Rupa Huq Portrait

Rupa Huq

Labour - Ealing Central and Acton

Select Committees
Panel of Chairs (since June 2020)
Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union
2nd Mar 2020 - 16th Jan 2021
Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee
11th Sep 2017 - 6th Nov 2019
Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Crime and Prevention)
21st Oct 2016 - 3rd May 2017
Regulatory Reform
12th Oct 2015 - 3rd May 2017
Justice Committee
26th Oct 2015 - 31st Oct 2016


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Tuesday 23rd November 2021
Health and Care Bill
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 172 Labour Aye votes vs 0 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 219 Noes - 280
Speeches
Monday 22nd November 2021
Gurkha Pensions

Before we begin, I remind Members that they are expected to wear face coverings when not speaking, in accordance with …

Written Answers
Friday 26th November 2021
Prescriptions: Fees and Charges
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the potential …
Early Day Motions
Monday 11th January 2021
Support for hospitality businesses
That this House notes with alarm that the hospitality sector suffered 297,000 job losses between February and November 2020 according …
Bills
Wednesday 24th June 2020
Demonstrations (Abortion Clinics) Bill 2019-21
A Bill to restrict demonstrations in the vicinity of abortion clinics; and for connected purposes.
MP Financial Interests
Monday 15th November 2021
1. Employment and earnings
21 October 2021, received £252.49 from the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, for an article published on 18 …
EDM signed
Wednesday 17th November 2021
Support for the Plant Based Treaty
That this House welcomes the Plant Based Treaty aiming to put food systems at the heart of combating the climate …
Supported Legislation
Wednesday 20th March 2019
Fracking (Measurement and Regulation of Impacts) (Air, Water and Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Bill 2017-19
The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Rupa Huq has voted in 280 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Rupa Huq Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

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

Sparring Partners
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
(23 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(19 debate interactions)
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(11 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Cabinet Office
(32 debate contributions)
Department for Transport
(30 debate contributions)
HM Treasury
(24 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(23 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Rupa Huq's debates

Ealing Central and Acton Petitions

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

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

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

Petitions with highest Ealing Central and Acton signature proportion
Petition Debates Contributed

Being the first to close and still no clue as to when we can open, this seasonal industry is losing its summer profits that allows them to get through the first quarter of next year.

Even if we are allowed to open in December, 1 months profit won't be enough to keep us open in 2021. We need help

The UK hospitality industry. Responsible for around 3m jobs, generating £130bn in activity, resulting in £38bn in taxation. Yet, unlike the Arts or Sports, we do not have a dedicated Minister.

We are asking that a Minister for Hospitality be created for the current, and successive governments.


Latest EDMs signed by Rupa Huq

15th September 2021
Rupa Huq signed this EDM on Wednesday 17th November 2021

Support for the Plant Based Treaty

Tabled by: Emma Lewell-Buck (Labour - South Shields)
That this House welcomes the Plant Based Treaty aiming to put food systems at the heart of combating the climate crisis by encouraging a shift to healthier and sustainable plant-based diets, while simultaneously working to reverse the damage to ecosystems and biodiversity; and calls on the Government to use COP26 …
19 signatures
(Most recent: 17 Nov 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 11
Liberal Democrat: 3
Scottish National Party: 3
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Green Party: 1
15th November 2021
Rupa Huq signed this EDM as a sponsor on Tuesday 16th November 2021

Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme

Tabled by: Caroline Lucas (Green Party - Brighton, Pavilion)
That this House notes the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACSR) was announced on 18 August 2021; further notes that hon. Members are still receiving desperate messages for help and that Ministerial replies to queries make repeated reference to the scheme; is concerned that three months later the ACRS is still …
54 signatures
(Most recent: 24 Nov 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 19
Scottish National Party: 13
Liberal Democrat: 10
Independent: 4
Plaid Cymru: 3
Conservative: 2
Green Party: 1
Democratic Unionist Party: 1
Alliance: 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party: 1
View All Rupa Huq's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Rupa Huq, 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.


Rupa Huq has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Rupa Huq has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

1 Bill introduced by Rupa Huq


A Bill to restrict demonstrations in the vicinity of abortion clinics; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Commons)
Wednesday 24th June 2020
(Read Debate)

436 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
12 Other Department Questions
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of updating the Elections Bill 2021-22 to extend full voting rights to all UK residents after a qualifying period of residency.

The Government has no intention of extending full voting rights to all UK residents after a qualifying period of residency. Citizenship restrictions are the norm for participating in national elections in most democracies, including the UK.

The right to vote in UK Parliamentary elections is restricted to British citizens and those with the closest historic links to our country.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of abolishing section 21 no fault evictions.

The Government is committed to bring in a Better Deal for Renters, including improving tenants' security by abolishing Section 21, or so-called 'no fault', evictions. The primary merit of abolishing Section 21 is enabling tenants to rent with certainty, ensuring that they will not be asked to leave without being given a fair reason. Another benefit of abolishing Section 21 is that it will grant tenants greater protection from retaliatory evictions if they complain about poor standards, which in turn could help to improve standards in the private rented sector. Our reforms will also make sure that landlords have a route to regain possession where they have a valid reason to do so. This is important to mitigate any potential negative consequences of abolishing section 21.

We have consulted in 2019 on how the reformed tenancy regime should operate and received nearly 20,000 responses. We are carefully considering the responses, including the impact of the pandemic, as we develop the detail of the reforms. We are undertaking regular engagement with key stakeholders to inform this and will publish a White Paper detailing our proposals in due course.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if he will publish a white paper on reforms to the private rented sector by the end of October 2021.

We remain committed to delivering our reforms to the Private Rented Sector. Our priority is to bring forward a considered White Paper that works for landlords and tenants and it is important that we take the time to get the policy development right. We are working hard with stakeholders from across the sector to inform this and are making good progress. We will provide more details on publication in due course.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, if she will take steps to (a) reinstate gender pay gap reporting, (b) introduce ethnicity pay gap reporting and (c) modernise equal pay laws to give women the right to know what their male counterparts earn.

The legal requirement for relevant organisations to publish gender pay gap data each year, set out in the Equality Act 2010, has not changed. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has, due to the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed employers until 5 October 2021 to report their gender pay gap information for 2020/21. Extending the deadline by six months was the correct decision.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities published its independent report in March this year, which included a recommendation on ethnicity pay gap reporting. We welcome the opportunity to consider the Commission’s findings on this matter, and to consider them in light of the work that has already taken place within government. As well as consulting on ethnicity pay gap reporting, we have met with businesses and representative organisations to understand the barriers towards reporting and what information should be published. We have also run a methodology testing exercise with a broad range of businesses to better understand the complexities outlined in the consultation.

We recognise the importance of transparency and awareness when it comes to ensuring equal pay. Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful for an employer to stop employees from sharing information about what they earn, therefore protecting people who wish to discuss pay with their colleagues.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, whether she has made a recent assessment of the potential merits of updating the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to include self-declaration for transgender and non-binary people.

We want all LGBT people to be able to live and prosper in modern Britain. We listened closely to all those who responded to the consultation on the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and our response was published on 22 September 2020, stating that it is the Government’s view that the balance struck in this legislation is correct. There are proper checks and balances in the system as well as support for people who want to change their legal sex.

However, it is clear that we need to improve the process and experience that transgender people have when applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). That is why we are digitising the process and reducing the fee to lessen the administrative burden on individuals who want to legally change their gender and ensure that no one faces financial barriers when doing so. We want to make sure that applying for a GRC is as straightforward and dignified as possible.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
16th Mar 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of bringing forward mandatory gender pay reporting for companies from April 2021 onwards.

On 23 February, the Equality and Human Rights Commission announced that employers will have an additional six months, until 5 October 2021, to report their gender pay gap information.

Employers can continue to report their gender pay gap information via the government website: https://gender-pay-gap.service.gov.uk/.

The Government is fully committed to women’s economic empowerment but, given the impact on the pandemic on businesses, extending the period employers have to report by six months is the correct decision.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what estimate she has made of the average time taken by the Race and Ethnic Disparities Commission to respond to queries from members of the public.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparity is supported by a secretariat based in the Cabinet Office, who handle correspondence in line with the published departmental guidance and requirements as set out in relevant legislation. Those wishing to submit evidence to the Commission are encouraged to send contributions via email, noting that it may take longer to process items sent by post. Further details of the Commission, its work and how to contact them are published on www.gov.uk/government/organisations/commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities

As outlined on the Commission website, the Commission will focus on areas including poverty, education, employment, health and the criminal justice system, and will look at outcomes for the whole population.

The Commissioners were appointed by the Prime Minister after a thorough process, and we are pleased to have such a diverse range of Commissioners that can bring a wealth of talent to their roles. The Commissioners are not remunerated for their roles and are not required to undertake unconscious bias training under their terms of appointment.

The secretariat to the Commission is made up of Cabinet Office staff, who were recruited in line with the Civil Service Commission's Recruitment Principles.

Any activities associated with the Commission will be handled in line with the relevant Cabinet Office policies ensuring effective use of public money and transparency in line with departmental annual reporting.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what plans the Race and Ethnic Disparities Commission has to investigate inequalities of (a) outcome from the judicial system and (b) composition of (i) Supreme Court judges, (ii) Court of Appeal judges (iii) civil court judges, (iv) magistrates court judges, (v) barristers and solicitors and other legal professionals, (vi) the Crown Prosecution Service and (vii) the police.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparity is supported by a secretariat based in the Cabinet Office, who handle correspondence in line with the published departmental guidance and requirements as set out in relevant legislation. Those wishing to submit evidence to the Commission are encouraged to send contributions via email, noting that it may take longer to process items sent by post. Further details of the Commission, its work and how to contact them are published on www.gov.uk/government/organisations/commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities

As outlined on the Commission website, the Commission will focus on areas including poverty, education, employment, health and the criminal justice system, and will look at outcomes for the whole population.

The Commissioners were appointed by the Prime Minister after a thorough process, and we are pleased to have such a diverse range of Commissioners that can bring a wealth of talent to their roles. The Commissioners are not remunerated for their roles and are not required to undertake unconscious bias training under their terms of appointment.

The secretariat to the Commission is made up of Cabinet Office staff, who were recruited in line with the Civil Service Commission's Recruitment Principles.

Any activities associated with the Commission will be handled in line with the relevant Cabinet Office policies ensuring effective use of public money and transparency in line with departmental annual reporting.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, whether Race and Ethnic Disparities Commissioners will receive unconscious bias training in connection with their role.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparity is supported by a secretariat based in the Cabinet Office, who handle correspondence in line with the published departmental guidance and requirements as set out in relevant legislation. Those wishing to submit evidence to the Commission are encouraged to send contributions via email, noting that it may take longer to process items sent by post. Further details of the Commission, its work and how to contact them are published on www.gov.uk/government/organisations/commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities

As outlined on the Commission website, the Commission will focus on areas including poverty, education, employment, health and the criminal justice system, and will look at outcomes for the whole population.

The Commissioners were appointed by the Prime Minister after a thorough process, and we are pleased to have such a diverse range of Commissioners that can bring a wealth of talent to their roles. The Commissioners are not remunerated for their roles and are not required to undertake unconscious bias training under their terms of appointment.

The secretariat to the Commission is made up of Cabinet Office staff, who were recruited in line with the Civil Service Commission's Recruitment Principles.

Any activities associated with the Commission will be handled in line with the relevant Cabinet Office policies ensuring effective use of public money and transparency in line with departmental annual reporting.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps her Department took to ensure that recruitment of the (a) Commissioners and (b) staff of the Race and Ethnic Disparities Commission was (a) open, (b) fair and (c) transparent.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparity is supported by a secretariat based in the Cabinet Office, who handle correspondence in line with the published departmental guidance and requirements as set out in relevant legislation. Those wishing to submit evidence to the Commission are encouraged to send contributions via email, noting that it may take longer to process items sent by post. Further details of the Commission, its work and how to contact them are published on www.gov.uk/government/organisations/commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities

As outlined on the Commission website, the Commission will focus on areas including poverty, education, employment, health and the criminal justice system, and will look at outcomes for the whole population.

The Commissioners were appointed by the Prime Minister after a thorough process, and we are pleased to have such a diverse range of Commissioners that can bring a wealth of talent to their roles. The Commissioners are not remunerated for their roles and are not required to undertake unconscious bias training under their terms of appointment.

The secretariat to the Commission is made up of Cabinet Office staff, who were recruited in line with the Civil Service Commission's Recruitment Principles.

Any activities associated with the Commission will be handled in line with the relevant Cabinet Office policies ensuring effective use of public money and transparency in line with departmental annual reporting.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what the cost to the public purse was of establishing the Race and Ethnic Disparities Commission.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparity is supported by a secretariat based in the Cabinet Office, who handle correspondence in line with the published departmental guidance and requirements as set out in relevant legislation. Those wishing to submit evidence to the Commission are encouraged to send contributions via email, noting that it may take longer to process items sent by post. Further details of the Commission, its work and how to contact them are published on www.gov.uk/government/organisations/commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities

As outlined on the Commission website, the Commission will focus on areas including poverty, education, employment, health and the criminal justice system, and will look at outcomes for the whole population.

The Commissioners were appointed by the Prime Minister after a thorough process, and we are pleased to have such a diverse range of Commissioners that can bring a wealth of talent to their roles. The Commissioners are not remunerated for their roles and are not required to undertake unconscious bias training under their terms of appointment.

The secretariat to the Commission is made up of Cabinet Office staff, who were recruited in line with the Civil Service Commission's Recruitment Principles.

Any activities associated with the Commission will be handled in line with the relevant Cabinet Office policies ensuring effective use of public money and transparency in line with departmental annual reporting.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
10th Dec 2020
What recent assessment she has made of the potential effect on the CPS of the UK leaving the EU (a) with and (b) without a deal.

The CPS has worked with other prosecutors, law enforcement, the courts, and the Home Office to ensure that effective international cooperation with EU Member States on extradition, gathering of evidence and asset recovery can continue after the Transition Period.

Extensive preparation has taken place to prepare for the outcome of the negotiation and there are well-prepared and well-reheased plans in place – which include producing guidance and training for prosecutors. The CPS has also engaged extensively with EU counterparts in order to safeguard existing and new cases.

Suella Braverman
Attorney General
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the proposed removal of prosecutorial powers from the Electoral Commission on the (a) accountability of the executive, (b) integrity of elections and (c) transparency of political party funding.

The Electoral Commission does not currently, and has never in over 20 years, brought criminal prosecutions. The Government intends to maintain the status quo by providing clarity in law that the Commission should not bring criminal prosecutions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The proper place for criminal investigations and prosecutions relating to electoral law is with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (and the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland) who are experts in this domain. Having the Commission step into this space would risk wasting public money. The Electoral Commission will continue to have a wide range of investigatory and civil sanctioning powers available to it and, as is currently the case, is able to refer more serious matters to the police.

The Government is committed to protecting our democracy and ensuring that it remains secure, modern, transparent and fair. The Elections Bill will further strengthen the integrity of UK elections by updating electoral law, including the rules on the transparency of digital campaigning and political finance, the introduction of voter identification and measures improving the integrity of postal and proxy voting.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what audit process his Department undertakes on claims made under the Public Duty Cost Allowance by former prime ministers; and what steps his Department takes to ensure that those claims meet the criteria for funding from that allowance.

As with any other Cabinet Office financial transaction, PDCA payments are subject to inspection by the Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA) and the National Audit Office (NAO). The amount paid to each former Prime Minister is disclosed each year in the Department’s Annual Report and Accounts following full audit.

The costs are a reimbursement of incurred expenses for necessary office and secretarial costs. These costs can include diary support, Met Police protection on public visits, correspondence, staffing at public visits, support to charitable work, social media platforms and managing and maintaining ex-PMs office (staff, payroll, admin).

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
25th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of including British Sign Language interpreters at all Downing Street press briefings.

As a matter of practice, the BBC has, since March 2020, provided BSL interpretation on its News Channel in respect of the vast majority of Covid media briefings, and continues to do so. A clean feed of the BSL interpretation has, since May, been made available for use on government social media channels.

In the relatively rare event that the BBC chooses not to provide BSL interpretation, we will be notified in advance of the briefing. We will then arrange for an independent organisation to provide BSL interpretation of the briefing in question, further to an arrangement that came into effect on 26 November. That BSL interpretation will be made available on government social media channels (including the No 10 YouTube channel). It will also be made available to broadcasters and other media outlets for TV and social media channels.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of recognising 23 March as an annual day of memorial in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

While the Government’s immediate focus is on protecting the lives and livelihoods of the nation, the appropriate way to remember those who have lost their lives and to recognise those involved in the unprecedented response is something the Government is considering very carefully. We will set out the Government’s proposed approach to this important matter in due course.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
16th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will publish a (a) detailed cost breakdown of the £2.6 million spent on the television studio in 9 Downing Street and (b) cost-benefit analysis of that spending.

(a)

A breakdown of the figures given out in response to a Freedom of Information Act request on 06/01/2021 is as follows” -

The Government is establishing facilities within 9 Downing Street which will be used for daily broadcasting by a number of news organisations. This will necessarily require one-off capital works, including audio-visual equipment, internet infrastructure, electrical works and lighting.

This spending is in the public interest as the new broadcasting of lobby briefings will increase public accountability and transparency about the work of this Government now and in the future.

Such spending on maintenance and technical facilities reflects that 9 Downing Street (the Privy Council Office) is a Grade 1 listed building.

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1267063

All such listed buildings must be maintained to high heritage standards, reflecting the buildings’ important role in the cultural fabric of our nation.

A breakdown of the costs which we hold are below.

Media centre Ph1 fees

£96,157.67 ex vat

Media centre Ph1 enabling works.

£135,201.85 ex vat

Media centre Broadband equipment

£33,394.63 ex vat

LBC application

£9,050.30 ex vat

Core drill

£1,456.06 ex vat

Enabling order 2

£285,788.29 ex vat

Main works ph1

£1,848,695.12 ex vat

Media Centre Ph1 Long Lead items

£198,023.75

Annual figures on expenditure on property, plant and equipment by the Cabinet Office can be found in the departmental annual report and accounts.

(b)

In assessing the business case for the spending (i.e. the costs and the benefits), it was noted that No 9 Downing Street is a Grade 1 listed building which has not been updated or modernised for over 50 years. Over half of the cost of this project provides for modernisation to a substantial part of the building in line with the Cabinet Office’s statutory duties to preserve and maintain it, through making the roof sound, strengthening the floor, new heating and cooling, and electrical wiring replacement. The space being converted was idle and dilapidated and this project maximises the capability of the building. It was also deemed necessary to the success of the project to bring in technical expertise from specialist contractors.

Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, when he plans to publish the report by the Intelligence and Security Committee on Russian involvement in UK democracy.

We acknowledge the public’s interest in the publication of the report, however the report itself is the property of the independent ISC. As such it is not for the Government to publish ISC reports; it is for the ISC to lay them before Parliament. Once a new Committee has been established, it will be up to them to choose when they wish to publish it.

Members are appointed by the Houses of Parliament (having been nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition). The Committee is being formed in the normal way and as quickly as current circumstances allow.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to co-ordinate the Government's response to the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps he is taking to ensure that holistic person-centred support is provided to all shielded and non-shielded vulnerable individuals affected by covid-19.

Four ministerial implementation committees focusing on health, public sector preparedness, economy, and our international response, have been established to coordinate, prioritise, and respond to the pandemic.

Shielding of the extremely vulnerable - those who suffer from the most serious underlying health conditions - is one of the Government’s top priorities. This work is being led by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The Communities Secretary outlined some of this support recently and details are available here (https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/communities-secretarys-statement-on-coronavirus-covid-19-2-may-2020--2)

In terms of our work to support other vulnerable people, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster outlined some of this work to the House of Commons last week, details of which are available here https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-04-28/debates/6B80ADC6-5AE0-404A-BF91-3924FAD111CE/PublicServices.

Penny Mordaunt
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
22nd Jan 2020
What estimate he has made of the number of voters at risk of becoming disenfranchised as a result of the proposals for voter ID requirements contained in the Queen’s Speech.

No one will be disenfranchised by confirming who they are. These are sensible plans to make our elections more secure. Everyone registered to vote will have the opportunity to do so. Any voter who does not have an approved form of ID will be able to apply, free of charge, for an electoral ID from their local authority.

Both the pilots and the Northern Irish experience demonstrate that showing ID does not reduce participation.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Dec 2019
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether he plans to review the criteria for transferring a proxy vote from one person to another in the case of an emergency.

There is currently no provision to transfer proxy votes between people. Emergency proxy votes are granted in limited circumstances, to maintain the integrity of the electoral process. The Government has announced it will consider the process of emergency proxy applications and the circumstances in which they can be issued, when time allows.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will hold discussions with representatives of Weetabix on reports of fire and rehire practices at Weetabix.

Government has been consistently clear that we do not accept the inappropriate use by any employer of ‘fire and rehire’ as a negotiation tactic.

When employment disputes arise, the Government wants to ensure that employers and employees are able to resolve them quickly and effectively. Earlier this year, we asked Acas to produce comprehensive, clear guidance so that employers can explore all the options before considering ‘fire and rehire’, and to encourage good employment relations practice. This guidance was published on 11 November and is available at http://www.acas.org.uk/changecontract.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what proportion of pensioners in Ealing Central and Acton constituency live in fuel poverty; and what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of that proportion.

In 2019, an estimated 13.2% of all households in the Ealing Central and Acton Parliamentary Constituency were estimated to be in fuel poverty.

Government is committed to tackling fuel poverty, reducing energy bills and delivering warmer, safer homes for the most vulnerable. We consider improving the energy efficiency of homes to be the best long-term method of tackling of fuel poverty. Energy efficiency schemes include the Energy Company Obligation and the Sustainable Warmth Competition.

Since 2011, the Warm Home Discount has helped over 2 million low-income and vulnerable households each year with their energy costs. In the 2019/20 scheme year, which is the latest we have data for, around 1 million low-income pensioners in receipt of the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit received a £140 Warm Home Discount as an automatic rebate on their energy bills. Support is also available through the Winter Fuel Payment: £200 for households with somebody who has reached State Pension age and is under age 80; or £300 for households with somebody aged 80 and over. The Cold Weather Payment is also available to eligible households if the average temperature in their area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to contribute to the (a) development and (b) validation of non-animal (i) research methods and (ii) technologies.

The Government supports and funds the development and dissemination of techniques that Replace, Reduce and Refine the use of animals in research (the 3Rs). This is achieved primarily through funding for the National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3Rs), who have committed £100 million through its research, innovation, and early career awards to provide new 3Rs approaches for scientists in academia and industry to use. This includes almost £27 million in contracts through its CRACK IT Challenges innovation scheme to UK and EU-based institutions, mainly focusing on new approaches for the safety assessment of pharmaceuticals and chemicals that reduce the use of animals.

George Freeman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
21st Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to incentivise the transition from gas boilers to heat pumps.

The Government will shortly publish the Heat and Buildings Strategy which will set out a long-term plan to decarbonise domestic heating.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made an assessment of the compatibility of the Cambo oilfield near Shetland with the UK's upcoming role as President of the COP 26 summit.

Cambo is not a new oilfield, it was licensed in 2001. The development proposal from Cambo is being scrutinised in line with robust regulatory procedures and no decision has yet been taken.

Oil and natural gas are still required for heating, cooking and transport, and are vital to the production of many everyday essentials like medicines, plastics, cosmetics and household appliances. While we are working hard to drive down demand for fossil fuels, there will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years, as recognised by the independent Climate Change Committee, with the UK as net importers of both oil and gas.

Looking forward, the Government will introduce a climate compatibility checkpoint which will be used to assess whether any future licensing rounds remain in keeping with our climate goals. We have committed to launching the checkpoint by the end of 2021.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of vehicle supply shortages affecting the UK van sector; and what cross-departmental steps he is taking to help rectify those supply shortages.

The Government has regularly engaged with multiple stakeholders including the Department for Transport, manufacturers and automotive trade associations to discuss steps to help rectify supply chain shortages.

The Government recognises the severity of the semiconductor shortage and its impacts on vehicle supply chains. BEIS officials are working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) who are leading on this issue. DCMS is working closely with companies affected by this shortage to discuss interim support measures and supply solutions, as well as lobbying for a coordinated multilateral response through the G7. DCMS is also engaging bilaterally with key supplier countries like the US and Japan, to lobby for fair UK access to currently constrained supply and address systemic issues in the sector to avoid future repetition of the current shortage.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
14th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he is taking steps to prevent the extension of the Cambo heavy crude field; and what discussions he has had with the Oil and Gas Authority on the environmental impact of those proposals.

While we are working hard to drive down demand for fossil fuels, there will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years as recognised by the independent Climate Change Committee. The UK is a net importer of both oil and gas and reducing domestic production would only lead to higher imports from other countries on a net basis.

The Cambo field was licensed in 2001 and 2004 and consent to proceed to production will be a matter for our expert regulators, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), and the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED), following their standard regulatory processes. As is normal for such a site, our regulators submit these proposals to extensive scrutiny, including a full environmental impact assessment and a public consultation. This process is currently underway.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
9th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he made an assessment of the potential merits of delaying bounce back loan repayments for 12 months to enable local businesses to recover from the covid-19 outbreak.

We have always been clear that businesses are responsible for repaying any finance they take out. However, we recognise that some borrowers will benefit from additional flexibility with regards to their repayments. That is why we announced the Pay As You Grow measures last year.

Pay As You Grow is designed to provide Bounce Back Loan borrowers more time and flexibility over their repayments by giving them the option to:

  • Extend the length of the loan from six years to ten.
  • Make interest-only payments for six months, with the option to use this up to three times throughout the loan.
  • Take up a six-month repayment holiday. This option is available once during the term of their loan.

Businesses are able to use these options either individually or in combination with each other. These are only available once a business has started making repayments on the loan. In addition, they have the option to fully repay their loan early and will face no early repayment charges for doing so.

The British Business Bank has a range of guidance and resources available to all businesses, including content on managing cashflow and a list of independent advice services. Details can be found at: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/finance-hub/dealing-with-debt/.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
28th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has met with representatives of the UK book industry to discuss the potential impact of an international copyright exhaustion regime on that industry.

Officials at the Intellectual Property Office (an executive agency of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) which is responsible for policy development on the UK’s IP exhaustion regime have met with representatives of the UK book industry to discuss the potential impact of an international IP exhaustion regime on that industry. The Government will continue to do so as part of the public consultation on the UK’s future exhaustion of intellectual property rights regime.

The Government welcomes views from businesses and consumers and encourages interested parties to respond to the consultation.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
27th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to expand access to unfair dismissal for temporary and agency workers who are not considered to be employees.

The UK has one of the best employment rights records in the world. We have made good progress in bringing forward measures that add flexibility for workers while ensuring the protection of employment rights, such as banning the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

An individual’s employment rights are determined by their employment status (employee, limb (b) worker or self-employed). Employees are entitled to all rights including unfair dismissal (subject to qualifying periods) and have responsibilities towards their employer. So-called “limb (b) workers” are only entitled to some rights such as the National Minimum Wage but have increased flexibility and fewer obligations to their employer. The self-employed generally have no employment rights but have complete flexibility in their work. We believe our three-tiered Employment Status structure provides the right balance for the UK Labour Market.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
26th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the National Security and Investment: Sectors in Scope of the Mandatory Regime, published March 2021, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the sample size of respondents with respect to providing a basis for legislation.

The Government received 94 written responses to the consultation on the sectors in scope of the mandatory notification regime. The responses were used to refine and narrow the definitions for the basis of secondary legislation to provide further clarity for parties on whether their proposed acquisition comes in scope of the mandatory notification regime.

There were substantial responses for each sector definition and the responses received were representative of the key areas of the economy. This included investors, individuals, regulators, individual businesses, legal and advisory firms, trade associations and industry groups, academics and regulators. In addition, the Government has engaged informally with external stakeholders across the economy on the proposed descriptions.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what impact assessment he has undertaken on the reduction in Official Development Assistance on funding for UKRI.

The Government recognises the importance of supporting international research partnerships, and supporting the UK research sector. Our commitment to research and innovation has been clearly demonstrated by my Rt. Hon. Friend Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget announcement of increasing investment in R&D across government to £14.6bn in 2021/22, and as has been set out in our Integrated Review ambitions, international collaboration is central to a healthy and productive R&D sector.

We are working with UKRI and all our Global Challenges Research Fund and Newton Fund Delivery Partners to manage the impact of next year’s ODA allocation.

Amanda Solloway
Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with reference to the Prime Minister's press release of 12 December 2020, PM announces the UK will end support for fossil fuel sector overseas, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of implementing that policy with immediate effect.

The related consultation launched by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 12 December 2020, ‘Aligning UK international support for the clean energy transition’, set out four possible timing options for implementation of the above referenced policy shift – March 2021, June 2021, October 2021 and Later than 2021. The consultation closed on 8 February 2021, the Government is considering the evidence received, and will respond in due course.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade
11th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will provide additional financial support to the wedding industry.

I meet regularly with the industry-led Weddings Taskforce to understand the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and jobs in the sector.

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

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the economic effect of the covid-19 pandemic on travel agencies.

We know how difficult the current national and international restrictions are for the travel sector, with businesses having already faced many months of reduced trade. Impacted businesses can access a range of Government support measures, including the extended furlough and self-employed support schemes, as well as various government-backed loans.

We are regularly assessing Covid-19’s impact on tourism businesses and are continuing to engage across Government and with stakeholders - such as the Association of British Travel Agents and Association of Independent Tour Operators - to assess how we can most effectively support the recovery of travel and tourism across the UK.

The Government has also committed to producing a Tourism Recovery Plan setting out the transformation and growth of the sector over the next five years as part of our economic recovery.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps the Government is taking to provide targeted financial support for the travel agency industry during the covid-19 pandemic.

We recognise that these are extremely challenging conditions for businesses in the travel sector, including tour operators and travel agents, which is why we’ve provided a range of targeted measures to see the sector through COVID-19.

On top of our wider economic support package, we've provided business rates relief and one-off grants for eligible hospitality and leisure businesses – and we’ve cut VAT for tourism and hospitality activities from 20% to 5% until the end of March.

Additionally, on 18 July the Government announced that ATOL-protected holidaymakers can book with confidence following confirmation that the Government will protect refund credit notes offered if packages are cancelled as a result of COVID-19.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
16th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of establishing a compensation scheme in order to grant financial redress to customers of Football Index.

