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Written Question
Renewable Energy: Subsidies
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: Fleur Anderson (LAB - Putney)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he plans to (a) phase out the subsidies for electricity companies that burn wood from cutting down forests and (b) increase subsidies for the production of electricity from solar and wind power.

Answered by Anne-Marie Trevelyan

This Government has a long tradition of supporting clean electricity, and we have announced ambitious plans to support up to 12GW capacity of renewable electricity in the next allocation round of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, which would be double what was secured in the previous round.

The Government announced in March 2020 that solar projects, onshore wind, floating wind and remote island wind will be able to bid for contracts in the next CfD allocation round, which is planned to open in December this year. The scheme has already awarded contracts to around 800MW of onshore wind and solar capacity combined, alongside 13GW of offshore wind.

We recently announced that coal-to-biomass conversions will be excluded from future CfD allocation rounds. This means there will be no new coal-to-biomass conversions under the scheme. We have no plans to remove support for biomass conversions prior to 2027 for generating stations that are already supported under the Renewables Obligation and CfD schemes.

In the Government’s response to the Climate Change Committee’s annual progress report to Parliament, we announced that we will publish a new Biomass Strategy in 2022. This strategy will review what amount of sustainable biomass could be available to the UK and how this resource could be best utilised across the economy to help eliminate the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050.

Sustainable Biomass is a renewable organic material, such as food waste, wood residues or other plant material which has a wide array of applications including as a substitute for fossil-fuel based energy production, but with lower associated carbon emissions because the carbon that is released from the organic material was sequestered recently from the atmosphere, compared to fossil fuels where the carbon was sequestered millions of years ago.

The UK only supports biomass which complies with strict sustainability criteria which take into account a range of social, economic, and environmental issues including protecting biodiversity, land use rights, sustainable harvesting, and regeneration rates. They ensure that the carbon stock of the forest from which the pellets are derived is not decreased, by requiring that biomass fuels are from forest waste wood and residues and the forest owner adheres to the relevant legal requirements, to protect biodiversity and the environment.


Written Question
Abortion: Northern Ireland
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: Diana Johnson (LAB - Kingston upon Hull North)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what timeframe he plans to agree with the Minister of Health in Northern Ireland on the introduction of a fully funded and commissioned abortion service; and what steps he is taking to ensure that service is made available.

Answered by Robin Walker

We made the Abortion Regulations in March 2020 - and remain disappointed with the continuing failure to commission abortion services that are consistent with the Regulations to ensure women and girls have safe local access to this healthcare service. While medical professionals have taken forward some service provision on the ground in Northern Ireland from last April and over 1,100 abortions have been provided to date, more needs to be done.

We have always said that we believe that the commissioning of services by the Department of Health would remain the most appropriate way to progress the matter. However, after a year of engaging to see positive progress made, with no success, the legal duties and moral obligations are such that we have taken further action.

The Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021, which came into effect on 31 March 2021, give the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland a power to direct relevant Northern Ireland Ministers, departments and agencies to commission abortion services, consistent with the conditions set out in the 2020 Regulations.

We will not let progress be drawn out indefinitely. We are clear that we want to see concrete progress towards the commissioning of abortion services before summer recess, and if this is not achieved, we will not hesitate in issuing a direction immediately so direct action is taken so that the rights of women and girls can be properly upheld and they can have safe and lawful access to abortion services locally.

We will continue to engage with the Department of Health to try and find a way forward and will provide every opportunity to move forward with commissioning before we have to issue the direction.


Written Question
Heating: Standards
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: Steve Baker (CON - Wycombe)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he plans to publish his Department's review of Microgeneration Certification Scheme Planning Standard MCS-020 relating to heat pumps.

Answered by Anne-Marie Trevelyan

The Microgeneration Certification Scheme Planning Standard MCS-020 is maintained by the quality assurance organisation MCS. Whilst BEIS has not carried out a review of the standard, the Department is in regular contact with stakeholders regarding heat pump deployment and uptake. Recently, this has included engaging with local authorities on noise, which is one of the issues covered in MCS-020.


Written Question
Electricity Interconnectors: Morocco
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: Ben Lake (PC - Ceredigion)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of proposals for a high voltage direct current transmission line from Morocco to the UK.

