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Written Question
Private Rented Housing: Fire Prevention
Thursday 14th July 2022

Asked by: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of non-qualifying buy-to-let landlords with more than two leasehold properties who (1) are unable to sell their properties, and (2) are unable to afford the fire safety remedial work.

Answered by Lord Harrington of Watford - Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

We are clear that leaseholders are no longer the first port of call to pay to fix building safety defects, we have taken action to support all leaseholders. The Building Safety Act will require that historical safety defects in any building above 11 metres or five storeys owned by the developer who built or refurbished it, or by a landlord associated with that developer, must be fixed by them. And over 45 developers have signed up to our developer pledge to fix their own buildings. This will benefit all leaseholders in the building.

In addition, leaseholders, including those with more than three properties may also benefit from government grant funding for the removal of unsafe cladding.

Where more than three properties are owned, the principal home always qualifies for the leaseholder protections, capping liability for building safety remediation costs on this property. We have also made changes to enable compensation to be sought through the civil courts for historic building safety defects from those responsible. We are, therefore, not planning to provide low-interest long term loans to non-qualifying buy-to-lent landlords.

The risk of bankruptcy is subject to personal circumstances and usually as a result of a myriad of factors. The action that the government has taken in legislation is to reduce this risk for the majority of people, regardless of their circumstances, when previously they would have faced exorbitant bills. We would hope that following the action we have taken no leaseholder, regardless of how many properties they own, will now face the risk of bankruptcy. We understand that those with multiple properties are better insulated from this risk.


Written Question
Private Rented Housing: Fire Prevention
Thursday 14th July 2022

Asked by: Lord Bishop of St Albans (Bishops - Bishops)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of non-qualifying buy-to-let landlords with two or more leasehold properties who will go bankrupt due to being unable to afford fire safety remedial work.

Answered by Lord Harrington of Watford - Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

We are clear that leaseholders are no longer the first port of call to pay to fix building safety defects, we have taken action to support all leaseholders. The Building Safety Act will require that historical safety defects in any building above 11 metres or five storeys owned by the developer who built or refurbished it, or by a landlord associated with that developer, must be fixed by them. And over 45 developers have signed up to our developer pledge to fix their own buildings. This will benefit all leaseholders in the building.

In addition, leaseholders, including those with more than three properties may also benefit from government grant funding for the removal of unsafe cladding.

Where more than three properties are owned, the principal home always qualifies for the leaseholder protections, capping liability for building safety remediation costs on this property. We have also made changes to enable compensation to be sought through the civil courts for historic building safety defects from those responsible. We are, therefore, not planning to provide low-interest long term loans to non-qualifying buy-to-lent landlords.

The risk of bankruptcy is subject to personal circumstances and usually as a result of a myriad of factors. The action that the government has taken in legislation is to reduce this risk for the majority of people, regardless of their circumstances, when previously they would have faced exorbitant bills. We would hope that following the action we have taken no leaseholder, regardless of how many properties they own, will now face the risk of bankruptcy. We understand that those with multiple properties are better insulated from this risk.


Written Question
Armed Forces: Separated People
Wednesday 6th July 2022

Asked by: Emma Hardy (Labour - Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle)

Question to the Ministry of Defence:

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the level of support available to families and partners of members of the armed forces upon the breakdown of their relationship.

Answered by Leo Docherty - Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

As stated in the newly published UK Armed Forces Families Strategy, we are committed to supporting all types of family across the Armed Forces community.

The Strategy and associated action plan have been developed from a robust evidence base and are the result of wide stakeholder engagement. The need to promote inclusivity and encourage an increasingly diverse Armed Forces is a central tenet of the Strategy, and supporting families going through relationship breakdown is explicitly referenced.

Every relationship breakdown is different but when the couple have reached the decision to notify their unit of a permanent separation, the serving person, as the licence holder for the Service Family Accommodation (SFA) and the partner with the entitlement to service provided accommodation, is obligated to inform the Loss of Entitlement Team who will issue the 93-day Notice To Vacate (NTV). The policies we have in place are focused on supporting non-serving partners’ transition to the next phase of their life and, where the service person also stands to lose their entitlement to families’ accommodation, supporting them to move into Single Living Accommodation (SLA).

This is often a very stressful time for both partners and of course, if relevant, children who are impacted by the relationship breakdown. In recognition of this, a Proportionality Exercise is conducted at the same time as the NTV is issued to determine if there are factors to warrant occupation beyond the 93-day period which will include schooling, medical or welfare needs. During this initial 93 days the non-serving partner is not liable for accommodation charges as these remain with the licence holder and the Loss of Entitlement Team will work with our welfare agencies to look at available options.

Emergency housing is provided by Defence’s Cotswold Centre for those returning from overseas or experiencing Domestic Abuse, along with contact houses for service personnel to have custody and time with their children in a safe and suitable environment.

