Peter Gibson Portrait

Peter Gibson

Conservative - Darlington

First elected: 12th December 2019


Finance (No. 2) Bill
10th May 2023 - 18th May 2023
Firearms Bill
8th Mar 2023 - 15th Mar 2023
Powers of Attorney Bill
22nd Feb 2023 - 1st Mar 2023
Procurement Bill [HL]
25th Jan 2023 - 21st Feb 2023
Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill
23rd Jan 2023 - 25th Jan 2023
Co-operatives, Mutuals and Friendly Societies Bill
23rd Nov 2022 - 30th Nov 2022
Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill
7th Sep 2022 - 18th Oct 2022
Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill
5th Jan 2022 - 12th Jan 2022
Approved Premises (Substance Testing) Bill
8th Dec 2021 - 15th Dec 2021
Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill (England and Wales)
27th Oct 2021 - 3rd Nov 2021
Education (Careers Guidance in Schools) Bill
22nd Sep 2021 - 27th Oct 2021
Elections Bill
15th Sep 2021 - 26th Oct 2021
Women and Equalities Committee
2nd Mar 2020 - 8th Jun 2021


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Tuesday 27th February 2024
Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 293 Conservative No votes vs 2 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 179 Noes - 294
Speeches
Tuesday 20th February 2024
Off-road Biking
I beg to move,

That this House has considered the matter of tackling off-road biking.

It is a pleasure to …
Written Answers
Wednesday 14th February 2024
Electronic Cigarettes: Waste Disposal
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
Wednesday 16th June 2021
Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Act 2022
A Bill to make provision about licensing in relation to taxis and private hire vehicles for purposes relating to the …
MP Financial Interests
Monday 30th October 2023
1. Employment and earnings
3 November 2023, received £430.50. Hours: 6 hrs 15 mins.
Supported Legislation
Tuesday 30th January 2024
Autism (early identification) Bill 2023-24
A Bill to make provision about the training of teachers in relation to the early identification of autism; and for …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliament, Peter Gibson has voted in 861 divisions, and 2 times against the majority of their Party.

17 Jun 2020 - Health and Personal Social Services - View Vote Context
Peter Gibson voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 104 Conservative Aye votes vs 124 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 253 Noes - 136
27 Jun 2023 - Schools (Gender and Parental Rights) - View Vote Context
Peter Gibson voted No - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 10 Conservative No votes vs 25 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 34 Noes - 40
View All Peter Gibson 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
Penny Mordaunt (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(18 debate interactions)
Kit Malthouse (Conservative)
(11 debate interactions)
Andrew Selous (Conservative)
Second Church Estates Commissioner
(10 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department for Transport
(63 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(58 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(50 debate contributions)
Home Office
(45 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Peter Gibson's debates

Darlington Petitions

e-Petitions are administered by Parliament and allow members of the public to express support for a particular issue.

If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.

If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).

Petition Debates Contributed

The HMRC mileage rate for reimbursing the use of private cars (e.g. for employees but also volunteers) has been fixed at 45p/mile (up to 10,000 miles) since 2011. The lack of any increase since then is a serious disincentive to volunteer drivers particularly as fuel has gone up again recently.

The Government must exercise its power under s.23 of the Gender Recognition Act to modify the operation of the Equality Act 2010 by specifying the terms sex, male, female, man & woman, in the operation of that law, mean biological sex and not "sex as modified by a Gender Recognition Certificate"

It has been reported that the Government may amend the Equality Act to "make it clear that sex means biological sex rather than gender." The Government has previously committed to not remove legal protections for trans people, an already marginalised group, but this change would do so.

The Government should create an emergency fund to deal with the massive waiting lists for autism & ADHD assessments for children AND adults. This would provide resources for local health services deal with current waiting lists and new patients.

The Government should commission a review of how Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) assessments are managed by the NHS, including through Shared Care Agreements, and increase funding to reduce waiting times.

The Government should bring forward legislation to allow assisted dying for adults who are terminally ill and have mental capacity. It should be permitted subject to strict upfront safeguards, assessed by two doctors independently, and self-administered by the dying person.

Ensure any ban fully includes trans people and all forms of conversion therapy.

Current legislation allows for public use of fireworks 16 hours a day, every day, making it impossible for vulnerable groups to take precautions against the distress they can cause. Better enforcement of existing law is insufficient; limiting their sale & use to licensed displays only is necessary.

The SNP government appears solely intent on getting independence at any cost.

The threat of covid19 is real. Children can’t be expected to maintain sufficient social distancing to keep this virus from spreading. They are social creatures. Allowing them back to school could cause a new spike in cases. They could bring it back home, even if they are a-symptomatic.

The Government should cancel GCSEs and A Levels in 2021 due to the disruption of Covid-19. By the time students go back to normal learning, 6 months will have passed since schools were closed to most pupils. This has already had a huge impact on the studying of so many.

Schools should move to online learning from 9 December so that all students and school staff have a chance to isolate for two weeks and then can safely meet older relatives.

Close down schools and colleges due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. We are seeing cases of students and teachers catching the virus since schools have reopened.

Matthew was taken to, ‘a place of safety’, and died 7 days later.
24 others died by the same means, dating back to the year 2000. An indicator that little was done to address the growing problems.
Something went terribly wrong with the NHS Mental Health Services provided to my son.

We propose to amend the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to make pet theft a specific offence, distinct from that of inanimate objects; and in sentencing, the courts must consider the fear, alarm or distress to the pet and owners and not monetary value.

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.

I would like the government to review and increase the pay for healthcare workers to recognise the work that they do.

To revoke the Immigration Health Surcharge increases for overseas NHS staff. The latest budget shows an increase of £220 a year for an overseas worker to live and work in the UK, at a time when the NHS, and UK economy, relies heavily on them.

We would like the government to support and regard social care: financially, publicly and systematically on an equal par as NHS. We would like parliament to debate how to support social care during COVID-19 and beyond so that it automatically has the same access to operational and financial support.

Give NHS workers who are EU and other Nationals automatic UK citizenship if they stay and risk their own lives looking after the British people during the COVID crisis.


Latest EDMs signed by Peter Gibson

Peter Gibson has not signed any Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Peter Gibson, 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 Gibson has not been granted any Urgent Questions

2 Adjournment Debates led by Peter Gibson

Thursday 15th June 2023

1 Bill introduced by Peter Gibson


A Bill to make provision about licensing in relation to taxis and private hire vehicles for purposes relating to the safeguarding of passengers and road safety; and for connected purposes.

This Bill received Royal Assent on 31st March 2022 and was enacted into law.


364 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
7 Other Department Questions
30th Nov 2023
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what assessment she has made of the potential implications for her policies of legislation in other countries which bans conversion practices for LGBT people.

Equality Hub Ministers and officials have engaged with a wide range of stakeholders on the subject of conversion practices, including representatives of LGBT organisations and counterparts in international jurisdictions, in order to fully inform our approach to this complex issue.

This engagement consists of, but is not limited to, holding conversations with victims and survivors, LGBT groups, healthcare professionals, faith groups, groups advocating for sex-based rights and parliamentarians.

Several international jurisdictions have passed legislation in this area recently, and our analysis of their approaches is ongoing.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Nov 2023
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, with which stakeholders she has held discussions on a ban on conversion practices for LGBT people.

Equality Hub Ministers and officials have engaged with a wide range of stakeholders on the subject of conversion practices, including representatives of LGBT organisations and counterparts in international jurisdictions, in order to fully inform our approach to this complex issue.

This engagement consists of, but is not limited to, holding conversations with victims and survivors, LGBT groups, healthcare professionals, faith groups, groups advocating for sex-based rights and parliamentarians.

Several international jurisdictions have passed legislation in this area recently, and our analysis of their approaches is ongoing.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
20th Nov 2023
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the adequacy of existing legislation to tackle conversion practices affecting LGBT people.


No one in this country should be harmed or harassed for who they are and attempts at so-called ‘conversion therapy’ are abhorrent. That is why we are carefully considering this very complex issue. We will be setting out further details on this in due course

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, when she plans to bring forward legislative proposals to tackle conversion practices affecting LGBT people.

No one in this country should be harmed or harassed for who they are and attempts at so-called ‘conversion therapy’ are abhorrent. That is why we are carefully considering this very complex issue. We will be setting out further details on this in due course.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
14th Jun 2023
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, when she plans to bring forward legislative proposals to ban conversion practices.

I refer the Hon Member to my response to Parliamentary Questions 189369, 189439, 189455, 189469, 189456, 189457, 189458.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
13th Jul 2022
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, whether she has had discussions with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the potential merits of extending opt-out HIV testing on a nationwide basis.

Equality Ministers maintain a keen interest in the delivery of the Government’s HIV Action Plan, which sets out the ambitious plan to achieve zero new HIV infections in England by 2030 and an interim target of an 80% reduction in new infections by 2025.

The HIV Action Plan sets out how DHSC will maintain progress made with key groups, and significantly improve diagnosis for other groups.

The previous Minister for Equalities, Mike Freer, recently met Professor Kevin Fenton, Regional Director for London in the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, Chief Advisor on HIV and Chair of the HIV Action Plan Implementation Steering Group, to discuss implementation of the HIV Action Plan and how it links to the Government’s ambitions on improving outcomes for LGBT people.

NHS England and NHS Improvement is investing £20 million over the next three years to expand opt-out testing in emergency departments in the highest prevalence local areas to identify new cases of HIV. High prevalence is defined as those areas with five or more cases per 1,000 residents in line with guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. DHSC Ministers would be able to respond to more detailed questions.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
7th Dec 2023
To ask the Attorney General, if she will have discussions with Cabinet colleagues on the potential application of the Offences Against the person Act 1861 in tackling the use of conversion practices with LGBT people.

The Law Officers' Convention enables the Attorney General and I to have frank discussions with our Ministerial colleagues.

The Law Officers' Convention means that we cannot disclose whether or not we have advised on a legal issue or whether we will do so in the future.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
7th Dec 2023
To ask the Attorney General, whether his Department has issued guidance to the (a) police and (b) Crown Prosecution Service on using existing legislation to tackle conversion practices against LGBT People.

The police are the responsibility of the Home Office.

While the Attorney General's Office superintends the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the CPS are operationally independent. The CPS bring prosecutions in line with the Code for Crown prosecutors.

The Attorney General's Office has not issued any guidance to the CPS.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Attorney General, what steps she is taking to prosecute individuals charged with fraud by false representation particularly in relation to fraudulent property transactions.

In March 2021, the CPS launched its first ever Economic Crime Strategy to ensure they keep at pace with the constant changing nature of crime. It is a high-level strategy which allows the flexibility to respond and adapt to new and emerging threats.

The CPS has a dedicated Specialist Fraud Division to ensure it has the right skills and resources to prosecute complex cases.

The CPS also has a Proceeds of Crime unit dedicated to asset recovery and in 2018, the CPS created three new Fraud Centres in CPS Areas to increase capability and resilience in dealing with fraud casework.

Alex Chalk
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Attorney General, if she will examine the length of sentence handed to Sam Pybus under the unduly lenient sentence scheme.

My office received a number of referrals to review the sentence in this deeply disturbing case. I agree that the sentence appears too low, and I have referred it to the Court of Appeal to be reviewed. The case will be heard in due course and the Court of Appeal will decide whether to increase the sentence.

23rd Sep 2021
What steps the Government is taking to deliver civil service jobs outside London.

The Government is committed to levelling-up through relocating high quality Civil Service Jobs. At Budget 2020 we set out our ambitions to relocate 22,000 roles out of London by 2030, bringing new jobs and investment to all nations and parts of the UK, with senior roles being created in areas such as Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff, Darlington and Wolverhampton. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster during his time as Chief Secretary to the Treasury encouraged Departments to frontload the majority of moves over this next Spending Review. I can confirm that we now have early commitments to move up to 15,000 civil service roles by 2024/25.

Departments will decide on their locations taking into account a range of factors including skills, transport links and capacity to meet their needs and flourish in their chosen locations, as well as ensuring locations are suitable for the long term success and sustainability of the civil service.

14th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of awarding retrospective awards for exceptional feats of gallantry.

National gallantry awards are considered by the independent George Cross Committee and recognise the bravery of those who have put themselves in danger to save, or attempt to save someone’s life. The committee makes recommendations based on the degree of risk and how aware the nominee was of the danger.

The Committee only considers nominations for actions that took place within the previous five years. This reflects a need to ensure awards are timely, can draw on the judgement and knowledge of those involved at the time and can benefit from assessment against other contemporaneous actions. The only exception to this is where it is necessary to wait for the outcome of judicial proceedings, for example an inquest. Even in those circumstances, it is generally expected that the actions meriting an award would have taken place within, or only very little beyond five years.

28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, for what reason hydrogen combustion engines are not eligible for automotive transformation funding.

At present, all commercial internal combustion engines produce exhaust emissions that are harmful to health. Although some companies claim hydrogen combustion engines are close to zero NOx emissions, as well as CO2, Government has yet to see evidence to illustrate that zero harmful emissions at the exhaust are possible in either laboratory or real-world conditions.

We will continue to focus innovation support to fully zero emission solutions. However, if technology developments enable renewable hydrogen to be used in combustion engines with zero harmful tailpipe emissions, then we would welcome this development.

Nusrat Ghani
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) (jointly with the Cabinet Office)
6th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether he plans to take steps to help eligible households access Energy Bill Support Scheme Alternative Funding past the deadline for applications.

The Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding closed to new applications on 31 May 2023. Individuals that need additional support with an application they have submitted before the scheme closed to new applications can call the contact centre helpline on 08081753287 (08081753894 for Northern Ireland) where a representative can provide further assistance.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
6th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, whether his Department plans to reopen applications for the Energy Bill Support Scheme Alternative Funding.

The Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding closed to new applications on 31 May, and the department does not plan to re-open the scheme. The government believes that the 3-month time window provided sufficient time for eligible households to apply for their £400 support.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
22nd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of geographical variations in electricity standing charges.

The standing charge includes some electricity distribution costs, which vary regionally to reflect the different costs of maintaining and upgrading the distribution network in different regions. Ofgem, as the independent energy regulator overseeing network charges, has previously reviewed regional differences in network charges. Its report found that there are advantages in charges that broadly reflect the costs that different users place on the system. In particular, this cost-reflective approach to network charging supports an efficient system where overall network costs are minimised for consumers across Great Britain.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
7th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing additional financial support to education providers who have had their energy contracts terminated on the basis of assessments made by suppliers of the credit worthiness of those providers.

The Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) provides a price reduction to ensure that all education providers are protected from excessively high energy bills over the winter period. EBRS also provides additional support to those on deemed and out of contract tariffs if they meet the definition of the qualifying financially disadvantaged customers as set out in the scheme’s regulations and rules.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
30th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will set out the mechanism for receipt of support through the Energy Bill Relief Scheme for (a) persons whose energy is supplied as part of a heat network and (b) residents of park homes.

Heat network suppliers and park home site owners who are supported by the Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) are required to pass this support on, in a just and reasonable way, to end users.

This is set out in legislation. Full guidance on the mechanism for passing through this support is set out in the scheme guidance.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
18th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether energy suppliers are permitted to take funds paid through the Energy Bills Support Scheme to settle domestic energy debts in cases where there is a payment plan in place through the benefits system.

The objective of the Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS) is to help people with the cost of their energy bills over this winter. Where credit is applied to an account, it will contribute to arrears and any agreed debt repayment plan. As set out in its consultation response, the Government expects and encourages suppliers to make it their priority to work actively to move customers with large arrears balances onto repayment plans wherever possible.

There are comprehensive rules in place to protect energy customers at risk of being in debt.

Graham Stuart
Minister of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department has taken to (a) limit the impact of disruptive fireworks and (b) update guidance for businesses selling fireworks to the public for private use.

The Government takes the issues associated with the sale and use of fireworks seriously. That is why there is a comprehensive framework already in place for fireworks which controls their availability and use, as well as setting a curfew and 120 decibel noise limits to reduce disturbance to both people and animals.

The 2021 fireworks public safety information programme is now underway. The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is working with animal welfare groups, safety charities, local authorities, and the industry, to promote the safe and considerate use of fireworks to the general public. The messaging also raises awareness of retailers’ responsibilities when selling fireworks, including promoting the range of guidance available through Local Authority Trading Standards and published on GOV.UK.

10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to (a) limit the effect of fireworks on pets and livestock, (b) prohibit the illegal import of unsafe fireworks, (c) make an assessment of the adequacy of existing legislation on the sale of safe fireworks and (d) control the use of fireworks between the hours as set out in the Fireworks Regulations 2004.

There is a comprehensive regulatory framework in place for fireworks to reduce the risks to people and disturbance to animals. Existing legislation controls the sale, availability and use of fireworks, as well as setting a curfew and noise limit.

Using fireworks outside the curfew hours is a criminal offence, enforced by the police and can lead to imprisonment and a substantial fine. Local Authority Trading Standards work with retailers to ensure fireworks sold are safe, and they have powers to enforce against those who place non-compliant fireworks on the market, including those imported illegally or via the internet.

It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal, including through the misuse of fireworks, and is enforced by authorities including the police and Local Authority Trading Standards.

We remain committed to promoting the safe and considerate use of fireworks through the effective legislative framework and through non-legislative measures.

24th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, whether she has had discussions with the Heritage Railway Association on the (a) availability and (b) affordability of coal.

We acknowledge the difficult circumstances facing the heritage steam sector in light of the high cost of coal on international commodity markets due in part to the Russia/Ukraine conflict. The Heritage Minister, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, met the Chief Executive of the Heritage Railway Association along with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail in July 2023, to discuss a range of issues, including the availability and affordability of coal. In November 2023, Lord Parkinson attended the Heritage Railway Association Annual General Meeting in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where they discussed the matter further. The Department is continuing to keep an ongoing dialogue with the heritage steam sector to understand the opportunities and challenges it faces.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
5th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to her Department's publication entitled Get Active: a strategy for the future of sport and physical activity, published on 30 August 2023, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of funding deaf athletes at the elite level.

The Government’s “Get Active” strategy commits to making talent pathways accessible and inclusive, so our most talented athletes have a chance to be successful regardless of background.

Sport England has committed £1.2 million between 2022 and 2027 to UK Deaf Sport to boost deaf sport at the grassroots level and build wider participation. Beyond this, they have also agreed to explore a series of small-scale talent pilots for d/Deaf athletes. These pilots will see Sport England, National Governing Bodies, and UK Deaf Sport working together to explore support around elite competitions and suggest potential solutions.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
5th Dec 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to her Department's press release entitled Lucy Frazer's speech to the Royal Television Society, published on 20 September 2023, if she will publish the terms of reference of her Department’s review on the future of TV distribution.

As outlined by the Secretary of State in her speech to the Royal Television Society convention in September, the Department has commenced a programme of research and engagement on the future of TV distribution. This work will look at a range of themes, including changing audience viewing habits and developments in technology which are changing the way content is brought to our screens.

The project will take a long-term view of the trajectory of the UK’s broadcasting landscape over the next decade and beyond. It is therefore important that we ensure the full range of considerations are taken into account. We expect to set out further detail in due course.

26th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure the continuity of terrestrial television coverage.

The Government remains committed to the future of digital terrestrial television, which we expect will continue to be an important way of watching for years to come.

That is why we have already legislated domestically to ensure terrestrial television broadcasting can continue until at least 2034, and will continue to make the case in international fora too.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps her Department is taking to support heritage rail.

The UK is a true pioneer in the history of railway development, nurturing and benefitting from the talents of Brunel and Stephenson among others. We are rightly proud of this legacy and must ensure that the next generation is endowed with both the skills and the passion to protect this legacy for the future.

The heritage railway sector is not only a fundamental component of our national heritage, it is an important aspect of our visitor economy with heritage railways attracting around 13 million visitors and bringing an estimated £250 million to the economy annually. It is because of this cultural and economic significance that the Government has supported the heritage rail network over the past year through its unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund, which has awarded approximately £15.7 million to railway related organisations across the country.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he has taken to support amateur boxing during the covid-19 outbreak.

Government recognises the many benefits that boxing can bring, such as relieving stress, stimulating endorphins, and building physical strength and self-confidence. Boxing clubs are also based in the heart of many communities and are therefore in a unique position to be able to engage people who may feel disconnected. We welcome the work done by organisations such as England Boxing to bring communities together through projects that tackle issues such as knife and gun crime, extremism and holiday hunger; whilst also engaging people with mental health issues, long term health conditions and those from lower socio-economic groups and BAME backgrounds.

Following the end of national restrictions, on Wednesday 2 December, gyms and indoor sport facilities reopened across all tiers. As part of this, the government has published guidance to support the phased return of Contact Combat Sports including boxing in as safe a way as possible.

Contact combat sports can now take place provided they follow the COVID-secure guidance set out in the contact combat sport framework and adhere to wider restrictions including legal gathering limits. Contact combat sports need to have their National Governing Bodies action plans approved in order to resume activity above Phase 0 of the Framework. The Framework sets out the Phases which are allowed in each tier of restrictions.

Nigel Huddleston
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 31 January 2024 to Question 11541 on Children in Care, what assessment she has made of the reasons for the higher proportion of looked after children per head of population in the North East; and what steps she is taking to remedy those causes.

The number of looked after children across local areas varies for a range of reasons.

In February 2023, the department set out the ambitious and bold plans to reform children's social care through 'Stable Homes, Built on Love'.

The department’s strategy focuses on six pillars of action to transform children’s social care, including to help families overcome challenges at the earliest stage, keep children safe from significant harm, and make sure children in care have stable loving homes, long-term loving relationships and opportunities for a good life.

As part of this, the department is investing over £36 million this Spending Review to deliver a fostering recruitment and retention programme so foster care is available for more children who need it. This includes working with local authorities across the North East to co-design the North East Fostering Pathfinder to develop a foster care recruitment and retention programme of support, which launched in September 2023.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will make an estimate of the number and proportion of children that are looked-after in (a) the North East and (b) the UK.

The latest information on the numbers and rates of children looked after (CLA) in England as of 31 March 2023, including in the North East, can be found in the 'CLA numbers and rates per 10,000 children aged under 18 years - LA' table in the statistical release ‘Children looked after in England including adoptions’, which is available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/data-tables/permalink/213d8053-d566-431e-96a7-08dc1cb7c782.

The department publishes statistics for CLA in England only. Similar statistics for other countries in the UK are the responsibility of the devolved administrations.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will make an assessment with Cabinet colleagues of the adequacy of the support provided by local authorities for care leavers.

Supporting care leavers to make a successful transition from care to independence is a priority for this government. Care leavers face barriers to securing and maintaining affordable housing, which is why the department committed to delivering the actions within ‘Mission 5’ of the Care Review implementation plan to increase the number of care leavers in safe, suitable accommodation and to reduce care leaver homelessness by 2027.

This commitment includes bringing forward legislation, when parliamentary time allows, for ‘Staying Put’ to support young people for longer and for ‘Staying Close’ to be a national entitlement, recognising that young people in the general population are leaving home at older ages. The department will also bring forward legislation, when parliamentary time allows, to remove the local connection requirement for care leavers seeking access to social housing at the next available opportunity.

The government is providing funding for the following programmes in the current spending review period (2022/2025) to support care leavers to find suitable accommodation. This includes:

  • £99.8 million to local authorities to increase the number of care leavers that stay living with their foster families in a family home up to the age of 21 through the ‘Staying Put’ programme.
  • £53 million to increase the number of young people leaving residential care who receive practical help with move-on accommodation, including ongoing support from a keyworker, through the ‘Staying Close’ programme.
  • £3 million this and next financial year to deliver extra support for care leavers at highest risk of rough sleeping.

Ofsted inspects the adequacy of the support provided by local authorities for care leavers. In January 2023, Ofsted introduced a new, separate judgement in the inspection framework for local authority children’s services, specifically assessing the experiences and progress of care leavers.

​Alongside this, a care leaver Ministerial Board, co-chaired by the Secretaries of State for the Department for Education and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, brings together relevant Ministers from across government to consider what more can be done to improve outcomes for care leavers and to help to achieve the five care-leavers-related ‘Missions’ as set out in the government’s children’s social care strategy, ‘Stable Homes, Built on Love’. This includes looking to increase the number of care leavers in safe, suitable accommodation and to reduce care leaver homelessness.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking with Cabinet colleagues to help support care leavers to find a home when they leave local authority care.

Supporting care leavers to make a successful transition from care to independence is a priority for this government. Care leavers face barriers to securing and maintaining affordable housing, which is why the department committed to delivering the actions within ‘Mission 5’ of the Care Review implementation plan to increase the number of care leavers in safe, suitable accommodation and to reduce care leaver homelessness by 2027.

This commitment includes bringing forward legislation, when parliamentary time allows, for ‘Staying Put’ to support young people for longer and for ‘Staying Close’ to be a national entitlement, recognising that young people in the general population are leaving home at older ages. The department will also bring forward legislation, when parliamentary time allows, to remove the local connection requirement for care leavers seeking access to social housing at the next available opportunity.

The government is providing funding for the following programmes in the current spending review period (2022/2025) to support care leavers to find suitable accommodation. This includes:

  • £99.8 million to local authorities to increase the number of care leavers that stay living with their foster families in a family home up to the age of 21 through the ‘Staying Put’ programme.
  • £53 million to increase the number of young people leaving residential care who receive practical help with move-on accommodation, including ongoing support from a keyworker, through the ‘Staying Close’ programme.
  • £3 million this and next financial year to deliver extra support for care leavers at highest risk of rough sleeping.

Ofsted inspects the adequacy of the support provided by local authorities for care leavers. In January 2023, Ofsted introduced a new, separate judgement in the inspection framework for local authority children’s services, specifically assessing the experiences and progress of care leavers.

​Alongside this, a care leaver Ministerial Board, co-chaired by the Secretaries of State for the Department for Education and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, brings together relevant Ministers from across government to consider what more can be done to improve outcomes for care leavers and to help to achieve the five care-leavers-related ‘Missions’ as set out in the government’s children’s social care strategy, ‘Stable Homes, Built on Love’. This includes looking to increase the number of care leavers in safe, suitable accommodation and to reduce care leaver homelessness.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether her Department provides on bereavement support for children in educational settings.

Losing a loved one can be a devastating experience for a child. Schools can play an essential role in supporting children with bereavement by providing effective pastoral support and ensuring there is a supportive school culture.

Schools are best placed to decide what pastoral support each pupil needs, including for children who have experienced a bereavement. To help schools make informed decisions about what support to provide, the department is offering every state school in England funding to train a senior mental health lead who can oversee a whole-school approach to mental wellbeing.

This training equips mental health leads to identify pupils or groups of pupils, which could include children affected by bereavement, in need of mental wellbeing support and to put in place effective support, working in partnership with specialists and families as needed. The training also supports leads to identify the training needs of other school staff, ensuring all staff can recognise and respond to pupils’ mental health concerns.

The department has recently launched a mental health lead resource hub and a targeted mental wellbeing support toolkit, both of which signpost mental health leads and other school staff toward resources and guidance, including support for bereavement.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Department for Education's press release entitled Major national drive to improve school attendance, published on 8 January 2024, whether she has made an assessment of the potential impact of this policy on children with long term conditions.

Improving attendance remains a top priority for the department. This is why it has launched a national communications campaign to remind families that “moments matter, attendance counts”.

The campaign reflects feedback from schools and local authorities and aims to primarily reach those parents whose children are taking preventable odd days of absence, or “avoidable absence”. It builds on NHS guidance and messages from the Chief Medical Officer’s letter to schools to reassure families that children can attend school with a mild cough or cold and that prolonged period of absence is likely to heighten a child’s anxiety about attending school in the future. The guidance can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/is-my-child-too-ill-for-school/, and the letter can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/letter-to-school-leaders-on-mild-illness-and-school-attendance/letter-to-school-leaders-on-mild-illness-and-school-attendance.

The campaign is not aimed at parents of children who face greater barriers to attendance, such as pupils with long term medical conditions. Campaign materials shared with schools and local authorities reminded them that strategies to increase attendance should take a ‘support first’ approach in all instances. The department’s ‘Working together to improve school attendance’ guidance expects schools to have sensitive conversations with children and families and work with them to put support in place for their individual needs. This guidance is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/63049617e90e0729e63d3953/Working_together_to_improve_school_attendance.pdf. Schools must also follow the ‘Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions’ statutory guidance that outlines the support that pupils with medical conditions must receive at school so they have full access to education and it is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5ce6a72e40f0b620a103bd53/supporting-pupils-at-school-with-medical-conditions.pdf.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Education)
28th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of (a) mental health and (b) suicide prevention provision in secondary schools.

​​Schools are best placed to decide what mental health and wellbeing support to offer to pupils. The department does not collect detailed data on suicide prevention provision in schools, but asks questions about schools’ perceptions of mental health support, as part of its regular omnibus surveys, the results of which are published here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-and-college-panel-omnibus-surveys-for-2022-to-2023.

​The department is supporting effective whole school approaches to mental health through our commitment to offer all state schools and colleges a grant to train a senior mental health lead by 2025. This includes training on how to make sure they are including processes for identifying individuals or groups who need additional mental health support. There are 14,400 settings that have claimed a grant up to 31 August 2023, including more than 7 in 10 state-funded secondary schools.

​To expand access to early mental health support, the department is continuing to roll out Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) to schools and colleges. As of April 2023, MHSTs covered 47% of pupils in secondary schools in England. The department is extending coverage of MHSTs to an estimated 44% of pupils and learners in all schools and colleges by the end of this financial year and at least 50% by the end of March 2025.

​Suicide prevention is part of school and system wide approaches to mental health and wellbeing, where schools should promote good mental health in children, provide a supportive environment for those experiencing problems, and help secure access to more specialist help for those who need it.

​​Schools can teach older pupils about suicide in an age-appropriate and sensitive way. The Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) statutory guidance advises that schools should approach teaching about self-harm and suicide carefully and should be aware of the risks to pupils from exposure to materials that are instructive rather than preventative, including websites or videos that provide instructions or methods of self-harm or suicide.

​​To support schools to deliver this content effectively, the department has produced teacher training modules. The mental wellbeing module contains key knowledge and facts to help teachers understand what they must teach, and is available to view here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teaching-about-mental-wellbeing.

​​The department has started work on the review of the RSHE statutory guidance. Suicide prevention is one of the key subjects that the department will explore as a priority area, and it will work with a range of experts and those with lived experience to do this.

​​

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
22nd Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will take steps to strengthen the training for local authority SEND officers and mediators on helping to ensure that correct decisions are made on education, health and care plans.

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) casework teams in local authorities play a vital role in supporting families to navigate the SEND system and ensure they have good experiences.

As set out in the SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan, the department is considering the skills and training that local authority caseworker teams require and will, following consultation, issue new guidance on delivering a responsive and supportive SEND casework service to families.

The department is also working with the Civil Mediation Council and the College of Mediators to strengthen the professional standards for SEND mediators to help ensure the service they provide is of a high-quality.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will make it her policy to provide additional funding to schools that temporarily enrol children who are temporarily residing in domestic abuse refuge accommodation.

The National Funding Formula (NFF) is used by the department to distribute funding fairly, based on schools’ and pupils’ needs and characteristics. Through the NFF, schools are funded on a lagged system, based on their pupil numbers in the previous October census. The department does not adjust school funding in-year based on the arrival or departure of individual pupils. This helps to give schools more certainty over funding levels and aids their financial planning.

Under the Children Act 1989, local authorities are required to provide services for children in need for the purposes of safeguarding and promoting their welfare. It is important that every local authority have clear criteria for taking action and providing help across the full continuum of need. The Local Safeguarding Children Partnership should agree with the local authority and their partners what services are to be commissioned and delivered so that the right help is given to children at the right time.

In addition to the role played by the police in investigating and intervening, the following agencies have a duty to assist local authorities in their enquiries by providing relevant information and advice if called upon to do so (unless it would be unreasonable, given all the circumstances of the case):

  • Any local authority;
  • Any local housing authority; and,
  • Any local health board, special health authority, integrated care board, NHS trust.

