Zarah Sultana Portrait

Zarah Sultana

Labour - Coventry South

1 APPG membership (as of 2 Jun 2021)
Republic of Korea
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee
21st Sep 2020 - 22nd Feb 2021


Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 23rd June 2021
09:00
Science and Technology Committee - Oral evidence
Subject: Pre-appointment hearing: Government's preferred candidate for the UKRI Chair
23 Jun 2021, 9 a.m. View calendar
Division Votes
Wednesday 9th June 2021
Investing in Children and Young People
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 193 Labour Aye votes vs 0 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 224 Noes - 0
Speeches
Wednesday 16th June 2021
Children and Young People’s Mental Health

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Gary. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of …

Written Answers
Tuesday 22nd June 2021
Mental Health Services
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will conduct an independent inquiry and evaluation …
Early Day Motions
Monday 17th May 2021
A People's Green New Deal
That this House believes that the government must urgently act to address unemployment, poverty, and the intensifying climate crisis; notes …
Bills
None available
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
Monday 15th March 2021
2. (b) Any other support not included in Category 2(a)
Name of donor: Unite the Union
Address of donor: 128 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8TN
Amount of donation or nature …
EDM signed
Tuesday 22nd June 2021
Meeting between parliamentarians and Julian Assange
That this House expresses its concern at the refusal of the UK Government and prison authorities to allow an online …

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Zarah Sultana has voted in 258 divisions, and 1 time against the majority of their Party.

25 Mar 2021 - Coronavirus - View Vote Context
Zarah Sultana voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 21 Labour No votes vs 176 Labour Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 484 Noes - 76
View All Zarah Sultana 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)
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
(16 debate interactions)
Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative)
Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(12 debate interactions)
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union
(11 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
HM Treasury
(21 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(20 debate contributions)
Home Office
(14 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(13 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Zarah Sultana's debates

Coventry South 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 Coventry South signature proportion
Petitions with most Coventry South signatures
Petition Debates Contributed

Bring in a law which enforces professional football clubs to have at least 51% fan ownership similar to how the Bundesliga operates this rule.

The Government should use the recently established fan led review of football to introduce an Independent Football Regulator in England to put fans back at the heart of our national game. This should happen by December 2021.

If nurseries are shut down in view of Covid-19, the Government should set up an emergency fund to ensure their survival and ensure that parents are not charged the full fee by the nurseries to keep children's places.

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

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

The prospect of widespread cancellations of concerts, theatre productions and exhibitions due to COVID-19 threatens to cause huge financial hardship for Britain's creative community. We ask Parliament to provide a package of emergency financial and practical support during this unpredictable time.

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

The cash grants proposed by Government are only for businesses in receipt of the Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Relief, or for particular sectors. Many small businesses fall outside these reliefs desperately need cash grants and support now.

For the UK government to provide economic assistance to businesses and staff employed in the events industry, who are suffering unforeseen financial challenges that could have a profound effect on hundreds of thousands of people employed in the sector.

After owning nurseries for 29 years I have never experienced such damaging times for the sector with rising costs not being met by the funding rates available. Business Rates are a large drain on the sector and can mean the difference between nurseries being able to stay open and having to close.

As we pass the COVID-19 Peak, the Government should: State where the Theatres and Arts fit in the Coronavrius recovery Roadmap, Create a tailor made financial support mechanism for the Arts sector & Clarify how Social Distancing will affect arts spaces like Theatres and Concert Venues.

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak there are travel bans imposed by many countries, there is a disastrous potential impact on our Aviation Industry. Without the Government’s help there could be an unprecedented crisis, with thousands of jobs under threat.

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

To extend the business rate relief to all dental practices and medical and aesthetics clinics and any small business that’s in healthcare

Zoos, aquariums, and similar organisations across the country carry out all sorts of conservation work, animal rescue, and public education. At the start of the season most rely on visitors (who now won't come) to cover annual costs, yet those costs do not stop while they are closed. They need help.


Latest EDMs signed by Zarah Sultana

21st June 2021
Zarah Sultana signed this EDM on Tuesday 22nd June 2021

Meeting between parliamentarians and Julian Assange

Tabled by: Richard Burgon (Labour - Leeds East)
That this House expresses its concern at the refusal of the UK Government and prison authorities to allow an online video meeting between Julian Assange and a cross-party group of British parliamentarians; notes that the request was first made in December 2020 in a letter signed by 17 British parliamentarians …
16 signatures
(Most recent: 22 Jun 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 9
Independent: 2
Alba Party: 2
Conservative: 1
Green Party: 1
Scottish National Party: 1
22nd June 2021
Zarah Sultana signed this EDM as a sponsor on Tuesday 22nd June 2021

GKN Automotive alternative plan

Tabled by: Jack Dromey (Labour - Birmingham, Erdington)
That this House is alarmed by GKN Automotive’s decision to close its Birmingham factory next year, with the loss of over 500 highly skilled jobs and work transferred to continental Europe; notes that GKN’s origins trace back to the industrial revolution, with over 260 years of history that include making …
50 signatures
(Most recent: 22 Jun 2021)
Signatures by party:
Labour: 48
Independent: 2
View All Zarah Sultana's signed Early Day Motions

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Zarah Sultana, 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.


Zarah Sultana has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Zarah Sultana has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Zarah Sultana has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Zarah Sultana has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


320 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
5 Other Department Questions
12th May 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, if her Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of (a) making non-binary a legally recognised gender identity and (b) including non-binary as an option under the Gender Recognition Panel (GRP)/ Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

The Government acknowledges that some citizens identify as non-binary. However, as set out in the response to the Gender Recognition Act consultation, there are no plans to make changes to the 2004 Act.

Following a considerable amount of consultation with the public and representative organisations, the Government decided that the current provisions within the GRA allow for those that wish to legally change their sex to do so. The GRA provides a means for transgender people to change the sex on their birth certificate, but there is currently no provision for those who do not identify solely as male or as female.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what steps she has taken to incorporate the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women into domestic law.

We are committed to fulfilling our obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); our interim report to the CEDAW Committee is due to be published and available online in the coming weeks. This report will set out the steps taken, in different parts of the UK, to implement four of the recommendations identified in 2019 by the Committee in its concluding observations.

The substantive provisions of CEDAW are already largely reflected in existing domestic legislation, such as the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998. The UK has strong human rights protections within a comprehensive and well-established constitutional and legal system. We have a longstanding tradition of ensuring rights and liberties are protected domestically, and of fulfilling our international human rights obligations.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what plans the Government has to implement the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Human Rights report entitled Black people, racism and human rights, published in November 2020.

The UK has made significant progress over the years in tackling racism. This Government made manifesto commitments to tackle prejudice, racism and discrimination and is committed to making further progress.

The Government has considered the recommendations and conclusions in the Joint Committee on Human Rights report. We have responded to each of these in turn in our response to the Committee’s Eleventh Report of Session 2019–21 published on 11 February 2021.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, whether the Government plans to re-examine the findings of the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, published March 2021, in response to feedback on that report's conclusions on inequality.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’ report makes an important contribution to both the national conversation about race, and our efforts to level up and unite the whole country.

We are carefully considering the report’s findings and recommendations. We will publish a Government response in due course. This Government remains fully committed to building a fairer UK and taking the action needed to address disparities wherever they exist.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what plans his Department has to (a) recognise and (b) reward delivery drivers who transported essential items across the UK during the covid-19 lockdown.

Further to the answer given by my Rt Hon Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster during his oral statement on 28 April 2020, the Government will ensure recognition is both timely and appropriate and is reflective of the profound gratitude the nation feels.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask the Attorney General, what plans he has in place to ensure that the Treasury Solicitor - Bona Vacantia Division (a) undertakes investigations into the existence of wills for the deceased in an efficient and diligent manner and (b) administers estates in accordance with the law.

The Bona Vacantia Division (BVD) of the Government Legal Department (GLD) deals with the estates of people domiciled in England & Wales who appear to have died without leaving a valid will or relatives entitled to share in their estates in priority to the Crown.

Estates are administered by BVD in compliance with the law and the legal duties which apply to the administrators of estates.

This includes making reasonable enquiries to establish whether the deceased has left a valid will or relatives entitled to share in the estate in priority to the Crown. Such enquiries include publishing details of the estate on BVD’s website and in the national and local press; making enquiries of banks, local solicitors and other parties and potentially conducting a search of the deceased’s property to establish whether they left a will.

Michael Ellis
Attorney General
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, if the Government intends to revisit its plans to lift covid-19 lockdown restrictions on June 21 2021 in light of new covid-19 variants.

As set out by the Prime Minister, the Roadmap out of restrictions in England will be driven by data not dates. As set out in the Roadmap, it takes around four weeks for the data to reflect the impact of easing restrictions from the previous step, and the Government will provide a further week’s notice to the public and businesses ahead of any further changes.

As set out in the Roadmap, step 4 will be no earlier than 21 June. On 14 June, the Government will review the latest data against the four tests set out in the Roadmap. The Government will then set out whether or not it is safe to move England to step 4 on 21 June.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what measures are in place to ensure transparency in the procurement of Government services and contracts.

Central Government buyers must publish all tender documents and contracts with a contract value of over £10,000 on Contracts Finder. Updated guidance on transparency and the publication of tender and contract documents was published in 2017, Procurement Policy Note 02/17: Promoting Greater Transparency.


We are also taking steps to improve the processes already in place by proposing specific measures to strengthen transparency through the commercial lifecycle as set out in our Green Paper.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
19th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to proposals under Step 3 in Covid-19: Guidance for wedding and civil partnership receptions and celebrations, whether restaurants will be considered covid-secure indoor venues where up to 30 people may proceed with a wedding reception.

At Step 3, no earlier than 17 May 2021, weddings and civil partnership receptions can proceed with up to 30 people either outdoors (including private gardens) or in any COVID Secure indoor venue that is not required by law to remain closed. At Step 3, indoor hospitality will be allowed to open, meaning that wedding receptions can take place in restaurants as well as a range of other COVID-Secure venues and businesses.

Further details on receptions at this Step will be updated in due course to enable us to take account of developments in the pandemic.

For further information, please refer to the guidance for for wedding and civil partnership receptions and celebrations:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnerships/covid-19-guidance-for-wedding-and-civil-partnership-receptions-and-celebrations

For further information, please refer to the guidance on reopening businesses and venues, which sets out what businesses/venues open at each step:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reopening-businesses-and-venues-in-england/reopening-businesses-and-venues

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what information the Government holds on the breakdown of costs in the construction of the briefing room in 10 Downing Street.

The Government has established facilities within 9 Downing Street, rather than 10 Downing Street, which are being used for daily broadcasting by a number of news organisations, therefore I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to PQ 169917 on 22 March 2021.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, which transgender charities the Government consulted with prior to the removal of gender neutral language from the Ministerial and other Maternity Allowances Bill.

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

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
17th Dec 2020
What assessment he has made of the potential effect of introducing mandatory voter ID on the Traveller and Roma communities’ ability to vote.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to PQ 105426 given on 22 October.

Julia Lopez
Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office)
2nd Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what his policy is on negotiating arrangements to replace the European Health Insurance Card for UK citizens from 1 January 2021.

From 31 December 2020, people protected under the Withdrawal Agreement will continue to be entitled to a UK-issued EHIC. For people not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, the future of reciprocal healthcare arrangements between the UK and EU are subject to negotiations, which are ongoing.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Schengen 90/180 rule is subject for negotiation with the EU.

We welcome the EU’s confirmation that it will grant UK nationals visa-free access for short-term visits, subject to reciprocity. This means that, after the end of the transition period, UK business visitors and tourists will not need a visa when travelling to the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days in every 180-day period.

Penny Mordaunt
Paymaster General
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, when the Intelligence and Security Committee will be reappointed; and when that Committee's report on Russia will be published.

I refer the Hon. members to the answer given to PQ 40706 on 4 May 2020.

Chloe Smith
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made representations to Amazon UK on (a) the death of a 21-year-old Amazon driver on 17 February 2021 and (b) the potential merits of reassessing delivery targets for Amazon UK delivery drivers.

I was deeply saddened to hear the tragic news of the death of the Amazon driver, and I send my sincere condolences to their family. South Yorkshire Police are investigating and are appealing to anyone who witnessed the collision to contact them.

Benchmark standards for safe delivery plans and realistic schedules are set out in the joint HSE and Department for Transport guidance (Driving at work: Managing work-related road safety INDG382(rev1) (hse.gov.uk).

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of reducing the Official Development Assistance budget on (a) current and future research projects funded under ODA programmes and (b) global research partnerships.

The challenging financial situation we face due to the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a temporary reduction in the UK’s aid spending target from 0.7% of GNI to 0.5%. This means making difficult decisions when it comes to prioritising how we spend aid money to deliver the most impactful outcomes.

We are currently working with UKRI, and all our Global Challenges Research Fund and Newton Fund Delivery Partners, to manage the financial year 2021/22 ODA allocations, including determining which projects will be impacted. Our Delivery Partners have communicated with award holders setting out the next stage of the review of ODA funding this year, and to explore options for individual programmes. (Full details have been published on the UKRI website.) Due to the ongoing nature of this process, we cannot share project-level details.

The Government recognises the importance of supporting global 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.

On 1st April, the Department set out an additional £250m of funding for the R&D sector. As a result, UK scientists will have access to more public funding than ever before. This takes total Government investment in R&D to £14.9 billion in 2021/22 and follows four years of significant growth in R&D funding, including a boost of more than £1.5 billion in 2020/21.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to extend parental bereavement leave to include pregnancy losses before 24 weeks.

We recognise that a miscarriage can be deeply upsetting. We encourage employers to provide appropriate support to women who have suffered a miscarriage and respond sensitively to each individuals specific needs.

The current entitlement to Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay applies to employed parents of children under the age of 18 and those who suffer a stillbirth.

Because the death of a child is particularly tragic, in April 2020, we legislated to give parents who lose a child under the age of 18, including cases where a baby is stillborn after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy, a right to take up to 2 weeks off work in the 56 weeks following the death of their child. The policy is mapped against the clinical definition of a ‘stillbirth’: 24 weeks is a legally and medically important point in a pregnancy as it is the clinical age of viability.

Individuals who do not feel able to return to work following a miscarriage may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay while off work. All employees are also entitled to 5.6 weeks of Annual Leave a year and many employers also offer ‘Compassionate Leave’.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing legislation mandating property management companies to carry out improvements on buildings ahead of the proposed upgrade of private rented sector homes to Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2030.

BEIS consulted on improving the minimum energy efficiency standards for privately rented homes in England and Wales to EPC Band C. Under the Government’s recommended option, landlords would be required to reach EPC Band C for new tenancies from 1 April 2025 and all tenancies by 1 April 2028. Landlords can choose to work with a property management company to meet the regulations where appropriate, although the requirement for compliance rests with the landlord. We are currently analysing consultation responses and will publish a Government Response in due course.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allowing access to specialist shoe shops during the covid-19 lockdown restrictions for people who cannot buy those products online.

The Government has set out its roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions, including the reopening of non-essential retail no earlier than 12 April, subject to the data.

Under current restrictions all shops in England are permitted to operate click-and-collect services online, by telephone/text or via post.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what process was used to select the members of the UK COP26 team; what assessment he has made of the effect of that process on gender balance in that team; and what plans his Department has to review the selection process to ensure better representation of women in future COP teams.

The UK is committed to championing diversity and inclusion throughout our COP26 Presidency and all civil servants in the Cabinet Office COP26 Unit have been appointed in line with Civil Service guidance and rules.

Forty five percent of the Senior Management Team in the COP26 unit are women. My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister recently appointed my Hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed as the COP26 Adaptation and Resilience Champion.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
19th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of creating an Address and Collect service at Post Offices to allow those affected by (a) homelessness and (b) domestic violence to access their post safely.

Officials are working with Royal Mail and the Post Office to consider the recommendations from Citizens Advice on an Address and Collect Service and a Poste Restante service for vulnerable groups.

Paul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the compatibility of the recent loan given to Versarien PLC by Innovate UK with (a) Innovate UK's guidelines (b) the eligibility criteria for businesses to receive funds from Innovate UK and (c) the Government's guidance on Managing public money.

Graphene has the capability to become one of the sectors that will power our economic growth – and Versarien is at a crucial phase in its development as it strives to become one of the UK’s leading players in the production of graphene. Materials such a graphene can also provide a valuable contribution towards the Government’s Net Zero targets and has the potential to contribute significantly to a number of national infrastructure projects. Versarien’s G-SCALE project, which this loan will fund, will allow the firm to carry out later stage R&D to enable it to supply the market with commercial quantities of graphene-enhanced materials.

Similar to many companies, Versarien seeks investment from a number of sources, including private funding. Innovate UK has a good understanding of Versarien’s business and has previously awarded the company several grants to support its development. Innovate’s loan scheme was set up to broaden the range of innovation finance support available to businesses, so they can access funding at all stages of innovation.

In order to be eligible, a business needs to show that it can afford the interest and repayments on the loan and that they cannot obtain finance from other sources such as banks and equity investors for a particular project. It is on this basis the loan was made.

Indeed, this loan was made on Innovate’s usual terms, that is an interest rate of 7.4% per annum with half of the interest deferred until the repayment period commences. Loan repayments will start 45 months after drawdown and be paid over a subsequent period of 36 months.

The loan award was made after Innovate UK’s rigorous process of innovation assessment and credit evaluation – the same level of scrutiny and assessment that accompanies any loan award that Innovate UK makes.

The assessment process for awarding the loan was compatible with the key principles set out in the guidance on Managing Public Money.

Amanda Solloway
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will ensure that following his consultation on contracts for difference for low carbon electricity (a) biomass plants are ineligible to compete for those contracts with offshore wind and other renewable technologies and (b) the greenhouse gas threshold and minimum efficiency requirement applied in 2018 will be included in regulations and applied to all future allocation rounds.

The consultation on changes to the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme closed on 29 May 2020 and a Government response will be published in due course.

As part of this consultation, we indicated our intention to remove biomass conversion technologies from the CfD scheme. Sustainable, low carbon bioenergy is helping the UK move to a low-carbon energy mix, increasing our energy security, and keeping costs down for consumers. We have introduced mandatory sustainability criteria for biomass generation for heat and power. This is to ensure biomass continues to support the UK’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and is sourced sustainably. Generators only receive subsidies for electricity output which complies with our sustainability criteria.

The greenhouse gas (GHG) threshold and minimum efficiency requirements applied in 2018 were incorporated into the CfD Standard Terms and Conditions and so will apply to future allocation rounds.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
6th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he plans to commence his policy on enabling onshore wind and solar power projects.

Onshore wind and solar have already been deployed successfully in the UK with appropriate local support, generating enough electricity in 2018 to power over 11 million homes and producing nearly 13% of the UK’s electricity.

Government announced on Monday 2 March that onshore wind and solar projects will be able to bid for contracts in the next Contracts for Difference allocation round planned to open in 2021. We will announce the auction parameters and auction timings in due course.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the Answer of 26 April 2021 to the Question 184471, what (a) policing reforms and (b) press regulations have been enacted following the Leveson Inquiry.

There have been extensive reforms to policing practices as well as significant changes to press self-regulation.

Since Lord Justice Leveson published his report on part 1 of the inquiry in 2012, the Government has considered all eight recommendations and introduced a number of reforms to policing. This includes the publication of the policing Code of Ethics by the College of Policing in 2014; guidance on relationships with the media; guidance on whistle-blowing; new powers for the Independent Office for Police Conduct to investigate without referral from the police and voluntary notification by chief constables of post-service employment for 12 months.

There now exists a strengthened, independent, self-regulatory system for the press. The majority of traditional publishers—including 95% of national newspapers by circulation—are members of IPSO. A number of smaller publishers have joined Impress.

These regulators enforce codes of conduct which provide guidelines on a range of areas, including discrimination, accuracy, privacy, and harassment. If they find that a newspaper has broken the code of conduct, they can order corrections or critical adjudications.

IPSO, unlike its predecessor the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), has the contractual power to legally enforce all the obligations into which the press has entered. This includes determining the wording, where a ruling is placed in a newspaper, in what font size and on what page. As well as dealing with complaints, IPSO can launch a standards investigation in cases where there may have been serious and systemic breaches of the Editors’ Code. IPSO also now has a compulsory low cost arbitration scheme, introduced in August 2018, that all member national newspapers have signed up to. This can be used to make claims for defamation, privacy and harassment, and some data protection breaches.

In 2016 IPSO commissioned its own independent review which found it had made some important achievements in demonstrating it was an independent and effective regulator, and that it was largely compliant with the recommendations of the Leveson Report.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing Government funding of public broadcasting to tackle the BBC funding shortfall.

The government will assess the merits of increasing funding for the BBC as part of the ongoing licence fee settlement negotiations, which began on 10 November 2020.

The Secretary of State has written to the BBC and S4C setting out the key factors they should consider when submitting their requests for the next settlement period, as is required by the Charter.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what representations his Department has made to BBC executives on the broadcaster’s plans to make BBC Four the home of archive content, with the channel no longer set to commission new programmes.

The BBC is independent of the government and the government has no say over the BBC’s editorial or operational decisions, including proposed changes to the BBC Four service.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
27th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for what reason Ofcom has yet to publish the findings of its investigation into the Channel 4 programme entitled, Dispatches: The Truth about Traveller Crime, which commenced on 29 May 2020.

Ofcom is the UK’s independent regulator of television. Decisions on broadcasting regulation, including the duration of their investigations, are a matter for Ofcom.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he plans to take to work with the Premier League to (a) identify breaches of covid-19 lockdown rules by football players and (b) ensure that prosecutions are pursued against those players for any such breaches of those lockdown rules as permitted under the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The Secretary of State and I met with The Football Association, Premier League and English Football League earlier this year to discuss the importance of adherence to the strict COVID protocols they introduced last season.

In that meeting, the Secretary of State and I made the football authorities fully aware of their responsibility to ensure that players and staff act in accordance with government rules and guidance. The football authorities reiterated this important message to their clubs and players, highlighting the significance of both matchday and non-matchday COVID protocols.

Any person, no matter their profession, found guilty of breaching the law should be prosecuted accordingly.

Nigel Huddleston
Assistant Whip
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for what reasons a television licence discount is not available for people with hearing impairments.

The government is committed to building a digitally inclusive society, and believes that television should be accessible for all UK audiences. The BBC provides subtitling on 100% of all of its programming (excluding BBC Parliament and BBC Scotland), as well as signing 5% of its content.


Currently, under the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004, TV Licence concessions are available to people who are registered blind or severely sight impaired, and people who live in qualifying residential care and are disabled or over 60 years old. We are not considering making changes to the current concessions regime at this time. The government has committed to review the TV Licence model ahead of the next Charter Review, which is set to be completed by 2027.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he plans to take steps with representatives from the BBC to improve subtitles across all BBC channels and services.

As the independent broadcast regulator, Ofcom is responsible for holding broadcasters to account for their delivery of television access services (subtitles, audio description and signing), not the government.

Ofcom’s Code on Television Access Services sets out 10-year targets in relation to subtitling, which for BBC channels (excluding BBC Parliament and BBC Scotland) is 100% of all programming. Ofcom has found that the BBC has consistently met this target.

Ofcom’s Code provides further guidance that broadcasters should regularly monitor the quality of their access services, and ensure that scheduled access services are being provided correctly. In line with the BBC’s 2016 Royal Charter and Agreement, Ofcom is also currently reviewing how the BBC should make its UK Public Services accessible. Ofcom’s public consultation on BBC Accessibility concluded on 31 January 2020.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether he will meet with representatives of Hacked Off to discuss legislation changes that will ensure that all newspapers and their websites are independently regulated.

The government is committed to a free and independent media. DCMS ministers and officials regularly meet with a range of stakeholders to discuss a range of issues, and will consider any proposals put forward with regard to regulation of newspapers and their websites.

John Whittingdale
Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the UKCISA analysis. Who pays home fees for higher education in England, published on 28 May 2021, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of removing criteria d of the qualifications for home fees for family members of UK nationals.

Paragraph 1 (2A) of Schedule 1 of the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2011 (as amended) provides that a person is not to be treated as ordinarily resident in a place unless that person lawfully resides in that place. Although not further defined in the Regulations, ‘ordinarily resident’ has been interpreted by the courts as lawful, habitual and normal residence from choice and for a settled purpose throughout the prescribed period, apart from temporary or occasional absences. This means that a person must hold a valid status throughout the period of ordinary residence required when establishing their eligibility to student support.

There are no plans to remove the criteria which requires a person’s residence in the UK and Islands to not have been wholly or mainly for the purpose of receiving full-time education. Student Finance England will determine on a case-by-case basis whether a person meets this requirement.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
9th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the UKCISA analysis, Who pays home fees for higher education in England, published on 28 May 2021, if he will clarify the meaning of ordinarily resident in criteria c of the qualification for home fees as a family member of a UK national.

Paragraph 1 (2A) of Schedule 1 of the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2011 (as amended) provides that a person is not to be treated as ordinarily resident in a place unless that person lawfully resides in that place. Although not further defined in the Regulations, ‘ordinarily resident’ has been interpreted by the courts as lawful, habitual and normal residence from choice and for a settled purpose throughout the prescribed period, apart from temporary or occasional absences. This means that a person must hold a valid status throughout the period of ordinary residence required when establishing their eligibility to student support.

There are no plans to remove the criteria which requires a person’s residence in the UK and Islands to not have been wholly or mainly for the purpose of receiving full-time education. Student Finance England will determine on a case-by-case basis whether a person meets this requirement.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the evidence published by More Than A Score, what plans he has to implement the recommendations of that organisation on (a) cancelling the introduction of the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) in English and maths for four-year-olds in September 2021, (b) pausing all other statutory assessments in years one, two, four and six and (c) setting up an independent profession-led review into primary assessment.

Assessment is a crucial part of a child’s schooling and fundamental in a high performing education system. Statutory assessments at primary school are an essential part of ensuring that all pupils master the basics of reading, writing and Mathematics to prepare them for secondary school. Assessment data will also enable parents, schools and the Department to understand the impact of lost time in education and recovery initiatives. As such, the Department has no plans to cancel the statutory implementation of the Reception Baseline Assessment in September 2021, and the Department continues to plan for a return to a full programme of primary assessments in the 2021/22 academic year.

In 2017, the Government carried out a consultation into primary assessment in England. The consultation received over 4,000 responses from a diverse range of backgrounds and specialisms, providing a broad and informed range of views that informed policy on the current primary assessment system. In addition, the Department engages with relevant stakeholders on a regular basis to understand their views on primary assessment.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he will include an open consultation as part of the initial teacher training market review.

The Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Market Review is focused on how the sector can provide consistently high-quality training, in line with the Core Content Framework, in a more efficient and effective market. An expert advisory group has been appointed to advise the Government on this matter.

Ian Bauckham, the Review Chair, has held early discussions with ITT network Chairs and others, and he and officials will be undertaking wider sector engagement in late Spring. The Department also plans to conduct an open consultation on final proposals.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to (a) implement the recommendations of the Children Society's report entitled The Good Childhood Report 2020 and (b) widen the scope of the education recovery package announced in February 2021 to include children’s wellbeing.

