with the permission of the landowner.

The Department has published an information sheet for mobility scooter users including where they can be used and how the Highway Code applies to them. It is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/mobility-scooters-and-powered-wheelchairs-on-the-road-some-guidance-for-users.

There are no plans to provide approved routes for either type of vehicle. Local authorities are responsible for running the trials and are able to control how the trials run in their areas, it is for them to determine if they wish to implement approved routes.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to reduce the time taken by DVLA staff to answer telephone calls from the public; and if he will make a statement.

Throughout the pandemic the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s contact centre has actively managed its operation and flexed the services for customers in line with the available resources. To help respond to more enquiries, remote working has been increased with staff handling email, webchat, social media and telephone customer contacts. The DVLA has also procured the use of an additional building to increase the number of staff able to take calls.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to help cyclists to become more safety conscious when using the roads; and if he will make a statement.

The Government is committed by the end of this Parliament to providing cycle training to all children and to all adults who want it. The training will include a strong safety focus, which will give more people the knowledge and skills to cycle confidently and safely on the roads. The Department is already providing £18 million funding for Bikeability training for children and families in 2021/22: funding for cycle training in future years will be a matter for the Spending Review. The Department is also updating The Highway Code to improve safety for cyclists, and this will include strengthened advice on how to cycle safely.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to encourage passengers to safely use the railways as covid-19 restrictions are eased; and if he will make a statement.

Our priority remains the safety of staff and passengers. Rail operators are working hard to ensure passengers can travel safely, in line with Public Health England advice. Measures taken thus far include regular station speaker announcements, the installation of clear floor markings and the provision of extra staff to manage passenger flows and provide guidance. As of 15 June, we have also made face coverings compulsory on public transport, to minimise the chances of the virus being spread by asymptomatic patients.

In order to support a safe, green recovery and new working patterns, the department is also working with industry to explore already available options for flexible commuters, such as carnets, and what steps could be taken quickly to make these as useful and convenient for passengers as possible.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with train operating companies on the potential merits of offering incentives for passengers to safely return to using the railways as covid-19 restrictions are eased; and if he will make a statement.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 17th July and as we now understand the epidemiology of the virus better and can control it through targeted, local action, we are extending our plan to lift the remaining national restrictive measures. Our priority remains the safety of staff and passengers. Rail operators are making sure passengers have the confidence to return to the railway, and continue to take all necessary measures to make rail travel safe. These include the installation of clear floor markings and the provision of extra staff to manage passenger flows and provide guidance. On 15 June, we made face coverings compulsory on public transport, to prevent the transmission of the virus by asymptomatic patients.

In order to support a safe, green recovery and new working patterns, the department is also working with industry to explore already available options for flexible commuters, such as carnets, and what steps could be taken quickly to make these as useful and convenient for passengers as possible.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the covid-19 outbreak, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of permitting a twelve month extension to MOT tests for heavy goods vehicles in cases where it can be shown to be safe to do so; and if he will make a statement.

The Government is aware of calls from some sectors of the road haulage industry to issue Certificates of Temporary Exemption for periods of up to 12 months, in order to mitigate operational issues. These views are being actively considered at present. Consequent to passage of the Business and Planning Bill, regulations will be made relating to this issue in coming weeks.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has in place to enable commercial vehicles to undergo MOT testing; and if he will make a statement.

The restart of heavy vehicle testing at scale was announced on 19 June to take effect from 4 July. Testing will initially be on a voluntary basis and Certificates of Temporary Exemption will still be available to manage the backlog of tests.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what support his Department is providing to Network Rail on new open access rail applications such as those on the Great Western Main Line to operate between London, Bristol and South Wales.

The Department responded to Network Rail’s consultation on the latest open access application on the Great Western Main Line. The matter remains under consideration by Network Rail and the independent Office of Rail and Road.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to his oral contribution of 12 May 2020, Official Report, column 176, what guidance he has provided to Network Rail on supporting new open-access rail applications.

It is Network Rail’s responsibility to carry out a rigorous and robust assessment of the capacity and performance impacts on the network of each new open access application. The Department engages with Network Rail, as appropriate, on each new open access application.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) existing and (b) proposed open access rail operations; and if he will make a statement.

The independent Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is responsible for determining access to the track for open access operators. However. we acknowledge that open access operators can play a contributory role improving rail services for passengers in circumstances where it delivers new and innovative services.

The DfT, as the competent franchising authority, have to balance the benefits of new open access operators with the impact on the value for money of taxpayers’ significant investment in the railway. We are aware that some open access operators have paused operations due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and hope to see them return to the network as soon as possible.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what support he plans to provide to new open access rail proposals on the Great Western Mainline.

The independent Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is responsible for determining access to the track for open access operators. However, we acknowledge that open access operators can play a contributory role improving rail services for passengers in circumstances where it delivers new and innovative services.

The DfT, as the competent franchising authority, have to balance the benefits of new open access operators with the impact on the value for money of taxpayers’ in the railway.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
11th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to support Network Rail to identify available rail capacity on the Great Western Mainline for new open access rail services between London, Bristol and South Wales.

The Department responded to Network Rail’s consultation on the latest open access application submitted on the Great Western Main Line. The matter remains under consideration by Network Rail and the independent Office of Rail and Road.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to expand bus services in rural areas; and if he will make a statement.

The bus market outside London is deregulated and decisions regarding service provision are primarily a commercial matter for bus operators. Local authorities are free to make their own decisions about the areas under their care, provided they take account of the relevant legislation.

Local councils are encouraged to utilise the tools in the Bus Services Act 2017, to help improve rural bus services and increase passenger numbers.

The Government provides £43 million of the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) directly to local authorities so that they can subsidise socially necessary bus services. As part of the 2018-19 local government finance settlement, the Government responded to a number of councils’ concerns over rural services funding by increasing the Rural Services Delivery Grant to £81 million. The 2019-20 settlement increased the Grant to the same level.

The additional £5 billion announced by the Prime Minister will boost bus services by including higher frequency services, new priority schemes to make routes more efficient, more affordable, simpler, fares and at least 4,000 new Zero Emission Buses.

This is on top of the £220 million Better Deal for Bus Users package announced by the Government on 30 September to transform bus services across the country. This includes funds for £20 million to support demand responsive services in rural and suburban areas, which local authorities can bid for.

This package contains a further £30 million of funding to improve current services and restore lost services.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the total cost of universal credit has been to the Exchequer in each of the last five years; and what the cost per annum is of the £20 per week uplift.

Extending the £20 increase by 12 months would cost over £6 billion per year, roughly equivalent to adding 1p on the basic rate of income tax and an additional 3p increase in fuel duty.

Actual and forecast Universal Credit expenditure are published in the Benefit Expenditure and Caseload Tables and can be found in, Table 1a and Table 1b, at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/953118/outturn-and-forecast-autumn-budget-2020-revised.xlsx

The Department for Work and Pensions estimates the temporary Universal Credit £20 uplift, in 2020/2021, cost around £5bn and estimates the six month extension in 2021 cost around £2.2bn in Great Britain, which can be found here: Economic and fiscal outlook - March 2021 - Office for Budget Responsibility (obr.uk) - Welfare spending, 3.79 to 3.83 on pages 133 to 134.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the effect of the time taken for a claimant to receive their first universal credit payment on the financial situation of those claimants; and if she will make a statement.

Universal Credit is now the main system of working age welfare support across the country. It is available in every Jobcentre, with a caseload of 2.8 million claimants, growing every month, now able to access the additional support and flexibilities it offers.

Claimants can access up to 100% of the total expected monthly award, which they can pay back over a period of up to 12 months. We have announced that from October 2021, the repayment period for these advances will be extended further, to 16 months. Claimants who utilise this support have more money in the first 6 months than on legacy benefits.

Our Work Coaches gauge claimants’ financial needs from their first interview. As part of this, every claimant is offered an advance payment on application. Proposed repayments of the advance are explained, and all claimants are advised to request a level of advance which is manageable both now and when considering the repayments required.

