Written Question
New Businesses: Remote Working
10 Aug 2020, 4:08 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to assist and support new small independent businesses to start up to cater for the needs of the increasing numbers of home workers across the UK.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

In the context of supporting employers during Coronavirus as the economy reopens, from 1 August Government will give employers more discretion on how their employees carry out their roles. We would expect employers and employees to discuss their working arrangements and the best way that roles can be carried out safely. Working from home is one way to do this, but workplaces can also be made COVID-secure using Government guidance if employers wish their workforce to return to the workplace.

Regarding wider support for new businesses who wish to start up, or existing businesses wishing to scale up, all advice, guidance – including employee support, tools to identify the right finance, and checklists for setting up the business in line with regulations – is provided nationally on the gov.uk website, via the government-backed British Business Bank (BBB) online Finance Hub and in England through the network of 38 government-backed growth hubs.

In England, small and medium-sized businesses that are adversely affected by coronavirus will have access to grants of between £1,000 - £5,000 (typical grant £3,000) to help them access new technology and other equipment as well as professional, legal, financial or other advice to help them get back on track. This will be available through the existing network of growth hubs, or where there is no growth hub in the area, via an existing ERDF business support provider.


Written Question
Green Homes Grant Scheme
6 Aug 2020, 3:15 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Truscott

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish a list of approved contractors to operate the Green Homes Grant Scheme.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

Businesses and Tradespeople must register for TrustMark accreditation to take part in the scheme if they are not already registered.

TrustMark is the Government-endorsed quality scheme covering work a consumer chooses to have carried out on their home. Households will be able to choose from approved tradespeople in their areas to carry out the work, but only approved and accredited installers will be able to be commissioned, ensuring high standards and consumer protection.


Written Question
Green Homes Grant Scheme
6 Aug 2020, 3:14 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Truscott

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether they have recruited a sufficient number of assessors to launch the Green Homes Grant Scheme in September as previously announced.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

Retrofit assessors will not form a mandatory part of the Green Homes Grant, although applicants are encouraged to consult an assessor if they wish.

Building the capacity and skills for retrofit assessment, and energy efficiency improvements more broadly, is an important part of the Green Homes Grant and will be achieved both through direct support and by ensuring the supply-chain has the confidence to recruit and train.

The Government endorsed Simple Energy Advice service is designed to provide households with online advice and recommendations on the energy efficiency and heating improvements which they can make to their homes. Households will be able to apply for a Green Home voucher via the Simple Energy Advice service and will be encouraged to use the service to select the most appropriate measure or measures for their property.


Written Question
Green Homes Grant Scheme
6 Aug 2020, 3:14 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Truscott

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to announce the range of measures that make up the Green Homes Grant Scheme; and how that Scheme will operate.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The range of measures has now been announced.

The Green Homes Grants will give homeowners, including owner occupiers and social/private landlords, vouchers to install one or more of the following:

  • Solid wall, under-floor, cavity wall or roof insulation;
  • Air source or ground source heat pump; or
  • Solar thermal.

In addition, households can use their voucher for further energy saving measures. These include one or more of the following:

  • Double or triple glazing/secondary glazing, when replacing single glazing;
  • Energy efficient replacement doors; and
  • Hot water tank/appliance tank thermostats/heating controls.

The new scheme will see the Government fund up to two thirds of the cost of home improvements of over 600,000 homes, supporting over 100,000 jobs in green construction. Consumers in England will be able to claim the new vouchers, which are worth up to £5,000. Households on low income can receive vouchers covering 100% of the cost of the improvements, up to a maximum of £10,000.


Written Question
Carillion: Audit
6 Aug 2020, 12:44 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether (1) KPMG, and (2) the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, are involved in any of their work dealing with international accounting standards and dividends payments; and if so, what assessment they have made of whether such involvement is appropriate in the light of reports that the Official Receiver is seeking to take action against KPMG over alleged negligence in its audits of Carillion.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government announced as part of its response to the consultation on Insolvency and Corporate Governance that it would look further at options for strengthening of the legal framework governing dividend payments in a proportionate way. In that context, the Department asked the ICAEW for technical advice on ways in which potential new distributable reserves disclosure requirements might be framed. The ICAEW was also asked to consider how its Guidance on Realised and Distributable Profits (Tech 02/17BL) might be simplified and clarified. It has subsequently published an Introduction to the Law on Dividends which includes an explanation of the role and content of its technical guidance.