The government appreciates the significant impact that the collapse of the novel gambling product Football Index had on former customers. BetIndex, the company which operated Football Index, went into liquidation on 5 November. The process is continuing and it is likely that this will result in some amounts being reimbursed to creditors. There is no compensation scheme for losses caused by a gambling firm ceasing to operate and the government does not think it would be appropriate to use public funds for these purposes.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to tackle the environmental impact of auto racing.

Motorsports, as with other sports, operate independently of the government, setting their own rules and regulations in line with those of their International (Sport) Federations and relevant overarching legislation.

I note the work of many motorsports bodies in their environmental impact, such as Formula 1 aiming to be Net Zero Carbon by 2030 and with the growth of new disciplines such as Formula E.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions she has had with representatives of public (a) galleries and (b) museums on the provision to customers of telephone numbers to ensure that those customers without access to the internet can find relevant information.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport recently met with representatives from museums and museum sector bodies and discussed the accessibility of museums amongst other topics.

Access policies are a matter for the museum in question, as they, including the DCMS sponsored museums, operate independently from the government. However, the government supports the Museum Accreditation Scheme, the UK-wide standard for the sector, via its arms-length body Arts Council England. Requirements for accreditation include that museums have an Access Policy and an Access Plan to maintain (and where possible to improve) the physical, sensory and intellectual access to their collections, information about their collections, and access to the buildings housing their collections. There are currently more than 1700 museums participating in the scheme across the UK.

The DCMS sponsored museums are also required to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty, and are expected to act in such a way as to maximise attendance and broaden audiences.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of amending the Broadcasting Act 1996 so that all Group A listed events must be aired on free-to-air television.

The government does not have plans to review the listed events regime at this time. We believe that the current listed events regime works well to deliver the best outcome and strikes an appropriate balance between retaining free-to-air sports events for the public while allowing rights holders to negotiate agreements in the best interests of their sport.

21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what his timetable is for publishing the findings of the independent review into the collapse of Football Index announced on 20 April 2021.

The Secretary of State has appointed Malcolm Sheehan QC to lead the independent review of the Football Index gambling product. He will provide an independent expert account of the actions taken by the Gambling Commission and other relevant regulatory bodies, and consider the lessons to be learnt for the future. As outlined in my Written Ministerial Statement of 7 June, the independent review is expected to provide a report for publication in the summer. The statement can be found at: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2021-06-07/hcws63 and the scope and terms of reference for the review are available on gov.uk.

21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for what reason the guidance for the performing arts sector recently published by his Department diverges from previous guidance which stated that non-professional music activity could take place outdoors and indoors in England from 17 May 2021.

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

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

We will continue to keep guidance and restrictions under review, in line with the changing situation. Further detail on step 4 will be set out as soon as possible.

21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on what date indoor rehearsals of amateur singing choirs of more than six people will be permitted.

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

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

We will continue to keep guidance and restrictions under review, in line with the changing situation. Further detail on step 4 will be set out as soon as possible.

18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he plans to take to support the (a) Victoria and Albert Museum and (b) wider heritage sector.

We have supported the Victoria and Albert Museum (“V&A”), an arms’ length body, since the very start of the pandemic and will continue to do so. The V&A has benefited considerably from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, it received tailored revenue support from the Government last year, and is eligible for additional investment this year. Furthermore, we are investing in the V&A’s estate to help with the maintenance of its unique heritage interiors.

Likewise, the Government has provided unprecedented support to the arts, heritage and museums sectors through the Cultural Recovery Fund which has distributed over £1.2 billion, reaching over 5000 individual organisations and sites. This includes £53 million to specifically support construction and conservation projects at heritage sites across England. This fund has supported over 1000 projects directly and is estimated to have safeguarded between 744 and 1137 heritage construction and conservation jobs.

22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential effect of the absence of a Government-backed insurance scheme for the festivals sector on that sector.

This Government recognises the importance of the UK’s live music sector, and in particular Music Festivals known around the world.

More than £21 million from our unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund has supported over 100 festivals to continue trading including Boomtown, Shambala, Glastonbury and Deer Shed Festival.

Our science-led Events Research Programme (ERP) is also exploring ways in which we can bring larger audiences back safely to the arts this summer if public health conditions allow and we recently announced an outdoor music pilot event at Sefton Park in Liverpool on 2nd May which will provide some valuable data for outdoor events settings featuring unstructured movement of people.

We are aware of the wider concerns about securing indemnity for live events and we continue to assess all available options to provide further support to the sector within the public health context.

25th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) a Seat Out to Help Out scheme to support live entertainment and (b) providing individual funding for musicians and other freelancers in England via the Cultural Recovery Fund on a similar basis to the support available in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’ announced by the Prime Minister on the 22 February provides a roadmap out of the current lockdown in England, including for live events. Once theatres and live entertainment venues are able to reopen, we want the public to show their support by attending events, and we will continue to review all viable options to ensure the successful reopening of the live entertainment sector.

DCMS continues to engage with HM Treasury to ensure the needs of our sectors are factored into the developing economic response, and that DCMS sectors, including the music sector, are supported throughout this time. The Government recognises the significant challenge the current pandemic poses to many individuals and freelancers working in the music industry, and we are working very hard to help freelancers in this sectors access support, including through Arts Council England and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) which will continue until September with a fourth and fifth grant. Individuals will be able to qualify for the new grants based on their 2019-20 tax returns. This means that over 600,000 self-employed individuals may be newly eligible for the SEISS, including many new to self-employment in 2019-20.

18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) making online abuse a specific criminal offence and (b) making verified identification a requirement for opening a social media account.

Being anonymous online does not give anyone the right to abuse others. Under the new Online Safety framework, which will be introduced in the Online Safety Bill later this year, companies in scope will need to limit the spread of illegal abuse on their services, including illegal anonymous abuse. Major platforms will also need to set out clearly what legal content is acceptable on their platform, and stick to it. The major online services and social media platforms will also need to take action with regard to legal but harmful content

The Government has sponsored a Law Commission review of harmful online communications, which is considering whether current law needs updating to help tackle online abuses. The Law Commission has consulted on provisional reforms and will issue final recommendations later this year, which we will carefully consider.

There are many legitimate reasons why an individual would not wish to identify themselves online. Whistleblowers, victims of modern slavery and survivors of domestic abuse may wish to stay anonymous, to protect their identity online. Our proposals strike the right balance between protecting users’ rights online, while preserving freedom of expression.

16th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of including the English language teaching sector in current and future covid-19 related support measures targeted at the tourism, leisure and hospitality industries.

English Language Schools have been, and are, able to benefit from a wide variety of Government support, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until September, a variety of generous Government backed loan schemes and grants through the Additional Restrictions Grant scheme.

Although funding issued under the Additional Restrictions Grant scheme is ultimately issued at the discretion of Local Authorities, we encourage and expect them to be sympathetic to applications from English Language Schools, as well as other businesses in the tourism supply chain which have been affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how much spending has been allocated to the Festival UK* 2022 in (a) 2021-22 and (b) 2022-23; and from which departmental budget that spending will be taken.

For 2021-22, £29.1 million has been allocated to Festival UK 2022 for delivery in England, with a further £58.6 million allocated for 2022-23. This funding will be taken from the DCMS budget. These spending forecasts do not include the Barnett allocations to the devolved nations, which is administered by HM Treasury.

21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to increase funding to the Public Lending Right fund.

The Public Lending Right fund amount is set for the Spending Review period. The British Library administers the Public Lending Right Scheme on behalf of the government and the funding level of the PLR would form part of the consideration of British Library’s overall funding at the next Spending Review.

1st Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether his Department has plans to review the role of the Independent Press Standards Organisation in the regulation of the news media.

The government is committed to the independent self-regulation of the press and does not intervene in the operation of independent regulators. There have been significant changes to press self-regulation since the Leveson Inquiry and there now exists a strengthened, independent, self-regulatory system. Sir Joseph Pilling’s 2016 review of IPSO found that it had made some important achievements in demonstrating that it is an independent and effective regulator, and it has made further progress since then.

10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent steps he has taken to tackle problem gambling.

All gambling operators offering services in Britain are subject to strict regulation and must abide by rigorous requirements for the protection of children and vulnerable people. In the last year, the government and the Gambling Commission have acted to strengthen these protections further, including a ban on credit card gambling, making participation in the self-exclusion scheme GAMSTOP mandatory for online operators, and issuing new guidance for operators to address the potential for some customers to be at heightened risk during the Covid period. In addition, the Gambling Commission introduced tighter controls on VIP schemes which came into force at the end of October, and has recently launched a consultation on measures to ensure operators have robust procedures in place to identify and intervene with those who may be at risk of gambling harm.

According to the 2016 combined Health Survey, the 2017 Health Survey for Scotland and the 2018 Health Survey for England, the problem gambling rate among adults has remained stable at around 0.6-0.8%. The NHS Long Term Plan made a commitment to expand the geographical coverage of NHS services for people with serious gambling problems through the opening of an additional 14 serious problem gambling clinics by 2023/24. In July 2019, government secured a commitment from five large operators for a tenfold increase in their contributions to the research, prevention and treatment of problem gambling over four years, rising from 0.1% to 1% of gross gambling yield. This includes a commitment to spend £100m on treatment over this period. The Department for Health and Social Care continues to work with the NHS and GambleAware to support the expansion and alignment of existing treatment services.

The government has committed to reviewing the Gambling Act 2005 to make sure it is fit for the digital age. Further details will be announced in due course.

Nigel Huddleston
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that young people have access to a wide choice of T-Levels that meet individual (a) needs and (b) interests; and what steps he is taking to ensure that their choice is not limited to (i) their location and (ii) local industries.

T Levels are being introduced across 11 different industry areas, from Engineering & Manufacturing and Digital, to Creative & Design and Science. The rollout of T Levels began last year with three subjects offered by 43 providers. 10 T Levels are now offered by over 100 providers. These numbers will grow year on year and over 20 T Levels will be available by 2023. This gradual introduction has meant T Levels got off to a high-quality start with feedback from both providers and students has been positive.

Current T Level providers are based across the country, and we have ensured they are represented in Opportunity Areas. As the rollout continues, coverage will increase and more students will benefit from these pioneering new qualifications. Young people will also benefit from improved, high-quality information, advice and guidance to help them make informed choices about the course that is right for them.

T Level content is designed by employers, so they will meet students’ needs by giving them the skills and knowledge needed by business. Current T Level students have been particularly enthusiastic about industry placements, which allow them to hone their technical skills in their chosen occupational specialism.

As with other education provisions, we do not expect all T Levels to be available in all post-16 providers. Providers will choose which courses to offer based on a number of factors, including their current post-16 offer and the local labour market situation. This is no different to current arrangements. The department has given extensive support to ensure providers can work with local employers to offer industry placements, and the National Apprenticeship Service is helping to match providers and employers, particularly targeting areas where there may be gaps in provision.

As part of our review of level 3 qualifications, we have set out the range of situations where we see a role for other technical qualifications to sit alongside T Levels. For 16-19 year olds this includes qualifications enabling entry to occupations not covered by T Levels. Information on reforms to post-16 qualifications at level 3 in England can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reforms-to-post-16-qualifications-at-level-3-in-england.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing breakfast provisions in schools for children in poverty.

The department knows that it is important for pupils to start the day with a nutritious breakfast. Between March 2018 and July 2021, the National School Breakfast Programme for schools in disadvantaged areas has supported up to 2,450 schools to establish and develop breakfast clubs, and to sustain them in the longer term. We are now investing up to £24 million in a new two year contract to continue our support for school breakfast provision until July 2023.

The department recognises that healthy breakfast clubs can play an important role in ensuring children from all backgrounds have a healthy start to their day so that they enhance their learning potential. An independent evaluation by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, published by the Education Endowment Foundation, found that supporting schools to run a free of charge, universal breakfast club before school delivered, on average, 2 months of additional progress for pupils in key stage 1 with moderate to low security. The evaluation is available here: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/projects-and-evaluation/projects/magic-breakfast. A 2017 evaluation commissioned by the department also found that schools perceived important benefits from having a breakfast club, including improving concentration and behaviour in class. This is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/breakfast-clubs-in-high-deprivation-schools.

Throughout the current contract, the department will be working with our provider, Family Action, to monitor different aspects of the current programme, including the benefits the programme is having on pupils who are attending. We will consider the best opportunities to share information on the programme as it progresses.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Ceramics pathway for the Craft and Design T-Level, what estimate he has made of the number of ceramics studios able to offer industry placements to cover all regions of England.

T Levels are based on the same occupational standards as apprenticeships and the outline content is designed by panels of employers, industry experts and education providers, working with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. In developing the outline content for the Craft and Design T Level, which is rolling out in September 2023, the T Level panel took account of a number of factors when determining the occupational specialisms of jewellery making and ceramics making, including deliverability and likely demand from employers and students.

The department is investing in direct support to employers and providers to increase the number of industry placements available for all T Levels, across all regions. We have invested over £200 million since the 2018/19 academic year to help providers build their capacity and networks with employers, and we are engaging directly with employers through the National Apprenticeship Service to develop a pipeline of industry placements. We are also working with key intermediaries to develop innovative ways to stimulate the small and mid-size enterprises market, which includes targeting specific industries and geographical regions, and we have established a T Level employer ambassador network to engage with others in their industries on T Levels and industry placements.

There is also a comprehensive package of support available for employers, which offers online guidance, webinars and direct hands-on support to help them prepare for industry placements, and we are further developing our communications materials to continue to raise the profile of T Levels to employers. We will continue to monitor the availability of industry placements across the country to ensure that all T Level students have a high-quality placement.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, in the context of the Jewellery making pathway for the Craft and Design T-Level, what assessment he has made of the number of jewellery makers able to offer industry placements to cover all regions of England.

T Levels are based on the same occupational standards as apprenticeships and the outline content is designed by panels of employers, industry experts and education providers, working with the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. In developing the outline content for the Craft and Design T Level, which is rolling out in September 2023, the T Level panel took account of a number of factors when determining the occupational specialisms of jewellery making and ceramics making, including deliverability and likely demand from employers and students.

The department is investing in direct support to employers and providers to increase the number of industry placements available for all T Levels, across all regions. We have invested over £200 million since the 2018/19 academic year to help providers build their capacity and networks with employers, and we are engaging directly with employers through the National Apprenticeship Service to develop a pipeline of industry placements. We are also working with key intermediaries to develop innovative ways to stimulate the small and mid-size enterprises market, which includes targeting specific industries and geographical regions, and we have established a T Level employer ambassador network to engage with others in their industries on T Levels and industry placements.

There is also a comprehensive package of support available for employers, which offers online guidance, webinars and direct hands-on support to help them prepare for industry placements, and we are further developing our communications materials to continue to raise the profile of T Levels to employers. We will continue to monitor the availability of industry placements across the country to ensure that all T Level students have a high-quality placement.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to increase the number of people working in the early years sector in England.

The majority of the early years’ workforce are employed in private, voluntary and independent organisations and those employers are responsible for recruiting sufficient staff in line with the requirements set out in the statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.

The government recognises that high-quality childcare, with a well-qualified workforce, has a powerful impact on children’s outcomes and we have announced a £153 million investment in early years education to build a stronger, more expert workforce, enabling settings to deliver high quality teaching and help address the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the youngest children, particularly those in the most disadvantaged areas. Within this investment we have substantially expanded the number of places that we fund for initial teacher training in early years, to increase the supply of qualified graduates to the sector.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether (a) art and design, (b) sport and (c) music and performing arts will be offered as T-Level courses for students in England.

We are introducing over 20 T Levels in a wide range of subject areas by 2023, which will boost access to high quality technical education for thousands of young people.

There are no plans currently to introduce T Levels in the areas of art and design, sport or music and the performing arts. T Levels in craft and design will be made available from 2023 and will contain content of relevance to the art and design sector – including occupational specialisms such as textiles, ceramics and jewellery making. The outline content for this qualification can be found at: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/media/5021/craft-and-design-final-outline-content.pdf.

The T Level in Media, Broadcast and Production, also due to be introduced from 2023, will offer occupational specialisms of relevance to the music and performing arts industry, including Creative Media Technician, Events and Venues Technician and Content Creation and Production. The outline content for this qualification can be found at: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/t-levels/approved-t-level-technical-qualifications-and-final-outline-content/final-outline-content/ under the heading 'creative and design'.

We are not currently developing any further T Levels. In July we set out our final plans for the range of situations where we see a role for other technical qualifications to sit alongside T Levels, further information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reforms-to-post-16-qualifications-at-level-3-in-england. For 16-19 year olds this includes qualifications enabling entry to occupations not covered by T Levels.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether T-Level students in England can resit (a) a component or (b) components of their course; and how those resits will be funded for each student.

T Levels have several components that are required for completion. Students can re-take all elements of the T Level Technical Qualification and the timing of retakes will depend on the availability of assessments set by the T Level awarding organisation. As per study programmes for young people, retakes of components are not generally eligible for funding as the activity has already been funded. In exceptional circumstances students may be eligible for funding, and institutions will need to consider the relevant funding guidance.

T Levels require students to have achieved level 2 mathematics and English by the end of their course, either through Functional Skills or GCSEs, and students will be able to resit these throughout their course. Institutions also have the discretion to allow students to make up the required industry placements hours, up to 2 years after finishing their T Level programme, should they need to. This is the same for other T Level components.

Alex Burghart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of maintaining the student loan repayment threshold at its current level in England.

As part of the wider Review of Post-18 Education and Funding, we continue to consider carefully the recommendations made by the independent panel that reported to the review, including those around fees and funding for higher education. We plan to set out a full conclusion to the Review in due course.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress his Department has made on introducing alternative student finance options for Muslim students.

I refer the hon. Members for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough, and Ealing Central and Acton to the answer I gave on 18 October 2021 to Question 53884.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
19th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of awarding (a) teachers and (b) all other school staff in England a pay rise.

The government is grateful to all teachers, leaders and other staff in schools who have worked incredibly hard throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, including the dedication they have shown in enabling schools to remain open and working in new ways to support pupils with remote education.

In the September 2020 pay award, teachers received an average award of 3.1%, with starting salaries receiving a generous uplift of 5.5%, helping to increase the competitiveness of teacher pay in the wider labour market. The department recognises the decision to pause pay rises in 2021/22 is disappointing, but it ensures we can get the public finances back onto a sustainable path after unprecedented government spending on the response to COVID-19. The government is reassessing the public sector pay policy ahead of the 2022 pay round, once the economic recovery is established and the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the wider labour market is clearer.

The department does not set pay for non-teaching staff in schools. Employers have the freedom to set pay and conditions to suit their circumstances. Most schools use the local government pay scales and employers are required to pay at least the statutory minimum wage. Data published in the School Workforce Census in 2020 shows that the average salary for full-time general teaching assistants has increased year on year since 2017.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
15th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing laptops to all disadvantaged secondary school pupils in England.

The department recognises the importance of the availability of laptops and other technology, in particular for disadvantaged children and young people who may not have access to a device of their own. This is why we have already provided over 1.35 million devices, via schools, colleges and local authorities, which are responsible for allocating them to those pupils who need them most.

On Friday 22 October, the department announced that a further 500,000 devices will be provided this academic year, which brings the total investment to over £520 million.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to publish a long-term funding plan for the Holiday Activities and Food Programme.

Our holiday activities and food programme has provided healthy food and enriching activities to disadvantaged children. For 2021, it was expanded to every local authority across England and was backed by up to £220 million. It builds on previous pilots of the programme operating since 2018, including last summer’s, which supported around 50,000 children across 17 local authorities.

As with other programmes, a decision on future funding is dependent upon the forthcoming spending review.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of expanding eligibility for (a) free school meals and (b) the Healthy Start scheme.

We think it is important that free school meal support is targeted at those that need it most. Free school meals (FSM) are an integral part of our provision for families on low incomes and our wider actions to promote social mobility.

Under the benefits-related criteria, there are currently around 1.7 million pupils eligible for and claiming a free school meal. An additional 1.3 million infants receive a free meal under the Universal Infant FSM policy.

Eligibility for the Department of Health and Social Care Healthy Start scheme is kept under continuous review and aligns closely with other passported benefits across government. There are no current plans to change eligibility for the scheme with regard to the earnings threshold or the qualifying age range.

The government will consider the recommendations in Henry Dimbleby’s independent review when developing the forthcoming Food Strategy White Paper.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Initial teacher training market review report, published in July 2021, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the proposals set out in that report on the numbers of trainee teachers being trained on university-run courses.

The review focused on producing recommendations aimed at increasing the quality, consistency and coherence of Initial Teacher Training for trainee teachers. Ensuring there are sufficient teachers in the subjects that schools require is one of the priorities of the review and the department will proceed carefully to ensure this is maintained. We intend to respond to the report and its recommendations this autumn.

The department has engaged widely with stakeholders and sought opinions through the consultation to help us understand any potential impact of the proposals on the numbers of trainee teachers. If the recommendations are accepted, the department’s priority during the transition period to any new configuration will be ensuring that the capacity continues to offer enough training places to meet the continuing teacher supply needs across the whole education system. The department expects any future landscape to consist of a diverse range of provision and partnerships, including higher education institutions and school-based providers, as it does now.

Robin Walker
Minister of State (Education)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reversing reductions to the Higher Education Teaching Grant Budget for England in 2021-22 for performing arts and creative subjects.

In January 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, asked the Office for Students to reform the Strategic Priorities Grant for the 2021/22 academic year. The Strategic Priorities Grant is a limited funding pot provided by government to support the provision of higher education. Reprioritisation of this funding is needed to ensure value for money, and support strategic priorities across the sector, including provision of courses vital for the economy and labour markets, and continued support for disadvantaged students and underrepresented groups. The reforms he proposed include: the reallocation of high-cost subject funding (extra money given to providers to deliver expensive subjects) towards the provision of high-cost subjects that support the NHS and wider healthcare policy, STEM, and specific labour market needs; and the removal of the London Weighting element of the Grant.

The Office for Students (OfS) consulted on the Secretary of State’s proposals and has recently published its conclusions. The consultation responses were carefully analysed, and the issues raised were considered by both the OfS and the Secretary of State in reaching their respective decisions about the allocation of the Strategic Priorities Grant in 2021/22.

For the 2021/22 academic year, total funding for high-cost subjects, such as medicine and engineering, is 12% higher than last year, an increase of £81 million. The high-cost subject funding rate for arts and music courses has been set at £121.50; this is equivalent to a reduction of around 1% in combined funding (on a per-student basis) from a £9,250 tuition fee and Office for Students grant funding compared to 2020/21.

Despite the need to reprioritise taxpayers’ money, the government continues to value performing arts and creative subjects. High-quality provision in a range of subjects is critical for our workforce and our public services, as well as being intellectually rewarding and culturally enriching for those studying them and wider society.

As part of the same reform programme, we have asked the OfS to invest an additional £10 million in our world-leading specialist providers, many of which specialise in arts provision. We want to ensure that such providers receive additional support, and that grant funding is used effectively to support students.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the guidance issued by his Department entitled Schools COVID-19 operational guidance, what options his Department is investigating to help improve ventilation in school settings; and what steps his Department has taken to implement those ventilation improvements in schools.

On 21 August, the Department announced that carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors will be provided to all state-funded nurseries, schools, and further education colleges from September. Backed by £25 million of government funding, the new monitors will enable staff to act quickly where ventilation is poor and provide reassurance that existing ventilation measures are working.

The programme will provide nurseries, schools, and further education colleges with sufficient monitors to take representative readings from across the indoor spaces in their estate. It is expected that monitors will confirm that, in most cases, existing ventilation is sufficient.

The majority of monitors will become available over the autumn term, with special schools and alternative provision prioritised to receive their full allocation from September given their higher than average numbers of vulnerable pupils.

The Department will also shortly provide new guidance on how to better manage ventilation, including how using CO2 monitors can help.

The Government has also launched a trial of air purifiers in 30 schools in Bradford, which is designed to assess the technology in education settings and whether they could reduce the risk of transmission.

5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of providing daily lateral flow tests to schools and other education settings to prevent pupils who remain covid-19 negative following a positive covid-19 contact from being required to isolate for 10 days.

Between March and June this year, over 200 secondary schools and colleges participated in the independently monitored, voluntary trial of Daily Contact Testing, which was approved by Public Health England’s independent Research and Ethics Governance Group.

The aim of the trial was to keep pupils in face-to-face education, whilst reducing the risk of community transmission of COVID-19. The trial consisted of two randomised groups, a control group and an intervention group.

  • The control group quarantined contacts of positive cases
  • The intervention group enabled daily contact testing of contacts, instead of 10 days isolation

The trial concluded on 25 June 2021, and its findings are expected shortly. The Department has not been informed of the results of the independent trial in order to protect the integrity of the study. The trial’s findings need to be evaluated fully before any decisions can be made by the Government on how Daily Contact Testing may be used in the future.

30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to increase the uptake of covid-19 testing during the summer 2021 term.

Rapid testing is a vital part of the Government’s plan to supress COVID-19. Testing is voluntary but staff, pupils and students are strongly encouraged to participate in the education testing programme to help to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in school and college settings and the community.

Pupils, students, and staff have made an incredible and important contribution to the Government’s mass testing programme. As of 23 June, over 60.5 million tests have been completed in total through education settings since January. In recent weeks, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has written open letters to all parents, and to schools and college leaders, to thank them for their contribution so far and to encourage them to continue their efforts to keep pupils and students testing until the end of term.

The Department has worked in partnership with NHS Test and Trace to understand the barriers to rapid testing amongst school and college students and to take steps to encourage uptake of both testing and the reporting of results. These steps have included: improvements to the digital journey for parents, providing advice and guidance to schools and colleges, utilising a range of communications channels to reach parents and pupils directly, collecting and sharing best practice, and giving schools and colleges access to aggregate testing data for their setting to support them to take action where participation rates are low.

30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will review the decision to reduce the funding available to help schools in England cover the costs of implementing covid-19-related mitigations.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, schools have continued to receive their core funding regardless of any periods of reduced attendance. School budgets increased by £2.6 billion in the 2020/21 financial year and will increase by a further £4.8 billion in 2021/22 and £7.1 billion in 2022/23 compared to the 2019/20 financial year. Any decisions on future funding will be made as part of this year’s Spending Review.

The Department has provided additional funding to schools, on top of existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. Through the exceptional costs fund, schools could claim costs incurred between March and July 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak that could not be met from their budgets. The Department has paid schools £139 million for all claims within the published scope of the fund across both application windows.

There are no current plans to reopen the exceptional costs fund. Schools will be able to use their existing budgets to help with all other costs associated with COVID-19.

The COVID-19 workforce fund for schools and colleges helped those schools with high staff absences and also facing significant financial pressures to remain open. It funded the costs of teacher absences over a threshold from 1 November 2020 until the end of the autumn term 2020.

The Workforce Fund was introduced at a time when workforce absence and community transmission were high nationally. Workforce absence has since reduced and remained lower than in the autumn term. Schools may need to alter the way in which they deploy their staff, and use existing staff more flexibly as set out in our guidance. These include making best use of teaching assistants, hosting initial teacher trainees, using volunteers, engaging supply staff using in-year allocated budget, and seeking support from their local authority or trust.

Schools continue to be able to access existing support for financial issues, including a wide range of school resource management tools, and in serious circumstances, additional funding or advances from local authorities for maintained schools, or the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academy trusts.

30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to review the guidance on covid-19 bubbles within schools ahead of the summer holidays.

From Step 4 it will no longer be necessary to keep children and young people in consistent groups (‘bubbles’). This means that bubbles will not need to be used for any summer provision (for example, summer schools) or in schools from the autumn term.

As well as enabling flexibility in curriculum delivery, this means that assemblies can resume, and schools no longer need to make alternative arrangements to avoid mixing at lunch. Schools and colleges may of course decide to keep the current arrangement for the last few days of term.

Schools and colleges should make sure their outbreak management plans cover the possibility that in some local areas it may become necessary to reintroduce ‘bubbles’ for a temporary period, to reduce mixing between groups.

Any decision to reintroduce ‘bubbles’ would not be taken lightly and would need to take account of the detrimental impact they can have on the delivery of education. The Department has worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England to develop guidance for schools.

24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the compatibility of (a) Step 3 guidance issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on covid-19 restrictions and indoor singing and (b) communications from his Department encouraging school children to sing the One Britain One Nation song on 25 June 2021.

The Department has not asked pupils to sing songs for One Britain One Nation day or endorsed any specific materials. However, our schools should promote fundamental British values including those relating to tolerance and respect. As such, the Department supports One Britain One Nation’s broad aims to help children learn about equality, kindness and pride, and it is for schools to decide how they teach these important values.

Singing is an important part of pupils’ education, especially as this builds confidence and supports wellbeing. The Department has continued to make it clear in all of our COVID-19 related guidance that schools are to continue to teach music and we have provided detailed advice on how schools can do this safely in class.

There may be an additional risk of infection where singing takes place, and the guidance provides detailed advice on how music can be taught safely. This is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/schools-coronavirus-covid-19-operational-guidance.

14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding for primary schools.

The Department increased core schools funding by £2.6 billion last year and is increasing core schools funding by £4.8 billion and £7.1 billion in the 2021/22 and 2022/23 financial years respectively, compared to the 2019/20 financial year. This investment has enabled us to increase funding for primary schools by 3.2% per pupil through the schools national funding formula (NFF) in 2021/22, compared to last year.

Every primary school will receive at least £4,000 per pupil this year, up from at least £3,750 per pupil last year. All schools will receive additional funds to cover additional teachers’ pay and pension costs, adding a further £180 to the minimum per pupil amount.

The Department are increasing the extra support the NFF provides to small, rural primary schools by increasing the maximum amount they can attract through the sparsity factor to £45,000, a significant increase from £26,000 last year. This has contributed to small and remote primary schools attracting on average 5.1% more per pupil through the NFF this year compared to last.

The Department reviews school funding on an ongoing basis and the NFF is designed to respond to changes in need, in order for us to target funding where evidence indicates it is most needed.

4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if the Government will issue an official apology to people affected by historic forced adoptions.

The government has, on several occasions, expressed its deepest sympathy for those affected by historical forced adoptions, and I completely endorse those sentiments. Practices in the past which led to such outcomes cannot now occur, not least because of the protection of legislation which has been introduced by successive governments and which is given effect by our independent judiciary. Birth parents also have legal representatives who are appointed to support them in court. These representatives ensure that the views of birth parents are heard and that evidence put forward can be challenged.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to implement a covid-19 recovery plan for disabled children and young people.

The Department is committed to helping all pupils, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Extended school and college restrictions have had a substantial impact on children and young people’s education, health and wellbeing. The Department is committed to supporting them and their families.