The Department has delivered a number of improvements to support claimants during their first assessment period, such as removing waiting days and paying those claimants moving from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit a two-week run-on. We are also introducing a two-week run-on for eligible claimants of Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance from July 2020.

Data surrounding Universal Credit payments made in full and on time is published at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk

Guidance for users is available at: https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Getting-Started.html

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has for increasing the availability of independent prescribers in community pharmacy settings; and if he will make a statement.

The General Pharmaceutical Council published new standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists in January 2021. The implementation of these standards will transform the education and training of pharmacists, so they are able to play a much greater role in providing clinical care to patients and the public. This will ensure that there is a supply of pharmacists qualified to independently prescribe.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to promote the Nursery Milk Scheme to eligible recipients to increase uptake of that scheme.

The Nursery Milk Scheme is operated by the Nursery Milk Reimbursement Unit on behalf of the Department. The scheme is promoted through the Nursery Milk website at the following link:

https://www.nurserymilk.co.uk/

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason table service is currently required in pubs.

The Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies have advised that ‘the disinhibitory effects of alcohol are likely to exacerbate difficulties with social distancing’. As a result, we are requiring table service for a range of venues that serve alcohol, including pubs, to reduce the likelihood of individuals attending these premises coming into close contact and reduce the transmission risk.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the level of funding allocated to providers of dialysis (a) in a clinical setting and (b) at home.

NHS England and NHS Improvement commission specialist services for patients requiring renal dialysis using renal dialysis tariffs. Renal dialysis tariffs take into account the different types of dialysis used and where dialysis occurs, such as in renal units and at home. Funding decisions for these specialised services are made in line with local priorities and in the context of the interim funding regime in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the number of patients who will require dialysis in each of the next five years.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have launched a Renal Services Transformation Programme that includes improving renal dialysis services as a major theme and will involve consideration of future demand for dialysis services over the next three years. There are approximately 28,000 people currently receiving dialysis in England and the programme will include the modelling of different scenarios taking into account demographics, disease prevalence and other factors that will impact future demand.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals to use powers under the Medicines and Medical Devices Act 2021 to improve the regulation of clinical trials; and if he will make a statement.

Work is ongoing to develop proposals for the regulation of clinical trials, including using powers under the Medicines and Medical Devices Act 2021. We plan to consult on these proposals later this year, in advance of bringing forward legislation.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what criteria the National Institute for Health Research used to select the sites for the National Patient Recruitment Centres; and what steps his Department plans to take to (a) evaluate the effectiveness of those centres and (b) publish that information.

The designation of individual Patient Recruitment Centres (PRC) was undertaken following an open competition in which applications were assessed by an independent panel against the following criteria:

- A proven track record in the delivery of late-phase commercial research;

- Demonstration of excellence in corporate governance and financial control;

- A proven culture of patient-focused research;

- Demonstration of a strategic commitment to the delivery of late-phase commercial research;

- The development of commercial sustainability and a proven track record of effective cross-sector partnership working;

- An understanding of the importance to United Kingdom Plc competitiveness of fair, consistent and timely contracting and costing;

- Systems and processes to support excellence in information governance and data management; and

- Systems and processes to support excellence in contract management.

Each PRC has a contract with defined contractual management arrangements in place through the National Institute of Health Research. This includes a post-contract review on progress against objectives and to evaluate benefits achieved and identify any lessons learned.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he will take to encourage cooperation in commercial clinical research on the development of vaccines; and if he will make a statement.

The Departmental funded National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) research infrastructure provides the expertise and facilities needed for first-class research to be undertaken within the health and care system that researchers can access as part of the clinical development process. All NIHR research infrastructure actively supports collaboration with the life sciences industry, charities and other funders, enabling the development of new treatments, technologies, diagnostics and interventions to prevent disease, including vaccines.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the equipment available to eradicate (a) pseudomonas and (b) legionella type bacteria in water systems in health care environments; and if he will make a statement.

The Healthcare Safety Investigations Branch (HSIB) is studying the safety of oxygen systems in relation to COVID-19 but NHS England and NHS Improvement are not aware of any current safety incidents related to Pseudomonas or Legionella type bacteria. Each healthcare provider is expected to have a water safety policy and plan, covering both Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is monitored by their water safety group. This group should include infection prevention and control subject matter experts as part of its membership.

These water safety policies and plans will specify the requirements for the design, installation and commissioning of equipment and water testing which includes a risk stratification for clinical areas based upon national guidance. The guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hot-and-cold-water-supply-storage-and-distribution-systems-for-healthcare-premises

This draws together and updates the previous guidance and includes recommendations for the safe management of water systems and how to manage and minimise the risks to health from various aspects including those presented by Pseudomonas and Legionella bacteria.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to prevent pseudomonas from occurring in health care environments; and if he will make a statement.

The Healthcare Safety Investigations Branch (HSIB) is studying the safety of oxygen systems in relation to COVID-19 but NHS England and NHS Improvement are not aware of any current safety incidents related to Pseudomonas or Legionella type bacteria. Each healthcare provider is expected to have a water safety policy and plan, covering both Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is monitored by their water safety group. This group should include infection prevention and control subject matter experts as part of its membership.

These water safety policies and plans will specify the requirements for the design, installation and commissioning of equipment and water testing which includes a risk stratification for clinical areas based upon national guidance. The guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hot-and-cold-water-supply-storage-and-distribution-systems-for-healthcare-premises

This draws together and updates the previous guidance and includes recommendations for the safe management of water systems and how to manage and minimise the risks to health from various aspects including those presented by Pseudomonas and Legionella bacteria.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent progress he has made on improving mental health services; what plans he has for making further such improvements; and if he will make a statement.

During the pandemic, we have seen a shift to remote delivery of talking therapies delivered by the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. Remote delivery has ensured that people can continue to access help from the safety of their own home and access IAPT services from anywhere in England. For those with severe needs or in crisis, all National Health Service mental health providers have established 24 hours a day, seven days a week urgent mental health helplines


We are increasing investment in community mental health care for adults year-on-year, up to almost £1 billion extra by 2023/24. To improve eating disorder services, we recently announced additional early intervention services for young people aged 16-25 years old, to be rolled out in 18 sites across the country. We remain committed to the ambitions in the NHS Long Term Plan to expand and transform mental health services in England and to investing an additional £2.3 billion a year in mental health services by 2023/24.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the availability of mental health support for children and young people in Gloucestershire; and if he will make a statement.

No such assessment has been made. Clinical commissioning groups are responsible for the planning and commissioning of healthcare services for their local population, including children and young people.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of placing food processing staff in same priority group for the covid-19 vaccine as those aged 65 to 69 years old; and if he will make a statement.

Food processing staff who are eligible for a vaccine, because of their age or clinical factors, will be prioritised for a vaccine in phase one. Prioritisation decisions for the second 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 Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. Phase two will focus on further reduction in hospitalisation and targeted vaccination of those at high risk of exposure and/or those delivering key public services.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
26th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to promote the use of clear face masks to improve communication; and if he will make a statement.

In the second half of 2020, the Department procured 250,000 transparent face masks from ClearMask. These masks were piloted in health and social care settings and feedback from users was assessed. Following this pilot, we will be running a broader assessment of products from a range of manufactures to inform future procurement. We are clear that we want to deliver sufficient volumes of good quality, clinically secure transparent masks to the relevant clinical and care specialisms that need them.

In non-clinical settings, transparent face coverings have been suggested by some stakeholders as a helpful way to enable communication for those who rely on lip reading. We are not currently promoting transparent face coverings due to a lack of scientific evidence of their effectiveness. The Government will be guided by the scientific evidence emerging in this area.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will prioritise food processing staff for the covid-19 vaccine; and if he will make a statement.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that the priority for the current COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of COVID-19 mortality and the protection of health and social care staff and systems.