The government appreciates the concerns raised from the findings of the Children Society’s Good Childhood Report 2020. We believe that the safety and wellbeing of children and young people is of fundamental importance, and the government is supporting the education sector to identify and respond to children and young people’s individual needs. It is crucial that children and young people are able to access the help and support they require to keep them healthy and safe.

We look at the range of data that is available on children’s wellbeing. On World Mental Health Day 2019, we published the first annual ‘State of the Nation’ report to highlight the trends and issues in young people’s mental wellbeing. The report brought together existing data to improve understanding and help to inform the support we provide to children and young people. We published a second report in 2020, which focused on the experiences of children and young people during the COVID outbreak. It is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/state-of-the-nation-2020-children-and-young-peoples-wellbeing.

To support this work, we are working with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England to deliver our joint green paper delivery programme. The government’s 3 core commitments are to incentivise and support all schools and colleges to identify and train a senior mental health lead, to fund new Mental Health Support Teams supervised by NHS mental health staff and to pilot a 4 week waiting time for accessing specialist NHS mental health services.

We are supplementing this with other support, including a randomised control trial of a range of different school approaches to promoting good mental wellbeing which is one of the largest of its kind in the world. This sits alongside guidance on mental health and behaviour and offering effective school-based counselling.

The government has made children’s mental health and wellbeing a central part of our response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The return to school for all pupils on 8 March was prioritised due to the significant and proven impact caused by being out of school, including on wellbeing.

We have been clear that schools can use their existing additional COVID-19 catch-up funding for pastoral support for mental wellbeing where pupils need it, and many schools are doing so. In addition to this, the return to school for all pupils on 8 March has been supported with a new £700 million package, which includes a new one-off Recovery Premium for state primary, secondary and special schools to use as they see best to support disadvantaged students. This will help schools to provide their disadvantaged pupils with a one-off boost to the support, both academic and pastoral, that has been proved most effective in helping them recover from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to allow the adoption of adults.

The government currently has no plans to introduce legislation to allow adult adoption.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
18th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of establishing a new network of national centres of excellence in low carbon skills at further education colleges.

The Skills for Jobs white paper sets out several reforms that will support people to get the skills our economy needs throughout their lives, wherever they live in the country. This will include emerging skills needed for future productivity, such as in green jobs and zero carbon skills.

Our reforms include the introduction of employer-led Local Skills Improvement Plans, which will identify local priorities for change. Further education (FE) colleges will have a key part to play in ensuring employers have the skills they need to build jobs and industries of the future. We expect local plans to be informed by national priorities such as a green industrial revolution.

We are also investing up to £290 million to establish a comprehensive network of Institutes of Technology (IOTs), with every area of the country having access to one once the network is complete. IOTs will be the pinnacle of technical training, with unique collaborations between FE colleges, universities and businesses offering higher technical education and training (mainly at levels 4 and 5) and helping to develop low carbon skills in key sectors such as construction and engineering. IOTs, with their funding to invest in state of the art equipment and facilities, and employers in the driving seat, will give businesses the skilled workforce they need to drive growth and get more people into rewarding jobs.

The Green Jobs Taskforce, launched last November, has aims to help the UK build back greener and deliver the skilled workforce needed to reach net zero emissions by 2050. This is a joint initiative between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Education. With help from the taskforce, we will ensure that our existing skills programmes can be directed to support the net zero agenda and help to identify where the evidence tells us we might need to go further or faster.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education has convened a Green Apprenticeships Advisory Panel to guide the continued alignment of apprenticeships with net zero and wider sustainability objectives. It aims to help identify which apprenticeships directly support the green agenda and which may need to be refocused. The panel will also crucially identify where there are potential opportunities to create new green apprenticeships and identify employers to help take this work forward.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the need for early years teachers to be provided with personal protective equipment during the covid-19 outbreak.

COVID-19 related Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) use will be very limited for staff in schools, colleges, and nurseries. Most staff will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work. Additional PPE for COVID-19 is only required in a very limited number of scenarios, for example:

  • When an individual child, young person, or student becomes ill with COVID-19 symptoms and only then if a 2 metre distance cannot be maintained
  • When performing aerosol generating procedures

Appropriate PPE for any staff involved in delivering asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 onsite in secondary schools and colleges is also delivered to schools, colleges and nurseries along with onsite testing kits.

Many schools, nurseries and colleges will be able to access PPE for their COVID-19 needs via their local authority or local resilience forum. Further information on local arrangements can be found on gov.uk.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the introduction of the 30 hours free childcare policy on the number of nurseries in England.

The 30 hours free childcare policy was introduced in September 2017 and is an entitlement for working parents of 3 year olds and 4 year olds. It aims to help working parents with the costs of childcare so they can take up paid work if they want to or can work additional hours.

Approximately 345,000 children were in a 30 hours place in January 2020. The Survey of Childcare and Early Years Providers 2019 showed that the majority of providers with children aged 3 to 4 registered at their setting at the time of the survey were offering 30 hours (90% of group-based providers, 70% of school-based providers and 80% of childminders).

The number of providers offering childcare on non-domestic premises, which includes nurseries, on the Early Years Register (EYR) has seen a small reduction of 5% from 31 August 2015 to 31 August 2020.

On 31 August 2020, there were 1.3 million childcare places offered by providers on the EYR, including nurseries and those on domestic premises such as childminders. There is no noticeable change in this trend around 2017, when the 30 hours policy was introduced.

Ofsted data indicates that, despite around 14,500 providers having closed between March 2015 and March 2020, there are approximately 15,400 more childcare places, with the majority of closed providers being childminders.

The evaluation of the first year of the national roll-out of 30 hours of free childcare found that provision expanded among providers delivering the extended hours through increased occupancy and higher use of staff. There was no evidence of any immediate adverse effect on other funded or paid provision. It also found that a high proportion (76%) of providers delivering the funded entitlement were willing and able to offer the extended hours.

Local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure sufficient childcare places in their area for all children, including children benefitting from any of the department’s free early education entitlements.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the number of nurseries that have closed (a) in the two years prior to March 2020, (b) during the covid-19 outbreak and (c) in the most deprived areas of England.

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

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing specific financial support for nurseries during the covid-19 outbreak.

The government has supported nurseries, pre-schools, and childminders during a very uncertain time.

In March 2020, we confirmed that we would continue to pay funding to local authorities for the free early education entitlements for two, three and four-year-olds, providing reassurance and financial support for early years settings in light of decreased demand as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. This funding continued to local authorities until the end of the autumn term at broadly the levels they would have expected to see had there been no COVID-19 outbreak.

For spring term 2021, we are funding local authorities based on their January 2021 census, but if attendance rose after the census was taken and where a local authority can provide evidence for increased attendance during the spring term, we will top-up local authorities to up to 85% of their January 2020 census level. Further guidance for local authorities, setting out details as to how the 85% top-up scheme works, together with information on our approach for funding the summer term 2021, will be shared soon.

In addition, we have supported the early years sector with financial and business support, including through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and business rates relief, both of which will continue into the financial year 2021-22, as well as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan and the Self-employment Income Support Scheme. Further, eligible nurseries may also access the new Recovery Loans, available from 6 April 2021, as set out by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 3 March 2021. The new Recovery Loan Scheme will replace the Business Interruption Loan Scheme which is due to end on 31 March 2021.

The government continues to support families with their childcare costs. My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced at the Spending Review a £44 million investment in the 2021-22 financial year, for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers for the government’s free childcare entitlement offers. Specifically, this will allow them to increase the hourly funding rates for all local authorities by 8p an hour for the two-year-old entitlement and, for the vast majority of areas, by 6p an hour for the three and four-year-old entitlement. This will pay for a rate increase that is higher than the costs nurseries may face from the uplift to the national living wage in April.

We continue to work with the early years sector to understand how they can best be supported to ensure that sufficient safe, appropriate, and affordable childcare is available for those who need it now, and for all families who need it in the longer term.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the long-term funding needs of early years education and care.

The government has supported nurseries, pre-schools, and childminders during a very uncertain time.

In March 2020, we confirmed that we would continue to pay funding to local authorities for the free early education entitlements for two, three and four-year-olds, providing reassurance and financial support for early years settings in light of decreased demand as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. This funding continued to local authorities until the end of the autumn term at broadly the levels they would have expected to see had there been no COVID-19 outbreak.

For spring term 2021, we are funding local authorities based on their January 2021 census, but if attendance rose after the census was taken and where a local authority can provide evidence for increased attendance during the spring term, we will top-up local authorities to up to 85% of their January 2020 census level. Further guidance for local authorities, setting out details as to how the 85% top-up scheme works, together with information on our approach for funding the summer term 2021, will be shared soon.

In addition, we have supported the early years sector with financial and business support, including through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and business rates relief, both of which will continue into the financial year 2021-22, as well as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan and the Self-employment Income Support Scheme. Further, eligible nurseries may also access the new Recovery Loans, available from 6 April 2021, as set out by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 3 March 2021. The new Recovery Loan Scheme will replace the Business Interruption Loan Scheme which is due to end on 31 March 2021.

The government continues to support families with their childcare costs. My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced at the Spending Review a £44 million investment in the 2021-22 financial year, for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers for the government’s free childcare entitlement offers. Specifically, this will allow them to increase the hourly funding rates for all local authorities by 8p an hour for the two-year-old entitlement and, for the vast majority of areas, by 6p an hour for the three and four-year-old entitlement. This will pay for a rate increase that is higher than the costs nurseries may face from the uplift to the national living wage in April.

We continue to work with the early years sector to understand how they can best be supported to ensure that sufficient safe, appropriate, and affordable childcare is available for those who need it now, and for all families who need it in the longer term.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the level of covid-19 transmission risk associated with the return of children to school at the same time.

Alongside the announcement of the full return to school, the Department published the following evidence summary around children, young people, and schools: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963639/DfE_Evidence_summary_COVID-19_-_children__young_people_and_education_settings.pdf.

The scientific evidence papers from SAGE meetings, including papers on children and transmission from the Children’s Task and Finish Group, are published in tranches and are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/scientific-evidence-supporting-the-government-response-to-coronavirus-covid-19.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing phased returns for school children of different ages.

As my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, set out in his statement to Parliament on 22 February, based on the Government’s assessment of the current data against its four tests for relaxing restrictions, it was possible for children to return to schools from 8 March 2021. All secondary pupils will be offered testing from 8 March and those who consent to testing should return to face to face education following their first negative test result. The Government has prioritised education as we cautiously begin to relax restrictions. It is vital for all pupils to attend school to minimise the longer-term impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on their education, wellbeing, and wider development.

Opening schools to all pupils is a national priority. As a result of the efforts the country has made, it is now possible for schools to welcome back pupils in all year groups, in addition to the vulnerable children and young people and the children of critical workers who have continued to attend face to face education since the start of the spring term. At every stage since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, our decisions have been informed by the scientific and medical evidence, both on the risks of COVID-19 infection, transmission, and illness, and on the known risks to children and young people not attending school and college, balancing public health and education considerations. The Government has published its COVID-19 children, young people and education settings evidence summary which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/evidence-summary-covid-19-children-young-people-and-education-settings.

To prepare for full reopening, schools should update their risk assessment and ensure they are implementing the system of controls in order to minimise the risk of infection. The system of controls is described in full within the published schools guidance which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/schools-coronavirus-covid-19-operational-guidance.

The Government’s Roadmap is a step-by-step plan to ease restrictions in England cautiously, starting with schools and colleges, taking into consideration the scientific evidence. The Roadmap sets out indicative, “no earlier than” dates for the steps which are five weeks apart. These dates are driven by the data; before taking each further step, the Government will review the latest data on the impact of the previous step against its four tests. The Government’s Roadmap can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963491/COVID-19_Response_-_Spring_2021.pdf.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of changing the postgraduate student loan funding guidelines to account for students with an existing Masters degree.

The funding available for student support is finite and it is necessary to put limits in place to ensure that all eligible students who wish to study a qualification for the first time can do so. Consequently, those who have already achieved a higher education qualification at postgraduate level do not qualify for support for a second postgraduate qualification which is equivalent or lower to the one they already hold. We are closely monitoring take up of the master’s loan and the response by students, the sector, and employers. However, at present there are no plans to amend the loan eligibility criteria.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
6th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what enhanced support measures his Department is putting in place for SEN schools and children during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown.

To support all schools, including special schools, on 7 January 2021 we published guidance on restricting attendance during the January 2021 national lockdown, which is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak. This guidance also outlines the funding available to support schools at this time.

Further guidance has also been published for special schools, specialist post 16 providers and alternative provision (AP): https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/953215/Guidance_for_special_schools__specialist_post-16_providers_and_alternative_provision_during_the_national_lockdown.pdf.

The government is delivering a programme of rapid asymptomatic testing in schools and further education colleges, including special schools and AP settings. Rapidly identifying and containing asymptomatic cases, which comprise up to a third of all cases, will help avoid individuals carrying COVID-19 from unknowingly spreading it.

In recognition of the additional considerations specialist settings will have to take into account when delivering rapid asymptomatic testing, we have published additional guidance which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings/mass-asymptomatic-testing-in-specialist-settings.

To support children with special educational needs and disabilities, the definition of vulnerable children and young people includes children who have a social worker, an education, health and care plan or those who may be vulnerable for another reason at local discretion. Schools are expected to allow and strongly encourage vulnerable children and young people to attend. Parents or carers of vulnerable children and young people are strongly encouraged to send their children to school.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing (a) financial support and (b) housing contract releases for (i) clinically vulnerable and (ii) other students during the November 2020 covid-19 lockdown.

The safety and wellbeing of staff and students in higher education (HE) and the wider community is always our priority. The government is doing all it can to minimise the risks of transmission in this unprecedented situation.

The government urges universities and private hall providers to be fair in their decisions about rent charges for this period. A number of universities and large companies waived rents for the summer term or released students early from their contracts.

Students who are tenants with individual private landlords can discuss this issue with them. We encourage landlords, letting agencies and tenants to adopt a pragmatic, common-sense approach to issues that may arise in the current circumstances.

If students face financial hardship and struggle to pay their rent, support is available. Guidance for tenants and landlords in the context of COVID-19 available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities.

In the first instance, a student should speak to their landlord if they think they will have difficulty meeting a rental payment. In this unique context, tenants and landlords are encouraged to work together to put in place a rent payment scheme.

Many HE providers will have hardship funds to support students in times of need, including emergencies. The expectation is that, where any student requires additional support, providers will support them through their own hardship funds.

We have worked closely with the Office for Students to clarify that HE providers can draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. As a result, providers were able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April to July this year and £256 million for the academic year 2020/21 starting from August towards student hardship funds.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the ability of students to return home for Christmas in very high local covid-19 alert areas.

The government is committed to ensuring that students who wish to return home for the winter break, are able to do so. It is essential that measures are put in place to ensure this can happen as safely as possible for students, staff and the communities that they return to.

On 11 November, the department published guidance for providers on the plans for the end of the autumn term, available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/student-movement-and-plans-for-the-end-of-autumn-2020-term#specific-support-for-students.

As outlined in the guidance, we expect higher education (HE) providers to support students to return home following the period of national restrictions, whilst mitigating the risk of transmission of the virus. We are asking that students return home once the national restrictions have been lifted, in a “student travel window” lasting from 3-9 December. This should be in line with specific arrangements put in place by their HE provider, which should include a staggered end to face-to-face provision, with learning being moved online by 9 December.

We are also working closely with universities and the Department for Health and Social Care to roll out mass testing for students and we will offer this to as many students as possible before they travel home, targeting this in areas of high prevalence of COVID-19. This will help to provide further confidence that students can leave safely if they test negative.?If a student tests positive before their departure, they will need to remain in self-isolation, following the relevant guidance. Moving all learning online by 9 December allows enough time for students to complete the isolation period before returning home for Christmas.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of school closures on (a) Gypsy, Traveller and Roma pupils and (b) other pupils experiencing the poorest educational outcomes.

The Department have commissioned an independent research and assessment agency to provide a baseline assessment of catch up needs for pupils in schools in England. They will then monitor progress over the course of the year, based on existing assessments, to help us target support. This research is a priority for the Department.

This research will make use of existing assessments that schools already choose to use and are typically taken by over one million children each year. This will allow the Department to assess how a range of groups are performing this year – including the most disadvantaged and those with historically poor outcomes.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department has been clear that no child should fall behind as a result of COVID-19. Now children are back in school, teachers are assessing what support their pupils need to get back on track, and head teachers have the flexibility to spend their allocation from our £1 billion COVID-19 catch up fund in the way they decide is best for their pupils, using approaches that are known to have the most impact.

The Department also continues to provide pupil premium funding, worth £2.4 billion in the current financial year, that aims to reduce the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will allocate ring-fenced funding as part of the National Tutoring Programme to children from Gypsy, Roma and Irish Traveller communities.

The National Tutoring Programme (NTP) will provide additional, targeted tutoring support for disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils who need the most help to catch up. It is important that decisions about what support pupils receive are made locally by those who understand their needs. Schools are encouraged to direct NTP support to those pupil premium pupils who have been hardest hit by the disruption to their education. However, they are able to exercise their professional judgement to include other disadvantaged and vulnerable children who are most in need of support.

As well as the NTP, the Department is also providing £650 million for a catch-up premium for all schools to help make up for lost teaching time. Schools can prioritise support based on individual needs, including pupils from deprived backgrounds and pupils facing other challenges, such as young carers, those working with a social worker, and those with mental health needs. Schools are free to use this funding to meet the needs of their pupils, including, for example, intervention programmes, extra teaching capacity or access to technology.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress the Government has made in implementing each of the recommendations of the Education Select Committee's report entitled Special educational needs and disabilities, HC20, published 23 October 2019.

Our response to the Education Committee’s report was published on 23 July.

The government is conducting a review of the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system. This is a fundamental, cross-government review considering measures to ensure the SEND system delivers high quality outcomes for children and young people, and that is consistent and sustainable into the future.

We will be providing a further update on our response to the Committee’s Inquiry later this year.

Vicky Ford
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
15th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will reimburse the tuition fees paid by (a) nursing, (b) midwifery and (c) healthcare students to recognise their contribution during the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the hon. Member for Coventry South to the answer I gave on 1 July 2020 to Question 63492.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of abolishing student-funded tuition fees for (a) nursing, (b) midwifery and (c) allied healthcare students from the academic year 2020-21.

The current system for funding tuition fees for nursing, midwifery and allied health professional students has enabled us to open up the number of training places that universities can offer in these professions and to increase the amount of living costs support available.

From September 2020, eligible new and continuing nursing, midwifery and many allied health professional students on pre-registration courses at English universities will also receive an additional new non-repayable grant of £5,000 to contribute to their living costs. Funding up to a further £3,000 is also available for students who choose to study in an area or a specialism that is struggling to recruit students or for helping students with childcare costs. This funding is in addition to the support that students can already access through the student loans system and the existing learning support fund, which includes funding for childcare, travel and exceptional hardship.

The government has also recently announced that the maximum loan for living costs will be increased by 2.9% for the 2020/21 academic year. It will be up to £9,203 for eligible full-time undergraduate students living away from home and studying outside London (loan amounts are higher in London).

Maximum tuition fees for undergraduate courses, and the subsidised fee loans available from the government to pay them, will remain at £9,250 for a standard full-time undergraduate course in the 2020/21 academic year. This is the third year in succession maximum fees have been frozen.

Loans for tuition fees and living costs only need to be repaid from the statutory repayment date. For most undergraduate students, the statutory repayment date is the April after students finish their course. Monthly repayments are linked to income, not to interest rates or the amount borrowed. Repayments, which are calculated at 9%, are only on amounts earned over the repayment threshold, which is currently annually £26,575. Borrowers are protected, as their repayments decrease if their income decreases, with outstanding debt written off after 30 years.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
1st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the current system of tuition fees and maintenance grants for (a) nursing, (b midwifery and (c) allied healthcare students.

The current system for funding tuition fees for nursing, midwifery and allied health professional students has enabled us to open up the number of training places that universities can offer in these professions and to increase the amount of living costs support available.

From September 2020, eligible new and continuing nursing, midwifery and many allied health professional students on pre-registration courses at English universities will also receive an additional new non-repayable grant of £5,000 to contribute to their living costs. Funding up to a further £3,000 is also available for students who choose to study in an area or a specialism that is struggling to recruit students or for helping students with childcare costs. This funding is in addition to the support that students can already access through the student loans system and the existing learning support fund, which includes funding for childcare, travel and exceptional hardship.

The government has also recently announced that the maximum loan for living costs will be increased by 2.9% for the 2020/21 academic year. It will be up to £9,203 for eligible full-time undergraduate students living away from home and studying outside London (loan amounts are higher in London).

Maximum tuition fees for undergraduate courses, and the subsidised fee loans available from the government to pay them, will remain at £9,250 for a standard full-time undergraduate course in the 2020/21 academic year. This is the third year in succession maximum fees have been frozen.

Loans for tuition fees and living costs only need to be repaid from the statutory repayment date. For most undergraduate students, the statutory repayment date is the April after students finish their course. Monthly repayments are linked to income, not to interest rates or the amount borrowed. Repayments, which are calculated at 9%, are only on amounts earned over the repayment threshold, which is currently annually £26,575. Borrowers are protected, as their repayments decrease if their income decreases, with outstanding debt written off after 30 years.

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to (a) support international students studying in the UK during the covid-19 pandemic and (b) make an assessment of the potential merits of (i) requesting providers to waive third-term tuition fees for those students and (ii) extending Tier 4 visas for those students.

The department has been working closely with the higher education (HE) sector to ensure it provides essential support for international students who have decided to remain in the UK or have been unable to travel home due to COVID-19. Universities have an obligation to ensure that students have continued accommodation and access to essential services in the UK for the duration of their stay.

We are pleased to see that the sector is making every effort to enable students to continue their studies – including moving learning online either in the UK or in a student's home country – so that their teaching and assessment can proceed, and that universities are offering a range of support to students, including support for catering and cleaning.

The government also recognises that many students are facing, or will face, additional mental health challenges caused by the global outbreak. Many HE providers are bolstering their existing mental health services and adapting delivery to means other than face-to-face. Providers have responded quickly to transform mental health and wellbeing services, showing resourcefulness, and there are many examples of good practice.

The government has worked closely with the Office for Students (OfS) to help clarify that providers in England can draw upon existing student premium funding to provide hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19 and international students qualify for this. Providers are able to use the funding – worth around £23 million per month for April, May, June and July – towards student hardship funds, including mental health support.

In addition, the OfS recently announced the Student Space platform, which seeks to bridge gaps in mental health support for students arising from this unprecedented situation. Funded with up to £3 million by the OfS and led by Student Minds, it is designed to work alongside existing mental health services.

Universities are autonomous and responsible for setting their own fees. In deciding to keep charging full fees, universities will of course want to ensure that they can continue to deliver courses which are fit for purpose and help students progress their qualifications. Whether or not an individual student is entitled to a refund of fees will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between the provider and student.

The government is applying discretion under the current circumstances to ensure international students are not negatively impacted if they find themselves in a position where they cannot comply with certain visa rules. On 16 June, the Home Office updated their visa guidance to provide greater certainty for international HE students in the UK impacted by COVID-19; this guidance includes the latest information for those who might have questions around visa expiry, switching visa category within the UK and distance learning. It also provides reassurances regarding distance learning, confirming that students will be permitted to study partially online for the 2020/21 academic year, provided they transition to face-to-face learning as soon as circumstances allow, and that that those studying by distance/blended learning will be eligible to apply for the graduate route provided they are in the UK by 6 April 2021 (and meet other requirements of the route).

Michelle Donelan
Minister of State (Education)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will support the roll out of a national programme of timed access to school playing fields for families who are unable to access green spaces safely and easily.

As both my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Schools are closed until further notice except for children of critical workers and vulnerable children. The management of school sites remains the responsibility of school leaders and governing bodies during this period and their first priority is ensuring arrangements are in place so that pupils and staff still attending school can do so safely.

Whilst there are currently no plans to roll out a national programme of timed access to school playing fields, we are aware that schools do sometimes choose to make their facilities available for use and may have chosen to allow community access to outdoor spaces during this period.

It is important that children continue to remain fit and active wherever possible at this time, as long as this is done in line with the latest official advice on social distancing which can be accessed from:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others. Our latest guidance on supporting children to get exercise during COVID-19 can be found on the following page: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-online-education-resources-for-home-education#physical-education-pe-and-physical-activity.

Nick Gibb
Minister of State (Education)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what impact assessments the Government has conducted on cessation of funding for post-16 qualifications.

The government is taking forward a review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below. The first stage consultation on this review was published in March 2019, alongside a general impact assessment and an equalities impact assessment. Details of this review can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/review-of-post-16-qualifications-at-level-3-and-below-in-england.

For the majority of our proposals, these were initial assessments as the first stage consultation set out high level principles for reform rather than firm proposals for change on which full detailed impact assessments could be based. The second stage consultation, which will follow later in 2020, will contain specific proposals for change. The government will publish a corresponding detailed impact assessment, including equalities impacts, alongside this consultation.

For one area where we are making early progress on the review, we set out a full impact assessment alongside the March consultation. This is where we are removing funding approval for qualifications where we have a reformed version approved for performance tables running in parallel. Funding for these “pre-existing” qualifications will be removed in August 2020. The impact assessment can be found at: https://consult.education.gov.uk/post-16-qualifications-review-team/post-16-level-3-and-below-qualifications-review/supporting_documents/Post%2016%20level%203%20and%20below%20qualifications%20review%20%20Impact%20Assessments.pdf.

Funding will be removed from these qualifications in August 2020. The impact assessments published in March last year addressed this.

The first stage consultation also set out our intention to remove funding approval for qualifications with low and no publicly funded enrolments. On 13 February 2020 the Department for Education announced the process to identify which of these qualifications will have funding approval removed from August 2021. This included publication of an initial list of qualifications with low and no publicly funded enrolments in scope of the process. This process requires awarding organisations to notify the Department if they believe funding approval should be retained, subject to specific criteria including whether the removal of public funding approval for the qualification will have a significant adverse impact upon a particular group of students, a provider, or occupational or geographic area. The department intends to publish the final list in July 2020 of qualifications that will have approval for public funding withdrawn from August 2021. An impact assessment will be published at this point.

Gillian Keegan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the steps the Government is taking to implement the ban on ear cropping dogs in the UK.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is currently an offence in England and Wales to carry out a non-exempted mutilation e.g. where it is not carried out for medical purposes, including the cropping of a dog’s ears. The procedure is considered unnecessary and compromises the animal’s welfare. Once the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 comes into force on the 29 June 2021, anyone convicted of such an offence faces being sent to prison for up to five years, or receiving an unlimited fine, or both.