The Government believes that it is appropriate to receive views and advice on accountancy matters from a wide and balanced range of expert stakeholders including the ICAEW and KPMG. In relation to international accounting standards, members of KPMG and ICAEW have attended meetings and have input into discussions and consultations since the standards were introduced in the UK.

Consistent with his duties as a liquidator, the Official Receiver has investigated whether Carillion may have a claim against KPMG for losses resulting from the conduct of its statutory audit and is considering pursuing a claim in this regard. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.


Written Question
Accountancy: Standards
6 Aug 2020, 12:43 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the probity of the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation following the case of ZAO Askeri-ACCA v International Accounting Standards Committee Foundations ([2004] EWHC 2939 (Ch)); and what plans they have to conclude such an assessment before committing any taxpayer funds to the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government is discussing a license agreement for International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) with the IFRS Foundation. We are content that we will be able to conclude a legally satisfactory agreement. This is in line with the Government’s commitment to maintain use of IFRS after the end of the Transition Period.

The case of ZAO Askeri-ACCA v International Accounting Standards Committee Foundations ([2004] EWHC 2939 (Ch)) was heard 16 years ago regarding a contract with the IFRS Foundation’s predecessor organisation. The Government does not believe this case to be relevant to any discussions between the Government and the IFRS Foundation.


Written Question
Accountancy: Standards
6 Aug 2020, 12:42 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to conduct an investigation into (1) past inconsistencies in the registered addresses and the address for legal service of documents of the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation, and (2) alleged conflicts of interest in the award of the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation’s translation contracts, before committing any tax-payer funds to that Foundation.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

Companies House records show that the IFRS Foundation is registered in Delaware and based in London. The Government hopes that the IFRS Foundation will continue to be based in London, as this will continue to recognise the UK’s world leading role in accounting standards and practice. The Government has no oversight role for the IFRS Foundation, which is the responsibility of its Monitoring Board, comprising of a number of international securities regulators.

The Government is not aware of any alleged conflicts of interest that are referred to in the question.


Written Question
Hydrogen: Renewable Energy
6 Aug 2020, 12:40 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Oates

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much, in total, they have committed to the development of a green hydrogen economy over the next five years.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government is committed to exploring the option of hydrogen as a strategic decarbonised energy carrier. This includes business models to support the deployment of, and investment in, low carbon hydrogen production and a £100m Low Carbon Hydrogen Production Fund, announced in August 2019 to stimulate capital investment. In parallel we are currently investing up to £121 million, between 2015 and 2021, in hydrogen innovation, supporting a range of projects exploring the potential of low carbon hydrogen across the value chain. This includes investment in green hydrogen both through innovation funding and other grants. An example is our support for the industrialisation of production processes at the new ITM Power Gigafactory being built in Sheffield which when complete will be the largest electrolyser manufacturing facility in the world.

The Treasury has recently announced the Comprehensive Spending Review 2020, that will allow the government to consider its priorities across all spending over multiple years. Support to develop technologies that will support the government’s ambition to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is a priority.


Written Question
UK Internal Market: : White Paper
6 Aug 2020, 12:39 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to include (1) citizen, and (2) business, particularly small independent business, representation on the independent advisory body referred to in the UK Internal Market White Paper published in July, to report to Parliament on the functioning of that Internal Market.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The White Paper sets out proposals for independent functions to support the smooth running of the Internal Market. These proposals are being consulted on, and we encourage the public to share their views on the White Paper proposals through the consultation, which will close on 13 August.


Written Question
Carbon Emissions
6 Aug 2020, 12:39 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Birt

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish their plans for meeting their Net Zero target for carbon emissions by 2050.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

Tackling climate change and delivering our world-leading Net Zero target is a key priority for the Government.

In 2020-21, ahead of hosting COP26, we will bring forward ambitious new plans to reduce emissions across key sectors of the economy – including an Energy White Paper, Transport Decarbonisation Plan and Heat and Building Strategy.

This will build on the strong foundations we have established through our world-leading progress in decarbonising our economy, our ambitious manifesto commitments, and recent announcements from my Rt. Hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer of measures to cut emissions as we build back better in our economic recovery from Covid-19.