Joint Service Publication (JSP) 100, Defence Holistic Transition policy, supports referral or self-referrals of partners and spouses of Service personnel to Defence Transition Services (DTS) which delivers a full range of transition support, providing tailored information and guidance. DTS can help with issues and provide support and guidance on subjects including health, accommodation, relocation, finance, training, education, and employment. Those who are supported by DTS would be referred to a Local Authority if there was a risk of homelessness.

The Ministry of Defence also works with the charitable sector at the community level to identify those in need of relationship support, improving awareness of existing provision and signposting to services. In addition, work is ongoing to promote understanding of Armed Forces life in the Family Courts system.


Written Question
Prison Sentences
Thursday 30th June 2022

Asked by: Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party - Strangford)

Question to the Ministry of Justice:

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of prison sentences given to offenders; and what assessment he has made of the potential impact of longer sentences for offenders.

Answered by James Cartlidge

The government’s top priority is protecting the public; it is essential that we have a sentencing framework that delivers this and ensures victims and the wider public have confidence that the punishment fits the crime in every case.

In 2020, the Government published a Sentencing White Paper and consequently delivered measures in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act which received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022. Measures include ending automatic halfway release from prison for serious crimes, making a Whole Life Order the starting point for a premeditated murder of a child and a new power to refer high-risk offenders to Parole Board in place of automatic release.

While prisons keep people safe by taking dangerous criminals off our streets, we recognise that they can only bring down crime and keep the public safer in the longer-term if they properly reform and rehabilitate offenders. We therefore published the Prisons Strategy White Paper in December 2021 where we re-iterated our commitment to help individual turn their backs on crime and we will spend £200 million a year by 2024-25 to improve prison leavers’ access to accommodation, employment support and substance misuse treatment.


Written Question
Family Proceedings
Thursday 16th June 2022

Asked by: Esther McVey (Conservative - Tatton)

Question to the Ministry of Justice:

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the courts consideration of the welfare of children during private law children proceedings in the context of (a) safety measures (b) therapy services and (c) the Child Arrangements Programme.

Answered by James Cartlidge

The Implementation Plan, published in response to ‘Assessing the Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Proceedings’, outlined the Government’s assessment of the expert panel’s report and committed to a number of actions to reform the system, including the Child Arrangements Programme and improving safety at court. Since then, measures to better protect victims of domestic abuse and their children in the family court have been introduced via Sections 63, 65 and 67 of the Domestic Abuse Act. In addition, we are testing reforms to the Child Arrangements Programme and seeking to enhance the voice of the child through the Investigative Approach pilot which has launched in Dorset and North Wales, and through the flexible case management provisions introduced by Practice Direction 36Y.

The Government intends to publish a full update on progress against commitments made in the Implementation Plan in due course.


Written Question
Judges: Family Proceedings
Wednesday 27th April 2022

Asked by: Emily Thornberry (Labour - Islington South and Finsbury)

Question to the Ministry of Justice:

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the adherence of judges in Family Courts to Practice Directions; and what steps he is taking to help ensure adherence to those Directions.

Answered by James Cartlidge

The Government has not made any overall assessment of the adherence of Family Court judges to Practice Directions. The independence of the judiciary is a fundamental principle in the constitutional separation of powers and the rule of law, and it would be inappropriate for ministers to comment on individual judicial decision making or the individual adherence of family court judges to Practice Directions. In 2019, the government announced a Call for Evidence to consider how effectively the family courts respond to allegations of domestic abuse and other risk of harm to children and parent victims in private law children proceedings, overseen by an Expert Panel. This call for evidence and the final report of the Expert Panel considered, amongst other things how Practice Direction 12J, Practice Direction 3AA and Part 3A of the Family Procedure Rules were being applied.

The Government is now working to deliver the commitments set out in the Implementation Plan published in response to the final report. As part of this, we are working with the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and Victims Commissioner to establish a monitoring and reporting mechanism to better understand what is happening in private law proceedings involving domestic abuse.


Written Question
Private Rented Housing: Sexual Offences
Wednesday 9th March 2022

Asked by: Virendra Sharma (Labour - Ealing, Southall)

Question to the Home Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to CPS guidance, Prostitution and Exploitation of Prostitution, revised on 4 January 2019, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to ensure that a victim of a sex for rent offence is not defined as a prostitute by prosecuting authorities.

Answered by Rachel Maclean

The Government is clear that exploitation through ‘sex for rent’ has no place in our society. There are two offences in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which can, and have, been used to successfully prosecute this practice the section 52 offence of causing or inciting prostitution for gain and the section 53 offence of controlling prostitution for gain). In January 2021, the CPS authorised the first charge for ‘sex for rent’ allegations under section 52. The individual against whom these allegations were made pleaded guilty to two counts of inciting prostitution for gain earlier this year.

