Written Question
Trains: Carbon Dioxide
22 Sep 2020, 1:15 p.m.

Questioner: Daniel Kawczynski

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much carbon dioxide is emitted annually by diesel-only trains in the UK.

Answer (Chris Heaton-Harris)

Data from train and freight operating companies indicate that diesel train traction in Great Britain created 1,848 kilotonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) in the last financial year (2018-2019). This figure includes bi-mode diesel trains, as well as diesel-only trains.


Written Question
Railways: West Midlands
22 Sep 2020, 1:12 p.m.

Questioner: Daniel Kawczynski

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many people use the train service between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury annually on average.

Answer (Chris Heaton-Harris)

Passenger demand flows between specific stations and on specific routes are not publicly available as this data is commercially sensitive. However, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) publish data on the estimates of the total number of passengers entering and exiting each station in Great Britain.

The table below, which includes the number of station entries and exits at Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, may be of interest.

Total number of station entries and exits, 2018-19 financial year

Station name

Entries and exits

Shrewsbury

2,226,302

Wolverhampton

5,305,432

Data for additional stations and years are available at:

https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/statistics/usage/estimates-of-station-usage/


Written Question
Railways: West Midlands
22 Sep 2020, 1:12 p.m.

Questioner: Daniel Kawczynski

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many journeys are made on average annually between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton by train.

Answer (Chris Heaton-Harris)

Passenger demand flows between specific stations and on specific routes are not publicly available as this data is commercially sensitive. However, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) publish data on the estimates of the total number of passengers entering and exiting each station in Great Britain.

The table below, which includes the number of station entries and exits at Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, may be of interest.

Total number of station entries and exits, 2018-19 financial year

Station name

Entries and exits

Shrewsbury

2,226,302

Wolverhampton

5,305,432

Data for additional stations and years are available at:

https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/statistics/usage/estimates-of-station-usage/


Written Question
Organic Food
22 Sep 2020, 1:11 p.m.

Questioner: Bill Esterson

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to secure equivalence agreements for organic products with her international counterparts.

Answer (Victoria Prentis)

Defra is engaging with the 13 third countries with which we have organic equivalency arrangements and we expect to have arrangements in place for the end of the transition period. For countries with non-reciprocal arrangements, we will send them a letter confirming that we will continue to recognise their organic goods as we do now. For those countries with which we have reciprocal arrangements, we are updating the specific arrangements to reflect the end of the Transition Period.

In addition, the UK has proposed a technical annex which would include mutual recognition for organics as part of the Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU.


Written Question
Youth Investment Fund
22 Sep 2020, 1:08 p.m.

Questioner: Sara Britcliffe

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what the timescale is for the launch of the Youth Investment Fund.

Answer (Mr John Whittingdale)

DCMS officials are working at pace on plans for the Youth Investment Fund, and continue to assess how COVID-19 is impacting on young people and youth services. We continue to engage with the youth sector as plans develop, and will publish further details in due course.


Written Question
Data Protection: EU Law
22 Sep 2020, 1:04 p.m.

Questioner: Daniel Zeichner

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 9 September 2020 to Question 82137 on Data Protection: EU Law, what assessment he has made of the cost to businesses of accessing alternative legal mechanisms; and what plans the Government has in place to support businesses in accessing those mechanisms.

Answer (Mr John Whittingdale)

The UK is seeking data adequacy decisions from the EU under the GDPR and the Law Enforcement Directive (LED) and the EU’s adequacy assessment of the UK is underway. The UK remains confident that an adequacy agreement can be reached by the end of the transition period. However, we are taking sensible steps to prepare for a situation where this has not been achieved.

In such a scenario, organisations would be able to use alternative legal mechanisms to continue receiving personal data from the EU. Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) are the most common legal safeguard and will be the relevant mitigation for most organisations.The implementation cost for SCCs would vary between different organisations, in part depending on the size of the business in question.

DCMS is working with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to ensure that all available guidance is simple, straightforward and actionable. The ICO has created an interactive SCCs tool for businesses to use and further guidance can be found on GOV.UK and the ICO’s website regarding steps organisations may be required to take relating to data protection and data flows by the end of the transition period.


Written Question
Third Sector: Coronavirus
22 Sep 2020, 1:02 p.m.

Questioner: Jane Stevenson

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what financial support is available for (a) charities and (b) religious organisations to help them respond to the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Mr John Whittingdale)

The Government has made available an unprecedented £750 million package of support, specifically for charities, social enterprises and the voluntary sector. Religious activities are not eligible for this funding but religious organisations could be funded if their project benefits the wider community and does not include religious content. The funding is being allocated through the following ways:

£200 million is being distributed by the National Lottery Community Fund through the Coronavirus Community Support Fund which is available to smaller and local VCSE organisations, including religious organisations that provide charitable services in response to the outbreak.

