Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.
e-Petitions are administered by Parliament and allow members of the public to express support for a particular issue.
If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.
If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).
These initiatives were driven by Peter Bottomley, 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.
Peter Bottomley has not been granted any Urgent Questions
Peter Bottomley has not been granted any Adjournment Debates
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to require certain authorities to maintain a register of the destination of recycled materials; and for connected purposes.
The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have, therefore, asked the Authority to respond.
The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have, therefore, asked the Authority to respond.
As my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have both made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by Covid-19.
During this period, we are asking schools to support pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why, on 31 March, we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the Department for Education.
Voucher codes are being processed and many thousands of families are redeeming them. As of 28 April, Edenred have indicated that over 16,500 schools have placed orders for codes under this scheme. As of Friday 7 May, Edenred reported that over £58 million worth of voucher codes have been redeemed into supermarket e-gift cards by schools and families.
Schools can contact Edenred using either the email address or phone number setup specifically for the Department of Education’s national voucher scheme (email@example.com or 0333 400 5932). We do not hold details of the time taken to respond to individual queries. We are working closely with Edenred regarding the performance of the voucher scheme and their engagement with queries from schools.
We are working tirelessly with Edenred to resolve any outstanding technical problems so that children eligible for free schools meals are supported quickly. As always, we thank schools for their patience while we expand the system to meet the high demand and for ensuring that the families who are most in need continue to receive the support that they require.
These are rapidly developing circumstances and we will continue to keep the situation under review and to keep Parliament updated accordingly.
As both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.
Our latest guidance on providing free school meals at this time is available at the following link:
Through the national voucher scheme, schools and families could initially access eGift cards for Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Waitrose and M&S. On Monday 27 April Aldi were added to this scheme and on Wednesday 29 April McColl’s were also added. As of the 7th May, Edenred report that £58 million has been converted into supermarket vouchers by families and schools. We recognise that it may not be convenient or possible for some families to visit one of these supermarkets and we are continuing to work to see if additional supermarkets can be added to this list.
If families are not able to access any of the supermarkets which are part of the national voucher scheme, schools are able to purchase vouchers directly for alternative supermarkets. Schools can be reimbursed for the cost of these alternatives through the schools coronavirus exceptional costs fund, up to £15 per pupil per week. This funding covers unavoidable additional costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources.
These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) monitors MOT testing capacity constantly to inform future planning. The agency does not hold data on MOT booking requests as they are made directly to MOT testing stations (cars) or authorised testing facilities (lorries, buses and trailers).
For lorries, buses and trailers, where DVSA staff conduct annual road worthiness (MOT) tests, the DVSA has issued a series of exemptions. The deadline for a vehicle’s next test depends on when the MOT was originally due and whether the vehicle qualifies for a 3-month or a 12-month exemption. These exemptions will be automatically applied. The DVSA is confident, with its plan for exemptions in place, that it can deliver to capacity to carry out tests when they are due. DVSA is working with industry to ensure that tests are presented when due, so that demand is managed.
For light vehicles, such as cars, where private garages carry out MOTs, a six month extension was applied automatically to all MOTs expiring between 1 April and 31 July 2020. The DVSA is working closely with the industry to help it manage demand for MOTs now extensions are no longer being issued. There is confidence the network of 23,000 garages that conduct MOTs will be able to meet demand for MOTs from light vehicle owners.
The revenue accruing from the Dart Charge is published each year in the Dartford-Thurrock river crossing charging scheme accounts (in the table headed income) which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/search/all?keywords=%22dartford+thurrock%22+accounts&order=relevance.
Toll charges were levied until 2003 when the debts associated with the construction of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge and the tunnels had been fully discharged. A Road User Charge was introduced in 2003 to manage the high demand for use of the Crossing after a study reported that traffic levels would be 17% higher if payment was removed. The charges imposed and collected are used to fund transport improvements in accordance with the Transport Act 2000, though not exclusively Dartford-related.
The published accounts include figures on the maintenance and operation of the crossing in the expenditure table.
The maintenance cost for both the tunnels and Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, for the year ended 31 March 2019, amounted to £11.371 million. This figure included costs for:
Highways England Staff
EU Tunnel directive on safety
Technology projects safety
As with most benefits, one of the basic rules of entitlement to UK benefits, including Universal Credit, is that a claimant must be resident in the UK at the time of application and satisfy other qualifying conditions. We have no plans to change this.
Universal Credit claims may be backdated by up to one calendar month in only certain circumstances for vulnerable claimants, who may be delayed in claiming Universal Credit through no fault of their own. Claims may also be backdated in specific circumstances when a couple separates, to ensure that there is no gap in entitlement between the couple claim and the new claim made by a single claimant.