The Government will set out plans for phase two of the vaccination programme in due course, based on further advice from the JCVI. Phase two of the roll-out may include further reduction in hospitalisation and targeted vaccination of those at high risk of exposure and/or those delivering key public services.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will prioritise teachers in special schools for the covid-19 vaccine.

We have no plans to prioritise teachers and key workers by their occupation.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s interim advice for phase two of the vaccination programme sets out the most effective way to minimise hospitalisations and deaths is to continue to prioritise people by age.

If teachers or key workers are captured in phase one or two due to their age or clinical need they will be vaccinated accordingly.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that NHS Trusts make use of independent sector facilities to provide community covid-19 vaccinations in Gloucestershire.

We are grateful for the offers from businesses up and down the country, including supermarkets and sporting arenas, to use their venues as vaccination centres. NHS England and NHS Improvement have been working to identify partners and work with those whose facilities have been identified as suitable. NHS England and NHS Improvement are ensuring that all offers are appropriately considered, alongside local leaders, including from local authorities, to understand potential partnerships that build on the existing network.

We have many partnerships already in place. Seven large scale vaccination centres opened on 11 January, a further ten opened on 18 January and over 30 opened on 25 January. The centres offer an alternative to general practice and hospital services and can each deliver thousands of vaccinations every week. The initial sites were chosen from those ready to vaccinate large numbers of people quickly to give a geographical spread covering as many people as possible.

Currently, in England, 96% of the population is within 10 miles of a vaccine service and by the end of January, everyone will live within 10 miles of a vaccination service. In a small number of highly rural areas, the vaccination centre will be a mobile unit. Regularly updated data on the locations of hospital hubs and local vaccination services is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/hospital-hubs-and-local-vaccination-services/

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent estimate he has made of the number of covid-19 test results which are lost; what steps he is taking to reduce that number; and if he will make a statement.

NHS Test and Trace is successfully protecting the nation from COVID-19 by breaking chains of transmission through testing, contact tracing, and outbreak management.

There are no recorded clinical incidents of data loss through the digital testing process. There are a number of reasons why a result may appear lost, including tests being returned without a barcode, where the registration process (which links samples to an individual) hasn’t been completed or is entered inaccurately making it impossible to reconcile the test to a subject.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing free vaccinations against influenza in advance of winter 2020 to anyone who requests one; and if he will make a statement.

The flu vaccination programme will be a critical part of preparing the United Kingdom for winter. On 14 May we published the Annual Flu letter 2020/21, available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/885281/The_national_flu_immunisation_programme_2020_to_2021.pdf

This indicated the main groups who are eligible for free flu vaccination.

We are planning for the flu season well in advance and further details will be published soon.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will take steps to shorten the diagnostic pathway for ovarian cancer; and if he will make a statement.

The NHS Long Term Plan sets out an ambition that, by 2028, the proportion of cancers diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 will rise from around half to three-quarters

of cancer patients.

Other key actions to increase an early diagnosis of ovarian cancer are:

- roll out of faster diagnosis standard will ensure that patients who are referred for the investigation of suspected cancer find out within 28 days if they do or do not have a cancer diagnosis;

- new Rapid Diagnostic Centres will bring together diagnostic equipment and expertise to streamline diagnostic services for cancer;

- campaigns to raise greater awareness of the symptoms of cancer; and

- lowering the threshold for referral by general practitioners (GPs).

As the National Health Service responds to COVID-19, we are encouraging anybody with symptoms that could be indicative of cancer to continue to contact their GP. GPs will continue to refer so that patients can be managed appropriately, and NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with Cancer Alliances to ensure diagnostic services are available to carry out the necessary investigations.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will extend the list of people categorised as vulnerable in respect of the covid-19 outbreak to include newborn babies; and if he will make a statement.

The over 70s, women who are pregnant and adults who are eligible for the flu jab may be at increased risk from COVID-19 and have been advised to be particularly stringent in following stay at home measures.

We keep the list of categories which make someone clinically extremely vulnerable under constant clinical review. General practitioners (GPs) and hospital clinicians also have the discretion to add individual patients to the list based on careful, clinical assessments of each individual’s needs. This will require expert clinical judgement on a patient-by-patient basis. GPs and hospital specialists have been provided with guidance to support these decisions.

There are currently no plans to extend the list of people categorised as vulnerable to include newborn babies as there is no evidence that babies are any more susceptible to, or have worse outcomes from contracting COVID-19.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will prioritise the testing of medical staff and their families during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

Testing is a crucial part of the United Kingdom’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are working on multiple fronts to deliver additional testing capacity into the system.

We are working hard to ensure we can adequately test for and respond to COVID-19. As part of this, we are ensuring we prioritise testing of the most acutely ill and vulnerable patients in hospitals.

As additional testing capacity becomes available, the next priority group will be National Health Service staff and other key workers.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
16th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent advice he has issued to GP surgeries on restricting patients' access as a result of covid-19; and if he will make a statement.

The latest guidance for general practitioners (GPs) is being updated on NHS England and NHS Improvement website at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/preparedness-letters-for-general-practice/

The full utilisation of technology such as online triage is important.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many GPs have been contracted to the NHS in each of the last 20 years for which figures are available.

The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) doctors working in general practice in England in each year since September 2015 presented in the following table. Data is not included prior to 2015 as improvements were made to the methodology for recording all staff working in general practice and data prior to this is not comparable.

FTE

September 2015

September 2016

September 2017

September 2018

September 2019

All general practitioners (GPs)

34,429

35,229

34,653

34,534

34,862

Source: NHS Digital

Notes:

1. Data as at 30 September 2019.

2. Figures shown do not include GPs working in prisons, army bases, educational establishments, specialist care centres including drug rehabilitation centres, walk-in centres and other alternative settings.

3. Each period, figures contain estimates, for practices that did not provide fully valid General Medical Practice GP records.

4. FTE refers to the proportion of full time contracted hours that the post holder is contracted to work. 1 would indicate they work a full set of hours (37.5), 0.5 that they worked half time. In Registrars' contracts 1 FTE = 40 hours. To ensure consistency, these FTEs have been converted to the standard wMDS measure of 1 FTE = 37.5 hours in the table.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many (a) doctors and (b) nurses have been employed in hospitals in each of the last 20 years for which figures are available.

NHS Digital publishes Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS) workforce statistics. These include staff working in hospital trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), but not staff working in primary care, general practitioner surgeries, local authorities or other providers.

Due to changes in the data collection and processing methodology, it is not possible to compare data prior to September 2009. Data from 2009 onwards relate to the HCHS workforce directly employed in National Health Service trusts and CCGs who are paid for activity. Data from 2000 to 2008 will include some staff not receiving pay for activity and some staff employed by NHS support organisations and central bodies.

The following table shows the number of doctors and nurses and health visitors in NHS trusts and CCGs as at September for each year specified, full time equivalent.

Doctors

Nurses and health visitors

2000

62,094

229,588

2001

64,055

238,647

2002

68,260

250,648

2003

72,260

260,149

2004

78,462

268,704

2005

82,568

276,086

2006

85,975

277,387

2007

87,533

275,211

2008

91,586

281,021

The following table shows the number of doctors and nurses and health visitors in NHS trusts and CCGs as at November 2019, the latest available data and at September for each year specified, full time equivalent.

Doctors

Nurses and health visitors

2009

95,410

278,470

2010

97,130

279,883

2011

98,389

277,047

2012

99,529

271,407

2013

101,137

274,627

2014

103,330

278,981

2015

104,498

281,474

2016

106,131

284,288

2017

109,002

283,853

2018

111,247

285,674

2019

116,416

292,934

November 2019

117,382

297,449

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of asking people to wear gloves in order to stop the spreading of viruses.