This strengthened penalty sends a clear message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated and will enable our courts to take a firmer approach to cases of illegally cropping a dog’s ears and other forms of cruelty such as dog fighting, abuse of puppies and kittens, or gross neglect of farm animals.

On 12 May 2021 the Government published its Action Plan for Animal Welfare. This is a wide-reaching and ambitious plan to set out our current and future work on animal welfare. The Government has a manifesto commitment to crack down on puppy smuggling and one of our key reforms in the plan is to end the abhorrent, cruel practice of puppy smuggling and low-welfare pet imports. We are planning to bring in powers that will allow us to prohibit the importation and non-commercial movement of dogs into Great Britain that have been subject to low welfare practices, such as ear cropping, in line with our domestic legislation on these practices.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to (a) ensure that the running of pet registration databases is fully accountable to pet owners and (b) create a Government-run pet registration database.

Under the Microchipping of Dogs Regulations 2015, it is compulsory for owners to microchip their dogs and their details must be recorded on a compliant database. The Regulations set out conditions which microchip databases must meet to be compliant. There are 16 compliant microchip databases, which are listed on gov.uk.

We are currently carrying out a post-implementation review of the Regulations, which will be published later this year. It will consider how the current database system is working in practice and will identify whether improvements are required.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to increase animal welfare standards for the pig farming industry.

The Government shares the public's high regard for animal welfare. As referenced in the recently published Action Plan for Animal Welfare we are actively exploring options for strengthening the UK system moving forward and are currently examining the evidence around the use of cages for farm animals.

We introduced a new pig welfare code of practice, which came into force in March last year, and this provides guidance to keepers and farmers on legal requirements and encourages high standards of husbandry. The pig code states that the aim is for farrowing crates to no longer be necessary and for any new system to protect the welfare of the sow, as well as her piglets. We are continuing to discuss and work with the industry on this issue.

We are co-designing an Animal Health and Welfare Pathway with industry, to promote the production of healthier, higher-welfare animals at a level beyond compliance with current regulations, underpinning our high international reputation for health and welfare and future increases to regulatory standards.

We are committed to maintaining our position as world leaders in animal welfare and want to improve and build upon that record, working in partnership with farmers to support healthier, higher welfare animals.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with water companies on the discharging of raw sewage into English rivers.

Tackling the harm caused by sewer overflows is a top priority for this department.

To achieve this, the new Storm Overflows Taskforce - bringing together Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs - has agreed to set a long-term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows. The Taskforce is meeting regularly and working on plans to start making progress towards that goal, and they have commissioned research to gather evidence on the costs, benefits and feasibility of different options.

We are also introducing new duties that will require the Government to publish a plan by September 2022 to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows and to report progress to Parliament on implementing that plan. We are also introducing duties requiring water companies and the Environment Agency to publish data on storm overflow operations on an annual basis. These legally binding obligations on water companies and Government will reduce pollution in rivers, protecting wildlife and public health.

The Environment Secretary and the Environment Agency Chair have met with underperforming water companies to discuss how Government and industry can work together to drive better environmental performance. The Environment Secretary has set out clear expectations for water companies to improve their environmental performance in the future. I have also met water company CEOs and made clear that the volume of sewage discharged into rivers and other waterways in extreme weather must be reduced.

Water companies are committed in the five-year business planning period (2020-25) to a significant programme of improvements to the monitoring and management of storm overflows at a cost of around £1.1 billion. This investment includes undertaking 800 investigations and 798 improvement schemes to provide environmental improvements by reducing spills from frequently spilling overflows.

With regards to penalties and enforcement, the Environment Agency currently regulates water companies in their operation of storm overflows to ensure they only discharge under strict permitted conditions. Where discharges occur outside of these conditions, the Environment Agency investigates and takes appropriate action, which includes enforcement action if necessary.

Environment Agency action has resulted in 48 prosecutions against water companies in the last six years, securing fines of £35 million. £10.4 million has also been donated to environmental and wildlife trusts organisations in the same period through enforcement undertakings, a voluntary agreement which will include a donation to environmental charities to restore any harm done. The Environment Agency will continue to take enforcement action against water companies which fail to uphold the law or cause serious environmental harm.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if his Department will assess the potential merits of implementing a deposit return scheme that includes containers of all sizes earlier than 2023.

The Government committed, in its 2019 manifesto, to introduce a deposit return scheme to incentivise people to recycle drinks containers.

On 24 March we published our second consultation on implementing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers. Further details of the proposed deposit return scheme, including the size of drinks containers being considered as part of the scope of the scheme, are presented in this second consultation.

Timelines have been reviewed to ensure we allow sufficient time for the roll out and implementation of a complex policy, and we therefore propose to implement the scheme in 2024, with views on this being taken in the consultation.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to protect the UK's hedgehog population.

The Environment Bill contains measures that will help improve the status of threatened species, including by setting at least one biodiversity target in law, as well as strengthening the biodiversity duty on public authorities to take action to conserve and enhance biodiversity.

We are also taking action, through our net gain provisions in the Bill, to support the role of new development in helping protect and create the habitat that our native species, including hedgehogs, need to thrive.

We are working with stakeholders and end users to determine the specific actions that will be paid for under our new schemes that reward environmental land management. We will set out more details on this later this year. The Agricultural Transition Plan set out examples of the types of actions that we envisage paying for under the schemes, including creating, managing and restoring habitats such as woodland, heathland and species-rich grassland, which could all benefit species such as hedgehog.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken to help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions from food production in the run up to COP26.

Sustainable agriculture and land use are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and objectives of the Paris Agreement. The 2019 IPCC land-use report set out the critical role that sustainable land use must play in climate mitigation and building resilience. The COP26 Nature Campaign aims to raise the profile of this agenda, building on the Just Rural Transition launched at the UN Climate Action Summit and providing a platform to highlight actions that leading countries are taking to deliver change.

Reaching our Net Zero target is one of this Government's top priorities. We know that this will be a challenge, requiring action across the economy. It will mean changes to the way land is managed to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. We will support the sector to make these changes through the schemes set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan.

The Agricultural Transition Plan published on 30 November 2020 outlined how the Government will support farmers and land managers by investing the money freed up from phasing out direct payments to pay for improvements to the environment, improve animal health and welfare and reduce carbon emissions. Simultaneously, we need to protect and increase our carbon stores, increasing afforestation and peat restoration rates across England, whilst supporting the adaptiveness and resilience of these ecosystems to risks which may arise under a changing climate. Our new environmental land management schemes will help deliver on this and include the Sustainable Farming Incentive, a universal scheme open to all farmers, which will support sustainable approaches to farm husbandry to deliver for the environment, such as actions to improve soil health and water quality, enhance hedgerows and promote integrated pest management.

We will also take steps to reduce emissions through our animal health and welfare schemes and transitional support schemes. For example, we will support action to identify and eliminate Bovine Viral Diarrhoea, which raises greenhouse gas emissions from cattle. And we will provide grants towards the cost of equipment, technology and infrastructure that will improve farmers’ efficiency, benefiting the environment. These could include precision agriculture and low-emission nutrient application equipment.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to amend the Hunting Act 2004 to prohibit trail hunt organisers from (a) organising trail hunts in close proximity to areas of high density fox populations and (b) using animal-based scents to set trail hunts.

This government will not amend the Hunting Act 2004 and therefore we have not made any assessment of any potential amendments.

The Hunting Act 2004 makes it an offence to hunt a wild mammal with dogs except where it is carried out in accordance with the exemptions in the Act, and completely bans hare coursing. The full details of the Hunting Act 2004 exemptions are available online at: www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/37/schedule/1.

Those found guilty under the Act are subject to the full force of the law. Enforcement of the Hunting Act is an operational matter for the police.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including (a) people in receipt of attendance allowance and (b) additional benefit recipients in the qualification criteria for the WaterSure Scheme, as outlined in the Water Industry (Charges) (Vulnerable Groups) Regulations 1999.

To be eligible for WaterSure, customers must be in receipt of means tested benefits, which provides an appropriate measure for assessing income, and have either three or more children under 19 or a medical condition requiring the extra use of water.

Attendance Allowance is not included as an eligible benefit as it is a non means-tested benefit. Without an income-related criterion, those who are able to afford their water bill may receive financial support funded by other lower income households.

Since the introduction of WaterSure, the legislation has been updated to add and remove benefits, making sure that WaterSure continues to support those most in need of assistance. The Government does not intend to change the eligibility criteria for WaterSure at this time.

Water companies also offer social tariffs, payment breaks, payment matching, debt advice and referral arrangements, and some have independent charitable trusts that make awards to help customers in times of need. The eligibility criteria for social tariffs is not set by the Government, allowing water companies to address the local and regional needs of their customers.

We have asked the independent Consumer Council for Water to undertake a review of existing financial support schemes to ensure consumers who struggle with their water bills can get the support they need. The review will be published this spring.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
4th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing legally binding targets on widespread access to nature and green space.

Defra is currently undertaking a number of measures to improve widespread access to nature and green space. The 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our comprehensive and long-term approach to protecting and enhancing our natural landscapes in England for the next generation and to helping people improve their health and wellbeing by using green spaces. There is lots of work already ongoing to deliver on this approach, such as the National Framework of Green Infrastructure Standards for England, the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, the Green Social Prescribing Project, the Children and Nature Programme, the financial provisions of the Agriculture Act 2020 through the Environmental Land Management scheme, the England Coast Path and a new northern National Trail based on Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk.

The Environment Bill will give the Secretary of State the power to set long-term, legally binding environmental targets across the breadth of the natural environment. It will specifically require the government to set at least one target each in four priority areas: air quality, biodiversity, water, and waste reduction and resource efficiency. The power to set targets will not be limited to these four priority areas. Long-term targets could be set in respect of any matter which relates to the natural environment, or people’s enjoyment of it, to drive significant improvement of the environment.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of phasing out badger culling and introducing a cattle vaccine to prevent the spread of bovine TB.

On 5 March 2020, the Government published its response to Professor Sir Charles Godfray’s 2018 review of England’s bovine TB eradication strategy, setting out the priorities for the next phase of the strategy.

Developing a TB vaccine for cattle is one of our priorities. A cattle vaccine could be a game-changer in terms of providing a strong additional tool to help eradicate bovine TB. In July 2020, we announced that the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) had granted permission for field trials of both the candidate Cattle BCG vaccine and the candidate skin test to detect infected animals among vaccinated animals (the DIVA skin test). Like other veterinary medicines, both the Cattle BCG vaccine and the DIVA skin test will need VMD marketing authorisations before they can be deployed. We hope that field trials will provide the evidence required for future marketing authorisations and for the DIVA skin test to be internationally recognised. The aim is to start field trials in 2021 and complete them in 2024. Provided the field trials go as hoped, and VMD considers the marketing authorisation applications satisfactory with respect to quality, safety and efficacy, the timeline envisages those authorisations being granted in 2025.

We also set out in the Government response plans to evolve the wildlife control policy, with increased support for badger vaccination following the widespread deployment of effective, industry-led intensive badger culls. We envisage that the widespread badger culling policy will begin to be phased out and gradually replaced by Government supported badger vaccination and surveillance. Culling of badgers in specific areas will remain an option where the epidemiological assessment indicates it is needed.

There is no single measure for tackling bovine TB and that is why we continue to pursue a suite of interventions to eradicate the disease in England.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to align the UK's target for PM2.5 with the World Health Organisation's guideline amount.

In July 2019, the Government published a report assessing the progress that will be made towards World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines under a range of scenarios. The report concluded that while significant progress would be made by achieving existing 2030 emissions ceilings, additional action would be required in large urban areas such as London to achieve the current WHO guideline level. The analysis did not outline a pathway to achieve the WHO guideline level for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) across the country and did not take into account full economic viability and practical deliverability.

The Environment Bill, which will be introduced shortly, will establish a legally binding duty to set a target for PM2.5, demonstrating our commitment to action on the air pollutant that has the most significant impact on human health. We are committed to setting ambitious targets and following an evidence-based process, seeking advice from a range of experts, in addition to giving consideration to the WHO’s air quality guidelines. We are already working with independent experts and engaging with stakeholders on how we will approach setting these targets.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to bring forward legislative proposals to ban the import of hunting trophies.

The Government committed in its manifesto to introduce a ban on the import of hunting trophies from endangered species. The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the publication of the Government response to the recent consultation and call for evidence on controls on the import and export of hunting trophies. We will set out our plans for action on this important area as soon as it is practical to do so.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to work with third sector organisations to allow people with disabilities to self-certify as vulnerable to access donations of food and other essentials.

The Government has worked closely with the third sector to identify others outside of the shielded definition who may also need support in getting essential food supplies including speaking to volunteer groups, food bank organisations and redistribution charities to understand what can be done to help. We maintain regular contact with representatives across the food supply chain and civil society to ensure there is sufficient support available for those who have to stay at home, including people with disabilities.

We know the difficulties that disabled people currently face in accessing food and are taking steps to support them. We know that a large number of vulnerable people continue to rely on friends, family and wider community support. Where that is not possible, we are working with major third sector organisations to refer vulnerable people on to a variety of tailored services including facilitating access to priority supermarket delivery slots.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th May 2020
What steps he is taking to maintain food supplies for vulnerable people during the covid-19 outbreak.

Shielded individuals can opt to receive deliveries of food and essential supplies if they are without a support network of friends and family while self-isolating at home.

We have been working with food retailers, delivery organisations and volunteer groups to help support the non-shielded vulnerable, who are avoiding going to the shops if possible. A range of options are available for those people, including asking for an NHS Volunteer Responder to do their shopping for them – 100,000 people have had help with community tasks like shopping from NHS responders so far. Many charities and community organisations are also providing voluntary shop and drop services, as are neighbours and other community volunteers. If the situation is urgent, local authorities can also offer support and services, and we are working with them to help make sure that they have a range of ways to help those who contact them.

We are also working to help those having difficulty affording food. The Government has announced up to £16 million to provide food for those who are struggling as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The programme will provide millions of meals over the next 12 weeks and be delivered through charities including FareShare and WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme). At least 5,000 frontline charities in England will benefit, including refuges, homeless shelters and rehabilitation services. It will cover rural areas as well as cities, targeting those who are struggling to get food.

Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to protect ancient woodlands that will be affected by the HS2 development.

HS2 is an exceptionally important infrastructure project, and there are significant compensation packages in place to mitigate for the unavoidable loss of 39.2 hectares resulting from HS2.

HS2 is using a combination of approaches to compensate for the ancient woodlands lost during construction, including soil translocation from affected ancient woodlands to other woodlands to improve their biodiversity, restoring existing ancient woodland and planting new woodland.

The HS2 Woodland Fund is the compensation strategy for ancient woodland loss, with £5 million provided for HS2 Phase 1. This has been made available to fund projects that will help support woodland creation, as well as restore and enhance woodland on private land or in partnership with multiple landowners. This fund is overseen by the Forestry Commission. £1.6 million of this fund has already been committed, supporting around 121 hectares of new native woodland creation and the restoration of 174 hectares of plantations within ancient woodland sites. £2 million more has been provisionally allocated for Phase 2a.

Rebecca Pow
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what losses have been incurred by CDC and Globeleq on the CECA SL Heavy Fuel Oil power plant in Sierra Leone.

The CECA SL energy project in Sierra Leone was not progressed past the preparatory stage. As a result, CDC made no investment and has not incurred any investment losses on the project. Globeleq did incur project development costs, which were written off in 2018.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether her Department has identified strengthening health systems as one of its objectives for the UK's G7 presidency in 2021.

The Department for International Development is working with other government departments to define the objectives for the UK’s G7 Presidency in 2021. These objectives will be shared in due course. Investing in strengthening health systems is a priority for the Department’s work on global health and at the core of our existing global health programmes, our response to COVID-19, and our focus on ending the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps she is taking to ensure that the most marginalised and under-served children are prioritised in future global vaccination initiatives.

The UK is proud to have raised $8.8 billion for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance at the Global Vaccine Summit on 4 June. This funding, which includes the UK’s world-leading £1.65 billion pledge, will support Gavi’s strategy to leave no one behind with immunisation over the next five years.

The UK’s central priority for Gavi is equity. Gavi immunises nearly half of the world’s children, and since 2000, has increased basic immunisation coverage levels in Gavi-supported countries from 59% to 80%. Despite increases in overall immunisation coverage levels, health systems in the poorest countries are still not reaching almost one in five children with a full course of basic vaccines.

These remaining pockets of under-immunised children are often the hardest to reach. The UK is working closely with Gavi to ensure that we remove barriers to immunisation for the most marginalised children. Gavi is working closely with its Alliance Partners, WHO and UNICEF, to adopt new strategies in-country to address gender, poverty, fragility and intra-country barriers to immunisation.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, if she will make it her policy to pledge £800 million a year from 2021 to 2025 for tackling malnutrition at the Nutrition for Growth Summit in Tokyo, December 2020.

The UK remains committed to preventing and treating malnutrition as part of our pledge to end the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children. Addressing malnutrition is also important as developing countries experience the impacts of COVID-19. We will provide an update on our nutrition commitments after 2020 in due course.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of progress on her Department's development objectives in relation to building resilience against common diseases to tackle preventable child deaths.

The direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 will affect countries’ health systems and threaten past progress in tackling the common diseases that contribute to the preventable deaths of children. In October 2019, the UK Government committed to work with others to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children by 2030. This will help countries mitigate the indirect impacts of COVID-19 and support their recovery and future preparedness. This includes maintaining essential health services through our bilateral country programmes and multilateral investments and working to strengthen health systems in the poorest countries.

The UK hosted the Global Vaccine Summit on 4 June and raised $8.8 billion for GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance’s, next five years (2021-2025) of work, which includes the UK’s pledge of £1.65 billion. Using these vital funds, GAVI will immunise a further 300 million children and save up to 8 million lives against vaccine preventable diseases.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, how much CDC Group have invested in ARM Cement; how much of that investment has been lost or written down; and on what dates the losses and write-downs were recognised.

In 2016 CDC made a $144 million equity investment into ARM Cement, a publicly listed cement business with operations in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. ARM Cement was an investment with high development impact potential. The aim was to support the growth of a regional manufacturer and by so doing reduce the cost and increase the availability of cement across the East African region, creating jobs and spurring infrastructure development.

Due to a number of factors, CDC’s investment in ARM was ultimately not successful and the CDC investment has been written off. Write-downs were accounted for in 2016 (December); 2017 (March, June, September, December) and 2018 (June).

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Jan 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, whether representatives of (a) Shell International, (b) BP and (c) other oil and gas companies were invited to the UK-Africa Investment Summit.

More than 1,700 people attended the UK-Africa Investment Summit on 20 January 2020. This included Leaders and Ministers from African Governments, CEOs and senior representatives from African and British businesses, institutional investors, international organisations, financial institutions and civil society. Businesses from a wide range of sectors were invited, including the oil and gas sector.

Andrew Stephenson
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what steps her Department has taken to ensure that the free trade deal with Australia will not result in lower (a) environmental, (b) animal welfare and (c) food standards in the UK.

The Government has always been clear that this deal will not compromise the UK’s high standards.

Maintaining the UK’s high environmental, animal welfare and food standards is a red line in trade negotiations. This agreement does not create new permissions for imports from Australia, and any agri-food products imported into the UK will – as now – have to comply with our high import requirements and standards.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment her Department has made of the potential effect on the environment of food imports resulting from the trade deal between the UK and Australia.

The Government has always been clear that any deals it signs will not threaten the UK’s ability to meet its environmental commitments or its membership of international environmental agreements. The Government is seeking a deal with Australia that will further environmental and climate policy priorities and the UK will not compromise on high environmental protection.

The Government carried out a public consultation and scoping assessment for its free trade agreement negotiation with Australia, which can be found on the Government’s website. This preliminary scoping assessment considered illustrative scenarios. Following the conclusion of negotiations, a full impact assessment will be published prior to implementation.

Greg Hands
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
16th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if she will list the countries and territories (a) invited by UK Defence and Security Exports to attend Security and Policing 2021 and (b) that attended Security and Policing 2020.

The countries, territories and organisations invited to attend Security and Policing 2021 are listed below. Those annotated with a * are the countries, territories and organisations that attended.

Algeria *

Argentina

Australia *

Austria *

Bahrain

Bangladesh

Belgium *

Brazil

Bulgaria *

Canada *

Croatia *

Czech Republic *

Denmark *

Egypt *

Finland *

France

Germany

Ghana *

Greece *

Hungary *

India *

Indonesia

Iraq

Italy *

Japan *

Kenya *

Latvia *

Lithuania

Luxembourg *

Malaysia *

Mexico

Morocco *

NATO

Netherlands *

New Zealand *

Nigeria *

Norway *

Oman *

Pakistan *

Peru *

Poland *

Portugal *

Qatar

Romania *

Saudi Arabia *

Singapore *

South Africa *

South Korea *

Sweden *

Switzerland *

Taiwan *

Thailand

Trinidad & Tobago

Turkey

Ukraine *

UN *

USA *

Vietnam *

The list of countries, territories and organisations that attended Security and Policing 2020 were:

Australia

Belgium

Botswana

Brazil

Bulgaria

Canada

Colombia

Czech Republic

Estonia

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Hungary

India

Indonesia

Italy

Japan

Luxembourg

Morocco

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Netherlands

New Zealand

Norway

Oman

Pakistan

Peru

Poland

Portugal

Qatar

Romania

Saudi Arabia

Slovakia

South Africa

Spain

Trinidad & Tobago

Turkey

UAE

Ukraine

United Nations (UN)

United States

Uzbekistan

The full list of countries, territories and organisations invited and those that attended Security and Policing 2020 can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/security-and-policing-2020

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
4th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether current licences for components for bombs issued on 4 August 2020 include contracts for Raytheon Systems UK to deliver Paveway IVs or components thereof to Saudi Arabia; and whether she has made an assessment of the effect of the the US and Italian Government's decisions to suspend or revoke certain sales and export licences to Saudi Arabia on the UK export of aerial ground-attack munitions and their components to Saudi Arabia.

HM Government will continue to take its export responsibilities seriously and assess all export licences in accordance with the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the ‘Consolidated Criteria’). The decisions of other countries are matters for them.

Disclosure of information relating to private contracts between businesses would be inappropriate.

Ranil Jayawardena
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what processes her Department has put in place to monitor UK Export Finance's distribution of the £1 billion fund allocated to support overseas buyers of UK defence and security goods and services.

In the March 2020 budget, UK Export Finance (UKEF) was allocated £1 billion of direct lending capacity for defence and security projects, within its £8 billion overall direct lending capacity. This £1 billion of direct lending is subject to the same monitoring processes as UKEF’s overall direct lending facility.

Graham Stuart
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a blanket 20mph speed limit across inner cities, towns and villages.

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 (Department for Transport)
10th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to reduce person-to-person contact in airports to reduce the risk of covid-19 transmission.

The government has introduced a range of measures to help reduce the risk of transmission at airports as well as issuing clear guidance for both passengers and operators. Only essential travel that is permitted should be undertaken and passengers need to comply with all inbound and outbound passenger requirements.

When travelling, passengers should abide by current social distancing measures, wear masks and follow instructions where indicated, as per the Safer Transport guidance. Additionally, operators have been encouraged to introduce clear signage and one-way passenger flows where appropriate, to help passengers abide by the rules.

Robert Courts
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allowing driving instructors to apply for an enhanced criminal record check and a standard check test without incurring costs, if they have not renewed their approved driving instructor registration in time due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The 4-year duration of the approved driving instructor (ADI) registration is set out in the Road Traffic Act. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has no powers to extend this period, nor to waive, reduce or refund any part of the £300 fee. There are no plans to make changes to primary legislation.

The Road Traffic Act provides that those approved driving instructors (ADI) who allow their registration to lapse have up to a year to apply to re-join the register without having to requalify. ADIs do not pay directly for their standards checks nor their Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, other than the £6 identification verification fee, which is payable to the Post Office.

The £300 ADI registration fee covers all the costs of administration of the register, including the arrangement and conduct of standards checks and the DBS cost. The requirement for the fee is specified in the Act. There are no powers to waive the fee and there are no plans to make changes to primary legislation.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the £300 cost for the Approved Driving Instructor teaching licence, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of awarding driving instructors with backdated refunds or discounts for the periods during the covid-19 outbreak in which they were not allowed to practise.

The 4-year duration of the approved driving instructor (ADI) registration is set out in the Road Traffic Act. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has no powers to extend this period, nor to waive, reduce or refund any part of the £300 fee. There are no plans to make changes to primary legislation.

The Road Traffic Act provides that those approved driving instructors (ADI) who allow their registration to lapse have up to a year to apply to re-join the register without having to requalify. ADIs do not pay directly for their standards checks nor their Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, other than the £6 identification verification fee, which is payable to the Post Office.

The £300 ADI registration fee covers all the costs of administration of the register, including the arrangement and conduct of standards checks and the DBS cost. The requirement for the fee is specified in the Act. There are no powers to waive the fee and there are no plans to make changes to primary legislation.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he took in response to cyclist fatalities in 2020.

The Government takes very seriously the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users, and is committed to reducing the rate of cyclists killed or seriously injured on England’s roads. In July 2020 the Prime Minister launched ambitious plans to boost cycling and walking, with the ambition that half of all journeys in towns and cities are cycled or walked by 2030. This includes a £2 billion package of funding for active travel over 5 years, which is the largest ever boost for cycling and walking, and will deliver transformational change and improve safety for people cycling.

One of the commitments within the plan, which will improve safety for people cycling, is to deliver the review of the Highway Code promised in the 2018 Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy Safety Review. The consultation on the review of the guidance in the Highway Code closed in October 2020 and the Government will issue its response in due course.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment his Department has made of the feasibility of powered two-wheelers as an alternative to public transport while capacity is reduced for covid-19 social distancing.

The Department’s guidance issued on 12 May refers to “Private cars and other vehicles” as an alternative to using public transport and encourages the public to “consider all other forms of transport before using public transport”. This would include private vehicles such as motorcycles and mopeds where the journey to be made is appropriate.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department is taking to improve the (a) affordability and (b) quality of rail travel in (i) Coventry and (ii) the West Midlands.

The Government has frozen regulated rail fares in line with inflation for the seventh year in a row.

The future introduction of HS2 will help improve the quality of rail travel across Coventry and the West Midlands, but there are initiatives that are making a real difference now:

  • In May 2019, West Midlands Trains (WMT) introduced through services and longer trains between Leamington and Nuneaton via Coventry.

  • WMT is investing £700million to introduce 180 brand new carriages and add 20,000 more peak hour seats into Birmingham in the next couple of years.

  • Subject to the approval of Avanti’s proposal by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), Walsall will receive its first direct Intercity West Coast services to London in 2021, while Coventry and the West Midlands are due to benefit from additional services on weekends from 2021, and earlier weekday morning services from December 2022.

  • We are investing to provide additional carriages to increase capacity on CrossCountry (XC) services at Coventry and across the West Midlands from 2021.