Sir Kevan Collins has been appointed as the Education Recovery Commissioner and is considering how schools and the system can more effectively target resources and support towards pupils in greatest need. In the development of this recovery plan, Sir Kevan is regularly meeting with a variety of stakeholders, including disabled young people and their families. Sir Kevan is reviewing how evidence-based interventions can be used to address the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak has had not just on academic outcomes, but on the physical and mental health of children and young people.

As part of this plan, both special schools and alternative provision will be able to access funding to provide summer schools and the National Tutoring Programme. The Department recognises the additional costs associated with offering provision to pupils in specialist settings. Eligible pupils in special schools, special units in mainstream primary and secondary schools, and alternative provision settings will attract a higher rate of funding for summer schools. We have also consistently prioritised children who attend specialist settings by providing additional uplifts both in the 2020 catch-up Premium and in the 2021 Recovery Premium.

Young people with SEND aged 19 to 24 who have an education, health and care plan will be eligible for support via the 16 to 19 Tuition Fund, where they meet the fund criteria. Colleges are asked to have regard to the needs of students with SEND when prioritising students that would benefit most from small group tuition. Furthermore, the proposals to support early language and literacy catch up will benefit all children, including those with SEND.

The Department will continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and its subsequent COVID-19 recovery plans on all pupils, including those with SEND, to ensure it targets support across the system most effectively.

11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to reverse the proposed reductions in funding for music and arts courses at Higher Education level in England.

The Strategic Priorities Grant, formerly referred to as the Teaching Grant, plays an important role in supporting providers and students to develop the skills and knowledge needed locally, regionally, and nationally to support the economy.

We have asked the Office for Students (OfS) to reform the Grant for the 2021-22 financial year. These reforms include the reallocation of high-cost subject funding towards the provision of high-cost subjects that support the NHS and wider healthcare policy, high-cost STEM subjects, and subjects meeting specific labour market needs.

One of our proposals is for a 50% reduction in the rate of high-cost subject funding, which is one element of the wider Strategic Priorities Grant, for some subjects in order to enable this reprioritisation. This will help to correct discrepancies which have seen, for example, media studies funded at a higher rate than mathematics or history.

It is important to note that the Strategic Priorities Grant accounts for a relatively small proportion of the total income of higher education providers today. For the providers losing funding due to this reallocation, the income lost would account for approximately 0.05% of their estimated total income, based on the latest data available.

This important reprioritisation of taxpayers’ money does not mean this government is devaluing the arts or social sciences. High-quality provision in a range of subjects is critical for our workforce, and our public services, and is culturally enriching for our society.

That is why, as part of the same reform programme, we have asked the OfS to invest an additional £10 million in our world-leading specialist providers, many of which specialise in arts provision. We want to ensure that our specialist providers receive additional support, and that grant funding is used to effectively support students.

The OfS has now publicly consulted on these proposals, and responses from universities, students and others will be taken into account before any final decisions on allocations are made.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Higher Education Update statement made on 13 April 2021, if he will publish the scientific advice for the decision to postpone in-person teaching for university students in England until at least 17 May 2021.

We are committed to taking a cautious approach to easing restrictions, guided by data instead of dates. Much of the data that has been used to inform decision making has already been published.

It is important that we continue to take a cautious – but irreversible – approach to re-opening. Moving too fast, too soon, risks a resurgence in infections, hospitalisations and deaths. Whilst we are aware that there is limited evidence of transmission in in-person teaching environments, we must not lose sight of the risks the virus poses and must stay vigilant throughout to ensure this roadmap provides a one-way passage to returning to a more normal life.

We have worked extremely closely with scientists and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to understand and model various scenarios to inform our plan that seeks to enable us to re-open the country without putting unsustainable pressure on the NHS. We have also examined economic and social data to get a balanced understanding of the impacts of carefully easing restrictions. The government has also carefully considered data on the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on ethnic minority communities, the vulnerable, the young and low-income groups.

The government has taken into account all the scientific advice and models that suggest that allowing additional indoor mixing at an earlier stage when prevalence is higher, and fewer people have been vaccinated, would result in significantly higher numbers of infections. This is why restrictions outdoors have been eased first and restrictions on most indoor activity will remain in place. As the number of people vaccinated increases, we anticipate being able to take steps to ease further as more people are protected.

A wealth of data, papers and evidence is being published at the same time as the roadmap, to ensure transparency on the information that the government has had available to it in reaching its decisions. This includes information from Public Health England:

  • Information on vaccine effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccination.
  • A surveillance report with a more detailed summary of the findings so far from the SARS-CoV-2 Immunity & REinfection EvaluatioN (SIREN) study and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections Watch.
  • A technical paper on the SIREN analysis being published (as a pre-print) by the Lancet.

The papers from SAGE include:

  • Minutes from the last 4 SAGE meetings.
  • Children’s Task and Finish Group paper: ‘COVID-19 in higher education settings, 10 February 2021’
  • 3 papers from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), with a summary of modelling on scenarios for easing restrictions, together with the supporting papers from modellers at Warwick and Imperial universities.
  • A collection of papers from SPI-M on “relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) and the re-opening of schools”, Independent Pandemic Scientific Insights Group on Behaviours (the behavioural experts’ sub-group of SAGE) on return to campus for the spring term and the risk of increased transmission from student migration.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, on what date will all university students be permitted to return to receive in-person teaching in response to the easing of covid-19 restrictions.

Following the review into when the remaining higher education students can return to in-person teaching and learning, the government has announced that the remaining students should return to in-person teaching no earlier than 17 May 2021, alongside Step 3 of the roadmap. Students and institutions will be given at least a week’s notice of any further return in accordance with the timing of Step 3 of the roadmap.

The government roadmap is designed to maintain a cautious approach to the easing of restrictions to reduce public health risks and ensure that we can maintain progress towards full reopening. However, the government recognises the difficulties and disruption that this may cause for many students and their families and that is why the government is making a further £15 million of additional student hardship funding available for this academic year 2020/21. In total we have made an additional £85 million of funding available for student hardship.

We are supporting universities to provide regular twice weekly asymptomatic testing for all students and staff on-site and, from May, at home. This will help break chains of transmission of the virus.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure students catch up with learning lost as a result of the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The Government is committed to helping children and young people make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In January 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, committed to work with parents, teachers, and pupils to develop a long-term plan to help pupils make up their education over the course of this Parliament. As an immediate step to support nurseries, schools, and colleges, on 24 February the Department committed an additional £700 million to support summer schools, tutoring, early language interventions and additional support to schools to help pupils make up their education. This builds on the £1 billion from last year and brings the total available to £1.7 billion.

The Department has appointed Sir Kevan Collins as the Education Recovery Commissioner to advise on the approach for education recovery and the development of a long term plan to help pupils make up their education over the course of this Parliament. Sir Kevan will engage with parents, pupils, and teachers in the development of this broader approach and review how evidence-based interventions can be used to address the impact the COVID-19 outbreak has had on education.

15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of funding universal breakfast clubs to give every child a healthy breakfast, more time to play with their friends and extra time for teachers to provide targeted catch-up support.

This Government wants pupils to be healthy and well nourished, and encourages pupils to adopt a healthy balanced diet and healthy life choices, through school funding, legislation and guidance.

Up to £24 million will be available to extend our support for school breakfast clubs until 2023, to make sure thousands of children in disadvantaged areas have a healthy start to the day. Further details on the invitation to tender for the delivery of the future programme can be found through the following link: https://education.app.jaggaer.com/web/login.html (under ‘View Opportunities’).

We know that breakfast clubs can bring a wide range of benefits for children. An evaluation by the Education Endowment Foundation found that supporting schools to run a free of charge, universal breakfast club before school delivered an average of 2 months’ additional progress for pupils in Key Stage 1 with moderate to low security. Breakfast club schools also saw an improvement in pupil behaviour and attendance.

The Department’s guidance has been updated to make clear that providers who run community activities, holiday clubs, breakfast or after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children, are able to continue to open for both outdoor and indoor provision, provided that they follow the protective measures set out by the Government in this guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protective-measures-for-holiday-or-after-school-clubs-and-other-out-of-school-settings-for-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

Parents and carers are only able to access settings for certain essential purposes. Providers should only offer indoor and outdoor face-to-face provision to vulnerable children and young people where the provision is reasonably necessary to enable their parents and carers to work, search for work or undertake education or training; attend a medical appointment, address a medical need or attend a support group; be used by electively home educating parents as part of their arrangements for their child to receive a suitable full-time education; or be used as part of their efforts to obtain a regulated qualification, meet the entry requirements for an education institution, or to undertake exams and assessments.

The Government is committed to helping children and young people make up education lost as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. This is why we have invested £1.7 billion to give early years, schools and colleges support to help pupils get back on track, including additional funding for tutoring, early language support and summer schools.

We have also appointed Sir Kevan Collins as Education Recovery Commissioner who will advise Ministers on the approach for education recovery, with a particular focus on helping pupils catch up on lost education as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of (a) changes to the Higher Education Teaching Grant budget for the 2021-22 financial year and (b) removal of London weighting on higher education in London.

The Strategic Priorities Grant, formerly referred to as the Teaching Grant, plays an important role in supporting providers and students to develop the skills and knowledge needed locally, regionally, and nationally to support the economy.

We have asked the Office for Students (OfS) to reform the grant for the 2021-22 financial year to ensure that more of taxpayers’ money is spent on supporting higher education provision which aligns with national priorities, such as healthcare, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and subjects meeting specific labour market needs.

The London weighting accounts for a small proportion of London providers’ incomes. Providers in London received around £64 million London weighting in the 2020-21 academic year, which is less than 1% of their estimated total income.

London universities will be able to benefit from the significant uplifts we are making to elements of the Strategic Priorities Grant, including the first real terms increase in years in per capita funding for high-cost subjects in grant funding, as well as being able to bid for capital investment to support the delivery of strategic subjects.

We have also asked the OfS for a £10 million increase to the specialist provider allocation, to support these institutions which are particularly reliant on Strategic Priorities Grant funding, many of whom are London-based. We want to ensure that our small and specialist providers, including some of our top music and arts providers, receive additional support, and that grant funding is used to effectively support students.

The OfS will consult on these changes shortly, before final allocations for the 2021-22 financial year are confirmed and will carefully consider the impact of any changes on providers.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to provide additional temporary classrooms ahead of schools and colleges reopening to all students on 8 March 2021.

From 8 March 2021, all schools, colleges and further education colleges should allow full attendance. To prepare for return to full attendance, schools and colleges should update their risk assessment and ensure they are implementing the system of controls as set out in guidance, to minimise the risk of infection. The guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/958906/Restricting_attendance_during_the_national_lockdown_schools_guidance.pdf and here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963584/Further_education_coronavirus__COVID-19__operational_guidance.pdf. This includes taking steps to minimise contact between individuals and maintain social distancing wherever possible. Measures have been further strengthened to provide more reassurance and to help decrease the disruption that the COVID-19 outbreak causes to education.

Whilst the Department encourages schools to make use of additional space, support older pupils to maintain distance and keep groups of pupils separate, we do not think that schools need to make significant changes to their buildings. By assessing risk and implementing all the measures, including ventilating occupied spaces, wearing face coverings when recommended and putting in place enhanced cleaning, schools will effectively manage risks and create an inherently safer environment for pupils and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. The way to control this virus is the same, even with the current new variants.

Colleges should also follow the measures set out in the guidance. They are advised to look to maximise the use of their sites and any associated available space. Following a risk assessment, colleges may determine that small adaptations to their sites are required. This will be at colleges’ discretion, based on their circumstances.

23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure schools and colleges are adequately ventilated.

At each stage of the Department's response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have listened to the latest medical and scientific advice. The Department has worked closely with other Departments, including Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as stakeholders across the sector, to ensure that our policy is based on the latest scientific and medical advice, and to continue to develop comprehensive guidance based on the PHE endorsed ‘system of controls’ and to understand the effectiveness of these measures on staff, pupils and parents.

It is important to ensure that schools are well ventilated and that a comfortable teaching environment is maintained.

Current evidence recommends that the way to control COVID-19 is the same, even with the current new variants. The PHE endorsed ‘system of controls’, in use throughout the COVID-19 outbreak set out in our published guidance and which includes ventilation, continues to be the appropriate set of measures to take. These measures create an inherently safer environment for children, young people, and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. PHE keeps all these controls under review, based on the latest evidence. Schools therefore need to continue to fully implement these controls. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

Our guidance signposts to further advice from the Health and Safety Executive on air conditioning and ventilation during the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidance can be found here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/equipment-and-machinery/air-conditioning-and-ventilation.htm.

More generally, in 2018, the Department published Building Bulletin 101 (BB101), which is guidance for school design on ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality. This guidance sets out the World Health Organisation’s air quality guidelines and Air Quality Standards Regulation 2010 for indoor air quality. BB101 requires the indoor environment of new or refurbished school buildings to be monitored by recording temperature and levels of carbon dioxide.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment the potential merits of allowing each primary school year group to return to school in-person on a part-time, rota basis when the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown measures are eased.

The Department is committed to getting all pupils and students back into schools and colleges full time, as soon as the public health picture allows, in terms of the spread of the virus in communities and the pressures on the NHS. In doing so, the Department will be guided by scientific and medical experts. Data and evidence are considered regularly, including that from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, the Joint Biosecurity Centre, Public Health England, and the Chief Medical Officers.

In the week commencing 22 February 2021, the Government will publish a plan for taking the country out of lockdown. Our aim will be to set out a gradual approach towards easing the restrictions in a sustainable way, guided by the principles we have observed throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, beginning with the most important principle of all: that reopening schools must be our national priority. We have committed to providing schools, parents and young people with a minimum of two weeks’ notice for this return to on-site provision. Additional pupils and students will return to on-site education on 8 March 2021 at the earliest.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of retrofitting schools, colleges and universities to net-zero emission standards by 2030.

Reduction in energy use in new and existing buildings to meet the legislative zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050 is a priority for the Government.

Schools can use their condition funding to invest in improving energy efficiency. Since 2015, the Department has allocated £9.5 billion to maintain and improve school buildings, including an additional £560 million in financial year 2020-21. The latest Spending Review committed a further £1.8 billion in financial year 2021-22 for maintaining and improving the school estate.

The Further Education (FE) Capital Transformation Fund delivers the Government’s £1.5 billion commitment to upgrade the FE college and designated institutions’ estate in England. This will target colleges in the worst condition and promote efficient use of space and support the government's objectives on achieving net zero carbon.

In 2020, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy set up the £1 billion Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme which provided grants for eligible public sector bodies, including schools and FE colleges to fund energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation measures. Higher education (HE) institutions were also eligible for these grants.

Whilst this scheme has now ended, schools, FE and HE institutions can apply for interest free loans through the government’s Salix scheme for public sector projects that improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of making learning about the climate emergency and ecological crisis a compulsory part of teaching training courses.

In November 2019, we published the new Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Core Content Framework (CCF) which sets out a core minimum entitlement for all trainees of what should be covered during their teacher training. From September 2020, all ITT courses will have to encompass the full entitlement described in the CCF into their ITT curricula for all subjects and phases.

The CCF is underpinned by robust independently reviewed evidence about what makes good teaching. There is a strong emphasis on the need for training to be subject and phase specific throughout the framework and it is for providers to ensure they carefully craft coherently sequenced curricula that meet the particular needs of their trainees.

The new ITT CCF does not replace the Teachers’ Standards and all ITT must be designed so that teacher trainees can demonstrate that they meet all of the Teachers' Standards at the appropriate level, including Section 3 ‘having a secure knowledge of the relevant subject(s) and curriculum areas’, which can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/665522/Teachers_standard_information.pdf.

29th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will update guidance for schools and colleges to ensure that clear face coverings are worn where necessary to meet the needs of deaf students and staff.

The Department’s guidance on face coverings can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education/face-coverings-in-education.

As the guidance outlines, during national lockdown, in schools and colleges where Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults (staff and visitors), pupils and students when moving around indoors, outside of classrooms and other teaching environments, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

Based on current evidence and the measures that schools and colleges are already putting in place, such as the system of controls and consistent bubbles, face coverings will not generally be necessary in the classroom.

Children in primary schools do not need to wear a face covering.

Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in schools and colleges.

Face coverings can make it more difficult to communicate with pupils and students with additional needs or those who many rely on lip reading or facial expressions for understanding. We expect staff to be sensitive to these needs when teaching and interacting with pupils and students.

Schools can get advice and support for children with hearing impairments from specialist teachers of the deaf. These teachers support children and young people with hearing impairment, and their families, from the point of diagnosis. The Department for Education also funds the whole school special educational needs and disability consortium (£1.9 million per annum), hosted by National Association for Special Educational Needs, to provide schools with access to resources and tips for the classroom, including for hearing impairment.

We continue to provide information to the sector on our guidance, and any changes to it, through regular departmental communications. We will also continue to work with Public Health England, as well as stakeholders across the sector, to monitor the latest scientific and medical advice and understand the impact of the system of controls on staff, pupils and parents.

27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to his oral contribution of 3 November 2020 on Exams and Accountability 2021, Official Report, column 435, what recent discussions he has had with universities on grading exams generously in response to disruptions to student learning as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The government recognises that students have faced many changes over the last year, as providers have had to adapt teaching, learning and assessment methods in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some universities have put in place policies stating that students should not be awarded a degree classification below their level of academic performance prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. It is designed by providers as a safety net for students to ensure they are not unfairly impacted by these challenging circumstances.

While providers are autonomous, and responsible for setting their own assessment practices, the government expects providers to make all reasonable efforts for student achievement to be reliably assessed and for qualifications to be awarded securely. It is vital that a fair approach to exams and assessment is in place and understood by students. The Office for Students (OfS), the higher education regulator in England, has issued guidance to the sector setting out expectations about provider approaches to teaching and assessment during this time. OfS guidance is clear - standards must be maintained, but clearly changes to assessments may be required in some circumstances.

The government will continue to work closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, professional bodies and the OfS to ensure students continue to leave university with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work and allow people to progress.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he plans to announce the details on GCSE and A-level assessments for summer 2021.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Government considers that exams cannot be held in a fair way. We have therefore announced that GCSE, AS and A level exams will not go ahead this summer as planned.

We have already confirmed our proposals that in summer 2021 students taking GCSE, AS and A levels regulated by Ofqual should be awarded grades based on an assessment by their teachers.

To provide clarity to the sector as soon as possible, and to ensure that our approach is developed with the sector, Ofqual and the Department launched a two week consultation on how to ensure all students are supported to move to the next stage of their lives.

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

19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing independent supermarkets and cafés to participate in the National Free School Meals Voucher scheme.

Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Iceland, the Company Shop Group, Waitrose, McColls and M&S are signed up to the national voucher scheme. We are keen to work with a wide range of supermarkets and encourage others to join – this involves them having the right infrastructure to deliver e-gift cards.

However, we recognise that other independent stores are also well placed to provide this support. Schools are free to decide the best approach for their free school meal pupils. They can provide lunch parcels, locally arranged vouchers, or they can use the national voucher scheme. If a school arranges a local voucher, they will be able to claim the costs back from the department. For more information, please see our guidance on free school meals: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what the criteria is for reopening schools and educational settings during the covid-19 outbreak in England.

Head teachers, teachers, and staff of schools and other education settings have been doing an extraordinary job to remain open, keep settings safe, and provide education for vulnerable children and young people and the children of critical workers.

We know that receiving face to face education is best for children’s mental health and for their educational achievement. We have resisted restrictions on attendance at schools and other education settings since the first lockdown but, in the face of the rapidly rising numbers of cases across the country and intense pressure on the NHS, we now need to use every lever at our disposal to reduce all our social contacts wherever possible. Limiting attendance during the national lockdown is about supporting the reduction of the overall number of social contacts in our communities.

During the period of national lockdown, schools, colleges and wraparound childcare and other out of school activities for pupils and students should allow only vulnerable children and young people and the children of critical workers to attend. All other pupils and students should not attend and should learn remotely until February half term. Early years provision should continue to remain open and should continue to allow all children to attend full time or their usual timetable hours.

Only university students doing medical, clinical and healthcare related subjects, including nursing, social care, dentistry and veterinary studies should return to face to face teaching as planned. Most students should not return to university and should study from their current residence, where possible, until at least mid-February.

On an exceptional basis, universities should consider supporting the return of students who may need to return earlier for other reasons, for example, students who do not have access to appropriate accommodation, facilities, studying space, or that need to return for health reasons.

We will continue to review the restrictions on schools, colleges and universities and will ensure that children and young people return to face to face education as soon as possible.

6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that nursery and early years staff have access to (a) mass testing, (b) PPE and (c) covid-19 vaccines following the decision to keep early years settings open during the January 2021 national lockdown.

During national lockdown restrictions, all early years providers remain open nationally to all children, providing vital early education and childcare. The wider restrictions in place as part of the national lockdown to contain the spread of the community enable us to continue to prioritise keeping early years providers open, supporting parents and delivering the crucial care and education needed for our youngest children.

The department is working closely with the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure rapid asymptomatic testing for all early years staff to support early years providers to remain fully open. In the meantime, as they are essential workers, early years staff have priority access to symptomatic tests via the online portal.

As outlined in our published guidance, additional use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for COVID-19- related purposes is only needed in a small number of cases, such as if a child becomes ill with COVID-19 symptoms and a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained, or when undertaking aerosol generating procedures. Public Health England has advised that the current guidance on the system of controls, including the use of PPE and face coverings, should continue to be followed.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise the government on which vaccine/s the UK should use and also provide advice on who should be offered them. JCVI advises that the first priorities for the COVID-19 vaccination should be the prevention of mortality and the maintenance of the health and social care systems. As the risk of mortality from COVID-19 increases with age, prioritisation is primarily based on age. In the next phase of the vaccine rollout, JCVI have asked that DHSC consider occupational vaccination in collaboration with other government departments. The Department for Education will input into this cross-governmental exercise.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Oral Statement of 3 November 2020 on Exams and Accountability 2021, Official Report, col 435, what recent discussions he has had with universities on grading exams generously in response to disruptions to student learning as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The government will continue to work closely with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), professional bodies and the Office for Students?(OfS) to ensure students continue to leave university with qualifications that have real value, reflect their hard work and allow people to progress.

The government expects providers to make all reasonable efforts for student achievement to be reliably assessed and for qualifications to be awarded securely. The OfS, the higher education regulator in England, has issued guidance to the sector setting out expectations about provider approaches to teaching and assessment during this time. OfS guidance is clear - standards must be maintained, but clearly changes to assessments may be required in some circumstances.

The QAA has also published a series of guides and information to support providers to secure academic standards and to support student achievement during the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes a paper, published in April, which provides an overview of what 'no detriment' policies aim to achieve and some of the measures providers can put in place to ensure that the academic standards of awards remain secure, while also recognising the challenging circumstances for students.

We expect providers to develop solutions appropriate to each course, considering the needs of individual students and to ensure that continuing and prospective students receive the clear, accurate and timely information needed to make informed decisions. If students have concerns, there is a process in place. They should first raise their concerns with their university. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
9th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many laptops have been (a) requested by and (b) delivered to (i) local education authorities and (b) academy schools, companies and organisations in England by local authority area since 1 April 2020.

As part of over £195 million invested to support remote education and access to online social care, over 340,000 laptops and tablets are being made available this term to support disadvantaged children in Years 3 to 11 whose face-to-face education may be disrupted.

This supplements over 220,000 laptops and tablets which have already been delivered during the summer term. This represents an injection of over 500,000 laptops and tablets by the end of the year.

The Department has updated the allocation process to more closely align allocations with the number of students schools typically have self-isolating. This approach ensures that as many children as possible are able to access a device at the point at which they need one.

Data about the number of laptops and tablets delivered and dispatched to local authorities or trusts as of 27 August 2020 is published here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/912888/Devices_and_4G_wireless_routers_progress_data_as_of_27_August_2020.pdf

Information on the devices provided this term to schools, local authorities and academy trusts as of 23 October 2020 is published here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/929064/Ad-hoc_stats_note_shipped_data_231020_FINAL.pdf

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of adding critical thinking to the secondary school curriculum.

It is imperative that all pupils, irrespective of background, are taught a broad and ambitious knowledge rich curriculum, covering the core academic subjects, alongside a vibrant arts education that gives pupils a deeper appreciation of their culture. This has been the emphasis of the Government’s National Curriculum and qualifications changes, to ensure that more pupils are able to access ‘the best that has been thought and said’, and to think critically within their subjects.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to help the most disadvantaged students catch up on learning missed during the covid-19 lockdown to prevent the attainment gap from widening.

All children have had their education disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak, but it is likely that disadvantaged and vulnerable groups will have been hardest hit and initial analysis suggests that the attainment gap has widened. The government has announced a catch-up package worth £1 billion, including a ‘Catch-Up Premium’ worth a total of £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time. To help schools make the best use of this funding, the Education Endowment Foundation has published a support guide for schools which is available here:
https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/national-tutoring-programme/covid-19-support-guide-for-schools/#nav-covid-19-support-guide-for-schools1.

The guidance includes evidence-based approaches to catch up for all students and a further school planning guide for 2020-21, which is available here:
https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/guide-to-supporting-schools-planning/.

Alongside this universal grant, a National Tutoring Programme worth £350 million will deliver proven, successful interventions to the most disadvantaged young people. Research shows high-quality individual and small group tuition can add up to 5 months of progress for disadvantaged pupils.

Schools will continue to receive the pupil premium every quarter. Each school’s original pupil premium strategy may have not been met since March and the pupils’ needs may have changed or intensified. We recommend that, as part of the planning for needs-based universal catch up, school leaders review their pupil premium strategy and amend it to reflect the new situation from September.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to include in the school curriculum mandatory lessons on (a) black history and (b) UK colonial history.

The Department is committed to an inclusive education system which recognises and embraces diversity and supports all pupils and students to tackle racism and have the knowledge and tools to do so.

The national curriculum is a framework setting out the content of what the Department expects schools to cover in each subject. The curriculum does not set out how curriculum subjects, or topics within the subjects, should be taught. The Department believes teachers should be able to use their own knowledge and expertise to determine how they teach their pupils, and to make choices about what they teach.

As part of a broad and balanced curriculum, pupils should be taught about different societies, and how different groups have contributed to the development of Britain, and this can include the voices and experience of Black people. The flexibility within the history curriculum means that there is the opportunity for teachers to teach about Black history across the spectrum of themes and eras set out in the curriculum. For example, at Key Stage 1, schools can teach about the lives of key Black historical figures such as Mary Seacole and Rosa Parks or others; and at Key Stage 3, cover the development and end of the British Empire and Britain’s transatlantic slave trade, its effects and its eventual abolition. The teaching of Black history need not be limited to these examples.

10th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of Reception Baseline Assessments.

The purpose of the reception baseline assessment (RBA) is to form the starting point for reception to year six progress measures in primary schools. The RBA has undergone a thorough review process to ensure that it is fit for purpose, including a national pilot. Data from over 340,000 assessments has now been analysed and shows that the assessment is valid and fit for purpose. The department has recently published the reception baseline assessment validity report, demonstrating the evidence that has been gathered throughout the assessment development process, showing the assessment to be an accurate assessment of children’s starting points.

The report can be found at the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reception-baseline-assessment-validity-report.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason universities have autonomy over the procedure for charging application fees at postgraduate level.

Universities are, historically, autonomous institutions, and they may determine their own procedures, within the law. The Secretary of State has no current legal power to intervene in the charging of application fees. In general, the freedom of higher education providers to determine the criteria for the admission of students and how they are applied is recognised in Section 2, and elsewhere, in the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of abolishing application fees for postgraduate students; and if he will make a statement.

Higher education providers in England are autonomous bodies and therefore have discretion over the application fees they charge for postgraduate courses.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to reduce the amount of PFAS chemicals impacting (a) environmental and (b) human health.

Defra and the Environment Agency are working with other regulators, including the UK Health Security Agency, to improve understanding of the chemical risks posed by per-fluorinated chemicals (PFAS) and respond appropriately.


Defra and the Environment Agency have initiated a coordinated programme of work to help us assess levels of PFAS occurring in the environment, their sources and potential risks to inform future policy and regulatory approaches. The scope of the programme includes international engagement to understand approaches being taken across the world; collecting environmental data in England; developing new analytical methods; working with industry to assess risks of PFAS produced in the UK; identifying current and legacy uses and mapping potential sources; river catchment investigations; water company investigations to understand sources to sewer and wastewater treatment options.

As part of the UK REACH Work Programme for 2021-22, the Environment Agency and HSE, at Defra’s request, are investigating the risk posed by PFAS through a Regulatory Management Options Analysis (RMOA) which will consider how best to manage any identified risks.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of conducting a review of (a) Breed-Specific Legislation and (b) the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 by the end of 2021.

Defra commissioned Middlesex University to examine measures to reduce dog attacks and promote responsible ownership of all breeds of dogs. The research, which will be published shortly, considers different approaches and the effectiveness of current dog control measures.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of raising the minimum juice content for cider.

The UK has a history of cidermaking dating back thousands of years. This proud tradition has given rise to a wide variety of cidermaking traditions throughout the UK, ranging from small, artisanal producers to large scale global businesses. The UK Government recognises the importance of cider and cidermakers to British farmers, publicans, and consumers alike. The present requirement under the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979 that 35% of the finished product be made up by apple juice was last revised in 2010, following consultation with cidermakers. Defra believes that this strikes a suitable balance, facilitating the various ancient traditions found on these islands while still allowing for innovation in the sector and large-scale production of popular styles. Neither consumers nor cider makers have been asking for a change in the rules. As a result, the Government has not made any more recent assessment of the merits of raising the minimum juice content for cider and has no plans to amend this provision in the 1979 Act.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to speed up the transition from culling badgers to vaccinating cattle to reduce the spread of bovine tuberculosis in England.

As set out in the Government response to Professor Sir Charles Godfray’s review of the Government’s strategy for achieving Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free status for England, the next phase of the strategy focuses on developing a deployable cattle vaccine, wider rollout of badger vaccination and improvements to TB testing.

Badger culling will not be halted immediately – as set out in the Government’s response to the January 2021 consultation[1], no new intensive cull licences will be issued after 2022 and new supplementary badger culling licences have been limited to a maximum of two years. Culling would remain an option where epidemiological assessment indicates that it is needed.

We have awarded funding for a five-year badger vaccination programme in East Sussex. The scheme, which will see vaccination deployed by the farming community, will help refine future delivery models for deploying large-scale farmer-led vaccination schemes. We are also undertaking Government-funded badger vaccination in an area where four-year intensive badger culling has ended. We are continuing to bolster our capability to deploy even more badger vaccination in post-cull areas from 2022.