The Government is considering all options to tackle COVID-19 and continues to be guided by the science. Public Health England’s (PHE) advice on how to minimise the spread of viruses focuses on hand hygiene and the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ advice for coughs and sneezes. Recent campaign materials are available to view at the following link:

https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/101-coronavirus-/resources

PHE has issued the following guidance on COVID-19: infection prevention and control guidance. This recommends the use of Personal Protective Equipment, including disposable gloves by healthcare professionals or facilities that may be involved in the investigation or management and care of possible COVID-19 patients. The guidance can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-wn-cov-infection-prevention-and-control-guidance#PPE

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

Nearly 80% of the Yemeni population, or 24 million people, need some form of humanitarian assistance. The crisis is exacerbated by severe food insecurity, a collapsing economy, the C-19 pandemic and the escalation of fighting in Marib. The UK has played an important role in responding to this crisis, contributing over £1 billion since the conflict began. Our pledge of at least £87 million for this financial year 2021 - 2022 will feed an additional 240,000 of the most vulnerable Yemenis every month, support 400 healthcare clinics and provide clean water for 1.6 million people. We will also provide one-off cash support to 1.5m of Yemen's poorest households. We continue to call on all parties to facilitate unhindered access for humanitarian actors and agencies and ensure that humanitarian workers are able to conduct their work safely.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what support the Government is providing to Nepal to help tackle the spread of covid-19 in that country; and if he will make a statement.

The UK Government is one of the leading donors to Covax, committing £548m to the scheme, which will provide more than a billion vaccines to developing countries including doses for almost a fifth of Nepal's population. The UK has funded a new £180,000 duplex oxygen generation plant at the Nepal Police Hospital in Kathmandu to help address oxygen shortages to treat COVID19 patients. On 19 and 20 May Lord Ahmad held meetings with Foreign Minister Gyawali and the Nepalese Ambassador to discuss what further support the UK could offer.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
18th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent estimate he has made of the number of British citizens in Grenada awaiting repatriation as as result of the covid-19 pandemic; what steps are being taken to repatriate those people; and if he will make a statement.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is working around the clock, through our Posts overseas and in London, to make sure all British travellers who need and want to return to the UK are receiving the support and information they need. The number of British travellers that may still require support to return home across the globe is now in the low tens of thousands. It is difficult to be more precise because there have been instances of multiple registrations by the same individual, people not reporting their return to the UK via other means, and long term residents registering for flights even though they were not eligible. We have brought home over 32,000 people on 155 flights organised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 29 countries and territories. We have also supported over 11,000 people to return home from the Caribbean via commercial means.

We are aware of pockets of British travellers across the Eastern Caribbean area, including in Grenada, and our effort is focused on supporting their return as quickly and safely as possible. We are sharing information with British travellers affected through our Travel Advice page and will update them as we have news.

We have lobbied airlines and the local authorities to keep routes out of Grenada open for as long as possible, allowing nearly all short- term visitors to leave. We also promoted details of departure options from Grenada on our social media platforms.

Our consular network in the region continues to provide support to British nationals who require assistance.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he plans to maintain restrictions on arms sales to Saudi Arabia; and if he will make a statement.

The Government's position remains that, until it retakes licensing decisions in line with the 20 June 2019 judgment of the Court of Appeal, it will not issue any new licences for exports to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners for possible use in the conflict in Yemen.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts throughout the world on the protection of religious freedoms in their countries; and if he will make a statement.

Defending and promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) is a longstanding human rights priority for the British Government. Through our diplomatic network, we lobby governments for changes in laws and practices that discriminate against individuals on the basis of their religion or belief. Over recent months, ministers and diplomats have raised FoRB concerns in many countries both bilaterally and through multilateral institutions such as the UN, EU and OSCE. Our Minister of State responsible for Human Rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, has held Freedom of Religion or Belief roundtables, including in Lebanon. He met the Polish Foreign Minister on 19 January at the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance ministerial meeting to reaffirm their commitments to defend FoRB for all. The Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for FoRB has visited Bahrain and the Holy See and has held discussions with the Ambassadors of a number of countries in London and also with a number of other FoRB Special Envoys to see how they can work more closely together to advance FoRB. Ministers have also pressed for the rights of those unfairly detained, including calling for the immediate release of all Baha’is in Iran and Yemen imprisoned for their beliefs.

We have encouraged our diplomatic missions to consider what they can do to engage their host governments where human rights violations and abuses relating to freedom of religion or belief are of concern. We will also continue to work with faith leaders and civil society organisations to tackle discrimination and persecution and to promote the value and benefit - to individuals, communities and wider society - of Freedom of Religion or Belief and mutual respect.

Heather Wheeler
Assistant Whip
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will provide additional financial support to businesses affected by the postponement of the easing of covid-19 restrictions planned for 21 June 2021; and if he will make a statement.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods while also supporting businesses and public services across the UK.

The Government put in place an economic package of support totalling £352 billion through the furlough and self-employed income support schemes, support for businesses through grants and loans, business rates and VAT relief.

At Budget the Government deliberately went long and erred on the side of generosity – specifically to accommodate any short delay to the roadmap. Most of the Government’s Covid support schemes do not end until September or after, in order to provide continuity and certainty for businesses and families.

The Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) announced at Budget 2021 ensures lenders continue to have the confidence to lend, ensuring viable businesses, including small businesses, continue to have access to Government-backed finance needed throughout 2021. The scheme launched on 6 April 2021, following the closure of the emergency schemes to new loan applications on 31 March 2021, and will run until 31 December 2021. The scheme operates UK-wide, providing an 80% guarantee to lenders for term loans, overdrafts, and invoice and asset finance.

At Budget, it was also announced that local authorities in England will receive a top-up worth a total of £425m to the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) fund. This, combined with the £1.6 billion previously allocated, means local authorities will have received over £2bn of discretionary grant funding to support businesses which are not eligible for Restart Grants but which are nonetheless experiencing a severe impact on their business due to public health restrictions. Nearly half of the £2bn is still with local authorities and yet to be allocated.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was introduced to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus to retain their employees and protect the UK economy. All businesses across the UK can access the scheme, with employees receiving 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. At Budget the government extended the CJRS until the end of September 2021, to support businesses and employees through the next stage of the pandemic. The economy now is in a stronger position than it was last autumn, when businesses also contributed up to 20 per cent of wage costs.

In line with the extension to the CJRS, the government announced at Budget 2021 that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will continue until September, with a fourth and a final fifth grant. This provides certainty to business as the economy reopens and means the SEISS will continue to be one of the most generous schemes for the self-employed in the world.

As restrictions have been lifted, it is right that we ask employers to contribute more to strike the balance between supporting the economy as it opens up, continuing to provide support and protect incomes, and ensuring incentives are in place to get people back to work.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of the removal of customs and VAT guarantees for the temporary admission of thoroughbreds to Great Britain for racing and breeding purposes; and if he will make a statement.

Under new rules introduced on 1 January 2021, most businesses no longer need to provide a guarantee if they are granted full authorisation from HMRC for the Temporary Admission procedure in Great Britain. This means that authorised importers of racehorses will generally not be required to provide upfront security for customs and VAT liabilities, and subject to the horses being re-exported as per the Temporary Admission rules, import duties would not become payable.

11th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend the business rates holiday for hospitality businesses to 1 April 2022.

This year the Government has provided an unprecedented business rates holiday for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties due to the direct adverse effects of COVID-19, worth over £10 billion, and has frozen the business rates multiplier for all businesses for 2021-22.

The Government has provided various schemes to support firms, including wholesalers, including Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans, Bounce Back Loans, grants and VAT deferrals.

The Budget will set out the next phase of the Government’s plans to tackle the virus, protect jobs and support business.

11th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will defer the payment of NICs and PAYE for hospitality businesses to the end of 2021 to help support them in the context of covid-19 restrictions.

The Government has delivered support to the hospitality sector through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which has been extended until April; Government-backed finance through loan schemes and ‘Pay as You Grow’ long-term repayment options; a temporary VAT cut; a VAT deferral and the VAT New Payment Scheme to spread the deferred VAT; the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme; a 12-month business rates holiday; and a moratorium on evictions to protect commercial tenants. In January, the Chancellor announced further grant funding for businesses affected by restrictions.