The statutory guidance ‘Working together to safeguard children’ (2018) is also clear that effective sharing of information between professionals and local agencies is essential for effective identification, assessment and service provision. In the case where a parent may deny the existence of a partner, the social worker should use probing, challenging questions and work closely with other agencies, for example, the police.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
16th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she has made an assessment of the adequacy of the time taken for school admission decisions to be made for pupils temporarily residing in domestic abuse refuges; and if she will take steps with local authorities to reduce that time.

The government has not carried out a recent assessment of the time taken to secure a school place for children living in domestic abuse refuges, but has changed the School Admissions Code in 2021 to improve support for the in-year admission of vulnerable children and help to reduce to a minimum any gaps in their education.

The 2021 Code requires admission authorities to inform parents of the outcome of their in-year application within 15 school days. Where a parent is having difficulty securing a place following the in-year process, each local authority must have a Fair Access Protocol (FAP) which requires an eligible child to be allocated a school place within 20 school days. The government extended eligibility for the FAP in the new Code to children who are living in a refuge or other relevant accommodation.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Education)
13th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when her Department plans to publish the results of the Children's social care: stable homes, built on love consultation.

The department published ‘Stable Homes, Built on Love’, an implementation strategy and consultation, setting out plans to reform children’s social care on the 2 February 2023. It set out how the department will help families overcome challenges, keep children safe, and make sure children in care have stable loving homes, long-term loving relationships, and opportunities for a good life. The consultation closed on the 11 May 2023, and a response was published on the 21 September 2023.

David Johnston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she is taking steps to ensure that the re-inspection of schools is carried out by the original assessor where practicable.

This is a matter for His Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman. I have asked her to write to my hon. Friend, the Member for Darlington, and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

23rd May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she is taking steps to ensure that the categorisations used by her Department for collecting data on the ethnicity of Gypsy, Traveller and Roma people are consistent with those used by the Office of National Statistics.

The Department follows the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and Government Statistical Service (GSS) harmonised standards for collecting and/or presenting statistics. More details about codes, along with information on how the codes were chosen, is available at: https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/style-guide/ethnic-groups.

The ONS lead cross Government work to harmonise data, including on ethnicity. The Department continues to be part of this ongoing work and will look to introduce any recommendations when they are made. Further information is available at: https://analysisfunction.civilservice.gov.uk/policy-store/gss-harmonisation-team-workplan/#ethnicity.

15th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure attendance levels in school recover to pre-covid-19 pandemic levels.

The Department is clear that being in school and ready to study is crucial to pupils’ attainment, wellbeing, and wider life chances.

The Department is focusing on supporting pupils to recover from the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic through an ambitious multi year programme and almost £5 billion has been made available for education recovery. This funding for education recovery includes up to £1.5 billion on tutoring and nearly £2 billion of direct funding to schools so they can deliver evidence based interventions based on pupil needs. It also includes £400 million on teacher training opportunities, and over £800 million for additional hours in 16-19 education.

In addition, the Department has brought together an Action Alliance of lead professionals from key frontline services that support families. Members from education, health, justice, the third sector and parent organisations have collectively committed to use their roles and organisations to undertake activities to improve attendance.

The Department has also published new ‘Working together to improve school attendance’ guidance which makes clear the importance of addressing the barriers to attendance through strong multi agency working at school, multi academy trust and Local Authority levels.

This guidance intends to ensure greater consistency in the attendance support offered to pupils and families, regardless of where they live, and emphasises the importance of providing attendance support in an earlier and more targeted way to respond to pupils’ individual needs.

15th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to support schools to increase the level of pupil attendance.

The Department has a comprehensive attendance strategy to improve school attendance. Guidance has been published setting out how the Department expects schools, trusts and Local Authorities to work together to improve attendance. This can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1099677/Working_together_to_improve_school_attendance.pdf.

The Department’s guidance is clear that schools should develop and maintain a whole school culture that promotes the benefits of high attendance, have a clear school attendance policy and have effective day to day processes in place to follow-up absence. The guidance sets out that schools are expected to rigorously use attendance data to identify patterns of poor attendance, at individual and cohort level, as soon as possible so that all parties can work together to resolve them before they become entrenched. To help schools to do this, the Department has recently launched new functionality which allows mainstream schools that are sharing daily attendance data to compare attendance with other schools within their Local Authority. This can be seen under the ‘compare your attendance tab’ in view your education data, at: https://viewyourdata.education.gov.uk/. The tool will help schools to identify strengths and priorities and signpost to additional guidance and support.

The Department has employed expert attendance advisers who are playing an important role working closely with Local Authorities and a number of multi-academy trusts with higher levels of persistent absence to review their current practice and support them to develop plans to improve. The Department has also recently launched a £2.32 million attendance mentor pilot to deliver intensive one to one support to a group of persistently and severely absent pupils. The pilot will run for three years supporting a total of 1,665 pupils. The findings from this pilot should enable schools, trusts, and Local Authorities to address persistent and severe absence more effectively.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has established an alliance of national leaders from education, children’s social care and other relevant services to work together to raise school attendance and reduce persistent absence.

Schools and Local Authorities can also use a range of measures to provide support for and/or sanctions against parents when their child’s irregular attendance in school becomes a problem. These measures are used to reinforce parents’ responsibilities and to support them in improving their child’s attendance at school.

7th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of the early termination of energy contracts for education providers on the basis of assessments made by suppliers of the credit worthiness of those providers.

The Department does not hold information centrally about the status of each education provider’s energy contracts. Schools are autonomous and have the freedom to make their own buying decisions based on individual need and circumstances. Schools should conduct their own risk assessment against the specifics of their own contract with their energy supplier.

​If a school needs help securing an energy contract, more information on buying guidance and procedures for schools is available online at: www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-buying-for-schools.​​

11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will take steps to provide mandatory neuro diversity training for all teachers; and if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of maintaining a national league table of school staff that have undertaken this training.

The Teachers’ Standards set clear expectations that teachers must understand the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), which includes neurodiverse conditions. All trainees who achieve Qualified Teacher Status must demonstrate that they can adapt teaching to respond to the needs of all pupils.

To support all teachers to meet these standards, the Department is implementing high quality teacher training reforms, which will begin with initial teacher training and continue into early career teaching with the Early Career Framework (ECF), through to the reformed suite of leadership and specialist NPQs, ensuring that teachers have the skills to support all pupils to succeed, including those with SEND. Both the Initial Teacher Training Core Content Framework and ECF have been designed around how to support all pupils to succeed, including those pupils identified within the four areas of need set out in the SEND Code of Practice.

In addition, the Universal Services programme, backed by almost £12 million, will help schools and the further education workforce to identify and meet the needs of children and young people with SEND, including those with autism, earlier and more effectively.

It is up to head teachers to use their professional judgement to identify any further training, including specific specialisms, for individual staff that is relevant to them, the school, and its pupils.

11th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to help improve financial literacy amongst young people.

Finance education forms part of the citizenship national curriculum, which can be taught at all key stages and is compulsory at key stages 3 and 4. More information about the content of the national curriculum can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/national-curriculum.

Financial education ensures that pupils are taught the functions and uses of money, the importance of personal budgeting, money management, and managing financial risk. At secondary school, pupils are taught about income and expenditure, credit and debt, insurance, savings and pensions, financial products and services, and how public money is raised and spent.

The mathematics curriculum, which is compulsory at key stages 1 to 4 also develops financial skills. At primary level, there is a strong emphasis on the essential arithmetic knowledge that pupils should be taught. This knowledge is vital, as a strong grasp of numeracy and numbers will underpin pupils’ ability to manage budgets and money, including, for example, using percentages. There is also some specific content about financial education, such as calculations with money.

The secondary mathematics curriculum develops pupils’ understanding and skills in relation to more complex personal finance issues, such as calculating loan repayments, interest rates and compound interest.

As with other aspects of the curriculum, schools have flexibility over how they deliver these subjects, so they can develop an integrated approach that is sensitive to the needs and background of their pupils.

The Money and Pensions Service published financial education guidance for primary and secondary schools in England on 11 November 2021, during Talk Money week. The guidance is designed to support school leaders to enhance the financial education currently delivered in their schools to make it memorable and impactful. Further information can be accessed at: https://maps.org.uk/2021/11/11/financial-education-guidance-for-primary-and-secondary-schools-in-england/.

The department and the Money and Pensions Service will deliver a series of joint financial education webinars during the 2022/23 academic year, aimed at promoting the importance of financial education, improving teacher confidence, skills and knowledge and providing a launchpad for further engagement with training and resources to support continuous improvement.

22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he plans to take to improve training and education for teachers on neurodiverse conditions.

The Department is committed to ensuring that all pupils can reach their potential and receive excellent support from their teachers. The Teachers’ Standards set clear expectations that teachers must understand the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), which includes neurodiverse conditions. All trainees who achieve Qualified Teacher Status must demonstrate that they can adapt teaching to respond to the needs of all pupils.

Once teachers qualify and are employed in schools, Head Teachers use their professional judgement to identify any relevant, necessary further training, including specific specialisms.

To support all teachers in meeting these standards, the Department is implementing a golden thread of high-quality teacher training reforms which begins with initial teacher training and continues throughout teachers’ career progression. These reforms are designed to ensure teachers have the skills to support all pupils to succeed, including those with SEND.

In addition, the Universal Services programme will help schools and the further education workforce to identify and meet the needs of children and young people with SEND, including those with autism, earlier and more effectively.

29th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he will take to record the training provided to (a) teachers and (b) teaching assistants on (i) autism and (ii) other neuro-diverse conditions.

All teachers are teachers of students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The department is committed to ensuring that all pupils can reach their potential and receive excellent support from their teachers.

Consideration of SEND underpins both the Initial Teacher Training Core Content Framework and Early Career Framework.

All trainees who achieve Qualified Teacher Status must demonstrate that they can adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils, including those with SEND.

Schools are given the freedom to train teaching assistants according to their needs. Teaching assistants can take a level three apprenticeship, which teaches apprentices how to support pupils with special educational needs and emotional vulnerabilities. Data for the number of starts can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/public-sector-apprenticeship-target. The department does not ask schools to collect data and report it back to us.

In February 2022 the department announced funding which includes nearly £12 million for the new Universal Services programme, to deliver SEND-specific continued professional development to the school workforce. This will help schools to support children and young people with SEND, including autism, and includes specific support on the needs of autistic children and young people.

29th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he will next review the eligibility thresholds for free school meals.

The department has extended the eligibility for free school meals (FSM) several times and has also introduced universal infant free school meals and further education free school meals.

We have also permanently extended eligibility to children from all groups with no recourse to public funds.

Schools fund benefit-related FSM from their core funding, which they receive through the schools block of the dedicated schools grant. This is derived from the national funding formula (NFF). For the 2022/23 financial year, the funding schools attract through the FSM factor in the NFF is increasing to £470 per eligible pupil.

The department is committed to aiming provision at supporting the most disadvantaged, those out of work, or those on a low income. The department will continue to keep all FSM eligibility under review, to ensure that these meals are supporting those who most need them.

29th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase the take-up of the Holiday and Food Activities programme to ensure the maximum number of children benefit.

The government is investing over £200 million a year in our Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme over the next three years, distributed through all local authorities in England.

The programme is targeted primarily towards children who receive benefits-related free school meals (FSM). Local authorities also have discretion to provide free or subsidised holiday club places for children who are not in receipt of FSM, but who the local authority believe could benefit from HAF provision.

Local authorities are encouraged to work with a wide range of organisations and partners across their local area and ensure schools and other services are on board with directing children and families to the programme. To support local authorities, the government has appointed a national support partner, Childcare Works, who help local authorities to use their funding as effectively as possible and to target their programme at those most in need. The government has also provided local authorities with a communication toolkit to support local promotion of the programme.

14th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what language assistance he is providing to (a) schools and (b) colleges to assist them in serving the needs of (i) Afghan and (ii) Ukrainian children.

Schools are responsible for ensuring that all of their pupils, including those who are classed as having a first language other than English, can access the full curriculum and have opportunity to achieve their potential.

Through the English as an additional language (EAL) factor in the national funding formula (NFF), schools are allocated funding for pupils who are classed as having EAL and who have started in the state-funded education system in England within the last three years. This equates to an additional £565 per primary school pupil and £1,530 per secondary school pupil in the 2022/23 financial year. The NFF will distribute a total of £410 million through the EAL factor in the current financial year. Schools have flexibility over how they use their overall funding budget to support their EAL pupils, as they are best placed to understand and respond to the particular needs of their pupils.

Ukrainians aged 16 to 19 living in the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme, and the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme (Homes for Ukraine) are eligible to enrol as a student in 16 to 19 education providers, although providers may ask to see evidence of their eligibility.

Afghans aged 16 to 19 recognised as having a legal right to reside in UK are immediately entitled to 16 to 19 funding and are therefore able to enrol at 16 to 19 education providers.

16 to 19 education providers include further education colleges, sixth form colleges and school sixth forms. 16 to 19 study programmes can include English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) courses or other English tuition, depending on the needs of the student.

13th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department collects data on the number of (a) teachers and (b) teaching assistants in each constituency who have undergone autism-related training.

The department does not collect data on the number of teachers and teaching assistants in each constituency who have undergone autism-related training.

10th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of using audiobooks to engage wider participation in reading to support the Levelling Up agenda.

The department wants children to develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information. Research suggests that reading for pleasure is more important for children’s educational development than their parents’ level of education. The national curriculum states that teachers are expected to encourage pupils to develop the habit of reading widely. It emphasises the importance of pupils listening to, discussing, and as their fluency increases, reading for themselves a wide range of stories, poems, plays and information books. The department has not undertaken research on the specific contribution or role of audiobooks, however, welcomes their use alongside other formats of books.

In March, the department published the Schools White Paper. This sets out our long-term vision for a school system that helps every child to fulfil their potential by ensuring that they receive the right support, in the right place, at the right time.

At its heart is the Government’s Levelling Up mission. This aims that by 2030, 90% of children will leave primary school having achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and maths. As part of this, the department is committed to continuing to raise literacy standards, ensuring all children can read fluently and with understanding. Further information on the Schools White Paper can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/schools-white-paper-delivers-real-action-to-level-up-education.

29th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy in the levels of funding for local authorities Children’s Services.

Local authorities set their own children’s services budget from their core spending power, based on local need, priorities and their statutory responsibilities.

In the 2022/23 financial year, local authorities have access to £54.1 billion core spending power to deliver their services, including for children and young people. This is £3.7 billion more than in the 2021/22 financial year.

As part of this, the government has boosted the social care grant, increasing it by £636 million, and bringing it to a total of around £2.35 billion in the 2022/23 financial year. Local authorities will have access to a one-off Services Grant in 2022/23, which is worth over £800 million and can be used for all services, including children’s social care.

15th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to tackle rising levels of antisemitism on university campuses.

The government is clear that antisemitism is abhorrent and we expect higher education (HE) providers to be at the forefront of tackling the challenge of it.

We have pushed for several years for greater action from HE providers to address antisemitism. We have encouraged HE providers to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism to give clarity of what constitutes antisemitic behaviour. This will enable providers to better understand and recognise incidences of antisemitism and take action to address them.

In October 2020, the former Secretary of State for Education, my right hon. Friend for South Staffordshire, wrote to all HE providers urging adoption of the IHRA definition, stating that we would consider further action if HE providers did not adopt. The former Secretary of State for Education also sent a follow-up letter in May 2021, reinforcing the government's expectation that providers adopt the IHRA definition, stressing the even greater importance of doing so considering increased numbers of antisemitic incidents recorded as a result of the conflict in the Middle East.

In response to this, on 10 November 2021, the Office for Students published a list of HE providers who have adopted the definition. I am pleased to report good progress in the last year: an increase from around 30 to over 200 providers having adopted. This includes the vast majority of universities. I will continue to urge all HE providers to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism

Adoption of the IHRA definition is only a first step towards ridding HE of antisemitism. While the government considers that adoption of the definition is crucial, it is not enough on its own. As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has previously announced publicly, we are leading a summit later this month specifically focused on tackling antisemitism in HE. This event will include key stakeholders from the sector to examine what more can be done to make Jewish students and staff feel safe on campus.

Michelle Donelan
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many electronic devices to support remote learning have been distributed to each educational institution in Darlington during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is investing over £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care services securing 1.3 million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people, 920,000 of which were delivered to schools, trusts, local authorities and further education providers by 1 February.

As of 1 February, 543 devices have been delivered directly to Darlington Local Authority. Devices have also been allocated to academy trusts that include schools in Darlington, which are not included in this figure.

More information on the number of devices delivered to schools, trusts and local authorities can be viewed here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/laptops-and-tablets-data/2021-week-5.

The number of devices allocated is based on recent data on the number of free school meal eligible pupils at the school. On 12 January, the Department announced a further 300,000 devices will be provided nationally over the course of this term.


9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to tackle bullying of (a) LGBT and (b) other students in schools.

The government has sent a clear message that bullying should never be tolerated, and we are committed to supporting schools to tackle it. All schools are legally required to have a
behaviour policy with measures to prevent all forms of bullying, and have the freedom to develop their own anti-bullying strategies and monitoring approaches to best suit their environment. The department provides advice for schools, which outlines schools’ responsibilities. The advice makes clear that schools should make appropriate provision for a bullied child's social, emotional and mental health needs. It is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/preventing-and-tackling-bullying.

We have published a research report which details common strategies that specific schools have found to be effective for combating bullying, including case studies with examples about actions schools have taken to improve preventative practices and support for LGBT pupils. It is available here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/approaches-to-preventing-and-tackling-bullying.

We have also published ‘Respectful School Communities’, a self-review and signposting tool to support schools to develop a whole-school approach which promotes respect and discipline. This can combat bullying, harassment and prejudice of any kind, including hate-based bullying. It is available here: https://educateagainsthate.com/school-leaders/?filter=guidance-and-training-school-leaders.

On 7 June, we announced more than £750,000 for the Diana Award, the Anti-Bullying Alliance and the Anne Frank Trust - to help hundreds of schools and colleges build relationships between pupils, boost their resilience, and continue to tackle bullying both in person and online. This includes projects targeting bullying of particular groups, such as those with SEND, those who are victims of hate related bullying and those pupils who identify as LGBT.

We are also making sure that all children in England will learn about respectful relationships, in person and online, as part of new mandatory Relationships, Sex and Health Education. This includes content on the different types of bullying, the impact it has, the responsibility of bystanders, and how to get help.

We are investing £10 million through behaviour hubs. Schools with exemplary positive behaviour cultures can work closely with schools that want to turn around their behaviour, alongside a central offer of support and a taskforce of advisers. The aim is to improve their culture, and spread good practice across the country. ?The first hubs are planned to launch in spring 2021, and will run for an initial period of 3 years.

The Government Equalities Office invested £4 million over 4 years, from 2016, to support schools in preventing and addressing homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, reaching 2250 schools in England. This funding concluded in March 2020, and the Department for Education is currently evaluating next steps, as the department responsible for anti-bullying in schools. The department will confirm what funding is available for the financial year 2021-22, in light of the Spending Review outcome. We will also consider what more the department can do to ensure that schools have the right support to prevent bullying of pupils with protected characteristics.

23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of introducing a later start time to the school day; and what research his Department holds on that matter.

The decision on when to start the school day lies with individual schools.

The Government has given all schools the ability to set their own school hours. All schools have the autonomy to make decisions about the timetable and duration of their school day, including the flexibility to decide when their school day should start and finish. Guidance on the school day and the school year is available within the Department’s guidance on school attendance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-attendance.

The Department has not made an assessment of the decisions taken by individual schools. We trust schools to decide how best to structure their school day to support their pupils’ education.

Schools should organise the school day and school week in the best interest of their pupil cohort, to provide them with a full-time education suitable to their age, aptitude, and ability.

22nd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support Local Authorities with the (a) collection and (b) disposal of disposable vapes.

Changes are currently underway to the Producer Balancing System (PBS) under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations to ensure the costs of treating waste disposable vapes that arise at local authority waste sites are apportioned equitably amongst vape producers. The PBS also provides a guarantee to local authorities that all the waste arising at their sites, including disposable vape waste, will be collected.

On 28 December 2023, we published a consultation on reviewing the WEEE Regulations to ensure that we drive up levels of separately collected WEEE, including vapes, and that the costs of recycling are met fairly by manufacturers, importers and distributors of electrical equipment.

Robbie Moore
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when she plans to commence the measures in the Environment Act 2021 on the collection of food waste.

The Government has consulted on measures included in the Environment Act 2021 to increase consistency in recycling, including commencement dates for the requirements under the Act for the mandatory collection of food waste from all households and businesses in England. Further details will be announced within the response to this consultation, which will be published in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether her Department has produced guidance for local councils on the disposal of illegal vapes once seized by trading standards.

The Environment Agency provides guidance on a wide variety of waste management requirements, including on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and chemicals. Illegal vapes seized by trading standards that are being discarded would be classified as WEEE with associated chemical components and as such should be handled in line with existing guidance on WEEE and chemical waste management. The Environment Agency is working with industry to establish what the best available recycling and recovery techniques are so we can ensure they are treated responsibly.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she has made a recent assessment of whether animal testing is needed in the UK.

The Home Office Regulator will only grant licences to use animals in science where there are no alternatives, where the number of animals used is the minimum needed to achieve the scientific benefit, and where the potential harm to animals is limited to that needed to achieve the scientific benefit.

The Government is supporting and accelerating advances in biomedical science and technologies to reduce reliance on the use of animals in research. UK Research and Innovation provides core funding for the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement, and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), which works to drive the uptake of new methodologies, including alternatives to animals.

The Government is committed to the development of alternatives to using animals in scientific procedures and continues to actively support and fund the development and dissemination of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) for the use of animals in scientific procedures. This is achieved through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s funding of the National Centre for the 3Rs, which works nationally and internationally to drive the uptake of non-animal technologies, and through research into the development of alternatives by UKRI.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether her Department is taking steps to end animal testing in the UK.

The Home Office Regulator will only grant licences to use animals in science where there are no alternatives, where the number of animals used is the minimum needed to achieve the scientific benefit, and where the potential harm to animals is limited to that needed to achieve the scientific benefit.

The Government is supporting and accelerating advances in biomedical science and technologies to reduce reliance on the use of animals in research. UK Research and Innovation provides core funding for the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement, and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), which works to drive the uptake of new methodologies, including alternatives to animals.

The Government is committed to the development of alternatives to using animals in scientific procedures and continues to actively support and fund the development and dissemination of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) for the use of animals in scientific procedures. This is achieved through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s funding of the National Centre for the 3Rs, which works nationally and internationally to drive the uptake of non-animal technologies, and through research into the development of alternatives by UKRI.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential impact of supermarket brand protections on the redistribution of surplus food; and what discussions she has had with the representatives of the supermarket sector on eliminating food waste.

The Government is investing £2.6m this year to combat food waste through funding the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). This includes engagement across the supply chain, including supermarkets, through the Courtauld 2030 Commitment. Courtauld 2030 is a voluntary agreement and includes a target of a 50% per capita food waste reduction by 2030 against a 2007 baseline. Courtauld signatories take action to prevent food waste in their own operations as well as magnifying campaign messages to help citizens waste less such as those developed for Food Waste Action Week.


We continue to support WRAP’s work with the redistribution sector, which includes the provision of best practice guidance and knowledge sharing across the sector. The Courtauld Redistribution Working Group identified retailer brand labels as a priority barrier to redistribution, and in 2021 WRAP published new ‘Best practice on redistributing own label products in the supply chain’. The guide identifies how a more consistent approach can be taken to the redistribution of surplus retailer own-label food. This will result in more food being made available for redistribution in a timely manner, while making sure brand integrity and product safety are protected. Surplus Food Redistribution Resource Hub | WRAP.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the impact of fireworks on (a) domestic pets and (b) livestock.

Defra understands concerns about the distress fireworks can cause to domestic pets and livestock. Our assessment is that noisy fireworks have the capacity to cause distress to pets, livestock and wildlife. This is one of the reasons that there is a noise level limit of 120 decibels on fireworks for home use.

It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to cause an animal any unnecessary suffering and this includes through the misuse of fireworks. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act came into force on 29 June 2021 and has increased the maximum penalty for cruelty to animals to five years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

The Government also publishes a statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs, which applies to all owners/keepers of dogs and which encourages dog owners/keepers to avoid exercising dogs in extreme weather or during times when fireworks could be let off. Further advice about pets and fireworks can be found on the Blue Cross website, here: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/fireworks-and-pets

Fireworks should not be set off near livestock or close to buildings that house livestock, or near to horses in fields. Anyone planning a firework display in rural areas should warn neighbouring farmers.

Fireworks used for professionally organised displays, classified as F4, are available for sale only to people who have undertaken an accredited course of training in pyrotechnics and who hold relevant professional insurance. It is up to local councils to decide whether or not to put on public displays.

We would encourage livestock owners who are concerned about planned firework displays to contact the organisers to see if any compromises can be made, such as using less noisy fireworks.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to protect hedgerows across the UK.

Hedgerows are one of the most important ecological building blocks in our farmed landscape. They maintain the distinctive character of our countryside and provide crucial habitats and food for wildlife. Legal protection for hedgerows in England and Wales is provided by the Hedgerows Regulations 1997.

These regulations prohibit the removal of most countryside hedgerows (or parts of them) without first seeking approval from the local planning authority. It decides whether a hedgerow is ‘important’ because of its wildlife, landscape, historical or archaeological value and should not be removed.

A local authority also has the power to impose enforceable planning conditions on a developer to protect hedges or trees assessed as being worthy of retention, which might otherwise be harmed by construction or the new land-use. Land managers in receipt of Basic Payment Scheme payments are also required to protect hedgerows on their land.

Agri-environment schemes such as Countryside Stewardship fund the management of hedgerows to deliver recognised benefits for wildlife, landscape and the historic environment. Hedgerow management is one of the most popular options within Countryside Stewardship.

Following our exit from the European Union the development of our new environmental land management schemes will continue to recognise the role and fund the management of hedgerows. The hedgerow standard, part of the new Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme, will pay farmers to plant more hedgerows, leave them uncut or raise the cutting height.

Victoria Prentis
Attorney General
8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to strengthen local authority powers on tackling fly tipping from (a) members of the public and (b) commercial operators.

Fly-tipping is unacceptable and illegal wherever it occurs. It blights local communities and the environment and is an issue we are committed to tackling.

We have recently provided local authorities with enhanced enforcement powers to tackle fly-tipping. Since January 2019 local authorities have been able to issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) of up to £400 to householders who fail in their duty of care and give their waste to fly-tippers. We had previously given local authorities the power to issue FPNs to those who were caught fly-tipping.

We have also given local authorities, that are also waste collection authorities, the power to search and or seize vehicles that they suspect have been involved, are involved or are about to be involved in fly-tipping and other waste crimes.

Going forward, we are seeking powers in the Environment Bill to ensure agencies and authorities can work more effectively to combat waste crime through better access to evidence and improved powers of entry.

In addition to enhancing enforcement powers, we committed in the Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS) to develop a fly-tipping toolkit to help local authorities and others work in partnership to tackle fly-tipping. The RWS is available at www.gov.uk/government/publications/resources-andwaste-strategy-for-england.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the implications for her Department's transparency commitments of reports that the EU plans to classify the interim report into Palestinian textbooks jointly commissioned by the UK.

Following the UK’s calls for international action, an independent review of Palestinian textbooks is currently underway, conducted by the Georg Eckert Institute, a specialist textbook analysis centre.

DFID continues to favour transparency and the UK has repeatedly lobbied the EU to push for publication of the interim report.

To ensure the review could begin immediately on the signing of the contract, the UK commissioned the Georg Eckert Institute to produce a separate inception report to establish its methodology in advance. We plan to publish this report in the coming weeks.

We will continue to raise our concerns about allegations of incitement with the Palestinian Authority (PA) as I did most recently with the PA Minister for Education on 4 June.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
22nd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department is monitoring the adequacy of (a) pothole and (b) other road repairs by local authorities in the North East.

The Department has recently introduced some new reporting requirements for all local highway authorities to ensure that there is transparency around how the additional funding provided as part of the Prime Minister’s Network North plan is being used. All local authorities receiving this funding should publish prominently on their websites by March 2024 a summary of the additional resurfacing work they will deliver, or have already delivered, with the new funding in the 23/24 and 24/25 financial years. Thereafter they will be required to publish quarterly reports summarising what additional work they have done, including, for example, which roads they have resurfaced. This will allow local people to see for themselves how well their local authority is carrying out its responsibilities.

DfT monitors the condition of local roads, which is reported here : https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/road-condition-statistics-data-tables-rdc

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the £139 million investment in Darlington railway station on (a) Darlington and (b) the North East.

Through provision of additional through and bay platforms, the decision to provide £105m of Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline funding to deliver the Darlington Station Enhancements scheme will provide direct benefits to rail users throughout the North-East through journey time and reliability improvements. When combined with complementary investment from Tees Valley Combined Authority – who are delivering a multi-storey car park and public realm improvements – the scheme will also generate wider economic benefits to Darlington.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
22nd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much funding his Department has allocated to Darlington Borough Council for (a) pothole and (b) other road repairs in each year since 2019.

Funding for pothole and road maintenance in Darlington is allocated to Tees Valley Combined Authority, not the borough council.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking with (a) Network Rail and (b) other stakeholders to (i) improve the accessibility of the platform and (ii) reinstate the use of the train shed canopy at North Road railway station.

Transport authorities and the rail industry did not nominate North Road station for the next round of the Access for All programme when the Department sought nominations in 2022. However, the Department will continue to work with the rail industry in improving accessibility at the station. My officials have actively participated in conversations with Network Rail, the local authority and yourself on the re-instatement of the canopy, but at present, no funding has been identified to do so.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking with (a) Highways England and (b) Tees Valley Combined Authority to construct a north link road for Darlington.

Proposals for a link road between the A66 and Junction 59 of the A1(M) were originally developed by Tees Valley Combined Authority. National Highways has applied feasibility assessments to the proposals and more recently, its Route Strategies process has considered the current pressures and future needs of the strategic road network in the Tees Valley area and specific issues facing the A1(M) and A66 around Darlington. This work in addition to TVCA’s proposals will inform investment priorities for the strategic road network as part of future road investment strategies.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential impact of the proposed A66 expansion on (a) (i) health, (ii) safety and (iii) the environment at Brough Hill and (b) the cultural role of Brough Hill Fair for gypsy and traveller communities.

National Highway’s application for a Development Consent Order for the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine Project is currently subject to a determination by the Secretary of State. Following a 6-month examination of the application, a recommendation report was submitted to the Secretary of State by the Planning Inspectorate on 7 August 2023. The statutory deadline for a decision is 7 November 2023. I can reassure you that careful consideration will be given to the recommendation and all matters raised on this application before a final decision is made. The reasons for any decision will be set out in the decision letter. However, as this is a live application I am unable to comment further.

.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what data his Department holds on the number of passengers (a) embarking and (b) disembarking UK passenger cruise ports in each of the last five years.

The Department for Transport publishes monthly UK international cruise passenger movements by direction, as part of its annual sea passenger release. This information can be found at the following link in table SPAS0107, column H - Pleasure Cruises Sea passenger statistics: data tables (SPAS) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Numbers in the table represent the number of international cruise passengers in thousands.

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

Arrivals

1,105

1,090

60

88

1,002

Departures

1,103

1,082

46

94

992

Total

2,208

2,171

107

181

1,994

The number of domestic cruise passengers can be found in table SPAS0201, Sea passenger statistics: data tables (SPAS) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the Cruise Industry and Government forums plans to publish conclusions from its discussions.

The Cruise Industry and Government Forum (CIGF) was formed in 2022 to build on the collaborative relationship developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It meets bi-annually at the beginning and end of the cruise season (spring and autumn). It has met three times since its formation, in October 2022, April 2023 and September 2023.