Answered by Anne-Marie Trevelyan

The UK is supportive of electricity interconnection with other markets. We have not undertaken a specific assessment of the merits of a transmission line from Morocco to the UK. The regulation of specific interconnector projects within the existing regulatory framework is a matter for Ofgem as the independent regulator.


Written Question
AWE Aldermaston
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: John Healey (LAB - Wentworth and Dearne)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what estimate he has made of projected total cost of project PEGASUS.

Answered by Jeremy Quin

The existing approved cost of Project PEGASUS is £634 million. Following a pause to reassess the requirements for the project, it will now run in two phases. Firstly, the delivery of the store capability, which is due to complete by June 2025. The second stage will be the manufacturing capability, and an assessment phase is underway to determine the best value for money solution with a target for delivery of the first unit in 2030.


Written Question
AWE Aldermaston
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: John Healey (LAB - Wentworth and Dearne)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when he expects project PEGASUS to be completed.

Answered by Jeremy Quin

The existing approved cost of Project PEGASUS is £634 million. Following a pause to reassess the requirements for the project, it will now run in two phases. Firstly, the delivery of the store capability, which is due to complete by June 2025. The second stage will be the manufacturing capability, and an assessment phase is underway to determine the best value for money solution with a target for delivery of the first unit in 2030.


Written Question
Mali: Peacekeeping Operations
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: Kevan Jones (LAB - North Durham)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many personnel involved in the UK Task Force in Mali have tested positive for covid-19 to date.

Answered by James Heappey

Since March 2020, there have been 24 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 amongst Service personnel deployed to the UK Task Force in Mali.


Written Question
AWE Burghfield
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: John Healey (LAB - Wentworth and Dearne)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what estimate he has made of the projected total cost for MENSA.

Answered by Jeremy Quin

The approved cost of Project MENSA, the new-build warhead assembly and disassembly facility at AWE Burghfield, is £1.8 billion.


Written Question
Broadband: Voucher Schemes
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: Ben Lake (PC - Ceredigion)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what length of time his Department constitutes in the near future for the purposes of determining premises eligible for support under the Gigabit Voucher Scheme.

Answered by Matt Warman

Ofcom, the market regulator, has identified areas where network providers are likely to build gigabit-capable connectivity via the Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review (WFTMR) they conducted in 2020. The decisions were a result of an extensive consultation programme with the market, and we have taken their view as a starting point for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. By using Ofcom’s classifications for assessing the likelihood of commercial investment in an area, it ensures the voucher scheme is consistent across the UK.

The data that is used to assess the eligibility criteria for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) changes according to the dynamic nature of commercial activity so postcodes or premises can come in and out of scope for a variety of reasons. We will continue to build on that view as we gather more data from Open Market Reviews and Public Reviews that are taking place over the coming months. As our understanding of network providers’ build plans develops, voucher eligibility will be reviewed. We will complete regular performance reviews of the voucher scheme and make adjustments where necessary.

As set out in the ‘Project Gigabit: Phase One Delivery Plan’, the GBVS is one part of the wider Project Gigabit, and it works alongside gigabit procurements as we work towards the target of gigabit-capable connectivity. Ineligibility for a voucher doesn’t mean that government support won’t be available in the future via other interventions; if it becomes clear that premises are unlikely to benefit from a commercially delivered gigabit programme within a reasonable timeframe, then DCMS will take action to address this market failure.


Written Question
Artificial Intelligence: Standards
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (LAB - Slough)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Government is seeking international regulatory standards and safeguards on the development of artificial intelligence.

Answered by Matt Warman

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform our lives, unlock high-skilled jobs, and increase productivity.

The UK has a history of innovation-friendly approaches to regulation, in areas such as FinTech, HealthTech and online harms, and is committed to ensuring the necessary regulations exist to provide assurance and confidence around the development and use of new and emerging technologies.

The UK is playing a leading role in international discussions on AI ethics and potential regulations, including work at the Council of Europe, UNESCO, the OECD and the Global Partnership on AI , and we will continue to work with international partners including the European Union and the US to support the development of the rules around the use of AI for the benefit of our economies and societies.

Furthermore, the UK recently published Guidelines on AI Procurement in collaboration with the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These guidelines will inform and empower public sector buyers across nations, helping them to evaluate suppliers, then confidently and responsibly procure AI technologies, which meet high ethical standards, for the benefit of their citizens.