Chris Heaton-Harris
Minister of State (Department for Transport)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to ensure refunds are paid to people (a) whose theory test has expired during the driving test suspension and (b) whose theory test will expire while they are on the waiting list for a practical test after the suspension is lifted.

The two-year validity period of the theory test certificate is set in legislation. This is so the candidate’s theoretical knowledge and ability to identify developing hazards remains current. To extend the validity period would require legislative change.

Candidates who have had their practical driving test suspended as a result of COVID-19 will receive an email from the DVSA telling them the date of their rescheduled test. The test will be rescheduled automatically, and free of charge. The candidate can, if they prefer, request a refund of their practical test fee.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will ensure that theory test refunds are administered for (a) people whose theory test (a) has expired during the driving test suspension (b) will expire while they are on the waiting list for a practical test after the suspension is lifted.

There is no provision in legislation for refunds of test fees in these circumstances. It would therefore not be legal for the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency to provide refunds.

Rachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on steps taken in response to the Trussell Trust's State of Hunger report, published on 12 May 2021.

This Government has long-championed the principle that the best and most sustainable way to tackle poverty is by supporting people to move into and to progress in work wherever possible. Before the pandemic, this approach had seen record levels of employment, the strongest growth in household incomes for almost 20 years, and 1.3 million fewer people, including 300,000 children, in absolute poverty, after housing costs compared with 2010.

Throughout the pandemic, Government departments have worked together to deliver support to help people cope with its the financial effects including, for example, on the Covid Winter Support Package. Part of this package included the Covid Winter Grant and Covid Local Support Grant, together totalling £269m administered by local authorities to help the most vulnerable stay warm and well fed, with the principal focus on children.

The Holiday Activities and Food Fund, which provides healthy meals, enriching activities and nutritional education, as well as signposting families to wider local support, has received £220m of funding for the major school holidays in 2021.

As we recover from the pandemic, Departments will continue to work together to deliver a number of key cross-cutting outcomes linked to the 2020 Spending Review. These outcomes include addressing poverty through enabling progression into work and increasing financial resilience. DWP is leading this work in collaboration with other Departments including, in particular, HMT, DfE, MHCLG and Defra.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the merits of introducing a British Sign Language Act that would give BSL full recognition in law.

On 18 March 2003 the UK government formally recognised that British Sign Language (BSL) is a language in its own right. Provision for accessing services by users of BSL are covered by the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Existing equality legislation already means employers, service providers and public bodies have to provide services in BSL and other formats when it is reasonable to do so. The Public Sector Equality Duty requires public bodies to have due regard to the needs of all those with protected characteristics.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Child Maintenance Service in the last 12 months, what proportion of (a) complaints to that Service have resulted in further action and (b) non-resident parents are compliant with their payments; and what the average time is between a complaint to that Service and a resolution.

The Department does not measure complaints resulting in further action as described in the question (a), so this information could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

The number of Paying Parents who have paid Child Maintenance are published quarterly. The latest published figures for Child Maintenance Service (CMS) are up the end of December 2020 and the compliance statistics can be found in “Table 2: Compliance (Collect and Pay) by quarter” of the “CMS Paying Parents” section of Stat-Xplore here:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether the Government plans to apply the EU Directive 2019/130 on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens from February 2023.

EU Directive 2019/130 is the second phase of amendments to the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (CMD) 2004/37/EC. While there is no legal obligation for the Government to apply the Directive, we will continue to have a system for setting workplace exposure limits in Great Britain (GB) to ensure worker protection and will consider, and apply as appropriate, relevant limits as part of this.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the briefing published by Scope entitled Emergency support for disabled people and their families, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the evidence gathered by Scope on the effect of Government policy on disabled people and their families during the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the Hon Member to the answer given on 9th February to question number 149299.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she has taken to (a) mitigate the effects of the pause in face-to-face interviews and issuing of National Insurance numbers and (b) bring in alternative plans in the interim.

The Department is aware of the effect that not having a National Insurance Number (NINo) may be having on some individuals. However, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ employer checklist makes it clear that a NINo is not required to start work.

Individuals seeking work in the UK can start work before they receive a NINo as long as they are able to prove they have the Right to Work in the UK.

The Department started testing a partial digital solution, on a small scale, in mid-October, to support the allocation of National Insurance Numbers. This solution enables the collection of an applicant’s data, but not the online verification of their identity. Alternative identity verification solutions to reduce the need for a face to face identity check for some customer groups, including EU nationals with Settled or Pre-Settled status, was part of that test.

In January, we gained Government Digital Service approval as a result we were no longer required to limit the number of applicants we can serve, although we do not have an identity solution for all potential applicants yet. Our current plan is that by the end of March 2021 we will be able to offer a service to all applicants who do not require their identity to be verified face to face.

This means that we have moved from a position in March 2020 of only offering a NINo service to the most vulnerable, to a place where we are able to provide a service to the majority.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when the digital service for issuing National Insurance Numbers will be ready for public use.

The digital application service is currently available to applicants, who have already had their identity verified through another government department, primarily the Home Office.

The digital service enables Non EU/EEA nationals who have been granted a visa with the right to work, EU/EEA nationals who have been granted settled or pre-settled status, through the EU Settlement Scheme, and UK passport holders to make application using this service.

Guy Opperman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
9th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Government will take protect shielding workers returning to the workplace.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was involved in cross-government work, Safer Workplaces, coordinated by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which produced guidance on the safety measures businesses will need to adopt as they reopen. It contains practical steps to achieve social distancing and hygiene in the workplace. The guidance also covers who should be at work; including those who are at high risk (also referred to as extremely clinically vulnerable in recent guidance) or those who live with people at high risk.

The guidance “Working Safely During Coronavirus COVID-19” was first published on 11 May 2020 and is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

Restrictions on people who had previously been shielded have been paused and Public Health England has published guidance to help those people to safely return to work: 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

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to increase the rate of Statutory Sick Pay to in line with the National Minimum Wage.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) provides financial support to an employee when they are off work sick. Those on low pay can receive more help through the welfare system, depending on their personal circumstances. The Government published a consultation in which we sought views on the impact of the rate of SSP on employer and employee behaviours and decisions. A response to the consultation will be published later this year.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to allow health and disability benefit claimants with mental health illnesses to choose assessment types that are accessible to their needs during the covid-19 outbreak.

In March we suspended all face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits in order to protect people from unnecessary risk of coronavirus at the outset of the pandemic. As has always been the case, our assessment providers will initially try to complete paper-based assessments, where there is sufficient evidence to make a recommendation. If this is not the case, providers will currently look to carry out a telephone assessment, where appropriate. We offer reasonable adjustments for claimants who may need additional support to engage in a telephone assessment. We continue to work closely with our assessment providers to ensure that claimants can be assessed as quickly as possible, by the most appropriate channel.

Justin Tomlinson
Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to up-rate legacy benefits in line with universal credit.

Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support were increased by 1.7% in April 2020 following the Government’s announcement to end the benefit freeze.

It has always been the case that claimants on legacy benefits can make a claim for Universal Credit (UC) if they believe that they will be better off. There are special arrangements for those in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium, who will be able to make a new claim to Universal Credit from January 2021.

Claimants should check their eligibility before applying to UC as legacy benefits will end when they submit their 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.

From 22 July 2020, a two-week run on of Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance (IR) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (IB) is available for all claimants whose claim to UC ends entitlement to these benefits, to provide additional support for claimants moving to UC.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to permanently abolish (a) conditionality, (b) sanctioning and (c) the five-week wait for universal credit for disabled claimants.

We have no plans.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether additional funding has been allocated to the Health & Safety Executive to increase the Executive's level of staffing during the covid-19 outbreak.

I refer the hon. member to my response to question 41525.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
15th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans her Department has to align the universal credit standard allowance for claimants under the age of 25 living independently with the standard allowance for those over the age of twenty five.

We have increased the Universal Credit standard allowance for all claimants (including those Under 25) by £20 per week for the next 12 months – equivalent to up to £1,040 a year.

This is in addition to the 1.7% inflation increase (announced Nov 2019) as part of the Government’s decision to end the benefits freeze and means more financial support for millions of people across the UK.

There are no plans to further increase the Universal Credit standard allowance for Under 25s.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has for Local Housing Allowance (LHA) in the next Spending Review; whether she has plans to allocate additional funding to (a) mitigate the effect of the four-year freeze to LHA and (b) support renters facing financial difficulties as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

In response to Covid-19 we increased Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates to the 30th percentile of local rents, providing additional financial support for private renters. This significant investment of almost £1 billion, ensures over 1 million households will see an increase, on average, of £600 per year.

For renters whose circumstances mean they may require more support, Discretionary Housing Payments are also available. We have already provided £180m in Discretionary Housing Payment funding to local authorities to support vulnerable claimants with housing costs in the private and social rented sector in England and Wales for 2020/21. This includes an extra £40m announced at the spending round.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to Centrepoint's Chance to Move On campaign, what plans her Department has to bring forward legislative proposals to include homeless people aged under 25 in (a) Coventry South constituency and (b) the UK in the Shared Accommodation Rate exemption for homeless people.

Currently those aged 25-34 who have spent 3 months in a homeless hostel for the purposes of rehabilitation/re-settlement are exempt from the shared accommodation rate throughout the UK. As announced in the Spring Budget earlier this year, the Government will amend legislation to extend this exemption to those under 25.

As well as legislation, the change to the shared accommodation rate exemption will require amendments to local authority and universal credit IT systems therefore it will take time to implement.

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

Since 2011 the Government has provided over £1bn to local authorities to help support vulnerable claimants with housing costs. In addition, at the spending round last year, we announced an extra £40 million for DHPs in 2020/21 in England and Wales, helping to tackle affordability pressures in the private rented sector.

Will Quince
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to suspend the 182 day entitlement limit to the new style Job Seeker's Allowance in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

Entitlement to contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) is limited to a maximum of 182 days in any one jobseeking period. This is an absolute limit, provided for in primary legislation (section 5 of the Jobseekers Act 1995) and there are no plans to amend the primary legislation.

Universal credit, for those people who meet or continue to meet the conditions of entitlement, is available throughout any period of entitlement to contribution-based JSA.

Mims Davies
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will conduct an independent inquiry and evaluation of Serenity Integrated Mentoring within the NHS, with regards to its evidence base, safety, legality, ethics, governance and acceptability to service users.

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.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to help ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place for the data collected as part of the General Practice Data for Planning and Research service for NHS Digital.

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.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to inform the general public about the option to opt out of the General Practice Data for Planning and Research service for NHS Digital.

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.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure its Tackling Obesity Strategy does not promote crash diets.

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.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the recent court ruling regarding the use of “proportional force” by healthcare workers against a pregnant woman wishing to have a home birth.

We have not made an assessment.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the full easing of lockdown restrictions on 21 June 2021 on the health and wellbeing of people under 30 who have not been vaccinated.

The Government does not carry out assessments of the impact of relaxing restrictions specifically on the health and wellbeing of people under 30 years old.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to (a) recognise inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) care as a priority for the NHS and (b) develop a clear Government strategy on IBD care.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are working closely with front-line clinical experts, patient representative groups and leading charities, including Crohn’s and Colitis UK, to develop evidence-based improvement tools to help improve and prioritise inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) care. 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
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans the Government has to bring forward legislative proposals on assisted dying to include exemptions for people with terminal illnesses.

It remains the Government’s view that any change to the law on assisted dying is an issue of individual conscience and a matter for Parliament to decide rather than one for Government policy.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his department is taking to support people under the age of 30 experiencing heightened mental health issues during the covid-19 outbreak.

We have put in place resources to help people look after their mental health and wellbeing, including Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters resources and personalised Mind Plan – a targeted action plan with National Health Service-endorsed advice and tips to improve mood and wellbeing.

In March we launched a Mental Health Recovery Action Plan, to ensure that we have the right support in place over the next year. This 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 2021/22 financial year. It will also ensure young adults aged 18 to 25 years old, including university students, are supported with tailored mental health support, helping bridge the gap between children’s and adult services.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many eating disorder charities the Government consulted as part of the Tackling Obesity Strategy.

We have engaged with the eating disorder charity, BEAT, in addition to other groups representing the views of people living with eating disorders.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the Government’s Tackling Obesity Strategy will tackle poverty as an underlying cause of obesity.

‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ demonstrates an overarching campaign to reduce obesity, taking forward actions from previous chapters of the Childhood Obesity Plan. This includes our ambition to halve childhood obesity and significantly reduce the gap in obesity between children from the most and least deprived areas by 2030 and sets out measures to get the nation fit and healthy, prevention against COVID-19 and protect the National Health Service.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to help improve care for people affected by dementia.

During the pandemic we have worked with stakeholders and health and care system partners to identify and implement actions to support people with dementia and their carers, including modifying the diagnosis and care pathways to ensure people continue to be diagnosed and can access care and support. We will be setting out our future plans on dementia for England in due course.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing free PCR covid-19 testing for partners of British nationals who are travelling from abroad to attend (a) pregnancy scans and (b) births.

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

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 10 March 2021 to Question 159370, what financial support has been made available to privately-run medical and dental clinics.

Private dental and medical practices who meet the HM Treasury criteria can access the full range of support as any other individual.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the need for perinatal mental health services with reference to the covid-19 outbreak.

No formal assessment has been made.

All specialist and inpatient perinatal mental health services have remained open during COVID-19 lockdown restrictions delivering digital and remote support. Since 1 April 2020, general practitioners are required to offer a maternal postnatal consultation at six to eight weeks after birth, focusing on a review of the mother’s physical and mental health and general wellbeing. This service has also continued throughout the pandemic.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of publishing a minimum standard of mental healthcare and support for (a) pregnant women and (b) mothers of young infants.

No such assessment has been made.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to (a) improve care for people affected by Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) and (b) raise awareness of NF1 since the publication of the UK Rare Diseases Framework.

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

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the evidential basis for the decision not to vaccinate (a) school staff and (b) other frontline workers against covid-19; and if he will make a statement.

On 26 February the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published their interim advice for phase two of the COVID-19 vaccination programme which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/priority-groups-for-phase-2-of-the-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-programme-advice-from-the-jcvi

The JCVI has advised that the evidence indicates that certain occupations have a higher risk of exposure and these are more likely to be occupations involving frequent contact with multiple other people in enclosed settings. However, delivery of a programme targeting occupational groups is recognised to be operationally complex given a number of key factors including that robust data on the infection exposure risk for every occupational group, or in every occupational setting, are not available. Regarding school staff specifically, data sources considered by the JCVI suggest that risk of infection among staff in educational settings is comparable with that seen in the general population.

We will follow the recommended approach of the JCVI, subject to the final advice given by the independent expert committee. School staff and other frontline workers who are over 50 years old or who have underlying health conditions which make them clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 will be vaccinated in the current first phase, which will be completed by the middle of April.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Government's announcement on 16 January 2021 of additional £120 million of funding for local authorities to boost staffing levels in the care sector during the covid-19 outbreak, whether he plans to take steps to (a) allocate the funding across local authorities, (b) ensure that funding is allocated according to level of need and (c) make that funding available on a permanent footing for local authorities.

The £120 million Workforce Capacity Fund for adult social care is available until 31 March and was created to address critical staffing shortages caused by COVID-19. The Government announced local authority allocations on 16 January. These were calculated using the Adult Social Care Relative Needs Formula and are available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/workforce-capacity-fund-for-adult-social-care

In 2021-22 we expect to provide local authorities with estimated funding of £3 billion to help manage the impact of COVID-19. Of this, £1.55 billion is being provided as grant funding directly for spending pressures on local authority services, including adult social care. We are actively reviewing the need for further funding for adult social care and decisions will be made in due course.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support homeowners wanting to access permanent social care.

We are committed to bringing forward a proposal for social care this year to ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect and to find long term solutions for one of the biggest challenges we face as a society.

At present, the equity in an individual’s home is only taken into consideration as part of means testing their contribution towards their social care costs if they were the only adult living in it and they are entering residential care. Currently, Deferred Payment Agreements are available to allow eligible individuals to access the equity in their home to pay for their residential care, without having to sell it.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the long term funding of care for the elderly after the covid-19 outbreak.

We are committed to bringing forward a proposal for social care this year to ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect and to find long term solutions for one of the biggest challenges we face as a society.

At present, the equity in an individual’s home is only taken into consideration as part of means testing their contribution towards their social care costs if they were the only adult living in it and they are entering residential care. Currently, Deferred Payment Agreements are available to allow eligible individuals to access the equity in their home to pay for their residential care, without having to sell it.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what evidence his Department has on the potential merits of joggers wearing face masks while running outside during the covid-19 outbreak.

Wearing a face covering whilst running or exercising may interfere with the ability to breathe comfortably, therefore we do not recommend them for joggers. This follows evidence and guidance from the World Health Organization, which is available at the following link:

https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/337199

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support he has put in place for clinically vulnerable key workers who have not received the covid-19 vaccine to work from home until they have been vaccinated.

Currently, everyone is advised to work from home where possible. Where this is not possible, including if an individual is a key worker, then they can continue to attend the workplace. All employers are required to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, and employers should be able to explain to employees the measures they have put in place to keep them safe at work. As they face a moderate risk from COVID-19, it is very important that those considered as clinically vulnerable follow social distancing advice to reduce their chances of catching the virus.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to reduce number of avoidable deaths of adults with Down's syndrome

The Learning Disability Mortality Review programme was established to reduce premature mortality and health inequalities amongst people with a learning disability. The programme’s annual reports make recommendations for the health and social care systems, which we publish a formal response to. Our response to the third report was published on 12 February 2020.

We are developing and trialling the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in learning disability and autism for health and care staff to improve outcomes and experiences of people with a learning disability and autistic people. Adults with Down’s syndrome are considered clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and are prioritised to receive the COVID-19 vaccine within the fourth vaccine prioritisation group.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the difficulties that (a) medical and (b) dental clinics are facing due to (i) staff shortages and (ii) reduced patient numbers during the covid-19 outbreak.

Arrangements have been put in place to protect general practitioner (GP) practices’ income during the pandemic, while freeing up their capacity to deliver essential services and the COVID-19 vaccination programme. Any GP practices facing difficulties should raise this with their local clinical commissioning group who will be able to provide support.

National Health Service dental practice remuneration, minus agreed deductions, has been protected throughout the pandemic, providing practices have complied with requirements set by NHS England and Improvement. The Department is working with NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Chief Dental Officer for England to increase levels of dental service, as fast as is safely possible.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that people in the top four priority groups who have not yet received the covid-19 vaccine are provided with an appointment for that vaccine.

Individuals within the top four groups who have been offered an appointment but have not yet taken up the offer will be followed up on an individual basis. They can also book a vaccination appointment through the national booking system by calling 119 or through the booking service at the following link:

www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
19th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what tools his Department is using to keep track of those people who have received the covid-19 vaccination; and whether the NHS numbers of those people are being recorded as part of that tracking effort.

To record vaccinations, the National Health Service National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) is being used as the national register for COVID-19 vaccinations. At the point that someone receives their COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccinating team will record this information onto the NIMS system and onto a patient’s general practitioner record, which will include capturing data such as a patient’s NHS number.

Nadhim Zahawi
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
10th Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that people who are exempt from wearing face masks do not receive abuse or intimidation when in public places.

We continue to issue advice on face coverings to alert the public to the places where they are required to wear a face covering, who is exempt from wearing one, and how to wear one correctly. This published advice has spanned a number of different mediums, including television, in person prompts such as in transport hubs and shop windows and on social media.

These campaigns have been running since summer 2020. Social media content and press coverage, especially regarding people with disabilities or health conditions, has been promoted throughout, as well as in line with events such as the International Day of People with Disabilities on 3 December.

By requesting that members of the public be respectful of circumstances where someone cannot wear a face covering and issuing guidance that no one need prove their exemption, we aim to minimise the negative impact on those with disabilities, which is a protected characteristic.

Our online guidance is clear that people are not required to prove they are exempt from a face covering and it is for individuals to choose how they would want to communicate this to others. Example exemption cards are available to print or display on mobile phones from GOV.UK. People are able to make their own exemption card if they would prefer or do not have access to the internet.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will place a copy in the Library of the report produced by Public Health England on the safety of Napier Barracks as a site for housing asylum seekers in light of the covid-19 outbreak in that accommodation in January 2021.

Public Health England has not produced a report on the safety of Napier Barracks as a site for housing asylum seekers.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to recommendation 46 of the Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer 2015-2020, what proportion of metastatic breast cancer patients have their care discussed by a multidisciplinary team.

Data on metastatic breast cancer patients who have care discussed by a multidisciplinary team are not available in the format requested.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jan 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many cases of covid-19 need to be reported in (a) primary schools and (b) secondary schools, to be classified as a covid-19 outbreak in that school.

An outbreak is confirmed in a primary or secondary school when two or more test-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among individuals in a school whose illness onset dates are within 14 days of one another.

There must also be evidence of either identified direct exposure between at least two of the test-confirmed cases in the school - for example, under one metre face to face, or spending more than 15 minutes within two metres - during the infectious period of one of the cases, or when there is no sustained local community transmission therefore an absence of an alternative source of infection outside the school setting for the initially identified cases.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will publish the locations of the 15,841 positive covid-19 cases that were not referred to NHS Test and Trace in October 2020 by (a) region, (b) upper tier local authorities and (c) lower tier local authorities.

A technical issue was identified on 2 October 2020 in the process which transfers the uploading of positive test results on to the NHS Test and Trace system. By 1am on 3 October 2020 all 15,841 positive COVID-19 cases were subsequently referred to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reducing the cost of inhalers to alleviate the financial burden on long term sufferers of asthma.

Where a patient obtains their inhaler via a National Health Service prescription, they may have to pay a prescription charge. The use of prescription charges protects patients from changes in the underlying cost of individual medicines. Around 89% of prescriptions are dispensed free of charge and extensive arrangements are already in place to help people access NHS prescriptions, including a broad range of NHS prescription charge exemptions. To support those with the greatest need who do not qualify for an exemption, they can spread the cost of their prescriptions by purchasing prescription pre-payment certificates. A holder of a 12-month certificate can get all the prescriptions they need for just over £2 per week.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential merits of allocating funding for a National Diabetes Technology fund to ensure equitable patient access to diabetes technology.

The NHS has made substantial progress on digital transformation, both in the digitisation of local services and the use of technology to improve outcomes for patients. The £559 million technology funding for NHSX announced in the Spending Review is not disease specific but covers the infrastructure and whole pathways work for all major diseases, including diabetes. This investment will support the National Health Service frontline, help fast track innovation, and deliver a better experience for patients and staff alike.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 18 November 2020 to Question 71905 on Coronavirus: Screening, how many of the covid-19 tests mailed to care home residents with symptoms received a result of any kind.

The Department does not routinely publish information on the number of care home residents who have been tested for COVID-19 at present. However, we are exploring the feasibility of including this information as part of the NHS Test and Trace statistics publications in the near future.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what methods his Department is using to track the (a) manufacture and (b) distribution of PPE to key workers across different sectors to ensure equity of access to PPE.

As set out in ‘Personal protective equipment (PPE) strategy: stabilise and build resilience’, which was published on 28 September and available on GOV.UK, a cross-Government effort has been used to screen and approve a large number of global manufacturers. As a result, we have developed a pre-market supply chain engagement plan that, within the public procurement rules, enables suppliers to better support the Department’s requirements. This has helped us stabilise the United Kingdom PPE supply chain.

PPE is distributed through the NHS Supply Chain, Local Resilience Forums and local authorities. We also operate a national supply disruption response where emergency requests of PPE can be made.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of (a) providing medical cannabis through NHS prescriptions and (b) funding private prescriptions in the interim; and what barriers remain to providing medical cannabis through NHS prescriptions since the law was changed in November 2018.

Since November 2018, two cannabis-based prescription medicines - Sativex – for the treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients, and Epidyolex – for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare forms of epilepsy, 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.

We continue to work hard with the health system, industry and researchers to improve the evidence base for other unlicensed cannabis-based medicines, and to implement the recommendations of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s review on barriers to accessing unlicensed cannabis based medicinal products. This includes the design of clinical trials and the establishment of a national patient registry.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
11th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of making Caplacizumab available on the NHS as a treatment for acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura.

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is developing guidance on Caplacizumab for treating acute acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. NICE was able to recommend Caplacizumab for routine use on the NHS in its draft guidance. It expects to publish final guidance in December 2020.

NICE’s draft recommendation on the use of Caplacizumab for treating acute acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura is available at the following link:

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/gid-ta10361/documents/final-appraisal-determination-document

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to (a) expand the general practice workforce and (b) increase funding for community-based locally led health services.

We are committed to growing the general practice workforce and expanding the number of appointments available to patients, across all areas of the country. This will mean improved access to general practitioner (GP) services and bigger teams of staff providing a wider range of care options for patients outside of hospital.

GP trainee numbers have risen for the third year running, with recruitment up to 15% compared to the same point last year. From 2021, the Government is committed to funding the increase of GP training places to 4,000 a year.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have written to GPs to set out the plans for the COVID-19 vaccination programme and to communicate the availability of £150 million of support during the winter period to expand capacity and support the delivery of GP services.

As demonstrated by the £4.5 billion of new investment for primary and community health services set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, we are committed to enabling a shift in care from hospitals to the community.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the need for further guidance on (a) shielding and (b) support available for clinically vulnerable groups to be able to retain their work and income during the covid-19 outbreak.

Shielding was paused on 1 August 2020 in England. On 13 October, the Government published new guidance to the clinically extremely vulnerable that advises additional things they are advised to do to keep themselves safe at each local COVID alert level. We are writing out to all those on the shielded patient list to inform them of the new guidance and the support that is available. Those who are identified as clinically vulnerable, should continue to follow the same advice as the rest of the population within that local COVID alert level.

Currently, everyone is advised to work from home if they are able. If not, they should return to the workplace. Employers are required to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, ensuring the workplace is COVID-secure. If an individual has concerns about their health and safety at work, they should raise them with their workplace union, the Health and Safety Executive or local authority.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he plans to review the cessation of the exclusion of healthcare workers from the list of jobs that qualify for travel exemptions to Coronavirus travel restrictions.

The Government reviews all quarantine exemptions at least once every 28 days. This is to ensure exemptions align to the latest evidence and public health advice. The decision that health and care workers should not be granted an exemption is also reviewed every 28 days.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made on the effectiveness of introducing targeted messages and advertising for people in clinically vulnerable categories as the UK enters a second wave of covid-19.

We have no plans to introduce such targeted messages and advertising. At present, clinically vulnerable people in England are advised to follow the same advice as the rest of the population. Revised guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable was published on 13 October.

This guidance, as with other Government guidance where appropriate, will shortly be available in a number of languages and in easy read format on GOV.UK.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of implementing covid-safe spaces for cancer services to ensure cancer diagnostic services are not interrupted during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government has been clear from the start of the pandemic that cancer services must continue; cancer treatments and other essential care should only be postponed if a clinician and patient agree it is in the patient’s best interests. As part of the phased response to COVID-19, local healthcare providers and cancer alliances have worked together to identify ring-fenced diagnostic and surgical capacity for cancer treatment, including using the additional capacity negotiated within the independent sector.