The strategic focus of the forum is set at how to enhance the UK's competitive advantage in the international cruise sector. This focus sees the CIGF discuss a range of topics including decarbonisation, skills, and security. There are currently no plans to publish conclusions from these discussions, as they form part of on-going interactions between government and the sector on policy development.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how often the Cruise Industry and Government Forum has met since its establishment.

The Cruise Industry and Government Forum (CIGF) was formed in 2022 to build on the collaborative relationship developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It meets bi-annually at the beginning and end of the cruise season (spring and autumn). It has met three times since its formation, in October 2022, April 2023 and September 2023.

The strategic focus of the forum is set at how to enhance the UK's competitive advantage in the international cruise sector. This focus sees the CIGF discuss a range of topics including decarbonisation, skills, and security. There are currently no plans to publish conclusions from these discussions, as they form part of on-going interactions between government and the sector on policy development.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
12th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made with the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the contribution of the sea going passenger cruise industry to the economy.

The Department fully recognises that the cruise sector brings significant economic benefits to the UK, particularly coastal communities. A Maritime UK study published in 2019 showed that in 2017 cruise directly and indirectly contributed £9.4 billion to the UK economy and supported 82,000 jobs.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
12th Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department plans to take steps to support Passenger Cruise Ships to increase embarkation, disembarkation and visits at UK ports.

Pre-pandemic cruising was one of the fastest growing tourism sectors worldwide and the industry is confident that cruise visits to the UK in 2023 will surpass the record levels seen in 2019.

In 2022, as the industry recovered from the pandemic, the Department set up the Cruise Industry and Government Forum to discuss longer-term strategic issues and priority areas, including the growth of the cruise market in the UK.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
17th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of closing ticket offices on older rail workers' ability to purchase tickets at privilege rates.

We recognise that not all rail staff privilege rates are consistently offered online or at ticket vending machines at this time. Industry is considering how to address this. However, as part of the proposals put forward by industry, some of the country’s busiest ticket offices will initially remain open to help passengers gradually get used to the changes they will see at stations around the country.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
17th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the demographic spread of people who use railway ticket offices.

When proposing major changes to ticket office opening hours, including closures, operators are required to take into account the adequacy of the proposed alternatives in relation to the needs of all passengers; and to include this in the notice of the proposal sent to other operators and passenger groups.

We would also expect operators to consider other equality related needs and make this clear in the notice sent to other operators and passenger groups.

Together with the rail industry, we want to improve and modernise the passenger experience by moving staff out from ticket offices to provide more help and advice in customer focused roles. No currently staffed station will be unstaffed as a result of industry changes, and train operators will ensure staff are well located to meet passenger needs in future.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
4th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of establishing a facilities taskforce for HGV drivers.

The quality and availability of lorry parking and driver welfare facilities remain a priority for DfT and the wider Government.

The Department continues to engage with stakeholders including the freight industry associations, National Highways and local authorities to encourage the development of safer, more secure, high-quality lorry parking.

Existing groups including the Freight Council and regular working level industry engagement provide opportunities for industry input and discussion.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
14th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department plans to commemorate the bicentenary of the Stockton and Darlington railway in 2025.

Network Rail is leading “Railway 200” – the railway industry’s exciting plan for a year-long series of coordinated national and international events, activities, and campaigns. The Department for Transport will be working closely with Network Rail and the Great British Railways Transition Team to champion this important initiative across Government.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much funding his Department has provided (a) for the provision of £2 single fares and (b) in total for bus services in each (i) local authority and (ii) parliamentary constituency since March 2020.

The Government is providing up to £135 million to help over 140 operators covering more than 5,000 routes in England outside London cap single fares at £2 from 1 January to 30 June. The majority of funding is paid to commercial operators, and the amount each individual operator receives is commercially sensitive. A small number of Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) have received funding for a particular type of service to participate in the scheme.

The Government has also provided over £2 billion in emergency and recovery funding to bus operators and all English LTAs outside London since March 2020. LTAs have been allocated around £282 million of this funding. Where LTAs have received allocations for the £2 fare cap or through emergency and recovery funding grants, they are free to publish information on their funding allocations. Funding to commercial operators is not currently recorded in a way that allows it to be easily reported by local authority or by parliamentary constituency.

The Department for Transport also provides around £250m every year through the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) to bus operators and LTAs help support services. £42 million of this funding is provided to LTAs and details on yearly allocations can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bus-service-operators-grant-payments-to-local-authorities-from-2013-onwards.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take further steps to support hydrogen combustion engine technology.

Hydrogen combustion engines offer the potential to decarbonise part of the transport sectors where battery electric is not t a viable solution. The Government has recently supported JCB, for example, to test new hydrogen combustion machinery on the public highway, as well as supported research into the liquid hydrogen combustion for aviation engines.

26th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when his Department plans to (a) complete e-scooter trials and (b) publish the report on the outcomes of e-scooter trials.

The current e-scooter trials, which are live in 25 areas across England, have been extended from November 2022 to 31 May 2024.

The Department published the findings report of the national evaluation of e-scooter rental trials in England on 15 December 2022.

15th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to undertake a review of the restrictions on (a) access to the rail network and (b) the ability to stop at specific stations applicable to open access train operators.

Access to the rail network is a matter for the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) in its role as independent regulator for the rail industry. The ORR will continue to play a central role in ensuring industry processes and applications for track access are treated fairly and transparently going forward. The ORR’s role includes approving access contracts and access appeals in relation to open access operators. The ORR works with Network Rail to assess suitability of proposed station stops, and decisions are made on the basis of available capacity. The Government remains committed to exploring the scope for open access where spare capacity exists to make best use of the network and grow new markets for rail.

Huw Merriman
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
3rd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent consideration he has given to progressing the Darlington Northern Link Rd plan.

National Highways and Tees Valley Combined Authority have worked closely on developing proposals for a Darlington Northern Link Road, connecting the A66 and Junction 59 of the A1. The work to date will form part of the wider body of evidence informing the Investment Plan for the third Road Investment Strategy or future road periods beyond 2025.

Richard Holden
Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of a new link road between the A66 and junction 59 of the A1.

National Highways and Tees Valley Combined Authority have worked closely on developing proposals for a Darlington Northern Link Road, connecting the A66 and Junction 59 of the A1. The work to date will form part of the canon of evidence informing the Investment Plan for the third Road Investment Strategy or future road periods beyond 2025.

22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of a new link road between the A66 and Junction 59 of the A1 for connectivity in Darlington.

National Highways and Tees Valley Combined Authority have worked closely on developing proposals for a Darlington Northern Link Road, connecting the A66 and Junction 59 of the A1. The work to date will form part of the canon of evidence informing the Investment Plan for the third Road Investment Strategy or future road periods beyond 2025.

22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent progress she has made on re-establishing a passenger service along the Weardale line in County Durham.

The £500m Restoring Your Railway Fund is supporting over 45 promising schemes with the potential to level up areas and reconnect communities. The Department has now received the scheme’s Strategic Outline Business Case and will review it in the coming months.

22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what sources of funding her Department provides for accessibility and cosmetic improvements for historic North Road Station prior to the bicentenary of the passenger railway in 2025.

The Department provides funding through the Service Contract operated by Northern Trains Limited, which acts as the Station Facilities Owner for the North Road (Darlington) station.

22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing compulsory insurance and DVLA registration for (a) off road bikes and (b) 4x4s to help tackle anti-social behaviour; and what discussions she has had with the Home Secretary to develop a national strategy on this matter.

The Government keeps compulsory insurance and registration requirements and the vehicles that are covered under review. Currently there are no plans to introduce a change to require compulsory insurance and registration for these vehicles.

Whilst there have been no discussions with the Home Secretary to develop a national strategy on this matter, DfT and Home Office officials are in regular discussion on tackling anti-social behaviour on our roads.

The police do have powers under the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Police Reform Act 2002 to seize vehicles being used illegally without a valid driving licence or insurance or in an anti-social manner respectively. Decisions on when to use these powers are operational matters for Chief Constables in conjunction with local policing plans. They are best placed to understand how to meet the needs of local communities.

22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what additional support her Department will provide to bus services in Darlington.

The Government has provided almost £2bn in emergency and recovery funding since March 2020 to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on bus services, alongside routine funding to the sector. Funding for Bus Services in Darlington is provided to the Tees Valley Combined Authority, as well as directly to commercial operators. Since March 2020 Tees Valley Combined Authority has received additional bus emergency and recovery funding totalling £350,088. Tees Valley Combined Authority will also receive £310m as part of the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements.

The Department is considering what, if any, additional support may be required from April 2023.

Lucy Frazer
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure the adequate provision of roadside facilities for hauliers in the North East of England.

The Government recognises the importance of ensuring hauliers have access to appropriate services and facilities.

That is why we are investing £52.5 million in roadside facilities in England for HGV drivers on the road. The funding will go towards supporting operators to make improvements such as improving security, sanitary and eating facilities as well as possibly increasing parking spaces for lorry drivers.

We have commissioned a ‘National Survey of Lorry Parking’ which commenced in January 2022 and will be used as our primary evidence base to understand what improvements are most needed and where they are needed. The North East of England is included in this survey and its output will be used to set criteria for government funding. In addition, once published, the Survey will be available to support planning applications for new lorry parking.

The Department continues to engage with key stakeholders to encourage the development of more safe, secure, and high-quality lorry parking to improve driver welfare.

Lucy Frazer
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps she will take to support bus companies in Darlington with recruitment and retention of bus drivers.

The Department for Transport engages with bus and coach operators, and the Confederation of Passenger Transport regularly on many issues, including driver shortages. We have increased the capacity of vocational driving tests, including through the recruitment of additional driving examiners. These measures will make it easier for operators to recruit and train bus and coach drivers up and down the country, including in Darlington.

Lucy Frazer
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
29th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has had recent discussions with representatives of Heathrow Airport on improving regional connectivity (a) in respect of Teesside Airport and (b) throughout the UK.

The withdrawal of the Teesside to Heathrow route was a commercial decision, as the UK aviation market operates predominantly in the private sector. Airports invest in their infrastructure to attract passengers and airlines, while airlines are well placed to deliver services to their customers by responding to demand for different routes.

I encourage all parties to continue discussions to seek viable and sustainable solutions to regional connectivity.

Robert Courts
Solicitor General (Attorney General's Office)
29th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans her Department has to support and encourage celebrations of the bicentenary of the passenger railways in 2025.

Railways are a product of Britain’s rich history of engineering innovation and the 200-year anniversary is a nationally important moment to mark and celebrate. The DfT will work with the whole industry to make this a special event for workers and passengers alike.

29th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans his Department has to celebrate the bicentenary of the passenger Railway in 2025.

Railways are a product of Britain’s rich history of engineering innovation and the 200-year anniversary is a nationally important moment to mark and celebrate. The DfT will work with the whole industry to make this a special event for workers and passengers alike.

29th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether officials in his Department have had discussions with (a) Highways England, (b) Darlington Borough Council and (c) North Yorkshire Council on improving safe access for cyclists on the A66 at Blackwell Bridge and Roundabout.

National Highways recognises that improvements are needed in this area to provide safer access for cyclists. In November 2021 cycle route warning signs were installed on both A66 approaches to the Blackwell roundabout. In addition, a scheme is currently being developed to install an off-carriageway pedestrian/cycle route between the Blackwell minor road and the road to Stapleton and a new crossing point over the A66 at the Blackwell roundabout.

National Highways has been engaging with North Yorkshire County Council and Darlington Borough council throughout the development of this scheme and anticipate delivery in 2024.

14th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to prevent vehicle cloning.

The Department for Transport understands how distressing this criminal activity can be for innocent motorists. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) works closely with the police, motor trade, vehicle data checking companies and the vehicle security industry to help combat the problem of vehicle cloning. Advice for consumers is provided on the GOV.UK website. A step-by-step guide is also available that gives a list of things to look out for to ensure that the identity of the vehicle is correct. In most cases, the DVLA only becomes aware of incidents of vehicle cloning after the crime has been committed. However, when notified, the DVLA will investigate and pass on intelligence to the police who are responsible for investigating this criminal matter.

When the DVLA is notified of a suspected cloned vehicle case, officials will investigate and where appropriate, take action to record the correct identity of the vehicle in question. The DVLA can, on request, provide a replacement registration number to anyone who has been a victim of vehicle cloning.

14th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department takes to help protect the victims of vehicle cloning.

The Department for Transport understands how distressing this criminal activity can be for innocent motorists. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) works closely with the police, motor trade, vehicle data checking companies and the vehicle security industry to help combat the problem of vehicle cloning. Advice for consumers is provided on the GOV.UK website. A step-by-step guide is also available that gives a list of things to look out for to ensure that the identity of the vehicle is correct. In most cases, the DVLA only becomes aware of incidents of vehicle cloning after the crime has been committed. However, when notified, the DVLA will investigate and pass on intelligence to the police who are responsible for investigating this criminal matter.

When the DVLA is notified of a suspected cloned vehicle case, officials will investigate and where appropriate, take action to record the correct identity of the vehicle in question. The DVLA can, on request, provide a replacement registration number to anyone who has been a victim of vehicle cloning.

24th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the DVLA is taking steps to prioritise applications from (a) ambulance drivers, (b) bus drivers and (c) taxi drivers who have outstanding licence applications.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is prioritising the processing of vocational licences, which includes applications for entitlement to drive buses and from ambulance drivers applying for categories C and C1. There are no delays in straightforward applications for vocational licences, including renewals, which are being processed within normal turnaround times of five working days.

For the majority of taxi drivers, a non-vocational, category B driving licence is required. The quickest and easiest way to apply for a driving licence is by using the DVLA’s online service. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their licence within a few days.

However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application and the DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day. The DVLA is working hard to reduce waiting times for paper applications and has recruited more staff, increased overtime working and has opened new customer service centres in Swansea and Birmingham. These measures are having a positive impact and customers should continue to see an improving picture in terms of waiting times for paper applications.

There may be additional delays in processing more complex transactions, for example if medical investigations are needed. However, the large majority of applicants will be able to continue driving while their application is being processed. The latest information on turnaround times for paper driving licence applications can be found here.

24th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to publish an updated Bus Service Improvement Plan.

The National Bus Strategy asked that all English Local Transport Authorities outside London publish Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs). BSIPs should be updated annually by local authorities and reflected in their Local Transport Plans.

17th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has to encourage the public to make greater use of bus travel following the covid-19 outbreak.

The Department is working closely with operators and local transport authorities to support measures to increase passenger safety and confidence, and encourage a return to the bus and rail networks.

We published the National Bus Strategy in March 2021, setting out how we want to see bus services transformed, and all local areas in England outside London have published Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs). There will be £3 billion of investment in buses across this Parliament, including £1.2 billion of dedicated funding for bus transformation deals.

1st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to encourage passengers back onto local bus services in Darlington.

The Government’s National Bus Strategy explains how we will make buses more frequent, more reliable, easier to understand and use, better co-ordinated and cheaper. Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) are required to include targets for passenger growth and customer satisfaction. Tees Valley’s BSIP, which covers Darlington, has been received by the Department and is being reviewed.

The Government has provided essential support to the bus industry throughout the pandemic to keep services running and is committed to seeing the bus sector return to financial sustainability. However, we recognise the ongoing challenges faced by operators and Local Transport Authorities to maintain services. The Department is working with the sector to understand how these might impact services after Covid recovery funding ends and what further action might be needed.

8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with train operators on (a) extending or (b) replicating the Network Railcard in the North East.

We are working with the rail industry to develop a number of recovery initiatives, focused on restoring passenger confidence in travelling by rail.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to tackle (a) delays in the processing of applications by the DVLA and (b) the underlying causes of those delays.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online services are the quickest and easiest way to renew a driving licence. There are no delays in successful online applications and customers should receive their driving licence within a few days. However, many people still choose or have to make a paper application for a driving licence. The latest information on DVLA services and the turnaround times for paper driving licence applications can be found here.

The DVLA has introduced additional online services, recruited more staff, increased overtime working and has secured extra office space in Swansea and Birmingham to help reduce waiting times while providing future resilience and business continuity.

The DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day and has also been working with a significantly reduced number of staff on site to ensure social distancing in line with Welsh Government requirements. Industrial action between April and September by members of the Public and Commercial Services union has also led to delays for customers.

8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many and what proportion of stations have tactile paving on platforms; what plans he has to increase the number of platforms with tactile paving; and what the challenges are in installing tactile paving in older stations.

Network Rail estimate that around 60 percent of British mainline station platforms are fitted with tactile surfaces. We are committed to making this 100 percent and Network Rail has received an initial £10 million to install tactile paving at priority stations not already funded. I will make further announcements on future rounds of funding in due course. I am confident in the industry’s ability to deliver the programme.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of classifying taxi drivers as key workers.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Office of National Statistics (ONS) define “Critical worker” occupations. Transport workers currently defined as “critical workers” include those who keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response and EU transition; those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass; and those constructing or supporting the operation of critical transport and border infrastructure through which supply chains pass.

The government is committed to keeping taxi drivers safe, and has published safety guidance specifically for owners, operators and drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-taxis-and-phvs).

9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to support taxi drivers in covid-19 tier 3 areas.

The Government has announced several measures available to UK businesses, including the taxi and private hire sector, to support them through this challenging time, and launched a ‘support finder’ tool to help businesses and self-employed workers quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the coronavirus pandemic.

From 2 December, councils in England in Tier 2 and Tier 3 will receive funding to provide grants to closed businesses and to be able to run local discretionary grant schemes to provide support to affected businesses. These allocations will be published shortly and are in addition to the £2.3bn already provided to local councils since the start of the pandemic. The Local Authority administers the scheme and determines on a case-by-case basis where to allocate this funding.

10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with the DVSA on temporarily extending the validity period for test theory certificates following the introduction of additional covid-19 restrictions.

The two-year validity period of the theory test certificate is set in legislation and the Government has taken the decision not to lay further legislation to extend it. The primary reason is that the two-year validity is in place to ensure that a candidate’s theoretical knowledge and hazard perception skills are up to date at the critical point they drive on their own for the first time. Extending the validity would provide less reassurance that this is the case. Those whose certificate previously expired and have since passed the theory test will now have a further two years in which to pass the practical test.

5th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing local housing allowance rates.

The Local Housing Allowance policy is reviewed annually by the Secretary of State. The Department monitors average rents and housing support levels provided to claimants to assess the impact of the policy and the merits of any potential changes prior to a fiscal event.

In 2020 we spent almost £1 billion increasing LHA rates to the 30th percentile of market rents. This significant investment has been maintained ensuring that everyone who benefited continues to do so. LHA rates are not intended to cover all rents in all areas.

For those who face a shortfall in meeting their housing costs and need further support. Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are available from local authorities. Since 2011 the Government has provided nearly £1.6 billion in DHP funding to local authorities.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
6th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department is taking to collect ethnicity data on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

The Department follows the Government Statistical Service (GSS) harmonised standard for ethnicity classification. The harmonised standard currently uses the ethnic groups from the 2011 Census but is being reviewed by the GSS harmonisation team who published their initial findings in March 2023.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what guidance he has provided to Job Centres on the replacement of the DS1500 form for terminally ill people with the SR1 form.

All DWP internal processes and supporting guidance have been updated to reflect the introduction of the SR1 form to support claims made under the 12-month Special Rules for End of Life eligibility criteria.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
22nd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether information submitted by a medical professional to his Department regarding claimants with terminal illness can be shared with a third party without the claimant's consent.

Claims made under the Special Rules for End of Life are in most cases supported by a short medical evidence form called the DS1500 or SR1, provided by a relevant clinician.

This information can be provided directly to DWP by the claimant’s clinician. DWP may share medical evidence with its commissioned assessment providers so they can advise whether the claimant meets the ‘Special Rules’ eligibility criteria. The DWP would not share medical evidence outside of these secure channels. A third party acting on behalf of the ‘Special Rules’ claimant may ask the claimant’s clinician if they can receive a copy. For PIP, DLA and AA, any person representing the patient can make a third party claim on their behalf. For UC and ESA, only an appointee or a person who has power of attorney can make a third-party claim on the patient’s behalf.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
22nd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if there is a facility for a third party to submit an SR1 form on behalf of a claimant.

The SR1 form can only be completed by a registered clinician such as; a GP, a hospital consultant, a specialty doctor, a hospice doctor, a senior specialist nurse (such as clinical nurse specialist, advanced nurse practitioner or similar).

Registered clinicians can return the SR1 form directly to the DWP by email or by post. Alternatively, the claimant can return a completed SR1 by post to the relevant address provided on the form.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
17th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many sector-based work academies have taken place in each (a) country and (b) region of the UK since that programme began.

Sector-based Work Academies were first launched in August 2011 in England and January 2012 in Scotland. Regular statistical releases on sector-based work academies, covering participation by those on legacy unemployment benefits, began in 2011 and ended in 2017. These statistics can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/employment-schemes-work-experience-sector-based-work-academy-and-skills-conditionality-starts-to-november-2017

The scheme was relaunched as ‘SWAP’ in July 2020 as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs. Data for the financial years 2020/21 and 2021/22 shows that as of 13th March 2022, there was a total of 146,480 starts to a Sector-based Work Academy Programme (SWAP). The breakdown of these starts by nation and region is displayed in the following tables:

Table 1: SWAP starts by nation

Nation

Starts FY 2020/21

Starts FY 2021/22 – to 13th March

Total Starts

England

58,310

74,460

132,770

Scotland

6,120

7,000

13,120

Unknown

60

520

580

Total

64,500

81,980

146,480

Table 2: SWAP starts by region

Region

Starts FY 2020/21

Starts FY 2021/22 – to 13th March

Total Starts

West Midlands

5,000

6,920

11,920

Central, East & North Scotland

4,340

4,670

9,010

South & West Scotland

1,780

2,330

4,110

London & Essex

12,950

19,510

32,470

North & East Midlands

7,800

9,650

17,450

North Central

6,960

8,530

15,490

North East

5,550

5,880

11,430

North West

5,340

6,620

11,960

South East

8,200

10,650

18,860

South West

6,510

6,690

13,200

Unknown

60

520

580

Total

64,500

81,980

146,480

Note on above: Figures are rounded to the nearest 10; components may not sum due to rounding. These figures reflect the number of starts by claimants in receipt of Universal Credit (UC), Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Income Support (IS).

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to support single parents in receipt of universal credit with young children to find work that fits around their childcare needs.

Under Universal Credit, working families can claim back up to 85% of their registered childcare costs each month

The UC childcare aligns with the wider government childcare offer. This includes the free childcare offer which provides 15 hours a week of free childcare in England for all 3 and 4 year olds and disadvantaged 2 year olds, doubling for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours a week. The UC childcare cost element can be used to top up a claimant's eligible free childcare hours if more hours are worked and childcare is required. This means that reasonable childcare costs should not form a barrier to work.

Additional safeguards apply during this period and any work-related expectations will be limited to a maximum of 16 hours per week whilst they are caring for a pre-school age child.

To assist single parents with making necessary childcare arrangements, work coaches can reduce the maximum time the claimant is expected to spend travelling to and from work. All Work-related requirements will be tailored according to the claimant’s capability and personal circumstances, to ensure they are realistic and achievable.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to support people transitioning from legacy benefits to universal credit in Darlington constituency.

We currently spend over £95 billion a year on working age benefits including Universal Credit and remain committed to supporting the most vulnerable in society.

Recent changes to Universal Credit include temporarily increasing the standard allowance by up to £1,040 per year and increasing the Local Housing Allowance rates, including the Shared Accommodation element, so that it covers the lowest 30% of local market rents benefiting over one million households by £600 a year on average.

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 on to Universal Credit a two week ‘transitional housing payment’. Since July 2020, an additional two-week run has been introduced to assist eligible claimants moving from Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance (IR) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (IB). Advance payments are available so nobody has to wait five weeks for payment.

We are also doubling the number of work coaches across our network of jobcentres, from 13,500 to 27,000, so that every jobseeker receives tailored support to get back on their feet, build skills and move into work

We recognise that some people will need extra help to successfully establish a claim to Universal Credit. Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland, have supported in excess of 250,000 individuals through ‘Help to Claim’ since April 2019, offering tailored and practical support to help people make a Universal Credit claim and up to receiving their first full correct payment on time. ‘Help to Claim’ is funded by the Department and is available online, on the phone and face-to-face in locations including Jobcentres and Citizen’s Advice offices.

1st Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what research the Government is funding on tackling lobular breast cancer.

The Department invests over £1 billion per year in health research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), with NIHR expenditure for all cancers being £121.8 million in 2022/23.

Current NIHR research into breast cancer includes a £1.3 million project to determine whether an abbreviated form of breast magnetic resonance imaging can detect breast cancers missed by screening through mammography, such as lobular breast cancer. The NIHR also supports research on lobular breast cancer through its research infrastructure, including Biomedical Research Centres which are undertaking research on early detection and genetic aspects of breast cancer. It is difficult to attribute research infrastructure funding allocations to specific disease and therapy areas as the staff and facilities funded through the NIHR infrastructure supports research across disciplines.

Additionally, the NIHR supports breast cancer research funded by research partners in the charity and public sectors through the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network (CRN). Over the last five years the CRN has supported delivery of 10 lobular breast cancer-related studies.

Research on the underpinning science to understand the mechanisms of cancer, including lobular breast cancer, is funded through the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Medical Research Council who spend £125 million annually on cancer research. The NIHR also works closely with research funding partners including Cancer Research UK, Breast Cancer Now, Medical Research Council, and other cancer charities.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of availability of follow up MRI scans for women who have undergone mastectomies to tackle lobular breast cancer.

£2.3 billion was awarded at Spending Review 2021 to transform diagnostic services over the next three years. Most of this will help increase the number of community diagnostic centres up to 160 by March 2025, expanding and protecting elective planned diagnostic services. The remainder of the funding will increase capacity for imaging, including MRI scans, endoscopy as well as lung and mammography screening, and improve digital diagnostics.

Growth in the MRI asset base and increased use of MRI acceleration software is creating additional capacity for approximately 572,000 MRI examinations per annum within the NHS in England.

The Department and NHS England have taken steps to improve the treatment of invasive lobular breast cancer (ILBC) but are aware that more needs to be done. In September 2022, the National Cancer Audit Collaborating Centre announced funding from NHS England and the Welsh Government of £5.4 million to support delivery of six new national cancer audits. Two of these focus on breast cancer, one on primary and one on metastatic, and include ILBC.

Additionally, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) supports breast cancer research funded by research partners in the charity and public sectors. Over the last five years, the NIHR Clinical Research Network has supported 10 ILBC-related studies.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 30 January 2024 to Question 10927 on Mental Health Services: Children and Young People, what the average waiting time was from referral to assessment for a child referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in the latest period for which data is available; and how many children are on a waiting list in each local authority within the NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board area.

The information regarding the average waiting time from referral to assessment for a child referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, in the latest period for which data is available, as well as how many children are on waiting lists in each local authority within the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, is shown in the attached tables.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
1st Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 29 January 2024 to Question 10925 on Liver Diseases: Darlington, how much and what proportion of the £30,000 for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust will be spent in Darlington.

The breakdown of funding requested is not held by the Department.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps she is taking to tackle liver disease in the North East.

The Northern Cancer Alliance is supporting services to enable the early detection of liver disease across the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS). More than 80% of patients with liver cirrhosis, a type of liver disease, have been invited to monthly ultrasound surveillance. This investment has also included £30,000 for the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust who will be using their funds to improve systems in relation to call and recall of patients to their six-monthly checks.

Liver disease has several causes and can be associated with alcohol use or being overweight. The Government is investing significant amounts year on year in alcohol treatment through our 10-year drug strategy. In 2024/2025 the North East will receive a further £27 million, beyond funding provided by the Public Health Grant. Partners are also using a whole system approach to develop a healthy weight and treating obesity strategy for the North East and North Cumbria.

The Department is supporting people with alcohol dependency through the Drug Strategy and NHS Long Term Plan by facilitating more people in need of treatment into local authority commissioned alcohol treatment services. Additional treatment and recovery funding, made available through the Drug Strategy, can also be used to increase capacity for screening for liver fibrosis in treatment settings and to establish effective referral pathways into treatment for liver disease.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jan 2024
To ask Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate she has made of the number of people with type 2 diabetes impacted by the GLP-1 shortage.

Information on the number of people impacted by the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) shortage is not held by the Department. There continues to be a global supply issue with some GLP-1 receptor agonists, but following the Department’s ongoing engagement with manufacturers, NHS England, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and others operating in the supply chain, the overall supply position has improved, with additional stock being secured to boost availability of these medicines for patients.

We issued updated guidance to healthcare professionals, in the form of a National Patient Safety Alert, on 3 January 2024. This provides advice on how to manage patients requiring these medicines. Our guidance remains clear that GLP-1 receptor agonists that are solely licensed to treat type 2 diabetes should only be used for that purpose and should not be prescribed for weight loss.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate she has made of the rate of liver disease in (a) Darlington constituency and b) the North East.

The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities publishes liver disease profiles that compare local areas within England. Data for the prevalence of liver disease is not collected. The profiles provide liver disease mortality and hospital admissions rates for areas to assess their local level of disease. These profiles do not publish data by constituency; however, the profile does publish data for local authorities.

In the Darlington Unitary Authority, during 2021, the rate of mortality from liver disease was 26.4 (17.3 to 38.4) per 100,000 population aged under 75 years old. In 2021/22, the hospital admission rate due to liver disease was 177.8 (122.6 to 239.3) per 100,000 population across all ages.

In the North East region, during 2021, the rate of mortality from liver disease was 28.8 (26.7 to 31.0) per 100,000 population aged under 75 years old. The North East regional rate was significantly higher than the England mortality rate of 21.2 per 100,000 and was the second highest regional rate in England. In 2021/22, the hospital admission rate in the North East region due to liver disease was 190.1 (178.6 to 201.7) per 100,000 population across all ages. The North East regional rate was significantly higher than the England hospital admission rate of 150.6 per 100,000 and was the highest regional rate in England.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps she is taking to help tackle the sale of illegal vapes.

The Government is concerned about the worrying rise in illicit and underage vaping, with rates of youth vaping tripling in the last three years. Illicit vapes can contain unknown ingredients, stronger nicotine, and are made available to children through black market channels.

Local enforcement agencies are responsible for ensuring that suppliers and retailers of vapes comply with strict Government regulations. Selling illegal vapes can result in an unlimited fine and even a custodial sentence, as well as imprisonment of up to two years upon conviction.

The Government is significantly increasing investment for our enforcement agencies to tackle these issues. In October 2023 the Prime Minister announced an increase of £30 million per year for enforcement agencies to help stamp out the illicit tobacco and vape trade. This is in addition to the £3 million investment announced in April 2023 to set up a national illicit vapes enforcement unit, aimed at addressing the issue of illegal and underage vaping, which is overseen by National Trading Standards.

Andrea Leadsom
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many Units of Dental Activity have been delivered in Darlington Constituency in each year since 2006; and what the cost of that delivery was in each of those years.

Data on the cost of delivery is not centrally held at integrated care board (ICB) level. The following table shows the number of units of dental activity (UDAs) delivered in North East and North Cumbria ICB since 2015/16:

Year

UDAs delivered

Percentage change

2015/16

4,861,964

2016/17

4,782,699

-1.6%

2017/18

4,579,779

-4.2%

2018/19

4,974,087

8.6%

2019/20

4,685,845

-5.8%

2020/21

1,446,015

-69.1%

2021/22

3,461,374

139.4%

2022/23

4,163,675

20.3%

Source: NHS England

Notes:

  1. ICBs were established in 2021/22.
  2. The figures provided from 2015/16 to 2020/21 are presumptive figures of expected ICB value to compare UDA delivery to previous years.
  3. There is no comparable data prior to 2015/16.
Andrea Leadsom
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment she has made of the current waiting times for CAMHS for children in (a) Darlington, (b) the North East and (c) England; and what steps she is taking to reduce those waiting times.

Since 2018, we have invested an extra £2.3 billion a year to expand mental health services in England, with the aim of enabling two million more people, including 345,000 more children and young people to access mental health support.