Anyone making a report to the police would benefit from the anonymity provisions within the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992.

We recognise the need to stamp out this abhorrent practice and support those at risk of exploitation. We have already taken action around this to ensure prosecutors are clear on the law. In 2019 the CPS amended their guidance on ‘Prostitution and Exploitation of Prostitution’ to include specific reference to the potential availability of charges for offences under sections 52 and 53 for ‘sex for rent’ arrangements.

In addition, we recognise the importance of preventing individuals being exploited through this practice. To better protect tenants from rogue landlords who have been convicted of certain criminal offences, we introduced banning orders through the Housing and Planning Act 2016 – these orders prohibits named individuals from engaging in letting and property management work.

We are committed to ensuring we have the right measures in place to tackle this practice. As we made clear during the debate at Commons Consideration of Lords amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, we will be launching a consultation before summer recess on the issue of sex for rent, including the effectiveness of existing legislation. This would provide a useful opportunity to work with the police, CPS and others (including victims) to better understand this issue and the effectiveness of the current law, the case for a bespoke offence and whether further measures may be beneficial. It will also be important to ensure that any bespoke offence worked with both the Online Safety Bill provisions and the existing prostitution offences.


Written Question
Deportation: Zimbabwe
Monday 7th March 2022

Asked by: Patrick Grady (Independent - Glasgow North)

Question to the Home Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of suspending the deportation flight to Zimbabwe scheduled for 2 March 2022 in the context of violence against political opposition supporters in that country in recent days.

Answered by Tom Pursglove - Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)

We make no apology for seeking to remove those with no right to remain in the UK and foreign criminals. That is why we regularly operate charter flights to different countries - to remove foreign criminals who abuse our hospitality by committing crimes here, and those who have no right to be in a country, but refuse to leave voluntarily.

Individuals are only returned to their country of origin where claims have been unsuccessful, and the Home Office and, where applicable, the Courts deem it is safe to do so, with a safe route of return. By definition, those persons do not need protection and are not at risk on return.

We are monitoring the situation there, working with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Our general assessment of risk for political opponents to the government remains set out in our published country policy and information note of September 2021.


Written Question
Ministry of Justice: Coronavirus
Friday 4th March 2022

Asked by: Philip Davies (Conservative - Shipley)

Question to the Ministry of Justice:

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will take steps to ensure that his Department and its agencies remove all internal covid-19 related policies, restrictions and mask mandates.

Answered by James Cartlidge

The announcement of the ‘Living With Covid’ strategy means all Covid-related restrictions across the courts in England and Wales have been reviewed, and will be removed as quickly as possible.

Throughout the pandemic, all Civil Service employers have followed government guidance in setting out their internal COVID-19 related policies. This includes complying with the ‘Working Safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance’ which sets out the key actions organisations should take to protect employees and customers, in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in workplaces, along with carrying out health and safety risk assessments that include the ongoing risk from COVID-19.

On 21 February 2022, the Government published their COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19. This document sets out how and when the remaining restrictions will be lifted in England. Government guidance was subsequently amended, including the Working Safely guidance.

The Government’s Working Safely guidance, which was launched on 24 February, continues to require organisations to carry out a risk assessment which includes the risk from COVID-19. It also sets out additional actions organisations can take to protect employees and customers in the workplace, such as ensuring adequate ventilation, frequent cleaning, asking people to wash their hands frequently and asking people with COVID-19 to stay away. The guidance advises that people continue to wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed settings where they come into contact with people they do not normally meet, when rates of transmission are high. Civil Service employers will continue to follow this guidance and align their policies accordingly.


Written Question
Family Courts: Pilot Schemes
Tuesday 1st March 2022

Asked by: Dan Jarvis (Labour - Barnsley Central)

Question to the Ministry of Justice:

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent progress he has made on piloting (a) integrated domestic abuse courts and (b) other new types of family courts.

Answered by James Cartlidge

We are committed to improving the family court experience for survivors of domestic abuse and their children. On 21 February 2022, we launched the Integrated Domestic Abuse Court pilot in courts in Dorset and North Wales. The pilot is testing a new approach to dealing with certain private law proceedings. It moves away from the adversarial model and towards a more investigative, problem-solving approach based on the features and risk profile of a case. The pilot courts will be able to offer out of court issue resolution for cases with no safeguarding concerns by incorporating referral or signposting to local or digital resources.

Family Drug and Alcohol Courts are another new type of family court. These courts provide a problem-solving approach to care proceedings, specialising in alcohol and substance misuse. In this approach, a team of substance misuse specialists, domestic violence experts, psychiatrists and social workers carry out an early assessment and agree an intervention plan with parents who come before the court in care proceedings. The Family Drug and Alcohol Courts model is delivered by the Centre for Justice and Innovation, and the Department for Education is the lead government department with responsibility in this area.