The newly formed Cancer Recovery Taskforce will oversee the development of the cancer recovery plan and review progress against objectives.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the safety of clinically vulnerable people with (a) diabetes and (b) other long term illnesses in the workplace during the covid-19 outbreak.

The guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 has been developed by expert doctors identifying specific medical conditions based on what we know about the virus so far. The clinical evidence does not currently support classing people with diabetes as extremely clinically vulnerable, although they are on the wider clinically vulnerable list and should be strictly following social distancing measures. We will continue to keep this evidence under review.

Following the introduction of new national restrictions on 5 November everyone should work from home if they are able to do so effectively. If unable to work from home, people with diabetes should continue to go to work as their employer has a responsibility to make the workplace a COVID-secure environment.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak a range of guidance has been made available for people with long-term illnesses, such as guidelines available from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and NHS England and NHS Improvement.

NHS Digital has published a shielded patient list which is enabling partner organisations across government to support and protect those who need shielding at this time.

People suffering with long-term illnesses should consult this guidance alongside condition specific guidance, made available by Public Health England, to check if their illness places them at particularly high risk in the workplace. If people do not fall into any of these categories, but are still concerned, they should discuss these concerns with their general practitioner or hospital clinician.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to maintain the standard of treatment for secondary breast cancer during the covid-19 outbreak.

The Cancer Recovery Taskforce has been established, and met for the first time in September, where they took stock of the status of cancer services against recovery metrics on referrals, treatment and backlog levels. A national recovery plan will be developed for publication shortly.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are continuing to operate cancer surgical hubs, supported by the extension of the independent sector deal, to maintain a whole-system approach to managing cancer surgery at volume and in accordance with clinical priority.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department has taken to (a) maintain the standard of treatment of secondary breast cancer patients and (b) ensure the role of cancer prognoses in clinical assessments during the current pandemic.

The Cancer Recovery Taskforce has been established, and met for the first time in September, where they took stock of the status of cancer services against recovery metrics on referrals, treatment and backlog levels. A national recovery plan will be developed for publication shortly.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are continuing to operate cancer surgical hubs, supported by the extension of the independent sector deal, to maintain a whole-system approach to managing cancer surgery at volume and in accordance with clinical priority.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to reimburse childcare costs to parents working in the health and social care system who had to isolate from their children during the covid-19 outbreak.

National Health Service and social care staff should follow existing guidance on social distancing. Employers will have local policies related to childcare and are encouraged to exercise the maximum amount of flexibility and discretion in these situations, recognising the difficult circumstances of the pandemic.

Where staff live in the same household as someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, employers should consider all options, including supporting staff to work from home, temporary redeployment, flexible working hours or special leave arrangements.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have supported employers, ensuring they are provided with up to date information on childcare support and guidance to support the financial wellbeing of staff. NHS Employers have also published guidance on supporting staff with childcare responsibilities through COVID-19 which is available at the following link:

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

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress the Government has made on the expansion of a major anti-body testing programme since the update to the Government's Coronavirus (COVID-19): antibody tests guidance, published on 22 May 2020.

The Government believe a national antibody testing programme may provide a critical role in the next phase of this pandemic. We are already offering antibody tests to National Health Service and care staff in England, as well as patients and care residents at their clinician’s request. We are also using antibody tests to support research studies and support our understanding of how COVID-19 is spreading. We are developing a ‘finger prick’ antibody test that could be used at home and work is underway to ensure that any new type of testing is safe before being made available for use.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Aug 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when the Government plans to reintroduce visiting in care homes as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased; whether that reintroduction will follow a staggered approach; and what support his Department plans to provide to care homes to help them reintroduce visiting as safely as possible.

Our aim is to enable residents to be reunited safely with their loved ones. This guidance will be updated as the risk posed by COVID-19 continues to change.

On 22 July 2020 the Government published updated guidance on visiting arrangements for care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visiting-care-homes-during-coronavirus

Our first priority is to prevent infections in care homes and therefore visits should be carried out with caution.

Care homes can develop their visiting policies based on a local dynamic risk assessment, taking into account the circumstances and needs of the individual care setting, including both residents and staff, and the external COVID-19 environment. The process of considering visitors should be led by the relevant local Director of Public Health.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of covid-19 tests ordered by Public Health England for care home or Housing with Care residents and referred to a private contractor result in the patient being tested.

COVID-19 tests that are ordered by Public Health England (PHE) for care homes or housing with care home residents are not referred to a private contractor.

Testing arranged by PHE in care homes or settings with social care service users is focused on identifying and responding to outbreaks and will use either PHE or NHS England laboratories.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of covid-19 tests ordered by Public Health England for care home or Housing with Care residents are referred to a private contractor.

COVID-19 tests that are ordered by Public Health England (PHE) for care homes or housing with care home residents are not referred to a private contractor.

Testing arranged by PHE in care homes or settings with social care service users is focused on identifying and responding to outbreaks and will use either PHE or NHS England laboratories.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether it is Public Health England or private contractors who have the authority to confirm a covid-19 outbreak within a care home or Housing with Care facility.

A suspected COVID-19 outbreak in a care home is confirmed by Public Health England (PHE) where two or more residents or members of staff have laboratory confirmed COVID-19 or have reported symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

A clear definition of a suspected or confirmed case COVID-19 outbreak in a care home has been determined by PHE and the Department. This is published in Annex B of guidance on the Admission and Care of Residents in a Care Home during COVID-19 which is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-admission-and-care-of-people-in-care-homes

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when the test and trace programme will be able to provide accurate information on the covid-19 R number at local authority level.

The Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies currently and will continue to publish national and regional R rates on a regular basis. NHS Test and Trace are not planning to publish R rates at the local authority level. This is because estimates of R for geographies smaller than regional level are less reliable and it is more appropriate to identify local hotspots through, for example, monitoring rates of new cases and investigating outbreaks. The Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England continue to closely monitor this local activity closely.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason the covid-19 testing protocol differs between care homes and Housing with Care facilities.

We initially prioritised testing for care homes that specialise in caring for older people and those living with dementia based on Public Health England (PHE) and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergency (SAGE) advice, as they are at higher risk of adverse consequences if they get the disease.

We have subsequently made asymptomatic testing available to some extra care and supported living setting when they are identified as higher risks - for instance due to their similarity to a care home by local Directors of Public Health. This is based on advice from PHE and SAGE. We rolled out an initial round of testing to extra care and supported living settings that were referred by Directors of Public Health as meeting certain risk-based criteria.

People in all settings can access testing if they have symptoms.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what proportion of covid-19 tests mailed to care home residents with symptoms lead to a successfully delivered result.

The information is not held in the format requested.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
7th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to increase funding from the public purse for research on tinnitus cures.

The Department’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including tinnitus. 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. Information on individual projects funded by the NIHR can be found at the following link:

https://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/programmes/

The NIHR’s support for tinnitus research was over £1.8 million between 2015/16 and 2019/20. This included funding for research projects, and funding for NIHR-managed infrastructure to support tinnitus research. Current NIHR funding includes £15 million over five years from April 2017 to support deafness and hearing loss research in the NIHR’s Manchester, University College London, and Nottingham Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs). The Nottingham BRC has a core research theme on tinnitus and noise sensitivity.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to continue the hospital parking charge exemption for NHS workers beyond the covid-19 outbreak.

The Government is considering how long free parking for National Health Service staff will need to continue, recognising that this has only been made possible by external support from local authorities and independent sector providers. The Government’s focus remains on ensuring the commitment of free parking for the groups identified in their announcement of 27 December 2019 is implemented once the pandemic abates.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking with the Health & Safety Executive to ensure that (a) workplaces are safe as people return to work and (b) employers are being supported in adhering to new safety guidelines.

The Government strategy to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic spans many Departments and agencies, including the Health and Safety Executive. The Government has provided a range of support and guidance for employers on working safely, including specific guidance for industries and sectors, which can be accessed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what methodology his Department is using to collate data on sex, race/ethnicity and socio-economic background with regard to people (a) testing positive for covid-19 and (b) dying from covid-19.

Demographic data is collected for age, gender and ethnicity, but currently only age and gender is available weekly. For pillar 1, data is collected by the hospital, and is then enriched using patient records. For pillar 2, this data is collected when people register for a test and is voluntary, which means that people have the option not to provide their information. We do not currently report on socio-economic background.

Weekly age, sex and ethnicity data for both cases and deaths in England are available weekly in the national flu and COVID-19 surveillance reports, which are available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/national-flu-and-covid-19-surveillance-reports

Breakdown of cases by index of multiple deprivations, as a recognised surrogate for socioeconomic class, is also available in the same report.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the need for the provision of increased mental health support to (a) nurses, (b) doctors and (c) other NHS staff (i) during and (ii) after the covid-19 outbreak.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, we recognised there would be a need for additional mental health support for all National Health Service staff. We commissioned NHS England to develop a comprehensive emotional, psychological and practical support package for all NHS staff in addition to existing support that is already available.

NHS England and NHS Improvement launched the support package on 8 April 2020 and it includes a helpline and text service for counselling and support, a dedicated bereavement helpline, and a range of well-being apps. All the support available can be accessed via the following link:

people.nhs.uk/help/

The NHS is continuing to update the support available in this package, in line with the feedback they receive.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what role his Department has in ensuring there is adequate mental health training for staff across all NHS trusts.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are supporting line managers, supervisors and teams to have psychologically informed conversations. They are also offering peer support training as well as a range of resources to help teams decompress and process their experiences. When National Health Service staff require additional professional support, they will be offered evidence-based treatment by trained and qualified mental health practitioners.

Additional psychological support has also been made available for all NHS staff during and after COVID-19 response and can be accessed online at the following link:

people.nhs.uk/help

NHS staff, frontline workers, and volunteers can now access a new psychological first aid training course developed by Public Health England and launched on 15 June 2020. There has been significant interest in the course; 8,700 learners have enrolled as of 17 June.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans his Department has to tackle the effect of NHS staffing shortages on the mental health of (a) student nurses and (b) NHS staff.

The Department continues to monitor overall staffing levels across the National Health Service (NHS), and we are working across Government to ensure there are sufficient staff to provide a high-quality service. We have committed to deliver 50,000 more nurses in the National Health Service This will help support the 1.4 million people who make up the NHS workforce and address the longstanding NHS nursing shortages that were identified in the Interim NHS People Plan. Over the last year the number of full-time equivalent nurses has gone from 282,422 to 294,553 – an increase of 12,131 nurses.

NHS England and NHS Improvement launched an emotional, psychological and practical support package for all NHS staff on 8 April 2020, accessed via the following link:

people.nhs.uk/help/

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what support his Department is providing to increase (a) training and (b) employment of endoscopists for the optimisation of bowel screening.

The Health Education England (HEE) Cancer Workforce Plan commits to produce a further 200 clinical endoscopists by 2021, in addition to the 200 that were already committed, to support an increase in capacity for earlier diagnosis. As at May 2020, 247 have either been trained or are currently in training.

A training support package was made available by HEE in 2017-20 to support the training of some clinical endoscopist trainees. Training grant arrangements have been further agreed for cohorts commencing in late 2020 to support trusts to put trainees forward and to provide the necessary clinical supervision throughout the programme.

An initial evaluation shows trainees are helping to meet clinical demand, reduce waiting lists and contributing to a good patient experience.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to reduce the time period between people displaying symptoms of eating disorders and receiving treatment.

The Government is committed to ensuring everyone with an eating disorder has access to timely treatment based on clinical need. We set up the first waiting times to improve access to eating disorders services for children and young people - so that by 2020/21 95% of children with an eating disorder will receive treatment within one week for urgent cases and within four weeks for routine cases and latest figures indicate that the National Health Service is on track to meet that standard.

For adults, the NHS Long Term Plan commits to “test four-week waiting times for adult and older adult community mental health teams, with selected local areas”. Last autumn, we announced that 12 areas in England would receive over £70 million of transformation funding in 2019/20 and 2020/21 to test new integrated models of primary and community mental health care for adults. Eight of these sites plan to implement innovative service models that will improve access and quality for adults and older adults with eating disorders in line with new national guidance on adult eating disorder care

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his will make it his policy to work with the eating disorders charity Beat to (a) access the most recent data on issues facing people with eating disorders, (b) support people with eating disorders and (c) allocate additional funding (i) to tackle the causes and (b) for the treatment of those conditions.

Departmental Ministers and officials engage a wide range of expert organisations to inform its policies and this includes Beat. We recently announced over £9 million of funding support for charities supporting vulnerable people through the COVID-19 pandemic. We were delighted to announce that Beat has been awarded grant funding through this process to continue the valuable work it does in supporting people with eating disorders.

The Government is also funding a new eating disorder study jointly led with King’s College London and eating disorder charity, Beat, via the National Institute for Health Research. The study aims to better understand what may lead to an eating disorder as well as how best we provide more effective treatment.

We are aware that NHS England has consulted Beat on work to improve adult eating disorder pathways in the community to build our understanding of how best to introduce ambitious but achievable improvements to access, quality of care and outcomes.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies on achieving a shorter diagnostic pathway for ovarian cancer in England of the conclusions of the Target Ovarian Cancer report entitled Time is running out: the need for early diagnosis in ovarian cancer.

Improving faster and earlier diagnosis of cancer is a top priority for the National Health Service. To deliver the NHS Long Term Plan ambitions, NHS England and NHS Improvement have set up Rapid Diagnostic Centres that bring together diagnostic equipment and expertise to streamline diagnostic services for cancer, including cancers that are sometimes harder to diagnose, such as ovarian cancer.

NHS England and NHS Improvement encourage anyone with symptoms to continue to contact their general practitioner and have issued clear guidance to the NHS to maintain urgent referral and diagnostic services for suspected cancer.

The CA125 blood test, followed by an ultrasound for raised CA125 is the current process recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect on (a) disabled people and (b) their carers of the changes to Care Act 2014 duties for local authorities to discretions in the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The Department is working with the Care Quality Commission and Think Local, Act Personal (TLAP) to understand the impact on individuals, including disabled people and their carers, of the changes to Care Act 2014 duties. TLAP hopes to speak to local authorities which are operating under easements to understand what this means for adults with care and support needs. A TLAP Insight Group will be meeting regularly to coordinate intelligence of TLAP partners on the impact and views of people accessing care and support and unpaid carers.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies on social care funding of dementia care costs.

Future funding for social care will be set out at the next Spending Review. The upcoming Spending Review will consider a broad range of factors that influence the demand for and cost of providing adult social care services.

Putting social care on a sustainable footing, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society.

In 2020/21 we are providing councils with access to an additional £1.5 billion for adults and children’s social care.

This £1.5 billion is on top of maintaining £2.5 billion of existing social care grants and will support local authorities to meet rising demand and continue to stabilise the social care system.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to make the drug Kuvan for people with phenylketonuria available on the NHS.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has been asked to develop recommendations for the National Health Service on the use of Kuvan for the treatment of phenylketonuria through its technology appraisal programme. NHS commissioners are legally required to fund medicines recommended in NICE technology appraisal guidance.

NICE’s appraisal had been suspended as the manufacturer of Kuvan, BioMarin, had withdrawn from the process. However, BioMarin has now agreed to re-engage in the appraisal and NICE will now aim to publish guidance on Kuvan as soon as possible. Further information on the appraisal is available on NICE’s website at the following link:

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/indevelopment/gid-ta10378

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to reduce infant and child mortality in Coventry.

The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, has committed to accelerate action to improve maternity and neonatal care services and to halve the 2010 rates of stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths and brain injuries occurring during or soon after birth by 2025 and to reduce the pre-term birth rate from 8% to 6%.

Public Health England is undertaking a systematic review and refresh of the Healthy Child Programme in England.

In 2013, seven cities, including Coventry, were designated ‘Marmot Cities’ in England and received national expertise and support from the Institute of Health Equity and Public Health England. Of these, Coventry was the only city to renew this commitment in 2016 and continue to use the title.

Nadine Dorries
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the NHS bursary will be paid retrospectively to students who did not receive that funding between 2017 and 2020.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for St Helens North (Conor McGinn MP) on 27 February 2020 to Question 19994.

Helen Whately
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking through the NHS Long Term Funding Bill to ensure parity in the funding of physical and mental health support services.

The purpose of the NHS Long Term Funding Bill is simply to enshrine in law the funding set out in the Long Term Plan, providing an extra £33.9 billion by 2023-24. That provides the National Health Service with the financial certainty it needs to get on and deliver the plan. The Bill does not set out the details of the plan itself or place restrictions on how the NHS should use the funding to support delivery.

However, at the heart of the NHS Long Term plan is the largest expansion of mental health services in a generation. This Government remains committed to putting mental health services on an equal footing with physical health. We are putting more money in and taking more action on mental health than any previous Government. We have committed at least a further £2.3 billion a year to mental health services by 2023/24 which will see spending for children and young people’s mental health services growing faster than the overall spend on mental health, which will itself be growing faster than the overall NHS budget.

Edward Argar
Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps the Government is taking to tackle the effects poor air quality and pollution on lung health.

The Government’s Clean Air Strategy, published in January 2019, sets out an ambitious programme of action to reduce pollutant emissions from a wide range of sources including transport, industry, agriculture and domestic settings. These actions will reduce the impact of air pollution on human health. The Strategy sits alongside the 2017 UK Plan for Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations, which focuses on reducing emissions from road transport.

The Government’s proposed Environment Bill, reintroduced on 30 January, will deliver key aspects of the Strategy and includes a commitment to set a legally binding target for PM2.5, with the aim of driving action to reduce long-term exposure to fine particulate matter, which impacts on human health, including lung health.

Public Health England works closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to provide alerts and advice during high air pollution episodes to ensure that key health messages are communicated to vulnerable groups, including those with existing lung conditions.

Jo Churchill
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the level of risk of contracting covid-19 for people travelling overseas for (a) study and (b) work; and what steps he is taking to mitigate that risk.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice has a box at the top of all pages setting out the government message that to prevent new COVID-19 variants from entering the UK, travellers should not travel to Amber or Red list countries. Every page also states the Traffic Light status for that country (Red, Amber or Green).

The FCDO currently advises against all but essential travel to many countries and territories on the basis of COVID risks. Whether travel is essential or not is a personal decision; individuals should make an informed decision on whether or not to travel based on their personal circumstances, judgement of the risks, relevant legislation or regulations where they are resident and the entry requirements of their destination country.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the level of risk posed to people travelling abroad for study or work of contracting covid-19.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice has a box at the top of all pages setting out the government message that to prevent new COVID-19 variants from entering the UK, travellers should not travel to Amber or Red list countries. Every page also states the Traffic Light status for that country (Red, Amber or Green).

The FCDO currently advises against all but essential travel to many countries and territories on the basis of COVID risks. Whether travel is essential or not is a personal decision; individuals should make an informed decision on whether or not to travel based on their personal circumstances, judgement of the risks, relevant legislation or regulations where they are resident and the entry requirements of their destination country.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Israeli counterpart on the displacement of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah.

I publicised on 8 May outlining our concern over tensions in Jerusalem linked to the threatened eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. We continue to urge Israel to cease such actions, which in all but the most exceptional cases are contrary to International Humanitarian Law. I also spoke to the Israeli Ambassador and to the Palestinian Head of Mission in London to urge them to de-escalate, restore calm and reiterate our position on this issue. UK Officials at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv continue to raise the issue regularly with the Israeli Authorities.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the ICC enquiry into war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The UK is a strong supporter of the ICC and we respect the independence of the Court and its officials. In this instance we do not consider that the ICC has jurisdiction. We continue to closely follow the ICC's work and are looking at the implications of this decision.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on UK aid efforts of the reduction in Official Development Assistance from 0.7 to 0.5 per cent of national income.

The Strategic framework for aid announced in November by the Foreign Secretary, sharpens the focus of our aid on seven priorities where UK support can make the most difference including on Covid and global health security; and open societies and conflict, in our overarching pursuit of poverty reduction and achievement of the sustainable development goals. This, alongside the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, uniting our world class diplomacy and development expertise will ensure we bring together the best of Britain's international effort bear on the world's global challenges.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment the Government has made of the potential merits of uprating the UK's 2021 offer of £205 million in aid to programmes in Syria to £400 million as allocated in 2020.

The seismic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to take tough but necessary decisions, including temporarily reducing the overall amount we spend on aid. The FCDO is working to finalise ODA budget allocations for financial year 2021/22 and until that is done will not be able to confirm individual country allocations. Final decisions have not yet been made.

At last year's Brussels Conference, the UK pledged to provide 'at least £300 million' in 2020 for Syria and the region. We actually spent over £400 million in 2020, mobilising additional support in light of the increased humanitarian needs across the region. In addition to the UK's pledge of at least £205 million in 2021, the UK will continue to use its position at the UN Security Council to push for greater access into Syria and more sustainable, long-term solutions to increase the resilience of millions living in conflict.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Danish counterparts on the issue of stripping 189 Syrian refugees of residency permits in Denmark.

When we have concerns about humanitarian issues and conditions in a country, we raise these directly with the government concerned. Denmark is party to both the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the 1951 Refugee Convention and we are confident that Denmark has a robust legal rationale to demonstrate this approach and is in compliance with its obligations under both Conventions.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what discussions Ministers in his Department have had with (a) Ali Mushaima, son of Bahraini political opposition leader, Hassan Mushaima, and (b) other UK-based members of the Bahraini Freedom Movement.

Ministers have not had discussions with Ali Mushaima and other UK based members of the Bahrain Freedom Movement.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to promote the (a) human rights and (b) civil liberties of the English-speaking minority in South Cameroon.

The Government remains deeply concerned about the crisis in the North-West and South-West (Anglophone) regions of Cameroon, including the disturbing reports of human rights abuses and violations by both armed separatists and the security forces. In a visit to Cameroon in March 2021, I [Minister Duddridge] met President Biya, Prime Minister Ngute and Foreign Minister Mbella Mbella, where I [Minister Duddridge] set out the Government's commitment to supporting a peaceful resolution to the crisis. I [Minister Duddridge] also met the President of the South-West Regional Assembly, civil society, political opposition and religious leaders, to hear the experiences of the affected communities.

As our International Ambassador for Human Rights set out at the UN Human Rights Council on 26 February 2021, the violence in the North-West and South-West regions must end and urgent, impartial investigations must hold the perpetrators to account. We are working with international partners to raise the crisis in multilateral fora. At the UN Security Council briefing on Central Africa on 9 December 2020 the UK representative reiterated the UN Secretary General's call for an end to violence and for all actors to refrain from attacks against civilians. We continue to call for an end to the violence, and for inclusive dialogue that addresses the root causes of the crisis. We have shared our experience of conflict resolution with the Government of Cameroon, and we call on all parties to remain engaged in Swiss-led efforts to facilitate talks. We continue to urge the Government of Cameroon to engage fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights for all.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps his Department has taken to promote the human rights and civil liberties of the English-speaking minority in South Cameroon.

The Government remains deeply concerned about the crisis in the North-West and South-West (Anglophone) regions of Cameroon, including the disturbing reports of human rights abuses and violations by both armed separatists and the security forces. In a visit to Cameroon in March 2021, I [Minister Duddridge] met President Biya, Prime Minister Ngute and Foreign Minister Mbella Mbella, where I [Minister Duddridge] set out the Government's commitment to supporting a peaceful resolution to the crisis. I [Minister Duddridge] also met the President of the South-West Regional Assembly, civil society, political opposition and religious leaders, to hear the experiences of the affected communities.

As our International Ambassador for Human Rights set out at the UN Human Rights Council on 26 February 2021, the violence in the North-West and South-West regions must end and urgent, impartial investigations must hold the perpetrators to account. We are working with international partners to raise the crisis in multilateral fora. At the UN Security Council briefing on Central Africa on 9 December 2020 the UK representative reiterated the UN Secretary General's call for an end to violence and for all actors to refrain from attacks against civilians. We continue to call for an end to the violence, and for inclusive dialogue that addresses the root causes of the crisis. We have shared our experience of conflict resolution with the Government of Cameroon, and we call on all parties to remain engaged in Swiss-led efforts to facilitate talks. We continue to urge the Government of Cameroon to engage fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights for all.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 18 September 2020 to Question 84707, on Developing Countries: Children, what steps his Department has taken to help end preventable deaths of (a) mothers, (b) newborns and (c) children around the world in 2021.

The UK is committed to working with others to end the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children by 2030. As such we have pledged up to £1.65 billion to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Over 2021-2025, Gavi will support the roll-out of the most comprehensive package of vaccines to the world's poorest countries, focusing on the hardest to reach children. We are also supporting delivery of quality antenatal and post-natal care, including through the Global Financing Facility in 36 countries, which is helping countries challenged by service disruptions due to the pandemic.

We know that improving education has a positive impact on health outcomes, which is why 12 years of quality education for girls is a major priority for this government. We will use our G7 presidency this year to rally the international community to step up support to girls' education and global health. Finally, UK Aid-funded COVID response and recovery programmes continue to provide heath support in 2021. For example our partnership with Unilever is on track to reach over 1 billion people with messages on the importance of hygiene.

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 representations he has made to his international counterparts on ensuring freedom from religious persecution.

The UK is committed to defending freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) for all, and to promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. On a multilateral level, we work within the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance ('Alliance'), and other international groupings to promote and protect FoRB for all. On a bilateral level, Ministers and officials regularly raise specific cases of concern, and discuss practices and laws that discriminate on the basis of religion or belief.

In 2019, the Bishop of Truro issued a report commissioned by the then Foreign Secretary looking into the then FCO support for persecuted Christians, with recommendations to improve the lives of people persecuted for their religion, faith, or belief. Of the 22 recommendations, we have fully delivered ten, made good progress on a further eight, and we are confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the independent review in 2022. The Minister responsible for Human Rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, underlined the UK's commitment to FoRB for all in a number of international meetings in November 2020, speaking at the Ministerial to Advance FoRB and the Ministers' Forum of the Alliance. On 20 December 2020, the Prime Minister reaffirmed his commitment to FoRB by appointing Fiona Bruce MP as his Special Envoy for FoRB. Mrs Bruce represents the UK at meetings of the Alliance, which champions the rights of individuals being discriminated against or persecuted on the basis of their faith or belief.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations his Department has made to the Pakistani Government on the matter of attacks on the Ahmadi community in Peshawar.

The UK Government remains deeply concerned by reports of discrimination and violence against religious communities in Pakistan, including against the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.

We continue to urge the Government of Pakistan at senior levels to guarantee the fundamental rights of all its citizens, regardless of their religion or belief. Most recently, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Minister for South Asia and Minister responsible for Human Rights, raised the need to promote respect for all religions, with Pakistan's Special Representative for Religious Harmony, Tahir Ashrafi, on 23 March 2021. He also raised our concerns on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Pakistan with the Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, on 20 February 2021.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his Bahraini counterpart on the release of prisoners of conscience including the 73-year-old leader of the political opposition, Hassan Mushaima.