£360 million has been allocated by central government departments with £200 million of this directly supporting hospices.

To support the BBC’s 'Big Night In', the Government matched the generous donations of the public across the country with grants for £20 million to the National Emergencies Trust who is working in Partnership with the UK Community Foundations and a further £17 million split between Comic Relief and Children in Need to issue grants to grassroots, local and community organisations providing charitable services during the outbreak.

£85 million has been allocated to the ‘Community Match Challenge’ which is matching funds raised by philanthropists, foundations and grant making organisations to further support organisations from across the country who are working with those who are most vulnerable and have been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak. This Fund closed for bids on 2nd August and the outcome will be announced shortly.

A further £4.8 million was allocated to the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership - a group that comes together to improve national and local coordination before, during and after emergencies - to help strengthen the voluntary sector’s response to coronavirus and future emergencies.

In addition to the £750million, a further £150m has been unlocked from dormant bank and building society accounts which are being directed to charities, social enterprises and individuals.


Written Question
Railways: Weather
22 Sep 2020, 1:02 p.m.

Questioner: Colleen Fletcher

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to improve the resilience of rail infrastructure to bad weather conditions to prevent delays and cancellations to rail services.

Answer (Chris Heaton-Harris)

Network Rail is undertaking a range of measures to improve the resilience to extremes of weather from active monitoring of rails at potential risk of buckling during hot weather to enable contingency plans to be enacted; to Emergency Weather Action Teams being stood up proactively in readiness to respond in advance of any extreme weather. Furthermore, in light of the tragic events at Stonehaven, NR were commissioned to produce a report in to improving the resilience of the network in response to extreme weather events. The interim report was published on 10 September and contained a range of short term and longer term actions which are being taken forward, including the creation of two task forces to look specifically the management of earthworks and the other to make best use of weather data. A full report will be published in due course.


Written Question
Children and Young People: Coronavirus
22 Sep 2020, 1 p.m.

Questioner: Mr Steve Baker

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to the report entitled Back on Track supporting young people out of lockdown, published by the YMCA in August 2020, if he will develop a strategy for children and young People’s recovery from covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown which targets (a) education, (b) reducing loneliness, (c) improving mental health, and (d) reducing family strain.

Answer (Mr John Whittingdale)

Ministers have received the YMCA report ‘Back On Track’ and will be carefully considering its contents.

The department is aware of the impact Covid-19 has had on young people. We have worked closely with both young people and the youth sector to understand the effects of the pandemic, and are considering how the £500 million Youth Investment Fund, alongside other government initiatives, can best support young people with the issues we know to have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

DCMS has also worked closely with departments across Whitehall to ensure rounded support for young people. The Department of Education has placed a particular focus on wellbeing support for children and young people during the pandemic and as young people return to school and college. This includes investing £8 million in the Wellbeing for Education Return training and advice programme, which will provide schools and colleges all over England with the knowledge and practical skills they need to support teachers, students and parents.


Written Question
Railways: Coronavirus
22 Sep 2020, 12:59 p.m.

Questioner: Daisy Cooper

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what covid-secure contingency plans he has for the railway network in the event of (a) signal failure and (b) other disruption.

Answer (Chris Heaton-Harris)

In the event of any disruption we expect operators to put in place mitigation measures, such as lifting ticket restrictions, providing rail replacement busses, or increasing train lengths where possible. Operators will work with the Department and Network Rail to remedy the underlying reason for the disruption. In any situation operators will adhere to their Covid-19 policies that have been put in place to comply with Government regulations and guidance, including providing clear advice and guidance to passengers about the disruption and mitigations put in place.


Written Question
UK Relations with EU
22 Sep 2020, 12:58 p.m.

Questioner: Mr David Lammy

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the rule of law and negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU.

Answer (Alex Chalk)

The Lord Chancellor speaks frequently with Cabinet colleagues on a range of matters. The Lord Chancellor remains committed to the Rule of Law, and through the Ministerial Code, all Ministers are required to consider their obligations against the overarching duty to comply with the law. The statement published on 10 September sets out the government’s legal position in relation to specific clauses in the UK Internal Market Bill.

The Government, as a whole, continues to pursue negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU and concluded the 8th round of negotiations on 10 September. Our position remains unchanged; we want a relationship with the EU which is based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals and centred on free trade.