We look forward to the Committee on Climate Change’s advice on the sixth carbon budget in December this year, ahead of setting this next ambitious target on the path to Net Zero by June 2021 as required by the Climate Change Act.


Written Question
Space Technology
6 Aug 2020, 12:27 p.m.

Questioner: Lord West of Spithead

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish a new cross-departmental National Space Strategy.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The UK’s space sector can strengthen our national capabilities, create high-skilled jobs and drive future economic growth across the UK. In order to support this, the Queen’s Speech on 19 December set out the Government’s intent to establish a new National Space Council and launch a comprehensive UK Space Strategy. The Council will consider its strategy in due course.


Written Question
OneWeb
6 Aug 2020, 12:23 p.m.

Questioner: Lord West of Spithead

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how governance of the UK’s equity investment in OneWeb will be structured to maintain the competitive market and level playing field for all UK satellite operators.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government is mindful of its responsibility to the Space sector. The commercial operation of OneWeb will be kept separate from the Government’s duties to ensure the transparent and effective operation of markets.


Written Question
OneWeb
6 Aug 2020, 12:19 p.m.

Questioner: Lord West of Spithead

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the current generation of OneWeb satellites are solely for communications services; and what plans they have for a second generation of satellites capable of providing secure positioning data.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The current generation of OneWeb satellites deliver satellite communications services. We are currently assessing the wider use of their capabilities.

Dedicated work is ongoing across Government to determine the UK’s positioning, navigation and timing requirements and assess options for meeting them.


Written Question
Climate Change Convention: Travel
6 Aug 2020, 12:13 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they are making, as hosts of COP26, to ensure that participants are able to travel to the conference in the lowest-carbon manner possible, including by (1) train from all parts of Europe, and (2) by sleeper trains.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

We will encourage all delegates to consider low-carbon travel options, such as rail, particularly those arriving from Europe. Rail travel within the UK will certainly be encouraged and we are in the process of developing a multifaceted transport plan that supports the delegate experience and has sustainability at the core.


Written Question
Horizon Europe
6 Aug 2020, 12:11 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Allen of Kensington

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they remain committed to the UK’s continued membership of Horizon Europe; and what plans they have made if an agreement with the EU is not reached.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government’s recently published Research and Development Roadmap sets out our aim to maintain a close and friendly relationship with our European partners and we are in negotiations with the EU to participate in the next generation of European research and innovation programmes starting in 2021: Horizon Europe and Euratom Research and Training. Negotiations with the Commission are constructive and we are open to participation, but there are still some areas to be agreed – including financial contributions and suspension and termination clauses.

As a responsible government, we are also developing a range of alternative measures to support international research and innovation alongside progressing the Horizon Europe negotiations. If we do not formally associate to Horizon Europe we will implement ambitious alternatives as quickly as possible from January 2021. This includes launching an ambitious new Discovery Fund, making funding available to allow UK partners to participate in European schemes open to third countries, and scaling up our most prestigious domestic research and innovation schemes.

In all scenarios, it is our aim that UK organisations and entities continue to participate in Horizon Europe collaborative projects, as well as in wider international collaborations.


Written Question
Innovation and Research
6 Aug 2020, 12:10 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Allen of Kensington

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect the UK to meet the OECD average for gross domestic expenditure on research and development.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

On 1 July, the Government published its ambitious research and development (R&D) roadmap. This builds on the ambitious commitment set out at Budget to increase public spending in R&D to £22 billion per year by 2024 to 2025, putting the UK on track to reach 2.4% of GDP, the current OECD average, being spent on R&D across the UK economy by 2027. We will set out details of this historic investment in due course, giving researchers and innovators confidence through our long-term investment.


Written Question
Small Business Commissioner
3 Aug 2020, 4:40 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Mendelsohn

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Callanan on 26 February (HL1663), what progress they have made on the measures announced in June 2019 to strengthen the role of the Small Business Commissioner.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government is fully committed on fulfilling its manifesto commitment to strengthen the powers of the Small Business Commissioner. We still plan to consult on extending those powers, to allow the Commissioner to advocate for and support small businesses, as soon as we are able to do so.


Written Question
Sizewell C Power Station: Construction
3 Aug 2020, 4:37 p.m.

Questioner: Lord West of Spithead

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they estimate the construction of Sizewell C nuclear power station will begin; and what funding model will be used for that construction.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

It is for individual developers to consider milestones, such as estimates of when construction will commence. Any funding model would be agreed as part of a negotiation, should the Government enter into one.


Written Question
Business: Human Rights
3 Aug 2020, 4:29 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that all firms based in, and selling products in, the UK comply with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in conducting due diligence on the impact of the products they sell.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government supports the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights - the authoritative, voluntary international framework, which encourages businesses to conduct due diligence as part of their approaches to protecting human rights. The Government also drives transparency from our businesses to hold them to account on human rights. UK listed companies cover relevant human rights issues as part of their annual corporate reporting and our large businesses publish supply chain transparency statements according to the Modern Slavery Act, including on due diligence approaches where these are followed. In May, the Government published two policy papers which provide an update on what the Government has done to implement the UN Guiding Principles and to give an overview of how each government department contributes to this work.


Written Question
Sizewell C Power Station: Coronavirus
3 Aug 2020, 4:20 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Marlesford

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to pause consideration of the application by EDF to construct the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station at the end of the pre-examination stage, until those who are unable to take part in a virtual examination as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may take part in an open examination.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Examining Authority at the Planning Inspectorate will proceed with its consideration of EDF’s application in line with the published guidance on current procedures for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. The Planning Inspectorate is considering ways in which the process can be conducted to ensure that Interested Parties are able to take part. There are currently no plans to pause the application at the end of the pre-examination stage. Further information is available at the GOV.UK website.


Written Question
Insolvency
3 Aug 2020, 4:18 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Mendelsohn

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many meetings have taken place between the Pre Pack Pool and the Insolvency service in (1) 2019, and (2) 2020; and what subjects were discussed.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

Officials from the Insolvency Service attended three meetings of the Pre-Pack Pool Oversight Group in 2019 and one meeting so far in 2020. The Pre-Pack Pool Oversight Group includes representatives from the Pre-Pack Pool. The meetings attended by officials discussed the operation of the Pre-Pack Pool and the Insolvency Service’s review of voluntary measures to reform pre-pack sales in administration.


Written Question
Insolvency
3 Aug 2020, 4:17 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Mendelsohn

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what support the Pre Pack Pool has received from the Insolvency Service; and what plans they have, if any, to enhance this support.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Pre-Pack Pool’s operation is overseen by the Pre-Pack Pool Oversight Group, which comprises representatives from the creditor community, the insolvency profession, insolvency regulators and officials from the Insolvency Service. The Insolvency Service also provides secretariat support to the Oversight Group.


Written Question
Insolvency
3 Aug 2020, 4:17 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Mendelsohn

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, for each of the pre-pack administrations referred to the Pre Pack Pool since the beginning of February, what was the amount owed to unsecured creditors.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

Applications to the Pre-Pack Pool are made in confidence and the Insolvency Service does not hold this information. However, if a company subsequently enters administration, details of amounts owed to unsecured creditors must be set out in a statement of affairs of the company, which must be filed at Companies House and made available on the company’s public record as soon as reasonably practicable by the administrator.


Written Question
Insolvency
3 Aug 2020, 4:16 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Mendelsohn

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many pre-pack administrations were referred to the Pre Pack Pool in each week since the beginning of February.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

There were 16 referrals to the Pre-Pack Pool between 1 February 2020 and 24 July 2020. The table below provides a weekly break down of referrals for the period in question.

Referrals made to the Pre-Pack Pool between 1 February 2020 and 24 July 2020

Week commencing

Number of pre-pack referrals

9 March 2020

1

13 April 2020

2

1 June 2020

1

8 June 2020

1

15 June 2020

1

29 June 2020

1

6 July 2020

4

13 July 2020

5


Written Question
Sizewell C Power Station
3 Aug 2020, 4:15 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Marlesford

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to announce details of the financial funding arrangements for the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station, in particular the method by which electricity consumers would be protected from future project cost escalation; and what plans they have to publish those details before the Development Consent Order application, accepted by the Planning Inspectorate on 26 June, is considered at Examination.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government is reviewing options for the financing of new nuclear projects. In 2019, we consulted on a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) as a possible funding model for future nuclear projects. The consultation sought views from stakeholders on proposed design principles for a nuclear RAB, including risk sharing arrangements with consumers. Our consultation was not project specific, as each project has its own financial considerations. We are currently considering consultation feedback and will respond in due course.