Developing a deployable cattle TB vaccine, with the objective of introduction within the next five years, is one of the Government’s top priorities. In 2021, world-leading bTB cattle vaccination trials began in England and Wales.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/bovine-tuberculosis-proposals-to-help-eradicate-disease-in-england

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of creating an ivory surrender scheme.

The Ivory Act will not affect the ownership of ivory items and as such we have no plans for a Government surrender scheme at this time. We recognise that for some low value items, owners may decide it is not cost-effective to register them for sale. This will be a decision for individual owners. Such items may of course be gifted, donated or bequeathed rather than discarded. We will explain to owners the options available to them as part of our awareness-raising campaign.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ban the import of hunting trophies into the UK.

The Government takes the conservation of endangered species very seriously, which is why we are banning the import of hunting trophies from endangered species, as set out in the Government’s manifesto.

Our approach will be robust and effective and will deliver the change we promised to help protect thousands of species worldwide. We will be setting out our plans soon.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take cross-departmental steps to ensure that restrictions on lorry drivers' working hours are not relaxed in response to recent shortages of HGV drivers potentially leading to food shortages on supermarket shelves; and what steps he is taking to increase (a) capacity for HGV driving tests and (b) training to help provide new HGV drivers who are resident in the UK.

My Rt Hon Friend the Environment Secretary has discussed with the Secretary of State for Transport the logistical challenges for the food industry caused by a shortfall of HGV drivers. Defra officials are continuously gathering intelligence from food sector’s stakeholders to keep abreast of the impact of shortages on food supply.

Our officials are also working closely with counterparts in the Department for Transport who monitor any potential requirements to consider an extension of driver delivery hours under Article 14(2) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 to accommodate deliveries.

Our officials are continuously working closely across government on a diverse range of solutions to driver shortages in the short and long term. These include the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s increased capacity to test drivers to reach 3,000 practical tests each week and the Department for Education’s Large Goods Vehicle drivers apprenticeship programmes with an increased funding opportunity to £7,000 to improve UK labour supply.

Overall, the UK's food supply is highly resilient. The food industry is well versed in dealing with scenarios that can impact food supply. Consumers in the UK have access to a range of sources of food, including countless domestic food producers and imports from a range of stable sources.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to grant hedgehogs greater legal protection.

As set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan, the Government is committed to taking action to recover our threatened native species.

As part of the recently announced Green Paper, my department will explore opportunities to enhance and modernise protections for declining native species such as the hedgehog. We intend to publish the Green Paper and seek views later this year.

Our Environment Bill will also strengthen our commitment to our native species. We have amended the Bill to require a new, historic legally binding target for species abundance for 2030 to be set, aiming to halt the decline of nature. We are also taking action through our net gain provisions in the Bill, to support the role of new development in helping protect, improve and create the habitat that our native species, including hedgehogs, need to thrive.

Beyond the Bill, we are introducing three schemes that reward the delivery of environmental benefits: the Sustainable Farming Incentive, the Local Nature Recovery scheme and the Landscape Recovery scheme. These schemes will pay for sustainable farming practices, creating and preserving habitat such as such as woodland, heathland and species-rich grassland, as well as making landscape-scale environmental changes, all of which could benefit species such as hedgehog.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will bring forward proposals to introduce a deposit return scheme in England.

The Government remains committed to introducing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers. We recently undertook a second consultation on introducing the deposit return scheme, in which we set out timelines for the scheme to go live.

We want to have an ambitious but realistic timetable to ensure that we are implementing a deposit return scheme that will be as effective as possible in achieving our objectives. We have therefore reviewed the timelines required to implement a deposit return scheme and currently anticipate that the scheme would launch in 2024, subject to the outcome of the second consultation and parliamentary passage of the Environment Bill.

We are now analysing responses to the consultation and will set out next steps in due course.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ban the import of hunting trophies into the UK.

This Government takes the conservation of endangered species in the UK and internationally very seriously, which is why we will be banning the import of hunting trophies from endangered species. Our approach will be comprehensive, robust and effective and will deliver the change we promised to help protect thousands of species worldwide. We will be setting out plans soon.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including decapod crustaceans in the forthcoming Animal Sentience Bill.

There is clear evidence that animals with a backbone (vertebrates) are sentient and this is reflected in the Government’s Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill introduced to the House of Lords on 13 May 2021. However, the Bill also gives the Secretary of State a power to extend the recognition of sentience to particular invertebrates in future on the basis of evidence.

Defra has commissioned an independent review of the available scientific evidence on sentience in decapod crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters, as well as sentience in the class, Cephalopoda, which includes octopus, cuttlefish and squid. The review will report shortly.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of banning the use of snares in the UK.

We are aware of the concerns around the use of snares, which can cause immense suffering to both target and non-target animals. It is an issue we are looking at closely as part of our continued drive to maintain the highest animal welfare standards in the world.

Anyone using snares has a responsibility under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to act within the law to ensure their activities do not harm protected species or cause any unnecessary suffering.

The Government has no current plans to ban the use of all animal snares. Snares are controlled in England and Wales under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This already prohibits the use of self-locking snares and the setting of any type of snare in places where they are likely to catch certain non-target animals such as badgers. It also requires snares to be inspected on a daily basis.

When practised to a high standard, and in accordance with the law, snaring can offer an effective means to reduce the harmful impacts of foxes on livestock, game and wildlife.

The code of practice for the use of snares to control foxes in England can be found at https://basc.org.uk/cop/snares-for-fox-control-in-england/. This code is designed and owned by the sector, rather than Government. It sets out clear principles for the legal and humane use of snares, using evidence from snare use research to improve snare deployment and design.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of reviewing the Dangerous Wild Animals Act and its Schedule; and if he will bring forward proposals to reform the regulatory framework for the trade in and keeping of wild animals as pets in the UK.

The schedule to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 was last updated in 2007, following review and consultation. The Act itself was updated in 2010, following further review and consultation, to allow local authorities to focus their enforcement activity more effectively. The Act’s original aim was to ensure that where private individuals keep dangerous wild animals they do so in circumstances which create no risk to the public. Based on available evidence, including the absence of reported attacks on the public by escaped dangerous wild animals, we consider that the Act is fulfilling those objectives.

However, while there are appropriate public safety measures in place for the keeping of dangerous wild animals, the Government wants to look more closely at the wider animal welfare law to see whether it needs to be improved in relation to the welfare of exotic, non-domesticated animals traded and kept as pets. Defra has already begun this process with a call for evidence and a public consultation to help inform the approach to delivering the Government’s manifesto commitment to ban the keeping of primates as pets.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to encourage members of the public to wear reusable face coverings during the covid-19 outbreak.

The latest Government guidance on face coverings is provided at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own#when-to-wear-a-face-covering. It explains that many types of face coverings are available including disposable products and those made of breathable, washable fabric. We welcome the efforts being made by businesses and consumers to produce, sell and buy reusable alternatives which align with the guidance. The guidance also provides instructions on how people can make and care for their own face coverings at home.

Face coverings that are required in shops and a number of other settings are not the same as the single-use surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of their PPE. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace. Instead, the latest Government advice on face coverings provides instructions on how people can make and care for reusable face coverings at home using washable textiles, and is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering.

Reusable cloth face coverings are also available to buy from a wide range of retail outlets, including online.

The Government has published guidance on the disposal of face coverings and other PPE during the coronavirus pandemic. This is available at

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-disposing-of-waste.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, will he make it his policy to set targets to reduce the use of animal testing in the chemicals industry.

The UK has been at the forefront of opposing animal tests where alternative approaches could be used. This is known as the "last-resort principle", which we will retain and enshrine in legislation through our landmark Environment Bill.

We are determined that there should be no need for any additional animal testing for a chemical that has already been registered, unless it is subject to further evaluation that shows the registration dossier is inadequate or there are still concerns about the hazards and risks of the chemical, especially to human health.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support assistance dog owners travelling to (a) the EU and (b) Northern Ireland since the UK ended part one listed status under the Pet Passport Scheme.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply previously given on 21 January 2021, PQ 139081.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to ensure that uprooted mature trees are replanted.

We will publish a new England Tree Strategy in spring, setting out plans to plant and protect trees across the country, including in towns and cities and on our streets.

The Government is committed to seeing more trees planted and has a general policy against permanent loss of woodland cover. The management and replanting of trees is managed through the felling licence regime.

Trees uprooted without human intervention, such as through windthrow, decay or lightning strike, are exempt from the need for a felling licence regime as this is part of the natural woodland life cycle.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which local authorities have access to a fully trained Animal Welfare Inspector to undertake the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act 2006; and what additional funding his Department has allocated to local authorities to undertake that work.

Under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018, local authorities in England are required to appoint one or more suitably qualified inspectors to inspect premises requiring licensing under the regulations, including those relating to dog breeding, pet selling, hiring out horses, animal exhibits and animal boarding. Local authorities appoint such inspectors using powers under section 51 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Local authority animal welfare inspectors also carry out inspections in relation to welfare in transport, on-farm welfare and helping to tackle illegal imports of dogs. It is for local authorities to determine how to prioritise their resources as well as the number of animal inspectors they appoint under the Animal Welfare Act. We do not hold data centrally on the number of inspectors appointed under the Act.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to introduce parity of treatment under the law for people found guilty of harming or injuring a domestic pet to bring them in line with the penalties imposed if a service dog used by the police or an assistance dog used by a visually impaired person is attacked or injured.

The Government remains fully committed to animal welfare and supports increasing the maximum custodial sentences for animal cruelty offences from six months to five years. This will enable courts to take a firmer approach to cases such as dog fighting, abuse of puppies and kittens, or gross neglect of farm animals. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 5 February by Chris Loder MP and is due to have its Second Reading on 10 July. The Government will continue to support the Bill as it makes its way through Parliament. The proposed new maximum sentence of five years would apply to all animals under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and hence would provide parity of treatment under the law for domestic pets, for service dogs used by the police, and for assistance dogs used by visually impaired people.

The new maximum penalty of five years is in line with campaigns by key stakeholders such as Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Blue Cross, Dogs Trust and the RSPCA. This is a positive step forward in improving animal welfare and will act as a serious deterrent against animal cruelty. The increase to five years' imprisonment will provide one of the toughest sanctions in Europe, strengthening the UK's position as a global leader on animal welfare and will apply where anyone is convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Victoria Prentis
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of banning the use of the whip in horse racing.

Defra is keen to ensure that we uphold our high standards of animal welfare including in relation to horseracing. Irresponsible use of the whip is completely unacceptable.

The British Horseracing Association (BHA) requires that whips be used responsibly and jockeys may only use the whip within certain strict rules. The BHA policy on the whip was drawn up in consultation with animal welfare groups, such as the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare and is published on the BHA website. The latest rules include a threshold on the number of times the whip can be used before racing stewards can consider an inquiry. If the rules are broken, the jockey may be banned from racing for a certain number of days depending on the seriousness of the offence. Stewards also have the ability to impose a fine on a rider between £200 and £10,000.

In addition to sanctions from the sport, using the whip indiscriminately on a horse could be a criminal offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Defra is satisfied that the laws and rules in place are sufficient to restrict and limit the use of the whip in horse racing.

George Eustice
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps she has taken to ensure official development assistance supports renewable energy projects.

The UK is committed to unlocking affordable and clean energy and contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 7. UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) increasingly supports renewable energy projects – between 2011-12 and 2018-19 UK aid has provided 26 million people with improved access to clean energy and installed 1,600 MW of clean energy capacity, avoiding 16 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

DFID supports a number of ongoing programmes with a clean energy focus, such as the Africa Clean Energy programme, which works in over 15 African countries to increase deployment of off-grid renewable energy, by supporting businesses and governments to improve market conditions for the private sector.

The doubling of the UK’s International Climate Finance (ICF) contribution to £11.6 billion from 2021/22 to 2025/26 will enable the UK to do even more to accelerate the development and adoption of low carbon technologies.

The ICF increase includes up to £1 billion for the Ayrton Fund, which will focus on developing and testing new technology in areas such as energy storage, new cooling technologies, next generation solar, and technologies for industrial decarbonisation.

As announced by the Prime Minister at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in January, the UK will no longer provide any new direct ODA, investment, export credit or trade promotion support for thermal coal mining or coal power plants overseas.

7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of excluding the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism from the UK-Australia trade agreement.

The precise details of a free trade agreement with Australia are a matter for formal negotiations, and the Government would not seek to pre-empt these discussions.

If it is deemed that a legal mechanism is appropriate for resolving investment disputes, the mechanism will reflect modern practice, deliver fair outcomes of claims, require high ethical standards for arbitrators and include transparent proceedings.

There has never been a successful Investor State Dispute Settlement claim against the United Kingdom, nor has the threat of potential claims affected its legislation.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the effect of pesticides such as Paraquat, which are banned in the UK, being exported to India in the context of ongoing farmers’ protests in that country.

The export of paraquat is regulated under the Great Britain Prior Informed Consent (PIC) regulatory regime for the export and import of certain hazardous chemicals. Companies intending to export any of these chemicals from Great Britain must notify the importing country via the exporter’s Designated National Authority. For Great Britain the Designated National Authority is The Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Paraquat additionally requires the explicit consent of the importing country before export can take place. India allows the import of Paraquat and the exchange of information that PIC provides allows all countries to make informed decisions on the import of those chemicals and on how to handle and use them safely.

The farmers’ protests in India are a domestic matter for the Government of India.

15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what cross-Departmental steps he is taking to help make electric cars more affordable for UK consumers.

We offer a range of measures to support the purchase of electric cars in the UK. The Plug in Car Grant (PiCG) provides up to £2,500 for those making the switch to electric driving. Government also offers generous tax incentives, including favourable company car tax rates confirmed until FY24/25, which can save drivers over £2,000 a year. We have also put in place a tax regime that rewards the cleanest vehicles. Building on the £1.9 billion from Spending Review 2020, the Government has committed an additional £620 million to support the transition to electric vehicles. This will support greater uptake of zero emission vehicles for greener journeys. Electric car drivers also benefit from comparatively cheaper running costs. Once fuel costs and tax incentives are factored in, we expect the total cost of ownership to reach parity during the 2020s, compared to petrol and diesel cars. It costs from 1p per mile to run a new electric vehicle, compared to around 10p per mile for new diesel or petrol vehicles.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to make electric car charging points more widely accessible.

We are investing over £1.3 billion in accelerating the roll out of charging infrastructure over the next four years to give more drivers the confidence to make the switch to electric driving. This funding will target support on rapid chargepoints on motorways and major roads, and installing more on-street chargepoints near homes and workplaces to make charging as easy as refuelling a petrol or diesel car. Our grant schemes and the £400m Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund will see thousands more electric vehicle charge-points installed across the UK.

In the forthcoming Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy government will define our vision for the continued roll-out of a world-leading charging infrastructure network across the UK. The strategy will focus on how we will unlock the chargepoint rollout needed to enable the transition from early adoption to mass market uptake of electric vehicles and to achieve the 2030/2035 phase out successfully. It will clearly establish government’s expectations for the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders in the planning and deployment of charging infrastructure

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
16th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will publish the result of the Government's consultation on pavement parking by the end of October 2021.

We are giving careful consideration to the large volume of responses to this consultation and will publish the outcome as soon as possible.

Trudy Harrison
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward a road freight recovery plan based on the input of (a) training providers, (b) examiners, (c) businesses, (d) industry bodies, and (e) trade unions.

The Government is in regular dialogue with businesses, industry bodies, trade unions, training providers and examiners on a range of issues affecting the road freight sector.

We continue to support the industry in addressing its labour market challenges through apprenticeships and training and diversifying the demographic of its workforce. We continue to lead on issues such as the availability of driving tests and improving the quality and supply of facilities and overnight lorry parking.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of rail fares in England; and whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of taking steps to reduce rail fares in real terms.

No decision has been made on national rail fares for 2022. The Government is considering a variety of options and we will announce our decision in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of moving Colombia from the red list to the amber list for international covid-19 travel restrictions.

The traffic light system categorises countries, based on risk to protect public health and the vaccine rollout from variants of COVID-19. The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) produces risk assessments of countries and territories. Decisions on Red, Amber or Green List assignment and associated border measures are taken by Ministers, who take into account the JBC risk assessments, alongside wider public health factors.

All classification changes have been decided by ministers, informed by the latest data and analysis by the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and wider public health considerations, to help the public understand the risks to public health of travelling to different destinations. The country allocations are reviewed on a three weekly cycle and the Government will not hesitate to take action where a country’s epidemiological picture changes.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of moving South Africa from the red list for international covid-19 travel restrictions to the amber list for international covid-19 travel restrictions.

The traffic light system categorises countries, based on risk to protect public health and the vaccine rollout from variants of COVID-19. The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) produces risk assessments of countries and territories. Decisions on Red, Amber or Green List assignment and associated border measures are taken by Ministers, who take into account the JBC risk assessments, alongside wider public health factors.

All classification changes have been decided by ministers, informed by the latest data and analysis by the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and wider public health considerations, to help the public understand the risks to public health of travelling to different destinations. The country allocations are reviewed on a three weekly cycle and the Government will not hesitate to take action where a country’s epidemiological picture changes.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
3rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of ensuring provision of tactile paving across all Network Rail stations by 2025.

We have accepted the Rail Accident Investigation Board’s recommendations in the Eden Park report in full, and we are working with Network Rail to develop a programme to aim to install platform edge tactile strips on every platform in Great Britain.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to publish the result of the Government's consultation on pavement parking by the end of September 2021.

The Department will publish the consultation response as soon as possible.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when the Government's full review of all driving offences and penalties will be published.

The Government takes road safety seriously and keeps the law under regular review. However, we do not currently have any plans to conduct a full review of all driving offences and penalties.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
7th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the three-stop limit for hauliers on those working with touring musicians and events across the EU.

Under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the UK and the EU UK hauliers can undertake up to 2 additional laden journeys within the EU after a laden international journey from the UK, with a maximum of 1 cabotage movement outside Ireland.

The TCA ensures that the vast majority of haulage operations will continue as they did before the end of the transition period.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether officials in his Department are taking steps with international counterparts to introduce an international covid-19 vaccine passport to enable the safe resumption of travel.

As set out in the Global Travel Taskforce report, our ambition is to have a system in place to facilitate travel certification for international travel. Any solution for international travel certification needs to be user friendly, interoperable with various other systems and able to facilitate a quick interaction at the border. We are continuing to progress work to explore the testing of technology solutions with multilateral organisations and international partners to ensure these can operate effectively at scale as international travel recovers.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of making targeted financial support available for travel businesses for as long as covid-19 restrictions continue to remain in place for the travel industry.

The Government recognises the challenging circumstances aviation and associated business face as a result of Covid-19. Firms, across the economy, that are experiencing difficulties have been able to draw upon the unprecedented package of measures announced by the Chancellor. This includes support through loan guarantees, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The extension of Government-backed loans and furlough payments announced at the Budget build on the support package available and will help ensure this vital and vibrant part of the UK economy is ready to bounce back in the wake of the pandemic.

We continue to take a flexible approach and keep all impacts and policies under review.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what his timetable is for publishing the results of his Department’s pavement parking consultation which closed on 22 November 2020.

The Department received over 15,000 responses to the consultation. We are carefully considering the consultation findings and will be publishing a response when we have completed this work, which is a priority.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to his Department's traffic light system for international travel, what the scientific criteria is for determining whether a country is rated green, amber or red.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) produces risk assessments of countries and territories. Decisions on Red, Amber or Green List assignment and associated border measures are taken by Ministers, who take into account the JBC risk assessments, alongside wider public health factors. Key factors in the JBC risk assessment of each country include genomic surveillance capability, COVID-19 transmission risk and Variant of Concern transmission risk. A summary of the JBC methodology has been published on GOV.UK, alongside key data that supports ministers’ decisions.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals for a default 20mph motor vehicle speed limit for urban areas in the UK.

The Department published a comprehensive three-year evaluation of the effect of 20mph signed-only limits on 22 November 2018.

The research substantially strengthens the evidence base on perceptions, speeds and early outcomes associated with 20mph speed limits, and is the only major UK study to consider multiple case study areas and provide a national view.

The headline findings were:

  • 20mph limits are supported by the majority of residents and drivers
  • There has been a small reduction in median speed (less than 1mph).
  • Vehicles travelling at higher speeds before the introduction of the 20mph limit have reduced their speed more than those already travelling at lower speeds.
  • There is insufficient evidence to conclude that that there has been a significant change in collisions and casualties following the introduction of 20mph limits in residential areas.
  • In one city centre case study there has been a significant reduction in collisions and casualties.
Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that people returning from red list, amber list and green list countries during the covid-19 pandemic are able to keep apart at UK airports.

The government has issued clear guidance for both passengers and operators, with airports encouraged to introduce clear signage and one-way passenger flows where appropriate. Arrangements may vary depending on the airport and guidance is available to support operators to manage flows in a COVID-secure way.

We continue to improve processes which maintain the checks we need to carry out to keep the public safe, while minimising disruption, and passengers can support this process by ensuring they have completed the necessary requirements to enter the UK. The government continue to engage with the aviation sector to ensure they are supported in implementing best practices.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential for returnees from green and amber list countries to transmit covid-19 on public transport facilities; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of mandating green and amber list returnees to be picked up by car by someone in their household or by taxi.

The country lists have been informed by public health advice, including extensive data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and are reviewed every three weeks. The Department for Transport recommends returnees only to use public transport to travel home or to where they plan to self-isolate if there is no other option. If they must travel by public transport, they should take all safety precautions including keeping their distance, wearing a face covering, regularly washing their hands and planning ahead to avoid busy routes. They are advised, if possible, to download the NHS COVID-19 app before travelling, and to check in on the app where there are official NHS COVID-19 QR code posters along their route (such as stops to buy food or if they have to take a break) but otherwise minimise all stops on their journey. Returnees will also have undergone the required pre-departure tests before travelling.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
29th Apr 2021
What plans the Government has to bring forward legislative proposals to enable residents of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods to vote on those schemes.

Authorities are already required to consult with communities on low traffic neighbourhoods. We have no plans to enable local votes.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he plans to take to support Eurostar during the covid-19 pandemic.

Ministers and officials, working with other Government Departments, have engaged extensively with Eurostar since March 2020 in relation to their financial situation and to help the company access Government support schemes where it is eligible and appropriate.

We continue to engage, at both official and Ministerial level, with Eurostar and the French government regarding Eurostar’s financial situation and any potential support proposals.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what plans he has for (a) further electrification of the rail network and (b) other rail decarbonisation projects.

The Government supports both further electrification and the use of new, innovative technologies to decarbonise the rail network by 2050. The Department’s forthcoming Transport Decarbonisation Plan will set the strategic direction for rail decarbonisation and we will continue to develop individual decarbonisation schemes across the network, ensuring that they are both deliverable and affordable.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
6th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the suspension of driving tests on recruitment in the public transport sector.

We are closely monitoring the situation and engaging with operators to ensure that essential public transport services continue.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much funding has been received by each local authority in (a) London and (b) England for the purposes of creating low traffic neighbourhoods.

The Government’s £225 million Emergency Active Travel Fund, launched in May, is designed to help local authorities implement measures to create an environment that is safer for both walking and cycling. This can include the development of low traffic neighbourhoods, should a local authority see fit.

Full funding allocations to local authorities for tranche 1 of the Emergency Active Travel Fund and indicative allocations for tranche 2 can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/emergency-active-travel-fund-local-transport-authority-allocations/emergency-active-travel-fund-total-indicative-allocations . Local authorities have received their tranche 1 funding, and an announcement on tranche 2 funding is due to be made shortly.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing demand responsive bus services to reduce the level of private car dependency for travel.

The bus market outside London is deregulated with decisions regarding service provision being primarily a commercial matter for bus operators, who are able to create demand responsive services.

The Secretary of State does however recognise the benefits that demand responsive transport has in areas with infrequent traditional bus services. This is why on September 2019 it was announced that the Department would introduce a £20 million Rural Mobility Fund to trial demand responsive services in rural and suburban areas. We are currently reviewing these bids.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to split up the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern rail franchise.

The Department continues to consider options for the future of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise. Transport for London (TfL) has submitted a Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) for the devolution of the Great Northern Inner Suburban services. The Department has asked their officials to work with TfL to develop this proposal further. Any option proposed must be in the interests of all passengers and the tax-payer, aligning itself with the future plans of the TSGN network and industry reforms.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to make rail travel in the UK more affordable to passengers.

Passengers deserve punctual and reliable journeys at a fair price, which is why we are investing billions of pounds in modernising the network. We have saved a generation of passengers a third off their fares through the new 16-17 and 26-30 ‘millennial’ railcard, and this November will extend these savings to former servicemen and women through a new Veterans Railcard.

The Department is also working with industry to explore options for flexible commuters, such as carnets, and what steps could be taken quickly to make these as useful and convenient for passengers as possible.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what guidance his Department has provided to train operating companies on the ratio of first class seating to standard class seating on passenger trains.

The Department for Transport’s priority is to ensure that passengers are able to access the services they need. Where appropriate the Department may outline an expectation within the specification that first class seating is provided and request that the operator consults local stakeholder groups to inform a rolling stock configuration that is deliverable and meets the needs of the local market. The Department analyses operators’ proposals carefully, and challenges them as appropriate.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what guidance his Department has issued to (a) public transport operators and (b) private bus companies on providing support to passengers with (i) sight loss, (ii) sight impairment and (iii) other disabilities to enable social distancing during the covid-19 outbreak.

Whilst the Government is encouraging people to avoid public transport whenever possible, we understand that many disabled people continue to rely on transport services and maintaining their accessibility is therefore important.

On the 12th May the Department published guidance to help transport operators provide safe environments for their passengers and staff across all forms of public and private transport, including measures to assess and address the risks posed by COVID-19 in the transport sector.

Buses continue to play an important role in enabling disabled people to make essential journeys and we have reminded operators that laws supporting their access remain in force. Operators should ensure that staff are trained and equipped to provide passengers with assistance safely and should consider the impact on disabled passengers of any measures to support social distancing.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) issued its own advice to the station staff of Train Operating Companies. This included specific advice on how staff could continue to provide assistance to disabled passengers whilst maintaining safe social distancing and good hygiene regimes, including advice on assisting visually impaired customers.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the percentage decrease has been in flights arriving at (a) Heathrow and (b) Gatwick airports since the start of the covid-19 lockdown in the UK; and what proportion of flights arriving during that period were (i) cargo only and (ii) passenger or cargo with passengers.

Monitoring of flight traffic conducted by Eurocontrol shows that between 24 March 2020 and 11 May 2020 the total number of flights arriving at Heathrow and Gatwick have decreased by 84% and 98% respectively when compared to the same date range of the previous year.

It is not possible to accurately determine from this data source whether flights during this period were cargo only or passenger flights, this information is officially collected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and received from UK airports up to two months after the end of each month in adherence to statistical regulation (EC) 437/2003 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of passengers, freight and mail by air.

3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to decarbonise road transport.

We are committed to going further and faster to tackle climate change. Our bold and ambitious plan to achieve net zero emissions across all transport will help make our towns and cities better places to live, create new jobs, as well as improving air quality and health. We are working with industry and communities around the country to develop the plan to decarbonise transport and expect to publish it in the autumn ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of ensuring that all railway staff have access to travel facilities; and if he will make a statement.

Any extension of rights to travel facilities to all railway staff would be a matter for employers and employers. An assessment of this nature has not been undertaken by the Secretary of State.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
18th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of (a) providing a £50 one-off payment to people eligible for the Cold Weather Payment and (b) doubling the Household Support Fund in winter 2021-22.

Vulnerable households across the country will now be able to access a new £500 million support fund to help them with essentials. As part of this, the Household Support Fund provides £421 million to Local Authorities in England to help vulnerable people with the cost of food, utilities and wider essentials. This fund was announced on 30 September 2021, recognising that some households need additional help this winter as we enter the final stages of recovery from the pandemic and covers the period 6 October 2021 to 31 March 2022 inclusive. There are currently no plans to increase the funding provided.

Cold Weather Payments of £25 are paid to vulnerable households on qualifying benefits for every week of severe cold weather between 1st November and 31st March. There are currently no plans to increase the Cold Weather Payment rate.

David Rutley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of reversing the reintroduction of the Minimum Income Floor.

No assessment has been made.

The suspension of the Minimum Income Floor was a temporary measure to support self-employed claimants through the pandemic, kept under review in light of the latest economic and public health context. Since 31 July 2021, the pre-pandemic rules for the self-employed have started to apply again.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to her oral contribution of 7 September 2021, Official report, column 185, whether her Department has made an assessment of the level of wage growth which discounts the impact of furlough during the covid-19 outbreak; and if she will publish the legal advice referred to in her oral contribution.

Legal advice is privileged. This has been the situation under successive governments.

As the Office for National Statistics have stated, there is no single accepted approach to assessing underlying growth. They have published information that identifies temporary factors, called base and compositional effects, which have been caused by the pandemic and have increased the headline growth rate in earnings above the underlying rate. They have published a range of possible growth rates, but stressed that these should be treated with caution

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has made an estimate of the impact of removing the £20 uplift to the standard allowance of universal credit on child poverty levels in England.

No assessment has been made.

The Government has always been clear that the £20 increase was a temporary measure to support households affected by the economic shock of Covid-19.

Universal Credit has provided a vital safety net for six million people during the pandemic, and we announced the temporary uplift as part of a COVID support package worth a total of £407 billion in 2020-21 and 2021-22. Our focus now is on our multi-billion Plan for Jobs, which will support people in the long-term by helping them learn new skills and increase their hours or find new work.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will publish data by ethnicity on the number of jobs created by the Government's job creation schemes.

I refer the honourable member to the answer given for PQ 21984.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will publish data by sex, ethnicity and disability on the number of jobs created by the Government's job creation schemes.

For information regarding the gender and the disability status of those who have begun Kickstart placements I refer the honourable member to PQ 16981 and PQ 6283.

The Department for Work and Pensions will be monitoring and evaluating the Kickstart Scheme throughout and after its implementation. We will gather data on the ethnicity of Kickstart participants through the planned Kickstart participant survey and using information recorded on UC systems. We will publish the findings of the evaluation once complete.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the timetable is for publication of her Department's Health and Disability Green Paper.

Given the necessary focus on the departmental response to Covid-19, we are working to a longer timescale than previously anticipated. We continue to engage with disabled people and their representatives and plan to publish the formal consultation document in the coming months.

17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to (a) increase the rate of sick pay and (b) introduce immediate, automatic payment to people required to self-isolate as a result of a positive covid-19 test.

This government has a strong safety net that helps people who are facing hardship and are unable to support themselves financially and we have taken steps to strengthen that safety net as part of the government’s response to the pandemic.

