First elected: 1st December 2022
Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.
e-Petitions are administered by Parliament and allow members of the public to express support for a particular issue.
If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.
If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).
Make swift bricks compulsory in new housing to help red-listed birdsGov Responded - 1 Dec 2022 Debated on - 10 Jul 2023 View 's petition debate contributions
Swifts have declined by over 50% in the UK. Adult swifts, known for site-fidelity, return to the same nests. We want swift bricks to be required in all new housing, to provide homes for these birds. Surveys show these are used by red-listed swifts, house martins, starlings and house sparrows.
These initiatives were driven by Samantha Dixon, 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.
The Government has recently committed to publishing an annual report on the community energy sector, and to consult on the barriers the sector faces when developing projects. The right to local energy supply already exists and Ofgem has existing flexibility to award supply licences that are restricted to specified geographies.
The Department and Ofgem, the ECO4 scheme administrator, consistently engage with stakeholders to ensure that the ECO4 Flex guidance is fit for purpose and meets the needs of its intended users.
Ofgem has published a full list of ECO-obligated energy suppliers on its website, including contact details. The Department and Ofgem encourage participating local authorities and ECO-obligated energy suppliers to promote ECO4 Flex through their own communication channels.
In 2022 there were 13 electricity and 6 gas meters disconnected in Great Britain due to a failure to pay a debt owed. Energy suppliers must explore all other options first, such as payment plans.
An energy supplier would only be able to inform a landlord in cases where the landlord is the party that holds the contract with the energy supplier, or where the householder has given their permission for their energy supplier to communicate directly with their landlord.
The Warm Home Discount prioritises people who are most at risk of being in fuel poverty. Fuel poverty is a combination of low incomes and high energy costs, so the scheme is targeted at those on means tested benefits whose homes are expensive to heat. Parents of children with special educational needs do not automatically fall into that category.
These households may be able to speak to their energy supplier about being added to their Priority Services Register, which provides additional support for vulnerable households, such as priority support in an emergency.
While the water sector has delivered a 15% reduction in category 1-3 pollution incidents since 2019, companies are not on track to meet the 2024-25 target. Both the Government and regulators expect water companies to step up this improvement. Ministers regularly meet with the regulators to discuss progress and have engaged directly with water companies who are not performing to the standard we expect.
The Environment Agency regularly meets with water companies to assure progress against their pollution reductions plans, which water companies are required to publish. Pollution offences may be subject to action in line with the Environment Agency’s Enforcement and Sanctions Policy.
Ofwat requires underperforming companies to produce detailed service delivery plans, and Ministers will be following this up with regular meetings with Chairs and CEOs to track progress. I have also written to Ofwat’s Chair and CEO asking them to outline the detailed steps they will take to hold all water companies to account on these findings.
Where companies have underperformed against their commitments, they will be required to return money directly to customers through their bills. Based on the results of Ofwat’s 2022-23 Water Company Performance Report, water companies will have to return £114 million over 2024-25.
There is no requirement currently for water companies to sample and publish data on the quality of water entering their waste water treatment plants. However, they are required to sample treated effluents from their plants which are discharged to the environment. These samples are analysed and assessed for compliance against protective environmental permit requirements. This information is reported to the Environment Agency and published on GOV.UK.
However, a new requirement in S. 82 of the Environment Act 2021 requires sewerage undertakers to continuously monitor the quality of the receiving water upstream and downstream of their assets. This will allow sewerage undertakers to assess the impact of discharges from their assets on the receiving watercourse. The requirement covers both storm overflows and the treatment works discharges and is being introduced in 2025.
The Government is driving up monitoring and transparency of water quality data. We have increased the number of storm overflows monitored across the network from 7% in 2010 to 91% now, and we will reach 100% by end of this year.
The Government has also required water companies to publish Event and Duration Monitoring (EDM) data annually since 2020. Data from 2022 was published in March 2023.
The Government is taking additional steps to further improve water quality data published by companies. In April 2023 we launched a consultation on continuous water quality monitoring, setting out proposals to enhance the monitoring of watercourses to show not just whether an overflow is discharging but also its impact on the receiving watercourse. The Government is currently analysing responses and will respond to the consultation in due course.