Businesses affected by the pandemic have access to the CJRS to cover their furloughed employees’ wages. There were 1.65 million accommodation and food services sector employees furloughed at the peak on 10 April. Provisional figures show that the number of employees furloughed for this sector stood at 1.04 million at 31 December. In line with normal practice for benefits or grants that replace income, individuals pay Income Tax and National Insurance on any payments received through this scheme as they are a replacement for income. Employers also continue to pay employer National Insurance Contributions on wages.

If any business is experiencing temporary financial difficulties and they need more time to pay their tax, they can contact HMRC on the COVID-19 dedicated helpline to agree a Time to Pay (TTP) arrangement to spread their tax payments. These arrangements are bespoke and flexible, covering all taxes, and are based on how much the business can afford to pay. TTPs have proven effective at supporting businesses through temporary difficulties, with 90% of taxpayers making agreed instalments and paying off their debt as agreed in the TTP arrangement.

9th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will delay the introduction of the IR35 changes to 1 April 2022 following the effects on business of the covid-19 pandemic.

The Government has been clear that the reform of the off-payroll working rules will be introduced on 6 April 2021. Organisations should continue to prepare for the implementation of the reform. Since the reform was delayed in April 2020, Parliament has passed legislation enacting the reform from April 2021.

Many organisations have already undertaken significant preparations to ensure they are ready for the reform and HMRC are committed to supporting organisations and individuals in the run up to, and beyond the reform being implemented. HMRC are providing webinars, workshops and one-to-one calls as well as publishing updated guidance and factsheets in order to enable organisations to prepare.

14th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will extend the furlough scheme to enable people who are suffering from cancer to remain at home.

The Government recognises that COVID-19 has posed significant challenges for those suffering with cancer.

The Government has put in place unprecedented levels of income support to help people deal with the financial consequences of COVID-19. This does not just include the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, but also the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, changes to Statutory Sick Pay, and the £9.3bn which the OBR estimates that the Government has injected into the welfare system.

The Chancellor announced on 12 May that the CJRS scheme will be extended until October. Before 30 June, any employee could be furloughed, including those suffering from cancer. From 1 July, an employee can only continue to be furloughed if they have previously been furloughed for at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June.

For those required to shield after 1 August, they will receive a letter or notification advising them of this, and they will continue to be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay on the basis of their shielding status.

1st Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of (a) furlough and (b) loss of tax revenue as a result of casinos remaining closed during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has published estimates of the cost of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The latest OBR estimates are available in the OBR’s coronavirus policy monitoring database, which can be found at: https://obr.uk/coronavirus-analysis/#pm.

An estimate of CJRS payments made to casinos and an assessment of the loss of tax revenue as a result of casinos remaining closed during the covid-19 outbreak is not available.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent estimate he has made of the amount of revenue to the public purse generated from casinos; and what assessment he has made of the importance of the contribution of casinos to the UK's economic recovery.

Gaming Duty paid by casinos raises around £220 million in revenue for the Exchequer per year.

The Government recognises the economic contribution the sector makes and has provided a package of measures to support businesses, including casinos, as announced by the Chancellor on 17 and 26 March. This includes a business rates holiday for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which provides loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank, backed by an 80% government guarantee.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will introduce further financial support for retail businesses with lower level of trade than before the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

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. Our aim is that all non-essential retail will be able to reopen by 15 June if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines. The roadmap will be kept constantly under review, and we will continue to work hard to support business and workers as the situation evolves.

Retail businesses continue to have access to a range of government support measures including:

  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all eligible retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England
  • Small business grant funding (SBGF) of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • The retail, hospitality and leisure grant fund (RHLGF)
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  • The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)
  • The Covid Corporate Financing Scheme (CCFF)
  • The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL) for small and micro enterprises
  • VAT deferral for up to 12 months
  • The Time To Pay scheme, through which businesses in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, can receive support with their tax affairs
  • Protection for commercial leaseholders against automatic forfeiture for non-payment until June 30, 2020

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

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions he has had with hon. Members and the Equitable Members Action Group on providing further compensation to victims of the collapse of Equitable Life; and if he will make a statement.

There are no plans to reopen the Payment Scheme or review the £1.5 billion funding allocation previously made to it. The Equitable Life Payment Scheme closed to claims in 2015 and further guidance on the status of the Payment Scheme after closure is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/equitable-life-payment-scheme#closure-of-the-scheme.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will further extend the start date of the furlough scheme to employees who were on their employees payroll after the 19 March 2020 to enable people who started new jobs towards the end of March 2020 to be furloughed; and if he will make a statement.

On 15 April, the Government announced it would extend the cut-off date for the CJRS to 19 March, to include employees whose payroll information was notified to HMRC by 19 March. Processing claims for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in cases where HMRC did not have RTI data by 19 March would require much greater manual handling by HMRC, which would significantly slow down the system while risking substantial levels of fraud. It would also require greater resource for HMRC when they are already under significant pressure to deliver the system designed. Those not eligible for the scheme may be able to access the other support Government is providing, including a package of temporary welfare measures and up to three months’ mortgage payment holidays for those struggling with their mortgage payments.

23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will hold discussions with representatives of retail banks on not increasing interest levels on overdrafts during the covid-19 outbreak; and if her will make a statement.

The Treasury is working closely with industry and the financial regulators to ensure the steps they take are properly coordinated with Government’s wider economic response to COVID-19.

Banks and building societies are ready and able to offer support to their customers who are impacted directly or indirectly by COVID-19. The Government encourages anyone concerned about their overdraft to contact their provider.

Last June, the FCA announced reforms to the overdraft market, including mandating that firms cannot charge more for unarranged overdrafts than arranged overdrafts, banning fixed daily and monthly charges, and a package of measures to improve the transparency of pricing. Overall the FCA expects these changes to make overdrafts simpler, fairer, and easier to manage and will protect the millions of consumers that use overdrafts, particularly more vulnerable consumers. All providers have set their new charging structures ahead of the deadline in April.

The overdraft reforms will end high unarranged charges and the removal of fees means many occasional arranged borrowers will pay less even though their headline rate of borrowing may increase. Across the market, FCA analysis in January found that 7 out of 10 overdraft users will be better off or see no change when the new rules come into force in April.

In instances where consumers see an increased cost for their overdraft borrowing, the FCA expects firms to engage with customers with large overdraft balances and repeat users of overdrafts to make appropriate interventions. This includes customers who are impacted by COVID-19.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will hold discussions with credit card companies to ask them to suspend the charging of fees on balances while the restrictions in response to covid-19 are in place; and if he will make a statement.

On 17 March, the Government announced a package of measures aimed at supporting the financial wellbeing of British businesses, individuals, and families. The Government recognises that the outbreak of COVID-19 may lead to consumers facing financial difficulty and uncertainty. Therefore, we have acted to support customers who may find it challenging to make mortgage or credit payments and may require access to further credit. The major banks and building societies have pledged to provide relief to customers impacted by COVID-19, including deferring mortgage and other loan repayments, waiving fees on savings accounts and increasing overdraft or credit card limits.