Written Question
Prisoners' Release: Children
22 Sep 2020, 12:53 p.m.

Questioner: Mr David Lammy

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many children have been released from custody without a confirmed permanent address in the last 12 months.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

Decisions on accommodation for children under the age of 18 who leave custody are taken at local level, so this data is not held centrally by MoJ. Local Authority-led Youth Offending Teams work closely with young offender institutions, secure training centres and secure children’s homes on accommodation arrangements so that any issues can be identified and resolved as early as possible before release. Arrangements for the child or young person’s accommodation are reviewed at regular intervals and in addition to the statutory ‘Duty To Refer’ requirements, local protocols have been developed to allow for cases of particular concern to be escalated within the relevant local authority. The Local Authority has a duty to accommodate children upon their release from custody.


Written Question
Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-pacific Partnership
22 Sep 2020, 12:51 p.m.

Questioner: Anthony Mangnall

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what progress she has made on negotiating the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Answer (Mr Ranil Jayawardena)

Pursuing potential accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a priority for the HM Government and is a key part of our trade negotiations programme. We have engaged with all eleven member countries, at both ministerial and official level. Most recently, on 9th September 2020, my Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade addressed a United Kingdom-CPTPP Senior Officials’ meeting and all CPTPP members have welcomed our interest in accession. Prior to that, on 10th July 2020, the Secretary of State convened Heads of Mission from all CPTPP countries to discuss the United Kingdom’s potential accession. We will continue to engage all members as we consider our application, an approach that aligns with the accession process for new CPTPP members, which encourages countries to engage informally with every CPTPP member.


Written Question
Prisoners' Release: Females
22 Sep 2020, 12:49 p.m.

Questioner: Mr David Lammy

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many women have been released from prison without a confirmed permanent address in the last 12 months.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

The latest available and validated data for the accommodation status of women released from prison up to March 2020 are published at the following link under Table 11: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/community-performance-quarterly-update-to-march-2020.


Written Question
Acceleration Unit
22 Sep 2020, 12:49 p.m.

Questioner: Lilian Greenwood

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he plans to take to evaluate the effectiveness of the Transport Acceleration Unit.

Answer (Andrew Stephenson)

The members of the Acceleration Unit will engage positively with key stakeholders and colleagues across the department, government, and industry on a range of projects and programmes at varying stages of their lifecycle to deliver the best possible outcome from accelerating their delivery.

The Acceleration Unit aims to speed up the delivery of key projects and programmes which will be determined by the Secretary of State. A key element of the Unit’s work will be to put in place a means to judge the effectiveness of its interventions.

The Acceleration Unit Director Darren Shirley will assess the effectiveness of its activities in accordance with these criteria and report to the Secretary of State.


Written Question
Social Entitlement Chamber
22 Sep 2020, 12:41 p.m.

Questioner: Mr David Lammy

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many and what proportion of proceedings before the First-Tier Social Entitlement Chamber were attended by parties litigant in each of the last 10 years.

Answer (Chris Philp)

The information requested is not held centrally.

The term “litigant in person” (“party litigant” in Scotland) applies to appellants without a legal representative. In the First-tier Tribunal, Social Entitlement Chamber (SEC) any person may be permitted to act as a representative, including a friend or a relative.

The case management systems used in the tribunals of the SEC (Social Security and Child Support; Criminal Injuries Compensation; and Asylum Support) cannot provide a breakdown between different types of representative.


Written Question
Driving Licences: Applications
22 Sep 2020, 12:41 p.m.

Questioner: Derek Twigg

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many driving licence applications had been received but not processed on 30 August 2020; and what estimate he has made of the average time taken to process those applications.

Answer (Rachel Maclean)

The number of paper driving licence applications waiting to be processed fluctuates on a daily basis as licences are issued and new applications received. On 1 September, there were 127,870 paper driving licence applications where customers had applied directly to the DVLA, awaiting processing. As of 15 September, this had reduced to 94,920.

The average time taken to deal with driving licence applications received across online and paper channels is 5.26 days.


Written Question
Immigration: Appeals
22 Sep 2020, 12:40 p.m.

Questioner: Mr David Lammy

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many and what proportion of proceedings before the (a) First-Tier Immigration and Asylum Tribunal and (b) Upper-Tier Immigration and Asylum Tribunal were attended by parties litigant in each of the last 10 years.

Answer (Chris Philp)

The information requested is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

The term “litigant in person” (“party litigant” in Scotland) applies to appellants without a legal representative. In the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) and Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) any person may be permitted to act as a representative, including an immigration advisor, friend, relative or litigation friend. The case management system cannot provide a statistical breakdown between different types of representative.