The Environment Agency has secured through the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP), the monitoring of Storm Overflows through Event Duration Monitoring (EDM). There will be 100% coverage in England by December 2023. We secure the monitoring and reporting of EDM performance to the Environment Agency through requirements on water and sewerage company discharge permits.
Defra and Government have introduced statutory requirements on the water and sewerage companies to publish EDM data annually and in near real time.
There are also statutory requirements on water and sewerage companies through the environment act for water and sewerage companies to monitor and report on the water quality impacts of their discharges through installation of continuous water quality monitors. The Environment Agency is supporting Defra in their technical standards work around this monitoring and reporting and facilitating delivery by water and sewerage companies through the Environment Agency WINEP PR24 and future programme.
The Government recognises that accidental bycatch in fisheries is one of the greatest threats faced by sensitive marine species such as cetaceans, and we remain fully committed to tackling this issue.
The UK introduced new rules in 2021 making it a mandatory requirement under fishing vessel licence conditions for fishers to report any marine mammal bycatch to the MMO. On the introduction of this requirement, communications were sent out by Defra, the Devolved Administrations and the MMO to ensure that industry understood the new obligations. Responsibility for enforcing licence conditions in Scotland and Northern Ireland is a matter for the Devolved Administrations.
The UK is committed to protecting the marine environment from all human-induced stressors, including marine litter such as abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG). We are exploring methods to recycle and reuse ALDFG as well as end of life gear at ports and aquaculture farms with the intention of moving the sector to-wards a circular economy model.
The UK is also working collaboratively at the International Maritime Organization to further address actions that have been identified under its 2018 Action Plan and 2021 Strategy on marine plastic litter from ships, in particular ALDFG.
As a Contracting Party to the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, the UK is implementing actions under the new OSPAR Regional Action Plan for Marine Litter to tackle fishing gear as marine litter and have committed to ambitious targets under the North East Atlantic Environment Strategy.
The UK is a member of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), the first initiative dedicated to tackling this problem on a global scale. Through the UK’s £500m Blue Planet Fund that was launched in 2021, we are also working in partnership with de-veloping countries to tackle marine pollution, including ALDFG.
When proposing major changes to ticket office opening hours, including closures, operators are required to take into account the adequacy of the proposed alternatives in relation to the needs of all passengers; and to include this in the notice of the proposal sent to other operators and passenger groups. We would also expect operators to consider other equality related needs and make this clear in the notice sent to other operators and passenger groups. The Department recently hosted roundtable discussions with industry and accessibility and transport groups to discuss this matter. We continue to engage with the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee.
Together with the industry, we want to improve and modernise the passenger experience by moving staff out from ticket offices to provide more help and advice in customer focused roles. No currently staffed station will be unstaffed as a result of industry changes, and train operators will ensure staff are well located to meet passenger needs in future.
The Department is aware of the impact delayed opening of journey reservations has had on passengers and officials are regularly monitoring Avanti West Coast’s plans to improve the situation. However, the compressed booking horizons have not materially impacted the allocation of advance tickets between Chester and London, or on any other route. Once tickets are available, the full range of fares is offered for customers. Passengers are advised to sign up to Avanti's advance ticket alert through its website to be notified when journeys are available to book.
The Department does not hold this information.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a significant impact to bus services and passenger numbers. To mitigate this, the Government has provided nearly £2 billion in emergency and recovery funding to bus operators and local transport authorities to keep vital bus services running. As a result of this support, bus services in England in 2020/21 ran at over 80% of pre-COVID levels, even though patronage and commercial fare revenue dropped significantly.
We aim to announce the results of the second round by the end of January, which will see much needed investment awarded to level up communities across the UK.
Avanti West Coast (AWC) shared its recovery plan for the restoration of services prior to the short-term contract extension announced on 7 October. Both the Office of Rail and Road and Network Rail reviewed this plan and were supportive of the proposition, noting its full and successful delivery required trade union co-operation. The Department is monitoring AWC’s delivery, holding it to account as appropriate, and will use all due legal and contractual processes to take action, if any is appropriate to take.