As part of strengthening this safety net we have made Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payable from the first day of sickness absence from work, rather than the fourth – where an individual is self-isolating due to coronavirus and meets all SSP eligibility conditions.

SSP provides a minimum level of income for employees when they are sick or incapable of work. Employers are legally required to pay SSP to eligible employees who are off work sick or incapable of work, where employees meet the qualifying conditions. Some employers may also decide to pay more, and for longer, through Occupational Sick Pay. More than half of employees receive more than SSP from their employer.

SSP is just one part of our welfare safety net and our wider government offer to support people in times of need. Where an individual’s income is reduced while off work sick and they require further financial support, they may be able to claim Universal Credit and new style Employment and Support Allowance, depending on their personal circumstances.

Working people on low incomes who are required to remain at home by NHS Test and Trace to help stop the spread of the virus and cannot work from home could be eligible for a £500 payment to financially support them while self-isolating.

11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on trends in the level of poverty among single-parent families.

We have strengthened the welfare system, spending £7.4 billion on measures such as the Universal Credit uplift, on top of additional support such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

We have built on this extra support through the introduction of our Covid Winter Grant Scheme, now running to the 20th June as the Covid Local Support Grant, with a total investment of £269m.

The Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme, backed by £220 million, has already provided support during the Easter holidays this year, and will continue to do so during the summer and Christmas holidays.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate she has made of the number of families in temporary accommodation subject to the (a) benefit cap and (b) two-child limit.

The information requested is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate costs.

The Benefit Cap and the two-child limit policies restore fairness between those receiving working age benefits and taxpayers in employment and a benefits structure adjusting automatically to family size is unsustainable

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect on relative poverty levels of the decision not to uprate legacy benefits in line with universal credit.

No such assessment has been made. Poverty projections are inherently speculative as they require projecting how income will change for every individual in society which are affected by a huge range of unknown factors.

The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit was announced by the Chancellor as a temporary measure in March 2020 to support those facing the most financial disruption as a result of the public health emergency. This measure remains in place until September 2021.

Claimants on legacy benefits can make a claim for Universal Credit (UC) if they think they will be better off and should check carefully their eligibility and entitlements for UC before applying, as legacy benefits will end when claimants submit their UC claim and they will not be able to return to them in the future. For this reason, prospective claimants are signposted to independent benefits calculators on GOV.UK. Neither DWP nor HMRC can advise individual claimants whether they would be better off moving to UC or remaining on legacy benefits.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of funding a £20 a week supplement for carers entitled to carers' allowance.

DWP Ministers and officials regularly discuss support for carers with their counterparts across Government. The proposed table of benefits / pension rates for 2021/22, including Carer’s Allowance, was published on 4 December 2020 in the House Library, following the Secretary of State’s annual review of benefit rates. Since 2010, the rate of Carer’s Allowance has increased from £53.90 to £67.25 a week, meaning around an additional £700 a year for carers. Between 2020/21 and 2025/26 real terms expenditure on Carer’s Allowance is forecast to increase by nearly a third (around £1 billion). By 2025/26, the Government is forecast to spend just over £4bn a year on Carer’s Allowance.

4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment the Disability Unit has made of the potential merits of introducing emergency funding for disabled children’s social care.

The Government is committed to supporting disabled people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak including disabled children.

The Cabinet Office Disability Unit works with disability stakeholders and across Government Departments to ensure that the needs of disabled people are considered in the Government’s response to COVID-19.

On 19 May 2020 the Government announced £37.3 million for the Family Fund to help over 75,000 low-income families raising children who are disabled or seriously ill, including £10 million specifically in response to the pandemic. Details of the announcement have been published here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/37-million-to-support-children-with-complex-needs

Furthermore, the Government has provided £3.2 billion of additional to support local authorities to address any pressures they are facing in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including in children’s social care and for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) services.

We will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People this year taking into account the impacts of the pandemic on disabled people. The strategy will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects of life.

4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment the Disability Unit has made of the potential merits of prioritising disabled people who are shielding for covid-19 vaccinations.

The Cabinet Office Disability Unit works with disability stakeholders and across Government Departments to ensure that the needs of disabled people are considered in the Government’s response to COVID-19.

The Government is clear that consideration of equality impacts must be integral in all key policy decisions, and that all equality and discrimination laws and obligations continue to apply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation’s (JCVI) advice of 30 December placed “the clinically extremely vulnerable” (which includes those on the Shielded Patient List) and “all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality” at number 4 and 6 respectively on the priority list for phase 1 of the vaccination roll out.

Those definitions will apply to many people who are disabled, which has given many welcome assurance that they are being given priority status befitting the higher risks they face.

4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of increasing the universal credit standard allowance for people aged under-25 living independently to match the amount people aged over 25 receive.

The £20 per week uplift to everyone on Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit was announced by the Chancellor as a temporary measure in March 2020 to support those facing the most financial disruption as a result of the public health emergency. This measure remains in place until March 2021.

The lower rates for younger claimants under 25 years reflects the fact that they are more likely to live in someone else's household and have lower living costs and lower earnings expectations. It also reinforces the stronger work incentives that Universal Credit creates for this age group which have been aided by the Department’s £2bn Kickstart scheme which is already creating thousands of high-quality jobs for young people.

For claimants who live independently, Universal Credit already includes separate elements to provide support for housing costs, children and childcare costs and support for disabled people and carers.

Care leavers up to the age of 22 are exempt from the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) Shared Accommodation Rate and are entitled to the higher, one bed LHA rate.

For those who require additional support Discretionary Housing Payments are available. Since 2011 we have provided over £1 billion in DHPs to local authorities to support households with their housing costs.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
4th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the recent ONS finding that almost three in five people who have died from covid-19 were disabled, what assessment the Disability Unit has made of the potential merits of a package of emergency support for disabled people.

The Government is committed to supporting disabled people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people using existing and new data sources.

We are ensuring that disabled people continue to have access to employment support, disability benefits, financial support; food, medicines, as well as accessible communications and updated guidance.

We are clear that consideration of equality impacts must be integral in all key policy decisions. All equality and discrimination laws and obligations continue to apply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cabinet Office Disability Unit works with disability stakeholders and across Government Departments to ensure that the needs of disabled people are considered in the Government’s response to COVID-19.

The Government will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People this year taking into account the impacts of the pandemic on disabled people. The strategy will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects of life.

24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will make funding available to support extending the uplift to universal credit beyond April 2021.

The £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit was announced by the Chancellor as a temporary measure in March 2020 to support those facing the most financial disruption as a result of the public health emergency. This measure remains in place until April 2021. As the Government has done throughout this crisis, it will continue to assess how best to support low-income families, which is why we will look at the economic and health context in the new year.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
10th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 9 June 2020 to Question 54982 on Social Security Benefits: Medical Assessments, what her timetable is for that consultation and evaluation process.

DWP has commissioned a survey of claimants who have had experience of a telephone assessment. The survey will be undertaken over Summer 2020 and the findings will be published in line with Government Social Research Protocols.

4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to her Department's Press release of 16 March 2020, Face-to-face health assessments for benefits suspended amid coronavirus outbreak, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of her Department's temporary change to telephone or paper-based assessments for disability benefit claimants; and what representations her Department has received from (a) organisations and (b) claimants on the effectiveness of that change to the assessment process.

The Department will be evaluating the effectiveness of telephone assessments, including claimant perception and stakeholder feedback.

20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will take steps to maintain the triple lock on state pensions after the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is committed to ensuring that older people are able to live with the dignity and respect they deserve, and the State Pension is the foundation of state support for older people.

The Government's immediate focus must be on supporting people and businesses through this difficult period. That is why we announced an extension to the furlough scheme, which has already saved millions of jobs.

Given the unprecedented economic context and the challenges facing the UK economy, we will take stock of the economy and public finances as we exit the current crisis and make the right decisions at that point.

It is premature to speculate about future public finances, budgets and the economy. We are thinking first and foremost about protecting people's health, their jobs and supporting businesses. The Office of Budget Responsibility and the Bank of England have said if we did not do what we are doing today the costs in the future would be far higher.

As with all aspects of Government policy, we will keep tax rates and spending under review, and any decisions on future changes will be taken as part of the annual Budget process in the context of the wider public finances.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of effect of stock market fluctuations due to the covid-19 outbreak on the value of occupational pensions.

The government continues to consider appropriate actions that it can take to protect both the public and the economy from the impacts of COVID-19. We have already introduced a range of measures to support businesses and individuals, ensure financial stability and reinforce social safety nets.

We recognise the pressure on pension investments during these challenging times. However, investments are for the long term and the government does not believe that interventions beyond the easements set out in guidance from the Pensions Regulator would be necessary or proportionate at this time.

On 1 April the Financial Conduct Authority, the Pensions Regulator and the Money and Pensions Service published a joint statement urging savers to take their time when making financial decisions, and to visit the Pension Advisory Service website for free pensions guidance before making any decisions about their retirement savings. https://www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk/

The value of occupational defined benefit pensions is tracked monthly via the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) 7800 index. The most recent publication provides an assessment of the funding position of occupational defined benefit pension schemes, comprising both their assets and liabilities, as at 30 April 2020.

In addition, the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Financial Survey of Pension Schemes will provide information on the assets and liabilities of occupational pension schemes covering both defined benefit and defined contribution schemes. This is a quarterly survey with the first publication due in 2020.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
20th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the household income of pensioners.

There is insufficient data to estimate the precise economic impact on different groups.

The Government is committed to ensuring that older people are able to live with the dignity and respect they deserve, and the State Pension is the foundation of state support for older people.

Since 2010, the full yearly amount of the basic State Pension in 2020/21 is around £700 higher than if it had just been up-rated by earnings since April 2010. That’s a rise of over £1,900 in cash terms.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many lone parents with a child aged (a) three and (b) four have transferred to universal credit and become job seekers have (i) moved into work; and (ii) taken up the concession to improve their skills and train for up to a year since 1 April 2017.

The information is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to paragraph 11 of the Government's response to the Work and Pensions Committee's Nineteenth Report of Session 2017–19, HC 955, what progress her Department has made on undertaking that evaluation; and whether that evaluation will assess the effectiveness of (a) conditionality and (b) sanctions for lone parents.

The Department will look to publish its evaluation in Spring 2020. The evaluation will assess the impact of Universal Credit sanctions on supporting claimants into work. The impact on lone parents will be assessed. The evaluation will not assess the effectiveness of conditionality.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
14th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing secondary legislation to include people aged under 25 in the shared accommodation rate exemption for homeless people.

There is an exemption from the shared accommodation rate for those aged 25-34 who have previously spent 3 months, which doesn’t have to be continuous , in a homeless hostel/hostels specialising in rehabilitation and resettlement. There are no current plans to make legislative changes to extend this exemption to those under the age of 25 but as with all our policies, this will continue to be kept under review.

For individuals who may require more support and whose circumstances may make it difficult for them to share accommodation, Discretionary Housing Payments are available.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
23rd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of adding Sickle Cell Anaemia to the NHS prescription charge exemption list.

We currently have no plans to review or extend the prescription charge medical exemptions list to include sickle cell anaemia. Approximately 89% of prescriptions are already dispensed free of charge and arrangements are in place to help those most in need. To support those who do not qualify for an exemption, the cost of prescriptions can be capped by purchasing a prescription pre-payment certificate, which can be paid for in instalments. A holder of a 12-month certificate can get all the prescriptions they need for just over £2 per week.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, from what date a covid-19 booster vaccination will become a mandatory part of being considered fully vaccinated.

The Department of Health and Social Care has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to increase the amount of funding allocated to research on Motor Neurone Disease.

The Government is strongly committed to supporting research into dementia and neurodegeneration, including motor neurone disease (MND). We are currently working on ways to significantly boost further research on dementia and neurodegeneration. The Department of Health and Social Care funds research on health and social care through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). It is not usual practice to ring-fence funding for particular topics or conditions. The NIHR welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including MND. Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money, and scientific quality.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many people are waiting for a neurology appointment in the Ealing CCG area.

This information is not held in the format requested.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of publishing details of plans to offer second doses of a covid-19 vaccine to young people aged 12 to 17 years who are not (a) at increased risk from infection or (b) living with someone who is immunosuppressed.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, the independent body which advises the Government on vaccination use and prioritisation, will be reviewing data on second doses for 16 to 17 year olds this autumn. A review of second doses for young people aged 12 to 15 years old will follow, once more data on second doses in this age group is available internationally.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to legally require the listing of ingredients in alcoholic drinks.

Nutritional information and an ingredients list are mandatory labelling requirement for drinks with 1.2% alcohol by volume (ABV) or below. This requirement is set out in the Retained EU Regulation No 1169/2011. No assessment has been made on the merits of legislating the ingredients list of alcoholic products with more than 1.2% ABV.

However, as part of the Government’s ‘Tackling Obesity’ strategy, published in July 2020, the Government committed to consult on whether mandatory calorie labelling should be introduced on all prepacked alcohol, as well as alcoholic drinks sold in the out of home sector, for alcohol products over 1.2% ABV. The upcoming consultation will seek evidence on the merits of introducing calorie labelling. Respondents to the consultation can suggest additional labelling requirements for consideration.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing funding for research into (a) endometriosis and (b) polycystic ovary syndrome in England.

The Department’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has invested £8.4 million into endometriosis research and £3.9 million into polycystic ovary syndrome research. The NIHR welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome. While it is not usual practice to ring-fence funds for particular topics or conditions, the NIHR’s funding is available through open competition and we encourage researchers to submit applications in these areas.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of restarting the scheme to provide free vitamin D supplements for people at high risk from covid-19 on the NHS this winter.

No assessment has been made. Last year, 2.7 million vulnerable individuals were offered a free vitamin D supply by the Government. The provision of free vitamin D supplements was undertaken to support those that were shielding or were living in care homes, as they were more likely to have remained indoors in spring and summer. However, the shielding programme has now concluded in England.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of using the free flu jab list to identify people eligible for priority access to the covid-19 booster jab.

The clinical risk groups for influenza were initially considered as a potential way to identify and prioritise individuals at risk of COVID-19 when recommendations for phase one of the vaccination programme were developed.

However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s advice for the COVID-19 booster vaccine programme recommended offering vaccination to priority groups one to nine in phase one of the vaccination programme, as they received their primary course approximately six months ago.

Maggie Throup
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the impact of the covid-19 outbreak on access to cardiovascular care for people in England; and what steps he is taking to tackle the backlog in NHS cardiovascular care.

We have made no formal assessment. The Department continues to engage with NHS England and NHS Improvement to build capacity and reduce the backlog in elective care

In September, the Department announced a further £1 billion, totalling £2 billion this year, to tackle the backlog. An additional £8 billion has been made available across the next three years to reduce waiting times and transform elective services, including cardiovascular care. This could deliver the equivalent of around nine million more checks, scans and procedures.

Maria Caulfield
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent steps he has taken to double research funding on dementia.

Plans for additional funding for dementia research are subject to Spending Review settlements. We will be setting out our plans on dementia for England for future years in due course.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department plans to encourage GP practices in England to sign up to the Safe Surgeries initiative.

NHS England and NHS Improvement encourage all general practitioner (GP) practices and primary care providers to become Safe Surgeries; to implement inclusive and accessible patient registration policies; and to provide equitable healthcare. Most recently this included NHS England and NHS Improvement's registration drive launched in February 2021 to encourage GP registration of inclusion health populations.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of updating his Department's guidance to enable NHS optometrists and opticians to make direct referrals to eye hospitals in all areas of England.

Legislation presently allows optometrists to directly refer patients into secondary care services.

No assessment has been made of direct referrals on waiting times or costs.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to increase funding for NHS allergy services.

There are no plans to increase funding for allergy services. Most allergy services are commissioned locally through clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). CCGs are allocated funding from NHS England and NHS Improvement calculated using the CCGs funding allocation formula.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to chapter 5 of NHS England and Nesta's document entitled Transforming elective care services: ophthalmology, published in January 2019, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of direct referrals from optometrists on reducing NHS (a) waiting times and (b) costs.

Legislation presently allows optometrists to directly refer patients into secondary care services.

No assessment has been made of direct referrals on waiting times or costs.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure individuals who were vaccinated in other countries are not excluded from (a) international travel and (b) attending events in the UK that require proof of vaccination.

We are working urgently with international partners to ensure that British citizens vaccinated abroad with a United Kingdom (UK) recognised vaccine are able to demonstrate their vaccine status through the NHS COVID Pass. Work is ongoing to determine which non-United Kingdom vaccines, and certification solutions, could be recognised in this country for both international travel and for attending events and venues in the UK where individuals may be asked for proof of their COVID-19 status.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
20th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help ensure that pregnant women who are staying in covid-19 quarantine hotels are able to leave hotel premises to attend appointments, including ultrasound scans.

The Managed Quarantine Service has provisions in place to allow guests temporary exemption from managed quarantine to attend hospital appointments, including appointments and ultrasound scans for pregnant guests. Security or hotel personnel can obtain permission from the Department for a temporary exemption from quarantine to allow such appointments to take place.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of permanently exempting NHS staff from parking charges.

No such assessment has been made. On 25 March 2020, the Government committed to provide free hospital car parking for National Health Service staff for the duration of the pandemic. Trusts continue to be funded to deliver this commitment.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reducing the period between first and second doses of the covid-19 vaccine from 8 weeks to 4 weeks.

Currently, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommends an interval of eight weeks between doses of all the available COVID-19 vaccines. On 14 May, in response to the increasing rates of infection of the Delta variant, the Government amended the interval of second doses for the most vulnerable cohorts who were offered a vaccine in phase one of the programme, from 12 weeks to eight weeks. The eight week interval was applied to all eligible cohorts from 6 July.

Current evidence shows that a longer dose interval produces a better immune response and as such, the JCVI has advised against reducing the dose interval further in order to maximise the effectiveness of the vaccination programme.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
14th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether SAGE modelling on projected long covid-19 case numbers will be published before step 4 of the roadmap on 19 July 2021.

To date, there has not been any modelling by the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies on projected Long COVID case numbers.

From September 2021, NHS England and NHS Improvement will publish activity data on referral, assessments and waiting times for post-COVID-19 assessment clinics.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing free (a) FFP2 and (b) FFP3 face masks to clinically extremely vulnerable people during the covid-19 outbreak.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is used in a limited number of settings to protect wearers against hazards and risks, such as surgical mask or respirators used in medical and industrial settings. FFP2/PPF3 masks and other higher specification PPE must be professionally fit tested to ensure that air flows through the filter rather than around the mask. If these masks are provided without fit testing, it is not clear that they will be effective. Additionally, in settings where members of the public are currently required to wear face coverings, it may be difficult to safely and comfortably wear a fitted mask for extended periods of time.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of mandating the wearing of face coverings on public transport beyond 19 July 2021 in the context of recent rising numbers of cases of covid-19.

The legal requirements to wear a face covering will be lifted in all settings on 19 July in line with step four of the roadmap. However, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Government expects and recommends the wearing of face coverings when coming into contact with people in enclosed and crowded spaces, such as public transport. This will reduce the risk of individuals and others around them transmitting COVID 19.

The Government’s guidance on face coverings will be published in due course. This guidance will enable people to make informed decisions about how to manage the risk to themselves and others.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the findings of the Stroke Association's report, Stroke Recoveries at Risk, published in September 2020; and what steps he is taking to support stroke survivors.

The Stroke Association’s report acknowledges that the pandemic has led to many beneficial innovations across the stroke care pathway. Many clinical teams are using virtual rehabilitation alongside face-to-face contact with 80% of patients who received such virtual care reporting positive or very positive experiences


The National Stroke Service Model, published by NHS England and NHS Improvement in May, will ensure that all patients will be entitled to needs based regular reviews following their stroke, typically at six weeks, six months and then annually. In addition, NHS England and NHS Improvement have funded the Stroke Association’s provision of Stroke Connect, which was developed in direct response to COVID-19. The service offers stroke survivors reassurance, support and links to the wider services they can access as part of their recovery.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a (a) new duty for Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) to promote parity of esteem between mental and physical health and (b) requirement for a mental health representative on every ICB.

A specific assessment has not yet been made on a duty for integrated care boards (ICBs) to promote parity of esteem between mental and physical health. The principle of parity of esteem was enshrined in the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Legislation will set out minimum membership of ICBs and which will include representatives from National Health Service providers and we fully expect mental health trusts to play a central role in decision-making. Local areas will also have the flexibility to determine any further representation in their area, whether on the ICB or within the integrated care partnership.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he will appoint an independent commissioner to oversee the closure of inappropriate inpatient care units and increased funding for community care to ensure that people can move from those institutions and be supported closer to home.

We do not currently have any plans to do so. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and adult social care providers in England and has a key responsibility in the overall assurance of safety and quality of health and adult social care services. All providers of regulated activities, including National Health Service and independent providers, must register with the CQC and follow a set of fundamental standards of safety and quality below which care should never fall. The CQC has a wide range of enforcement powers that it can use if the provider does not meet them. These include cancelling registration. The NHS Long Term Plan commits to increased investment in intensive, crisis and forensic community support for people with a learning disability and autistic people by 2023/24.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
29th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of allegations that people quarantining in hotels under covid-19 travel restrictions have been sexually harassed by security guards; and what steps his Department is taking to support investigations into those allegations.

Allegations of sexual assault are taken extremely seriously. We regularly meet with security companies to ensure all staff adhere to the highest professional standards. It is a requirement that our contracted security staff have passed the Security Industry Accreditation process. If staff fall below these standards, we demand an immediate investigation by the company, including with the police, resulting in the suspension of individuals where appropriate.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish a 10-year funded plan to tackle the NHS cancer backlog.

The next Spending Review will set out the Government’s spending plans for health and social care for future years. NHS England’s Cancer Recovery Plan set out the aims and actions needed to recover from the impact of COVID-19, while the NHS Long Term Plan remains the detailed strategy for cancer services and will continue to apply after the pandemic.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing ringfenced funding to ensure all young people diagnosed with cancer can access support from specialist psychologists.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have established a task and finish group to review psychosocial support for people affected by cancer, including young people. The NHS Long Term Plan states that, by 2021, where appropriate every person, including young people, diagnosed with cancer should receive a Personalised Care and Support Plan based on holistic needs assessment, end of treatment summaries and health and wellbeing information and support, including for mental health needs. All patients should have access to the right expertise and support.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) the transition to a midwifery-led Continuity of Carer model is properly resourced and supported and (b) women who are pregnant again after the death of a baby are able to access it as a priority.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have committed to midwifery-led continuity of carer, so that it becomes the default model of care for women using maternity services across England by March 2023. NHS England and NHS Improvement have provided local maternity systems with £90.05 million in service development funding from 2018 to 2021 to fulfil transformational objectives, including implementing continuity of carer models. An additional £96 million was announced earlier this year in response to the emerging findings from the Ockenden Report, the majority of which will be invested in additional midwives and obstetric capacity.

Upcoming NHS England and NHS Improvement guidance will include advice on the implementation of maternal medicine-focused continuity of carer teams, which could be used to accommodate women deemed higher risk due to previous loss, whilst still offering continuity of the midwife caring for them.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to (a) install additional defibrillators in public spaces including parks and (b) raise awareness of how to use defibrillators.

The NHS Long Term Plan sets out that a national network of community first responders and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) will help save up to 4,000 lives each year by 2028. Many community defibrillators have been provided in public locations through national lottery funding, community fundraising schemes, workplace funding or by charities. From May 2019, the Government has required all contractors refurbishing or building new schools through centrally delivered programmes, to provide at least one AED.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are procuring a partner to co-ordinate skills development over the next two years which will significantly increase the use of AEDs by individuals in community settings supported by confident cardiopulmonary resuscitation skills.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to regulate Test to Release providers listed on the gov.uk website; and whether providers will be removed from that website in the event that they do not provide a satisfactory service.

Providers listed on GOV.UK have declared and evidenced compliance with the relevant minimum standards for their commercial provision of testing, including participating in the three-staged United Kingdom Accreditation Service process if they are providing sample collection and/or test analysis services.

The Department is working closely with private providers to ensure appropriate standards of performance are met. Private providers’ performance is continually monitored including their ability to provide samples, analysis and report results on time. The Department takes rapid action when providers deliver inadequate services. This includes providers receiving a five-day warning to demonstrate they have rectified their service and if they do not, they are removed from the appropriate GOV.UK list.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to NHS Digital’s plans for personal medical histories to be shared with academic and commercial third parties, what steps his Department is taking to ensure there is greater transparency on (a) which aspects of patient data will be made available, (b) which third-party organisations will have access to patient data, (c) how the use of patient data is limited, (d) what patients’ rights and the mechanisms to opt-out are and (e) the safeguards in place to protect confidential patient data.

NHS Digital has set out which structured and coded data will be collected on its website. Data shared by NHS Digital is subject to robust rules on privacy, security and confidentiality. Access will only be granted to the minimum amount of data necessary to achieve the relevant health and social care purpose. All requests to access patient data from this collection will be assessed by NHS Digital’s Data Access Request Service, to ensure organisations have a legal basis to use the data and that it will be used safely, securely and appropriately. These requests for access will also be subject to scrutiny and oversight by the Independent Group Advising on the Release of Data.

NHS Digital publishes the details of the data they allow access to on their data release register, with audits of those organisations who have been granted access. NHS Digital also provides information to patients about their ability to opt-out of their data being used for purposes beyond their own care, such as through the National Data Opt-Out.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
26th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of increasing funding for unpaid carers' breaks.

The Government recognises that access to breaks and respite provides important support for people with care needs and their carers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have provided approximately £1.8 billion in specific funding for adult social care. This includes £1.35 billion Infection Control Fund, which has been used towards supporting day centres to re-open safely.

We are also continuing to work with local authorities, in collaboration with Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure, where possible, the safe resumption of these services.

In addition, have provided over £2 billion in 2021 to the Better Care Fund which local authorities can access to fund social care services in their areas, including respite services.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to reduce waiting times for NHS audiological services; and what recent assessment he has made of trends in time taken for a diagnosis of a hearing condition to be provided by the NHS.

National Health Service audiology services are locally commissioned services and responsibility for waiting times lies with local commissioners. While no recent assessment has been made of trends in diagnosis, work is ongoing to improve access to audiological services. This is being led by the Elective Recovery Programme and Getting It Right First Time.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to (a) improve the quality of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) healthcare and (b) reduce diagnosis times for people with IBD.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are working closely with front-line clinical experts, patient representative groups and leading charities to develop evidence-based improvement tools to help improve inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) care, including reducing diagnosis times. This work includes a new IBD RightCare scenario, which will set out high-quality joined-up care at every point of the patient journey, as well as IBD data packs for local commissioners. These packs present data from different parts of the care pathway to help local systems identify the factors driving unwarranted variations in treatment, as well as narrative on how outcomes can be optimised.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he will take to reform the social care sector to support personalised, high-quality dementia care.

The Government is committed to sustainable improvement of the adult social care system and will bring forward proposals in 2021. We are working closely with local and national partners, such as Alzheimer’s Society, to ensure our approach to reform is informed by diverse perspectives, including of those with lived experience of the care sector. In addition, we will be setting out our plans on dementia for England for future years in due course.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the affordability of the cost of PCR tests for air passengers; and what assessment he has made of the effect of that cost on air passengers in financial difficulty.

We are committed to working with the travel industry and private testing providers to reduce the cost of travel testing, for the British public including for those travelling for family reasons as well as ensuring travel is as safe as possible. NHS Test and Trace tests are available at the market mid-point.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will allocate additional funding to tackle the cancer backlog in the NHS.

For 2021/22, we have provided a further £1 billion for the recovery of elective procedures, including cancer and £325 million for diagnostic equipment. In addition, £6.6 billion funding has been provided to support the wider health system.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to provide ringfenced funding for local authorities to support early years speech and language therapy.

Local authorities are responsible for commissioning early years speech and language therapy services, as they are best placed to make individual funding decisions based on local need.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the cost of PCR tests for air passengers; and what assessment he has made of the effect of that cost on air passengers in financial difficulty.

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

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that medicinal cannabis is made available on the NHS as swiftly as possible.

In November 2018, the law changed to allow doctors on the General Medical Council’s Specialist Register to prescribe cannabis-based product for medicinal use (CBPMs). Since then, two CBPMs - Sativex and Epidyolex have been made available for prescribing on the National Health Service, where clinically appropriate. This follows clear demonstrated evidence of their safety and clinical and cost effectiveness.

There remain concerns over the clinical and cost effectiveness of unlicensed cannabis-based products for medicinal use. To help further the evidence base, significant progress has been made to support two randomised controlled trials into early onset and genetic generalised epilepsy and to establish a national patient registry. We are also considering what further action the Government might take to widen access to unlicensed cannabis-based products.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support single parent NHS staff working unsociable hours with childcare and ensure they have access to affordable overnight childcare provisions.

We encourage employers to use their local discretion and flexibility to be as supportive as possible of their staff in meeting their childcare needs. Guidance on supporting staff with childcare responsibilities during the pandemic is available on the NHS Employers website at the following link:

https://www.nhsemployers.org/covid19/health-safety-and-wellbeing/supporting-staff-with-childcare-responsibilities

Employers are required to consider flexible working arrangements for all staff in the workplace, including those with caring commitments. This is covered in Section 33 of the NHS Terms and Conditions Handbook, which available at the following link:

https://www.nhsemployers.org/tchandbook/part-5-equal-opportunities/section-33-balancing-work-and-personal-life

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if the Government will intervene to block Centene’s acquisition of GP practices in England.

Centene Corporation does not directly own any general practitioner (GP) surgeries in England. It is the owner of Operose Health Ltd.’s holding companies. Operose Health Ltd currently hold a number of GP contracts in England.

Regardless of whether a general practice is run by an individual, a partnership or any other organisation, all providers of National Health Service core primary medical services are subject to the same requirements, regulation and standards.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support he is providing to ensure that babies benefit from the covid-19 recovery efforts.

The Government is committed to providing all babies with the best possible start to their lives. The Government recently published A Best Start for Life: A Vision for the 1,001 Critical Days. The Vision outlines actions for both national and local government to improve health outcomes for babies and children in England. The Healthy Child Programme continues to provide support for babies through local services as well as additional support where needed.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of reducing the length of time between provision of first and second covid-19 vaccine doses to people deemed to be clinically immunocompromised.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advise Government on which vaccines the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation, based on their assessments.

Recent assessment of the data available shows that the first dose of both vaccines currently deployed provides substantial protection within 2-3 weeks of vaccination from severe COVID-19 disease. The second vaccine dose is important to sustain the protection and extend its duration. In the short term however, the additional impact of the second dose is likely to be modest and most of the initial protection from clinical disease is after the first dose of vaccine. The four UK Chief Medical Officers agreed with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible on the priority list would protect the greatest number of at-risk people in the shortest possible time.