Written Question
Employment Tribunals Service
22 Sep 2020, 12:35 p.m.

Questioner: Mr David Lammy

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many and what proportion of employment tribunals have been attended by parties litigant in each of the last 10 years.

Answer (Chris Philp)

The information requested is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

The term “litigant in person” (“party litigant” in Scotland) applies to Claimants without a legal representative. In the Employment Tribunal any person may be permitted to act as a representative, including a friend or relative.


Written Question
Bus Services
22 Sep 2020, 12:34 p.m.

Questioner: Robert Largan

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when his Department plans to publish its National Bus Strategy for England.

Answer (Rachel Maclean)

The Government remains committed to a National Bus Strategy and aims to publish by the end of the year.


Written Question
Dartford-Thurrock Crossing: Air Pollution
22 Sep 2020, 12:29 p.m.

Questioner: Sir David Evennett

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction in the number of crossings made on the Dartford Crossing during the covid-19 outbreak on air quality in the surrounding areas.

Answer (Rachel Maclean)

Highways England continuously monitor air quality on the Dartford Crossing and operate two automatic air quality stations either side of the A282. Monitoring station ID51 is located next to the northbound carriageway and monitoring station ID52 is next to the southbound carriageway.

The measured monthly average nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations between January and August (covering the COVID-19 lockdown period) for 2019 and 2020 are provided in Table 1.

Table 1 Air Quality Monitoring Data

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

Average March to July

Site 51 NB

2019

38.3

39.6

26.4

42.5

30.8

32.8

28.9

30.1

32.3

2020

21

13.6

16.7

20.2

25

24

18.6

30.7

20.9

Site 52 SB

2019

71.6

67.9

61.7

46.5

55.3

53.2

55.1

50.2

54.4

2020

58.1

51.8

43

32.7

35.3

38.4

42.4

42.7

38.4

As shown in Table 1 the impact of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions has led to a reduction in measured NO2 concentrations between March and July 2020 (bold figures), which corresponds to a reduction in traffic flows between the same time period.


Written Question
Roads: Hedgehogs
22 Sep 2020, 12:18 p.m.

Questioner: Steve Double

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 10 September 2020 to Question 84287 on Roads: Hedgehogs, what steps local highway authorities in England need to take to obtain the hedgehog warning signs announced by his Department on 17 June 2019.

Answer (Rachel Maclean)

Local highway authorities in England need to apply to the Department for an authorisation to use the small wild animal warning sign.


Written Question
Unmanned Marine Vehicles
22 Sep 2020, 12:10 p.m.

Questioner: Jonathan Edwards

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) progress by other countries in developing marine autonomous unmanned surface vehicles and (b) ability of Royal Navy submarines to avoid detection by those vehicles.

Answer (James Heappey)

The Ministry of Defence audits the integrity of our submarine fleet regularly for all threats and acts to ensure that it maintains the highest possible standards. The oceans are, and will remain, complex and challenging environments in which to conduct large-scale anti-submarine warfare despite technological advancements.

I am unable to make specific comment on the UK's assessment of other countries' autonomous unmanned surface vehicles for the purposes of safeguarding national security as disclosure would be likely to prejudice the defence of the UK and the capability and effectiveness of the Armed Forces.


Written Question
Unmanned Marine Vehicles
22 Sep 2020, 12:10 p.m.

Questioner: Jonathan Edwards

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what estimate he has made of the number of countries that (a) have developed and (b) are developing marine autonomous unmanned surface vehicles to detect submarines.

Answer (James Heappey)

The Ministry of Defence audits the integrity of our submarine fleet regularly for all threats and acts to ensure that it maintains the highest possible standards. The oceans are, and will remain, complex and challenging environments in which to conduct large-scale anti-submarine warfare despite technological advancements.

I am unable to make specific comment on the UK's assessment of other countries' autonomous unmanned surface vehicles for the purposes of safeguarding national security as disclosure would be likely to prejudice the defence of the UK and the capability and effectiveness of the Armed Forces.


Written Question
Church of England: Coronavirus
22 Sep 2020, 11:46 a.m.

Questioner: Jim Shannon

Question

To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what assessment the Church of England has made of the effectiveness of its communication strategy during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Andrew Selous)

The most recent assessment of the effectiveness of the Church of England’s Communications strategy during the covid-19 outbreak was prepared for the General Synod in June 2020. The full document can be read here:

https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-06/GS%20Misc%201249%20Covid-19%20Response.pdf