We continue to monitor and raise the case of Hassan Mushaima, as necessary, at senior levels with the Bahraini Government. The UK continues to engage with the Government of Bahrain to support its reform agenda, and to deliver on its international and domestic human rights commitments.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 23 October 2020 to Question 106362 on Gulf States: Overseas Aid, which of the 47 projects delivered through the Integrated Activity Fund in financial year 2019-20 were delivered solely within one country; and what those countries were.

In 2019/20, the Integrated Activity Fund delivered 33 projects solely in the Gulf States including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 23 November 2020 to Question 117262 on Overseas Aid, which Minister or Ministers were consulted in relation to that project.

Former Ministers from the Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office were consulted about the project's Overseas Security and Justice Assessment.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the UK Government committing additional Official Development Assistance to help support progress in gender equality throughout the world in response to the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on women and girls.

Across the world we are seeing the devastating impact of COVID-19. FCDO's response has been informed by the latest evidence and data which showed, early on, the disproportionate impact the pandemic would have on girls and women. For example, UNFPA estimate that there will be 15 million more cases of domestic violence for every three months of lockdown and that there will be 13 million more cases of child marriages before 2030. FCDO continues to work to ensure the needs and priorities of women and girls are central to every aspect of our response, while supporting women's participation and leadership, including through women's rights organisations.

FCDO have so far committed over £1 billion of UK aid to counter the health, humanitarian,?and socio-economic risks, and to support the global effort to find and distribute a vaccine. In addition to being the largest funder to UNFPA we provided a further £10 million in funding to maintain vital gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health services for women and girls in need. Our Gender-Responsive Social Protection and Better Assistance in Crises programmes are also providing expert advice to FCDO country offices, governments and partner organisations on how to strengthen social protection measures in the COVID-19 response, including how to deliver more effectively for women and girls. Our leadership on girls' education is more urgent and important than ever, with school closures. The UK has announced £20 million for the UN Children's Fund crisis appeal, which includes education, and a further £5 million to the Education Cannot Wait fund to support emergency education in fragile contexts.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what diplomatic steps he is taking to ensure an independent international fact-finding mission takes place in Cameroon to investigate allegations of human rights violations in that country.

The Government is deeply concerned about the situation in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon including reports of human rights abuses and violations by both armed separatists and security forces. We continue to call for investigations into all such reports. As the UK's International Ambassador for Human Rights set out at the UN Human Rights Council on 15 September, those who have abused and violated human rights in Cameroon, as anywhere else in the world, must be held responsible. We regularly discuss the human rights situation with our international partners and in multilateral fora, calling for support to peacebuilding efforts and engagement by regional partners.

James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to meetings between his Ministers and Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 7 September 2020, what assessment he has made of the veracity of reports from Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon lauded the efforts of the Kingdom of Bahrain in promoting the protection of human rights and its countless achievements in this area.

The Minister of State for Human Rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, raised a number of human rights issues and cases with Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani during their meeting on 7 September. We believe that Bahrain is taking steps in the right direction to improve its human rights record, in line with the Bahraini Government's Action Plan, which follows the recommendations set out in the 2012 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry Report. Bahrain is an FCDO human rights priority country, and we continue to monitor developments on all matters that relate to human rights within the country closely, publishing our assessments in our annual Human Rights Report, most recently in July 2020.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he has made representations to his counterpart in Bahrain on (a) securing the release from prison of 17-year-old Kameel Juma Hasan and (b) the full realisation of his human rights and rights as a child.

We are aware of the conviction and detention of Kameel Juma Hasan on terrorism charges and are monitoring his case. In response to recommendations in the BICI report and its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Bahrain is undertaking reform of its juvenile justice system. A new 'Child Restorative Justice and Protection from Abuse' Law awaits approval by the Shura Council (the appointed Upper House). As currently drafted, the new law includes a revised definition of a child as someone under the age of 18 years and a revision of the age of criminal responsibility to 15 years (it is currently 7 years). Specialist child courts and prosecutors will be established for all under 18 years on trial, with separate detention facilities for 15-18 year olds, those below 15 years old and welfare cases. We continue to encourage the Government of Bahrain to deliver on its international and domestic human rights commitments.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs,what recent discussions he has had with his Indian counterpart on the deaths of (a) Sakil Dawood, (b) Saeed Dawood and (c) Mohammed Aswat during riots in Gujarat in February 2002.

We have not had any recent conversations with the Government of India about this. We stand ready to provide further consular assistance if requested.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Bahraini counterpart on allegations of (a) torture and (b) due process violations in the case of (i) Mohammed Ramadhan and (ii) Husain Moosa who have been sentenced to death in that country; and what recent comparative assessment he has made of the accuracy of (A) Bahrain's Special Investigation Unit, (B) the Bahraini Ombudsman and (C) independent experts at the International Rehabilitation for Torture Victims.

Lord Ahmad, the Minister of State responsible for human rights, publicly expressed our deep concern at the decision by Bahrain's Court of Cassation to uphold the death penalty verdicts imposed on Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa on 13 July. We have raised both cases at senior levels with the Government of Bahrain. The Bahraini Government is fully aware that the UK opposes the death penalty, in all circumstances, as a matter of principle.

The UK welcomed the investigation by the Ombudsman and Special Investigation Unit into the cases of Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa, ultimately leading to their retrial - a first in Bahrain.

The UK is committed to supporting Bahrain's oversight bodies, including the Ministry of Interior Ombudsman and the independent Special Investigations Unit. We continue to believe that Bahrain is taking steps in the right direction to improve its performance on justice and security issues. The support we provide to these bodies, including in partnership with UN Development Programme, contributes to the ongoing development of their capacity and capability, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 16.

The UK Government takes note of a number of sources of information when making assessments on Bahrain. Our latest assessment was published as part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Human Rights and Democracy Report in July 2020.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether British Embassy officials attended the trial of Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa in Bahrain on 13 July 2020; and what their assessment was of the decision to uphold their death sentences amid allegations of torture and due process violations.

Due to public health precautions in place for COVID-19, British Embassy officials were unable to attend the Court of Cassation. We are deeply concerned that the death penalty verdicts imposed on Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa by Bahrain's Court of Cassation have been upheld. Lord Ahmad, who is the Minister of State responsible for human rights, reinforced this position in his tweet of 14 July. We have raised both cases at senior levels with the Government of Bahrain. The Bahraini Government is fully aware that the UK opposes the death penalty, in all circumstances, as a matter of principle.

James Cleverly
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what support his Department provides to projects (a) with and (b) for religious communities facing discrimination throughout the world.

Since 2018, the FCO has allocated more than £1 million for Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) projects through the Magna Carta Fund for human rights. This included projects to combat intolerance and encourage respect among individuals of different faiths, beliefs and those of no belief. Following the Bishop of Truro's independent Review of FCO Support for Persecuted Christians, we also launched the John Bunyan Fund for FoRB, through which we funded 15 research projects that looked at the challenges facing different communities, including Christians, Yazidis and Humanists. John Bunyan Fund projects also looked at cross-cutting issues such as migration and the double vulnerability experienced by women from minority faith backgrounds. Programme funding allocations for financial year 2020-2021 are yet to be confirmed.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how many seats on each flight from Amritsar, India have been reserved for UK citizens who have been reported to his Department as vulnerable.

The repatriation effort from India is a priority for the UK Government and is one of our largest Covid-19 repatriation operations, based on the number of British travellers there and the absence of commercial options. The scale of the challenge is immense.

Over 12,500 people have already returned home on UK charter flights and we continue to work day and night to return more on daily flights from across India. 7 additional charter flights from Amritsar (Punjab), due to run between 5 and 11 May, were announced on 30 April. We reserve as many seats as possible on all flights for the most vulnerable British nationals - these are our top priority

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will publish information on the allocation of the £75 million for the repatriation of UK citizens; and whether UK citizens that have incurred costs to repatriate themselves are eligible to apply for financial support.

The British Government is working with the airline industry and host governments across the world to help bring back British travellers to the UK as part of the plan announced by the Foreign Secretary on 30 March - with up to £75 million available for special charter flights from priority countries, focused on helping the most vulnerable travellers. A proportion remains and the work is ongoing. We are determined that the cost of a flight will not be a barrier to bringing British travellers home but we are asking passengers to make a contribution so that we can put on as many flights and bring back as many people as possible. To set a limit on the costs to travellers, we have capped prices: for flights under 6 hours at £400; 6-10 hours at £600; and 10 hours + at £800 (using the airline industry's 'time in air' calculator). Costs above this amount are borne by the Government.

We hope most travellers will be able to claim their costs from their travel insurance but for those British Nationals that cannot afford the cost of a flight to return, and have no other funding options, they may be eligible for financial support through an emergency loan from public funds.

More details can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/financial-assistance-abroad/financial-assistance-abroad#if-you-need-financial-help-abroad

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make it his policy to repatriate UK citizens that have a relative in the UK that is in receipt of end-of-life care.

We appreciate that this is an incredibly stressful time and that many British citizens are worried about family members in the UK. Helping British nationals who need and want to return to the UK is one of the Government's highest priorities. We will work as hard as possible to ensure that all those who need to get back to the UK can do so as quickly as possible. Our consular team is working around the clock to provide support, advice and information. Currently we are prioritising vulnerable British nationals most at risk from the effects of Coronavirus who normally live in the UK and are trying to return home. This remains our priority given the need to get stranded British nationals home.

Nigel Adams
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what effect the end of the transition period will have on the ability of British passport-holders who live abroad, and whose European Union and Great Britain passports remain valid until 2028, to travel freely across the EU.

The Schengen Borders Code places requirements on the validity required for non-EU citizen passport-holders. This means that from 1 January 2021, passports should be no older than ten years and with a minimum validity of three months beyond a UK national's planned stay in the Schengen area. Further information on British passport requirements from January 2021 for travel to the EU is available on gov.uk.

The EU has already legislated such that UK nationals will not need a visa when travelling to the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days in every 180-day period from 1 January 2021. UK nationals travelling to the EU for longer than 90 days may need a visa or permit to do so. Member State rules vary and UK nationals should check entry requirements with the Embassy of the relevant Member State. Further information for UK nationals currently in the EU is available on gov.uk.

Wendy Morton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of including universal credit advance payments in the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space).

The breathing space scheme launched on 4 May 2021, and includes most personal debts and debts owed to Government, including Universal Credit overpayments. The Government considers that, for breathing space to be successful, it needs to include a wide range of debts.

The Government recognises the importance of including all Universal Credit debts in breathing space, and is committed to including Universal Credit advances within the scheme as soon as possible.

This will happen at a later date to ensure that the significant IT changes the Department for Work and Pensions needs to make do not compromise the safe delivery of Universal Credit, which is now supporting 6 million people. It has always been possible to defer repayments of Universal Credit Advances for 3 months in cases of hardship. In addition, from April 2021, the timeframe for the repayment of advances has been extended from 12 months to 24 months.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the Answer of 19 May 2020 to Question 45025 on Self-Employment Income Support Scheme: Carers, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of amending the eligibility criteria for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme so that trading income does not have to exceed the amount of (a) other income and (b) taxable benefits including carer's allowance.

The design of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme including the requirement that trading profits must be at least equal to non-trading income, means it is targeted at those who are most dependent on their self-employment income. That continues to be the case.

HMRC data shows that the majority of people with positive profits who do not meet the 50 per cent self-employment income test had income from employment, which means they potentially have access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, as well as other elements of the very substantial package of support made available by the Government

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to support recipients of grants from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme who are being refused mortgages as a result of financial insecurity following the covid-19 outbreak.

Up to 9 May, £24.5bn has been paid in Self Employed Income Support Scheme grants in total. Across the four schemes 2.8m individuals have received a grant and 8.8m total grants have been claimed.

Decisions concerning the pricing and availability of loans, including application requirements, remain commercial decisions for lenders and the Government does not seek to intervene. For individuals applying for new credit, it remains important that lenders are able to carry out proper checks to ensure that they are not lending in an unaffordable way, especially if, for example, a borrower’s income had not yet returned to the levels it was at pre Covid-19. Where an individual has been refused a mortgage with one provider, we would also urge them to shop around, recognising lenders do not all take the same approach to assessing affordability.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 26 April 2021 to Question 182103 on Health Services: Private Sector, if he will publish the rationale for his decision to make covid-19 financial support, such as business rates discounts and grants, available to betting shops but not some dental practices.

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 Government has targeted COVID-19 business grant schemes, including Restart Grants, at businesses that have been mandated to close, many of whom are facing high fixed property related costs. This was on the basis that these businesses are less likely to have sufficient cash reserves to meet their costs. These businesses have also continued to be hardest hit by social restrictions and social distancing over the last few months, and therefore have a reduced ability to generate revenue to cover their costs.

A range of further measures to support all businesses, including dental practices, have also been made available, such as the extension of the furlough scheme, Recovery Loan Schemes, and enhanced Time to Pay for Taxes.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
20th May 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to ensure that the next Comprehensive Spending Review delivers sustainable funding to adult social care.

At SR20, we announced we are providing councils with access to over £1bn to fund social care this year. This includes £300m of new grant funding for social care, on top of the £1bn Social Care grant announced last financial year which is being maintained in line with the government’s manifesto commitment. This will support local authorities to maintain care services while keeping up with rising demand and recovering from the impact of COVID-19.

Decisions on Local Government spending beyond 2021-22 will be taken as part of the next Spending Review. Further details about the Spending Review will be set out in due course.

Steve Barclay
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the implementation of changes to the loan charge, what estimate he has made of the number of people that are (a) falling into debt and (b) declaring bankruptcy as a result of those changes; and what assessment he has made of the effect on the mental health of people affected by those changes.

No estimate can be provided for the number of people who have fallen into debt, or who have been declared bankrupt, as a result of the loan charge. Falling into debt or being declared bankrupt can occur for many reasons, not necessarily as a direct result of a loan charge liability.

HMRC are not always the only creditor; some individuals may fall into debt or are declared bankrupt as a result of a non-HMRC debt and some individuals may choose to enter insolvency themselves based on their overall financial position.

HMRC only ever consider insolvency as a last resort and encourage taxpayers to get in contact to agree the best way to settle their tax debts. Anyone who is worried about being able to pay what they owe is encouraged to get in touch with HMRC as soon as possible on 03000 599110. Where a taxpayer is unable to pay their debt in full HMRC will work with them to agree an instalment arrangement based on their individual financial circumstances, and there is no maximum length.

The Government recognises that tax burdens can add significant pressures. HMRC also recognise that some taxpayers need extra help because of their individual needs or circumstances. HMRC are committed to identifying and supporting taxpayers who need extra help with their tax affairs.

HMRC have signposted the extra help available to taxpayers in correspondence and on calls. Staff look out for indications that a taxpayer may need extra support, and where appropriate will transfer them to an Extra Support adviser who has the skills and knowledge needed to help them.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps the Government has taken to support businesses that are unable to purchase essential materials from the EU.

The Government has put in place a range of measures to facilitate trade with the EU and to avoid disruption at ports including publishing comprehensive guidance on the new arrangements for trade with the EU and operating a staged approach to customs controls. Until 31 December 2021 most traders importing non-controlled goods from the EU can make a declaration in their own records and defer making a customs declaration to HMRC for 175 days. Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/delaying-declarations-for-eu-goods-brought-into-great-britain. The Government has also provided a £20 million Brexit Support Fund to support small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in adjusting to new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU.

In addition, businesses can choose to use customs facilitations to make trading across borders quicker, cheaper and easier. Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-delay-customs-duty-and-import-vat.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
13th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what measures the Government has put in place to support businesses that have experienced a decline in (a) exports and (b) imports between December 2020 and March 2021.

The Government has put in place a range of measures to facilitate trade with the EU and to avoid disruption at ports including publishing comprehensive guidance on the new arrangements for trade with the EU and operating a staged approach to customs controls. Until 31 December 2021 most traders importing non-controlled goods from the EU can make a declaration in their own records and defer making a customs declaration to HMRC for 175 days. Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/delaying-declarations-for-eu-goods-brought-into-great-britain. The Government has also provided a £20 million Brexit Support Fund to support small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in adjusting to new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU.

In addition, businesses can choose to use customs facilitations to make trading across borders quicker, cheaper and easier. Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-delay-customs-duty-and-import-vat.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the Government's guidance is to UK-based banks on allowing money transfers to Sudan-based bank accounts.

HM Treasury is responsible for the Money Laundering Regulations, which set out the high-level requirements on regulated firms to combat money laundering and ensure that key professionals verify their customers’ identities.

The Regulations are not prescriptive in setting out how firms should carry out customer due diligence and instead require firms to take a proportionate approach commensurate with their assessment of the risk. Each firm will therefore have their own policies on identification and customer due diligence, including on when additional, more comprehensive checks should be undertaken.

Specific guidance on how banks should conduct customer due diligence is published by the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group. This includes guidance on assessing the money laundering and terrorist financing risk associated with individual countries.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the evidential basis was for not raising the Capital Gains Tax in line with Income Tax as part of Budget 2021.

The Government keeps all taxes under review, and any changes are made at fiscal events within the context of wider public finances. As demonstrated in last month’s Budget, the Government’s priority is supporting jobs and the economic recovery from the pandemic.

Any changes to the tax system will balance the need to raise revenue with the principles of fairness and market efficiency.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he has taken to support self-employed taxi drivers experiencing reductions in work as a result of the covid-19 outbreak and who require financial support to bridge the gaps between receipt of Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grants.

The Government recognises that this is a challenging time for many sectors and individuals, including self-employed taxi drivers.

The Government has acted to support those that are self-employed and have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, and 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 will have spent over £33 billion supporting those in self-employment through the SEISS, making it one of the most generous self-employment income COVID-19 support schemes in the world.

The SEISS is not intended to provide a month-by-month replacement of income. Due to the volatility of self-employed income and the lack of granular data that HMRC holds on self-employed trading profits, precise mapping of income replacement month by month is not possible. Instead, the SEISS provides a lump sum payment to support eligible self-employed individuals whose businesses have been affected by coronavirus.

The SEISS is just one part of a wider package of support for the self-employed, which includes automatic, self-serve time-to-pay arrangements, loans, welfare support, and other business support grants.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he has taken to support self-employed people who have had no financial income for the duration of the covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns who are ineligible for support through universal credit or the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has provided and will continue to provide generous support to self-employed people who meet the eligibility criteria. The Government will have spent over £33 billion supporting those in self-employment through the SEISS, making it one of the most generous self-employment income COVID support schemes in the world.

The Government is bringing more people into the scheme: changes to the fourth grant mean that over 600,000 people previously ineligible for SEISS may now be eligible, including those newly self-employed in 2019-20. This brings the total number of people who could be eligible to 3.7m.

The Government recognises that some of the rules, criteria and conditions vital to ensuring that the SEISS works for the vast majority mean that some people may not qualify.

Those ineligible for the SEISS may still be eligible for other elements of the support available. The Government has decided to extend the suspension of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor for three months, to the end of July 2021, so that where self-employed claimants' earnings have fallen significantly, their Universal Credit award will have increased to reflect their lower earnings.

New style Jobseeker’s Allowance is also available to individuals with sufficient National Insurance Contributions who now work under 16 hours a week on average, and does not assess household capital.

Self-employed people may also have access to other elements of support available, including Restart Grants, the Recovery Loan scheme, business rates relief, and other business support schemes.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
9th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that banks, building societies and other financial institutions report accurate financial data to HMRC; and what redress is available in the event of financial institutions’ non-compliance.

Banks, building societies and other financial institutions are required to provide a variety of information returns to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on an accurate and timely basis. They are subject to HMRC’s usual compliance processes and if the information provided is late or found to be inaccurate following a compliance check, the taxpayer may be subject to penalties.

The UK’s largest businesses, which includes many financial institutions, are subject to an enhanced risk review, as part of HMRC’s Business Risk Review process.

In addition to this, over 98% of banks and building societies are signatories to the Code of Practice on Taxation for Banks. Their commitments under the Code include complying with their tax obligations, which include providing accurate information to HMRC, as well as maintaining a transparent relationship with HMRC. If a signatory is found to be in breach of these commitments, HMRC are able to disclose this, naming the bank in their annual report on the Code.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of publishing an exhaustive list of the items to be included in the Plastic Packaging Tax that will take effect from April 2022.

The Government is currently in the early stages of implementing the tax via the primary legislation, which by its nature, only provides relatively high-level definitions as a foundation for the tax. As the Government moves to the next stage of implementing the tax, it will work with industry to develop regulations and guidance to provide clarity on how businesses determine the types of product that will be taxable.

Kemi Badenoch
Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the VAT exemption on personal protective equipment available for (a) funeral homes and (b) other businesses.

The temporary zero rate was an extraordinary measure introduced to help affected sectors such as hospitals and care homes during the initial acute period of the COVID-19 crisis, when global supply of PPE did not meet demand and PPE was procured directly from the open market.

Companies in the funeral sector source their own PPE through their normal supply routes. In extreme circumstances, there is provision for them to approach their Local Resilience Forum (LRF) or local authority, where the LRF has stood down, to discuss access to an emergency supply. Given this, there are no plans to review the VAT treatment of PPE.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of increasing corporation tax now for those companies with a higher profit margin during the covid-19 outbreak.

It is right that businesses share in the burden of restoring the public finances to a sustainable footing; that is why the Government announced an increase in the rate of Corporation Tax at Budget. The rate increase will not come into force until April 2023, by which time GDP is forecast to have recovered to its pre-pandemic level.

Companies that have made profits during the pandemic have continued to pay Corporation Tax on those profits as normal. Corporation Tax is charged in line with the level of a company’s profits, so more profitable companies will have contributed more.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Mar 2021
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a tapering-off period for the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday beyond 31 March 2021, for people who have begun the buying process beforehand, but not completed it.

The temporary increase in the SDLT nil rate band will be extended to continue to support the housing market, while ensuring that purchases that are unable to be completed before 31 March because of delays in the sector are still able to receive the relief.

The nil rate band will continue to be set at £500,000 until 30 June 2021. In order to ease the housing market back to the standard rates, from 1 July 2021, the nil rate band will step down to £250,000 before returning to the standard rate of £125,000 from 1 October 2021.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many restaurants registered for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme; how many meals were claimed through that scheme; and how much was claimed in each (i) Local Authority District, (ii) parliamentary constituency and (iii) Middle Layer Super Output Area in each week when that scheme was operational.

HMRC published official statistics on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme on 25 November. Local area statistics covering local authority district and parliamentary constituencies will be published at a later date. The requested information cannot be provided by middle layer super output area due to the risk of identifying individual taxpayers.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
30th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reclassifying sunscreen products as essential healthcare items for VAT purposes.

Under the current VAT rules, sun protection products are subject to the standard rate of VAT. High-factor sunscreen is on the NHS prescription list for certain conditions and is provided VAT free when dispensed by a pharmacist.

Expanding the scope of the current VAT relief would come at a considerable cost to the Exchequer. Therefore, while all taxes are kept under review, there are currently no plans to reduce VAT on sunscreen products.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made on the potential effect of the retail prices index (RPI) review on RPI-linked pensions.

The Retail Prices Index (RPI) is a measure of inflation with a number of shortcomings. To address these shortcomings, the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) has made a proposal to reform RPI by bringing the methods and data sources of the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) into RPI. Owing to the use of RPI in specific index-linked gilts, prior to 2030 the Chancellor’s consent to this proposal is required before it can be implemented.

At the Budget in March, the government and UKSA launched a consultation to consider whether UKSA’s proposal should be implemented at a date other than 2030, and, if so, when between 2025 and 2030. The consultation closed for responses on 21 August. As part of the consultation, the government sought views on the broader impacts of the proposed reform of RPI.

The consultation document can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-consultation-on-the-reform-to-retail-prices-index-rpi-methodology.

As announced on 9 November, the government and UKSA will respond to the consultation alongside the Spending Review on 25 November.

The 9 November announcement can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-letter-from-rishi-sunak-to-sir-david-norgrove-on-the-date-of-the-government-and-uk-statistics-authoritys-response-to-their-joint-consultation-on-re.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
19th Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make representations to his overseas counterparts at the G20 Finance Ministers Meetings on the cancellation of developing countries' debts to the IMF and World Bank to help those countries tackle the covid-19 pandemic.

The Government is closely monitoring the impact of the crisis on the debt situation in developing countries, including through our membership of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Paris Club. It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is placing extraordinary pressures on the finances of low and middle income countries. Recognising this, the G20 has taken action to support these countries, agreeing the landmark DSSI (Debt Service Suspension Initiative).The DSSI provides a suspension of debt repayments to eligible countries so they can focus resources on their coronavirus response.

On the 14th October, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) met. They agreed to extend the DSSI for a further six months and, importantly, reached an in principle agreement on a Common Framework on future debt treatments beyond the DSSI to facilitate timely and orderly debt treatment for DSSI-eligible countries where this is required.A further G20 FMCBG meeting is to take place in early November and the UK is asking all G20 countries to fulfil the necessary internal approvals to endorse and publish the Common Framework in due course.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Oct 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of (a) debt cancellation for lower-income countries from Governments, the IMF and World Bank, the private sector and all other creditors for 2020 and 2021 and (b) bringing forward legislative proposals similar to the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Act 2010 to enforce on the private sector the terms of an international agreement for debt relief.

The Government is concerned about the debt vulnerabilities of low-income developing countries, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK cancelled most of our low-income developing country debt under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. However, we have remained a global leader in advancing sovereign debt transparency and sustainability. In April 2020 the Chancellor joined his G20 counterparts to commit to a temporary suspension on debt service repayments from the 77 poorest countries under the debt service suspension initiative (DSSI). To date, the DSSI has supported 43 countries which have requested suspensions by freeing up $5 billion to fund their COVID-19 responses. Given the depth of liquidity needs in these countries, the UK supports an extension of the DSSI into 2021.

The G20 agreed private sector DSSI participation should be voluntary and at borrowers’ discretion. The Government continues to support this approach, which helps protect these countries’ hard-won market access which will be essential for financing COVID recovery. Where borrowers do make requests, private creditors should implement the DSSI. Where sovereign debt reductions are necessary, it will be important for there to be fair and timely burden sharing between all creditor types, including commercial creditors.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
1st Jun 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many claims for refunds from Wonga customers who were mis-sold higher risk loans remain outstanding; and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing support from the public purse to those customers who only received 4.3 per cent of the compensation due to them.

When a firm enters administration, assets are pooled and used to cover customer redress claims and administration costs. In the case of Wonga, the pooled assets are not sufficient to meet all of the redress claims. The administrator, Grant Thornton UK LLP, is therefore unable to pay out 100% of these claims and must address claims in order of the creditor hierarchy. The number of redress claims and the amounts due in the case of Wonga is a matter for the administrators.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who regulate payday loans, has the power to decide which activities are given Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protection. In 2016, the FCA decided not to extend FSCS protection to most consumer credit activities because it believed other regulatory requirements were sufficient. The full reasoning behind the FCA’s decision is set out in a letter from their Chief Executive to the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee on 15 February 2019.