There are currently no plans to reduce the length of time between the provision of first and second COVID-19 doses for people deemed to be clinically immunocompromised.

The JCVI will continually monitor and assess vaccine effectiveness, including the protection afforded to specific patient groups, such as immunocompromised people, on an ongoing basis. If new evidence comes to light, the JCVI will review their policy to help better protect those most at risk of COVID-19 in the UK.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the Government's funding plans are for NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for the 2021-22 financial year.

The ‘NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan 2019/20 – 2023/24’ sets out detailed plans to increase investment in mental health services over the life of the course of the Plan and how children and young people’s mental health services will grow faster than both overall NHS funding and total mental health spending. The Implementation Plan is available at the following link:

www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/nhs-mental-health-implementation-plan-2019-20-2023-24.pdf

On 5 March we announced £79 million to be used to significantly expand children’s mental health services. This funding forms part of the approximately £500 million for mental health and National Health Service workforce announced at the Spending Review in November 2020. This additional funding will allow around 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 a faster increase in the coverage of mental health support teams in schools and colleges over the next financial year.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
16th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of trends in the level of demand for NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

We are working with NHS England and NHS Improvement, Public Health England and others to gather evidence and assess the potential longer-term mental health impacts of COVID-19 and plan for how to support the public’s mental health and wellbeing throughout the coming weeks and months.

The most recent NHS Digital Mental Health Services Monthly Statistics publication shows that there were 309,961 people in contact with children and young people’s mental health services in December 2020 compared to 235,706 in December 2019.

Mental Health Services Monthly Statistics can be found at the following link: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/mental-health-services-monthly-statistics.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) offering confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for all students who test positive for covid-19 after taking an in-school lateral flow test and (b) students being allowed back to school if that PCR is negative.

Lateral flow device (LFD) tests taken at test sites, such as on school and college grounds, do not require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) confirmation as these tests are done in a supervised environment. The self-isolation period must be commenced from the positive LFD test in a supervised environment.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Government’s commitment to investing £70 million into weight management services, what assessment he has made of potential merits of offering specialist, evidence-based support for people living with a binge-eating disorder.

We recognise that specialist weight management services provide a critical part of the weight management pathway, in accordance with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance. The £70 million investment in weight management services will enable up to 700,000 adults to have access to support that can help them to achieve a healthy weight, including specialist clinical support.

For children and young people, there is a programme in place to promote early access to effective, NICE approved treatments for eating disorders, working in partnership with children, young people and their families. For adults, the ‘Adult Eating Disorders: Community, Inpatient and Intensive Day Patient Care’ guidance was published in August 2019, emphasising that eating disorder services should provide evidence-based treatment, care and support for the full range of eating disorder diagnoses, including binge eating disorder.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made on the adequacy of the international provision of the covid-19 vaccine access to British Nationals abroad, who are unable to return to the UK due to national or International travel restrictions or being unable to afford the associated costs of hotel quarantine in the UK, due to being ineligible to access deferred repayment plans when returning from a red list country.

As a residence-based system, the National Health Service does not provide healthcare, including vaccinations, outside the United Kingdom. The normal rules on access to the NHS will continue to apply.

Wherever possible, British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office are closely monitoring other countries’ vaccination plans and will share information on local vaccine programmes on their travel advice pages as they are announced. Anyone choosing to travel should consider the public health advice and travel restrictions in the country they are visiting and factor costs associated with the requirement to quarantine on arrival to the UK.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking in response to the recommendations by the APPG on Endometriosis Inquiry Report 2020 entitled Endometriosis in the UK: to reduce diagnosis to four years or less by 2025, and a year or less by 2030.

The report raises a number of important issues concerning the treatment and diagnosis of endometriosis which will be carefully considered as part of our ongoing work in women’s health.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to prioritise kinship carers that are not in the first nine covid-19 vaccination priority groups in the next phase of the covid-19 vaccination programme.

Being a kinship carer alone is not cause for prioritisation for a COVID-19 vaccination. This is based on the clinical assessment that most children are not considered to be at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises that only those children at very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes, such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities within residential care, should be offered vaccination as part of Phase 1. There are currently no plans to prioritise kinship carers that are not in the first nine COVID-19 vaccination priority groups in the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Unpaid carers are included in the JCVI’s priority group 6; which includes individuals who are eligible for a carer’s allowance, or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable. This means that if a kinship carer is the sole or primary carer of a child who was prioritised for vaccination in cohorts 4 or 6, they will be offered the vaccination in cohort 6 themselves.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the guidance issued to prison governors on (a) covid-19 vaccination roll-out in prisons for eligible groups set out by JCVI and (b) covid-19 vaccine reservation lists to prevent wastage of any remaining doses following the vaccination of eligible persons.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that prison governors should make every effort to ensure persons in detained settings are offered vaccination in line with the offer to the wider community according to their priority group. The JCVI’s advice is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/letter-from-the-health-and-social-care-secretary-on-covid-19-vaccination-phase-1-advice/letter-from-the-jcvi-to-the-health-and-social-care-secretary-on-further-considerations-on-phase-1-advice-1-march-2021

Guidance was issued to NHS England and NHS Improvement Health and Justice Commissioners and Health and Justice healthcare providers on 22 March 2021 on next steps on uptake and supply. A copy of the letter is attached.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many and what type of covid-19 vaccine doses were (a) delivered to and (b) administered in prisons in England and Wales between 1 January and 8 February 2021.

The information is not currently held in the format requested.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
8th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many prisoners are eligible for the covid-19 vaccine; and how many (a) prisoners in JCVI priority groups (i) 1-4 and (ii) 5-9 and (b) prison staff have received the first dosage of the covid-19 vaccine in England and Wales.

No specific data is centrally held regarding the number of prisoners who are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccination in the first phase of the programme. We do not centrally hold data on how many prisoners have been vaccinated in priority groups 1-9 so far.

We cannot provide information on the numbers of prison staff eligible for vaccination or vaccinated as data is not collected on vaccinations delivered broken down by occupation. NHS England publishes daily and weekly data on overall numbers of vaccinations in England, including those who have received a 1st and 2nd dose. This is available at the following link:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-vaccinations/

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what scientific evidence was used to determine which NHS workers should be provided with FFP3 masks.

The recommendations on what personal protective equipment (PPE) is required in which settings, including the use of FFP3 masks, is set out in the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidance, which was last updated on 21 January 2021. These recommendations are agreed by an expert group of clinicians and scientists from across all four nations of the United Kingdom. They are based on the latest clinical evidence and are kept under constant review.

The IPC recommendations are underpinned by the National Infection Prevention and Control Manual practice guide and associated literature reviews and are consistent with World Health Organization guidance for protecting health and social care workers from COVID-19.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many FFP3 masks are available to the NHS as at 3 February 2021.

The information is not yet available in the format requested. The operational process to build stockpiles is supported by a range of detailed operational and management information. We currently are working to fully validate this data.

In December 2020, we established a four-month stockpile of COVID-19 critical personal protective equipment (PPE), including FFP3 masks. We are confident we can meet the demand from the National Health Service for FFP3s and other PPE throughout the winter period.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if the Government will make an assessment of the potential merits of vaccinating household members of people living with blood cancer in the second phase of the covid-19 vaccination programme.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccine/s the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level. The JCVI has advised that the first priorities for any COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of COVID-19 mortality and the protection of health and social care staff and systems. Therefore, in line with the recommendations of the JCVI, the vaccine will be initially rolled out to the priority groups.

This includes care home residents and staff, people over 80 years old and health and care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and risk, including those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and those aged 16-64 years old with certain underlying health conditions. Individuals with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment are considered clinically extremely vulnerable and will be eligible for a vaccine. Anyone with a history of haematological malignancy should be offered a vaccination at priority group six.

Consideration has been given to vaccination of household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals. However, at this time there is no data on the size of the effect of COVID-19 vaccines on transmission. Evidence is expected to accrue during the course of the vaccine programme and until that time the JCVI is not in a position to advise vaccination solely on the basis of indirect protection.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
2nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether people with mild and moderate learning disabilities will be prioritised during phase two of the Government's covid-19 vaccination programme.

On 24 February the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published a clarification of their advice on vaccinating people with a learning disability. They confirmed their view that priority should be given to those with a severe and profound learning disability, but recognised concerns about coding of learning disability on general practitioner (GP) systems and supported a practical approach of inviting everyone who is on the GP Learning Disability Register for vaccination in cohort six in phase one.

Phase two of the COVID-19 vaccine programme will cover all adults under 50 years old not already included in phase one. Interim advice has been published by the JVCI recommending an age-based approach which the Government has accepted in principle. This is subject to final advice from JCVI.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what evidence there is that lockdowns reduce the transmission of covid-19.

The success of restrictions rests on them reducing the number of contacts between infected and susceptible individuals within the population, thereby reducing the number of infections. Mobility and payment data in April 2020, November 2020 and in recent days show substantial declines in the number of contacts leading to lower numbers of COVID-19 infections in spring last year and in the second half of November 2020. The Office for National Statistics’ COVID-19 Infection Survey shows that prevalence has recently fallen from its late-December peaks. The lagged fall in hospitalisations and deaths provides good evidence of a causal link between lockdowns and reduction in transmission of the virus.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what evidence his Department has on the closure of schools reducing the transmission of covid-19.

Multiple data sources including the Office for National Statistics COVID-19 Infection Survey (CIS) and pillar 2 test data showed a reduction in transmission in children following schools closing for October half term and transmission rates increasing again after half term. CIS data also showed a substantial decline in positivity in children aged 11 to 16 years old, which was steeper than in older age groups, following schools closing in December 2020. This is supported by the CoMix Social Contact Survey that shows the closing of schools is associated with reduced contact rates and the consensus view across models that estimate schools reopening will increase transmission and ‘R’ by a factor of 1.1 to 1.5 or 10% to 50%.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that all frontline NHS workers have access to FFP3 masks.

For workers in the National Health Service, infection prevention and control guidance, which is published on GOV.UK and updated most recently on 21 January 2021, sets out the occasions when an FFP3 mask should be used.

By December 2020, we had built a four-month stockpile of COVID-19 critical personal protective equipment, including FFP3 masks. We are confident we have a secure supply for frontline workers in the NHS.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether internal NHS guidelines permit foreign NHS workers treating covid-19 patients to receive the covid-19 vaccination.

Vaccination against COVID-19 is offered to every adult living in the United Kingdom free of charge, regardless of immigration status. National Health Service frontline health and social care workers have been prioritised in the first phase of the vaccination programme. This includes foreign NHS frontline healthcare workers.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
19th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that covid-19 vaccination centres are accessible for people with sight loss.

Vaccination centres are subject to the same standards to support people with accessibility needs including visual impairment as all health care services. This includes ensuring good lighting and clear signage. In addition, marshals and staff will help people attending vaccination centres to navigate through the centre safely. The public may choose the most appropriate vaccination service to suit their needs. This may be best met by their general practitioner.

When sent an invitation for vaccine by letter, the public are directed to the location’s individual details on accessibility. The letter also provides links to guidance and advice which can be enlarged on a screen, provided in accessible formats as well as provided in hard copy.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
18th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to prevent transmission of covid-19 at vaccination centres.

All sites are designed to ensure they are COVID-19 secure. Guidance has been provided by the National Health Service to ensure social distancing is in operation, sanitising stations are readily available, facemasks worn at all times, healthcare professionals are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and vaccinations should be deferred for those with confirmed COVID-19 infection.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the most common pathways of covid-19 transmission are.

Evidence that COVID-19 can be spread by asymptomatic people is available at the following link:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7508369/

Current evidence shows that the COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes.

Public Health England has published further information about COVID-19 transmission which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/phe-factors-contributing-to-risk-of-sars-cov2-transmission-in-various-settings-26-november-2020

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will provide evidence that covid-19 can be spread by asymptomatic people.

Evidence that COVID-19 can be spread by asymptomatic people is available at the following link:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7508369/

Current evidence shows that the COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes.

Public Health England has published further information about COVID-19 transmission which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/phe-factors-contributing-to-risk-of-sars-cov2-transmission-in-various-settings-26-november-2020

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether dental care staff will receive priority access to the covid-19 vaccine.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that phase one of the COVID-19 vaccination programme should be targeted at reducing mortality, as well as protecting health and social care staff and systems. As a result, vaccines have first been prioritised amongst care home residents and staff, followed by people aged over 80 years old and health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and clinical risk factors.

As set out by the JVCI, dental care staff fall under the second priority cohort during phase one, comprising of health and social care workers. The JCVI’s advice states that this not only includes those working for the NHS, but also those in independent, voluntary, non-standard and community healthcare settings.

Nadhim Zahawi
Secretary of State for Education
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the data used to differentiate between leisure centre activities when setting out which could be pursued under the most recent covid-19 tiering system.

The Government is committed to publishing data that has informed its decision making, including the tiers framework and allocations.

We have also published supporting information to accompany the laying of the most recent regulations are laid before Parliament on 30 November, which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-health-economic-and-social-effects-of-covid-19-and-the-tiered-approach

Epidemiological data and projection models on local restriction tiers, including commentary on individual tier allocation decisions, is available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/938964/Coronavirus_England_briefing_26_November.pdf.

This provides further information and context beyond the headline metrics as to why areas are in particular tiers currently.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the holding Answer of 30 November to Question 111583, when he plans to respond to Question 77729 tabled by the hon. Member for Ealing Central and Acton, tabled on 31 July 2020.

We take parliamentary scrutiny incredibly seriously and it is fundamentally important that hon. Members are provided with accurate and timely information to enable them to hold the Government to account. We are working rapidly to provide all Members with accurate answers to their questions, as well as supporting the Government’s response to the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hon. Member’s question will be answered as soon as possible.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the access to a simple blood test (BNP or NT-proBNP) for heart failure patients; and what estimate he has made of the number and proportion of people who having been given that test who are then referred to a specialist early for further investigation and diagnosis.

NHS Long Term Plan work to ensure early and rapid access to heart failure diagnostic tests remains a priority for NHS England and NHS Improvement during the COVID-19 pandemic. NHS England and NHS Improvement are committed to working with regions and networks to increase access to the B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) blood test and echocardiography, to improve the early detection and optimum management of heart failure.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are also working with voluntary sector partners, employers, local authorities, community pharmacists and general practitioner practices to provide opportunities for the public to check on their health, through readily accessible tests of high-risk conditions.

No information is held centrally regarding the number and proportion of people who having been given the BNP blood test and who are then referred to a specialist early for further investigation and diagnosis.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce waiting times for transgender people to be seen at NHS gender clinics.

Following significant increased demand for National Health Service gender services, three new clinics are being established in London, Merseyside and Cheshire, and Manchester working to a new service specification. The first of these clinics, London, began seeing patients in July 2020. The clinics will be evaluated over a period of up to three years and planning is underway to establish similar services in other parts of the country.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the widespread wearing of face coverings in preventing the spread of covid-19.

Face coverings are largely intended to protect others and not the wearer against the spread of infection. Evidence on the effectiveness of face coverings in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in community settings is constantly developing, and research is being conducted all over the world, leading to a variety of observations and suggested conclusions that vary in their degree of confidence.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of polymerase chain reaction tests for covid-19 give a false negative result.

In June 2020 the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies published a briefing paper on the impact of false positives and false negatives in the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction testing programme, which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/gos-impact-of-false-positives-and-negatives-3-june-2020

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure coherence between the forthcoming Sexual and Reproductive Health and Women's Health strategies.

Officials are working closely together to ensure coherence between the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Women’s Health Strategies.

Development of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy and Women’s Health Strategy was paused at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, work on both strategies is now getting underway. We plan to publish the Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy in 2021, details of the scope and objectives will be announced in due course. We are currently working to consider priorities for the Women’s Health Strategy including how we can ensure that women’s voices are heard more effectively moving forward.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the report entitled Women's Lives, Women's Rights: Strengthening Access to Contraception Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic, published by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health on 10 September 2020, what recent assessment he has made of the accessibility of remote contraceptive services to marginalised populations; and what steps he is taking to ensure the continuation of face-to-face services for people who experience obstacles in accessing remote services.

Ensuring equal access to contraception will be a key theme of our new Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy. Sexual and reproductive health services have remained open during the pandemic though some are temporarily reducing their face-to-face appointments and may only be able to see emergency or urgent cases in person. Services are maintaining access during this time through scaling up of online services including increasing eligibility through current provision or utilising a neighbours’ service for residents of another local authority.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what evidence informed the decision to close gyms and leisure centres during the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown.

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

Our approach as to keeping gyms and leisure centres open during future lockdowns will be guided by the science and advice from SAGE.

The Government keeps these restrictions constantly under review.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that gyms and leisure centres remain open during any future lockdown restrictions due to the covid-19 outbreak.

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

Our approach as to keeping gyms and leisure centres open during future lockdowns will be guided by the science and advice from SAGE.

The Government keeps these restrictions constantly under review.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
18th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment his Department has made of advances in the design and manufacture of rt-CGM systems, providing those with Type 1 diabetes with access to technology and the ability to self-monitor their glucose levels to avoid hyper- and hypoglycaemia in a less intrusive way to monitoring through blood tests.

Treatments may be brought into routine use in the National Health Service after their efficacy, safety, and cost-effectiveness have been appropriately demonstrated. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is responsible for assessing new technologies and interventional procedures, as well as producing guidelines for best practice of treatment and care.

NICE has produced diagnostics guidance on technologies for managing blood glucose levels in people with type 1 diabetes. These integrated sensor-augmented pump therapy systems combine continuous glucose monitoring with continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will extend the patient age limit to ensure that all fertility patients in England will remain eligible for NHS-funded care despite delays caused by the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government expects clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to give fair consideration to all patients who have had fertility treatment delayed so that no one misses out on treatment due to COVID-19.

NHS England has agreed a joint statement with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, to encourage CCGs to give special consideration to the need for flexibility and sensitivity for individuals whose waiting times, investigations or planned treatment have been disrupted due to COVID-19. This is to ensure that all women and their partners seeking fertility treatment are treated fairly. The statement was sent to the National Health Service on 6 November 2020.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, will he make an assessment of the potential merits of standardising the number of in vitro fertilization cycles funded by English clinical commissioning groups for each fertility patient.

The level of provision of local health services available to patients, including fertility treatment, is a matter for local healthcare commissioners. Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have a statutory responsibility to commission healthcare services including fertility services that meet the needs of their whole population.

In respect of National Health Service fertility services, the Government have been consistently clear that we expect CCGs to commission fertility services in line with recommendations in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) fertility guidelines, so that there is equal access across England. The NICE fertility guidelines are evidence-based and represent national best-practice for clinicians to achieve the most effective treatment.

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
17th Nov 2020
What steps he is taking to encourage the consumption of vitamin D supplements during the covid-19 outbreak.

As we move into the winter months, it is more important than ever to following existing Government advice on vitamin D supplements.

At this time, the evidence is insufficient to prove that vitamin D helps people respond to COVID-19.

Public Health England and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence are currently re-reviewing the evidence, which will be published in mid-December.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will answer Question 77729 on Dementia: Coronavirus tabled on 21 July 2020.

We take parliamentary scrutiny incredibly seriously and it is fundamentally important that hon. Members are provided with accurate and timely information to enable them to hold the Government to account. We are working rapidly to provide all Members with accurate answers to their questions, as well as supporting the Government’s response to the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hon. Member’s question will be answered as soon as possible.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to promote the taking of Vitamin D during the covid-19 outbreak.

Existing Government advice is that everybody should take a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement between October and early March to maintain musculoskeletal health. This is particularly important for shielded groups, care home residents, prisoners and black, Asian and minority ethnic groups who may be more at risk of not getting enough vitamin D from sunlight.

Public Health England will shortly be updating relevant web pages and public-facing channels to remind people of the importance of taking vitamin D supplements over autumn and winter.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will set out the criteria for determining an area's local covid-19 alert tier status.

Decisions on tiers are made by ministers based on public health recommendations primarily informed by five key indicators - the case detection rate in all age groups, case detection rates among the over 60 year olds, the rate at which case rates are rising or falling, positivity rate and pressures on the NHS.

Final decisions on tiering are made by the COVID-19 Operations Committee.

As of 6 January, all areas have been moved into tier 4 and the Government will review the tiering allocations every 14 days.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the study published in the October 2020 edition of Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology's October 2020, entitled Effect of calcifediol treatment and best available therapy versus best available therapy on intensive care unit admission and mortality among patients hospitalized for COVID-19: A pilot randomized clinical study, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of the finding that vitamin D reduces the severity of covid-19.

The Department has noted the findings from this study. Public Health England (PHE) is monitoring any new, high quality evidence on nutrition and COVID-19 and is seeking further advice from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) as appropriate. On 29 June 2020, the SACN and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published a rapid evidence review which concluded that there is currently no evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to reduce the risk or severity of COVID-19.

In April 2020, PHE re-issued advice on vitamin D supplementation, advising that people who do not go outdoors often should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D to prevent deficiency.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to engage with (a) representatives of people affected by thalidomide and (b) other stakeholders as part of his Department's consultation on Distributing vaccines and treatments for covid-19 and flu, announced on 28 August 2020.

The Department’s public consultation from 28 August to 18 September proposed changes to the Human Medicine Regulations and welcomed views from a wide variety of stakeholders. The response to consultation, which has now closed, will be issued in due course.

As part of the consultation process, the Department, in collaboration with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, held a number of meetings with health and social care professional bodies and pharmaceutical industry representatives. The Department invited views from a wide range of organisations, including patient groups, to respond to the consultation.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to his oral contribution of 21 September 2020 Official Report, column 633, if he will publish the evidential basis for his statement that vitamin D does not reduce the incidence or impact of covid-19; and what his Department's process is for keeping that finding under review.

Public Health England (PHE) supported the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to review emerging evidence on vitamin D for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. NICE’s review concluded that there is currently no robust evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to reduce the risk or severity of COVID-19. The review was published in June 2020 and can be accessed at the following link:

www.nice.org.uk/advice/es28/evidence/evidence-review-pdf-8777674477

PHE and NICE will keep this topic under review and consider updating the evidence summary if emerging high-quality evidence suggests a change to existing conclusions and advise the Government accordingly.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to support people suffering long-term effects from covid-19.

The National Health Service and the wider scientific community are currently working to better understand the disease course of COVID-19 infection, including the prevalence, severity and duration of symptoms, and how best to support recovery. The National Institute for Health Research and UK Research and Innovation have invested £8.4 million in the Post-HOSPitalisation COVID-19 study (PHOSP-COVID), led by Christopher Brightling at the University of Leicester. This study is one of the world’s largest comprehensive research studies into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients.

The NHS is working to expand access to COVID-19 rehabilitation treatments for those who have survived the virus but still have problems with breathing, mental health problems or other longer-term complications. As part of this, in July the NHS launched ‘Your COVID Recovery’ service, a personalised programme to support the recovery of people who have been in hospital or suffered at home with the virus.

The research currently underway will inform future NHS service design and provision.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to raise public awareness of the potential long-term effects of covid-19 on people who may have only had mild symptoms of the disease to date.

The stay at home guidance sets out that if someone who has been isolating for 10 days still has a temperature, they should continue to self-isolate and seek medical advice. People do not need to self-isolate after 10 days if they only have a cough or loss of sense of smell or taste, as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone. The guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

The National Health Service and the wider scientific community are currently working to better understand the disease course of COVID-19 infection, including the prevalence, severity and duration of symptoms, and how best to support recovery. The National Institute for Health Research and UK Research and Innovation have invested £8.4 million in the Post-HOSPitalisation COVID-19 study (PHOSP-COVID), led by Christopher Brightling at the University of Leicester. This study is one of the world’s largest comprehensive research studies into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients and will inform future service design and provision.

The new ‘Your COVID Recovery’ service, announced on 5 July, forms part of NHS plans to expand access to COVID-19 rehabilitation treatments for those who have survived the virus but still have problems with breathing, mental health problems or other complications.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for his policies of the findings of the Covid-19 Symptom Study data that one in 10 people experience covid-19 symptoms for longer than three weeks.

The stay at home guidance sets out that if someone who has been isolating for 10 days still has a temperature, they should continue to self-isolate and seek medical advice. People do not need to self-isolate after 10 days if they only have a cough or loss of sense of smell or taste, as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone. The guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

The National Health Service and the wider scientific community are currently working to better understand the disease course of COVID-19 infection, including the prevalence, severity and duration of symptoms, and how best to support recovery. The National Institute for Health Research and UK Research and Innovation have invested £8.4 million in the Post-HOSPitalisation COVID-19 study (PHOSP-COVID), led by Christopher Brightling at the University of Leicester. This study is one of the world’s largest comprehensive research studies into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients and will inform future service design and provision.

The new ‘Your COVID Recovery’ service, announced on 5 July, forms part of NHS plans to expand access to COVID-19 rehabilitation treatments for those who have survived the virus but still have problems with breathing, mental health problems or other complications.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to draft explicit guidance for carers of people with dementia to ensure that dementia patients are able to receive the physical and mental support needed from family and friends without risking infringement of covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

We recognise the crucial role that unpaid carers play in supporting people with dementia, especially during the pandemic. Our guidance for unpaid carers published on 8 April is designed to apply across a range of conditions.

In addition, on 2 December the Government updated the local tiering regulations to allow carers in all three tiers to arrange for another family member or friend to provide respite care and give carers a break. The new tiering regulations also allow individuals caring for someone with a disability at home to form a support bubble with another household.

On 1 December, we also published updated guidance to enable more meaningful indoor visits to take place for care home residents across all tiers. This is enabled by providing testing to visitors, which was available before Christmas.

NHS England and NHS Improvement’s guidance ‘Visiting healthcare inpatient settings during the COVID-19 pandemic’ states that there should be reasonable adjustments to allow certain groups of people, including people with dementia, to have a family member or friend visit them if not being present would cause the patient to be distressed. This applies to all inpatient settings.

We commissioned research through the National Institute for Health Research on how to manage or mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on people with dementia and their carers living in the community. Concise advice was produced for people with dementia and their carers respectively. This is available at the following link:

http://www.idealproject.org.uk/covid/

The Social Care Institute for Excellence has published advice on COVID-19 and dementia in care homes in collaboration with NHS England and NHS Improvement aimed at supporting residents, carers and homes which is available at the following link:

https://www.scie.org.uk/care-providers/coronavirus-covid-19/dementia/care-homes

Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
25th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 2 March 2020 to Question 18741 on cancer treatments, what plans he has to increase patient access to non-pharmaceutical cancer treatments not currently funded by the NHS; and if he will make a statement.

The Cancer Drugs Fund will be extended to create a new Innovative Medicines Fund so that doctors can use the most advanced, life-saving treatments for conditions such as cancer.

Detailed proposals for the new Innovative Medicines Fund are in development and will be consulted on in due course. The will extend the successes of the reformed Cancer Drugs Fund into other areas.

The NHS Long Term Plan for Cancer states that “by 2021, where appropriate every person diagnosed with cancer will have access to personalised care, including needs assessment, a care plan and health and wellbeing information and support”.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment has been made of the potential effect of social distancing on the mental health and wellbeing of (a) people with pre-existing health conditions and (b) others during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

The Government recognises that social distancing and self-isolation are likely to increase the risk of loneliness and mental health issues. To respond to this Public Health England has published guidance advising the public on how to look after their mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak. We have set up NHS Volunteer Responders to help support the 1.5 million people in England who are at most risk from the virus to stay well. Mental health providers are looking to maximise the use of digital and virtual channels, such as helplines and video consultations, to keep delivering support to those needing mental health support. We have provided £5 million additional funding to mental health charities providing mental health and wellbeing support to those who need it.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
25th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support people living with cancer during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

Essential and urgent cancer treatment and care will continue during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

People with certain cancers and those who have received or are receiving certain treatments are at higher risk if they catch COVID-19. The Government has advised around 200,000 cancer patients who are particularly vulnerable to stay at home for 12 weeks to minimise their risk of infection, by following Public Health England guidance which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

People with cancer who are not at highest risk should still take precautions to reduce their risk of infection by staying at home, avoiding people who are unwell, washing their hands regularly and carefully following the social distancing measures in place.

People can still attend hospital for essential appointments, and cancer teams are finding ways to reduce the need for them to leave their homes wherever possible, for example offering telephone or video consultations.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a cancer care fund to provide early access for people to cancer treatment not funded on the NHS.

No such assessment has been made.

To improve cancer care, the NHS Long Term Plan sets out how we will speed up the path from innovation to business-as-usual, spreading proven new techniques and technologies and reducing variation. Faster, smarter and effective radiotherapy, supported by greater networking of specialised expertise, will mean more patients are offered curative treatment, with fewer side effects and shorter treatment times.

Since October 2010, the Cancer Drugs Fund has enabled over 120,000 approvals for treating people in England with life-extending cancer drugs that would not otherwise have been available to them. This year £340 million has been invested in the Fund and we have spent more than £1.9 billion helping people with cancer get the treatments they need.

By 2021, where appropriate every person diagnosed with cancer will have access to personalised care, including needs assessment, a care plan and health and wellbeing information and support. This will be delivered in line with the NHS Comprehensive Model for Personalised Care. This will empower people to manage their care and the impact of their cancer and maximise the potential of digital and community-based support. Over the next three years every patient with cancer will receive a Personalised Care and Support Plan based on holistic needs assessment, end of treatment summaries and health and wellbeing information and support. All patients, including those with secondary cancers, will have access to the right expertise and support, including a Clinical Nurse Specialist or other support worker.

NHS England has committed funding of over £1.3 billion over the next five years to deliver the commitments on cancer in the Long Term Plan.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that patients presenting at A&E with a mental health emergency are treated with equal priority as patients with a physical health emergency.

We have committed through the NHS Long Term Plan and the NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan 2019/20 – 2023/24 to ensure that all acute hospitals have an all-age mental health liaison service in place by 2020/21, with 50% of these meeting the ‘core 24’ standard for adults and older adults. This will increase to 70% by 2023/24 working towards 100% coverage thereafter.

This will ensure that people who present at accident and emergency departments with mental health needs will have access to appropriate mental health support.

Nadine Dorries
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether she has conducted an impact assessment of the potential effect of reductions in official development assistance on Palestinian (a) healthcare and (b) education.

Following Official Development Assistance (ODA) prioritisation exercises undertaken in March 2021, the UK no longer provides direct funding to the Palestinian Authority to support the salaries of education workers and health professionals. We are a longstanding supporter to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which provides core services, including healthcare and education to Palestinian refugees.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations she has made to her Spanish counterpart on allowing (a) visa and (b) permit free touring for British musicians.