The Government is committed to doing whatever it takes to get our nation through the impacts of COVID-19 and is working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and industry, including credit card companies, on a number of financial services issues. The Government stands ready to announce further action wherever necessary.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether self-employed people will be able to access the grants and loans announced in response to the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The government has always said that the best way to support freelancers and the self-employed through this crisis is through the welfare system. Since 20 March they have been able to benefit from changes such as the £20 increase in the Universal Credit standard allowance and the uprating of Local Housing Allowance. The government is temporarily relaxing the Minimum Income Floor for all self-employed UC claimants for the duration of the outbreak. This means a drop in earnings due to sickness or self-isolation or as a result of the economic impact of the outbreak will be reflected in claimants’ awards. Self-employed people unable to work because they are directly affected by Covid-19 or self-isolating will also be eligible for Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. As announced at Budget, this is now payable from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is available to self-employed individuals with an eligible business entity. People who are self-employed or own a business and are concerned about not being able to pay their tax bills because of Covid-19 should contact Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) dedicated Time to Pay service.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will increase financial support for businesses affected by flooding and covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

At Budget, the Chancellor announced a record funding for flood defences between 2021 and 2027, offering better protection from flooding for 336,000 homes and non-residential properties. Additional funding of £200 million will help communities most at risk of flooding recover faster in cases where they are affected by flood damage. Alongside this, the Chancellor has announced an unprecedented package of support for businesses affected by the covid-19 outbreak, including that all businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief and Rural Rates Relief would receive a grant of £10,000 each to help with the impact of Covid-19. Details of this package are available at: www.businesssupport.gov.uk

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to prevent businesses engaging in excessive profiteering during the covid-19 outbreak.

This is first and foremost a public health emergency but the coronavirus is having a significant impact on people’s lives and on our economy. The government has announced an unprecedented package of measures to support jobs, incomes and businesses, and will do whatever it takes to get our nation through this crisis. At the same time, the government expects businesses to play their part too, to act responsibly and not seek to make excessive profits. The Competition and Markets Authority have launched a Covid-19 taskforce to monitor the market and enable them to intervene as quickly as possible where required.

Steve Barclay
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
17th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will defer the payment of (a) business rates and (b) VAT for businesses which can demonstrate loss of trade as a result of covid-19.

In response to COVID-19, on 17 March the Government introduced a 12 month business rates holiday for all eligible retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England, where help is needed the most. Eligible businesses large and small will benefit from this exceptional step worth an additional £9.5bn in 2020-21.

HMRC already offer help to businesses struggling to meet their VAT payments with arrangements such as Time to Pay.

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chancellor has pledged a range of measures to help business through the crisis, including grants, loans and relief from business rates worth more than £300 billion. The Chancellor will continue to keep the situation under review.

17th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will reduce employer national insurance contribution rates for businesses that can demonstrate loss of trade as a result of covid-19.

The Government has announced an unprecedented package of support for businesses and individuals affected by Covid-19, and remains committed to doing whatever it takes to support the economy as necessary.

UK VAT registered businesses, including charities, can defer VAT payments due with their VAT returns between now and the end of June. No UK VAT registered business will have to make a VAT payment alongside their VAT return to HMRC in that period. They will have until the end of the financial year to repay.

The Government will also give all eligible retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months. The Government also extended the support available to individuals and businesses, including a package of government-backed and guaranteed loans, which make available an initial £330 billion of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of GDP.

For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31st of July 2020 will be deferred until the 31st of January 2021.

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, employers (including charities) can put workers on temporary leave and the government will pay them cash grants of 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500 a month, providing they keep the worker employed. They will receive the grant from HMRC, covering the cost of wages backdated to 1 March 2020.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be available for those unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with government advice; this is on top of the Prime Minister’s announcement that SSP will be payable from day 1 instead of day 4 for affected individuals. Support will be available through Universal Credit and Contributory Employment and Support Allowance for those not eligible for SSP.

HMRC have scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all taxpayers, including charities, who are in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities. Taxpayers can contact HMRC’s dedicated Covid-19 helpline to get practical help and advice on 0800 0159 559.

The Chancellor will continue to review and make further announcements as events unfold if required.

9th Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent estimate he has of the additional revenue that will accrue to the public purse as a result of his proposed IR35 changes; and if he will make a statement.

HMRC’s latest assessment of the additional revenue as a result of the changes to the off-payroll working rules is set out in Table 2.2 of Budget 2020.

HMRC are undertaking an extensive programme of education and support to help organisations and contractors prepare for the reform.

19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to tackle dog theft; and if she will make a statement.

I refer my Hon Friend to the answer I gave to a question from the Hon Member for Newport East (UIN 142846).

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to reduce the answering time to calls on the 101 service; and if she will make a statement.

Law enforcement, including the handling of 101 calls is an operational matter for the police. It is for elected Police Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables to decide how best to manage their communications and response to the public based on their knowledge and experience of the communities they serve.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the effect of the mandatory wearing of face coverings in shops on rates of shoplifting during the covid-19 outbreak; and if she will make a statement.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) reported on its website on 30 September 2020 that provisional data from police forces in England and Wales showed a reduction in crime during the months of strict lockdown measures but that levels are now returning to pre-Covid-19 levels. This data showed a significant and sustained drop in the recording of shoplifting compared to last year with the most recent iteration showing a 30% drop.

The NPCC do not report specifically on how mask coverings have affected these trends. Given the potential varied levels of compliance of the wearing of face coverings at retail locations a correlation between the levels of shoplifting and the wearing of face masks is unlikely to be identified in recorded crime at a national level.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
29th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 28 April 2020 to Question 37427 on Asylum: Applications, for what reasons only those medically qualified asylum seekers who have been waiting for 12 months or more for decisions on their applications can apply to work for the NHS during the covid-19 outbreak; and if she will make a statement.

Current policy allowing medically qualified asylum seekers to work if they have been waiting for 12 months or more on a decision is fully compliant with our domestic and international obligations.

Asylum seeker right to work is a complex issue. We are continuing to monitor the wider situation closely and, in compliance with Public Health England advice, are making continuous adjustments to our processes and procedures where appropriate and necessary to do so.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on using the medical experience and qualifications of people who are waiting for a decision on their asylum application during the covid-19 outbreak; and if she will make a statement.

Asylum seekers with medical experience and qualifications, who have been waiting for a decision on their claim for 12 months or more, can already apply to work for the NHS in the range of medical professions on the Shortage Occupation List.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what health checks are carried out at borders on people coming to the UK from abroad; and if she will make a statement.

The security of the UK border, the safety of the staff who protect it and the public are our key concerns.

Our approach to tackling coronavirus is and has always been driven by the latest scientific and medical advice, and procedures at the border have been strictly following the latest PHE guidance throughout. To bolster public health measures already in place, passengers at airports are provided with information on symptoms and the social distancing processes.

Since 8 June, all passengers arriving in the UK have been required to complete a locator form as well as self-isolate for 14 days. This applies to all nationalities. Full details of these new measures, including the very limited exemptions to the new rules, can be found at www.gov.uk/uk-border-control.

Border Force continues to work collaboratively with devolved administrations, including Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and Public Health England, to support the COVID 19 response.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to prevent migrants from illegally entering the UK from continental ports; and if she will make a statement.

The UK continues to collaborate with France under the terms of the Sandhurst Treaty to tackle illegal migration across the shared border. Under the Treaty, significant improvements were made to the security at northern French ports such as Calais, Dukirk, and the Eurostar Terminal at Coquelles. Last year, more than 35,000 attempts to enter the UK illegally were prevented at our juxtaposed controls in northern France and Belgium. The UK-FR Migration Committee takes responsibility for oversight of these projects, for discussing current pressures and agreeing new joint projects.

Senior Home Office officials and operational partners are in regular discussions with officials from the Belgian government to identify immediate action that can be taken at the Port of Zeebrugge to tackle illegal migration through the port and reduce the risks to migrants.

The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it, in accordance with our international obligations under the Refugee Convention and European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Protection is granted where a claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution under the Refugee Convention or their circumstances engage our obligations under Article 3 (ECHR). Those found not to need protection are refused and if unsuccessful at a subsequent appeal will be removed from the UK.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that migrants who have illegally entered the UK from continental ports are returned safely to their countries of origin; and if she will make a statement.

The UK continues to collaborate with France under the terms of the Sandhurst Treaty to tackle illegal migration across the shared border. Under the Treaty, significant improvements were made to the security at northern French ports such as Calais, Dukirk, and the Eurostar Terminal at Coquelles. Last year, more than 35,000 attempts to enter the UK illegally were prevented at our juxtaposed controls in northern France and Belgium. The UK-FR Migration Committee takes responsibility for oversight of these projects, for discussing current pressures and agreeing new joint projects.