We are rolling out mental health support teams to schools and colleges. These now cover around 35% of pupils, and is expected to reach 50% of pupils by March 2025. NHS England is also developing a new waiting time standard for children and their families to start to receive community-based mental health care within four weeks from referral.

Whilst the relevant data is not available at a constituency level, the following table shows the number of referrals for children and young people aged under 18 years old, supported through National Health Service-funded mental health, and waiting times for first contact between September and November 2023 for NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), North East and Yorkshire Commissioning Region, and England:

Location

Number of referrals

Median waiting time between referral start date and first contact

90th percentile waiting time between referral start date and first contact

NHS North East and North Cumbria ICB

13,085

9 days

174 days

North East and Yorkshire Commissioning Region

31,140

12 days

200 days

England

179,295

13 days

225 days

Source: Mental Health Services Data Set, NHS England

Notes:

  1. These metrics are in line with the proposed new waiting time standards for mental health but are not yet associated with a target, due to significant data quality concerns on the part of NHS England.
  2. The 90th percentile waiting time was 174 days meaning 10% of children and young people who received a first contact in this period waited over 174 days.
Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
8th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many and what proportion of applications for NHS continuing healthcare funding in (a) Darlington constituency and (b) the rest of England were approved following an appeal.

The most recent data available on Local Resolution and Independent Reviews, which review the eligibility of NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) decisions, is for the second quarter of 2023/24, representing July to September 2023.

For the second quarter of 2023/24 in England, 102 of 554 or 18% of requests for local review of an eligibility decision for CHC were found eligible. For the same time period in England, there were 102 independent review panels carried out. Of those, 17 cases or 17% were determined as fully eligible, and 5 cases or 5% were determined as partially eligible.

NHS England does not collect these data at individual constituency level.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many and what proportion of people diagnosed with dementia in (a) Darlington constituency and (b) the rest of England are in receipt of continuing healthcare as of 8 January 2023.

NHS England does not collect data on how many individuals in receipt of NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) have a diagnosis of dementia. Assessment of CHC eligibility is based on a comprehensive assessment of care needs rather than any specific medical condition, disease or diagnosis.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps her Department plans to take to increase awareness of continuing healthcare funding.

Public information leaflets are already available on the GOV.uk website in English and six additional languages explaining the process used to determine whether someone is eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC), with more information available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nhs-continuing-healthcare-and-nhs-funded-nursing-care-public-information-leaflet

Any individual being considered for CHC at the screening or referral stage should be provided with this leaflet along with any relevant local information about processes and contact details and arrangements. NHS England has commissioned an Information and Advice Service for CHC from Beacon to provide independent and high-quality support on navigating CHC assessments, resolution and care planning or to begin an appeal. Individuals can also enquire about CHC by contacting their general practitioner or integrated care board. More information on this service is available at the following link:

https://beaconchc.co.uk/how-we-can-help/free-information-and-advice-on-nhs-continuing-healthcare/

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if she will make an assessment of the adequacy of the level of access to NHS dentist appointments for veterans when they leave the armed forces.

In July 2022, we announced a package of improvements to the National Health Service dental system, detailed in Our plan for patients. This outlined how we will meet oral health needs and increase access to NHS dental care through several improvements to the 2006 contract. These changes were designed to improve access for all that need it, including veterans.

A key principle of the Armed Forces Covenant is that the Armed Forces community experiences no disadvantage in accessing healthcare. The NHS takes its responsibilities under the Covenant very seriously.

We are working on our Dentistry Recovery Plan which will address how we continue to improve access, particularly for new patients; and how we make NHS work more attractive to ensure NHS dentists are incentivised to deliver more NHS care.

Andrea Leadsom
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much of the £2.3 billion allocated for diagnostics in the Spending Review 2021 was spent on expanding FibroScan rollout in community diagnostic centres.

There are currently plans for 12 community diagnostic centres (CDCs) to offer FibroScan testing, of which six are operational. A further six CDCs plan to offer this service by the end of March 2024.

The following CDCs are currently offering FibroScan testing:

- Bexhill CDC in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex;

- New QEII Hospital CDC in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire;

- St Helen’s CDC in St Helen’s, Merseyside;

- Woking CDC in Woking, Surrey;

- Hereford City CDC in Hereford; and

- Andover CDC in Andover, Hampshire.

The following CDCs plan to offer this service by the end of March 2024:

- Bolton CDC in Bolton, Lancashire;

- Ely CDC in Ely, Cambridgeshire;

- Wisbech CDC in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire;

- Gloucestershire Quayside CDC in Gloucester;

- Northampton CDC in Northampton; and

- Queen Mary’s Hospital Roehampton CDC in Roehampton, Surrey.

We do not hold information on how much of the £2.3 billion allocated for diagnostics in the Spending Review 2021 has been spent on expanding the FibroScan rollout in CDCs, as this information is not routinely collected.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 7 July 2023 to Question 191385 on Liver Diseases: Screening, which 10 community diagnostic centres provide FibroScans; and whether she plans to increase the number of such centres that will provide transient elastography for earlier detection of liver disease in 2024.

There are currently plans for 12 community diagnostic centres (CDCs) to offer FibroScan testing, of which six are operational. A further six CDCs plan to offer this service by the end of March 2024.

The following CDCs are currently offering FibroScan testing:

- Bexhill CDC in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex;

- New QEII Hospital CDC in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire;

- St Helen’s CDC in St Helen’s, Merseyside;

- Woking CDC in Woking, Surrey;

- Hereford City CDC in Hereford; and

- Andover CDC in Andover, Hampshire.

The following CDCs plan to offer this service by the end of March 2024:

- Bolton CDC in Bolton, Lancashire;

- Ely CDC in Ely, Cambridgeshire;

- Wisbech CDC in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire;

- Gloucestershire Quayside CDC in Gloucester;

- Northampton CDC in Northampton; and

- Queen Mary’s Hospital Roehampton CDC in Roehampton, Surrey.

We do not hold information on how much of the £2.3 billion allocated for diagnostics in the Spending Review 2021 has been spent on expanding the FibroScan rollout in CDCs, as this information is not routinely collected.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of the level of representation of dentists on regional Integrated Care Boards.

Information is not held centrally on the members of integrated care boards (ICBs), including the level of representation by dentists.

From 1 April 2023, the responsibility for commissioning primary care dentistry to meet the needs of the local population has been delegated to all ICBs across England. This included the transfer of all funding, Units of Dental Activity and the management responsibility for National Health Service dentistry. ICBs are responsible for having local processes in place to involve patient groups, and for undertaking oral health needs assessments, to identify areas of need and determine the priorities for investment.

NHS England has published implementation guidance on effective clinical and care professional leadership within ICBs, which is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/B0664-ics-clinical-and-care-professional-leadership.pdf

As part of the development of local frameworks and wider governance arrangements, system leaders were asked to commit that they ensured that the full range of clinical and professional leaders from diverse backgrounds are integrated into system decision-making at all levels.

Andrea Leadsom
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps her Department is taking to provide (a) advice on and (b) services for safe sexual health to people under 25 years of age.

Local authority commissioned sexual health services (SHSs) play and important role in improving sexual health outcomes and preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including communicating messages about safer sexual behaviours and how to access services. We are providing more than £3.5 billion to local authorities to fund public health services, including SHSs, through the public health grant in this financial year. Individual local authorities are responsible for and well placed to make funding and commissioning decisions about the SHSs that best meet the needs of their local populations, including services for young people.

The National Chlamydia Screening Programme focuses on reducing reproductive harm of untreated infection in young women aged between 15 to 24 years old. The programme has the secondary aims of reducing re-infections and onward transmission of chlamydia and raising awareness of good sexual health and a recent report by the UK Health Security Agency shows testing has increased between 2021 and 2022.

As part of the HIV Action Plan, the Department is investing over £3.5 million to deliver a National HIV Prevention Programme between 2021 and 2024 to raise awareness of HIV, STIs testing and prevention strategies, targeting populations most at high-risk of HIV, including young people. This includes the annual National HIV Testing week, during which HIV testing is promoted and funded for the whole of England.

Andrea Leadsom
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of assessing the nation's palliative care needs in the context of the obligation on Integrated Care Boards to commission such care.

We have not made an assessment. Integrated care boards (ICBs) are responsible for commissioning healthcare services which meet the needs of the people for whom they are responsible, including palliative and end of life care needs. NHS England formally oversees ICBs and has a legal duty to annually assess and publish the performance of each ICB. In addition, the Care Quality Commission system assessments provide an independent assurance to the public and Parliament.

NHS England has also begun analysis of the recently submitted ICB Joint Forward Plans against the legal statutory duty to commission services that meet the palliative and end of life care needs of their local populations. This analysis will be used internally to help focus support to ICBs in the implementation of their statutory duty under the Health and Care Act 2022, and will also enable identification of where more targeted support is required.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve (a) recruitment and (b) retention in the hospice sector.

Integrated care boards (ICBs) are responsible for commissioning palliative and end of life care services, including from the hospice sector, that meet the needs of their local populations. Most hospices are independent charitable organisations that receive some statutory funding from ICBs. Hospices remain free to develop and adapt their own terms and conditions of employment.

The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan (LTWP), published on 30 June 2023, sets out the steps the National Health Service and its partners need to take to deliver an NHS workforce that meets the changing needs of the population over the next 15 years. Commitments in the LTWP to increase the healthcare workforce will benefit a range of providers, including those that deliver palliative and end of life care services.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support people employed in the hospice sector as part of the NHS Workforce Plan.

Integrated care boards (ICBs) are responsible for commissioning palliative and end of life care services, including from the hospice sector, that meet the needs of their local populations. Most hospices are independent charitable organisations that receive some statutory funding from ICBs. Hospices remain free to develop and adapt their own terms and conditions of employment.

The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan (LTWP), published on 30 June 2023, sets out the steps the National Health Service and its partners need to take to deliver an NHS workforce that meets the changing needs of the population over the next 15 years. Commitments in the LTWP to increase the healthcare workforce will benefit a range of providers, including those that deliver palliative and end of life care services.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Sep 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support people employed in the hospice sector.

Integrated care boards (ICBs) are responsible for commissioning palliative and end of life care services, including from the hospice sector, that meet the needs of their local populations. Most hospices are independent charitable organisations that receive some statutory funding from ICBs. Hospices remain free to develop and adapt their own terms and conditions of employment.

The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan (LTWP), published on 30 June 2023, sets out the steps the National Health Service and its partners need to take to deliver an NHS workforce that meets the changing needs of the population over the next 15 years. Commitments in the LTWP to increase the healthcare workforce will benefit a range of providers, including those that deliver palliative and end of life care services.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the results of the first year of opt out HIV testing in areas of very high prevalence as defined by the UK Health Security Agency.

Provisional data from NHS England indicates that the HIV opt-out testing programme has helped find more than 550 cases of undiagnosed or untreated HIV during its first year. We are currently assessing all the evidence from the results of the programme's first year and its contribution to finding cases of undiagnosed or untreated HIV and preventing further HIV transmissions, alongside data on progress towards our ambitions to end new HIV transmissions, AIDS and HIV-related deaths within England by 2030.

This data will be used to examine the feasibility of further expanding the programme and we will be sharing evidence as it emerges to support other areas of the country to make the case for implementing the same approach locally. A decision will be made in due course.

27th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending opt out HIV testing to areas of high prevalence as defined by the UK Health Security Agency.

Provisional data from NHS England indicates that the HIV opt-out testing programme has helped find more than 550 cases of undiagnosed or untreated HIV during its first year. We are currently assessing all the evidence from the results of the programme's first year and its contribution to finding cases of undiagnosed or untreated HIV and preventing further HIV transmissions, alongside data on progress towards our ambitions to end new HIV transmissions, AIDS and HIV-related deaths within England by 2030.

This data will be used to examine the feasibility of further expanding the programme and we will be sharing evidence as it emerges to support other areas of the country to make the case for implementing the same approach locally. A decision will be made in due course.

27th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure there is equal access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis across the country.

The HIV prevention drug pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is routinely available in specialist sexual health services throughout the country since March 2020 and we invested more than £34 million in PrEP in 2020/21 and 2021/22. PrEP funding has been fully included within the public health grant since 2022/23 and funds appointments and testing in sexual health services, whilst NHS England covers the costs of the drug itself.

As part of our HIV Action Plan implementation, we are working together with key stakeholders to improve access and equity to HIV PrEP for key population groups. The HIV Action Plan Implementation Steering Group is working to develop a roadmap, based on the PrEP Access and Equity Task and Finish group’s recommendations, to help guide our efforts to improve equitable access to PrEP for key populations, including in settings other than specialist sexual health services. We will consider our response to the recommendations in due course.

27th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of progress on the target of no new HIV infections by 2030.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) undertakes the monitoring of progress against the UNAIDS targets and publishes these as part of the HIV Action Plan monitoring and evaluation framework.

The UKHSA use the number of new HIV diagnoses first made in England as a proxy for HIV transmissions. The number of new HIV diagnoses first made in England fell from 2,986 in 2019 to 2,023 in 2021. However, this fall was not equal between demographic groups and occurred in the context of reduced HIV testing and increased proportion of late diagnoses.

To achieve the UNAIDS target, several areas need to be prioritised including HIV testing numbers exceeding levels seen in 2019, ensuring patients not retained in care are re-integrated and supported, and monitoring inequalities in HIV prevention and care to inform accessible and culturally-competent interventions.

27th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to implement the guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence on the use of FibroScan for assessing liver fibrosis and cirrhosis outside secondary and specialist care, published on 7 June 2023.

Intelligent Liver Function Tests are carried out in laboratories and therefore cannot be done at a Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC). These tests determine whether a fibroscan is required. There are 10 CDCs currently providing ultrasound liver elastography (fibroscan). NHS England has plans to understand the diagnostic pathways for liver disease and how CDCs can further support this. The pathway for assessing liver disease should start with blood tests taken in primary care, with FIB-4 liver tests available at NHS trusts. NHS England has not made an assessment of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance on the use of FibroScan for assessing liver fibrosis and cirrhosis outside secondary and specialist care.

27th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of Community Diagnostic Centres have diagnostic capacity to provide (a) Intelligent Liver Function Tests, (b) FibroScans and (c) FIB-4 tests to assess fibrosis of the liver.

Intelligent Liver Function Tests are carried out in laboratories and therefore cannot be done at a Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC). These tests determine whether a fibroscan is required. There are 10 CDCs currently providing ultrasound liver elastography (fibroscan). NHS England has plans to understand the diagnostic pathways for liver disease and how CDCs can further support this. The pathway for assessing liver disease should start with blood tests taken in primary care, with FIB-4 liver tests available at NHS trusts. NHS England has not made an assessment of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance on the use of FibroScan for assessing liver fibrosis and cirrhosis outside secondary and specialist care.

22nd May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to monitor progress against the target to deliver FibroScan testing for liver fibrosis through Community Diagnostic Centres in England by March 2025.

There is no national target specifically relating to the delivery of FibroScan testing for liver fibrosis through Community Diagnostic Centres in England by March 2025.

Diagnostic checks are a key part of many elective care pathways. The NHS’ Delivery Plan for tackling the COVID-19 backlog of elective care has an overall ambition that 95% of patients needing a diagnostic check will receive it within six weeks by March 2025.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing FibroScans in primary care to improve early diagnosis of non-alcohol related fatty liver disease.

The Department has not made a specific assessment of the potential merits of introducing FibroScans in primary care to improve early diagnosis of non-alcohol related fatty liver disease. However, a practice has clinical discretion to decide if a FibroScan is necessary and appropriate for a patient and can either provide directly or through a provider, typically a hospital out-patient appointment.

In addition, NHS England have confirmed they have begun to assess the introduction of FibroScans through Community Diagnostic Centres. £2.3 billion is being spent to increase the number of Community Diagnostic Centres by March 2025, these centres will offer a range of services, with some providing services to support liver diagnosis . This will boost capacity to diagnose liver disease and improve earlier diagnosis and health outcomes.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help housebound constituents in Darlington constituency to access the Covid-19 Vaccine Spring Booster.

The Primary Care Network (PCN) in Darlington chose not to opt-in to the provision of the spring booster vaccination programme and vaccination of Darlington housebound patients is being carried out by two providers: A community pharmacy based in Bishop Auckland and Eston PCN.

These two providers are working together to vaccinate the 800 patients identified as housebound by general practitioner (GP) practices in Darlington, with the information co-ordinated by the local GP federation, Primary Health Care Darlington.

Housebound patients have been placed in cohorts based on their postcode area and a software model is being used to produce the most efficient route from a travel perspective. The providers are currently in the process of contacting patients to arrange a vaccination date.

Vaccinations are being delivered until 30 June and housebound patients can, and will, be vaccinated up until the end of the programme. The first two weeks of the vaccination booster programme (which started on 3 April in England) saw a strong focus placed on care home residents and locally NHS England have been delivering vaccinations to housebound patients over the past four weeks.

The latest data shows that 41.8% of NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board’s (ICB) housebound patients have received a vaccine to date, against the ICB average of 41.9%. A comparison of the vaccination uptake rate for housebound patients against the 2022 position shows a very positive improvement of 25.7%.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
18th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that all people who require pre-exposure prophylaxis are able to access that drug.

As part of the HIV Action Plan, we committed to supporting the system to continue to improve access to the human immunodeficiency virus prevention drug pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for key population groups.

A PrEP Access and Equity Task and Finish group was established in 2022 as part of the HIV Action Plan Implementation Steering Group comprised of key delivery partners and sector stakeholders. The Task and Finish group has delivered recommendations on improving PrEP delivery for key population groups, which are currently being considered.

18th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help reduce the level of transmission of sexually transmitted infections.

We are committed to improving sexual health in England and have published an HIV Action Plan in 2021, which sets out the actions that we are taking from 2022 to 2025 to move towards ending human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmissions and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)- and HIV-related deaths within England by 2030. As part of the plan, we are investing over £3.5 million from 2021 to 2024 to deliver the National HIV Prevention Programme for England, including HIV Testing Week and other campaigns to improve information and testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Dedicated sexual health services play a key public health role in diagnosis, early treatment and management of STIs, and we are providing more than £3.5 billion to local authorities through the public health grant to fund public health services, including sexual health services, in this financial year. Individual local authorities are responsible for and well placed to make funding and commissioning decisions about the sexual health services that best meet the needs of their local populations.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) conducts comprehensive surveillance of STIs and HIV in England and uses this data to understand national and local level trends and monitor preventative interventions. UKHSA also undertakes work to inform STI prevention programmes such as the National Chlamydia Screening Programme delivered by local authorities.

18th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the impact of public health grant allocations on the level of funding for sexual health services.

No assessment of the impact of public health grant allocations on the level of funding for sexual health services is currently planned.

Since 2013, the Government has mandated local authorities in England to commission comprehensive open access to most sexual health services through the public health grant.

At the 2021 Spending Review we considered the need for local authority public health funding and confirmed that the public health grant to local authorities would increase over the settlement period. In 2023/24, the Grant increased by 3.3% to £3.529 billion, and will rise to £3.575 billion in 2024/25. It is for individual local authorities to decide their spending priorities based on an assessment of local need, including sexual health services, and to commission the service lines that best suit their population.

18th Apr 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to provide sexual health services with an adequate level of funding.

No assessment of the impact of public health grant allocations on the level of funding for sexual health services is currently planned.

Since 2013, the Government has mandated local authorities in England to commission comprehensive open access to most sexual health services through the public health grant.

At the 2021 Spending Review we considered the need for local authority public health funding and confirmed that the public health grant to local authorities would increase over the settlement period. In 2023/24, the Grant increased by 3.3% to £3.529 billion, and will rise to £3.575 billion in 2024/25. It is for individual local authorities to decide their spending priorities based on an assessment of local need, including sexual health services, and to commission the service lines that best suit their population.

28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential (a) cost and (b) bed-capacity savings from commissioning more palliative care services from hospices; and if he will take steps to ensure that Integrated Care Boards utilise all the available hospice beds in their areas.

No assessment has been made at a national level. As set out in the Health and Care Act 2022, it is the legal duty of integrated care boards to commission palliative and end of life care to meet the needs of their local populations. NHS England has published statutory guidance to support commissioners with this duty.

As such, commissioners are encouraged to consider cost effective commissioning from a range of providers and settings, in order to best meet the needs and preferences of their population. We have made over £400 million available to hospices since 2020 to secure and increase additional National Health Service capacity and enable hospital discharge, ensuring hospices can continue to deliver care to those who need it. More specifically, hospices have been amongst services eligible for funding to support discharge and improve patient flow totalling £200 million, information about which can be found at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/long-read/discharge-funding-for-step-down-care-200-million-fund/

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential impact of ring-fencing funding for palliative care on the uniform provision of palliative care across the country.

No assessment has been made. While the National Health Service has always been required to commission appropriate palliative and end of life care services to meet the reasonable needs of the population, as part of the Health and Care Act 2022, the Government added palliative care services to the list of services an integrated care board must commission, to clarify this responsibility.

NHS England has actively increased its support to local commissioners to improve the accessibility, quality and sustainability of palliative and end of life care for all. This has included the publication of statutory guidance and service specifications, with further resources available on the FutureNHS Collaboration Platform. The statutory guidance and service specifications can be found at the following links:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/palliative-and-end-of-life-care-statutory-guidance-for-integrated-care-boards-icbs/

https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/service-specifications-for-palliative-and-end-of-life-care-children-and-young-people-cyp/

In addition, NHS England has funded the establishment of a palliative and end of life care Strategic Clinical Network in every NHS England region, which work closely with local commissioners regarding the development of accessible, high quality and sustainable services.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to provide guidance to integrated care boards on the (a) quantity and (b) quality of palliative care they are required to provide under the Health and Social Care Act 2022.

No assessment has been made. While the National Health Service has always been required to commission appropriate palliative and end of life care services to meet the reasonable needs of the population, as part of the Health and Care Act 2022, the Government added palliative care services to the list of services an integrated care board must commission, to clarify this responsibility.

NHS England has actively increased its support to local commissioners to improve the accessibility, quality and sustainability of palliative and end of life care for all. This has included the publication of statutory guidance and service specifications, with further resources available on the FutureNHS Collaboration Platform. The statutory guidance and service specifications can be found at the following links:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/palliative-and-end-of-life-care-statutory-guidance-for-integrated-care-boards-icbs/

https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/service-specifications-for-palliative-and-end-of-life-care-children-and-young-people-cyp/

In addition, NHS England has funded the establishment of a palliative and end of life care Strategic Clinical Network in every NHS England region, which work closely with local commissioners regarding the development of accessible, high quality and sustainable services.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the adequacy of NHS funding for hospices that provide commissioned services on behalf of the NHS.

No assessment has been made. While the National Health Service has always been required to commission appropriate palliative and end of life care services to meet the reasonable needs of the population, as part of the Health and Care Act 2022, the Government added palliative care services to the list of services an integrated care board must commission, to clarify this responsibility.

NHS England has actively increased its support to local commissioners to improve the accessibility, quality and sustainability of palliative and end of life care for all. This has included the publication of statutory guidance and service specifications, with further resources available on the FutureNHS Collaboration Platform. The statutory guidance and service specifications can be found at the following links:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/palliative-and-end-of-life-care-statutory-guidance-for-integrated-care-boards-icbs/

https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/service-specifications-for-palliative-and-end-of-life-care-children-and-young-people-cyp/

In addition, NHS England has funded the establishment of a palliative and end of life care Strategic Clinical Network in every NHS England region, which work closely with local commissioners regarding the development of accessible, high quality and sustainable services.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of adequacy of the delivery of palliative care services required by the Health and Social Care Act 2022; what steps he is taking to monitor the delivery of those services; and if he will take steps to provide regular reports to Parliament on the progress of the delivery of those services.

No assessment has been made. While the National Health Service has always been required to commission appropriate palliative and end of life care services to meet the reasonable needs of the population, as part of the Health and Care Act 2022, the Government added palliative care services to the list of services an integrated care board must commission, to clarify this responsibility.

NHS England has actively increased its support to local commissioners to improve the accessibility, quality and sustainability of palliative and end of life care for all. This has included the publication of statutory guidance and service specifications, with further resources available on the FutureNHS Collaboration Platform. The statutory guidance and service specifications can be found at the following links:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/palliative-and-end-of-life-care-statutory-guidance-for-integrated-care-boards-icbs/

https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/service-specifications-for-palliative-and-end-of-life-care-children-and-young-people-cyp/

In addition, NHS England has funded the establishment of a palliative and end of life care Strategic Clinical Network in every NHS England region, which work closely with local commissioners regarding the development of accessible, high quality and sustainable services.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of the potential savings to the public purse of repurposing unused prescribed medication.

NHS England is leading a programme on medicines optimisation which aims to help patients to improve outcomes and safety, take medicines as intended, avoid taking unnecessary medicines and reduce wastage. For example, Regional Medicines Optimisation Committees were established in 2016 to support and optimise local prescribing practice and reduce unwarranted variation. Community pharmacies also offer the New Medicines Service, providing further support to patients newly prescribed certain medicines, and the Discharge Medicines Service, enabling hospitals to refer recently discharged patients to a community pharmacy for support with new medication.

Structured Medicine Reviews are offered by general practices (GPs) where increasingly pharmacists are part of multi-disciplinary teams to review patients’ medication, optimise medication and prevent wastage. In addition, electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD) allows a GP to send repeat prescriptions to a patient’s pharmacy to manage the dispensing of the specific medicines required. As part of the eRD service, the pharmacy is required to make sure that the patient still needs all of their medicines and dispense to the patients only those that are needed.

In September 2021, the findings and recommendations of the national overprescribing review were published, setting out a series of practical and cultural changes necessary to ensure patients receive the most appropriate treatment for their needs while ensuring value for money.

All pharmacies must by law accept unwanted medicines from patients for disposal. However, the Department does not promote the reuse of medicines returned from patients. Where medicines have left a pharmacy, it is not possible to assure the quality of returned medicines on physical inspection alone. When medicines are returned from patients’ homes, there is no way of guaranteeing that the medicines have been stored or handled appropriately. This could affect patient safety. Therefore, no estimate of the potential savings of repurposing unused prescribed medication has been made.

22nd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help reduce waste in GP dispensing practices.

NHS England is leading a programme on medicines optimisation which aims to help patients to improve outcomes and safety, take medicines as intended, avoid taking unnecessary medicines and reduce wastage. For example, Regional Medicines Optimisation Committees were established in 2016 to support and optimise local prescribing practice and reduce unwarranted variation. Community pharmacies also offer the New Medicines Service, providing further support to patients newly prescribed certain medicines, and the Discharge Medicines Service, enabling hospitals to refer recently discharged patients to a community pharmacy for support with new medication.

Structured Medicine Reviews are offered by general practices (GPs) where increasingly pharmacists are part of multi-disciplinary teams to review patients’ medication, optimise medication and prevent wastage. In addition, electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD) allows a GP to send repeat prescriptions to a patient’s pharmacy to manage the dispensing of the specific medicines required. As part of the eRD service, the pharmacy is required to make sure that the patient still needs all of their medicines and dispense to the patients only those that are needed.

In September 2021, the findings and recommendations of the national overprescribing review were published, setting out a series of practical and cultural changes necessary to ensure patients receive the most appropriate treatment for their needs while ensuring value for money.

All pharmacies must by law accept unwanted medicines from patients for disposal. However, the Department does not promote the reuse of medicines returned from patients. Where medicines have left a pharmacy, it is not possible to assure the quality of returned medicines on physical inspection alone. When medicines are returned from patients’ homes, there is no way of guaranteeing that the medicines have been stored or handled appropriately. This could affect patient safety. Therefore, no estimate of the potential savings of repurposing unused prescribed medication has been made.

22nd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that surplus prescribed medication is recycled.

NHS England is leading a programme on medicines optimisation which aims to help patients to improve outcomes and safety, take medicines as intended, avoid taking unnecessary medicines and reduce wastage. For example, Regional Medicines Optimisation Committees were established in 2016 to support and optimise local prescribing practice and reduce unwarranted variation. Community pharmacies also offer the New Medicines Service, providing further support to patients newly prescribed certain medicines, and the Discharge Medicines Service, enabling hospitals to refer recently discharged patients to a community pharmacy for support with new medication.

Structured Medicine Reviews are offered by general practices (GPs) where increasingly pharmacists are part of multi-disciplinary teams to review patients’ medication, optimise medication and prevent wastage. In addition, electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD) allows a GP to send repeat prescriptions to a patient’s pharmacy to manage the dispensing of the specific medicines required. As part of the eRD service, the pharmacy is required to make sure that the patient still needs all of their medicines and dispense to the patients only those that are needed.

In September 2021, the findings and recommendations of the national overprescribing review were published, setting out a series of practical and cultural changes necessary to ensure patients receive the most appropriate treatment for their needs while ensuring value for money.

All pharmacies must by law accept unwanted medicines from patients for disposal. However, the Department does not promote the reuse of medicines returned from patients. Where medicines have left a pharmacy, it is not possible to assure the quality of returned medicines on physical inspection alone. When medicines are returned from patients’ homes, there is no way of guaranteeing that the medicines have been stored or handled appropriately. This could affect patient safety. Therefore, no estimate of the potential savings of repurposing unused prescribed medication has been made.

22nd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help reduce the waste of prescription medicines.

NHS England is leading a programme on medicines optimisation which aims to help patients to improve outcomes and safety, take medicines as intended, avoid taking unnecessary medicines and reduce wastage. For example, Regional Medicines Optimisation Committees were established in 2016 to support and optimise local prescribing practice and reduce unwarranted variation. Community pharmacies also offer the New Medicines Service, providing further support to patients newly prescribed certain medicines, and the Discharge Medicines Service, enabling hospitals to refer recently discharged patients to a community pharmacy for support with new medication.

Structured Medicine Reviews are offered by general practices (GPs) where increasingly pharmacists are part of multi-disciplinary teams to review patients’ medication, optimise medication and prevent wastage. In addition, electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD) allows a GP to send repeat prescriptions to a patient’s pharmacy to manage the dispensing of the specific medicines required. As part of the eRD service, the pharmacy is required to make sure that the patient still needs all of their medicines and dispense to the patients only those that are needed.

In September 2021, the findings and recommendations of the national overprescribing review were published, setting out a series of practical and cultural changes necessary to ensure patients receive the most appropriate treatment for their needs while ensuring value for money.

All pharmacies must by law accept unwanted medicines from patients for disposal. However, the Department does not promote the reuse of medicines returned from patients. Where medicines have left a pharmacy, it is not possible to assure the quality of returned medicines on physical inspection alone. When medicines are returned from patients’ homes, there is no way of guaranteeing that the medicines have been stored or handled appropriately. This could affect patient safety. Therefore, no estimate of the potential savings of repurposing unused prescribed medication has been made.

8th Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of making the sale of cigarettes subject to a system of licensing to help prevent the prevalence of illegal cigarettes.

An assessment provided in the Khan Review suggests a retailers' licensing scheme would reduce underage and illicit sales and protect law abiding businesses. We will shortly be unveiling a wide-reaching set of proposals to support our ambition to be Smokefree by 2030, and this will include action to further tackle illicit tobacco.

28th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending community dental services into educational settings.

Community dental services (CDS) offer dental care to vulnerable patients who are referred by a general practitioner or social worker and cannot be treated in a general National Health Service dental practice or may be in locations that cannot access NHS dental services. CDS work in schools and other community settings to raise awareness of good oral health care and how this has an impact on the wider health of the population.

21st Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing free dental check-ups in schools.

In England there is no national programme of routine dental checks in schools. This is because the UK National Screening Committee advised in 2006 that population screening for dental disease in children aged six to nine years old should be discontinued as it was ineffective. A review in 2013 upheld this recommendation which is available at the following link:

https://legacyscreening.phe.org.uk/dental

9th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of commissioning for palliative care by integrated care boards; and if he will make further such assessments in future.

No specific assessment has been made and there are no current plans to make one.

As part of the Health and Care Act 2022, palliative care services were specifically added to the list of services an integrated care board (ICB) must commission, with NHS England publishing statutory guidance to support commissioners with this duty. The guidance sets out the core components for commissioning and provides a framework for each ICB to evaluate commissioning and delivery of their palliative and end of life care services.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure NHS commissioning for hospice care is consistent in all parts of the country; and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of ringfencing long-term funding for hospices.

No specific assessment has been made.

As part of the Health and Care Act 2022, palliative care services were specifically added to the list of services an integrated care board must commission. This will ensure a more consistent national approach and support commissioners in prioritising palliative and end of life care.

NHS England have published new statutory guidance on palliative and end of life care to support commissioners with this duty, which includes specific reference to ensuring there is sufficient provision of specialist palliative care services and hospice beds.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure equity of access to cervical screening.

A range of improvements and innovations have been brought in to help improve uptake and equity of access in the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. In some Primary Care Network areas, appointments can now be made in any primary care setting, rather than just at the patient’s own general practice, where they are registered; during evenings and on weekends; and via integrated sexual health clinics. Additionally, laboratories that analyse samples can now operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to accommodate surges in capacity.

To improve uptake and equity of action, an evaluation on the acceptability and effectiveness of Human papillomavirus (HPV) self-sampling (i.e. individuals taking their own cervical screening sample) as a primary cervical screening option is taking place. The YouScreen Study aims to provide evidence on the acceptability of self-testing and is offering this test to non-attenders aged 25-64 and those at least six months overdue for cervical screening. The HPValidate study aims to see if self-testing provides the same level of accuracy as an HPV test undertaken by a clinician.

The findings from these studies will be used to inform a UK National Screening Committee recommendation on cervical screening. If the outcome proves positive, self-sampling could lead to an increase in uptake as it will reduce some of the barriers that prevent people from attending for screening, including availability of appointments, physical disability, and past trauma.

26th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department is taking steps to increase the uptake of cervical screening.

A range of improvements and innovations have been brought in to help improve uptake and equity of access in the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. In some Primary Care Network areas, appointments can now be made in any primary care setting, rather than just at the patient’s own general practice, where they are registered; during evenings and on weekends; and via integrated sexual health clinics. Additionally, laboratories that analyse samples can now operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to accommodate surges in capacity.

To improve uptake and equity of action, an evaluation on the acceptability and effectiveness of Human papillomavirus (HPV) self-sampling (i.e. individuals taking their own cervical screening sample) as a primary cervical screening option is taking place. The YouScreen Study aims to provide evidence on the acceptability of self-testing and is offering this test to non-attenders aged 25-64 and those at least six months overdue for cervical screening. The HPValidate study aims to see if self-testing provides the same level of accuracy as an HPV test undertaken by a clinician.

The findings from these studies will be used to inform a UK National Screening Committee recommendation on cervical screening. If the outcome proves positive, self-sampling could lead to an increase in uptake as it will reduce some of the barriers that prevent people from attending for screening, including availability of appointments, physical disability, and past trauma.

26th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure equity of access to HPV vaccination.

The HPV programme is a universal offer and is primarily delivered in schools, which helps to combat health inequalities by reaching children from disadvantaged backgrounds, vulnerable families, and others who may not be registered with a general practice but who are still in education. Alternative sites are available for anyone not in mainstream education or who have missed their initial offer, and regional teams host catch up clinics in schools and local venues in areas with low uptake. Vaccine information is also provided in a range of languages to raise awareness of the HPV vaccine and allow access to accurate information for a variety of communities.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
26th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department is taking steps to increase the uptake of the HPV vaccine.

The HPV vaccination programme is delivered in different locations to maximise access and make getting vaccinated easier. This includes school-based delivery, with alternative sites set up for those not in mainstream education, or for those who missed their initial offer. GP practices also offer HPV vaccinations for anyone until their 25th birthday, and anyone unsure about their eligibility or vaccination status should contact their GP for advice.

To support this DHSC, NHS England and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) provide an annual communication campaigns to promote the HPV vaccine in settings like GP practices and universities. It is important that everyone takes up the vaccinations to which they are entitled; for themselves, their families, and wider society.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
26th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to eliminate cervical cancer in the UK.

In England, we are increasing the uptake of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) target of 90% through dedicated immunisation teams in schools where a 100% offer is made to all school aged children eligible for these vaccinations. Annually, HPV vaccines are promoted to university students as they start the Autumn term, and NHS England are planning a further HPV awareness campaign.

The NHS Cervical Cancer Screening Programme already aligns with the WHO’s target of 70% of women screened using a high-performance test by 35 and 45 years of age. Work is ongoing to improve this beyond the WHO target, through exploration into screening self-sampling via the YouScreen and HPValidate research.

A range of improvements and innovations have been brought in to help improve uptake in the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. For example, in some Primary Care Network areas, appointments can now be made in any Primary Care setting during evenings and on weekends, via integrated sexual health clinics.

There is currently no intention to publish a plan detailing these programmes.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an estimate of the proportion of the new discharge funding announced on 9 January 2022 that will be spent on mental health services in Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

On 9 January, the government announced up to £200 million funding for step down care. Of this the North East and North Cumbria ICB has been allocated a capped budget of over £11 million. Information on the use of this funding within the integrated care board is not available publicly.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department plans to take to expand testing for prostate cancer.

The current recommendation is that a population screening programme for prostate cancer should be not introduced. This is because the screening test of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is not accurate enough to detect prostate cancer that needs treatment. However, there is a National Health Service prostate cancer risk management programme that provides general practitioners and primary care professionals with information to help asymptomatic men over the age of 50 years old who ask about PSA testing for prostate cancer. The UK National Screening Committee is due to review the evidence to screen for prostate cancer in 2023/24.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance his Department has provided to Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust to help ensure Clozapine is not misused in patients who consume alcohol or smoke while being prescribed that drug.

No specific guidance has been issued.

The product information for clozapine for healthcare professionals and patients advises against drinking alcohol during treatment with that drug. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency provided a Drug Safety Update which recommends that blood concentration of clozapine should be monitored for toxicity in clinical situations, such as during smoking cessation or if a patient transfers to e-cigarettes. The British National Formulary advises that dose adjustment may be necessary if a patient’s smoking habits change during treatment with clozapine.

30th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what guidance has been issued to Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust to help ensure Pregabalin is not misused in patients who consume alcohol and smoke while being prescribed that drug.

No specific guidance has been issued. Pregabalin is a controlled substance and the British National Formulary states that healthcare professionals should evaluate patients for a history of drug misuse before prescribing pregabalin and observe patients for the development of signs of misuse and dependence.

21st Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what comparative assessment he has made of liver disease outcomes across Integrated Care Systems in England.

The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities publishes liver disease profiles which compare local areas in England. Liver disease mortality and hospital admissions data for integrated care boards (ICBs) were added to the profiles in October 2022, which is available at the following link:

https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/liver-disease

21st Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recall systems are in place to ensure regular liver cancer surveillance among adults with cirrhosis.

NHS England is working with providers to identify how liver surveillance can be more systematic and ensuring that those at high risk will be offered scans, as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence


NHS England is offering mobile fibroscans and other diagnostic activity to people at high risk of liver cancer. In addition, the National Cancer Programme fund Community Liver Health Checks in 12 areas in England to provide earlier identification of patients with liver disease and ensure that those at high risk of hepatocellular carcinoma are referred for six-monthly liver surveillance by ultrasound.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding formulas for (a) all NHS regions and (b) the North East; and whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of including factors such as deprivation and disadvantage in those formulas.

NHS England is responsible for funding allocations to integrated care boards. The Department and NHS England determine the objectives of the funding formulae, which currently support equal opportunity of access for equal need and contribute to the reduction in avoidable health inequalities. The method of achieving these objectives is independent of the Government and NHS England takes advice on the underlying formula from the independent Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation. The formula, which produces a target allocation or ‘fair share’ for each area, is based on an assessment of factors such as demography, morbidity, deprivation and the unavoidable cost of providing services in different areas.

16th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much and what proportion of funding for NHS mental health services in the NHS Long Term Plan (a) has been or (b) will be allocated to those services in Darlington constituency; and what assessment he made of the potential impact of that funding on average waiting times for those services in that constituency.

The NHS Long Term Plan sets out a minimum of £2.3 billion growth a year by 2023/24. However, the amount and proportion of this funding and its distribution among commissioning bodies is not held in the format requested.

A national access and waiting times standard for adults and children and young people’s mental health services has not yet been defined. NHS England has consulted on the potential to introduce five new mental health related waiting time standards. We are now working with NHS England on the next steps.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to reduce waiting times for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services assessments in Darlington constituency.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 9 November 2022 to Question 78834.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help provide young people with timely and effective Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Darlington.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 9 November 2022 to Question 78834.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate he has made of waiting times for the assessment for neurodiverse conditions by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Darlington constituency in the latest period for which data is available; and what steps he is taking to improve waiting times for these assessments.

This information is not held in the format requested. However, in Darlington, new referrals are being screened within four weeks. The Country Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust is working with commissioners and partners to reduce demands on the diagnostic pathways. A whole system offer is being delivered to support families with needs typically associated with autism, which does not require a diagnosis. The offer includes a family support service, sensory programme and training for schools.

In addition, NHS England is developing a national framework on how children, young people and adults should receive a diagnosis, to improve the quality of these diagnostic processes and reduce waiting times.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
11th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what target his Department has for the time it should take for a young person to receive an assessment by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services; and whether Tees Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust met this target in the latest period for which data is available.

No such target has been set, as a national access and waiting times standard for children and young people’s mental health services has not yet been defined.

NHS England has consulted on the potential to introduce five new waiting time standards, which includes children, young people and their families/carers presenting to community-based mental health services should start to receive care within four weeks from referral. We are now working with NHS England on the next steps.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
4th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will take immediate steps to ensure access to early Monkeypox vaccination in Darlington constituency.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) established the monkeypox vaccine strategy in July, endorsed by Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. Two doses are being offered to a defined high-risk cohort in England. We have procured over 150,000 vaccine doses, which when delivered through fractional dosing, will provide sufficient stock to deliver the current vaccination strategy in full.

The National Health Service is responsible for implementing the vaccination programme regionally, with 2,654 doses administered in the Northeast and Yorkshire region as of 2 November.

4th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to develop and implement a nationwide vaccination awareness programme for Monkeypox.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has secured regular national media coverage, including in LGBT media outlets, on social media, marketing and video content. The UKHSA is developing a sustained education programme in addition to these communications and considering how this will evolve alongside other sexual health protection messages.

3rd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to improve access to NHS dental services in Darlington constituency.

In September, we announced ‘Our plan for patients’, which outlines how we will meet oral health needs and increase access to dental care, including in Darlington.

The plan includes improvements to ensure dentists are renumerated fairly for more complex work, allowing greater flexibility to reallocate resources and to utilise dentists with greater capacity to deliver National Health Service treatment, whilst enabling full use of the dental team. The plan also includes streamlining processes for overseas dentists and holding the local NHS to account for dentistry provision. In addition, Health Education England is also reforming dental education to improve the recruitment and retention of dental professionals.

3rd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the HIV Action Plan, what progress has been made towards the implementation of the dispensing of pre-exposure prophylaxis in community settings.

We are developing a plan to improve access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in specific groups, including provision in settings outside of sexual and reproductive health services, such as community settings.

We are currently gathering evidence to understand why groups which would benefit from PrEP are underrepresented and to identify potential barriers to access. The evidence will be considered by the PrEP Access and Equity Task and Finish group, recently established through the HIV Implementation Steering Group, which will inform the development of the plan.

3rd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment has he made of the potential merits of expanding the roll out of opt out HIV testing on a nationwide basis.

No formal assessment has been made. However, NHS England has expanded opt-out HIV testing in accident and emergency departments in 21 local authority areas with the highest prevalence of HIV, supported by an investment of £20 million from 2022 to 2025.

3rd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve the waiting times for CAMHS Assessments in Darlington constituency.

Integrated care boards are responsible for ensuring appropriate provision of services to meet the health and care needs of the local population. Through the NHS Long Term Plan, we are investing an additional £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24 to expand National Health Service mental health services to allow an additional 345,000 children and young people to access support, including in Darlington. In 2021/22, we provided an additional £79 million for approximately 22,500 children and young people to access community health services.

The NHS Long Term Plan also stated the aim of increasing the mental health workforce in England by an additional 27,000 professionals by 2023/24. NHS England and Health Education England are working with local integrated care systems, including in Darlington, to confirm plans for service models, supply, retention and recruitment until 2024.

Assessments for autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may also be received through child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). Following an investment of £13 million in 2021/22, we will provide £2.5 million in 2022/23 to test and embed improved autism diagnostic pathways.   NHS England is developing a national framework on how children, young people and adults should receive an autism diagnosis to improve the quality of these diagnostic processes and reduce waiting times.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
3rd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will take steps to increase long term funding for hospices.

Integrated care boards (ICBs) are responsible for commissioning and determining the appropriate funding arrangements for palliative and end of life care services, including hospices, in response to the needs of the local population. In July 2022, NHS England published statutory guidance for commissioners on palliative and end of life care, setting out the considerations for ICBs in order to meet its legal duties.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what scientific assessment has been made of the potential merits of updating current fertility legislation to provide access to gamete donation for people living with HIV.

The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs has established a working group to review the current guidelines on gamete donation. This includes consideration of the position on gamete donors with HIV.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of aligning individual GP practices with individual care homes in order to facilitate easy management of face to face appointments for residents in care homes.

The Enhanced Health in Care Homes service specification for Primary Care Networks (PCNs) requires PCNs to ensure that every care home receives a weekly ‘home round’, delivered by a multidisciplinary team with appropriate medical input for residents who have been identified as a clinical priority for assessment and care.

22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps she is taking to reduce waiting times for children awaiting assessment of neurodiverse conditions.

We expect integrated care boards to have due regard to relevant best practice guidelines when commissioning services, including assessments for children with neurodevelopmental conditions. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend a maximum waiting time of 13 weeks between a referral for an autism assessment and a first appointment. NICE’s guidelines for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) do not recommend a maximum waiting time to receive an assessment, including for children. It includes information aimed at improving diagnosis and the quality of care and support received.

NHS England is testing and implementing effective ways to reduce autism diagnostic assessment waiting times for children and young people. In 2021/22, we provided an additional £10.5 million for local systems to test innovations in autism diagnostic assessment pathways and reduce waiting times, with a further £2.5 million in 2022/23. NHS England is developing a national framework on how children, young people and adults may receive a diagnostic assessment and improve access to and quality of diagnostic processes and reduce waiting times. In addition, we have invested £600,000 to expand a pilot to improve early identification of autism and other neurodiverse conditions to at least 100 schools.

22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps her Department is taking to ensure GP practices have the resources they need to recruit and retain the staff required to offer appointments to all patients within two weeks.

We are working with NHS England and Health Education England to increase the general practice workforce in England. This includes measures to increase recruitment, address the reasons why doctors leave the profession and encourage them to return to practice. The updated GP Contract Framework in 2020 announced new retention schemes with continued support for existing schemes for the general practice workforce. In addition, we have increased the number of general practitioner training places to 4,000 per year.

We made £520 million available to improve access and expand general practice capacity during the pandemic. This was in addition to at least £1.5 billion announced in 2020 to create an additional 50 million general practice appointments by 2024 by increasing and diversifying the workforce.

22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of allowing dental therapists to carry out routine dental care on increasing the overall level of NHS dental capacity.

The improvements to the National Health Service dental system announced in July 2022 and ‘Our plan for patients’ published in September aim to increase access, target care for patients with higher oral health needs and ensure NHS dentists are fairly rewarded, making NHS dentistry a more attractive place to work.

NHS England is supporting contract holders to make better use of all staff in dental teams, including therapists, to deliver treatment. This will allow a broader range of dental professionals to contribute to NHS contracts and support professions, such as therapists, to utilise the full scope of practice in the NHS, as in private practice. Contractors will have a greater range of staffing options to meet NHS contracts, while improving the morale of the therapist workforce through development and use of specialist knowledge.

22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if her Department will take steps to help ensure that dental practices regularly update the NHS website with their availability to take new NHS patients.

In July 2022, we announced measures to improve the National Health Service dental system, which are currently being implemented. This included a requirement for dentists to update practice information on NHS.UK displaying whether new patients are accepted for treatment.

22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps her Department is taking to increase NHS dental treatment capacity in Darlington constituency.

The Department and NHS England have negotiated with the British Dental Association on a range of improvements to the National Health Service dental system in England, including Darlington, which were announced on 19 July 2022 and align with ‘Our plan for patients’.

These improvements are supported by the sector and will improve access and targeting of care for patients with higher oral health needs. It will also ensure that dentists are fairly rewarded for the care delivered, making NHS dentistry a more attractive place to work for dentists and their teams.

22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps her Department is taking to reduce ambulance waiting times in Darlington constituency.

NHS England advises that the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is investing of £38 million in 2022/23 to improve clinical care, recover ambulance response times, increase the operational and Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) workforce and establish an additional EOC in the south of the Trust’s area.

Ambulance trusts receive continuous central monitoring and support from the National Ambulance Coordination Centre and NHS England has allocated an additional £150 million for ambulance service pressures in 2022/23, supporting improvements to response times through additional call handler recruitment, retention and other funding requirements.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps have been taken to ensure accessibility of home visits by dentists for care home residents.

Dentists and other professionals face no restrictions when visiting to provide a service for care home residents. Where there is an active outbreak of COVID-19 in a care home, a risk assessment should be made. From 1 July 2022, all National Health Service dentists have been asked to deliver the full NHS commitment, including delivering services in care homes where commissioned to do so.

18th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the HIV Action Plan for England - 2022 to 2025, published in December 2021, if he will publish his planned timetable for the expansion of opt-out HIV testing, including details of the locations testing will be extended to.

NHS England are investing £20 million over the next three years to expand opt-out testing in emergency departments in 21 local authority areas with the highest prevalence of HIV, in line with guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All sites are preparing to establish opt-out testing during 2022/23, with sites in London due to be fully operational by September 2022. The following table shows a list of these local authority areas.

Lambeth

Southwark

City of London

Kensington and Chelsea

Camden

Westminster

Lewisham

Brighton and Hove

Hammersmith and Fulham

Hackney

Islington

Haringey

Greenwich

Manchester

Newham

Croydon

Tower Hamlets

Barking and Dagenham

Wandsworth

Salford

Blackpool

29th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what specific steps he is taking to improve access to NHS Dentistry in Darlington constituency.

An additional £50 million was allocated for National Health Service dentistry for the final quarter of 2021/22 to provide urgent care to patients. Of this funding, £8,633,000 was made available to the North East and Yorkshire region, including Darlington. NHS England and NHS Improvement have asked practices to deliver at least 95% of contracted units of dental activity and 100% of units of orthodontic activity to safely improve access for patients safely.

The Department and NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with stakeholders, including the British Dental Association, to improve to the NHS dental system and negotiations are currently underway on initial measures. This aims to improve access to NHS dentistry, including in Darlington.

24th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the offer of a fourth covid-19 booster jab to people diagnosed with long covid.

Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), a COVID-19 spring booster dose is being offered in England to all residents in care homes for older adults, individuals aged 12 years old and over who are immunosuppressed, and all adults aged 75 years old and over. Those experiencing the long term effects of COVID-19 infection are not specifically offered a spring booster dose, unless they meet the criteria for these cohorts.

On 19 May 2022, the (JCVI) published interim advice on an autumn COVID-19 booster programme. The JCVI’s current advice suggests that a COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to residents in a care home for older adults and staff; frontline health and social care workers; all those 65 years old and over; and adults aged 16 to 64 years old in a clinical risk group. The JCVI will continue to review the vaccination programme and the epidemiological situation, particularly in relation to the timing and value of doses for less vulnerable older adults and those in clinical risk groups before autumn 2022. The Government will consider the JCVI’s final recommendations later this year.

NHS England has invested £224 million to provide care and support to individuals with post-COVID-19 syndrome. There are specialised services across England which assess people experiencing longer-term health implications from COVID-19 and directs them into care pathways which provide appropriate support, treatment, and rehabilitation.

10th May 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the findings of new research from the National Literacy Trust and Audible of the effect that listening to audiobooks has on the mental health and wellbeing of adults.

No such assessment has been made.

Gillian Keegan
Secretary of State for Education
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how regularly the online NHS find a dentist tool is updated.

The National Health Service dental profiles are updated monthly. Dental practices can also update this information as necessary, which is then immediately available. Practices are encouraged to state whether they are accepting new patients at least every 90 days, as failure to do so results in the information being removed from the website.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
14th Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when the online NHS find a dentist tool was last updated.

The National Health Service dental profiles are updated monthly. Dental practices can also update this information as necessary, which is then immediately available. Practices are encouraged to state whether they are accepting new patients at least every 90 days, as failure to do so results in the information being removed from the website.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
3rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to ensure that all DNR notices put in place during the pandemic in Darlington have now been removed.

The Department does not hold information on individual Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) decisions at specific National Health Service trusts. Concerns about individual DNACPR decisions should be raised with the health or care provider involved in the first instance.

The Care Quality Commission continues to ensure providers understand their responsibilities should allegations of inappropriate application of DNACPR decisions be made, as well as raise cases with the relevant bodies as appropriate.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
3rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to raise awareness of the early signs and symptoms of cholangiocarcinoma.

The second phase of the ‘Help us help you’ campaign between November 2020 and January 2021 focussed on abdominal symptoms which could indicate a range of cancers, including bile duct cancer. A new awareness campaign launched in March 2022 on tackling barriers to seeking treatment.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that children and adolescents in Darlington constituency have access to CAMHS treatment.

We are investing at least an additional £2.3 billion a year in mental health services by 2023/24, to allow approximately 345,000 more children and young people to access National Health Service-funded mental health services each year. On 5 March 2021, we announced an additional £79 million in 2021/22 for children and young people’s mental health services, for approximately 22,500 more children and young people to access community health services, 2,000 more children and young people to access eating disorder services and to accelerate the coverage of mental health support teams, including in Darlington. NHS England and NHS Improvement have also announced a further £40 million in 2021/22 to address the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people’s mental health.

Data on the number of people awaiting treatment from children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) is not available as a national access and waiting times standard has not yet been defined. NHS England and NHS Improvement consulted on the definition and introduction of five waiting time standards. The consultation closed on 1 September 2021 and found that more than 80% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the proposal to introduce additional mental health access and waiting time measures, including for children and young people presenting to community-based mental health services. The consultation report is available at the following link:

www.england.nhs.uk/2022/02/widespread-support-for-proposed-nhs-mental-health-access-standards-for-patients

We will work with NHS England and NHS Improvement on the next steps for the proposed mental health access and waiting measures.

Gillian Keegan
Secretary of State for Education
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many children and adolescents are awaiting CAMHS treatment in the Darlington constituency as of 21 February 2022.

We are investing at least an additional £2.3 billion a year in mental health services by 2023/24, to allow approximately 345,000 more children and young people to access National Health Service-funded mental health services each year. On 5 March 2021, we announced an additional £79 million in 2021/22 for children and young people’s mental health services, for approximately 22,500 more children and young people to access community health services, 2,000 more children and young people to access eating disorder services and to accelerate the coverage of mental health support teams, including in Darlington. NHS England and NHS Improvement have also announced a further £40 million in 2021/22 to address the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people’s mental health.

Data on the number of people awaiting treatment from children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) is not available as a national access and waiting times standard has not yet been defined. NHS England and NHS Improvement consulted on the definition and introduction of five waiting time standards. The consultation closed on 1 September 2021 and found that more than 80% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the proposal to introduce additional mental health access and waiting time measures, including for children and young people presenting to community-based mental health services. The consultation report is available at the following link:

www.england.nhs.uk/2022/02/widespread-support-for-proposed-nhs-mental-health-access-standards-for-patients

We will work with NHS England and NHS Improvement on the next steps for the proposed mental health access and waiting measures.

Gillian Keegan
Secretary of State for Education
21st Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the average waiting time for CAMHS appointments.

We are investing at least an additional £2.3 billion a year in mental health services by 2023/24, to allow approximately 345,000 more children and young people to access National Health Service-funded mental health services each year. On 5 March 2021, we announced an additional £79 million in 2021/22 for children and young people’s mental health services, for approximately 22,500 more children and young people to access community health services, 2,000 more children and young people to access eating disorder services and to accelerate the coverage of mental health support teams, including in Darlington. NHS England and NHS Improvement have also announced a further £40 million in 2021/22 to address the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people’s mental health.

Data on the number of people awaiting treatment from children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) is not available as a national access and waiting times standard has not yet been defined. NHS England and NHS Improvement consulted on the definition and introduction of five waiting time standards. The consultation closed on 1 September 2021 and found that more than 80% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the proposal to introduce additional mental health access and waiting time measures, including for children and young people presenting to community-based mental health services. The consultation report is available at the following link:

www.england.nhs.uk/2022/02/widespread-support-for-proposed-nhs-mental-health-access-standards-for-patients

We will work with NHS England and NHS Improvement on the next steps for the proposed mental health access and waiting measures.

Gillian Keegan
Secretary of State for Education
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support is available for individuals suffering from macular degeneration.

The National Health Service continues to prioritise urgent treatment for sight-threatening eye conditions, such as wet age-related macular degeneration, whilst the pandemic impacts services.

Macular services often have specific commissioner-established targets based upon the treatment of patients in line with best practice, ensuring that patients receive high quality treatment.

In addition to personalised support from specialists, the nhs.uk website provides details on support available for individuals suffering from age-related macular degeneration, including support groups such as the Macular Society support services and the Royal National Institute of Blind People advice service. Information is available at the following link:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/age-related-macular-degeneration-amd/living-with-amd/

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
9th Feb 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether trials are occurring to test stem cells as a treatment for macular degeneration.

Stem cell treatments for macular degeneration are in an early experimental phase of development. The National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network has supported a recent study (2015-2019­) producing stem cells to treat age-related macular degeneration and the Clinical Research Facility Network have supported 3 studies on macular degeneration and regenerative medicine and therapeutics in the past 5 years.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
18th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to encourage women to carry out regular self examination of their breasts to identify lumps.

NHS.UK promotes awareness of checking breasts for potential symptoms of breast cancer, which is available at the following link:

https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/womens-health/how-should-i-check-my-breasts/

The NHS Breast Screening Programme has produced a five-point plan: individuals should know what is normal for them; examine their breasts; know what changes to look for; report any changes to a general practitioner without delay; and attend routine screening if aged 50 to 70 years old.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress he has made on appointing a national clinical director for eye services in England.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are currently developing a role description for a National Clinical Director for Eye Care. The appointment will be subject to the recruitment process, planned to commence in the new year.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he plans to take to reduce the average waiting time for patients with appointments in eye clinics in England for the treatment of wet and of dry age-related macular degeneration.

The National Health Service has continued to prioritise urgent treatment for sight-threatening eye conditions, such as wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Currently, there are no medical treatments for dry AMD, therefore these patients will not be waiting for therapeutic intervention.

We are providing £2 billion through the Elective Recovery Fund to reduce waiting times, including for patients with AMD. We have also committed £8 billion from 2022 to 2025 to transform elective services and increase activity and a further £5.9 billion capital funding to support elective recovery, diagnostics and technology. We will publish the delivery plan for tackling the elective backlog in due course.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to provide internationally recognised proof of covid-19 vaccination for the 12 to 15 age group.

Since the 13th December, fully vaccinated 12-15 year olds are able to demonstrate their vaccination status using an NHS COVID Pass travel letter. We are working on a digital solution for 12-15 year olds to access their NHS COVID Pass by early 2022.

8th Dec 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to enable international travel for the 12 to 15 age category who are double vaccinated against covid-19.

Since 13 December, the travel NHS COVID Pass letter is available for children aged 12 to 15 years old who are fully vaccinated. A digital solution for 12 to 15 year olds to access their NHS Travel COVID Pass is expected in early 2022.

28th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what comparative assessment he has made of the correlation between obesity rates and availability of fast-food outlets.

The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities has not completed an analysis to assess the correlation between obesity rates and availability of fast-food outlets.

In 2018, Public Health England published ‘Fast food outlets: density by local authority in England’. This used Food Standards Agency data from 2017 to calculate the density of fast-food outlets by local authority. The analysis did not assess the correlation between obesity rates and availability of fast-food outlets but showed that there are higher concentrations of fast-food outlets in England’s most deprived communities. Evidence from health survey data shows that the prevalence of overweight and obesity also rises with deprivation and fruit and vegetable consumption falls with deprivation.

20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to help people who have participated in the NOVAX covid-19 trial to receive international recognition of their vaccination status.

The Government continues to make the case internationally, through groups such as the G7, G20, the European Commission and the World Health Organization, that COVID-19 vaccine trial participants should be treated the same in terms of certification as someone who has received a deployed vaccine. Ultimately it is for Governments to set their inbound travel policy, including for clinical trial participants on Novavax and other trials.

20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help ensure that all trans people are included in necessary cancer screenings applicable to them.

Public Health England (PHE) has published a leaflet advising both trans men and women to contact their general practitioner (GP) about breast screening, as long-term hormone therapy may increase their risk of developing breast cancer. The leaflet also advises that transgender men registered as male should ask their GP to update their records to ensure that they are invited for cervical screening.

PHE also provides advice to health professionals on working with trans men and women, to ensure that patients feel comfortable or can access services in other ways if necessary.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to support victims of racial discrimination in the NHS.

The NHS People Plan sets out actions to address racial discrimination, including the appointment of an equalities champion in every National Health Service organisation, equipping line managers to discuss equality, diversity and inclusion as part of wellbeing conversations, and launching a joint training programme for Freedom to Speak Up Guardians and Workforce Race Equality Standard Experts. NHS England and NHS Improvement will publish a race equality strategy later this year, building on the actions in the People Plan.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress his Department has made on the recognition of covid-19 vaccines administered in Saudi Arabia for use on the NHS Covid pass.

Work is ongoing to determine which non-United Kingdom vaccines we might be confident to recognise, including those administered in Saudi Arabia. A pilot scheme to enable some UK residents vaccinated overseas to demonstrate their vaccination status through the NHS COVID Pass will be launched in England from the end of September. Further development will be undertaken once the pilot is underway.

19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the mental effect of a second trimester miscarriage on an expecting father.

We have made no such assessment.

19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) physical and (b) mental effect of a second trimester miscarriage on an expectant mother.

We have made no such assessment.

19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the number of miscarriages that occur during the second trimester each year.

The information is not collected in the format requested. NHS Digital records most incidences of miscarriage in Hospital Episode Statistics, but this does not include data on the length of the gestation period.

19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of second trimester miscarriages on expectant parents who are unable to take statutory bereavement leave.

We have made no such assessment.

We encourage employers to provide appropriate support to women who have suffered a miscarriage and respond sensitively to each individual’s specific needs.

9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what funding his Department has allocated to hospices in (a) Darlington and (b) England (i) during the covid-19 outbreak and (ii) over winter 2020-21.

Over £150 million in additional funding to the hospice sector was made available between April and July. This will be used to enable hospices to provide more capacity for step down and community care alongside their existing palliative and end of life services.

Further funding of up to £125 million has now been announced in the COVID-19 Winter Plan, published 23 November.

Funding allocation is led by NHS England and NHS Improvement. NHS England and NHS Improvement advise that St Teresa’s Hospice in Darlington received £424,579 between April and July this year. St Teresa’s, like other hospices, will also be eligible to apply for the further additional funding now being made available.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to raise awareness of the cost to the NHS of missed appointments without prior notice.

Many general practices make patients aware of the cost of missed appointments through information displayed in practice waiting rooms or via other channels. Patients are encouraged to attend booked appointments by text messages and other means of communication that remind them about appointments.