John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans the Government has for (a) universities and (b) other UK institutions to be able to participate in EU-funded projects after 2020.

The Public Mandate states that the UK is ready to consider participation in certain EU programmes where it is in the UK's and the EU’s interest that the UK does so. The Public Mandate can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/our-approach-to-the-future-relationship-with-the-eu

The UK will consider a relationship in line with non-EU Member State participation for the following programmes: Horizon Europe, Euratom Research and Training, and Copernicus. The UK will consider service access agreements for the following programmes: EU Space Surveillance and Tracking, and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service. The Government’s manifesto set out its ambitious approach on research and development, including a commitment to continue collaboration internationally and with the EU on scientific research, including Horizon Europe.

The UK Government wants to ensure that UK and European universities and institutions continue to benefit from each other’s world-leading systems and expertise. The UK will consider options for participation in elements of Erasmus+ on a time-limited basis, provided the terms are in the UK’s interests. The Government is considering a wide range of options with regards to future cooperation, including potential domestic alternatives. Decisions on future budget provisions are a matter for the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The proposed regulations for programmes in the next Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-27) are still being discussed in the EU and are yet to be finalised. The UK’s future participation in these programmes and projects will be subject to negotiations on the UK-EU relationship.

Under the financial settlement the UK will continue to contribute to the EU budget in respect of the EU’s current financial planning period (the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-20) and will continue to participate and benefit from its programmes and receive receipts for the duration of projects, which in some cases go beyond 2020.

Jesse Norman
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to her oral answer on 7 June 2021,Official Report, column 664, if she will publish (a) a list of the wide range of covid-compliant measures that were taken at Napier barracks and (b) the dates on which those measures were implemented.

The following covid-compliant measures have been implemented at Napier Barracks:

  • 2 metres distance between beds since it opened.
  • Strengthened cleaning regime in March.
  • Personal cleaning equipment is provided to service users.
  • 3 lateral flow tests a week from June having risen from 2 weekly lateral flow tests in April.
  • Participant of Test and Trace.
  • Staggered access to communal areas including the canteen since communal areas re-opened in May.
  • Provision of hand sanitiser around the site since it opened.
  • Signage on covid compliance around the site in various languages and pictogram.
  • Reduction in overall capacity from 399 to 337 from April.

Due to the temporary and transient nature of Initial Accommodation, we publish stats which show how many asylum seekers are accommodated in each Local Authority, rather than by individual location:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/immigration-statistics-year-ending-march-2021

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
8th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many people were accommodated at Napier Barracks (a) in total and (b) in each dormitory at the site on 8 June 2021.

The following covid-compliant measures have been implemented at Napier Barracks:

  • 2 metres distance between beds since it opened.
  • Strengthened cleaning regime in March.
  • Personal cleaning equipment is provided to service users.
  • 3 lateral flow tests a week from June having risen from 2 weekly lateral flow tests in April.
  • Participant of Test and Trace.
  • Staggered access to communal areas including the canteen since communal areas re-opened in May.
  • Provision of hand sanitiser around the site since it opened.
  • Signage on covid compliance around the site in various languages and pictogram.
  • Reduction in overall capacity from 399 to 337 from April.

Due to the temporary and transient nature of Initial Accommodation, we publish stats which show how many asylum seekers are accommodated in each Local Authority, rather than by individual location:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/immigration-statistics-year-ending-march-2021

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
20th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she plans to establish a safe passage for child refugees arriving in the UK.

The Government committed to review safe and legal routes to the UK, and has a statutory duty to conduct a public consultation on family reunion for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the EU. We are meeting our statutory duty by completing a comprehensive consultation and engagement process as part of the wider consultation on the New Plan for Immigration, which closed on 6 May 2021. We will consider the consultation responses carefully.

The UK already provides a number of routes for children to reunite with family members in the UK under our Immigration Rules. We have also published guidance that signposts these existing routes at the link below:

Overview of family reunion options in the Immigration Rules - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of matching the £20 universal credit uplift for people seeking the asylum support allowance.

Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are provided with furnished accommodation with utilities provided free of charge and a weekly cash allowance. The level of the allowance is reviewed each year to ensure it remains sufficient to meet their essential living needs (the legal test). Currently, the standard allowance is £39.63 per week for the asylum seeker and each of any dependants in their household. The allowance is reduced if the individual is accommodated in a full-board facility where food and other essential items are provided free.

There are no plans to provide an additional £20 or to link the level of the allowance with the level of Universal Credit. Those receiving Universal Credit generally incur expenses asylum seekers are not required to meet, including paying for utilities and travel and other expenses incurred in looking for work.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of providing Syrian refugees who have been stripped of their residency permits in the EU with residency in the UK.

We do not currently have plans to make any such assessment.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps the Government took to ensure the health and safety of HS2 protestors during their eviction from the Euston tunnel in February 2021.

We have a long tradition in this country of respect for legal protest. However, these protestors were putting themselves and those who might have to try to rescue them at risk. The response to the situation was led by the police, who are operationally independent of Government.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of investigating the levels of child to parent abuse in the UK.

Child to parent abuse is a relatively hidden but increasingly recognised form of domestic abuse. The Government is committed to protecting all victims of domestic abuse.

We have included child to parent abuse in the draft statutory guidance on domestic abuse published on 1 July 2020, and we will continue to work with stakeholders to finalise the guidance.

Additionally, this year the government will be publishing a new Domestic Abuse Strategy which will consider this important issue.

Victoria Atkins
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
5th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to monitor the use of police powers introduced in the Coronavirus Act 2020 in respect of imposing fines on members of the public.

The Health Protection regulations are kept under continuous review to ensure that measures are proportionate and appropriate in addressing the threat to public health posed by Covid-19.

The Government moved quickly to give the police the powers and guidance they need to support compliance with essential social distancing measures. Officials have worked closely with operational partners to ensure that new changes are understood by police forces around the country and will continue to do so as we move through the stages of the roadmap.

Throughout the pandemic the police have continued to use the 4Es approach: engaging with individuals who are not following the rules, explaining the rules to them and encouraging them to comply before moving on to enforce the law. The Government works closely with the police to ensure that enforcement of the rules is both proportionate and legal. Police officers have received clear guidance that they should use their common sense, discretion and experience in enforcing coronavirus regulations.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how complaints on the conditions of asylum seekers in Napier Barracks are (a) investigated and (b) responded to.

As required by law, we provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with accommodation which is safe, secure and fit-for-purpose, paid for by the taxpayer.

We welcome independent scrutiny of our sites, processes and procedures; and routinely facilitate inspections from relevant bodies to assure ourselves of the ongoing safety and suitability of the accommodation and services we provide.

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) recently launched a call for evidence on the use of hotels and military barracks as contingency asylum accommodation. The Home Office have received a formal notice of inspection from the ICIBI. The Home Office will work with the ICIBI and his inspection team to facilitate full access to our asylum accommodation estate.

An independent rapid review was also recently conducted to assure ourselves of the extensive COVID-19 protocols in place to safeguard the health and safety of asylum seekers during the pandemic.

The Home Office is currently reviewing and acting upon the recommendations of the review and, as previously stated, will seek to publish a summary of the recommendations in due course. We will also hold round tables with stakeholders to discuss the recommendations, actions taken and proposed next steps.

The Home Office will continue to carefully review the operation of the site and will make any improvements necessary. We continue to work closely with our provider and partners to identify opportunities for improvement, as we do across our entire accommodation estate.

Asylum seekers who are accommodated at Napier receive an induction which outlines the process for raising complaints. A booklet available in ten languages detailing the process is also issued to new arrivals.

All asylum seekers have access to a 24/7 AIRE (Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility) service provided for the Home Office by Migrant Help, where complaints or concerns can be raised, including reporting issues with their accommodation. Migrant Help will then refer the report to the relevant accommodation provider through a designated point of contact.

Community support workers at the site can also support asylum seekers in accessing the AIRE service to raise a complaint. Providers’ staff will make clear to asylum seekers that registering a complaint will not affect their asylum claim.

The provider will then seek to resolve any complaint, within five working days of receipt, and will inform the service user and Migrant Help of the action taken and any subsequent action necessary.

As part of our robust contract compliance measures, providers are required to regularly report to us on complaints handling and support any audits or quality reviews that we may undertake.

The Home Office does not publish statistics relating to complaints raised by those accommodated at Napier Barracks.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what complaints her Department has received on the conditions of asylum seekers in Napier Barracks made by current or former residents at those barracks.

As required by law, we provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with accommodation which is safe, secure and fit-for-purpose, paid for by the taxpayer.

We welcome independent scrutiny of our sites, processes and procedures; and routinely facilitate inspections from relevant bodies to assure ourselves of the ongoing safety and suitability of the accommodation and services we provide.

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) recently launched a call for evidence on the use of hotels and military barracks as contingency asylum accommodation. The Home Office have received a formal notice of inspection from the ICIBI. The Home Office will work with the ICIBI and his inspection team to facilitate full access to our asylum accommodation estate.

An independent rapid review was also recently conducted to assure ourselves of the extensive COVID-19 protocols in place to safeguard the health and safety of asylum seekers during the pandemic.

The Home Office is currently reviewing and acting upon the recommendations of the review and, as previously stated, will seek to publish a summary of the recommendations in due course. We will also hold round tables with stakeholders to discuss the recommendations, actions taken and proposed next steps.

The Home Office will continue to carefully review the operation of the site and will make any improvements necessary. We continue to work closely with our provider and partners to identify opportunities for improvement, as we do across our entire accommodation estate.

Asylum seekers who are accommodated at Napier receive an induction which outlines the process for raising complaints. A booklet available in ten languages detailing the process is also issued to new arrivals.

All asylum seekers have access to a 24/7 AIRE (Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility) service provided for the Home Office by Migrant Help, where complaints or concerns can be raised, including reporting issues with their accommodation. Migrant Help will then refer the report to the relevant accommodation provider through a designated point of contact.

Community support workers at the site can also support asylum seekers in accessing the AIRE service to raise a complaint. Providers’ staff will make clear to asylum seekers that registering a complaint will not affect their asylum claim.

The provider will then seek to resolve any complaint, within five working days of receipt, and will inform the service user and Migrant Help of the action taken and any subsequent action necessary.

As part of our robust contract compliance measures, providers are required to regularly report to us on complaints handling and support any audits or quality reviews that we may undertake.

The Home Office does not publish statistics relating to complaints raised by those accommodated at Napier Barracks.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will publish any reports commissioned to determine the suitability of Napier Barracks as a centre for asylum seeker accommodation.

As required by law, we provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with accommodation which is safe, secure and fit-for-purpose, paid for by the taxpayer.

We welcome independent scrutiny of our sites, processes and procedures; and routinely facilitate inspections from relevant bodies to assure ourselves of the ongoing safety and suitability of the accommodation and services we provide.

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) recently launched a call for evidence on the use of hotels and military barracks as contingency asylum accommodation. The Home Office have received a formal notice of inspection from the ICIBI. The Home Office will work with the ICIBI and his inspection team to facilitate full access to our asylum accommodation estate.

An independent rapid review was also recently conducted to assure ourselves of the extensive COVID-19 protocols in place to safeguard the health and safety of asylum seekers during the pandemic.

The Home Office is currently reviewing and acting upon the recommendations of the review and, as previously stated, will seek to publish a summary of the recommendations in due course. We will also hold round tables with stakeholders to discuss the recommendations, actions taken and proposed next steps.

The Home Office will continue to carefully review the operation of the site and will make any improvements necessary. We continue to work closely with our provider and partners to identify opportunities for improvement, as we do across our entire accommodation estate.

Asylum seekers who are accommodated at Napier receive an induction which outlines the process for raising complaints. A booklet available in ten languages detailing the process is also issued to new arrivals.

All asylum seekers have access to a 24/7 AIRE (Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility) service provided for the Home Office by Migrant Help, where complaints or concerns can be raised, including reporting issues with their accommodation. Migrant Help will then refer the report to the relevant accommodation provider through a designated point of contact.

Community support workers at the site can also support asylum seekers in accessing the AIRE service to raise a complaint. Providers’ staff will make clear to asylum seekers that registering a complaint will not affect their asylum claim.

The provider will then seek to resolve any complaint, within five working days of receipt, and will inform the service user and Migrant Help of the action taken and any subsequent action necessary.

As part of our robust contract compliance measures, providers are required to regularly report to us on complaints handling and support any audits or quality reviews that we may undertake.

The Home Office does not publish statistics relating to complaints raised by those accommodated at Napier Barracks.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
3rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what reports the Government has commissioned to assess the suitability of Napier Barracks as a centre for asylum seeker accommodation.

As required by law, we provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with accommodation which is safe, secure and fit-for-purpose, paid for by the taxpayer.

We welcome independent scrutiny of our sites, processes and procedures; and routinely facilitate inspections from relevant bodies to assure ourselves of the ongoing safety and suitability of the accommodation and services we provide.

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) recently launched a call for evidence on the use of hotels and military barracks as contingency asylum accommodation. The Home Office have received a formal notice of inspection from the ICIBI. The Home Office will work with the ICIBI and his inspection team to facilitate full access to our asylum accommodation estate.

An independent rapid review was also recently conducted to assure ourselves of the extensive COVID-19 protocols in place to safeguard the health and safety of asylum seekers during the pandemic.

The Home Office is currently reviewing and acting upon the recommendations of the review and, as previously stated, will seek to publish a summary of the recommendations in due course. We will also hold round tables with stakeholders to discuss the recommendations, actions taken and proposed next steps.

The Home Office will continue to carefully review the operation of the site and will make any improvements necessary. We continue to work closely with our provider and partners to identify opportunities for improvement, as we do across our entire accommodation estate.

Asylum seekers who are accommodated at Napier receive an induction which outlines the process for raising complaints. A booklet available in ten languages detailing the process is also issued to new arrivals.

All asylum seekers have access to a 24/7 AIRE (Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility) service provided for the Home Office by Migrant Help, where complaints or concerns can be raised, including reporting issues with their accommodation. Migrant Help will then refer the report to the relevant accommodation provider through a designated point of contact.

Community support workers at the site can also support asylum seekers in accessing the AIRE service to raise a complaint. Providers’ staff will make clear to asylum seekers that registering a complaint will not affect their asylum claim.

The provider will then seek to resolve any complaint, within five working days of receipt, and will inform the service user and Migrant Help of the action taken and any subsequent action necessary.

As part of our robust contract compliance measures, providers are required to regularly report to us on complaints handling and support any audits or quality reviews that we may undertake.

The Home Office does not publish statistics relating to complaints raised by those accommodated at Napier Barracks.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department was aware of the presence of asbestos at Napier barracks in Kent when it authorised the site to house people seeking asylum in the UK.

We expect the highest standards from our providers and we provide asylum seekers with safe, warm, suitable accommodation that is fit for purpose and correctly equipped in line with existing asylum accommodation standards and contractual requirements.

Risk assessments for the site included consideration of asbestos, given as with many older properties the possibility that asbestos may be present. The risk assessment concluded there was minimal risk through use of the buildings.

In tackling the fire on 29 January, Kent Fire and Rescue Services confirmed that the risk from asbestos remained minimal, and firefighters followed full asbestos procedures and protocols in the course of their duties.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
16th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of the (a) reintroduction of the 14 Year Residency Rule for undocumented migrants and (b) amnesty for undocumented migrants previously proposed by the Prime Minister.

The Government welcomes those who migrate to the UK through safe and legal routes, yet is committed to deterring illegal immigration which undermines both the system of immigration control and public confidence in it.

There are already several ways in which migrants who have lived in the UK for a long period can regularise their stay under the Immigration Rules providing certain requirements are met.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of allocating funding to fire and rescue services to enable the recruitment of 5,000 additional frontline firefighters.

The Government is committed to ensuring that fire and rescue services have the resources and support they need to carry out their vital roles and to keep people safe.

Overall, fire and rescue authorities will receive around £2.3 billion in 2021/22. Standalone fire and rescue authorities will see an increase in core spending power of 2.6% in cash terms this year compared to 2020/21.

It is the responsibility of fire and rescue services to ensure that they have they have the appropriate number of firefighters to deliver their core functions across prevention, protection and response. There were 2,845 new firefighters in England in 2019/20, Equivalent to 8% of all firefighters.

James Brokenshire
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate her Department has made on the length of time it will take for family members of people settled in the UK under the Afghan Ex Gratia scheme to be relocated to the UK.

The process of identifying family members suitable for relocation is a complicated one which requires employing departments of HM Government to identify family members, in addition to the verification of documents under challenging circumstances in Afghanistan.

The process of relocation has inevitably been impacted by COVID-19.Once a decision is made on whether family members qualify for relocation, those approved will be brought to the UK when suitable accommodation has been sourced and support arrangements for arrival are in place.

The Home Office does not publish data on the volume of applications it receives - and approves - under the scheme.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many of the 66 spousal applications and 58 child applications being processed for family members of people settled in the UK under the Afghan Ex Gratia scheme have had a decision made on their case.

The process of identifying family members suitable for relocation is a complicated one which requires employing departments of HM Government to identify family members, in addition to the verification of documents under challenging circumstances in Afghanistan.

The process of relocation has inevitably been impacted by COVID-19.Once a decision is made on whether family members qualify for relocation, those approved will be brought to the UK when suitable accommodation has been sourced and support arrangements for arrival are in place.

The Home Office does not publish data on the volume of applications it receives - and approves - under the scheme.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans her Department has for the future of Yarls Wood immigration removal centre and the detention of women under immigration powers there.

The immigration removal estate is kept under ongoing review to ensure that the Home Office has sufficient capacity, in the right places and that it provides value for money.

In August, the pre-existing Short-Term Holding Facility (STHF) at Yarl’s Wood, in which clandestine entrants may be held by UK Visas and Immigration for a short time to resolve their position before being dispersed through appropriate routes, was temporarily expanded to incorporate the whole site. At this time Yarl’s Wood was operated solely in accordance with the STHF Rules 2018.

In light of changing demands in the immigration removal estate and in line with business recovery, we have now transitioned part of the Yarl’s Wood site back to an immigration removal centre for women.

In order to meet operational needs and demands, we will continue to operate the immigration removal estate, including Yarl’s Wood, in a flexible manner and in line with the STHF Rules 2018 and the Detention Centre Rules 2001, as appropriate.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
30th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of granting the right to work to asylum seekers and their adult dependents after six months of having lodged an asylum claim without the constraints of the Shortage Occupation List.

Asylum seeker right to work is a complex issue. A review of the policy is ongoing, and we are considering the evidence put forward on the issue. The findings of the review will be announced once the work has been completed.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking during the covid-19 outbreak to improve the (a) provision and (b) accessibility of Government guidance and information on asylum to people seeking asylum.

In March, we set up a dedicated engagement channel with key stakeholders to cover the impact of Covid-19 on asylum and resettlement, and to ensure that the necessary guidance and information was reaching asylum seekers across the UK. The British Red Cross were nominated by the sector as the single point of contact; officials speak to them on a regular basis and calls are often accompanied by written updates, which the British Red Cross share with the wider sector, and onto asylum seekers. We have also set up a similar engagement channel with the Strategic Migration Partnership, which also includes a weekly call and regular written updates.

Our liaison with British Red Cross as a single point of contact has successfully ensured that asylum seekers have the information they require in recent months. We are now in the process of drafting additional guidance, which will be published on GOV.UK, on asylum interviewing and decision-making during the period in which our operations are still affected by the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK. This will provide greater provision of information to asylum seekers.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many people have been waiting more than six months for an asylum decision; and if she will grant those people the right to work and access education.

The Home Office publishes data on asylum applications in the ‘Immigration Statistics Quarterly Release’ (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/immigration-statistics-quarterly-release). Data on the number of asylum applications awaiting an initial decision or further review are published in table Asy_D03 of the asylum and resettlement detailed datasets (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/asylum-and-resettlement-datasets). Information on how to use the dataset can be found in the ‘Notes’ page of the workbook. The latest data relates to the year ending September 2019. Additionally, the Home Office publishes a high-level overview of the data in the ‘summary tables’ (attached). The ‘contents’ sheet contains an overview of all available data on asylum and resettlement.

Information on future Home Office statistical release dates can be found in the ‘Research and statistics calendar’ (https://www.gov.uk/search/research-and-statistics?content_store_document_type=upcoming_statistics&organisations%5B%5D=home-office&order=release-date-oldest).

Asylum seekers can work in the UK if their claim has been outstanding for 12 months, through no fault of their own. Those allowed to work are restricted to jobs on the Shortage Occupation List, which is published by the Home Office and based on expert advice from the Migration Advisory Committee.

Asylum seeker right to work is a complex issue. A review of the policy is ongoing, and we are considering the evidence put forward on the issue.

There is nothing in the Immigration Rules to prevent asylum seekers studying. However, asylum-seekers who wish to access higher education courses can expect to be charged the full cost of their course by the university concerned.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many people have been waiting more than 12 months for an asylum decision; and if she will grant those people Discretionary Leave to Remain.

The Home Office does not publish data on the number of people waiting for more than 12 months for an asylum decision.

The latest Immigration Statistics Quarterly Release, on data to the year ending March 2020, can be accessed at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/immigration-statistics-quarterly-release

Table Asy D03 of the ‘asylum and resettlement detailed datasets’ contains information on the number of asylum applications awaiting an initial decision or further review and are published in. Information on how to use the dataset can be found in the ‘Notes’ page of the workbook.

All asylum claims are carefully considered on their individual merits on the evidence available to the decision maker. We are committed to ensuring that asylum claims are considered without unnecessary delay, so that those who need protection are granted as soon as possible.

Discretionary Leave (DL) is granted outside the Immigration Rules in accordance with published Home Office policy. DL covers those few individuals who do not qualify for any leave under the Rules, but where there are exceptional or compassionate reasons for allowing them to remain in the UK; as such, it is intended to be used sparingly and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Delays in decision making occur for a number of reasons, some of which are outside of the Home Office’s control, and it would generally not be appropriate to grant DL under these circumstances.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
17th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what feedback mechanism her Department has put in place for asylum seekers to communicate how well the Department has met their needs throughout their application process; and what recent assessment her Department has made of the quality of the support it provides to asylum seekers.

UKVI uses feedback from complaints, reports and audits, surveys and customer focus groups to make sure that we are continually improving the service we provide to those who seek asylum in the UK.

UKVI work closely with our key partners and stakeholders to seek and share this feedback to identify ways in which we can improve the quality of experience of people seeking asylum in the UK.

We have recently set up a Customer Experience Management Team, based across the UK, who will work closely on a local level with stakeholders, to identify key areas to improve the overall experience for people seeking asylum in the UK.

Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are provided with free accommodation and a weekly cash allowance to cover their other essential living needs. With effect from 15 June, the allowance was raised from £37.75 to £39.60, an increase of around 5%. The increase is significantly higher than general inflation, which Office of National Statistics data shows was only 0.8% in the 12 months period to April 2020. Food inflation over the same period was only 1.4%. Asylum seekers also receive free NHS healthcare and free education for their children.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
12th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what resources she has allocated to (a) researching and (b) tackling the causes of gun and knife-related crimes in (i) Coventry, (ii) the West Midlands and (iii) England.

The Government’s Serious Violence Strategy, published in April 2018, sets out our analysis of the trends and drivers behind rises in serious violence including gun and knife crime.

We are clear that the police must have the powers and resources they need to tackle gun and knife crime, wherever it occurs.? This is why we are recruiting 20,000 more police officers over the next three years and why the West Midlands police are receiving £620.4m in funding in 2020/21 – an increase of £49.1m on 2019/20.

In addition, the Home Office has committed over £176.5 million over two years to address

serious violence in the most affected 18 police force areas in England and Wales, which

includes £104.9 million to pay for a surge in police operational activity, of which £12,601,485 has been allocated to West Midlands police. The remaining £70 million is being invested in multi-agency Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) over two financial years, with £6,740,000 of this going directly to the West Midlands VRU. The VRU brings together police, local government, health and education professionals, community leaders and other key partners to identify the drivers of serious violence and agree a multi-agency response.

In relation to gun crime specifically, the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 has introduced a ban on certain rapid-firing rifles and we are introducing greater regulation of antique firearms to prevent their misuse by criminals. We have also consulted on statutory guidance on firearms licensing to improve standards and the consistency of police licensing decisions, and we have established a multi-agency national firearms threat assessment centre to improve our capability to disrupt the supply and use of illegal firearms by criminals and Organised Crime Groups.

The Offensive Weapons Act 2019 also gives the police more powers to tackle knife crime and will make it more difficult for young people to get hold of knives in the first place. The Act

introduces Knife Crime Prevention Orders which will help the police to steer those most at risk away from serious violence and knife crime, and we will be legislating to introduce new Serious Violence Reduction Orders to make it easier for the police to stop and search known knife

carriers.

The Serious Violence Strategy also puts an emphasis on prevention and early intervention. We are investing £200 million through the Youth Endowment Fund to invest in and evaluate early intervention projects and an additional £500 million over five years through the new Youth Investment Fund to build new youth centres, refurbish existing youth facilities, provide mobile facilities for harder to reach areas, and to invest in the youth work profession and frontline services.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much money has accrued to the public purse from (a) NHS trusts, (b) organisations that provide social care, (c) universities and other higher education institutions and (d) state-funded primary and secondary schools paying the Immigration Skills Charge on behalf of their employees in each year since 2015.

The Home Office does not collate or publish the information requested.

Immigration Skills Charge data is broken down between large and small and charitable employers but not by sector.

Income generated by Immigration Health Surcharge payments goes directly to NHS services, helping to protect and sustain our world-class healthcare system for everyone who uses it. Income collected from the Immigration Skills charge is used to address skills gaps in the UK workforce, which will be of benefit to businesses in the long term.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
27th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much money has accrued to the public purse from (a) NHS trusts, (b) organisations that provide social care (c) universities and other higher education institutions and (d) state-funded primary and secondary schools paying the Immigration Health Surcharge on behalf of their employees in each year since 2015.

The Home Office does not collate or publish the information requested.

Immigration Skills Charge data is broken down between large and small and charitable employers but not by sector.

Income generated by Immigration Health Surcharge payments goes directly to NHS services, helping to protect and sustain our world-class healthcare system for everyone who uses it. Income collected from the Immigration Skills charge is used to address skills gaps in the UK workforce, which will be of benefit to businesses in the long term.

Kevin Foster
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
6th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many places of worship have made unsuccessful applications for funding from the Places of Worship Security Funding scheme in each category of place of worship in (a) England and (b) Wales.

Over the first three years, the Places of Worship scheme has received 431 applications in total. Of the applications received, 134 were successful and 297 were unsuccessful.

In England, there have been 253 applications from Christian communities, 108 applications from Muslim communities, 19 applications from Hindu communities, 34 applications from Sikh communities and 1 application from Jain communities.