Written Question
Students: Greater London
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: Janet Daby (LAB - Lewisham East)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to plans to suspend free travel in London for people aged under 18, what plans he has to financially support students attending (a) school and (b) college from low-income backgrounds in London.

Answered by Nick Gibb

Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide free home to school transport for eligible pupils. A pupil is eligible if they are aged between 5 to 16, attend their nearest suitable school, live more than the statutory walking distance from it, or could not reasonably be expected to walk there because of their special educational needs, a disability or mobility problem, or because the route is unsafe.

There are additional entitlements to free home to school transport for those children who are from low income families. National taxpayers will continue to fund free travel for eligible pupils. The Mayor of London has announced plans to fund travel for other under 18s through an increase in council tax and the continuation of temporary changes made to the congestion charge.

In addition, the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund is allocated directly to schools and colleges to support young people who may need additional support with costs such as transport.

As part of the latest Extraordinary Funding and Financing Agreement, agreed on 1 June, Transport for London is pushing forward an ambitious active travel plan to promote cycling and walking. These measures will enable short journeys to be made safely via active travel.


Written Question
Dementia: Research
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: James Davies (CON - Vale of Clwyd)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, when his Department plans to set out a timeline for the implementation of the dementia moonshot.

Answered by Helen Whately

The Government is committed to supporting research into dementia and to delivering a moonshot. Later in 2021, we will bring forward a new dementia strategy to set out our plans for dementia research, care, support and awareness in England for future years.


Written Question
Broadband: Ceredigion
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: Ben Lake (PC - Ceredigion)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, how many proposals were received from alternative network providers to improve broadband connectivity in Ceredigion through the Broadband Upgrade Fund.

Answered by Matt Warman

A total of 50 approved areas of interest in Ceredigion were created by suppliers through the broadband Upgrade Fund website.


Written Question
Renewable Energy: Hydrogen
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: Peter Aldous (CON - Waveney)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the UK's potential to produce hydrogen from offshore renewable energy between (a) 2021 and 2025 and (b) 2025 and 2030.

Answered by Anne-Marie Trevelyan

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan confirmed our aim, working with industry, for 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for use across the economy.

The UK has abundant sources of renewable electricity, and the Prime Minister has made a further commitment to deploying 40 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, alongside further deployment of onshore wind.

Our ongoing work with stakeholders suggests there is a strong pipeline of electrolytic hydrogen projects ready to deploy in the 2020s, building on our existing investment in research and innovation to ensure we can achieve the scale up in low carbon hydrogen production necessary to meet our future energy needs.

The forthcoming UK Hydrogen Strategy will set out further detail on the role of hydrogen production technologies in meeting our 5GW ambition, including electrolytic projects using offshore and onshore wind as a primary electricity input. This ambition will be supported by a range of measures, including a £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, and our preferred long term, sustainable business model, which we will finalise in 2022. We will be consulting shortly on these measures, alongside the publication of the UK Hydrogen Strategy.


Written Question
Renewable Energy: Hydrogen
15 Jun 2021

Questioner: Peter Aldous (CON - Waveney)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent assessment he has made of the UK's potential to produce hydrogen from onshore renewable energy between (a) 2021 and 2025 and (b) 2025 and 2030.

Answered by Anne-Marie Trevelyan

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan confirmed our aim, working with industry, for 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for use across the economy.

The UK has abundant sources of renewable electricity, and the Prime Minister has made a further commitment to deploying 40 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, alongside further deployment of onshore wind.

Our ongoing work with stakeholders suggests there is a strong pipeline of electrolytic hydrogen projects ready to deploy in the 2020s, building on our existing investment in research and innovation to ensure we can achieve the scale up in low carbon hydrogen production necessary to meet our future energy needs.

The forthcoming UK Hydrogen Strategy will set out further detail on the role of hydrogen production technologies in meeting our 5GW ambition, including electrolytic projects using offshore and onshore wind as a primary electricity input. This ambition will be supported by a range of measures, including a £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, and our preferred long term, sustainable business model, which we will finalise in 2022. We will be consulting shortly on these measures, alongside the publication of the UK Hydrogen Strategy.