The UK Government continues to engage with EU Member States, including Spain, that do not offer any visa or work permit free routes for touring professionals to encourage them to follow to the UK's more generous approach. We have raised this issue with the Spanish government at ministerial level on several occasions, including when I visited Spain on 30 September. The Government recognises the importance of the UK's creative and cultural industries, and is working to ensure that we support these industries to resume touring with confidence as we build back from the pandemic.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations she has made to officials in Hong Kong on reports that Hongkongers who have successfully applied for a British National (Overseas) visa are unable to withdraw their pensions from Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's Mandatory Provident Fund Authority is unfairly disrupting people's livelihoods by refusing to accept the BN(O) visa when Hong Kongers apply for early withdrawal of their pensions. This is preventing Hong Kongers from accessing funds they are entitled to. The Government has raised our concerns with the relevant authorities.

Amanda Milling
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of reinstating funding for international nutrition programmes.

The Government is actively considering nutrition programming as part of its approach to the forthcoming Nutrition for Growth (N4G) summit, including any new nutrition commitment, and will set out its approach following the conclusion of the Spending Review.

Tackling malnutrition remains a core focus of our work on global health, humanitarian response and in support of UK goals on girls' education and climate. It is critical for reducing preventable deaths and ensuring children get the best start in life in the poorest countries of the world.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, how many covid-19 vaccines his Department will be providing to Ghana.

The UK has a strong partnership with Ghana and we are supporting the COVID-19 pandemic response there. I [Minister Duddridge] discussed UK support to Ghana in a meeting with Ghana's Minister for Health in Accra earlier this month. I [Minister Duddridge] am delighted to confirm that on 18 August a shipment of 249,600 UK-donated AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Ghana. These vaccines will help protect frontline health workers, vulnerable people most at risk from COVID-19, and those in need of their second vaccine dose.

19th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of his Department not having a specific budget for the UK Government's support of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda on his Department's ability to (a) track and (b) respond to specific WPS projects to assess whether those projects are advancing the UK Government's commitments and objectives under its National Action Plan on that WPS agenda.

Spending on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) is mainstreamed across wider government activity rather than funded through one budget, to ensure a broad range of activity and support for the agenda. Progress in meeting commitments and objectives under the 2018-2022 WPS National Action Plan is assessed each year as part of the Annual Report to Parliament. The Government publishes the Annual Report and also presents it to the All Party Parliamentary Group on WPS for scrutiny.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what the (a) funding and (b) budget breakdown is for the Government's support of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.

There is no specific budget for our work on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). This work is mainstreamed into wider activity supporting UK National Action Plan strategic objectives and is funded from several sources. For example, the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund requires all portfolios to fund WPS projects and activities by targeting and by integrating WPS and gender equality into all programmes.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Bahraini counterpart on the continued detention and wellbeing of Hasan Mushaima.

We continue to monitor and raise the case of Hassan Mushaima and others, as necessary, with the Bahraini Government as well as with the Oversight bodies.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to accelerate the rollout of the 100 million covid-19 vaccine doses the UK has committed to donating to the rest of the world.

Our G7 Presidency championed equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics and we will share 100 million doses within the next year, 30 million of those by the end of 2021 with 5 million doses shared by the end of September. Decisions on which vaccines will be shared will be based on the continued reliability of supply chains, regulatory restrictions and advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

80% of the vaccines shared will go to COVAX, the multilateral mechanism set up to support international co-operation on vaccines, COVAX remains best-placed to allocate vaccines to where they will be most effective. This was part of an agreement with G7 partners to share at least 870 million doses over the next year, primarily through COVAX, which has so far helped deliver over 81m doses to 129 countries and territories.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, on what date he last met with his Nigerian counterpart to discuss reports of human rights abuses in that country.

We regularly raise the importance of human rights with the Nigerian authorities. During my visit to Nigeria in April I met the Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, the President's Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, as well as community leaders, to discuss insecurity across the country and the importance of protecting the human rights of all Nigerians. In May, I discussed Nigeria's security situation with the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK.

In my meetings with the President's Chief of Staff and the Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, I also discussed the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria in October 2020, and I stressed the importance of the police and military's cooperation with the judicial panels of inquiry, which are investigating reports of police and security service brutality. We will continue to stress the importance of protecting civilians and their human rights in our engagements with the Nigerian Government.

17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help provide long-term protection for the Kurdish communities of northern (a) Iraq and (b) Syria.

The UK supports a strong and successful Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) within a peaceful and prosperous Iraq. The Foreign Secretary's visit to the KRI on 9 June 2021 was the first by a Cabinet Minister since 2017. He spoke with President Barzani about the Iraq elections in October, regional security and the threat from militia groups, and highlighted our continued support to Iraq and the KRI on security sector reform.

In north east Syria, we welcome the fact that the ceasefire is broadly holding and we urge all parties to continue adherence, while pressing for a UN-led political settlement as the only long-term solution to the Syria conflict. As a leading member of the Global Coalition against Daesh, the UK continues to support both the Iraqi and Iraqi Kurdish Security Forces in maintaining capacity and capability to tackle the threat from Daesh. We will also maintain our significant humanitarian and early recovery support to liberated areas of Iraq and Syria, thereby helping communities recover from the brutality of life under Daesh.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what diplomatic steps he is taking to encourage negotiation of a lasting and peaceful settlement in Cyprus that commands the support of both communities.

The UK remains committed to supporting the UN process to reach a Cyprus Settlement, which will be good for Cyprus, regional stability and UK interests. On 27-29 April, in support of the efforts led by the UN Secretary General to find common ground on a way forward to resolve the Cyprus Issue, the Foreign Secretary represented the UK as a Guarantor Power at informal UN talks in Geneva.

At the meeting, the Foreign Secretary continued to urge all sides to demonstrate flexibility and compromise to find a solution to the Cyprus Issue within the UN Security Council parameters. This followed UK messaging to the parties ahead of the talks, including the Foreign Secretary's visit to the island on 4 February where he met President Anastasiades, Turkish Cypriot leader Tatar and the UN. Ahead of the talks, during my visit to Cyprus (7-9 April), I reiterated this message and the UK's support for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus issue. FCDO Ministers and Officials will continue to engage with all parties in support of the UN process.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he raised the case of Nasrin Sotoudeh at his recent meeting with his Iranian counterpart.

The UK Government has repeatedly raised our concern at Nasrin Sotoudeh's ongoing detention with the Iranian authorities. On 22 September last year, the Iranian Ambassador was summoned and we handed over a letter from E3 Foreign Ministers about the human rights situation in Iran, which raised her case. On 25 September, the UK also joined 46 other countries in calling for her release at the Human Rights Council. We strongly support Human Rights Defenders worldwide to enable them to carry out their work safely and without fear.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what plans his Department has to impose additional sanctions on the government of Belarus.

The Foreign Secretary stated on 24 May that the Government would coordinate with our international partners on additional measures, including further sanctions. We are doing just that. We have already imposed over 90 designations in response to the fraudulent elections and subsequent human rights violations in Belarus. Government officials are currently examining the evidence for further designations. Furthermore, we are in contact with allies to strengthen an effective and unified stance against the Lukashenko regime.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Azeri counterpart on the safe and immediate return of all Armenian prisoners of war.

During my visit to Armenia and Azerbaijan in February I urged both parties to work with the ICRC to expedite the return of all prisoners of war. Through the OSCE and bilateral engagement in Baku and Yerevan, UK officials continue to urge the Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities to prioritise this issue, alongside other unresolved issues following hostilities last year.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Colombia; and what relevant recent discussions he has had with his Colombian counterpart on that matter.

The UK Government remains concerned about reports of human rights violations in Colombia, and we have raised our concerns with the relevant state actors in Colombia since the recent protests began. We are clear that we support the right of all Colombians to protest peacefully, and that the right to peaceful assembly and association must be guaranteed.

Most recently, I spoke with then acting Foreign Minister Adriana Mejía on 14 May to express my concerns, and welcome Colombia's commitment to transparent investigations into allegations of excessive use of force. Security services must be held accountable for their actions, with all complaints thoroughly investigated.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Pakistani counterpart on the reported mistreatment of Christian Pakistanis in Pakistan.

The UK Government remains deeply concerned about reports of discrimination against the Christian community and other religious minorities in Pakistan. We regularly raise these concerns at a senior level with the Government of Pakistan. On 23 March, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister for South Asia, discussed Freedom of Religion or Belief with Pakistan's Special Representative for Religious Harmony, Tahir Ashrafi. On 20 February, Lord Ahmad raised our concerns about the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan's Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari. We will continue to urge the government of Pakistan to guarantee the fundamental rights of all its citizens, regardless of their religion or belief.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
18th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to provide (a) vaccines, (b) oxygen, (c) ventilators and (d) other support to Sri Lanka in the context of the covid-19 outbreak in that country.

The UK Government is concerned about the rising number of COVID-19 infections in Sri Lanka, and is in regular contact with the Government of Sri Lanka and the World Health Organisation's (WHO) representatives in Sri Lanka. The UK has committed £548 million to the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment to support equitable access to vaccines across the world. The Prime Minister has confirmed that the UK will share the majority of any surplus vaccines with COVAX and this multilateral mechanism, set up to support international co-operation on vaccines, remains the best way to ensure global equitable access to vaccines. It is too early to determine if and when the UK will have any vaccine surplus to our domestic needs, but we are keeping the situation under continual review.

The UK has taken a leading role in the COVID-19 global health response, both in addressing the direct health impacts, and keeping essential services going. In addition to our average annual contribution of £120 million to assist the WHO, including in their role to provide technical guidance and operational support on maintaining essential health services, we recently announced a further £340 million (2020-24) in new core contributions. This is a significant uplift in support towards its vital work on public health.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when he last held formal discussions with his Swiss counterpart.

Ministers regularly engage with their Swiss counterparts. The Foreign Secretary last held substantive discussions with Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis in September 2020 and I last held discussions with State Secretary Livia Leu in March 2021.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the reported continued Russian military presence on Ukraine's borders.

There has been regular senior level engagement with the Government of Ukraine and with our allies on this issue. The Foreign Secretary spoke to the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on 2 April and the Prime Minister had discussions with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine on 5 April to assure them of the UK's support and our solidarity with the government and people of Ukraine. On 12 April, the Foreign Ministers of the G7 issued a joint statement, in which they called on Russia to cease its provocations and reaffirmed our unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.

Russia's build-up of military forces near the Ukrainian border and within illegally annexed Crimea indicates a troubling escalation in its ongoing campaign of aggression towards Ukraine and its militarisation of the illegally annexed peninsula. The restraint shown by Ukraine, including efforts to deescalate and commitment to finding a diplomatic solution to this conflict, are to be commended.

We note Russian Defence Minister Shoigu's announcement on 22 April that Russian troops will return to their bases. We continue to carefully monitor the situation and work with international partners to continue to de-escalate and reassure all sides.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 19 April 2021 to Question 180565 on Switzerland: Clothing, when he last held formal discussions with his Swiss counterpart; and whether he raised the vote in Switzerland on 7 March 2021 to ban face coverings in public in those discussions.

We note the outcome of the vote in Switzerland on 7 March in a referendum to ban face coverings in public. Ministers regularly speak to their Swiss counterparts on a broad range of issues. We know that human rights protection in Switzerland is strong, and that its domestic legal and administrative systems are fully capable of dealing with any human rights-related issues on this or any other matter, should they arise.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he has raised the issue of vaccine pricing in India with his Indian counterpart in their most recent discussions.

The Foreign Secretary spoke to his counterpart, the Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr Jaishankar, on 6 May, where they agreed on the need for swift and equitable access to vaccines around the world.

The Government of India continues to provide free of cost vaccinations to defined vulnerable categories of the population, including health and frontline workers, and all those above 45 years of age.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if the Government will pledge £600 million to the Global Partnership for Education over the next five years.

The Prime Minister and President Kenyatta of Kenya will co-host the Global Education Summit: Financing the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) in London in July 2021. No decision has yet been taken on the UK's next contribution to GPE, and details will follow in due course.

As co-hosts of the Summit, we are using all the means at our disposal to help the GPE in securing its five-year rolling financing target of up to $5 billion (2021-2026). A well-funded GPE will be central to delivering the two ambitious global objectives endorsed by the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers in London on 5 May of getting 40 million more girls in school, and 20 million more girls reading by age 10 in the next 5 years.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what impact assessment he has undertaken on the 85 per cent reduction in UK aid to the United Nations Population Fund; and if he will publish that assessment.

The seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to make tough but necessary decisions, including temporarily reducing the amount we spend on foreign aid. We are now working through the implications of this change for individual programmes so I am unable to comment on the UK's funding to UNFPA at this time.

The UK's aid budget has been allocated in accordance with our key strategic priorities. Standalone impact assessments were not carried out for individual programmes given the multiple overlapping scenarios, but officials carefully considered the impact of all funding decisions when developing advice to Ministers. We are now working with partners to help them assess and manage the impact of UK funding reductions on individual programmes and we will share further details on this in due course.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on reports of the ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli detention.

We repeatedly call on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and have a regular dialogue with Israel on legal issues relating to the occupation, including the treatment of Palestinian children. Officials from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv last raised the issue of Palestinian children in detention on 23 February with the Israeli Ministry of Justice.

We continue to stress the importance of the Israeli security forces providing appropriate protection to the Palestinian civilian population, in particular the need to protect children. We remain concerned about Israel's extensive use of administrative detention which, according to international law, should be used only when security makes this absolutely necessary rather than as routine practice and as a preventive rather than a punitive measure. We remain committed to working with Israel to secure improvements to the practices surrounding children in detention.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will raise the case of Jagtar Singh Johal in his next discussion with his Indian counterpart.

We regularly raise Mr Johal's case directly with the Government of India, including his allegations of torture, his right to a fair trial, and concerns about delays to legal proceedings against him. We have emphasised to the Government of India the need for Mr Johal's torture allegations to be fully investigated.

The Foreign Secretary raised Mr Johal's case with the Indian Minister of External Affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, on 15 December 2020. The Secretary of State for International Trade raised the case with the Indian Minister for Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad, on 5 February. Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, raised Mr Johal's case with the Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kishan Reddy and with Minister Prasad on 15 March during his visit to India. Most recently Lord Ahmad raised Mr Johal's case with the Indian High Commissioner on 16 April.

This Government will continue to look to raise our concerns about Mr Johal's case at all appropriate opportunities.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
21st Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he will take to tackle the import to the UK of products from illegal settlements in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

In order to enable consumers to make a more fully informed decision concerning the products they buy, in December 2009, the UK introduced voluntary guidelines to enable produce from Israeli settlements in the OPTs to be specifically labelled as such.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations his Department has made to the Israeli authorities on evictions of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah.

We regularly make clear our concerns about the evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem to the Israeli authorities and the Municipality of Jerusalem. The Fourth Geneva Convention, which applies to all occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, prohibits demolitions or forced evictions absent military necessity.

The UK Ambassador in Tel Aviv raised ongoing demolitions with the Israeli Authorities in a meeting alongside like-minded partners on 25 March 2021. I raised the issue of evictions of Palestinians from their homes, with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on 29 October 2020, and the British Embassy in Tel Aviv raises this issue regularly with the Israeli authorities. UK officials from the British Consulate in Jerusalem have made regular visits to areas at risk of demolition and eviction to reiterate UK support for those communities. On 8 April 2021, the UK Consul General Jerusalem visited families at risk of eviction in Sheikh Jarrah, restating UK opposition to evictions of Palestinians from their homes.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if the Government will join the Netherlands and Canada in formally supporting the Gambia in its International Court of Justice (ICJ) case against Myanmar; and whether his Department plans to seek Myanmar's first report to the ICJ to be made public so that the international community can scrutinise the contents of that report.

The UK supports the International Court of Justice (ICJ) process which is putting pressure on Myanmar to protect the Rohingya. We are clear that Myanmar should comply with the provisional measures ruling. We have reiterated our support to the ICJ process in Parliament, at the UN Security Council, and through public statements. We provided funding to enable Rohingya refugees to attend the ICJ hearing in December 2019. The case will develop significantly in the coming months. We are monitoring developments closely and will consider the legal arguments once they are made available to establish whether a UK intervention would add value.

We understand that Myanmar's report will only be provided to the Court and the parties. We believe it is in the interests of transparency that Myanmar publishes its response to the ICJ.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to encourage his Ethiopian counterpart to restore internet access in the Tigray region of that nation.

The humanitarian situation in Tigray is concerning, with 4.5 million people in desperate need. Both publicly and in our engagements with our Ethiopian counterparts, the Foreign Secretary and I [Minister Duddridge] have consistently called for greater humanitarian access, as has the UK Ambassador in Addis Ababa. The lack of telephone and internet services is yet another challenge for humanitarian efforts and it should be restored. We also need to see improvements to security for humanitarian workers, the restoration of communications and banking services in Tigray, and the departure of Eritrean troops in line with PM Abiy's commitment of 26 March.

14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that (a) arms exports from the UK are not used for attacks on civilian settlements in Tigray and (b) people responsible for human rights abuses are held to account.

We are deeply concerned at the mounting evidence of human rights abuses and violations in Ethiopia's Tigray region. Since the conflict started, the UK alongside international partners, have consistently called for an end to fighting, and for all parties to the conflict to prioritise the protection of civilians. We will hold Prime Minister Abiy to his statement on 23 March that the perpetrators of human rights atrocities should face justice - whoever they are. Further atrocities including sexual and gender-based violence must stop and an independent investigation of those that have occurred must take place. The UK will support the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights' planned investigations.

In a joint statement on Ethiopia with 41 other countries at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), we condemned in the strongest terms the reported killings of civilians. Eritrea's role in the conflict is particularly concerning; there are numerous reports of atrocities involving Eritrean forces, and the presence of Eritrean forces is fuelling insecurity. We welcome the announcement, on 26 March by Prime Minister Abiy that Eritrean forces will withdraw and call for this to be swift, unconditional and verifiable. We have yet to see any evidence that Eritrean forces are leaving Tigray.

The UK Government takes its export control responsibilities seriously and continues to monitor developments in Ethiopia very closely. We examine every licence application on a case-by-case basis against strict criteria, drawing on a range of sources in making assessments, including Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and international organisations in addition to our diplomatic posts. All licences are kept under careful and continual review.

14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what impact assessment he has undertaken on the reduction in Official Development Assistance to Syria in 2021; and if he will publish that assessment.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the UK is facing its worst economic contraction in over 300 years. The UK government has taken the difficult, but temporary, decision to spend 0.5% of GNI on ODA in 2021. We are still working through what this means for individual programmes and no decisions have yet been made, however the provision of humanitarian support will continue to be a priority. This is why last month the UK pledged to provide at least £205 million to the Syria crisis in 2021, bringing our total commitment to the Syria conflict to £3.7 billion since 2012 - our largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis. The UK is proud of our role supporting millions of vulnerable Syrians with life-saving food, clean water, healthcare, education and livelihoods and our response so far is the UK's largest to a single humanitarian crisis.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when he last held formal discussions with his Swiss counterpart; and whether he raised the vote in Switzerland on 7 March 2021 to ban face coverings in public in those discussions.

We note the outcome of the vote in Switzerland on 7 March in a referendum to ban face coverings in public. Ministers regularly speak to their Swiss counterparts on a broad range of issues. We know that human rights protection in Switzerland is strong, and that its domestic legal and administrative systems are fully capable of dealing with any human rights-related issues on this or any other matter, should they arise.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Swiss counterpart on the vote in that country on 7 March 2021 to ban face coverings in public; and what steps he plans to take to encourage the Swiss Government to protect women's (a) freedom of expression and religion and (b) rights in that country.

We note the outcome of the vote in Switzerland on 7 March in a referendum to ban face coverings in public. Ministers regularly speak to their Swiss counterparts on a broad range of issues.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) Magnitsky sanctions are imposed on perpetrators of war crimes in Sri Lanka and (b) refugees are not forced to return to Sri Lanka.

The UK's Global Human Rights sanctions regime offers a powerful tool to hold to account those involved in serious human rights violations or abuses. It is not appropriate to speculate on who may be designated in the future as to do so would reduce the impact of the designations.

The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it, in accordance with our international obligations under the Refugee Convention and European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Refugees who are at risk of persecution or serious harm in their country will not be expected to return there. Protection is normally granted where a claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution under the Refugee Convention or their circumstances engage our obligations under Article 3 (ECHR).

The UK government remains concerned about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and the lack of progress on justice and accountability, and actively raises its concerns with the government of Sri Lanka, both privately and publicly. On 23 March, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a new resolution on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka. This UK-led resolution makes clear the international community’s continued commitment to these important issues. It calls on Sri Lanka to make meaningful progress on accountability and human rights. It also enhances the role of the UN in monitoring the situation and collecting evidence of human rights violations that can be used in future accountability processes

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
15th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government plans to take to ensure that the perpetrators of war crimes in Syria are held to account.

The UK strongly supports efforts to hold perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria to account. Since 2012 we have provided over £13m to support Syrian and international efforts to gather evidence of human rights abuses and violations perpetrated during the Syrian Conflict. This includes over £1.2m in support to the UN International Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria (IIIM). We will shortly complete an information sharing agreement with the IIIM to strengthen accountability for crimes and abuses committed in Syria. This month I hosted an event at the 46th Human Rights Council focused on accountability, where I reiterated the UK's commitment on the issue and explored next steps with partners.

The UK has also supported the Commission for International Justice and Accountability to collect evidence and build cases for prosecution of perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity. These efforts played a critical role in achieving the first conviction of a former member of Daesh, and the first court ruling worldwide over state-sponsored torture by the Assad regime in Koblenz, convicting Eyad al-Gharib for complicity in crimes against humanity in Syria. This sends a clear message that abuses in Syria will not go unpunished.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Pakistani counterpart on the imprisonment of Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel.

The UK government is concerned about the use of blasphemy laws, which are only compatible with international human rights law in narrow circumstances. It is our longstanding policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. We are therefore concerned about the case of Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, who were sentenced to death in 2014 after being convicted for blasphemy.

We regularly raise at a senior level our concerns about the human rights situation with the Government of Pakistan. Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for South Asia and Minister responsible for Human Rights, discussed Freedom of Religion or Belief, including the use of blasphemy laws, with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, on 20 February 2021. Lord Ahmad also raised concerns about the protection of religious minorities with Pakistan's Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for the Interior, Shahzad Akbar, on 7 December 2020.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he has taken to assess the effect of recent agricultural protests in India on the (a) Conceptual Framework on Agriculture and (b) UK-India Infrastructure Technical Co-operation Facility.

The British High Commission in New Delhi monitors developments in India, including recent reforms in agricultural law. We work with our partners in India to build capacity and share expertise to promote prosperity. Through the FCDO's Conceptual Framework on Agriculture, we support small-scale farmers to grow sustainably by improving market access and finance. With regards to the UK-India Infrastructure Technical Co-Operation Facility, there have been no projects relating to agriculture or agri-infrastructure under this programme. We will continue to follow the wider situation closely, respecting that agricultural reforms are a matter for India.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
9th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Turkish counterpart regarding the imprisonment of Selahattin Demirta.

We regularly raise human rights issues with the Turkish authorities. I did so in December 2020 with my Turkish counterpart. We remain concerned about the four-year imprisonment of Selahattin Demirtaş, former co-chair of the People's Democratic Party (HDP), in Turkey. With our international partners, we call on Turkey to meet its obligations as a founding member of the Council of Europe and release Demirtaş from his extended pre-trial detention. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will supervise the implementation of the judgment in Demirtaş (No.2) v Turkey, a process in which the United Kingdom actively participates. Working with our international partners, we will continue to encourage Turkey, including at Ministerial level, to act in line with the conventions of the Council of Europe and to make greater progress on wider human rights reforms.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what plans he has to impose further sanctions against the Burmese military following the military coup in Myanmar.

The UK condemns the state of emergency imposed in Myanmar, and the arbitrary detention of democratically elected politicians and civil society by the military. It is essential that Aung San Suu Kyi, and all those arbitrarily detained, are released. Under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime and the Myanmar Sanctions Regime the UK had already sanctioned 16 individuals, responsible for human rights violations in Myanmar. In July 2020, we sanctioned the Commander-in-Chief and his Deputy, in our first tranche of sanctions under the Global Human Rights Sanctions regime. We are working closely with international partners to consider next steps with the aim of ensuring that democratic wishes of Myanmar's people are respected and politicians and civil society leaders are released.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
13th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Bahraini counterpart on the continued detention and wellbeing of Hasan Mushaima.

We continue to monitor the case of Hassan Mushaima and have raised the case at senior levels with the Bahraini Government. The Government of Bahrain has been clear in public statements that access to medical care for those in detention is guaranteed by the Constitution of Bahrain. Any concerns regarding the treatment of Mr Mushaima should be submitted to the Independent Ombudsman and the National Institute of Human Rights for further investigation.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he has made representations to his Indian counterpart on reports of water cannons and tear gas being used against peacefully protesting farmers in India.

The Foreign Secretary discussed protests about agricultural reforms with his Indian counterpart during his visit to India in December, whilst making it clear that the handling of protests is an internal matter for the Indian authorities. The right to gather lawfully and demonstrate a point of view is common to all democracies. Governments also have the power to enforce law and order if a protest crosses the line into illegality.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
10th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking with his international counterparts to secure a ceasefire in Syria which is upheld by all parties.

The UK continues to call on all parties to the conflict in Syria to adhere to agreed ceasefires and abide by their obligations under International Humanitarian Law. We regularly raise this matter in bilateral discussions and multilateral fora, including the UN Security Council. On 22 October, the Foreign Secretary and likeminded counterparts issued a statement following a ministerial meeting of the Syria Small Group: a political settlement in line with Security Council Resolution 2254, which calls for a nationwide ceasefire as part of a political process, is the only way to end the Syrian conflict. To this end, we welcomed UN Syria Envoy Pedersen's convening of the Constitutional Committee for a fourth round of talks in Geneva on 29 November, but regret that due to regime obstruction there has been little progress to date.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether the UK-Israel Agreement will continue to regard settlements as part of Palestine.

We do not recognise the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including the settlements, as part of Israel, and indeed the settlements are not covered by the UK-Israel Trade and Partnership Agreement, which will enter into force at the end of the Transition Period. Products from Israeli settlements are not eligible to receive preferential tariff treatment.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of whether the UK missions in (a) Israel and (b) Palestine purchase goods sourced in illegal settlements.

Neither our Embassy in Tel Aviv nor our Consulate-General in Jerusalem purchase goods from Israeli settlements. The UK's position on settlements is clear: they are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability of a two-state solution.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for International Trade on the potential merits of a requirement for imports from Israeli settlements on the West Bank to have a movement certificate stating their country and location of origin.

According to the arrangement between Israel and the UK for the implementation of the UK-Israel Trade and Partnership Agreement, all movement certificates for imports from Israel and the illegal settlements must include the postal code and the name of the city, village or industrial zone conferring originating status. Products produced in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are not entitled to benefit from preferential tariff treatment.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his counterparts in European countries on a co-ordinated approach to the recognition of the state of Palestine after the transition period.

We are clear that we want to see the creation of a sovereign, independent and viable Palestinian state - living in peace and security, side by side with Israel. We have a regular dialogue with international partners on this issue. The UK will recognise a Palestinian state at a time when it best serves the objective of peace.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to UN Resolution 2334 of 2016, reconfirmed in 2019 and 2020, whether it remains his Department's policy that Israeli settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is a flagrant violation of international law.

We have long supported resolutions consistent with our policy, including United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. The UK's position on settlements is clear: they are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and threaten the physical viability of a two-state solution. We urge Israel to halt settlement expansion immediately.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has had with his international counterparts on (a) providing support to end the blockade of Armenia by (i) Azerbaijan and (ii) Turkey and (b) the policy of isolation towards the Republic of Artsakh.

The UK has not raised the closure of borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan and Armenia and Turkey. The UK continues to support the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group to find a solution to the conflict, including the Minsk Principles governing relations between member states.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to provide humanitarian aid to the Republic of Artsakh.

The Foreign Secretary announced a new £1 million UK aid package, in response to an appeal by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on 30 October. This aid will support people affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including children and those requiring urgent medical attention.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether the Government will take steps to support the implementation of monitoring mechanisms along the line of contact between Azerbaijan and Armenia to mediate the current tensions between both parties.

Any monitoring mechanism should be agreed with both Armenia and Azerbaijan and the OSCE Minsk Group. Although we are not a member of the OSCE Minsk Group, the UK Government continues to support the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group and Minsk Group Co-Chairs in calling for immediate de-escalation and a return to the negotiating table.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of formally recognising the Republic of Artsakh.

The OSCE Minsk Group is the international forum through which a peaceful settlement to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan should be reached. We consider that the Basic Principles for a settlement, proposed by the Minsk Group Co-Chairs, provide the basis for a reasonable compromise, taking due account of the relevant OSCE principles governing relations between member states including the principle of Azerbaijani territorial integrity. The UK Government has no plans to recognise the Republic of Artsakh outside of any agreement that is reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions he has held with his counterparts in other European states on reaching a co-ordinated recognition of the State of Palestine after the end of the transition period.

We are clear that we want to see the creation of a sovereign, independent and viable Palestinian state - living in peace and security, side by side with Israel. The UK will recognise a Palestinian state at a time when it best serves the objective of peace. Bilateral recognition in itself cannot end the occupation. Without a negotiated settlement the occupation and the problems that come with it will continue. We continue to work closely with international partners strongly advocating a two-state solution and encouraging a return to meaningful negotiations.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, when his Department last participated in multi-national discussions on the diplomatic relationship between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The UK is a longstanding partner of both Qatar and Saudi Arabia. We urge all sides to engage with Kuwaiti mediation efforts and take steps to find a resolution to intra-GCC dispute, which is in the long term interests of all parties. The UK maintains working-level discussions with the GCC, including technical discussions on cyber security, aid transparency, and marine environmental protection.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with the Government of the Philippines on (a) reported human rights abuses in their prison system which houses British nationals and relatives of Filipinos living in the UK and (b) the release of prisoners during the covid-19 outbreak.

We remain concerned about allegations of human rights abuses in the Philippine prison system. The British Embassy in Manila regularly raises our concerns, alongside other human rights issues, with relevant stakeholders in the Philippines. We understand that the Philippine Bureau of Jail Management and Penology have yet to reach a decision on the release of inmates from the prison system in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the Bureau of Immigration did notify the British Embassy on 29 April that 2 British detainees have been fast tracked for deportation. We are working with the Philippines authorities to understand the implications of this decision. The airlines that would normally carry deportees are not operating due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (Minister without Portfolio)
27th Oct 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing legislative proposals to withdraw mortgage tax relief from people with holiday lets to encourage property owners to make homes available for local people.