Senior Home Office officials and operational partners are in regular discussions with officials from the Belgian government to identify immediate action that can be taken at the Port of Zeebrugge to tackle illegal migration through the port and reduce the risks to migrants.

The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it, in accordance with our international obligations under the Refugee Convention and European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Protection is granted where a claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution under the Refugee Convention or their circumstances engage our obligations under Article 3 (ECHR). Those found not to need protection are refused and if unsuccessful at a subsequent appeal will be removed from the UK.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of sending a unit of Gurkhas who have been vaccinated against covid-19 to Nepal to help counter the spreading of that virus in that country; and if he will make a statement.

We are committed to our long-standing bilateral defence relationship with the Government of Nepal. Gurkhas have made an outstanding contribution to the UK through their years of dedicated service and are held in high esteem by the British Army and public alike. We are hugely proud that Gurkhas continue to serve in the British Army.

The UK Government is one of the leading donors to Covax, committing £548million to the scheme, which will provide doses for almost a fifth of Nepal's population. The UK has funded a new £180,000 duplex oxygen generation plant at the Nepal Police Hospital in Kathmandu to help address oxygen shortages to treat COVID19 patients. To further support the Government of Nepal during the current wave of COVID19 in the region, the MOD will send a small Military Advisory team to Nepal to assess the situation in-country. The advisors have experience of dealing with the challenges of COVID19 in the UK and will draw on subject matter experts.

We will continue to monitor the situation in Nepal and keep our assistance under careful review.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent assessment he has made of the economic effect on the UK of the (a) F-35 Programme including the UK’s Programme of Record and (b) Tempest initiative; and if he will make a statement.

UK industry provides approximately 15% by value of every F-35 aircraft built, generating significant revenue for the country, creating and sustaining high-skilled jobs in the aerospace sector.

The UK has already invested some £2 billion in the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative. The Prime Minister's Comprehensive Spending Review announcement highlighted Future Combat Air Strategy (FCAS) and our aerospace sector as a particular area for investment.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent assessment he has made of the implications for UK industrial workshare of the continuation of the F-35 programme; and if he will make a statement.

The UK remains a committed partner within the F-35 programme providing approximately 15% by value of every F-35 aircraft. Suppliers to the F-35 programme are determined by competition, for which the UK industry is well placed.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of (a) knowledge and technology transfer, (b) infrastructure investment, (c) skills initiatives and (d) other aspects of the F-35 Programme of Record on the viability of the UK’s combat air sector.

Participation in the F-35 Programme has brought significant revenue to the UK, creating and sustaining high-skilled jobs in the combat air sector which will benefit the sector in the long-term. Whilst knowledge and technology transfer is bounded by US International Traffic in Arms Regulations, significant investment has been made in the infrastructure to support the RAF F-35 Lightning fleet at RAF Marham and will continue to benefit the wider Combat Air sector through the retention of skills and facilities.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent assessment he has made of the potential effect on air mobility interoperability with (a) the US, (b) NATO, (c) European and (d) other allies of an early retirement of the C-130J; and if he will make a statement.

The A400M was manufactured and introduced into service by an international consortium (with a UK manufacturing share of around 18 per cent). Interoperability is a key tenet of MOD's Integrated Operating Concept. The C130J is widely used around the world, but the A400M is also operated by a number of important allies and partners, and has also successfully operated alongside US forces, on both exercises and operations.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent estimate he has made of the value to the UK economy of (a) current and (b) potential production contracts under the (i) Warrior Capability Sustainment, (ii) AJAX, (iii) Mechanised Infantry Vehicle and (iv) Challenger II Life Extension programmes; and if he will make a statement.

The Full Business Cases for the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme and Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme are currently being considered through our internal approvals process, and are subject to commercial negotiations. It would not therefore be appropriate to comment further at this time.

The manufacturing contract for AJAX was awarded in September 2014 for 589 vehicles. The AJAX programme represents a £6 billion investment that supports approximately 4,100 jobs across more than 230 UK suppliers. Some 65-70% of the AJAX Programme is UK-based. We continue to work with General Dynamics to generate and support export opportunities.

The Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme awarded a £2.8 billion contract in November 2019 for 508 Boxer vehicles and 15 training vehicles. Around 60% by value of the contract is planned to come from the UK and will sustain up to 1,000 jobs. Investment in the UK indigenous armoured vehicle manufacturing capability generated through the MIV programme, combined with the UK procuring an already-proven vehicle in use with other nations, opens up future export opportunities and also puts the UK in a good position to support the other user nations through the NATO Support Procurement Agency.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) cost per flying hour and (b) expected through-life costs of the (i) C-130J and (ii) A400M.

Through life support costs include various elements of in-service support and related infrastructrure costs and therefore may not be directly comparable. However, the through life support costs for (i) C-130J and (ii) A400M are £3.5 billion and £6.8 billion respectively. These figures are based on out of service dates of 2035 and 2050 respectively. There are currently 14 aircraft in the C-130J fleet, compared to 20 A400Ms, rising to 22 by 2023.

I am withholding details of cost per flying hour as its release would prejudice commercial interests.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent assessment he has made of the potential effect on UK employment levels of an early retirement of the C-130J; and if he will make a statement.

The Integrated Review will modernise our Armed Forces to ensure they have the capabilities they need to counter the threats they face, now and into the future. That will mean making changes and making tough choices, but any decision on future capabilities will be firmly based on those principles and announced in due course.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
19th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will take steps to accelerate training for new Armed Forces recruits to increase capacity to support the response to the covid-19 outbreak.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has placed over 20,000 personnel on standby to support Government's efforts to tackle COVID-19. We are in the process of providing extra training to our Service personnel to enhance their capabilities to assist in specific circumstances, such as driving oxygen tankers to enhance resilience within the NHS.

Our training programmes across the MOD are as efficient as is currently possible. There is a danger and liability concerns around deploying military personnel who have not been through our rigorous training programme, which provides practical skills as well as developing emotional intelligence and command capability.

The MOD stands ready to provide vital support to the Government where required and we are fully staffed and equipped to deal with any such requests.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
8th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when he plans to introduce free wraparound childcare for armed forces families.

To make life easier for Armed Forces families balancing the competing demands of Service with home life, the Government has committed to providing funding for wrap-around childcare. Wrap-around care includes breakfast and after school clubs; these facilities provide modern dual-working families with the flexibility they need to manage their careers alongside homelife. Discussions are underway to consider the most efficient means of providing funding to families of children between the ages of four and 11 and to confirm timescales for implementation. In parallel to these discussions I am setting up a dedicated childcare team with immediate effect, to help families by working with military establishments to demonstrate need and encourage local authorities to build capacity.

22nd Feb 2021
If he will amend planning guidance to ensure that a full assessment of the capacity of the existing local drainage system is carried out before work can begin on developments; and if he will make a statement.

Our existing guidance is clear that if there are concerns about the capacity of wastewater infrastructure that is needed for drainage, applicants can be asked to provide information about how the development would be drained and wastewater dealt with. Where it is found that additional sewerage infrastructure is needed, developers can be required to fund this.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what progress he has made in determining a standard methodology for local planning authorities to use when calculating their land supply; and if he will make a statement.

The Government is committed to realising our aim of delivering 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s and supporting housing delivery as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. A critical part of this is local authorities making land available for planning. Local planning authorities are expected annually to identify and update a supply of specific ‘deliverable’ sites sufficient to provide a minimum of five years’ worth of housing against their housing requirement. This is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework


In December, in response to the ‘Changes to the current planning system’ consultation, the Secretary of State announced a minor revision to the standard method formula for assessing local housing need. The announcement on the standard method provides certainty and stability during a period of economic uncertainty for our communities, businesses, and development sector whilst also focusing greater need into urban areas to maximise existing infrastructure and to support development that reduces the need for high-carbon travel


Our Planning for the Future White Paper proposed changes to housing land supply policy, and we are currently analysing responses to that consultation. A Government response will follow.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what status Neighbourhood Plans have with the Planning Inspector in the determination of planning application appeals; and if he will make a statement.

Once adopted, neighbourhood plans become part of the development plan for the local area alongside the Local Plan. Planning law requires that decision takers, including planning inspectors, must determine planning applications in accordance with the development plan (including any neighbourhood plan) unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when he plans to issue a decision on the bid by Tewkesbury Borough Council for financial support to deliver the Garden Town as part of the Government's garden communities programme; and if he will make a statement.

Across England we are currently supporting 49 locally-led Garden Communities, to be exemplars of high quality, good design and best practice.

Locally-led garden communities are vital to delivering the transformational housing growth that we need, whilst ensuring surrounding existing communities can also benefit from growth through well-planned infrastructure and community amenities.

My Department has been considering the bids received for funding through the Government’s Garden Communities programme and we hope to announce funding allocations in the coming weeks.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when he plans to issue a decision on the bid by Tewkesbury Borough Council for £1.5m to assist with the business case work associated with the options for the off line transport/highway improvements to J9 M5/A46; and if he will make a statement.

Across England we are currently supporting 49 locally-led Garden Communities, to be exemplars of high quality, good design and best practice.

Locally-led garden communities are vital to delivering the transformational housing growth that we need, whilst ensuring surrounding existing communities can also benefit from growth through well-planned infrastructure and community amenities.

My Department has been considering the bids received for funding through the Government’s Garden Communities programme and we hope to announce funding allocations in the coming weeks.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
4th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a snagging retention scheme for the sale of new houses; and if he will make a statement.

We expect all housing developers to deliver good quality housing, to deliver it on time, and to treat house buyers fairly.

Most snags found in new build homes occur within the first two years of the occupant moving in. Where there are problems, regardless of whether they are large or small, they should be corrected promptly by developers.

Our plans for the New Homes Ombudsman scheme will increase homebuyer protection, including resolving disputes about snags and defects within the first two years after purchase. It will be a requirement for developers of new build homes to be members of the New Homes Ombudsman scheme.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when he expects to introduce a White Paper on Planning Reform.

As set out in Planning for the Future published at the Budget in March, we will be publishing a bold and ambitious planning White Paper which will aim to make the planning system clearer, more accessible and more certain for all users. The White Paper will be published later this year.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he plans to take after the lockdown has ended to help resettle people that became homeless during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The Government has now announced £3.2 billion for local authorities to deal with emerging pressures as a result of COVID-19, including for housing and homelessness services. This is on top of the £492 million provided to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in 2020/21.

We have also introduced a package of measures to protect renters affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). With these in force, must give all renters 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession.

Further, the Chancellor recently announced that for 2020/21, we will increase the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that they are set at the 30th percentile of local rents. This will mean that many people renting in the Private Rented Sector see an increase in their housing support from April 2020, providing extra security during these uncertain times. The average claimant will gain an additional £600 per year in increased housing support.

The Homelessness Reduction Act, the most ambitious reform to homelessness legislation in decades, came into force on 3 April 2018. The Act requires local authorities and other public bodies to work together to actively prevent homelessness for people at risk. This is backed by the £63 million Homelessness Reduction Grant in 2020/21 which provides an uplift on previous years’ new burdens funding to implement the Homelessness Reduction Act and will enable local authorities to do more to prevent and relieve homelessness in their areas.

20th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will hold discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on allocating additional financial support to district councils to compensate those councils for increased expenditure and lower receipts as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

On 18 April the Government announced an additional £1.6 billion of funding to support councils in England in delivering essential front line services, bringing the total amount given to councils to help them through the pandemic to over £3.2 billion. The package demonstrates the Government’s commitment to making sure councils, including district councils, have the resources they need to support their communities through this challenging time.

We are using data collection and our conversations with councils to refine our assessment of costs, and allocations to individual local authorities will follow as soon as practicable.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
20th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will extend the timescale for planning authorities to determine planning applications while restrictions are in place during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The Government has put in place a package of measures that will help keep firms in business, and people in jobs and prevent Covid-19 from causing long-lasting economic harm. It is important that local planning authorities continue to provide the best service possible in these stretching times and prioritise decision-making to ensure the planning system continues to function, especially where this will support the local economy.

We are asking local planning authorities to take an innovative approach and explore every opportunity to use technology to ensure that discussions and consultations can go ahead. We would encourage councils to consider delegating committee decisions where appropriate. The Government has introduced legislation to allow council committee meetings to be held virtually for a temporary period which we expect will allow planning committees to continue.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
22nd Sep 2020
What steps he is taking to improve the rehabilitation of offenders on release from prison.

Everyone leaving prison should have the tools they need to avoid a life of crime, including a job, a home and treatment for substance misuse issues.

Offenders typically have complex needs, many of which drive offending. The prison and probation system provides an opportunity to address these, but we also need a concerted effort across Government to rehabilitate individuals on release from prison.

For example, we are working with NHS England to develop their care after custody service, RECONNECT, to engage and support more people into treatment upon release.

Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many prosecutions for shop theft have occurred in each year since 2010.

The Ministry of Justice has published information on prosecutions, convictions and sentencing outcomes of court proceedings in England and Wales up to December 2018. The information requested for PQ 12200 and PQ 12202 can be found using the ‘Outcomes by offence’ data tool at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/802314/outcomes-by-offence-tool-2018.xlsx

Using the offence filter select ’46 Theft from Shops’.

PQ 12200

  • The number of prosecutions for this offence in each year will be displayed in row 24.

PQ 12202

  • The number of individuals sentenced to immediate custody for this offence in each year will be displayed in row 36.

The number of people who have submitted a guilty plea by post for shop theft offences in each year since 2014 can be viewed in the accompanying table.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many people have submitted a guilty plea by post for shop theft offences in each year since 2014.

The Ministry of Justice has published information on prosecutions, convictions and sentencing outcomes of court proceedings in England and Wales up to December 2018. The information requested for PQ 12200 and PQ 12202 can be found using the ‘Outcomes by offence’ data tool at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/802314/outcomes-by-offence-tool-2018.xlsx

Using the offence filter select ’46 Theft from Shops’.

PQ 12200

  • The number of prosecutions for this offence in each year will be displayed in row 24.

PQ 12202

  • The number of individuals sentenced to immediate custody for this offence in each year will be displayed in row 36.

The number of people who have submitted a guilty plea by post for shop theft offences in each year since 2014 can be viewed in the accompanying table.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
4th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many people have been imprisoned for shop theft in each year since 2010.

The Ministry of Justice has published information on prosecutions, convictions and sentencing outcomes of court proceedings in England and Wales up to December 2018. The information requested for PQ 12200 and PQ 12202 can be found using the ‘Outcomes by offence’ data tool at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/802314/outcomes-by-offence-tool-2018.xlsx

Using the offence filter select ’46 Theft from Shops’.

PQ 12200

  • The number of prosecutions for this offence in each year will be displayed in row 24.

PQ 12202

  • The number of individuals sentenced to immediate custody for this offence in each year will be displayed in row 36.

The number of people who have submitted a guilty plea by post for shop theft offences in each year since 2014 can be viewed in the accompanying table.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Jan 2020
If he will increase the length of sentences handed down for burglary offences.

Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for our independent courts, taking into account the particular circumstances of the offence and offender, and following any relevant sentencing guidelines.

Over the last ten years, the average custodial sentence lengths for all forms of burglary have increased.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what recent estimate he has made of the annual cost to the public purse of the Historical Investigations Unit from its establishment until the conclusion of that unit's work; and if he will make a statement.

The Government is committed to reforming the current legacy system in Northern Ireland in a way that provides reconciliation for victims and certainty for veterans. The Government will be working to develop proposals in the coming weeks.