Of those applications, there have been 193 unsuccessful applications from Christian communities, 60 unsuccessful applications from Muslim communities, 14 unsuccessful applications from Hindu communities, 17 unsuccessful applications from Sikh communities, and 1 unsuccessful application from Jain communities.

In Wales, there have been 14 applications from Christian communities, 1 application from Muslim communities, 1 application from Hindu communities and 0 applications from Sikh and Jain communities.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
6th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the effect on the risk of terrorist attacks on UK mosques of the (a) 12 recent arrests for terrorism offences and (b) events in Hanau in Germany.

Counter Terrorism Policing routinely reviews the threat to all our communities in light of events in the UK and elsewhere, assessing all relevant intelligence reporting. In light of this, appropriate action is taken to ensure the safety of all faith communities.

The Government’s Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme continues to provide funding to reassure communities and safeguard mosques and other places of worship. The scheme will provide £3.2 million in 2020-21 (double the amount awarded previously), and in addition a new £5 million fund will be opened to provide security training.

James Brokenshire
Minister of State (Home Office)
6th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many of each category of place of worship have applied for funding through the Places of Worship Security Funding scheme in (a) England and (b) Wales.

Over the first three years, the Places of Worship scheme has received 431 applications in total. Of the applications received, 134 were successful and 297 were unsuccessful.

In England, there have been 253 applications from Christian communities, 108 applications from Muslim communities, 19 applications from Hindu communities, 34 applications from Sikh communities and 1 application from Jain communities.

Of those applications, there have been 193 unsuccessful applications from Christian communities, 60 unsuccessful applications from Muslim communities, 14 unsuccessful applications from Hindu communities, 17 unsuccessful applications from Sikh communities, and 1 unsuccessful application from Jain communities.

In Wales, there have been 14 applications from Christian communities, 1 application from Muslim communities, 1 application from Hindu communities and 0 applications from Sikh and Jain communities.

Kit Malthouse
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department has chartered flights scheduled for deportations in the next six months.

Most enforced immigration returns are undertaken using scheduled flights, alongside fare-paying passengers. However, charter flight operations are an important means to return foreign national offenders and immigration offenders where there are limited scheduled routes or where the returnees may be disruptive. We utilise both approaches flexibly to best meet operational needs and maximise value for money.

For operational reasons, it is not possible to disclose full details of the returns charter flight programme over the next six months.

Chris Philp
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 7 June 2021 to Question 7292 on Richard Paniguian, when the Gulf Advisory Group last met; how often that group has met since its establishment; and who has chaired the meetings of that group on each of those occasions.

We have limited information on the Gulf Advisory Group which last met on 12 September 2018.

Sir Geoffrey Tantum was invited to attend that meeting.

We are seeking further information in respect of the hon. Member’s questions, and I will write to her in due course.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 7 June 2021 to Question 7292 on Richard Paniguian, if he will list attendees of the Gulf Advisory Group; and whether Geoffrey Tantum is included in that list.

We have limited information on the Gulf Advisory Group which last met on 12 September 2018.

Sir Geoffrey Tantum was invited to attend that meeting.

We are seeking further information in respect of the hon. Member’s questions, and I will write to her in due course.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
11th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 7 June 2021 to Question 7292 on Richard Paniguian, when the Gulf Advisory Group was established; and what steps he has taken to inform the House of the establishment of that group.

We have limited information on the Gulf Advisory Group which last met on 12 September 2018.

Sir Geoffrey Tantum was invited to attend that meeting.

We are seeking further information in respect of the hon. Member’s questions, and I will write to her in due course.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
25th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether Sir Richard Paniguian met defence ministers on 11 January 2016 at a session of the Gulf Advisory Committee or Gulf Advisory Council.

There was a meeting of the Gulf Advisory Group on 11 January 2016 of which Sir Richard Paniguian was an invitee. However, we hold no records of the minutes of this meeting and cannot therefore confirm attendance.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
11th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the (a) role and (b) membership is of his Department's Gulf Advisory Committee.

The Ministry of Defence does not have a Gulf Advisory Committee.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment her Department has made of the risk to family members of people settled in the UK under the Afghan Ex Gratia scheme who remain in Afghanistan.

We take the safety of immediate family members of former Locally Employed Staff (LES) eligible for relocation under the Ex Gratia Sceme (EGS) very seriously. That is why spouses and dependants under 18 are eligible to relocate with the former LES member.

If family members choose to remain in Afghanistan, then they are still eligible to seek support and assistance from our Intimidation Investigation Unit in Kabul, which is open to all immediate family members of LES, whether relocated under the EGS or not.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
14th Dec 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the parent unit was of the military officer referred to in the Government's review of the Defence Communications Directorate’s response to Declassified UK.

It's not appropriate to disclose information about individuals, particularly those not found to be at fault in this matter. The conclusion of Tom Kelly's review into the Declassified issue was announced in Parliament by myself on 7 December 2020 and a copy of the report placed in the House of Commons Library.

Ben Wallace
Secretary of State for Defence
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many (a) of his Department's civilian staff based in the UK, (b) of his Department's civilian staff based in Saudi Arabia, (c) military personnel based in the UK and (d) military personnel based in Saudi Arabia were employed by the (i) Saudi Arabian National Guard Communications Project and (ii) Ministry of Defence Saudi Armed Forces Project on 1 April 2020.

The number of civilian and military personnel based in the UK and Saudi Arabia who were employed by the Saudi Arabian National Guard Communications Project (SANGCOM) and the Ministry of Defence Saudi Armed Forces Projects (MODSAP) on 1 April 2020 is shown below. The Saudi Arabian Government reimburses the UK Ministry of Defence for these staff costs..

Manpower number as at 1 April 2020

SANGCOM

MODSAP

UK-based Civilian Staff

4

68

UK-based Military Staff

0

34

Saudi-based Civilian Staff

43

38

Saudi-based Military Staff

21

67

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much money from the public purse was spent on the (a) Saudi Arabian National Guard Communications Project and (b) his Department's Saudi Armed Forces Project in 2019-20; and what the budget is for those projects in 2020-21.

The costs incurred by the Ministry of Defence Saudi Armed Forces Projects (MODSAP) in financial year 2019-20 amounted to £64.10 million. The budget for financial year 2020-21 is £62.24 million. The costs of MODSAP are met in full from a management fee received from the Saudi Arabian Government.

There is no expenditure charged to the UK Ministry of Defence's budget for the Saudi Arabian National Guard Communications (SANGCOM) Project, as it is entirely funded by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
10th Sep 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 13 July to Question 68798, how many alleged breaches or violations of International Humanitarian Law in Yemen took place in (a) 2015, (b) 2016, (c) 2017, (d) 2018, (e) 2019 and (f) 2020 to date.

Disaggregating the number of alleged instances of breaches or violations of International Humanitarian Law in Yemen listed on the "Tracker" database would be misleading without the addition of sensitive contextual information, which I am withholding as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and other states.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
3rd Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many incidents have been logged as alleged international humanitarian law violations reportedly conducted by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since March 2015.

As at 4 July, the number of alleged instances of breaches or violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in Yemen listed on the "Tracker" database maintained by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) is 535. Of these, 19 are duplicate entries, which means that some incidents will have been recorded on more than one occasion likely because of the incomplete nature of reporting.

James Heappey
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence)
24th Apr 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what effect the order by the Court of Appeal in June 2019 not to issue new licences for the export of equipment to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen has had on the Government's obligations to Saudi Arabia under existing Government-to-Government agreements for the supply of military equipment; and if he will make a statement.

The Government’s obligations to supply military equipment and support to Saudi Arabia under the existing Government-to-Government arrangements are fulfilled under contract by the designated prime contractor, BAE Systems. Under these contracts, it is the responsibility of the company to submit an export licence application for all exports of arms and controlled military goods, which are considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Government continues to act fully in line with the decision of the Court of Appeal.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
12th Mar 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what plans he has to support the establishment of a Committee on Arms Export Controls as a full non-departmental Select Committee.

Any plan to change the status of the Committee on Arms Exports Controls from a joint meeting of members of the relevant departmental committees (Foreign Affairs, Defence, International Trade and International Development) to a standalone committee is a matter for the House of Commons.

Jeremy Quin
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps are being taken to investigate Lance Corporal Bernard Mongan’s death.

Our thoughts remain with Lance Corporal (LCpl) Bernard Mongan's family following his tragic death. There is an on-going North Yorkshire Police investigation into his death and the Coroner will hold a Pre-Inquest Hearing before scheduling a full Inquest.

Within the Army, two Learning Accounts have been completed, which looked at immediate lessons to be learned, and a Service Inquiry has been convened, which will conduct a thorough internal investigation.

15th Jun 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to the extension of covid-19 restrictions beyond 21 June 2021, what assessment has he made of the potential merits of extending the emergency parking passes for (a) NHS staff members, (b) health or social care workers and (c) NHS volunteer responders.

At the end of March 2020, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government reached an agreement with the Local Government Association that local councils in England would voluntarily offer free car parking to all NHS workers, social care staff and NHS volunteer responders during the emergency response period.

With the national lockdown drawing to a close, challenges in managing pass fraud and an increasing number of councils moving toward local concessions for health workers and other groups, it was agreed that the national pass guidance should be withdrawn.

This is reflected in new joint parking enforcement advice provided in April to local authorities by the Local Government Association, British Parking Association and London Councils. In May, further updates were shared with NHS Trusts, the Royal Voluntary Service and local authorities, and the guidance page was updated on gov.uk.

Councils are responsible for setting their own local policy and are already acting on this advice, with some deciding to offer their own concessions. Those interested in local parking concessions can check their local councils' website for further details of any local schemes.

NHS staff continue to be eligible for free parking in hospital car parks and funding for this has been provided to NHS Trusts by government.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
12th May 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, when the Government plans to publish its response to the Planning for the future consultation.

The consultation on the Planning for the Future White Paper closed in October 2020, and received around 44,000 responses – demonstrating just how important this is to people.

Given the number of responses, we are taking time to carefully consider the valuable feedback we received. We will publish the Government response to the White Paper ahead of introducing the Planning Bill to Parliament.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
24th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department has taken to enforce the Home (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.

We supported the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 because, for the first time, it empowers tenants in both the Private and Social Rented Sectors to hold their landlord to account if they fail to keep the property fit for human habitation. Government does not enforce the Act, instead the Act enables tenants to take action in the courts for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit.

We have published guidance for tenants to help them make the most of their rights under the Act. We have also published guidance for landlords and local authorities to ensure that they are aware of what the Act means for them.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of giving local authorities the option to place victims of domestic abuse and their children in close proximity to where they have been living.

It is critical that victims of domestic abuse get support and especially when they are in housing need.

When a housing authority makes inquiries to determine whether a victim of domestic abuse is eligible for homelessness assistance and owed a duty under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996, it may also make inquiries under section 184(2) to establish if an applicant has a local connection to the area.

An applicant can have a local connection to an area if; they are normally resident there, have been resident there in the past, are employed there, have family associations living there or due to any special circumstances. Therefore, victims of domestic abuse, who are homeless and eligible can approach the local authority in an area in which they have been living for homelessness assistance.

The Homelessness Code of Guidance is clear that a housing authority cannot refer an applicant to a housing authority if they or anyone who might reasonably be expected to reside with them would be at risk of violence and abuse. Therefore, it may be the case that a victim of domestic abuse is accommodated in a different local authority in order to ensure their safety.

Eddie Hughes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
8th Mar 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to his Department's call for evidence, Toilet provision for men and women, updated 29 January 2021, what the evidential basis was for (a) his decision to extend the deadline into the consultation of gender neutral toilets and (b) the statement in that call for evidence that the replacement of male-only and female-ionly spaces with gender neutral toilets places women at a significant disadvantage.

Toilets, both in municipal and private sector locations, are an important facility for members of the public, in particular women, those with children, older people and disabled people.

A) In January we identified a majority of personal views amongst the responses and so we extended until 26 February to gather more technical guidance relating to toilet provision.

B) Media coverage, personal accounts and parliamentary scrutiny described inequality in the use and provision of toilets, particularly for women. In recent years, we have seen examples of the removal of well-established male-only/female-only spaces when premises are built or refurbished, and they have often been replaced with gender-neutral toilets. This places women at a significant disadvantage. While men can then use both cubicles and urinals, women can only use the former, and women also need safe spaces given their particular health and sanitary needs (for example, women who are menstruating, pregnant or at menopause, may need to use the toilet more often). Women are also likely to feel less comfortable using mixed sex facilities, and require more space.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a covid-19 rent debt fund for renters in financial difficulties as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

This Government has provided an unprecedented package of financial support to protect renters whose income has been affected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Notably, to help prevent people getting into financial hardship, we have increased the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate to the 30th percentile of local market rents in each area. The increased LHA rates will be maintained at the current levels in cash terms in 2021/22, even in areas where the 30th percentile of local rents has gone down. We have boosted the welfare system by billions of pounds, including increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by up to £1,040 for the year. In addition, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has offered support for businesses to pay staff salaries, enabling people to continue to pay their rent and has been extended until April 2021.

For those who require additional support, Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) are available. As announced at the spending round for 2020/21, there is already £180 million in DHPs for local authorities to distribute for supporting renters with housings costs in the private and social rented sectors. For 2021-22 the Government will make available £140 million in DHP funding, which takes account of the increased LHA rates.

We continue to closely monitor the ongoing effects of the pandemic on renters.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of Office of National Statistics population growth estimates for Coventry.

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is currently independently reviewing the Office for National Statistics’ population projections and population estimates following a request from the Warwickshire Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, and we will reflect on any review findings. It is therefore not appropriate to comment further on this issue, but population statistics, which inform the standard method for assessing local housing need, remain the most up-to-date and robust national statistics for this purpose.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that greenbelt land surrounding Coventry South constituency is protected from development.

This Government will continue to support the protection and enhancement of the Green Belt and other valued greenfield land, and to strongly encourage re-use of suitable brownfield land for development, in line with manifesto commitments and our National Planning Policy Framework. The Framework states that most new building is inappropriate in Green Belt and should be refused planning permission unless there are very special circumstances, and that only in exceptional circumstances may a Green Belt boundary be altered. We have been clear in our reform proposals, set out in the White Paper Planning for the Future, that existing policy for protecting the Green Belt would remain.

Consultation on the White Paper closed on 29 October 2020. My Department is undertaking further detailed policy development on individual elements of the proposals, and we will announce any next steps as soon as practicable.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
14th Oct 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the availability of emergency accommodation for people with nowhere safe to stay in the next 12 months.

Government has taken significant steps, backed by substantial funding to bring forward support and accommodation for rough sleepers. During the pandemic, we have worked closely with local authorities and the sector to offer vulnerable people safe accommodation and support. That work is ongoing and in September we had successfully supported over 29,000 people, with over 10,000 in emergency accommodation and nearly 19,000 provided with settled accommodation or move on support. This work was supported by the £4.8 billion that Government has given to local authorities to respond to the challenges of COVID-19, which includes their work on rough sleeping.

Additionally, we launched the £266 million Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP). This makes available the financial resources needed to support local authorities and their partners to prevent these people from returning to the streets. The NSAP?is?made up of two?parts, the first part which funds immediate support to ensure people and the rest to bring forward long-term accommodation and move-on support.

On 17 September we announced local authority allocations for the short-term funding aspect of the Next Steps Accommodation Programme. £91.5 million was allocated to 274 councils in England to help vulnerable people housed during the pandemic.

Applications are now being considered for the rest of the fund which is intended to provide over 3,300 additional supported homes this year for those sleeping rough or currently housed in emergency accommodation. The bidding has now closed and details on successful bids will be announced in due course. This is part of broader support to provide 6,000 such homes over four years.

Finally, on 13 October, the Government announced additional support for rough sleepers this winter, giving local areas the tools they need to protect people from life-threatening cold weather and the risks posed by COVID-19.

This additional support builds on the existing package of support and funding, and includes: a new £10 million Cold Weather Fund for local areas to bring forward self-contained and COVID-secure accommodation; a new £2 million Transformation Fund for the faith, communities and voluntary sector to move away from their traditional communal models; and comprehensive guidance to the sector, produced with Public Health England and Homeless Link, to help them open shelters more safely, as a last resort and where not doing so would endanger lives.

20th Jul 2020
What plans his Department has to prevent tenants who have fallen into arrears as a result of financial hardship caused by the covid-19 outbreak being evicted from privately rented properties.

The Government has offered unprecedented support to help prevent people getting into financial hardship or rent arrears.

We legislated to delay when landlords can evict tenants and the Master of the Rolls, with the support of the Government, paused eviction proceedings for five months, until 23 August. These measures are helping to ensure no-one loses their home this summer as a result of coronavirus.

Christopher Pincher
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
9th Jul 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what his timescale is for publishing a draft code of practice containing guidance about the operation and management of private parking facilities under the Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019; and what plans he has for (a) consultation on that draft code and (b) implementation of a final code.

We are currently working to implement the Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019. The British Standards Institution (BSI) have convened a stakeholder group to write the Code, comprising representatives from the parking industry, consumer groups, standards bodies and the retail sector.

Progress has been made in drafting the Code. It will be subject to a public consultation in the coming months, providing an opportunity for the parking industry, the public and other interested parties the opportunity give feedback. The precise dates of the consultation and the implementation of a final code will be announced in due course.

22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to support local authorities to provide live-streaming of funerary services during the covid-19 outbreak.

It is only right that families have a final opportunity to pay their last respects to those they love at this incredibly difficult time. On 17 April I sent a letter to local authorities outlining how they can develop safe and sensitive ways for funerals to take place, including live streaming and deferred memorial services. On 18 April, £1.6 billion of funding was also made available to support local authorities with the costs of responding to COVID-19, including costs associated with death management. This funding will support councils to continue to deliver innovative solutions which make funerals accessible to the bereaved, where they cannot physically attend.

19th Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether his Department will allocate funding to the provision of empty hotel rooms to house people fleeing domestic abuse during the covid-19 outbreak.

On 5 June my Department announced the allocation of £8.15 million funding to 147 refuge charities through 103 successful bids as part of the £10 million MHCLG Domestic Abuse Emergency Support Fund. This funding will re-open bedspaces which are currently closed due to COVID-19, as well as creating 1210 more bedspaces to support more victims of domestic abuse. The remaining £1.85 million of the Fund has been reopened for applications. This will enable refuge charities to continue to respond during the crisis.

My Department have also put in place a system to enable local authorities who need additional accommodation to meet demand during the pandemic to book rooms for domestic abuse victims through Crown Commercial Services.

An additional £3.2 billion has been provided to support councils in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, including supporting vulnerable people.

Luke Hall
Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)
20th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, when the the application submitted by Oasis Charitable Trust to run Medway Secure School will be published on the secure schools page of GOV.UK; and if he will make a statement.

We are unable to publish the Oasis application documents as had been intended as it has not been possible to produce it in an accessible format as required for all documents published on GOV.UK. A copy of the application and related documents in the form it had been intended to be published will be placed in the House library. We have made the document available on request as stated on the page providing guidance on secure schools.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/secure-schools-how-to-apply

The application submitted by Oasis in March 2019 outlined the foundation for their operating concept and proposed principles for the secure school, in line with the criteria set out in the secure schools ‘how to apply’ guide. Since they were approved as the successful applicant for the first secure school in July 2019, Oasis have continued to develop and refine their operating model. All policies submitted by Oasis were accurate for academic year 2018-19.

Alex Chalk
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to recommendation 8 of the 2019 Farmer Review for Women, what progress has been made on making written Pre-Sentence Reports mandatory for all women and male primary carers before a custodial sentence is passed.

The Government has made good progress in implementing the recommendations of the Farmer Review for Women, since its publication in June 2019. Ten recommendations have already been implemented and a further eight are expected to be completed this year. Achievements so far include increased access to telephone contact in court custody suites, allowances for the increased use of Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL), amending the eligibility for Child Resettlement Leave to include primary carers as well as sole carers, and the rollout of video calling across the Women’s Estate.

As set out in the Female Offender Strategy, the Government is working to ensure women’s personal circumstances are identified and shared by all agencies in the criminal justice system, in order to inform decisions and support. Lord Farmer’s recommendation on the Personal Circumstances File forms part of this work.

We are also committed to increasing the delivery of quality and timely pre-sentence reports (PSRs) and understand the particular importance of PSRs for women. HM Prison and Probation Service has developed a Pre-Sentence Report interview checklist which focuses on the specific needs of female offenders. Following a series of briefing events, this was rolled out nationally in August 2019 and is available to all practitioners.

Additionally, in the Sentencing White Paper we committed to ensuring that probation staff are supported to deliver a high standard of reports and to significantly increase the proportion of court disposals which benefit from a PSR. This pilot has now launched, and will be in all 15 pilot magistrate courts across 10 probation regions in England and Wales by mid-May. One element of this pilot looks specifically at female offenders, given this cohort often have particularly complex needs. We will use the findings from this pilot to further inform how we take forward Lord Farmer’s recommendation.

Alex Chalk
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the 2019 Farmer Review for Women, what progress has been made on the introduction of a Personal Circumstances File for women in contact with the criminal justice system.

The Government has made good progress in implementing the recommendations of the Farmer Review for Women, since its publication in June 2019. Ten recommendations have already been implemented and a further eight are expected to be completed this year. Achievements so far include increased access to telephone contact in court custody suites, allowances for the increased use of Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL), amending the eligibility for Child Resettlement Leave to include primary carers as well as sole carers, and the rollout of video calling across the Women’s Estate.

As set out in the Female Offender Strategy, the Government is working to ensure women’s personal circumstances are identified and shared by all agencies in the criminal justice system, in order to inform decisions and support. Lord Farmer’s recommendation on the Personal Circumstances File forms part of this work.

We are also committed to increasing the delivery of quality and timely pre-sentence reports (PSRs) and understand the particular importance of PSRs for women. HM Prison and Probation Service has developed a Pre-Sentence Report interview checklist which focuses on the specific needs of female offenders. Following a series of briefing events, this was rolled out nationally in August 2019 and is available to all practitioners.

Additionally, in the Sentencing White Paper we committed to ensuring that probation staff are supported to deliver a high standard of reports and to significantly increase the proportion of court disposals which benefit from a PSR. This pilot has now launched, and will be in all 15 pilot magistrate courts across 10 probation regions in England and Wales by mid-May. One element of this pilot looks specifically at female offenders, given this cohort often have particularly complex needs. We will use the findings from this pilot to further inform how we take forward Lord Farmer’s recommendation.

Alex Chalk
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what progress has been made on implementing the recommendations of the 2019 Farmer Review For Women.

The Government has made good progress in implementing the recommendations of the Farmer Review for Women, since its publication in June 2019. Ten recommendations have already been implemented and a further eight are expected to be completed this year. Achievements so far include increased access to telephone contact in court custody suites, allowances for the increased use of Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL), amending the eligibility for Child Resettlement Leave to include primary carers as well as sole carers, and the rollout of video calling across the Women’s Estate.

As set out in the Female Offender Strategy, the Government is working to ensure women’s personal circumstances are identified and shared by all agencies in the criminal justice system, in order to inform decisions and support. Lord Farmer’s recommendation on the Personal Circumstances File forms part of this work.

We are also committed to increasing the delivery of quality and timely pre-sentence reports (PSRs) and understand the particular importance of PSRs for women. HM Prison and Probation Service has developed a Pre-Sentence Report interview checklist which focuses on the specific needs of female offenders. Following a series of briefing events, this was rolled out nationally in August 2019 and is available to all practitioners.

Additionally, in the Sentencing White Paper we committed to ensuring that probation staff are supported to deliver a high standard of reports and to significantly increase the proportion of court disposals which benefit from a PSR. This pilot has now launched, and will be in all 15 pilot magistrate courts across 10 probation regions in England and Wales by mid-May. One element of this pilot looks specifically at female offenders, given this cohort often have particularly complex needs. We will use the findings from this pilot to further inform how we take forward Lord Farmer’s recommendation.

Alex Chalk
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
14th Apr 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the Prison Reform Trust’s report, No life, no freedom, no future, published December 2020, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of repealing IPP sentences.

While the Government has no plans to repeal IPP sentences, it keeps the operation of those sentences under review. The focus is on ensuring, via a joint HMPPS/Parole Board action plan, that IPP prisoners have every opportunity to progress towards safe release.

This approach is working, with high numbers of unreleased IPP prisoners achieving a release decision each year. All IPP prisoners will have their continued detention reviewed by the independent Parole Board at least once every two years.

Alex Chalk
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
22nd Jun 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department has made of the prevalence of use of non-disclosure agreements by legal professionals; and what steps his department is taking to help ensure that non-disclosure agreements are not misused.

The legal profession in England and Wales is independent of Government and legal professionals are regulated by a number of regulators including the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Bar Standards Board (BSB). Legal professionals must comply with a detailed Code of Conduct, which ensures that high standards of conduct are met.

The SRA has issued guidance via a warning notice to all regulated individuals and entities on the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). The SRA warning notice confirms that they consider NDAs to be improperly used if they prevent a person from reporting misconduct, making a protected disclosure, reporting an offence or cooperating with criminal activity. The SRA has also been taking enforcement action against solicitors over the misuse of NDAs.

The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy has published its response to views on consultation on confidentiality clauses. This proposes new legislation to further protect consumers in the provision of such legal services and deter rogue practice.

Alex Chalk
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
28th May 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of the recommendations of the Law Society's submission to Criminal Legal Aid Review, published in February 2020.

In order to focus on the most pressing issues for practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic we agreed to temporarily pause our work on the Criminal Legal Aid Review in order to focus on short term sustainability issues. We will return to the review, which has a wider focus on long term sustainability of the criminal legal aid market as quickly as we can, while doing all we can to mitigate the current crisis and support justice recovery.

On 28 February 2020, as part of the review, we launched a consultation on policy proposals for the “Criminal legal Aid Review - An accelerated package of measures amending the criminal legal aid fee schemes”. This consultation remains open and we continue to engage with various stakeholder and representative bodies and value the contributions being made. Once the consultation closes, the Government will publish its response after carefully considering the issues raised by the Law Society and others who respond to the consultation.

Alex Chalk
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice)
21st Feb 2020
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps the Government is taking to rehabilitate prisoners convicted of terrorism offences; and which (a) organisations and (b) individuals provide rehabilitation programmes to prisoners convicted of terrorism offences.

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) use tailored interventions with offenders - psychological, ideological and theological - to support their disengagement and rehabilitation.

We continue to regularly review Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) intervention programmes to ensure they are informed by the most up to date research on correctional rehabilitation. Interventions are delivered by in-house HMPPS CT specialists or through a range of external providers. We are unable to disclose further information regarding external providers as we are concerned about the adverse impact disclosure will have on national security.

More widely, we have trained over 29,000 prison staff to recognise, report and challenge extremist behaviour in prison. HMPPS works closely with partners, including with law enforcement, to understand and manage the risks that terrorist offenders present in prison, using a range of control and rehabilitation measures. This is underpinned by a specialist counter terrorism case management process, which is led by HMPPS Counter Terrorism specialists.

Lucy Frazer
Minister of State (Ministry of Justice)