NHS England and NHS Improvement continue to focus on improving access to services to ensure patients can access an appointment at a time and in a way that is most convenient to them, including via face to face, online or telephone consultations. Projects to increase appointment compliance are locally led by National Health Service trusts/providers.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
16th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what strategy his Department has to tackle Foetal Alcohol Syndrome; and what steps his Department is taking to make pregnant mothers aware of the risks to their unborn child of the consumption of alcohol.

The United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines published in 2016 provide clear advice to women not to drink alcohol if they are planning for a pregnancy or are pregnant.

Public Health England, NHS England and NHS Improvement, and local commissioners continue to raise awareness and provide education on the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant; for example, the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership ‘Drymester’ campaign to raise awareness of drinking alcohol when pregnant.

Midwives and health visitors have a central role in providing clear, consistent advice and early identification and support.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of covid-19 lockdown measures on child oral health in the North East; and what steps he is taking to improve levels of child oral health in that area.

No such assessment has been made.

The Department is working with NHS England and NHS Improvement to increase levels of service as fast as possible, taking into account the ongoing infection prevention and control and social distancing requirements. Of paramount importance must continue to be the safety of dentists, their teams and patients.

Children living in Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead and North Tyneside continue to benefit from the existing fluoridation of local water supplies. Water fluoridation is known to reduce the prevalence and severity of tooth decay and reduce dental health inequalities.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
7th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent discussions his Department has had with NICE on the appraisal of Kuvan as a treatment for phenylketonuria.

Departmental Ministers and officials regularly discuss a range of matters with colleagues in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, including the availability of medicines for the treatment of a number of conditions.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
29th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the health effects of the misuse of nitrous oxide; and if the Government will bring forward legislative proposals to regulate the sale of canisters of that product.

No recent assessment of the health effects of nitrous oxide has been made. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs considered nitrous oxide in 2015 and concluded that there is evidence that the use of nitrous oxide, other than in line with designated guidance and for purposes other than for which it was manufactured, can cause harm. Under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 it is an offence to supply a psychoactive substance. Those who supply nitrous oxide who know, or who are reckless as to whether, it will used for its psychoactive effect may be subject to a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both.

Jo Churchill
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
5th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that hospices have a reliable supply of personal protective equipment.

The Department recognises the vital services that hospices provide, and are aware of issues they have been facing in obtaining personal protective equipment (PPE). The Department is working on putting a sustainable solution in place to ensure continuity of supply for the hospice sector, which has recently stepped up to take the pressure off the National Health Service as part of a £200 million funding arrangement announced by the Chancellor on 8 April.

To address continuity of supply concerns, central delivery points provided by hospices to the Department will get weekly drops of PPE until they can be added to the PPE e-commerce ordering portal. The Department will continue to work with the hospice sector to ensure they have the support they need during this challenging period.

The Department holds regular calls at Ministerial level with representatives of the hospice sector to better understand the specific issues facing the sector in delivering palliative and end of life care, including PPE supply, during this challenging period.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Oct 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether his Department is taking steps to establish a non-charitable interparliamentary organisation for the Commonwealth Parliamentary association.

The CPA (Commonwealth Parliamentary Association) is a valued partner of the FCDO and we greatly appreciate the important work being done by the organisation and its regional branches across the Commonwealth.

The Foreign Secretary remains committed to addressing the issue of CPA's status and wants CPA International to remain headquartered in the United Kingdom. FCDO officials have had constructive engagement with CPA leadership in recent months.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what diplomatic steps he can take to protect members of the LGBT community in Afghanistan.

Minister for Human Rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, addressed the UN Human Rights Council on 24 August to underscore the UK's commitment to protecting the human rights of all Afghan people. The UK led work on the recent UN Security Council resolution, demonstrating our commitment to holding the Taliban to account on human rights. The impact of the crisis in Afghanistan on women and girls and other vulnerable groups, including religious and ethnic minorities and LGBT+ people, is of deep concern. The Taliban must respect the rights of all minority groups, both now and in the future and we will hold them to account for their actions. The UK is urgently developing a new settlement scheme for 20,000 Afghans most at risk who will be eligible to apply. We are prioritising vulnerable groups in the UK's response.

3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the safety of members of the LGBT community in Afghanistan.

We will use every humanitarian and diplomatic lever to safeguard human rights and the gains made over the last two decades. The UK led work on the recent UN Security Council resolution, demonstrating our commitment to holding the Taliban to account on human rights, humanitarian access, safe passage and preventing terror. Minister for Human Rights Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon addressed the UN Human Rights Council on 24 August to underscore the UK's commitment to protecting the human rights of all Afghan people. We are working urgently with neighbouring countries to ensure that at-risk Afghans who are eligible to come to the UK can secure safe passage. As the Prime Minister said in his statement of 6 September, we will also include Afghans who have contributed to civil society or who face a particular risk from the Taliban, for example because of their role in standing up for democracy and human rights or because of their gender, sexuality or religion. The impact of the crisis in Afghanistan on women and girls and other vulnerable groups, including religious and ethnic minorities and LGBT+ people, is of deep concern. The Taliban must respect the rights of all minority groups, both now and in the future and we will hold them to account for their actions. The UK is urgently developing a new settlement scheme for 20,000 Afghans most at risk who will be eligible to apply. We are prioritising vulnerable groups in the UK's response.

3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to protect members of the LGBT community in Afghanistan.

Minister for Human Rights Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon addressed the UN Human Rights Council on 24 August to underscore the UK's commitment to protecting the human rights of all Afghan people. The UK also led work on the recent UN Security Council resolution, demonstrating our commitment to holding the Taliban to account on human rights. We are working urgently with neighbouring countries to ensure that at-risk Afghans who are eligible to come to the UK can secure for safe passage.

As the Prime Minister said in his statement of 6 September, we will also include Afghans who have contributed to civil society or who face a particular risk from the Taliban, for example because of their role in standing up for democracy and human rights or because of their gender, sexuality or religion. The impact of the crisis in Afghanistan on women and girls and other vulnerable groups, including religious and ethnic minorities and LGBT+ people, is of deep concern. The Taliban must respect the rights of all minority groups, both now and in the future and we will hold them to account for their actions. The UK is urgently developing a new settlement scheme for 20,000 Afghans most at risk who will be eligible to apply. We are prioritising vulnerable groups in the UK's response.

12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the implications of reports of the torture of LGBT+ prisoners in Egypt.

The UK is committed to protecting and promoting the rights of LGBT+ people and to supporting the legal, cultural and social change required to make equality a reality for LGBT+ people around the world.

Egypt is a human rights priority country for the UK. We are concerned about reports of torture and mistreatment in detention of LGBT+ people in Egypt. We regularly raise human rights with the Egyptian Government, which is well aware of our position on LGBT+ rights and we call on the government of Egypt to uphold and protect the rights of everyone in Egypt. We monitor and will continue to raise these issues with the Egyptian authorities and internationally.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions his Department has had with its Egyptian counterparts on LGBT+ rights in that country.

The UK is committed to protecting and promoting the rights of LGBT+ people and to supporting the legal, cultural and social change required to make equality a reality for LGBT+ people around the world.

Egypt is a human rights priority country for the UK. We are concerned about reports of torture and mistreatment in detention of LGBT+ people in Egypt. We regularly raise human rights with the Egyptian Government, which is well aware of our position on LGBT+ rights and we call on the government of Egypt to uphold and protect the rights of everyone in Egypt. We monitor and will continue to raise these issues with the Egyptian authorities and internationally.

James Cleverly
Home Secretary
16th Jan 2024
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to tackle the sale of illegal tobacco.

The Government has dedicated significant resource to tackling illicit tobacco, and has set out its approach to doing so in successive strategies dating back to 2000. These strategies have been highly effective in reducing the estimated duty gap for cigarettes from 16.9% in 2005 to 11% in 2021/22 and for hand-rolling tobacco from 65.2% to 33.5% over the same period.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) publishes annual data on seizures, criminal investigations and civil penalties related to tobacco. Between April 2021 and March 2022, HMRC and Border Force seized 1.35bn cigarettes and 212,949kg of hand-rolling tobacco.

As set out in the October 2023 command paper, Stopping the start: our new plan to create a smokefree generation, the Government is increasing investment to enforcement agencies by £30 million per year from 2024/25 to 2028/29, boosting our abilities to tackle illegal activity.

The paper also confirmed that HMRC and Border Force will publish an updated Illicit Tobacco Strategy, which sets out plans to address future challenges and opportunities that criminals seek to exploit. The strategy will be published in due course.

Gareth Davies
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Jul 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the Self invested pension schemes rules which prevent the owners of a single commercial property with living accommodation above or attached from letting that accommodation on the supply of available housing stock.

Further to the answer given in 191375, although the current tax rules impose no direct restrictions on the types of assets that Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) can invest in, SIPPs will incur tax charges if they acquire certain assets, such as residential property. This is to prevent individuals from using tax-relieved funds to acquire property that could be of personal use, rather than to secure future retirement income.

However, SIPPs are able to indirectly invest in residential property through collective investment vehicles such as Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs), where sufficient diversity of ownership and assets prevents the possibility of private use of the assets.

The legislation aims to strike a balance between allowing these pension schemes to invest in a wide range of assets, and the need to protect both tax relief on pension contributions and investment returns from potential abuse.

Andrew Griffith
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
27th Jun 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has held discussions with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on the potential effect on the availability of flats in town centres of allowing Self Invested Personal Pensions to hold residential properties.

While the current tax rules impose no direct restrictions on the types of assets that Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) can invest in, SIPPs will incur tax charges if they acquire certain assets, such as residential property. This is to prevent individuals from using tax-relieved funds to acquire property that could be of personal use, rather than to secure future retirement income.

However, SIPPs are able to indirectly invest in residential property through collective investment vehicles such as Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs), where sufficient diversity of ownership and assets prevents the possibility of private use of the assets.

The legislation aims to strike a balance between allowing these pension schemes to invest in a wide range of assets, and the need to protect both tax relief on pension contributions and investment returns from potential abuse.

Andrew Griffith
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
27th Jun 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of allowing Self Invested Personal Pensions to hold (a) commercial and (b) residential properties.

While the current tax rules impose no direct restrictions on the types of assets that Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) can invest in, SIPPs will incur tax charges if they acquire certain assets, such as residential property. This is to prevent individuals from using tax-relieved funds to acquire property that could be of personal use, rather than to secure future retirement income.

However, SIPPs are able to indirectly invest in residential property through collective investment vehicles such as Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs), where sufficient diversity of ownership and assets prevents the possibility of private use of the assets.

The legislation aims to strike a balance between allowing these pension schemes to invest in a wide range of assets, and the need to protect both tax relief on pension contributions and investment returns from potential abuse.

Andrew Griffith
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
27th Jun 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the adequacy of the restriction preventing the holding of commercial and residential properties within Self Invested Personal Pensions.

While the current tax rules impose no direct restrictions on the types of assets that Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) can invest in, SIPPs will incur tax charges if they acquire certain assets, such as residential property. This is to prevent individuals from using tax-relieved funds to acquire property that could be of personal use, rather than to secure future retirement income.

However, SIPPs are able to indirectly invest in residential property through collective investment vehicles such as Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs), where sufficient diversity of ownership and assets prevents the possibility of private use of the assets.

The legislation aims to strike a balance between allowing these pension schemes to invest in a wide range of assets, and the need to protect both tax relief on pension contributions and investment returns from potential abuse.

Andrew Griffith
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
27th Jun 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made with Cabinet colleagues of the potential merits of reforming the Authorised Mileage Allowance Payments system.

As with all taxes and allowances, the Government keeps the AMAP rate under review. In considering changes to the Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAPs) rate, the Government has to balance the responsible management of public finances, which fund our essential public services with support for individuals.

Gareth Davies
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
27th Jun 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made with Cabinet colleagues of the adequacy of Authorised Mileage Allowance Payments in the context of increases in the cost of fuel.

As with all taxes and allowances, the Government keeps the AMAP rate under review. In considering changes to the Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAPs) rate, the Government has to balance the responsible management of public finances, which fund our essential public services with support for individuals.

Gareth Davies
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
7th Feb 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an estimate of the potential impact on tax revenues of (a) taxing pension inheritance at the same rate for people who die before and after the age of 75 and (b) no longer taxing pension inheritance for people who die after the age of 75.

The primary purpose of a pension is to provide income, or funds on which individuals can draw, in retirement. If an individual dies before they get to use it for that purpose, the Government believes their beneficiaries should be able to have the funds. However, the Government does not want pensions to become a vehicle for inheritance tax planning. Therefore, once an individual is 75, they will be able to pass these funds on to others in a flexi-access drawdown account or as a lump sum, but the recipient will need to pay their marginal rate of tax on them.

The age of 75 is a feature of the existing pensions tax system. It is the age at which individuals stop receiving tax relief on pension contributions and at which most people will bring or will have brought their pension into payment.

As ever, the Government keeps all aspects of the tax system under review, as part of the annual Budget process, and in the context of the wider public finances.

Andrew Griffith
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
7th Feb 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of equalising taxation rules on inherited pension pots when a pension holder dies (a) before and (b) after the age of 75.

The primary purpose of a pension is to provide income, or funds on which individuals can draw, in retirement. If an individual dies before they get to use it for that purpose, the Government believes their beneficiaries should be able to have the funds. However, the Government does not want pensions to become a vehicle for inheritance tax planning. Therefore, once an individual is 75, they will be able to pass these funds on to others in a flexi-access drawdown account or as a lump sum, but the recipient will need to pay their marginal rate of tax on them.

The age of 75 is a feature of the existing pensions tax system. It is the age at which individuals stop receiving tax relief on pension contributions and at which most people will bring or will have brought their pension into payment.

As ever, the Government keeps all aspects of the tax system under review, as part of the annual Budget process, and in the context of the wider public finances.

Andrew Griffith
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
26th Jan 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the (a) headcount and (b) operating costs were for the (i) Financial Conduct Authority, (ii) Prudential Regulation Authority, (iii) Financial Ombudsman Service and (iv) Financial Services Compensation Scheme in the most recent period for which data are available.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), and Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) are operationally independent from the Government although funded by the taxpayer and/or industry levies. Detailed questions about operational matters are for those independent bodies to respond to.

These questions have been passed to the FCA, PRA, FOS and FSCS who will respond to the honourable member by letter.

Andrew Griffith
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
26th Jan 2023
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the average number of staff in the (a) Financial Conduct Authority, (b) Prudential Regulation Authority, (c) Financial Ombudsman Service and (d) Financial Services Compensation Scheme attending the office in person on every day on which they worked was in the weeks commencing 9 and 16 January 2023.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), and Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) are operationally independent from the Government although funded by the taxpayer and/or industry levies. Detailed questions about operational matters are for those independent bodies to respond to.

These questions have been passed to the FCA, PRA, FOS and FSCS who will respond to the honourable member by letter.

Andrew Griffith
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
20th Oct 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to make the Gift Aid system more (a) streamlined, (b) efficient, (c) effective and (d) simple for charities.

The Government recognises the important work the

charity sector does in the UK, which is why we currently provide tax relief to charities and their donors worth over £5 billion per year, including over £1.3 billion in Gift Aid.

The Government keeps all tax reliefs under review and HM Revenue and Customs is undertaking a review of the ‘Claim Gift Aid online’ service. The review considers all aspects of the service including whether the service meets the needs of its users, the registration and claims process.


HMRC are engaging with the sector to understand the challenges faced when claiming Gift Aid online. One way this is taking place is through inviting charities to complete a short survey about the process. The survey can be found here: https://zwgy80l7.optimalworkshop.com/questions/z6n2hh7v

Andrew Griffith
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
11th Oct 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department plans to take steps to modernise the process for charities claiming Gift Aid on donations.

The Government recognises the vitally important work the charity sector does in the UK, which is why we currently provide tax relief to charities and their donors worth over £5 billion per year, including over £1.3 billion in Gift Aid.

HMRC keeps under review all of the processes involved for claiming Gift Aid so that it remains accessible to the charitable sector, as well as their donors.

Felicity Buchan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
11th Oct 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to improve financial inclusion for people under the age of 18.

The Government wants to ensure that people, regardless of their background or income, have access to useful and affordable financial products and services and is committed to ensuring that people build financial capability. This means they are able to use, and maximise their use of, products and services made available by the financial services industry.

To promote financial inclusion and capability, the Government works closely together with regulators and stakeholders from the public, private and third sectors. For people under the age of 18, economic and financial education are important parts of a broad and balanced curriculum that provide the essential knowledge to ensure that young people are prepared to manage money well and make sound financial decisions.

Financial education was made statutory for 11 to 16-year olds within the national curriculum for citizenship in England in 2014. Primary schools can choose to teach citizenship, using non-statutory programmes of study.

To further support schools to deliver high quality financial education, the Money and Pensions Service published financial education guidance for primary and secondary schools in England in 2021. This guidance supports school leaders and education decision makers to enhance the financial education currently delivered in their schools.

Andrew Griffith
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if it is his policy to select Darlington as the location of the Treasury's new Northern Economic Campus.

We are already making significant progress in establishing the Economic Campus in Darlington based in Feethams House. We announced on 26 July 2022 the Brunswick Street site as its new permanent home. We have committed to moving over 1,100 roles to the campus by 2025 from across all seven Departments and agencies based in the campus.

Felicity Buchan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
14th Jul 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing Government funding for the provision of Entonox cylinders for Mountain Rescue teams.

Mountain Rescue England and Wales are a charitable organisation. They currently receive no direct government funding and the government is not responsible for making equipment decisions.

29th Jun 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will introduce a zero rating of VAT for all audiobooks.

At March Budget 2020 the Government announced the introduction of a zero rate of VAT on certain e-publications (including e-books) to support literacy and reading in all its forms and make it clear that e-books, e-newspapers, e-magazines, and academic e-journals are entitled to the same VAT treatment as their physical counterparts.

The extension of the zero rate of VAT to e-publications was introduced to provide consistency of approach between certain physical and digital publications. Audiobooks are already taxed consistently at the standard rate in both physical and digital formats.

The Government keeps all taxes under review, including VAT, but there are no current plans to extend the VAT zero rate to audiobooks.

Lucy Frazer
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
21st Jun 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when the Approved Mileage Allowance Payment rates were last reviewed; and when he next plans to review those rates in the context of high costs of road fuel.

The Approved Mileage Allowance Payment (AMAP) rates aim to reflect running costs including fuel, servicing and depreciation. Depreciation is estimated to constitute the most significant proportion of the AMAP rates. Fuel costs only contribute to a fraction of AMAP rates and not the total rate.

Employers are not required to use AMAPs. Instead, they can agree to reimburse the actual cost incurred, where individuals can provide evidence of the expenditure, without an Income Tax or National Insurance charge arising.

As with all taxes and allowances, the Government keeps AMAP rates under review and any changes are considered by the Chancellor.

Lucy Frazer
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
13th Jun 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of varying the approved mileage reclaim rate of 45p per mile in light of increasing fuel costs.

The Government sets the Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAPs) rates to minimise administrative burdens. AMAPs aim to reflect running costs including fuel, servicing and depreciation. Depreciation is estimated to constitute the most significant proportion of the AMAPs.

Employers are not required to use the AMAPs. Instead, they can agree to reimburse the actual cost incurred, where individuals can provide evidence of the expenditure, without an Income Tax or National Insurance charge arising.

Alternatively, they can choose to pay a different mileage rate that better reflects their employees’ circumstances. However, if the payment exceeds the amount due under AMAPs, and this results in a profit for the individual, they will be liable to pay Income Tax and National Insurance contributions on the difference.

The Government keeps this policy under review.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th May 2022
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to remove VAT on audiobooks to bring tax policy in line with the zero VAT rate on physical and ebooks.

At March Budget 2020, the Government announced the introduction of a zero rate of VAT on certain e-publications, including e-books, to support literacy and reading in all its forms and make it clear that e-books, e-newspapers, e-magazines, and academic e-journals are entitled to the same VAT treatment as their physical counterparts.

The extension of the zero rate of VAT to e-publications was introduced to provide consistency of approach between certain physical and digital publications, to support reading and literacy in all its forms. Audiobooks are already taxed consistently at the standard rate in both physical and digital formats.

The Government keeps all taxes under review, including VAT, but there are no current plans to extend the VAT zero rate to audiobooks.

Lucy Frazer
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
12th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent steps he has taken to support small breweries during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises that breweries have been acutely disrupted by recent necessary restrictions to hospitality businesses.

On the 5 January the Chancellor announced that £594 million is being made available for Local Authorities and the Devolved Administrations to support businesses ineligible for grants for closed businesses, but who might be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. This funding comes in addition to the £1.1 billion discretionary grant for Local Authorities previously announced. Local Authorities have discretion to determine how much funding to provide to businesses and have the flexibility to target local businesses that are important to their local economies.

Breweries have and will continue to benefit directly from Government support schemes, and indirectly from the support offered to the pubs and restaurants they supply, protecting jobs in the industry. The Government has acted to deliver support through:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which has supported over 9 million jobs across the UK, including supporting jobs in sectors and their supply chains, that have been directly impacted by restrictions. The CJRS has been extended until the end of April 2021.
  • A VAT deferral ‘New Payment Scheme’ whereby businesses which deferred their VAT due between March and June until March 2021 will have the option of making 11 payments spread throughout the year rather than one lump sum.
  • Access to affordable, Government backed finance through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBLS) for larger firms and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBL) for small and micro enterprises, which have been extended until the end of March.
  • ‘Pay as You Grow’ options for businesses who have taken out loans through BBLS or CBILS, providing businesses with a longer repayment period and allowing further flexibility on repayments.

Kemi Badenoch
President of the Board of Trade
12th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions his Department has had with the Financial Conduct Authority on the effect of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme levy on client-focused independent financial advisers.

The Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) both share the objective to ensure that the market for financial advice works well and are in regular discussions with one another about relevant developments in the market. We are aware of concerns about the effect of the increased Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) levy on financial advisers. We are working closely with the FCA, who are monitoring the issue and engaging with the financial advice sector to understand their concerns.

John Glen
Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of free ports on the level of international trade.

The government plans to establish Freeports across the UK. These will be national hubs for trade, innovation and commerce, regenerating communities across the UK. They can attract new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country.

Our Freeports consultation response, published on Wednesday 7 October, sets out in more detail how Freeports will unleash the potential of ports across the country.

Steve Barclay
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
5th Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many (a) foreign and (b) dual nationals who have been (i) convicted of an offence subject to more than 12 month imprisonment and (ii) deported in each of the last five years.

The information requested is not available from published statistics.

The Home Office does publish information on a quarterly basis on FNOs returns and can be found at: Immigration system statistics data tables - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Foreign offenders should be in no doubt of our determination to deport them and more than 16,600 have been removed since January 2019 to September 2023. We make no apology for this vital work.

Michael Tomlinson
Minister of State (Minister for Illegal Migration)
2nd Feb 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of guidance issued to register office staff on supporting families with a bereavement.

The General Register Office for England and Wales is responsible for ensuring that all deaths occurring within England and Wales are registered in accordance with the law. This forms part of the UK’s system of civil registration. Register office staff are required to record certain personal details of the deceased, such as their name and date of birth/age, place, date, and cause of death.

The General Register Office has no responsibility to provide register office staff with guidance to support families following a bereavement.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
28th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether he plans to take steps to increase the number of police officers in (a) County Durham and (b) Darlington.

The Government has delivered its manifesto commitment to deliver 20,000 additional officers. At the end of March 2023, we had the highest number of officers on record in England and Wales, with 149,566 officers in post surpassing the previous peak of 146,030 officers in post in March 2010 (the latest uplift data can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/police-officer-uplift-final-position-as-at-march-2023/police-officer-uplift-final-position-as-at-march-2023).

Durham Police recruited 239 additional uplift officers against a total three-year allocation of 225 officers. On 31 March 2023, there were 1,379 police officers in Durham, a total growth of 241 additional officers against the baseline (1,138) at the start of the Police Uplift Programme.

We expect forces to maintain officer numbers at uplift levels.

Decisions on how officers are deployed are a local operational matter for Chief Constables working with locally elected Police and Crime Commissioners.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of using premise closure orders to tackle anti-social behaviour in homes managed by housing associations.

On 27 March, the Government launched the Anti-social Behaviour Action Plan (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/anti-social-behaviour-action-plan) ensuring the police, local authorities and other relevant agencies have the tools they need to tackle anti-social behaviour.

The powers available under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, including closure orders, are deliberately local in nature as local agencies are best placed to determine whether their use is appropriate in the specific circumstances. However, we have recently undertaken a consultation on the powers to ensure they can be used as effectively as possible.

The plan is backed by £160m of funding. This includes up to £60m to fund an increased police and other uniformed presence to clamp down on anti-social behaviour, targeting hotspots. Initially we will work with 10 police force areas, including Durham, but from 2024 will support a hotspot approach across every police force area in England and Wales.

The Safer Streets Fund is supporting local initiatives aimed at increasing the safety of public spaces by tackling neighbourhood crime, anti-social behaviour and violence against women and girls. Since the Fund launched in 2020, we have invested £120 million through four rounds supporting 270 projects across England and Wales, with a range of interventions including CCTV cameras. On 6th July we launched a further fifth £60million round.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th Jul 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she has made an assessment of the potential benefits of encouraging the use of non-operating CCTV cameras to help tackle anti-social behaviour.

On 27 March, the Government launched the Anti-social Behaviour Action Plan (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/anti-social-behaviour-action-plan) ensuring the police, local authorities and other relevant agencies have the tools they need to tackle anti-social behaviour.

The powers available under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, including closure orders, are deliberately local in nature as local agencies are best placed to determine whether their use is appropriate in the specific circumstances. However, we have recently undertaken a consultation on the powers to ensure they can be used as effectively as possible.

The plan is backed by £160m of funding. This includes up to £60m to fund an increased police and other uniformed presence to clamp down on anti-social behaviour, targeting hotspots. Initially we will work with 10 police force areas, including Durham, but from 2024 will support a hotspot approach across every police force area in England and Wales.

The Safer Streets Fund is supporting local initiatives aimed at increasing the safety of public spaces by tackling neighbourhood crime, anti-social behaviour and violence against women and girls. Since the Fund launched in 2020, we have invested £120 million through four rounds supporting 270 projects across England and Wales, with a range of interventions including CCTV cameras. On 6th July we launched a further fifth £60million round.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Mar 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she has made an assessment of the effectiveness of the disclosure and reporting obligations of the Modern Slavery Act 2015; and what steps she is taking to ensure that all qualifying companies fulfil their disclosure and reporting obligations under that Act.

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires businesses with a turnover of £36 million or more to report annually on the steps taken to prevent modern slavery in their operations and supply chains.

Compliance with section 54 is high. Following a Home Office commission, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre completed an audit of compliance with Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act. The high-level findings of this audit were published on 17 September 2020 in the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s annual report, available here: Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s annual report 2019 to 2020.

To further increase compliance with section 54, the Government_response_to_transparency_in_supply_chains_consultation, published on 22 September 2020, committed to taking forwards an ambitious package of measures to strengthen the Act’s transparency legislation, including: extending the reporting requirement to public bodies with a budget of £36 million or more; mandating the specific reporting topics statements must cover; and requiring organisations to publish their statement on the Government registry.

The Government has also committed to introduce financial penalties for organisations who fail to meet their statutory obligations to publish annual modern slavery statements. These measures require primary legislation and will be introduced when parliamentary time allows.

The Government registry was launched in March 2021 as a key tool to monitor and improve compliance with Section 54. Since launch, over 9,800 modern slavery statements covering over 32,800 organisations have been voluntarily submitted.

9th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to help protect dogs from (a) cosmetic and (b) medical testing; and if she will make it her policy to take legislative steps to prohibit the use of dogs for (i) cosmetic and (ii) medical testing.

Animal testing of cosmetics to permit their marketing for consumer use has been banned in the UK since 1998. It is illegal to test cosmetic products or their ingredients on animals if that testing is to meet the requirements of the Cosmetics Regulations 2009. Chemicals legislation to protect human health and the environment may require animal testing as a last resort, where there are no alternatives, under the UK REACH Regulations. However, this does not include finished cosmetic products.

Animal testing is required by global medicines regulators to protect human health and safety. Many products which would not be safe or effective in humans are detected through animal testing thus avoiding harm to humans.

The Government is committed to assuring that those animals used in science, including dogs, are protected. The legal framework in the UK requires that animals are only ever used in scientific procedures where there are no alternatives, where the number of animals used is the minimum needed to achieve the scientific benefit, and where the potential harm to animals is limited to that needed to achieve the scientific benefit.

Tom Tugendhat
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
9th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department has put checks in place to help ensure that commercial breeding licences for animal testing are used appropriately.

The use of animals in science is highly regulated. All establishments licensed to breed or supply animals, or to carry out regulated procedures on animals in Great Britain are subject to the requirements of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA), including a three-tier licensing system and standards for the care and accommodation of animals, published in the Code of Practice. The Home Office regularly audits the compliance of all licence holders including announced and unannounced on-site inspections.

Tom Tugendhat
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
2nd Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will urgently meet with the hon. Member for Darlington to discuss the case of his constituent Salah Asserha and her Department’s response to that matter.

The Home Office responded to the hon. Member on 7 February 2023.

2nd Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will urgently meet with the hon. Member for Darlington to discuss the case of his constituent Sofiia Nikolaiets and her Department’s response to that matter.

The Home Office provided an update to the hon. Member on 9 February 2023.

23rd Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made on the impact of fraud on victims of this crime.

We recognise the devastating emotional and financial harms that victims of fraud can suffer. The 2020 ONS released the Nature of crime: fraud and computer misuse, indicated that 20% of respondents felt loss of confidence or felt vulnerable.

Tackling fraud requires a unified and co-ordinated response from government, law enforcement and the private sector to better protect the public and businesses from fraud, reduce the impact of fraud on victims, and increase the disruption and prosecution of fraudsters and we will publish a fraud strategy in due course, setting out how we will do this.

Tom Tugendhat
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
23rd Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department are taking to support the police to tackle fraud.

We recognise the devastating emotional and financial harms that victims of fraud can suffer. The 2020 ONS released the Nature of crime: fraud and computer misuse, indicated that 20% of respondents felt loss of confidence or felt vulnerable.

Tackling fraud requires a unified and co-ordinated response from government, law enforcement and the private sector to better protect the public and businesses from fraud, reduce the impact of fraud on victims, and increase the disruption and prosecution of fraudsters and we will publish a fraud strategy in due course, setting out how we will do this.

Tom Tugendhat
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
23rd Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will make an estimate of the cost to the economy of fraud in 2022.

We recognise the devastating emotional and financial harms that victims of fraud can suffer. The 2020 ONS released the Nature of crime: fraud and computer misuse, indicated that 20% of respondents felt loss of confidence or felt vulnerable.

Tackling fraud requires a unified and co-ordinated response from government, law enforcement and the private sector to better protect the public and businesses from fraud, reduce the impact of fraud on victims, and increase the disruption and prosecution of fraudsters and we will publish a fraud strategy in due course, setting out how we will do this.

Tom Tugendhat
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
23rd Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of funding available to the police to tackle fraud.

We recognise the devastating emotional and financial harms that victims of fraud can suffer. The 2020 ONS released the Nature of crime: fraud and computer misuse, indicated that 20% of respondents felt loss of confidence or felt vulnerable.

Tackling fraud requires a unified and co-ordinated response from government, law enforcement and the private sector to better protect the public and businesses from fraud, reduce the impact of fraud on victims, and increase the disruption and prosecution of fraudsters and we will publish a fraud strategy in due course, setting out how we will do this.

Tom Tugendhat
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to help improve training for police officers on tackling needle spiking.

The Home Office collect details of spiking incidents when they are recorded through the Home Office Data Hub and this information is provided by most forces in England and Wales.

Using these police recorded crime data the assessment is that during the third quarter of 2021/2022 there was a significant rise in people reporting to police that they suspected they had been the victims of spiking. During the first three quarters in 2022/2023 the levels of recorded crime that fall under the offences which cover spiking across England and Wales have reduced significantly, albeit they are demonstrably higher than they were in the period running up to Q3 2021/22.