FCO consular staff continue to provide advice and support to British nationals who face financial difficulties overseas due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Those in real financial distress whilst stranded overseas can seek advice and support from their local consular team, who will be able to advise on any local support that may be available as well as facilitate contact with friends and families who may be able to help. The FCO are also working with Non-Governmental Organisations to facilitate support to British nationals in need, including accommodation, food and medicine.
If a British national cannot afford travel costs back to the UK or essential living costs while they are waiting to return and have exhausted all other options they may be eligible to apply for an emergency loan from the government. These loans are interest free. This is a last resort option, with repayment required in full. However, the FCO would work with those British nationals’ currently stranded overseas to ensure flexible repayment plans are in place if they cannot afford to repay the loan within six months.
Preventing ill-health and reducing health inequalities remains one of the top priorities. Alongside work to establish the National Institute for Health Protection, we will continue to focus on health improvement and preventing ill-health with support from expertise within Public Health England (PHE). We are not anticipating that there will be any changes to PHE’s current functions and responsibilities before spring 2021. There is much to do between now and then but work is ongoing and the intricacies of the system are still in development.
Health Education England funds training programmes for obstetrics and gynaecology, community sexual and reproductive health and general practice. However, the training curricula for these specialties are set by other organisations, including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, their Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health and the Royal College of General Practitioners. Curricula must meet the standards set by the General Medical Council and be formally approved by them.
No specific assessment has been made around the adequacy of funding for training and professional development. Training and workforce issues for contraception care will be considered in the development of our new Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy.
The Government has provided extensive guidance on the VAT treatment of cross-border goods and services following the end of the transition period and is committed to supporting businesses to enable them to continue to trade.
As with all tax measures, where new changes have been introduced, the Government includes its assessment of the impacts of the changes in Tax Information and Impact Notes. Notes for measures recently legislated for in the Taxation (Post-transition Period) Act were published alongside that legislation.
Details on public health funding for local authorities for 21/22 will be set out at the Spending Review on 25 November.
Investing in prevention is a vital part of the NHS Long Term Plan to help people live longer, healthier lives. In 2020/21, we invested £3.279 billion in local authority public health services through the Public Health Grant, in addition to what the NHS spent on preventative interventions such as immunisation and screenings.
An employee on a fixed term contract can be re-employed, furloughed and claimed for, if either: their contract expired after 28 February 2020 and an RTI payment submission for the employee was notified to HMRC on or before 28 February 2020, or their contract expired after 19 March 2020 and an RTI payment submission for the employee was notified to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020. The decision to furlough an employee must be agreed by both the employer and employee.
The Government is also supporting people on low incomes who need to rely on the welfare system through a significant package of temporary measures. This includes a £20 per week increase to the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic element, and a nearly £1 billion increase in support for renters through increases to the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants.?These changes will benefit new and existing claimants. Anyone can check their eligibility and apply for Universal Credit by visiting?https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit. In addition, many freelance workers may be eligible for the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
The Government expects that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will not be used by many public sector organisations, as most public sector employees are continuing to provide essential public services or contributing to the response to the coronavirus outbreak. Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, the Government expect employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion, and correspondingly not furlough them. This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs. Organisations who are receiving public funding specifically to provide services necessary to respond to COVID-19 are not expected to furlough staff. In a small number of cases, for example where organisations are not primarily funded by the Government and whose staff cannot be redeployed to assist with the coronavirus response, the scheme may be appropriate for some staff. Employees on any type of employment contract are eligible for the scheme, including those on zero-hours contracts.
The Government recognises the important role that wine, and the wine industry, plays in our economy and society. At Budget 2020 the Chancellor announced a freeze on wine duty, making the price of a bottle of wine 5p lower than it would have been had prices risen with inflation.
The government is actively working on publishing the response to the consultation on the review of Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, and it will be published in due course.
All ongoing possession proceedings, including forfeiture possession cases for leaseholders were suspended from 27 March until 20 September 2020. Any new claims entering the court system were automatically suspended.
The Government has also provided support to leaseholders through the mortgage holiday, and the application window is open until 31 March 2021. All payment holidays must end by 31 July 2021. Borrowers, including those with a buy-to-let mortgage, are entitled to up to a six-month holiday, and those that have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be able to top up to six months without this being recorded on their credit file.
The Government believes that forfeiture is a draconian measure and should only be used as a last resort. In practice forfeiture happens very rarely and is subject to the right of relief, to be exercised at the court’s discretion.