On 11 December, Avanti West Coast implemented a timetable that restored the majority of pre-pandemic direct services between North Wales and London via Chester.
Lord Peter Hendy’s independent Union Connectivity Review, published in November 2021, considered transport connectivity across the UK. We are considering his recommendations and will publish our response as soon as practicable.
The Government is clear that vaping should only be used to help people quit smoking. Vapes should not be used by people under 18 years old or non-smokers. Vapes are not risk-free, nicotine is highly addictive and can be harmful, and there are unanswered questions on the effects of longer-term use.
We have regulations in place to discourage underage vaping. The law protects children through restricting sales of vapes to over-18-year-olds only, limiting nicotine content, refill bottle and tank sizes, labelling requirements and through advertising restrictions.
In October 2022, we published new content on the potential risks of vaping for young people on the FRANK and Better Health websites and we have provided input to educational resources produced by partners including the PSHE Association. We are also developing a new resource pack for schools on vaping which will be made available before the end of the school year.
There is currently no evidence that young people move from using vapes to tobacco products, including cigarettes.
We are aware of the difficulties BN(O)s (British National (Overseas)) are experiencing in seeking early withdrawal of their pension held by the Mandatory Provident Fund in Hong Kong. The root of the problem is the Chinese Government's decision not to recognise the BN(O) passport. The UK firmly opposes the discrimination of BN(O)s in this way. We have urged the Hong Kong authorities to facilitate the early drawdown of funds as is the case for other Hong Kong residents who move overseas permanently. I raised this issue with Christopher Hui, Hong Kong Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury on 18 April and pressed for a pragmatic solution.
The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is the Government’s official forecaster.
The OBR published its most recent economic and fiscal forecasts in March 2023 and will publish an updated projection alongside the Autumn Statement on 22nd November.
Asylum seekers have access to health and social care services from the point of arrival in the UK. The Home Office and its contractors work closely with the NHS, local authorities and non-governmental organisations to ensure that people can access the healthcare and support they need. All accommodation providers have a contractual duty to assist people in accessing the health care they need. The Home Office also operates a Safeguarding Hub to support vulnerable individuals in accessing these services.
In addition, the Home Office contracts Migrant Help to provide advice and guidance to asylum seekers should they have an issue with their accommodation or support, and for signposting to health and welfare services. Asylum seekers can access Migrant Help 24/7, every day of the year by a freephone telephone number, via an online chat or completing an email enquiry form both of which can be accessed free of charge on the Migrant Help website. Interpreting and translation services are available through Migrant Help when the need arises for asylum seekers to raise any queries or concerns.
Where an individual is on asylum support and has a care need, a referral will be made to the local authority for an assessment of care needs under the Care Act 2014. Our guidance sets out the approach to be taken by the Home Office to the duties and obligations owed to asylum seekers who have disabilities, care needs or both. In doing so it sets out how the framework of the Care Act 2014 should be interpreted by the Home Office and its external partners in the context of asylum support. The guidance can be found here: Asylum-Seekers-With-Care-Needs-v2.0ext.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 12 January 2023 to Question 117844 to the hon. Member for Slough (Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi).
In April 2021, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) launched a new UK-wide Welcome Programme to support BN(O) status holders. In November 2022, DLUHC published a letter to BN(O)s and prospective employers on Certificates of No Criminal Conviction (CNCC) from the Hong Kong Police. The letter outlines a revised guidance on how to obtain a CNCC. Where a CNCC cannot be obtained, sectoral examples on alternative methods are provided. The letter is available in English and Cantonese and is available on the GOV.UK landing page. We are working closely with FCDO officials to keep the guidance under review and monitor the impact to help BN(O)s overcome the barriers they face when seeking employment.
All tenants deserve to live in safe, warm homes that are free from damp and mould. It is social landlord's responsibility to ensure that their homes meet the Regulator of Social Housing's Home Standard, including meeting the requirements of the Decent Homes Standard. The Housing Ombudsman has been clear that damp and mould should not be considered 'lifestyle issues'.