I urge anyone who suspects that they have been spiked to contact the police.

The Home Office is leading the cross-government approach to understanding and tackling spiking. In 2021, the then Home Secretary asked the National Police Chief's Council to urgently review and coordinate the national policing response to spiking. Since then:

  • Spiking has been incorporated into the Government's communications campaign to tackle violence against women and girls, known as 'ENOUGH'. This includes providing important information about the crime on the campaign website and signposting victims to support services.
  • We have worked closely with the Festivals and Outdoor Events sector to ensure the safety of the public at summer events, ensuring that sufficient protocols, training, communications, and guidance was in place for event organisers, the police, security personnel and audiences.
  • Government have supported Universities UK to provide guidance to universities on spiking published ahead of the Autumn 2022 term and the ‘freshers’ period. We provided further communications on spiking to local authorities and supported NPCC targeted communications.
  • Police forces across the country increased their focus on spiking with high visibility police patrols across town centres and areas with a high density of pubs, bars and clubs.
  • The Police have produced a forensic strategy and have worked with the forensic provider Eurofins to develop a rapid testing capability. This accredited capability enables the police to send up to 50 samples per week with a project turnaround of 2-3 weeks, with the options for samples to be upgraded to be used as evidence in criminal proceedings. This enables law enforcement to better support victims, and also build our understanding of what drugs are being used and how common or not they are.
  • The Home Secretary will be publishing a report in April on the nature and prevalence of spiking, and action that government has taken, and will take, to tackle it.

In December 2021, the NPCC established a rapid urine testing capability, which to date, remains the only accredited urine testing service which can later be “upgraded” for use in criminal proceedings.

The government position remains clear: off the shelf testing kits should not be used in isolation due to their unknown accuracy and the lack of any standardisation across the industry. If such test kits are used, we still recommend that individuals contact the police to submit a sample for processing through the rapid testing capability as soon as possible in order to receive the most accurate results and to help bring spiking offenders to justice.

Frontline police officers are trained to support victims when they report crime. All police forces receive regular updates from the National Police Chiefs’ Council spiking gold group. This helps to standardise procedures across England and Wales but provides forces with flexibility to adapt training to their local situation.

Through Safety of Women at Night Fund and the current (fourth) round of the Safer Streets Fund we have awarded funding for a range of initiatives to tackle drink spiking, including training for night-time economy staff, CCTV and street lighting and drink protectors.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) has ensured that the training which door supervisors and security guards must undergo in order to obtain an SIA licence includes specific content on preventing violence against women and girls, and it is running campaigns to remind the industry and operatives of their role and responsibility in keeping people safe, with a focus on women’s safety.

The government also welcomes initiatives such as Ask Angela and Licensing Security and Vulnerability Initiative (LSAVI) and would encourage local areas or venues to consider how they can be used or replicated where necessary.

16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to help improve training on tackling needle spiking for (a) nightclub and (b) bar staff.

The Home Office collect details of spiking incidents when they are recorded through the Home Office Data Hub and this information is provided by most forces in England and Wales.

Using these police recorded crime data the assessment is that during the third quarter of 2021/2022 there was a significant rise in people reporting to police that they suspected they had been the victims of spiking. During the first three quarters in 2022/2023 the levels of recorded crime that fall under the offences which cover spiking across England and Wales have reduced significantly, albeit they are demonstrably higher than they were in the period running up to Q3 2021/22.

I urge anyone who suspects that they have been spiked to contact the police.

The Home Office is leading the cross-government approach to understanding and tackling spiking. In 2021, the then Home Secretary asked the National Police Chief's Council to urgently review and coordinate the national policing response to spiking. Since then:

  • Spiking has been incorporated into the Government's communications campaign to tackle violence against women and girls, known as 'ENOUGH'. This includes providing important information about the crime on the campaign website and signposting victims to support services.
  • We have worked closely with the Festivals and Outdoor Events sector to ensure the safety of the public at summer events, ensuring that sufficient protocols, training, communications, and guidance was in place for event organisers, the police, security personnel and audiences.
  • Government have supported Universities UK to provide guidance to universities on spiking published ahead of the Autumn 2022 term and the ‘freshers’ period. We provided further communications on spiking to local authorities and supported NPCC targeted communications.
  • Police forces across the country increased their focus on spiking with high visibility police patrols across town centres and areas with a high density of pubs, bars and clubs.
  • The Police have produced a forensic strategy and have worked with the forensic provider Eurofins to develop a rapid testing capability. This accredited capability enables the police to send up to 50 samples per week with a project turnaround of 2-3 weeks, with the options for samples to be upgraded to be used as evidence in criminal proceedings. This enables law enforcement to better support victims, and also build our understanding of what drugs are being used and how common or not they are.
  • The Home Secretary will be publishing a report in April on the nature and prevalence of spiking, and action that government has taken, and will take, to tackle it.

In December 2021, the NPCC established a rapid urine testing capability, which to date, remains the only accredited urine testing service which can later be “upgraded” for use in criminal proceedings.

The government position remains clear: off the shelf testing kits should not be used in isolation due to their unknown accuracy and the lack of any standardisation across the industry. If such test kits are used, we still recommend that individuals contact the police to submit a sample for processing through the rapid testing capability as soon as possible in order to receive the most accurate results and to help bring spiking offenders to justice.

Frontline police officers are trained to support victims when they report crime. All police forces receive regular updates from the National Police Chiefs’ Council spiking gold group. This helps to standardise procedures across England and Wales but provides forces with flexibility to adapt training to their local situation.

Through Safety of Women at Night Fund and the current (fourth) round of the Safer Streets Fund we have awarded funding for a range of initiatives to tackle drink spiking, including training for night-time economy staff, CCTV and street lighting and drink protectors.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) has ensured that the training which door supervisors and security guards must undergo in order to obtain an SIA licence includes specific content on preventing violence against women and girls, and it is running campaigns to remind the industry and operatives of their role and responsibility in keeping people safe, with a focus on women’s safety.

The government also welcomes initiatives such as Ask Angela and Licensing Security and Vulnerability Initiative (LSAVI) and would encourage local areas or venues to consider how they can be used or replicated where necessary.

16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the prevalence of needle spiking.

The Home Office collect details of spiking incidents when they are recorded through the Home Office Data Hub and this information is provided by most forces in England and Wales.

Using these police recorded crime data the assessment is that during the third quarter of 2021/2022 there was a significant rise in people reporting to police that they suspected they had been the victims of spiking. During the first three quarters in 2022/2023 the levels of recorded crime that fall under the offences which cover spiking across England and Wales have reduced significantly, albeit they are demonstrably higher than they were in the period running up to Q3 2021/22.

I urge anyone who suspects that they have been spiked to contact the police.

The Home Office is leading the cross-government approach to understanding and tackling spiking. In 2021, the then Home Secretary asked the National Police Chief's Council to urgently review and coordinate the national policing response to spiking. Since then:

  • Spiking has been incorporated into the Government's communications campaign to tackle violence against women and girls, known as 'ENOUGH'. This includes providing important information about the crime on the campaign website and signposting victims to support services.
  • We have worked closely with the Festivals and Outdoor Events sector to ensure the safety of the public at summer events, ensuring that sufficient protocols, training, communications, and guidance was in place for event organisers, the police, security personnel and audiences.
  • Government have supported Universities UK to provide guidance to universities on spiking published ahead of the Autumn 2022 term and the ‘freshers’ period. We provided further communications on spiking to local authorities and supported NPCC targeted communications.
  • Police forces across the country increased their focus on spiking with high visibility police patrols across town centres and areas with a high density of pubs, bars and clubs.
  • The Police have produced a forensic strategy and have worked with the forensic provider Eurofins to develop a rapid testing capability. This accredited capability enables the police to send up to 50 samples per week with a project turnaround of 2-3 weeks, with the options for samples to be upgraded to be used as evidence in criminal proceedings. This enables law enforcement to better support victims, and also build our understanding of what drugs are being used and how common or not they are.
  • The Home Secretary will be publishing a report in April on the nature and prevalence of spiking, and action that government has taken, and will take, to tackle it.

In December 2021, the NPCC established a rapid urine testing capability, which to date, remains the only accredited urine testing service which can later be “upgraded” for use in criminal proceedings.

The government position remains clear: off the shelf testing kits should not be used in isolation due to their unknown accuracy and the lack of any standardisation across the industry. If such test kits are used, we still recommend that individuals contact the police to submit a sample for processing through the rapid testing capability as soon as possible in order to receive the most accurate results and to help bring spiking offenders to justice.

Frontline police officers are trained to support victims when they report crime. All police forces receive regular updates from the National Police Chiefs’ Council spiking gold group. This helps to standardise procedures across England and Wales but provides forces with flexibility to adapt training to their local situation.

Through Safety of Women at Night Fund and the current (fourth) round of the Safer Streets Fund we have awarded funding for a range of initiatives to tackle drink spiking, including training for night-time economy staff, CCTV and street lighting and drink protectors.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) has ensured that the training which door supervisors and security guards must undergo in order to obtain an SIA licence includes specific content on preventing violence against women and girls, and it is running campaigns to remind the industry and operatives of their role and responsibility in keeping people safe, with a focus on women’s safety.

The government also welcomes initiatives such as Ask Angela and Licensing Security and Vulnerability Initiative (LSAVI) and would encourage local areas or venues to consider how they can be used or replicated where necessary.

16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of increasing funding for anti-spiking policing where incidences of that offence are high.

The Home Office collect details of spiking incidents when they are recorded through the Home Office Data Hub and this information is provided by most forces in England and Wales.

Using these police recorded crime data the assessment is that during the third quarter of 2021/2022 there was a significant rise in people reporting to police that they suspected they had been the victims of spiking. During the first three quarters in 2022/2023 the levels of recorded crime that fall under the offences which cover spiking across England and Wales have reduced significantly, albeit they are demonstrably higher than they were in the period running up to Q3 2021/22.

I urge anyone who suspects that they have been spiked to contact the police.

The Home Office is leading the cross-government approach to understanding and tackling spiking. In 2021, the then Home Secretary asked the National Police Chief's Council to urgently review and coordinate the national policing response to spiking. Since then:

  • Spiking has been incorporated into the Government's communications campaign to tackle violence against women and girls, known as 'ENOUGH'. This includes providing important information about the crime on the campaign website and signposting victims to support services.
  • We have worked closely with the Festivals and Outdoor Events sector to ensure the safety of the public at summer events, ensuring that sufficient protocols, training, communications, and guidance was in place for event organisers, the police, security personnel and audiences.
  • Government have supported Universities UK to provide guidance to universities on spiking published ahead of the Autumn 2022 term and the ‘freshers’ period. We provided further communications on spiking to local authorities and supported NPCC targeted communications.
  • Police forces across the country increased their focus on spiking with high visibility police patrols across town centres and areas with a high density of pubs, bars and clubs.
  • The Police have produced a forensic strategy and have worked with the forensic provider Eurofins to develop a rapid testing capability. This accredited capability enables the police to send up to 50 samples per week with a project turnaround of 2-3 weeks, with the options for samples to be upgraded to be used as evidence in criminal proceedings. This enables law enforcement to better support victims, and also build our understanding of what drugs are being used and how common or not they are.
  • The Home Secretary will be publishing a report in April on the nature and prevalence of spiking, and action that government has taken, and will take, to tackle it.

In December 2021, the NPCC established a rapid urine testing capability, which to date, remains the only accredited urine testing service which can later be “upgraded” for use in criminal proceedings.

The government position remains clear: off the shelf testing kits should not be used in isolation due to their unknown accuracy and the lack of any standardisation across the industry. If such test kits are used, we still recommend that individuals contact the police to submit a sample for processing through the rapid testing capability as soon as possible in order to receive the most accurate results and to help bring spiking offenders to justice.

Frontline police officers are trained to support victims when they report crime. All police forces receive regular updates from the National Police Chiefs’ Council spiking gold group. This helps to standardise procedures across England and Wales but provides forces with flexibility to adapt training to their local situation.

Through Safety of Women at Night Fund and the current (fourth) round of the Safer Streets Fund we have awarded funding for a range of initiatives to tackle drink spiking, including training for night-time economy staff, CCTV and street lighting and drink protectors.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) has ensured that the training which door supervisors and security guards must undergo in order to obtain an SIA licence includes specific content on preventing violence against women and girls, and it is running campaigns to remind the industry and operatives of their role and responsibility in keeping people safe, with a focus on women’s safety.

The government also welcomes initiatives such as Ask Angela and Licensing Security and Vulnerability Initiative (LSAVI) and would encourage local areas or venues to consider how they can be used or replicated where necessary.

16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of providing free spiking test kits in nightclubs and bars.

The Home Office collect details of spiking incidents when they are recorded through the Home Office Data Hub and this information is provided by most forces in England and Wales.

Using these police recorded crime data the assessment is that during the third quarter of 2021/2022 there was a significant rise in people reporting to police that they suspected they had been the victims of spiking. During the first three quarters in 2022/2023 the levels of recorded crime that fall under the offences which cover spiking across England and Wales have reduced significantly, albeit they are demonstrably higher than they were in the period running up to Q3 2021/22.

I urge anyone who suspects that they have been spiked to contact the police.

The Home Office is leading the cross-government approach to understanding and tackling spiking. In 2021, the then Home Secretary asked the National Police Chief's Council to urgently review and coordinate the national policing response to spiking. Since then:

  • Spiking has been incorporated into the Government's communications campaign to tackle violence against women and girls, known as 'ENOUGH'. This includes providing important information about the crime on the campaign website and signposting victims to support services.
  • We have worked closely with the Festivals and Outdoor Events sector to ensure the safety of the public at summer events, ensuring that sufficient protocols, training, communications, and guidance was in place for event organisers, the police, security personnel and audiences.
  • Government have supported Universities UK to provide guidance to universities on spiking published ahead of the Autumn 2022 term and the ‘freshers’ period. We provided further communications on spiking to local authorities and supported NPCC targeted communications.
  • Police forces across the country increased their focus on spiking with high visibility police patrols across town centres and areas with a high density of pubs, bars and clubs.
  • The Police have produced a forensic strategy and have worked with the forensic provider Eurofins to develop a rapid testing capability. This accredited capability enables the police to send up to 50 samples per week with a project turnaround of 2-3 weeks, with the options for samples to be upgraded to be used as evidence in criminal proceedings. This enables law enforcement to better support victims, and also build our understanding of what drugs are being used and how common or not they are.
  • The Home Secretary will be publishing a report in April on the nature and prevalence of spiking, and action that government has taken, and will take, to tackle it.

In December 2021, the NPCC established a rapid urine testing capability, which to date, remains the only accredited urine testing service which can later be “upgraded” for use in criminal proceedings.

The government position remains clear: off the shelf testing kits should not be used in isolation due to their unknown accuracy and the lack of any standardisation across the industry. If such test kits are used, we still recommend that individuals contact the police to submit a sample for processing through the rapid testing capability as soon as possible in order to receive the most accurate results and to help bring spiking offenders to justice.

Frontline police officers are trained to support victims when they report crime. All police forces receive regular updates from the National Police Chiefs’ Council spiking gold group. This helps to standardise procedures across England and Wales but provides forces with flexibility to adapt training to their local situation.

Through Safety of Women at Night Fund and the current (fourth) round of the Safer Streets Fund we have awarded funding for a range of initiatives to tackle drink spiking, including training for night-time economy staff, CCTV and street lighting and drink protectors.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) has ensured that the training which door supervisors and security guards must undergo in order to obtain an SIA licence includes specific content on preventing violence against women and girls, and it is running campaigns to remind the industry and operatives of their role and responsibility in keeping people safe, with a focus on women’s safety.

The government also welcomes initiatives such as Ask Angela and Licensing Security and Vulnerability Initiative (LSAVI) and would encourage local areas or venues to consider how they can be used or replicated where necessary.

16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of trends in reported incidents of spiking; and what steps she is taking to ensure that perpetrators are (a) caught, (b) prosecuted and (c) appropriately sentenced.

The Home Office collect details of spiking incidents when they are recorded through the Home Office Data Hub and this information is provided by most forces in England and Wales.

Using these police recorded crime data the assessment is that during the third quarter of 2021/2022 there was a significant rise in people reporting to police that they suspected they had been the victims of spiking. During the first three quarters in 2022/2023 the levels of recorded crime that fall under the offences which cover spiking across England and Wales have reduced significantly, albeit they are demonstrably higher than they were in the period running up to Q3 2021/22.

I urge anyone who suspects that they have been spiked to contact the police.

The Home Office is leading the cross-government approach to understanding and tackling spiking. In 2021, the then Home Secretary asked the National Police Chief's Council to urgently review and coordinate the national policing response to spiking. Since then:

  • Spiking has been incorporated into the Government's communications campaign to tackle violence against women and girls, known as 'ENOUGH'. This includes providing important information about the crime on the campaign website and signposting victims to support services.
  • We have worked closely with the Festivals and Outdoor Events sector to ensure the safety of the public at summer events, ensuring that sufficient protocols, training, communications, and guidance was in place for event organisers, the police, security personnel and audiences.
  • Government have supported Universities UK to provide guidance to universities on spiking published ahead of the Autumn 2022 term and the ‘freshers’ period. We provided further communications on spiking to local authorities and supported NPCC targeted communications.
  • Police forces across the country increased their focus on spiking with high visibility police patrols across town centres and areas with a high density of pubs, bars and clubs.
  • The Police have produced a forensic strategy and have worked with the forensic provider Eurofins to develop a rapid testing capability. This accredited capability enables the police to send up to 50 samples per week with a project turnaround of 2-3 weeks, with the options for samples to be upgraded to be used as evidence in criminal proceedings. This enables law enforcement to better support victims, and also build our understanding of what drugs are being used and how common or not they are.
  • The Home Secretary will be publishing a report in April on the nature and prevalence of spiking, and action that government has taken, and will take, to tackle it.

In December 2021, the NPCC established a rapid urine testing capability, which to date, remains the only accredited urine testing service which can later be “upgraded” for use in criminal proceedings.

The government position remains clear: off the shelf testing kits should not be used in isolation due to their unknown accuracy and the lack of any standardisation across the industry. If such test kits are used, we still recommend that individuals contact the police to submit a sample for processing through the rapid testing capability as soon as possible in order to receive the most accurate results and to help bring spiking offenders to justice.

Frontline police officers are trained to support victims when they report crime. All police forces receive regular updates from the National Police Chiefs’ Council spiking gold group. This helps to standardise procedures across England and Wales but provides forces with flexibility to adapt training to their local situation.

Through Safety of Women at Night Fund and the current (fourth) round of the Safer Streets Fund we have awarded funding for a range of initiatives to tackle drink spiking, including training for night-time economy staff, CCTV and street lighting and drink protectors.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) has ensured that the training which door supervisors and security guards must undergo in order to obtain an SIA licence includes specific content on preventing violence against women and girls, and it is running campaigns to remind the industry and operatives of their role and responsibility in keeping people safe, with a focus on women’s safety.

The government also welcomes initiatives such as Ask Angela and Licensing Security and Vulnerability Initiative (LSAVI) and would encourage local areas or venues to consider how they can be used or replicated where necessary.

16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she plans to take steps to (a) regulate the use and (b) prevent substance abuse of nitrous oxide.

The Government is concerned about the harms of nitrous oxide to those, often young people, who misuse this drug.

It is already an offence under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 to import, export, produce, supply, offer to supply, or possess with intent to supply, nitrous oxide. For the offence to be made out, the defendant must intend to consume the substance, or know or be reckless as to whether it will be consumed by another person, for its psychoactive effect.

These offences carry a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment, or a fine, or both. It is also an offence to possess nitrous oxide in a custodial institution, for which the maximum sentence is two years’ imprisonment, or a fine, or both. Medicinal products are exempted from these controls.

In September 2021 the former Home Secretary requested the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) conduct an updated harms assessment of Nitrous Oxide and consider whether it should be considered for control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Once the ACMD publish their advice, we will consider their recommendations closely and respond in due course.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
16th Jan 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she plans to alter the police funding formula; and if she will take steps to increase police funding in areas with more properties in lower council tax bands.

The government recognises that the current police funding formula is out of date and no longer accurately reflects demand on policing. A review of the funding formula was launched in Autumn 2021, and the Home Office is preparing to publish a first public consultation early this year. This will set out the broad principles of the Review and consult on the purpose, structure and components of a new formula.

In developing a new formula, we are considering the demands facing each police force and the relative impact of local factors on the resource required to meet demand.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to tackle incidents of drink spiking in night clubs.

The government and law enforcement have been engaging with the industry on this issue since last autumn. Steps taken to tackle spiking include:

  • Meeting representatives of the night time industry to discuss good practice, sharing of good practice and any additional support required (per recommendation 5 of the Home Affairs Select Committee Report on spiking, #HC 508)

  • Working with the local government association to provide information to the range of local licensing authorities throughout the country, including sharing best practice and the provision of more information on upcoming activity (for example during the festival season).
  • Collaborating with partners to develop informational products including posters and other guidance documents that will help inform staff and customers in night time economy venues of the risks to victims, to raise awareness of the issue, and to share best practice.
  • Working with Police force crime registrars to improve the collection and recording of data relating to spiking offence to better reflect the local picture throughout the country. The National Police Chiefs Council have also been monitoring the number of cases at a national level which has helped to inform policy making.

A full summary of the work carried out on spiking will be included in the statutory report due to be published 28 April 2023.

5th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will make an assessment of the potential benefits of requiring venues to declare publicly whenever an incident of drink spiking has occurred.

We are currently looking across the system to better understand how to respond to these crimes and provide the best support for victims.

All action carried out on spiking will be reflected in the statutory report, due to be published 28 April 2023

15th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the recommendations made by the Law Commission in its report on Hate crime laws, published on 6 December 2021.

The Government is considering the Law Commission’s proposals carefully and will respond to the recommendations shortly.

10th Oct 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she has made an estimate of how many off-road (a) motorbikes and (b) cars have been involved in reports of antisocial behaviour in the last 12 months.

The Home Office has not made an estimate of how many off-road motorbikes and cars have been involved in reports of anti-social behaviour.

22nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of Section 59 of the Police Reform Act as a deterrent for the use of off road bikes and four by four vehicles in instances of anti social behaviour.

The police have the power under section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 to seize vehicles, including off-road motorbikes and four by four vehicles being used in an anti-social manner.

Enforcement of road traffic law is an operational matter for the police.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of having a national standard for the reporting of anti-social behaviour.

The Government is committed to tackling and preventing anti-social behaviour (ASB). We know the serious impact that persistent anti-social behaviour can have on both individuals and communities.

We monitor the national statistics on ASB through police recorded crime incident data and the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which presents people’s perceptions of levels of ASB. Given the localised nature of ASB, we do not currently plan to introduce a national standard for the reporting of ASB or create a national database.

We do, however, keep ASB under review through the Anti-social Behaviour Strategic Board which brings together a range of partners from key agencies and other Government departments to discuss ASB issues and share best practice. We have recently published multi-agency principles, endorsed by the Board, which seek to describe a consistent approach to addressing ASB in local communities and to ensure a strong and effective partnership response to anti-social behaviour, including local reporting and referral pathways.

Recommendations from Part Two of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Review were published on Monday 7 March 2022. The overall package strengthens and expands the role of PCCs. We want to ensure that PCCs have sufficient tools and levers to more effectively scrutinise and challenge partnership activity on ASB. To do this, PCCs should be able to bring partners together on ASB, direct local ASB strategy and request local data on ASB.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of creating a national database to record acts of anti-social behaviour.

The Government is committed to tackling and preventing anti-social behaviour (ASB). We know the serious impact that persistent anti-social behaviour can have on both individuals and communities.

We monitor the national statistics on ASB through police recorded crime incident data and the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which presents people’s perceptions of levels of ASB. Given the localised nature of ASB, we do not currently plan to introduce a national standard for the reporting of ASB or create a national database.

We do, however, keep ASB under review through the Anti-social Behaviour Strategic Board which brings together a range of partners from key agencies and other Government departments to discuss ASB issues and share best practice. We have recently published multi-agency principles, endorsed by the Board, which seek to describe a consistent approach to addressing ASB in local communities and to ensure a strong and effective partnership response to anti-social behaviour, including local reporting and referral pathways.

Recommendations from Part Two of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Review were published on Monday 7 March 2022. The overall package strengthens and expands the role of PCCs. We want to ensure that PCCs have sufficient tools and levers to more effectively scrutinise and challenge partnership activity on ASB. To do this, PCCs should be able to bring partners together on ASB, direct local ASB strategy and request local data on ASB.

2nd Sep 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department has taken to ensure that anti-social behaviour is recorded consistently across the country.

The Government is committed to tackling and preventing anti-social behaviour (ASB). We know the serious impact that persistent anti-social behaviour can have on both individuals and communities.

We monitor the national statistics on ASB through police recorded crime incident data and the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which presents people’s perceptions of levels of ASB. Given the localised nature of ASB, we do not currently plan to introduce a national standard for the reporting of ASB or create a national database.

We do, however, keep ASB under review through the Anti-social Behaviour Strategic Board which brings together a range of partners from key agencies and other Government departments to discuss ASB issues and share best practice. We have recently published multi-agency principles, endorsed by the Board, which seek to describe a consistent approach to addressing ASB in local communities and to ensure a strong and effective partnership response to anti-social behaviour, including local reporting and referral pathways.

Recommendations from Part Two of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Review were published on Monday 7 March 2022. The overall package strengthens and expands the role of PCCs. We want to ensure that PCCs have sufficient tools and levers to more effectively scrutinise and challenge partnership activity on ASB. To do this, PCCs should be able to bring partners together on ASB, direct local ASB strategy and request local data on ASB.

14th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department has a responsibility to support Mountain Rescue teams alongside the other emergency services.

Mountain Rescue Teams in England and Wales currently receive no direct government funding. The Home Office currently has no plans to review this.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
29th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether the Minister for Safeguarding has had recent discussions with representatives of (a) banks and (b) UK Finance on tackling financial abuse by perpetrators of domestic abuse.

Tackling domestic abuse is a key commitment for this Government, and tackling financial and economic abuse is integral to this. That is why we introduced our landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021 (the 2021 Act) alongside a comprehensive action plan of non-legislative measures.

In recognition of the devasting impact economic abuse can have on victims’ lives, for the first time in history, it is now recognised in law as part of the statutory definition of domestic abuse, within the 2021 Act. The Act, supported by statutory guidance, will further assist frontline services and agencies in identifying and responding to economic abuse.

We work closely with, and fund organisations that, seek to promote awareness of, and improve the response to economic abuse, including the organisation Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA). Since 2018, we have provided £567,000 of funding to SEA which has supported the vital work of the Financial Support Line and their financial services industry initiative for banks and building societies to better support victim and survivors of domestic abuse.

On 30 March, we went even further and published our Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan. The plan will seek to transform the whole of society’s response and sets out four key areas to improve the response to domestic abuse; Prioritising Prevention, Supporting Victims, Pursuing Perpetrators and creating a Stronger System. The plan invests over £230 million of new funding, with over £140 million to support victims. The plan also commits £200,000 of funding to further support improving the response to economic abuse and provide vital economic safety for victims and survivors.

We recognise the financial sector has a key role to play in tackling economic abuse and we work closely with UK Finance to continue raising awareness and understanding amongst financial firms. To hear a range of views on how the public and private sector can continue working together to strengthen our response to economic abuse, in February, the Home Office held an economic abuse roundtable with key stakeholders from the voluntary and financial sectors.

We are committed to ensuring victims of economic abuse receive the support they need and we continue working closely with the financial sector to improve the response to all forms of abuse.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
14th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will publish the details of local authorities that (a) have and (b) have not offered homes to Afghan families.

There are currently over 12,000 individuals from Afghanistan in bridging hotels.

We do not want to keep people in temporary accommodation for any longer than is necessary. We have moved, or are in the process of moving, over 6,700 people into homes since June 2021. Finding suitable homes for this number of people is a significant challenge. We are working across government and with over three hundred Local Authority partners to move Afghan evacuees into permanent homes as soon as possible so they can settle and rebuild their lives. Alongside our engagement with local authorities, we are reaching out to landlords, developers and the wider private rented sector to encourage further offers of properties, either directly to Local Authorities or through our Housing portal.

Data is not currently published on local authorities who have pledged properties to Afghan families. The Home Office publishes data on resettlement in the ‘Immigration Statistics Quarterly Release’. Information on how to use the dataset can be found in the ‘Notes’ page of the workbook. The latest data cover up to the end of March 2022.

14th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many Afghan families remain in temporary accommodation.

There are currently over 12,000 individuals from Afghanistan in bridging hotels.

We do not want to keep people in temporary accommodation for any longer than is necessary. We have moved, or are in the process of moving, over 6,700 people into homes since June 2021. Finding suitable homes for this number of people is a significant challenge. We are working across government and with over three hundred Local Authority partners to move Afghan evacuees into permanent homes as soon as possible so they can settle and rebuild their lives. Alongside our engagement with local authorities, we are reaching out to landlords, developers and the wider private rented sector to encourage further offers of properties, either directly to Local Authorities or through our Housing portal.

Data is not currently published on local authorities who have pledged properties to Afghan families. The Home Office publishes data on resettlement in the ‘Immigration Statistics Quarterly Release’. Information on how to use the dataset can be found in the ‘Notes’ page of the workbook. The latest data cover up to the end of March 2022.

14th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to to enable DBS checks to be undertaken on Ukrainians who are seeking employment in the UK.

Except in some sectors like health and education, where DBS checks are mandated by the sector, the use of DBS checks is at the discretion of the employer.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) are able to provide criminal record certificates for those who have lived overseas and DBS checks therefore can be undertaken for Ukrainians who wish to work in those sectors where DBS checks are mandatory or where employers require them. However, as the DBS cannot access overseas criminal records, DBS checks will only contain information on criminal records in the UK. The Home Office provides guidance to employers who wish to request overseas criminal records checks for time spent abroad.

Specifically, Ukrainian citizens can apply for their criminal record checks via the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.

17th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what training is available to Border Force staff handling asylum applications from members of the LGBTQI community on (a) language and (b) consideration of country of origin.

Border Force staff do not handle asylum applications; however, Asylum Operations who deal with asylum applications, including substantive interview and asylum decisions, ensure all caseworkers receive specialist training in how to approach claims from those who identify as LGBTQI+.

Individuals seeking asylum in the UK are given every opportunity to disclose information relevant to their claim before a decision is taken, including where it may be sensitive or difficult to disclose.

Each case is considered on its individual merits by caseworkers who have received extensive training and all available evidence is carefully and sensitively considered in light of published country information ensuring all individuals are treated fairly and with dignity.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of enabling the British Transport Police to access train operating companies' on board CCTV in real time for the purposes of tackling county lines drug trafficking.

This Government is determined to crack down on the county lines gangs who are exploiting our children and have a devastating impact on our communities.

We are aware that rail networks remain a key method of transportation for county lines gangs. As part of our County Lines Programme investment, we have increased disruption on the rail networks through the British Transport Police’s (BTP) dedicated County Lines Taskforce. BTP work collaboratively with national police forces and rail industry partners to grip the national rail network, providing targeted disruption to help tackle the lines and safeguard vulnerable individuals involved in this exploitative and violent model of drug distribution.

The Department for Transport has no plans to mandate BTP being able to access on-board CCTV on trains, but BTP are currently in the process of connecting to real-time forward-facing train cameras with several operators. This is being delivered this financial year with the ambition that, if expected benefits are proved, this would be rolled out across the industry.

8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to crack down on fraud by false representation particularly in relation to fraudulent property transactions.

The Government is boosting police capacity and is committed to strengthening our criminal justice system to put victims first. As part of the Police Uplift Programme to recruit an additional 20,000 officers by 2023, we have prioritised more investigators in the City of London Police to fulfil their role as a world class fraud specialist force. We have also channelled additional officer resource into the Regional Organised Crime Unit network to work on a host of serious and organised crime threats including fraud.

The Government is also aware of the harms caused by identity theft and that criminals use this to commit and enable a range of offences, from benefit fraud, credit card fraud to fraudulently obtaining property.

We are actively working on a number of initiatives to reduce identity-enabled crime and deny criminals the opportunity to exploit false or stolen personal data. This includes developing proposals for a digital identity system that would enable people to prove their identity easily and securely, without the need to provide physical documents, with the aim of reducing identity-enabled fraud and crime. However, the Government recognises there is more to do, and we are working closely with industry, regulators, and consumer groups to tackle fraud and close those vulnerabilities that criminals too easily exploit.

Reporting incidents of fraud helps us stop fraudsters and protect other people from becoming victims. Any experience of property fraud should be reported directly to HM Land Registry through their dedicated Property Fraud Line at reportafraud@landregistry.gov.uk. Owners who are concerned their property might be subject to a fraudulent sale or mortgage should also register an Anti-Fraud Restriction with HM Land Registry. We also continue to ask the public to report fraud to the police through Action Fraud by phone on 0300 123 2040 or through their website: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud.

It is important that victims of fraud receive the support that they are entitled to. Action Fraud also provides protective advice to individuals who contact the service and Citizens Advice can provide options for redress.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Education)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to support serious fraud investigation units in England particularly in relation to fraudulent property transactions.

The Government is boosting police capacity and is committed to strengthening our criminal justice system to put victims first. As part of the Police Uplift Programme to recruit an additional 20,000 officers by 2023, we have prioritised more investigators in the City of London Police to fulfil their role as a world class fraud specialist force. We have also channelled additional officer resource into the Regional Organised Crime Unit network to work on a host of serious and organised crime threats including fraud.

The Government is also aware of the harms caused by identity theft and that criminals use this to commit and enable a range of offences, from benefit fraud, credit card fraud to fraudulently obtaining property.

We are actively working on a number of initiatives to reduce identity-enabled crime and deny criminals the opportunity to exploit false or stolen personal data. This includes developing proposals for a digital identity system that would enable people to prove their identity easily and securely, without the need to provide physical documents, with the aim of reducing identity-enabled fraud and crime. However, the Government recognises there is more to do, and we are working closely with industry, regulators, and consumer groups to tackle fraud and close those vulnerabilities that criminals too easily exploit.

Reporting incidents of fraud helps us stop fraudsters and protect other people from becoming victims. Any experience of property fraud should be reported directly to HM Land Registry through their dedicated Property Fraud Line at reportafraud@landregistry.gov.uk. Owners who are concerned their property might be subject to a fraudulent sale or mortgage should also register an Anti-Fraud Restriction with HM Land Registry. We also continue to ask the public to report fraud to the police through Action Fraud by phone on 0300 123 2040 or through their website: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud.

It is important that victims of fraud receive the support that they are entitled to. Action Fraud also provides protective advice to individuals who contact the service and Citizens Advice can provide options for redress.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Education)
8th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to support victims of fraud by false representation seeking redress for damages, particularly in fraudulent land transactions.

The Government is boosting police capacity and is committed to strengthening our criminal justice system to put victims first. As part of the Police Uplift Programme to recruit an additional 20,000 officers by 2023, we have prioritised more investigators in the City of London Police to fulfil their role as a world class fraud specialist force. We have also channelled additional officer resource into the Regional Organised Crime Unit network to work on a host of serious and organised crime threats including fraud.

The Government is also aware of the harms caused by identity theft and that criminals use this to commit and enable a range of offences, from benefit fraud, credit card fraud to fraudulently obtaining property.

We are actively working on a number of initiatives to reduce identity-enabled crime and deny criminals the opportunity to exploit false or stolen personal data. This includes developing proposals for a digital identity system that would enable people to prove their identity easily and securely, without the need to provide physical documents, with the aim of reducing identity-enabled fraud and crime. However, the Government recognises there is more to do, and we are working closely with industry, regulators, and consumer groups to tackle fraud and close those vulnerabilities that criminals too easily exploit.

Reporting incidents of fraud helps us stop fraudsters and protect other people from becoming victims. Any experience of property fraud should be reported directly to HM Land Registry through their dedicated Property Fraud Line at reportafraud@landregistry.gov.uk. Owners who are concerned their property might be subject to a fraudulent sale or mortgage should also register an Anti-Fraud Restriction with HM Land Registry. We also continue to ask the public to report fraud to the police through Action Fraud by phone on 0300 123 2040 or through their website: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud.

It is important that victims of fraud receive the support that they are entitled to. Action Fraud also provides protective advice to individuals who contact the service and Citizens Advice can provide options for redress.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Education)
28th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when her Department plans to launch the fourth round of Safer Streets Fund.

The recent Spending Review continues funding for the Safer Streets programme and we will provide further details on this in the new year.

25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what support her Department is offering to local police services to help tackle the use of illegal fireworks.

There is a comprehensive legislative framework in place which provides Local Authority Trading Standards and the Police with the powers to control the sale, availability and use of fireworks, as well as setting a curfew and noise limit. Current legislation restricts retailers to only selling consumer fireworks during certain seasonal celebrations and they may only supply fireworks outside these periods if they obtain a license from their local licensing authority.

Local Authority Trading Standards will work with retailers to ensure fireworks which they sell are safe. They also have powers to enforce against those who place non-compliant fireworks on the market, including those imported illegally or via the internet, or those selling fireworks without an appropriate license.

15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department are taking to help asylum seekers to (a) integrate with local communities and (b) rebuild their lives.

Our accommodation providers (ClearSprings, Mears and Serco) work closely with Local Authorities to ensure asylum seekers are accommodated where shops, hospitals, places of worship and other facilities are within manageable travelling distance.

All asylum seekers have access to a 24/7 AIRE (Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility) service provided for the Home Office by Migrant Help. Here asylum seekers can raise any concerns regarding accommodation or support services, and they can get information about how to obtain further support.

Positive Move On advice is designed to help Service Users to integrate in the UK. It will assist with organising important issues like accommodation, finances and employment for when someone leaves the Home Office support and/or accommodation. Migrant Help offer both telephone and face to face appointments to help service users understand their circumstances and signpost to relevant organisations.

20th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent steps her Department has taken to prevent illegal channel crossings in small boats.

I refer the Honourable Gentleman to the answer given to the Member for Romford on 20 September. These crossings are dangerous and unnecessary, and we are determined to bring them to an end and to tackle the criminality behind them.

From January to September 2021, Immigration Enforcement has arrested 46 individuals engaged in small boats activity, with 8 individuals already convicted and a further 94 investigations ongoing. Recognising that much of the criminality involved lies outside of the UK, we are also supporting wider law enforcement activity to tackle the threat of organised immigration crime. In its first 12 months, the Joint Intelligence Cell was involved in almost 300 arrests relating to small boats activity in France.

We must ensure that those involved in people smuggling are punished with the severity it rightly deserves. The Nationality and Borders Bill (Nationality and Borders Bill - Parliamentary Bills - UK Parliament (https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3023)) will enable this and will also act as a much stronger deterrent for those tempted to pursue that despicable path. These long overdue reforms will break the business model of the criminal trafficking networks and make their activities unviable.

There remains an immediate challenge and a need to stop the boats leaving France in the first place and we are working closely with the French to tackle these crossings, both on a policy and operational level. In July 2021 UK/French joint action led to strengthened law enforcement deployments along the coast of France, more than doubling again equipped police resource focused on addressing illegal migration; enhanced intelligence-sharing; greater use of surveillance technology; and more border security at key transport infrastructure along the Channel coast.

Progress so far this year between January and September 2021 has resulted in the French stopping more than 15,000 people from crossing. This is a significant increase on the same point last year.

Our New Plan for Immigration will address the challenge of illegal migration for the first time in over two decades through comprehensive reform of our asylum system, making big changes and building a new system that is fair but firm.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to allow members of the LGBT community in Afghanistan to seek asylum in the UK.

The UK has a proud record of providing protection for people who need it, in accordance with our obligations under the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights.  However, there is no provision within our Immigration Rules for someone to be allowed to travel to the UK to seek asylum or temporary refuge.  Whilst we acknowledge the increasingly complex situation in Afghanistan, we are not bound to consider asylum claims from the very large numbers of people overseas who might like to come here.  Those who need international protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach – that is the fastest route to safety.

While we do not allow asylum claims from abroad, all asylum claims that are lodged from within the UK, including those from Afghan nationals that are based on sexual orientation or gender identity, will be carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with our international obligations. Those who need protection will normally be granted five years’ limited leave, have full access to the labour market and mainstream benefits, and can apply for settlement after five years.

We do not remove asylum seekers who have had to leave their countries because their sexuality or gender identity has put them at risk of persecution and no one who is found to be at risk of persecution or serious harm in Afghanistan will be expected to return there. Enforced returns of those who have been refused asylum and have exhausted all rights of appeal are also currently paused while we consider the situation.

The UK’s new resettlement scheme will, however, offer a route welcoming Afghans most at risk who have been forced to flee the country, prioritising resettling women, girls and children to the UK. Further details on the scheme will be published in due course.

Chris Philp
Minister of State (Home Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of adding time left on an individual's old passport onto their new one.

The UK was the last country to carry over validity from a previous passport, with the maximum validity carried over on renewal being up to nine months. However, the international guidelines for passports state a passport should be valid for a maximum of 10 years, and a passport for a child should be issued for a maximum of five years.

As part of its work to prepare for all eventualities ahead of the UK leaving the European Union, Her Majesty’s Passport Office determined, for third-country nationals travelling to most countries in Europe, any period of validity of a passport older than 10 years may not be accepted. This highlighted the potential for confusion to passport holders about validity dates if the validity period was not set in line with the international guidelines.

Additional validity therefore ceased to be carried over from a previous passport since 10 September 2018, and there are currently no plans to re-introduce this policy

3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the status is of the Metropolitan police investigation into the former chief executive of the Liberal Democrats following a request by the Electoral Commission for a prosecution.

The Hon. Member may wish to ask the same question to the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission, as this information may be held by the Electoral Commission.

27th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when he plans to publish the conclusions of the LGBT veterans independent review, chaired by Lord Etherton.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 28 June 2023 to question 190453 to the hon. Member for Portsmouth South (Mr Morgan).

Andrew Murrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
8th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether he has had discussions with relevant stakeholders on bringing forward a replacement to the Forces Help to Buy scheme after its end date of 31 December 2022.

The Forces Help to Buy (FHTB) scheme was set up in 2014 to provide Service personnel with the opportunity to purchase a property for immediate occupation, creating a stable environment regardless of assignment and reducing the challenge presented by an inherently mobile career.

The Ministry of Defence recognises that FHTB continues to be a popular scheme, helping more than 27,500 Service personnel to buy or extend a home. Whilst the pilot of the policy is currently due to end in December 2022, we are considering options for the future of the scheme and will update personnel and their families once decisions have been made.

Andrew Murrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
8th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether he plans to extend the Forces Help to Buy scheme beyond 31 December 2022.

The Forces Help to Buy (FHTB) scheme was set up in 2014 to provide Service personnel with the opportunity to purchase a property for immediate occupation, creating a stable environment regardless of assignment and reducing the challenge presented by an inherently mobile career.

The Ministry of Defence recognises that FHTB continues to be a popular scheme, helping more than 27,500 Service personnel to buy or extend a home. Whilst the pilot of the policy is currently due to end in December 2022, we are considering options for the future of the scheme and will update personnel and their families once decisions have been made.

Andrew Murrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to help Commonwealth veterans immigrate to the UK upon discharge.

The Government highly values the service of all members of the Armed Forces, including Commonwealth nationals and Gurkhas from Nepal. As part of specific Home Office immigration rules for the Armed Forces and their families, Commonwealth and Gurkha Service personnel who have served for at least four years on discharge are able to apply to settle in the UK. We do, however, recognise that settlement fees place a financial burden on Service personnel wishing to settle in the UK after service, and we are working with the Home Office to consider how we can offer greater flexibility for these individuals in future.

Johnny Mercer
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)
25th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent discussions he has had with the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on the upper age limit for applicants to that Academy during the covid-19 outbreak.

Candidates seeking a commission in the Regular Army should generally be over 17 years and 9 months and under 30 years on entry to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Anyone over 30 is considered on a case by case basis and age waivers can be supported. Officer recruitment is very healthy with the supply of high-quality candidates consistently meeting the demand for places. Places are filled well in advance of the intake date and due to the unique accommodation arrangements at the Academy social distancing measures are less complex to implement, meaning it continues to operate at full capacity. Covid 19 restrictions have not affected the application inflow and there has been no discussion regarding the upper age limit for applicants to the Academy during the covid-19 outbreak.

James Heappey
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)
30th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of enabling Homes England to use part of its budget for retrofitting homes.

Homes England’s financial information can be found in the organisation’s Annual Reports and Financial Statements.

Policy relating to insulating and energy efficiency of existing housing stock is a matter for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

Lee Rowley
Minister of State (Minister for Housing)
30th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, how much and what proportion of the Homes England budget was not spent in each of the last three financial years.

Homes England’s financial information can be found in the organisation’s Annual Reports and Financial Statements.

Policy relating to insulating and energy efficiency of existing housing stock is a matter for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

Lee Rowley
Minister of State (Minister for Housing)
16th Nov 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the average time taken to process first registrations of land at His Majesty’s Land Registry; and what steps he is taking to reduce the number of pending registrations.

HM Land Registry (HMLR) publishes information each month about its latest processing times on GOV.UK here.

Applications to HMLR can be expedited free of charge if registration is needed urgently for financial (including remortgaging), legal or personal reasons. More than 95% of expedited cases are processed within 10 days.

HMLR recognises that it is not currently processing some non-urgent applications fast enough. Improving speed of service is the top priority for HMLR and it is addressing this urgently through a combination of recruitment, training, and automation. It also has specialist teams focussing on the oldest complex cases with a specific goal to reduce the processing times for these applications. These efforts have already seen a reduction in the overall age of applications with HMLR and it is committed to reducing waiting times further in the months ahead.

Lee Rowley
Minister of State (Minister for Housing)
7th Jun 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether she has made an assessment of the potential impact of the requirement to apply for a lawful development certificate to install solar panels on the number of solar panels installed.

There are existing permitted development rights which allow for installation of solar equipment on and within the curtilages of domestic and commercial premises without having to make a planning application. The rights are set out in Part 14 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, as amended.

There is no requirement under the regulations to seek a lawful development certificate from the local authority before installing solar panels. However, this is something that a homeowner may decide to do in order to obtain written confirmation that any such proposals are lawful for planning purposes.

25th May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, when the (a) format, (b) criteria and (c) bidding window for levelling up Round three will be published and timetabled.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer I gave to Question UIN 181062 on 26th April 2023.

13th Dec 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what recent assessment he has made of the potential impact of (a) the rate of increase of baseline rents and (b) changes to costs in the construction sector on housing associations.

I refer my Hon Friend to the answer to Question UIN 80923 on 15 November 2022.

We will publish a final Impact Assessment in due course.

15th Nov 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether he has had recent discussions with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the potential impact of nutrient neutrality on planning applications in Darlington.

In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not normally disclosed. On 18 November 2022, the Government laid an amendment to the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill that aims to drive down nutrient pollution in nutrient neutrality catchments; allowing us to deliver the homes that this country needs, whilst protecting our precious environment.

Lucy Frazer
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
14th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what recent discussions he has had with Minister for Women and Equalities on not collecting data on the provision of authorised traveller sites for the Gypsy, Romany and Traveller community; and if he will make an assessment of the impact of not collecting that data on that community.

Government policy (the 'Planning Policy for Traveller Sites' or PPTS) is clear that local planning authorities should assess the need for traveller accommodation and identify land for sites. Local authorities are best placed to make decisions about the number and location of such sites locally, having had due regard to national policy and local circumstances.

DLUHC publishes the Traveller Caravan Count, which is compiled from information submitted by local authorities in England. Local authorities carry out the count of caravans on traveller sites twice a year, in January and July, providing a snapshot of the number of caravans on the day of the count. The Traveller Caravan Count can be viewed using this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/traveller-caravan-count.

14th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if he will make an assessment of (a) the potential merits of a national strategy to provide a nationwide network for authorised traveller sites for the Gypsy Romany Traveller community and (b) whether every local authority is meeting its obligation to provide (i) socially, (ii) environmentally, and (iii) economically sustainable sites.

Under section 8 of the Housing Act 1985 (as amended by section 124 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016) local housing authorities have a duty to consider the housing and accommodation needs of all persons who reside in and resort to their area, including those that live in caravans and houseboats.

The Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (or PPTS), read in conjunction with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the Government’s planning policy for traveller sites. Planning policy is clear that local planning authorities should assess the need for traveller accommodation and identify land for sites.

Local authorities are best placed to make decisions about the number and location of such sites locally, as part of their plan and decision making duties. Paragraph 13 of the PPTS sets out that when plan making, local authorities should ensure that traveller sites are sustainable economically, socially and environmentally.

Authorities are encouraged to work collaboratively to develop effective strategies to meet need through the identification of land for development.

Marcus Jones
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
14th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if he will make a nationwide assessment on the provision of authorised traveller sites for the Gypsy Romany Traveller community.

Under section 8 of the Housing Act 1985 (as amended by section 124 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016) local housing authorities have a duty to consider the housing and accommodation needs of all persons who reside in and resort to their area, including those that live in caravans and houseboats.

The Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (or PPTS), read in conjunction with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the Government’s planning policy for traveller sites. Planning policy is clear that local planning authorities should assess the need for traveller accommodation and identify land for sites.

Local authorities are best placed to make decisions about the number and location of such sites locally, as part of their plan and decision making duties. Paragraph 13 of the PPTS sets out that when plan making, local authorities should ensure that traveller sites are sustainable economically, socially and environmentally.

Authorities are encouraged to work collaboratively to develop effective strategies to meet need through the identification of land for development.

Marcus Jones
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
4th Jul 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which local authorities have (a) reviewed their provision for authorised travellers sites and (b) made progress towards adequate and appropriate provision for those sites.

This Department does not collect data on which local authorities have reviewed their provision for authorised traveller sites. It is the responsibility of local planning authorities to make their own assessment of need for traveller sites and in producing their local plan, to identify sites to meet that need. The independent examination of the plan will consider whether adequate site provision has been made for gypsies and travellers based on assessed needs. Paragraph 10a of the Planning Policy for Traveller Sites sets out that local authorities should identify and update annually, a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide 5 years' worth of sites against locally set targets.

Data on progress towards the adequate and appropriate provision for of authorised traveller sites is collected at local authority rather than Central Government level. In producing plans the Planning Policy for Traveller Sites states that local planning authorities should ensure that traveller sites are sustainable economically, socially and environmentally. Within this context, it is the responsibility of local authorities to allocate land and determine planning applications for suitable sites in appropriate locations.

Marcus Jones
Treasurer of HM Household (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Commons)
29th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what support his Department is providing to (a) Darlington Borough Council and (b) local authorities in the North East to assist with the (i) timely and (ii) cost effective resolution of the Nutrient Neutrality instructions issued by Natural England in March 2022.

We are aware meeting the requirements of the Habitats Regulations is impacting on development in some areas and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) continue to work across government to identify the range of solutions in the short, medium and long term. There is a package of support in place to enable local authorities affected by nutrient pollution to meet the requirements of the Habitats Regulations. This includes tools to help local authorities understand nutrient neutrality, ongoing practical support and £100,000 of DLUHC funding available for each Habitats Site catchment to enable affected areas to respond to the challenges of nutrient pollution in a partnership approach. This will enable affected areas to hire catchment nutrients officers to respond to the challenges of nutrient pollution in a partnership approach.


The Government is working with the water industry and regulators to ensure that considerable investment is directed at reducing nutrient pollution from wastewater. From 2020 to 2025, water companies are investing £2.5 billion in measures that reduce nutrient pollution. We are also taking action to support farmers to go further to reduce agricultural pollution and deliver for nature.

27th Jun 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what progress his Department has made on supporting garden communities.

This Government is committed to supporting the development of locally-led garden communities. In May this year, I announced a package of £15 million to support 43 garden communities from Cornwall to Carlisle. This brings the total support since the launch of the programme in 2014 to over £69.4 million.

Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
28th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of limiting the number of takeaway food outlets permitted in town centres.

Planning permission will always be required to create or change use to a hot food takeaway. This will allow local planning authorities to fully consider any such proposals through the planning application process, in line with the local plan for the area.

Planning practice guidance is clear that planning policies and supplementary planning documents can, where justified, seek to limit the proliferation of particular uses where evidence demonstrates this is appropriate (and where such uses require planning permission), and many local planning authorities have done so.

28th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of existing powers local authorities have to manage the number of takeaway food outlets in town centres.

Planning permission will always be required to create or change use to a hot food takeaway. This will allow local planning authorities to fully consider any such proposals through the planning application process, in line with the local plan for the area.

Planning practice guidance is clear that planning policies and supplementary planning documents can, where justified, seek to limit the proliferation of particular uses where evidence demonstrates this is appropriate (and where such uses require planning permission), and many local planning authorities have done so.

28th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what further powers in the planning system can be provided to local authorities to manage the number of fast food restaurants in town centres.

Planning permission will always be required to create or change use to a hot food takeaway. This will allow local planning authorities to fully consider any such proposals through the planning application process, in line with the local plan for the area.

Planning practice guidance is clear that planning policies and supplementary planning documents can, where justified, seek to limit the proliferation of particular uses where evidence demonstrates this is appropriate (and where such uses require planning permission), and many local planning authorities have done so.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, (a) how many and (b) which local authorities have used the Government New Homes Bonus Scheme to provide authorised traveller pitches for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community.

We do not centrally hold data on how local authorities spend New Homes Bonus allocations. Bonus payments paid to local authorities are unringfenced, meaning the bonus can be spent as they see fit. This approach is in recognition of local areas being best placed to understand local priorities.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what standards his Department sets for authorised permanent sites and traveller sites for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community; and what level of inspection is carried out to ensure that local authorities' provision of sites meets those standards.

We encourage local planning authorities to make their own assessment of need for traveller sites and in producing their local plan, to identify sites to meet that need. Local authorities are best placed to make decisions about the number and location of such sites locally, having had due regard to national policy and local circumstances.

Privately run Gypsy and Traveller sites with appropriate planning permission are subject to the local authority site licencing regime under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960. Local authorities have discretion to attach conditions to a licence and can issue a compliance notice for a breach of a condition.

Local authorities are responsible for repairs and maintenance of permanent Gypsy and Traveller sites they own, under the Mobile Homes Act 1983. Local authorities set out these responsibilities in individual Mobile Homes pitch agreements.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that local authorities are providing a sufficient quantity of traveller pitches to meet the needs of the Gypsy, Roman and Traveller community.

We encourage local planning authorities to make their own assessment of need for traveller sites and in producing their local plan, to identify sites to meet that need. Local authorities are best placed to make decisions about the number and location of such sites locally, having had due regard to national policy and local circumstances.

Privately run Gypsy and Traveller sites with appropriate planning permission are subject to the local authority site licencing regime under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960. Local authorities have discretion to attach conditions to a licence and can issue a compliance notice for a breach of a condition.

Local authorities are responsible for repairs and maintenance of permanent Gypsy and Traveller sites they own, under the Mobile Homes Act 1983. Local authorities set out these responsibilities in individual Mobile Homes pitch agreements.

8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the level of unmet demand for authorised traveller sites across the UK.

We encourage local planning authorities to make their own assessment of need for traveller sites and in producing their local plan, to identify sites to meet that need. Local authorities are best placed to make decisions about the number and location of such sites locally, having had due regard to national policy and local circumstances.

Privately run Gypsy and Traveller sites with appropriate planning permission are subject to the local authority site licencing regime under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960. Local authorities have discretion to attach conditions to a licence and can issue a compliance notice for a breach of a condition.

Local authorities are responsible for repairs and maintenance of permanent Gypsy and Traveller sites they own, under the Mobile Homes Act 1983. Local authorities set out these responsibilities in individual Mobile Homes pitch agreements.

19th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how many houses have been built in Darlington in each of the last 20 years.

Estimates of building control reported new build dwelling completions for Darlington in each of the last 20 years, are shown in Live Table 253, at the following link.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-house-building

These cover new build dwellings only and should be regarded as a leading indicator of overall housing supply.

The Department also publishes an annual release entitled ‘Housing supply: net additional dwellings, England’, which is the primary and most comprehensive measure of housing supply. This can be found at the following link


https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-net-supply-of-housing

7th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of granting locally elected politicians greater powers to protect objects and monuments of local significance to their area that are in public ownership.

The Government believes it is important that local planning authorities are able to protect objects and monuments of local significance to their area. Our planning practice guidance encourages local planning authorities to create lists for local heritage assets which should have greater protection under the planning system. In September, building on this, the Secretary of State appointed an independent adviser to drive forward a campaign to mobilise communities across England to nominate heritage assets for inclusion in these local heritage lists. MHCLG is also providing £700,000 of funding to support this initiative.

24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he has taken to extend the Help to Buy scheme to mitigate for delays in construction because of the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government recognises the disruption Covid-19 has caused to housebuilding; that is why we took decisive steps to re-open the housing market and ensure housebuilding could safely recommence.?The Government published a “Plan to Rebuild” on Monday 11 May, setting out the United Kingdom Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy. This makes clear that construction work can be undertaken across England providing sites are able to operate safely in line with the new Covid-19 secure guidelines. We continue to monitor the situation.

As announced at Budget 2018, there is a new two year Help to Buy scheme commencing from 1 April 2021, specifically for first time buyers, so supporting people onto the housing ladder. Where new build properties are not completed within the current Help to Buy scheme deadlines, they may be eligible for sale through the new scheme. More information on the new Help to Buy scheme can be found at https://www.helptobuy.gov.uk/equity-loan/eligibility/.

8th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to enable the hospitality industry to utilise outside space to comply with social distancing.

Ahead of any decision to reopen hospitality, the Government will consider how to support pubs, restaurants and cafes to open up and serve customers safely. Any changes would be supported by updates to the Covid-19 Secure: Safer Public Places guidance as appropriate.

22nd Jan 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will take steps to extend the time limit for Criminal injuries Compensation Claims for victims of sexual abuse.

The Government-funded Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 (the Scheme) exists to compensate for serious physical or psychological injury attributable to being a direct victim of a crime of violence. As the Scheme is publicly funded, strict eligibility criteria apply.

There are already special arrangements in place for people applying for compensation for an injury sustained in childhood, and in all cases where a claim is made outside of the applicable time limit they can be considered in exceptional circumstances.

We recently held a public consultation on potential reforms to change the length of time people have to submit a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. We asked for views on increasing the time limits for child victims of sexual abuse, as well as other violent crimes, and on increasing them for all applicants. We will make decisions about whether to amend the time limits as soon as possible in 2024 as part of our comprehensive review of the Scheme.

Laura Farris
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)
23rd May 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether he is taking steps to ensure that the categorisations used by his Department for collecting data on the ethnicity of Gypsy, Traveller and Roma people are consistent with those used by the Office of National Statistics.

We recognise the importance of more and better data when it comes to tackling disparities, and we have come a long way since the Lammy Review when it comes to monitoring and publishing ethnicity data. We believe the correct approach is to use the detailed 18+1 classification of ethnicity, and this is now adopted throughout the Courts, Prison, and Probation services.

We are continually reviewing how we can improve the collection, distribution, and analysis of ethnicity data in the justice system, and currently we are focusing on ensuring a consistent approach with 18+1 the current standard.

We understand that not everyone will be comfortable or confident about declaring their ethnicity at the point of entry into the justice system. His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) has therefore developed a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) strategy to improve data collection, experiences and outcomes for GRT people in prison.

Mike Freer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
7th Feb 2023
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the level of parity in sentencing guidelines between hate crime based on disabilities and hate crime based on race.

Sentencing guidelines are a matter for the independent Sentencing Council. However, the approach to the sentencing of hate crimes is primarily set out in legislation.

This Government recognises that hate crime legislation, having been developed and added to over time, has prompted concerns that it is not sufficiently coherent and is difficult for practitioners and criminal justice agencies to implement. These concerns include parity between disability and other hate crime strands.

Recognising these issues, we asked the Law Commission to conduct a review into the coverage and approach of hate crime legislation. This review examined the adequacy and parity of protection offered by the law relating to hate crime and the current range of offences and aggravating factors in sentencing. The Law Commission reported its recommendations in 2021.

The Government is considering its proposals carefully and will respond to the recommendations in due course.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
3rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, why easy read materials for his Department's consultation on Human Rights Act Reform were only released 12 days before the consultation was scheduled to end.

The publication of the easy-read version of our consultation on A Modern Bill of Rights was regrettably delayed due to issues with an external supplier. As a result of this, the Secretary of State has extended the deadline for responses by six weeks for those with needs for an easy-read or audio version of the consultation document. The new deadline for these responses is 19 April.

Ministry of Justice officials will be conducting focused engagement sessions with disability organisations to explore the proposals outlined in the consultation further. The Department will also complete a full Equalities Impact Assessment of any proposals taken forward.

James Cartlidge
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
3rd Mar 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that easy read materials are released for consultations in a timely manner.

For all consultations, the Ministry of Justice considers the needs of the audience group and takes action to improve reach and accessibility, following best practice through the provision of accessible formats for consultation documents. We strive to ensure that our publications are accessible for people with disabilities, including the timely provision of easy read versions where these are considered necessary.

James Cartlidge
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
12th Jan 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what criteria is applied to housing prisoners who are transgender (a) with a certificate of gender reassignment and (b) without a certificate of gender reassignment.

The Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service take the allocation of transgender prisoners very seriously. All transgender prisoners (whether or not they have a gender recognition certificate) are managed in line with the policy framework ‘The Care and Management of Individuals who are Transgender’.

Prisoners are initially held according to their legal gender. If a prisoner wishes to move to the part of the prison estate that does not match their legal gender, a Complex Case Board must be held, chaired by a senior prison manager, to consider any risks involved (both to or from the prisoner).

A prisoner can also be moved via the Complex Case Board process if placing them in the part of the prison estate matching their legal gender presents an unmanageable level of risk (to themselves or to others). Separate accommodation is also available in the women’s estate for transgender women with gender recognition certificates who are assessed as posing too high a risk to be located with other women.

Victoria Atkins
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the data collected by coroner's courts; and whether he plans to take steps to gather that data centrally.

The Government recognises the good work done by volunteers who support bereaved families and others who attend coroners’ courts. However, extending support services - such as the Coroners Courts Support Service - to cover all 85 coroner areas remains subject to affordability.

The Ministry of Justice collects annual data on coroners’ inquests which is then used to inform policy making. An annual statistical bulletin is published on the GOV.UK website at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/coroners-statistics-2020. Coroner statistics for 2021 will be published on 12 May 2022.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the role of the volunteers service in the coroner's court system; and whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of allocating funding to that service to help ensure uniformity of access.

The Government recognises the good work done by volunteers who support bereaved families and others who attend coroners’ courts. However, extending support services - such as the Coroners Courts Support Service - to cover all 85 coroner areas remains subject to affordability.

The Ministry of Justice collects annual data on coroners’ inquests which is then used to inform policy making. An annual statistical bulletin is published on the GOV.UK website at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/coroners-statistics-2020. Coroner statistics for 2021 will be published on 12 May 2022.

Tom Pursglove
Minister of State (Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery)
3rd Nov 2021
What assessment he has made of the potential benefits of the Levelling Up Fund for Scotland.

The chancellor has announced £171,708,259 of UKG investment directly in Scotland under round 1 of the Levelling Up Fund.

From the Inverness Zero Carbon Cultural Regeneration to improvement to the B714 in Ayrshire, these are projects championed by local areas which will make a real difference to communities.

19th May 2021
What steps his Department is taking to strengthen the Union.

This Government is clear in our commitment to the Union as an unparalleled and successful partnership between our four great nations.

My Department and I are working across Whitehall to deliver strategic priorities for Wales that will level up communities, improve infrastructure, create jobs and economic growth.

Simon Hart
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Chief Whip)