Tax relief on mortgage interest is available for landlords renting properties both as longer-term tenancies and as furnished holiday lets. Tax relief on mortgage interest on properties rented as longer-term tenancies is available at the basic rate of income tax; we estimate that only 1 in 10 landlords are affected by this restriction introduced in 2017 and phased in over four years. The Government keeps all taxes under review.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
26th Oct 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of a progressive duty system for small cider producers.

As announced at Autumn Budget 2021, the Government will build on Small Brewers Relief to extend small producer reliefs, including to cidermakers. The technical details of our new small producer reliefs will be finalised through the alcohol duty review consultation process.
Helen Whately
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the number of (a) bank branch closures and (b) cashpoints in England.

Decisions on opening and closing branches are a commercial issue for banks and building societies. The Government does not intervene in these decisions or make direct assessments of banks’ branch networks.

However, the Government also firmly believes that the impact of branch closures should be understood, considered, and mitigated where possible so that all customers, wherever they live, continue to have appropriate access to banking services.

In September 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority published guidance setting out its expectation of firms when they are deciding to reduce their physical branches or the number of free-to-use ATMs. Firms are expected to carefully consider the impact of a planned closure on their customers’ everyday banking and cash access needs and consider possible alternative access arrangements. Alternative options for access might include the Post Office, and the Post Office Banking Framework allows 95% of business and 99% of personal banking customers to carry out their everyday banking at 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK.

LINK (the scheme that runs the UK's largest ATM network) has commitments to protect the broad geographic spread of free-to-use ATMs and is held to account against these commitments by the Payment Systems Regulator. LINK has committed to protect free-to-use ATMs more than one kilometre away from the next nearest free ATM or Post Office, and LINK's members have made £5 million available to fund ATMs at the request of communities with poor access to cash.

More broadly, the Government recognises that access to cash remains important to millions across the UK and has committed to legislating to protect access to cash and ensuring that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the longer term. On 1 July, the Government published a consultation on legislative proposals to protect access to cash. These proposals seek to ensure that people only need to travel reasonable distances to pay in or take out cash, and that the right regulatory oversight for cash access is in place for the future. The consultation is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/access-to-cash-consultation

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the number of (a) bank branch closures and (b) cashpoints in England.

Decisions on opening and closing branches are a commercial issue for banks and building societies. The Government does not intervene in these decisions or make direct assessments of banks’ branch networks.

However, the Government also firmly believes that the impact of branch closures should be understood, considered, and mitigated where possible so that all customers, wherever they live, continue to have appropriate access to banking services.

In September 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority published guidance setting out its expectation of firms when they are deciding to reduce their physical branches or the number of free-to-use ATMs. Firms are expected to carefully consider the impact of a planned closure on their customers’ everyday banking and cash access needs and consider possible alternative access arrangements. Alternative options for access might include the Post Office, and the Post Office Banking Framework allows 95% of business and 99% of personal banking customers to carry out their everyday banking at 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK.

LINK (the scheme that runs the UK's largest ATM network) has commitments to protect the broad geographic spread of free-to-use ATMs and is held to account against these commitments by the Payment Systems Regulator. LINK has committed to protect free-to-use ATMs more than one kilometre away from the next nearest free ATM or Post Office, and LINK's members have made £5 million available to fund ATMs at the request of communities with poor access to cash.

More broadly, the Government recognises that access to cash remains important to millions across the UK and has committed to legislating to protect access to cash and ensuring that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the longer term. On 1 July, the Government published a consultation on legislative proposals to protect access to cash. These proposals seek to ensure that people only need to travel reasonable distances to pay in or take out cash, and that the right regulatory oversight for cash access is in place for the future. The consultation is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/access-to-cash-consultation

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
6th Sep 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to ensure the long-term future of cash.

The Government recognises the importance of cash to the daily lives of millions of people and businesses across the UK, including those who may be on low incomes or vulnerable. That is why at the March 2020 Budget, the Government committed to legislating to protect access to cash and ensuring that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the longer term.

On 1 July, the Government published a consultation on access to cash, which sets out proposals for new laws to make sure people only need to travel a reasonable distance to pay in or take out cash. The Government’s proposals would support the continued use of cash in people’s daily lives and help local businesses to continue accepting cash by ensuring reasonable access to deposit facilities. The consultation will be open until 23 September and is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/access-to-cash-consultation

The Government also made legislative changes to support the widespread offering of cashback without a purchase by shops and other businesses as part of the Financial Services Act 2021.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of removing VAT from sustainable sanitary products.

A zero rate of VAT has applied to women’s sanitary products since 1 January 2021. This applies to those products which were previously subject to the reduced rate of 5 per cent, for example, tampons and pads, and to reusable menstrual products, such as keepers.

10th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of making voluntary emissions reduction certificates tax deductible.

The Government recognises that for the UK to reach net zero emissions in 2050, removing emissions, or greenhouse gas removals will be necessary to offset residual emissions in hard-to-abate sectors, as advised by the Climate Change Committee.

To deepen our evidence base on greenhouse gas removals and the existing market for voluntary emissions removals, and to support future policy development, BEIS and HM Treasury launched a Call for Evidence on Greenhouse Gas Removals in December last year. This Call for Evidence sought views from stakeholders on the role of Government in incentivising their development and deployment, including the role of tax incentives. A summary of responses to this Call for Evidence will be published in due course.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of granting English language schools business rates relief.

The Government has provided enhanced support to the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors through business rates relief given the direct and acute impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on those sectors.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published guidance on eligibility for the relief, which is targeted at premises that are wholly or mainly being used as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues; for assembly and leisure; or as hotels, guest and boarding premises, and self-catering accommodation.

7th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of removing VAT from the price of covid-19 PCR tests.

VAT is a broad-based tax on consumption and the standard rate of 20 per cent normally applies to most goods and services, including PCR tests. Medical testing, where it is administered by registered health professionals, is exempt from VAT. The Government also continues to offer free COVID-19 testing for those with COVID-19 symptoms.

The Government recognises that the cost of PCR tests can be high, which is why it is working with the travel industry and private testing providers to see how costs can be further reduced for the British public while ensuring that travel is as safe as possible.

26th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many people are subject to the Loan Charge as of 26 April 2021.

HMRC’s latest estimates of those affected by the Loan Charge are included in their GOV.UK publication titled Independent Loan Charge review: HMRC report on implementation.

As set out in this report, in January 2020, HMRC wrote to more than 55,000 individuals and employers who were identified as potentially affected by the Loan Charge. HMRC estimate the changes to the Loan Charge enacted in Finance Act 2020 took 11,000 people out of paying the charge altogether.

The report goes on to state that 5,600 employers and individuals settled their use of disguised remuneration schemes in the period to 30 September 2020.

26th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to help ensure that umbrella companies comply with legislation on the deduction of employers’ taxes from contractors’ pay.

Like all employers, umbrella companies are responsible for paying employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) where they are due. Employers cannot, by law, deduct employer NICs from an employee's gross pay. The payment of employer NICs out of the umbrella company’s fee may be shown on the same payslip as deductions, such as Income Tax, from the employee’s gross pay, so that it can look as if an individual is paying the employer NICs, when this is not actually the case.

New rules came into force from 6 April 2020 requiring all agency workers to be given a Key Information Document by an agency before agreeing terms, including when the agency worker is engaged through an umbrella company. Key Information Documents set out details about the engagement, including rates of pay. This allows workers to see how deductions and fees are made through the labour supply chain and how this affects their gross pay and net pay.

When set up and operated correctly, umbrella companies comply with tax and NICs legislation. Umbrella company employees who believe that an umbrella company is not complying with its tax or NICs obligations can report it to HM Revenue and Customs: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/report-fraud-to-hmrc.

26th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions he has had with HMRC on its reported (a) engagement with and (b) use of contractors using disguised remuneration schemes.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) do not engage in, or enter into, disguised remuneration (DR) schemes. It is possible for a contractor providing services to HMRC to use a DR scheme without the department’s knowledge or participation. Where HMRC become aware of a contractor who is using a DR scheme, they take robust compliance action, including immediate action to terminate the engagement. These individuals are subject to the same tax compliance action in respect of their DR scheme use as any other scheme user.

19th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he supports the US administration's recent proposal for a global minimum corporate tax rate.

I refer the Honourable Member to the answer given on 20 April to UIN 178895.

14th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potentially detrimental effects of the extension of the stamp duty holiday on the ability of first-time buyers to purchase a home; and what steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to mitigate those effects.

The temporary SDLT relief was designed to stimulate immediate momentum in a property market where property transactions fell by as much as 50 per cent during the COVID-19 lockdown in March. This momentum in the property market has supported jobs which rely on custom from the property industry, such as retailers and tradespeople.

First Time Buyers will benefit from the increase in available properties and save up to an additional £10,000 in SDLT, on top of the £5,000 they could already save under First Time Buyers relief. When the nil rate band steps down to £250,000 in July, first-time buyers still benefit from their first-time buyer SDLT advantage.

The Government has also introduced help for first-time buyers, particularly those with smaller deposits, through the new mortgage guarantee scheme which will help to re-introduce 95% loan to value mortgage products to first-time buyers.

25th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to review the effect of changes to VAT-free shopping on jobs across different sectors and parts of the country.

On 11 September 2020, the Government announced the VAT and excise duty treatment of goods purchased by individuals for personal use and carried in their luggage arriving from or going overseas (passengers) following the transition period. The following rules were implemented on 1 January 2021:

- Passengers travelling from Great Britain to any destination outside the United Kingdom (UK) can purchase duty-free excise goods once they have passed security controls at ports, airports, and international rail stations.

- Personal allowances apply to passengers entering Great Britain from any destination outside of the UK, with alcohol allowances significantly increased.

- The VAT Retail Export Scheme (RES) in Great Britain has not been extended to EU residents and has been withdrawn for all passengers.

- The concessionary treatment on tax-free sales for non-excise goods has been removed across the UK.

The Government published a consultation which ran from 11 March to 20 May 2020. During this time the Government held a number of virtual meetings with industry stakeholders to hear their views and received 73 responses to the consultation. The Government has also met and discussed these changes with many stakeholders following the announcement of these policies.

The detailed rationale for these changes are included in the written ministerial statement and summary of responses to the recent consultation: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2020-09-11/hcws448 and https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-consultation-on-duty-free-and-tax-free-goods-carried-by-passengers. A technical note has also been issued to stakeholders to expand on this document and to respond to issues raised by stakeholders.

On 25 November 2020 the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) set out their assessment of the fiscal impact of the withdrawal of the VAT RES.

Factoring in a higher-than-usual elasticity of 1.9 to account for spending on luxury goods, the OBR estimate that the withdrawal of the VAT RES will result in a significant direct Exchequer saving of around £400 million per year, once passenger numbers recover from the impacts of Covid-19. Based on the 1.2 million users of the scheme who received a refund in 2019, this includes an assumption that approximately 20,000 – 30,000 fewer tourists visit Great Britain a year. That is 0.07% of the 40 million visitors to the UK in 2019.

The OBR also looked at this package in the round when assessing the indirect impact on the economy – including the effects of extending duty-free sales – alongside the substantial support provided to the economy and retail industry.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
23rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made a recent assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward the application window for the fourth Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant.

The Government announced at Budget 2021 that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will continue until September, with a fourth and a final fifth grant.

The Government also announced a significant change in access to the SEISS. Basing the fourth and fifth grants on 2019-20 Self Assessment tax returns means more than 600,000 people are brought into scope who either became self-employed in 2019-20; or were ineligible for previous grants, but now may be eligible for the fourth grant on the basis of submitting their 2019-20 tax return.

Using these returns requires time to deliver, due to the increased population and new data. In order to allow HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) time to process 2019-20 tax returns it has not been possible to invite applications or open the claims service earlier.

Individuals must have submitted their 2019-20 tax return by 2 March to be considered for the SEISS. This date balances access for the vast majority of eligible self-employed individuals, with the duty to protect the taxpayer against fraud as the details of the SEISS grants became public.

HMRC will open the online claims service for the fourth SEISS grant from late April 2021 and expects to notify potentially eligible people of their personal claim date from mid-April.

The SEISS is just one part of a wider package of support for the self-employed, including Restart Grants, the Recovery Loan scheme, business rates relief, and other business support schemes.

16th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of extending the business rates holiday to English language teaching centres.

The Government has provided enhanced support to the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors through business rates relief given the direct and acute impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on those sectors.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published guidance on eligibility for the relief, which is targeted at premises that are wholly or mainly being used as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues; for assembly and leisure; or as hotels, guest and boarding premises, and self-catering accommodation.

A range of other measures have been made available for all businesses, including English language schools, such as the extension of the furlough scheme, extension to VAT cuts, Recovery Loan schemes, and enhanced Time to Pay for taxes.

3rd Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the 1 March video posted on HM Treasury's social media, what cost-benefit analysis he has made of the £400 spent to licence music at the start of the video.

HM Treasury’s communications team holds a subscription to a music licencing service costing £239 per year. Therefore, no additional cost was involved with the piece of music used in this video.

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the insurance sector's level of compliance with their terms of cover and obligations with respect to claims made by consumers in the last 12 months.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the independent non-governmental body responsible for regulating and supervising the financial services industry. The FCA’s rules require insurers to handle claims fairly and promptly and settle claims quickly once settlement terms are agreed. In addition, the FCA has said that, in light of COVID-19, insurers must consider very carefully the needs of their customers and show flexibility in their treatment of them.

The Government is working closely with the FCA to ensure that the rules are being upheld during this crisis and fully supports the regulator in its role.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made a recent assessment of the potential merits of extending the length of time of the operation of the (a) Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, (b) business rates relief scheme and (c) the five per cent VAT rate for the hospitality and leisure sectors.

In order to support businesses retaining their employees and protect the UK economy, the Chancellor has already extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) until the end of April 2021. As of 13 December, the CJRS has helped 1.2 million employers across the UK to furlough 9.9 million jobs, protecting people’s livelihoods with £46.4 billion having been paid out in grants. The Government has also provided an unprecedented business rates holiday for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties due to the direct adverse effects of COVID-19, worth over £10 billion, as well as cutting VAT on hospitality and tourism from twenty per cent to five per cent.

The Government is considering options for COVID-19 support measures for 2021-22, and will outline these at the Budget.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of (a) extending the current business rates holiday for 12 months after the 1st of April 2021, and (b) substantially reducing the 2022-23 business rates to at least 40 per cent of pre-covid-19 outbreak levels.

The Government is considering options for further COVID-19 related support through business rates reliefs. In order to ensure that any decisions best meet the evolving challenges presented by COVID-19, the Government will outline plans for 2021-22 reliefs in due course.

In 2020, the Government launched the Fundamental Review of Business Rates, which sought views on the level of the business rates multiplier. A final report to be published in due course will set out the conclusions of the Review on this and other areas.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he plans to announce the business rates for the period after the 1st April 2021.

The Government is considering options for further COVID-19 related support through business rates reliefs. In order to ensure that any decisions best meet the evolving challenges presented by COVID-19, the Government will outline plans for 2021-22 reliefs in due course.

In 2020, the Government launched the Fundamental Review of Business Rates, which sought views on the level of the business rates multiplier. A final report to be published in due course will set out the conclusions of the Review on this and other areas.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the Brexit business taskforce, if he will take steps to ensure that retailers can recover VAT that they have paid in the country of destination when goods are returned for refund.

Retailers in Great Britain who sell goods to customers in other countries should normally zero-rate the sale of those goods for UK VAT purposes. Where import VAT is due on arrival in the destination country, the recipient in that country is responsible for paying that import VAT and then recovering it, if the goods are subsequently returned.

Where the retailer in Great Britain is registered for VAT in the destination country, the retailer can account for the VAT, including VAT adjustments for returned goods, through the VAT return process in that country.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will take steps to ensure that the Brexit business taskforce consults (a) retail businesses and (b) other stakeholders on the economic effect of the UK leaving the EU VAT area on businesses that import from outside the EU to export within it.

The Government is continuing to work closely with business following the end of the transition period and has conducted hundreds of engagements since then, including ministerial calls and roundtables.

As with all new tax measures, the Government includes its assessment of the impacts of the changes in Tax Information and Impact Notes. Notes for measures recently legislated for in the Taxation (Post-transition Period) Act were published alongside that legislation.

18th Jan 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what comparative assessment he has made of the cost to UK-based and EU-based businesses importing goods from outside the EU to sell to EU customers.

The Government has always acknowledged there would be new rules and processes that businesses would need to follow after the end of the Transition Period. The Government worked closely with industry throughout negotiations to ensure the vast majority of UK exports will benefit from zero tariffs, while protecting industry from unfair competition from products from other countries being imported through the EU.

Overall, businesses are adjusting well to the new rules and continue to trade effectively. In order to further support businesses and trade, the Government will continue engaging with businesses in sectors that are most affected by the UK’s changing relationship with the EU to help them adjust and compete on a global stage. The deal enables the UK to take full advantage of the opportunities available as an independent trading nation, striking trade deals with other partners around the world.

9th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what additional financial support his Department plans to provide to wet-led pubs affected by covid-19 tier restrictions.

The Government understands that this is a very challenging time for the hospitality sector, and recognises the pub sector in particular has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The Government continues to collect evidence on the impact of the pandemic on the sector and is working with businesses and trade groups to inform our efforts to support these businesses.

Wet-led pubs in tiers 2 and 3 will be subject to significant measures under the new regional tiered system and it is right for the government to increase its support to these businesses. It is for this reason that the Government has announced an additional £1,000 Christmas grant for wet-led pubs in tiers 2 and 3, that will miss out on business during the busy Christmas period.

This grant will be a one-off for December and will be paid on top on the existing £3,000 monthly cash grants for businesses. In addition to these grants, the Government has acted to deliver support to the hospitality sectors by extending the CJRS until March, and made £1.1 billion of Discretionary Grant funding available for local authorities to target support to the businesses that are most important to their local economy.

Businesses are also still able to access wider support, including:

o Affordable, Government backed finance through loan schemes – extended until the end of January 2021 and ‘Pay as You Grow’ options for businesses which have taken out loans, to make repayments over the long-term;

o A VAT deferral for up to 12 months;

o A 12-month business rates holiday;

o A moratorium on evictions to protect commercial tenants;

o Targeted support through the temporarily reduced rate of VAT (5%)

Kemi Badenoch
Minister for Equalities
25th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will establish a Directors' income support scheme to support small company Directors during the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the Honourable Member to the answer given to UIN 115585 on 24 November.

10th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect on people on lower incomes of the (a) reduction in stamp duty and (b) increase in house prices in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

Property transactions fell by as much as 50 per cent during the COVID-19 lockdown, and this downturn in the market meant that the future was uncertain for many people whose jobs relied on custom from the property industry. The temporary increase in the Stamp Duty Land Tax nil rate band was designed to immediately support the market, and jobs which rely on the sector.

28th Aug 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he plans to extend the eat out to help out scheme beyond the end of August 2020.

There are no plans to extend the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme beyond August.

16th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department has made an equality impact assessment of the proposed closure of the HMRC office at International House, Ealing.

HMRC’s Locations Programme conducts People and Equality Impact Assessments (PEIA) at a regional and national level; the latter is updated and published on GOV.UK annually.

HMRC is in the process of refreshing the national PEIA published in July 2019. HMRC shared the regional PEIA for Stratford with staff in September 2019, which included impacts and mitigations relating to the workforce in Ealing.

HMRC have recently carried out and published internally an Equality Impact Assessment on the implications of COVID-19 on HMRC staff across the department. Work to mitigate impacts is in progress.

As is always the case, if there are ways in which HMRC can improve how they deliver their vital public services then they will seek to implement those improvements. This includes reviewing how HMRC have been able to respond to COVID-19 and determining whether and how they might be able to sustain any changes to ways of working that are proven to lead to better outcomes for both HMRC and taxpayers.

16th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if his Department asked HMRC to make an assessment of the socio-economic effect of the closure of the HMRC office at International House, Ealing, as a result of the economic effect of the covid-19 outbreak on that locality.

HMRC’s Locations Programme conducts People and Equality Impact Assessments (PEIA) at a regional and national level; the latter is updated and published on GOV.UK annually.

HMRC is in the process of refreshing the national PEIA published in July 2019. HMRC shared the regional PEIA for Stratford with staff in September 2019, which included impacts and mitigations relating to the workforce in Ealing.

HMRC have recently carried out and published internally an Equality Impact Assessment on the implications of COVID-19 on HMRC staff across the department. Work to mitigate impacts is in progress.

As is always the case, if there are ways in which HMRC can improve how they deliver their vital public services then they will seek to implement those improvements. This includes reviewing how HMRC have been able to respond to COVID-19 and determining whether and how they might be able to sustain any changes to ways of working that are proven to lead to better outcomes for both HMRC and taxpayers.

16th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of home working throughout HMRC offices; and if he will make a statement.

HMRC’s Locations Programme conducts People and Equality Impact Assessments (PEIA) at a regional and national level; the latter is updated and published on GOV.UK annually.

HMRC is in the process of refreshing the national PEIA published in July 2019. HMRC shared the regional PEIA for Stratford with staff in September 2019, which included impacts and mitigations relating to the workforce in Ealing.

HMRC have recently carried out and published internally an Equality Impact Assessment on the implications of COVID-19 on HMRC staff across the department. Work to mitigate impacts is in progress.

As is always the case, if there are ways in which HMRC can improve how they deliver their vital public services then they will seek to implement those improvements. This includes reviewing how HMRC have been able to respond to COVID-19 and determining whether and how they might be able to sustain any changes to ways of working that are proven to lead to better outcomes for both HMRC and taxpayers.

14th Jul 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate the Government has made of the number of people with (a) blood cancer and (b) other long-term illnesses who are (i) shielding during the covid-19 outbreak and cannot work from home and (ii) have been advised to continue shielding after August 2020; and what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing additional support to those people through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

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

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

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

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

20th May 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will take steps to change the earnings threshold for businesses based in London to enable more self-employed people to access the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

The new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) helps those adversely affected by COVID-19, and some 95 per cent of people who receive the majority of their income from self-employment could benefit from this scheme. The SEISS, including the £50,000 threshold, is designed to ensure it is targeted at those who most need it, and who are most reliant on their self-employment income.

The self-employed are a very diverse population. They have a wide mix of turnover and profits, with monthly and annual variations even in normal times. Some may see their profits unaffected by the current situation, while others have substantial alternative forms of income: for example, those who had more than £50,000 from self-employment profits in 2017-18 had an average total income of more than £200,000. The self-employed can also offset losses against profits in other years and other forms of income.

Those with average profits above £50,000 could still benefit from other support. Individuals may have access to a range of grants and loans depending on their circumstances, and the SEISS supplements the significant support already announced for UK businesses, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the deferral of tax payments. More information about the full range of business support measures is available at www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/.

3rd Mar 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment his Department has made of the environmental merits of removing the Climate Change Levy from commercially purchased renewable energy.

The Government is committed to meeting its climate change objectives in a cost-effective way.

Renewable electricity was exempt under the Climate Change Levy (CCL) from 2001-2015. The exemption was removed because, since the exemption was introduced, more targeted policies were introduced to support renewable electricity generation. In 2015-16 alone, the cost of all support measures for low carbon generation was about £4.3billion.

Without action, the exemption for renewable electricity under the CCL would have cost UK taxpayers £3.9bn from 2015/16-2020/21. One third of this value would have gone to supporting renewable electricity generated overseas. This electricity would not have contributed to the UK's climate change or renewable energy targets and therefore would not have represented good value for money for the taxpayer.

10th Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many children born in the UK have not been issued with a National Insurance number since 2013.

The requested information is not available.

In order for a child to be issued a National Insurance Number (NINO) automatically, the child must be part of a live Child Benefit claim when they are 15 years, 9 months old.

If a child has been part of a claim, but is not part of a claim when they are 15 years, 9 months old, HMRC can be contacted to request a NINO.

If a child has never been part of a Child Benefit claim (or a claim for a childcare service administered by HMRC) HMRC will have no record of them. An application can be made to DWP to obtain a NINO.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the environmental effect of the Government’s decision to reduce airline duty across the aviation industry.

As announced on 14 January, HM Treasury is undertaking a review of Air Passenger Duty to ensure regional connectivity is strengthened while meeting the UK’s climate change commitments to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The government takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously and uses a range of levers at its disposal, including spending, taxation and regulatory policy, to meet its climate and environmental objectives.

Simon Clarke
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many people adult dependant visas were applied for in 2020; and how many applications for adult dependant visas were rejected in 2020.

The Home Office continues to keep the Immigration Rules for adult dependent relatives under review and makes adjustments in light of feedback on their operation and impact. The adult dependent relative rules were reviewed in 2016 and the report of this review can be seen at:

Adult dependent relatives: review - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

However, our overall assessment is the rules represent a fair deal for the UK taxpayer and are helping to ensure public confidence in the immigration system by protecting our public services from the significant NHS and social care costs to which these cases can give rise.

Home Office Migration Statistics capture data on a number of Adult Dependent Relative routes, which are grouped together with other routes under Family: Other (for immediate settlement) in our published data. This includes the number of applications received, granted and refused. The statistics are published at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/962146/entry-clearance-visa-outcomes-datasets-dec-2020.xlsx

Not all Adult Dependent Relative applications are captured under the Adult Dependent Relative route and to capture accurate data would require a manual trawl of cases; to do so would incur disproportionate cost.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
22nd Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of reviewing Adult Dependent Relative rules.

The Home Office continues to keep the Immigration Rules for adult dependent relatives under review and makes adjustments in light of feedback on their operation and impact. The adult dependent relative rules were reviewed in 2016 and the report of this review can be seen at:

Adult dependent relatives: review - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

However, our overall assessment is the rules represent a fair deal for the UK taxpayer and are helping to ensure public confidence in the immigration system by protecting our public services from the significant NHS and social care costs to which these cases can give rise.

Home Office Migration Statistics capture data on a number of Adult Dependent Relative routes, which are grouped together with other routes under Family: Other (for immediate settlement) in our published data. This includes the number of applications received, granted and refused. The statistics are published at:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/962146/entry-clearance-visa-outcomes-datasets-dec-2020.xlsx

Not all Adult Dependent Relative applications are captured under the Adult Dependent Relative route and to capture accurate data would require a manual trawl of cases; to do so would incur disproportionate cost.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
18th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the legal basis is for refusing entry to the UK to foreign nationals who are deemed non-conducive to the public good; and what authority is responsible for deciding when entry should be refused on those grounds.

The Secretary of State has the power to regulate entry of non-British nationals to the United Kingdom by virtue of section 3 of the Immigration Act 1971.

The Immigration Rules constitute a statement of practice to be followed in the administration of the Immigration Act 1971 for regulating the entry into, and stay of, persons in the UK. Paragraph 9.3.1. of the Immigration Rules provides for the refusal of entry to the UK on the ground the person’s presence is not conducive to the public good.

A decision to refuse entry on non-conducive grounds may be taken by UK Visas and Immigration where an application has been made for entry clearance abroad, or by Border Force if the person seeks entry on arrival at the border.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
12th Nov 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, on what basis Rafał Ziemkiewicz was denied entry to the UK in October 2021; and who made that decision.

The Home Office does not routinely comment on Individual cases.

Damian Hinds
Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)
29th Oct 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of increasing the number of people allowed to resettle in the UK through the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme.

The Government has committed to welcoming around 5,000 people in the first year of the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, and up to 20,000 in total. This is one of the most ambitious resettlement schemes in our country’s history. Dedicated officials have worked day and night to support this unprecedented response.

The Government is also supporting thousands of Afghan people through the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy.

It is important that we resettle people safely and provide appropriate support including with healthcare, education, jobs and housing. When considering the number of people we resettle, it is right that we take into account the capacity of local communities to provide this support, and that we do not take more people than we can accommodate.

I would like to thank all local authorities who have already pledged help and encourage others to come forward and support the efforts to resettle Afghans.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that collective passports can be taken up by other countries that are signatories to the 1961 Council of Europe treaty.

The UK is a signatory to the 1961 Council of Europe treaty which provides for collective passports for young people. Continued acceptance of these passports from those who have ratified the treaty is current practice. The UK has not left the Council of Europe.

Decisions whether to issue collective passports under the treaty, or not, are a matter for the individual signatory countries. Several countries have declined to continue accepting UK-issued Collective Passports this year, including Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and Sweden.

It is for each nation to decide what documents they require for travel, just as the UK can determine our own requirements now we have left the EU.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing a seasonal visa scheme for qualified lorry drivers to tackle the shortage of drivers in the UK.

I refer the honourable member to the response provided to the honourable member for Arfon on 21 June UIN 14141.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
18th Aug 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of funding a public awareness campaign on male violence against women and girls.

We have recently published the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy to help ensure that women and girls are safe everywhere - at home, online and on the streets. The new strategy commits this government to using communications to create behaviour change that targets and challenge perpetrators, educates young people about healthy relationships and consent, and ensures victims can recognise abuse and non-contact sexual offending. The Strategy was informed by an unprecedented 180,000 responses from the general public and stakeholders as part of our Call for Evidence.

The campaign follows the swift action at the beginning of the pandemic last year where the Government launched the #YouAreNotAlone campaign. The campaign raised awareness of domestic abuse and the support available to those suffering from it, signposting those seeking support to the gov.uk domestic abuse support page Domestic abuse: how to get help - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) where they can access support services, including Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline. The campaign reached millions of people through digital advertising, and specialist community engagement activity with campaign materials translated into 16 languages.

We also launched and promoted the ‘Ask for ANI’ codeword scheme which provides a simple and discreet way for domestic abuse victims to signal that they need immediate help using a codeword in participating pharmacies. Almost half of all pharmacies across the UK, including Boots, are now participating in the scheme, following the launch in January 2021.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
13th Jul 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of increasing the maximum sentence for people convicted of racist hate crime.

The legal framework for hate crimes already ensures there are increased penalties for offenders when compared to non-hate crimes. This includes higher possible sentences for a range of offences such as assault, harassment and criminal damage when they include racial hostility.

We have asked the Law Commission to review hate crime legislation and consider how the law can be made more effective. It will report recommendations this year and we will respond when it is complete.

Victoria Atkins
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)
15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the financial impact of immigration and nationality application fees on applicants; and what plans she has to reduce those fees.

Immigration and nationality fees are kept under review and we ensure they are within the parameters agreed with HM Treasury and Parliament, as set out in Section 68 (9) of the Immigration Act 2014.

The most recent fees regulations were laid on 10 March 2021 and can be viewed via the following link: