Lord Alton of Liverpool Portrait

Lord Alton of Liverpool

Crossbench - Life peer


Select Committee Meeting
Wednesday 23rd June 2021
10:00
Scheduled Event
Tuesday 20th July 2021
Oral questions - Main Chamber
Curtailing reliance on Chinese products and companies linked to violations of human rights
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Division Votes
Thursday 10th June 2021
Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021
voted No
One of 40 Crossbench No votes vs 21 Crossbench Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 104 Noes - 241
Speeches
Thursday 17th June 2021
Covid-19: Vaccine Production

My Lords, given the government statement at the TRIPS council meeting on 9 June that suggested that

“vaccines for new …

Written Answers
Tuesday 22nd June 2021
Cameroon: Sanctions
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of the United States' State Department about …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
Tuesday 15th June 2021
Modern Slavery (Amendment) Bill [HL] 2021-22
A Bill to prohibit the falsification of slavery and human trafficking statements; to establish minimum standards of transparency in supply …
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
None available

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Lord Alton of Liverpool has voted in 146 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
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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
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative)
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
(75 debate interactions)
Baroness Sugg (Conservative)
(11 debate interactions)
Baroness Barran (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
(11 debate interactions)
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Department Debates
Home Office
(26 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(16 debate contributions)
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View all Lord Alton of Liverpool's debates

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Lord Alton of Liverpool, 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.


Lord Alton of Liverpool has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Lord Alton of Liverpool has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

7 Bills introduced by Lord Alton of Liverpool


The Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session. This means the Bill will make no further progress. A Bill to make provision for the regulation of the re-export of military equipment and goods further to their original exportation from the United Kingdom.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Commons
Thursday 27th January 2011

A Bill to amend the Mesothelioma Act 2014.


Last Event - 2nd Reading : House Of Lords
Friday 20th November 2015

A Bill to prohibit the falsification of slavery and human trafficking statements; to establish minimum standards of transparency in supply chains in relation to modern slavery and human trafficking; to prohibit companies using supply chains which fail to demonstrate minimum standards of transparency; and for connected purposes


Last Event - 1st Reading (Lords)
Tuesday 15th June 2021
(Read Debate)

A bill to provide for the High Court of England and Wales to make a preliminary finding on cases of alleged genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes; and for the subsequent referral of such findings to the International Criminal Court or a special tribunal


Last Event - 1st Reading (Lords)
Wednesday 5th February 2020
(Read Debate)

A Bill to provide for the High Court of England and Wales to make a preliminary finding on cases of alleged genocide; and for the subsequent referral of such findings to the International Criminal Court or a special tribunal.


Last Event - 1st Reading : House Of Lords
Monday 13th June 2016

A bill to amend the Mesothelioma Act 2014.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Lords
Thursday 17th July 2014

First reading took place on 21 January. This stage is a formality that signals the start of the Bill's journey through the Lords.Second reading - the general debate on all aspects of the Bill - is yet to be scheduled.The 2013-14 session of parliament has prorogued and this Bill will make no further progress. A bill to amend the Mesothelioma Act 2014


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Lords
Tuesday 21st January 2014

Lord Alton of Liverpool has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


636 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
12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to respond to the letter relating to skeleton bills and skeleton provision sent to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office and the Leader of the House of Commons by the Chairs of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, the Constitution Committee and the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee on 25 September.

I can confirm to the noble Lord that a response to this letter was sent from the Leader of the House of Commons on 20 October 2020.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
14th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Adelina Comas-Herrera and Jose-Luis Fernandez at the London School of Economics England: Estimates of mortality of care home residents linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, published on 12 May, which found that “data on deaths in care homes directly attributed to COVID- 19 underestimate the impact of the pandemic on care home residents” and that such data accounted for “an estimate 41.6 per cent of all excess deaths in care homes”; what assessment they have made of the accuracy of the data provided by the Office for National Statistics that 8,314 people had died from COVID-19 in care homes from 13 March to 8 May; what were the causes of the additional 10,000 recorded deaths in care homes during that period between 13 March and 1 May as set out in the report; and whether the total number of deaths over that period represents 18,000 more than the average estimate in previous years.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

Dear Lord Alton,

As National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, I am responding to your Parliamentary Question asking what assessment has been made of the report by Adelina Comas-Herrera and Jose-Luis Fernandez at the London School of Economics England: Estimates of mortality of care home residents linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, published on 12 May, which found that data on deaths in care homes directly attributed to COVID-19 underestimate the impact of the pandemic on care home residents, and that such data accounted for an estimated 41.6 per cent of all excess deaths in care homes; what assessment they have made of the accuracy of the data provided by the Office for National Statistics that 8,314 people had died from COVID-19 in care homes from 13 March to 8 May; what were the causes of the additional 10,000 recorded deaths in care homes during that period between 13 March and 1 May as set out in the report; and whether the total number of deaths over that period represents 18,000 more than the average estimate in previous years (HL4465).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is responsible for publishing mortality statistics for deaths registered in England and Wales. The most recent year for which mortality statistics are available is 2018[1]. However, we do publish provisional statistics for weekly deaths registrations, which are currently published for deaths registered up to 8 May 2020[2]. National Records Scotland (NRS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) are responsible for publishing the number of deaths registered in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively.

Cause of death is defined using the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th edition (ICD-10). Deaths involving COVID-19 are identified by the ICD-10 codes U07.1 and U07.2.

We are working with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Public Health England (PHE) to better understand deaths that are occurring in care homes. From 28 April 2020, we have published counts of deaths reported by care home operators to the CQC involving COVID-19, in our provisional statistics for weekly death registrations release. We have also provided information about the different data sources in our comparison article[3] that was last updated on 19 May 2020.

The weekly mortality statistics published for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are all designated as National Statistics, meaning they meet the Code of Practice for official statistics requirements of trust, quality and value. The most up-to-date figures for the number of registered deaths in care homes in England and Wales involving COVID-19 are contained in the ONS weekly deaths bulletin[4] and accompanying dataset[5] published on 19 May 2020. The year-to-date analysis in this report showed there were 9,980 deaths involving COVID-19 in care homes up to the week ending 8 May 2020 (these figures represent provisional numbers for deaths where COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate). The analysis also showed there were 21,753 excess deaths that occurred in care homes up to the week ending 8 May 2020 as compared to the previous five-year average over the same period.

On 15 May 2020, we published further analysis of deaths involving COVID-19 in the care sector in England and Wales[6]. This report provides breakdowns of deaths involving COVID-19 in the care sector, by: characteristics of the deceased; place of death; geographical location; leading cause of death; and, pre-existing conditions. Included are figures on the number of deaths of recipients of domiciliary care, derived from data provided by the Care Quality Commission.

The analysis in this report found that since the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (between the period 2 March and 1 May 2020, registered up to the 9 May 2020):

  • there were 45,899 deaths of care home residents (wherever the death occurred); of these 12,526 involved COVID-19, which is 27.3% of all deaths of care home residents.
  • COVID-19 was the leading cause of death in male care home residents, accounting for 30.3% deaths, and the second leading cause of death in female care home residents, after Dementia and Alzheimer disease, accounting for 23.5% of deaths.
  • Dementia and Alzheimer disease was the most common main pre-existing condition found among deaths involving COVID-19 and was involved in 42.5% of all deaths of care home residents involving COVID-19.

No specific assessment has yet been made of the estimates presented in the preprint article by Adelina Comas-Herrera and Jose-Luis Fernandez released on 12 May 2020. The ONS is publishing a report on the increase in non-COVID-19 deaths observed in weekly deaths statistics, with a provisional publication date of 29 May. This is mentioned in the ONS’s statement of upcoming analysis on deaths and coronavirus (COVID-19)[7]. The report will analyse how the number of non-COVID-19 deaths occurring in different places of death (including care homes), for different age groups and for different causes of death differ from previous years’ data and will suggest how these findings correspond with possible reasons for the increase.

Yours sincerely

Professor Sir Ian Diamond

[1]https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/deathsregisteredinenglandandwalesseriesdrreferencetables

[2]https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsregisteredweeklyinenglandandwalesprovisional/weekending8may2020

[3]https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/causesofdeath/articles/comparisonofweeklydeathoccurrencesinenglandandwales/latest

[4]https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsregisteredweeklyinenglandandwalesprovisional/weekending8may2020

[5]https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/weeklyprovisionalfiguresondeathsregisteredinenglandandwales

[6]https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/deathsinvolvingcovid19inthecaresectorenglandandwales/deathsoccurringupto1may2020andregisteredupto9may2020provisional

[7]https://www.ons.gov.uk/news/statementsandletters/statementofupcominganalysisondeathsandcoronaviruscovid19

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
18th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the conclusion in the report by King's College London and the Harvard Kennedy School The China question: managing risks and maximising benefits from partnership in higher education and research, published on 9 March, that "the UK’s dependence on a neototalitarian technology power for the financial health and research output of its universities is now regarded as a particular point of vulnerability".

Universities are well aware of the possible risks associated with dependence on a single source of funding, whether that is from a single organisation or from a single nation. A diverse recruitment base is key to avoiding this. The Government’s International Education Strategy and recent update make clear that the internationalisation of our higher education sector cannot come at any cost – universities must ensure they have appropriate processes in place to manage risk. Government has recently issued guidance to the Office for Students, requesting they monitor the financial sustainability of institutions and continue to support the sector to recruit sustainably.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the conclusions in the report by King's College London and the Harvard Kennedy School The China question: managing risks and maximising benefits from partnership in higher education and research, published on 9 March, that (1) China is projected to become the UK's most significant research partner, and (2) collaborations with China account for more than 20 per cent of the UK’s high-impact research in 20 subject areas.

Her Majesty’s Government recognises the enormous benefits from collaborating on scientific research with China. We cannot address global challenges, such as climate change, without their support and engagement. We will continue to support research collaboration with China where it is clearly in the national interest to do so.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the conclusion in the report by King's College London and the Harvard Kennedy School The China question: managing risks and maximising benefits from partnership in higher education and research, published on 9 March, that an increase in funding from China and collaboration with Chinese researchers over the last two decades risks the autonomy of UK universities.

Her Majesty’s Government carefully considers advice and analysis from a range of sources, including universities and think tanks, and is grateful for the scholarship which my Noble Friend the Rt. Hon. the Lord Johnson of Marylebone has provided in this report. We will continue to support the sector to make informed decisions when engaging in international research and other collaboration.

Universities are well-aware of the possible risks associated with dependence on a single source of funding, whether that is from a single organisation or from a single nation. A diverse recruitment base is key to avoiding this. The Government’s International Education Strategy and recent update make clear that the internationalisation of our higher education sector cannot come at any cost – universities must ensure they have appropriate processes in place to manage risk.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the conclusion in the report by King's College London and the Harvard Kennedy School The China question: managing risks and maximising benefits from partnership in higher education and research, published on 9 March, that the UK has “poorly understood” risks of increasing collaboration between UK universities and China.

International collaborations are central to our position as a science superpower and create wealth and jobs within the UK. We cooperate closely with universities, funding bodies and industry in protecting our higher education and research sector from interference. This includes publishing “Trusted Research” and commissioning Universities UK to release comprehensive guidelines to encourage secure partnerships and promote our values. We are pleased to see the university sector addressing these challenges and we will continue to work with the sector on implementing the guidelines, promoting best practice, and responding to specific enquiries. We also share experience and best practice with our friends and allies overseas.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
18th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what risk assessment they have conducted of students from China undertaking research in universities which are carrying out research connected with (1) critical infrastructure, and (2) national security, particularly in relation to (a) cyber technology, (b) artificial intelligence, (c) nuclear capability, (d) automation, (e) telecommunications and material sciences, and (f) weapons development; and what conclusions they have drawn.

Her Majesty’s Government welcomes all international students to UK universities, including those from China. We have taken robust measures to ensure that the university sector is protected from miss-appropriation of research relating to the areas listed. Measures include the Academic Technology Approval Scheme, which vets postgraduate students seeking to study proliferation sensitive courses, and outreach activity through the “Trusted Research” campaign. We continuously review measures that protect national security to ensure they remain effective.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
20th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions, if any, they have had with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation about Liverpool’s World Heritage Status; and what responses they received during any such discussions.

My Department has had regular discussions with UNESCO since Liverpool was placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2012, and we will continue to do so. The views expressed by officials in UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre are consistent with those set out in the Decisions of the World Heritage Committee on the measures it expects to be taken if Liverpool’s world heritage status is to be protected.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the rate of closure of churches in recent years; what assessment has been made of the ability of worshipping communities to fund ongoing repairs to church buildings; and what plans they have to provide support to worshipping communities to help maintain church buildings.

Historic England works closely with faith communities on the management of historic places of worship.

When a place of worship is no longer required for regular worship it can still make a valuable contribution to the wider community; Historic England works with faith communities to develop a sustainable future when they are not used actively for worship, retaining as much of their special historical and architectural significance as possible. Only in a small minority of cases do places of worship have to close. Historic England also offers bespoke advice to those who manage places of worship on how to address repairs.

In 2016, the Taylor Review: Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals was commissioned to examine the funding and sustainability of listed Church of England churches. The Review considered that a more strategic approach was needed to ensure than the previous large investments of public money were protected by timely maintenance and repair of these buildings. Consequently, the DCMS-funded Taylor Review Pilot was commissioned to test some recommendations made in the Review, pairing advice and support from building conservation and community development experts with targeted grant funding for maintenance and minor repairs. The evaluation, which was published in October 2020, demonstrated the impact of this project on historic places of worship in the pilot areas, with just over £1m of grant funding for repairs allocated almost equally between both areas to 136 applicants.

The Government has set out its vision and strategy to protect the historic environment, including England’s places of worship, in the 2017 Heritage Statement. Any further financial support is subject to the Spending Review, which is due to conclude later this month.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much public funding has been allocated for UK participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing; whether, in the light of reports of serious human rights violations against Uighurs and others, they have made representations to the International Olympic Committee about reconsidering the suitability of Beijing as a host city; and what plans they have to reconsider UK participation if any such violations continue and the host city remains unchanged.

The Government, through UK Sport, is investing £?20m into Winter ?Olympic sports during the current ?Beijing 20?22? funding c?ycle. UK Sport’s current funding figures for Summer and Winter Olympic Paralympic sports can be found here: https://www.uksport.gov.uk/our-work/investing-in-sport/current-funding-figures

Decisions on which cities should host Summer and Winter Olympic Games are matters for the International Olympic Committee.

The British Olympic Association (BOA), a privately funded organisation independent of Government, is responsible for Team GB’s participation at Summer and Winter Olympic Games. As the National Olympic Committee (NOC) for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the BOA may cooperate with governments, but rule 27.6 of the Olympic Charter states "The NOCs must preserve their autonomy and resist all pressures of any kind, including but not limited to political, legal, religious or economic pressures which may prevent them from complying with the Olympic Charter."

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with media regulators, including Ofcom and IPSO, on the reporting of suicide; what assessment they have made of the impact of reporting relating to assisted suicide; and what plans they have to review their guidance to ensure that public broadcasters include details of the Samaritans or other support services when reporting on suicide and assisted suicide stories.

Every suicide is a tragedy which has a devastating and enduring impact on families and communities. The Government is taking action in this area, including launching the first Cross-Government Suicide Prevention Strategy, which sets out an ambitious programme across national and local government and the NHS.

The Government does not review editorial content, as broadcast regulation is a matter for Ofcom. Ofcom has the power to set rules in its Broadcasting Code for broadcasters to meet in order to ensure UK audiences are adequately protected from harmful content. Ofcom’s Guidelines, which advise broadcasters on meeting the rules, includes advice on providing specific helplines where a programme has dealt with a particularly sensitive issue.

The government is committed to a free and independent press, and does not, therefore, seek to intervene in the decisions or activities of newspapers or regulators, including IPSO. IPSO’s Editors’ Code of Practice sets out the rules that newspapers and magazines regulated by IPSO have agreed to follow, including on reporting suicide.

In response to COVID-19, the Government announced £9.2 million of additional funding to support mental health charities, including Samaritans and CALM. Samaritans published updated media guidelines resources at the beginning of August and created a new online hub of resources, covering additional topics to help journalists and programme makers further understand the issues surrounding suicidal behaviour and offering practical tips on covering these topics.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to mandate the inclusion of details of mental health charities, NHS support and groups such as the Samaritans to be published whenever newspapers or broadcasters report (1) on suicide, (2) on assisted suicide, and (3) on palliative care.

Every suicide is a tragedy which has a devastating and enduring impact on families and communities. The Government is taking action in this area, including launching the first Cross-Government Suicide Prevention Strategy, which sets out an ambitious programme across national and local government and the NHS. In response to COVID-19, the Government announced £9.2million of additional funding to support mental health charities, including Samaritans and CALM

The editorial and operational decisions of broadcasters are independent from the Government. Ofcom, the UK’s independent broadcast regulator, sets rules in its Broadcasting Code for licensed broadcasters to meet to ensure UK audiences are adequately protected from harmful content. Ofcom advises in its Guidelines that where a programme has dealt with a particularly sensitive issue, broadcasters may wish to provide a helpline specific to that issue.

The Cross-Government Suicide Prevention Strategy sets out the importance of responsible media reporting of suicide. The Government is committed to a free and independent press, and does not, therefore, seek to intervene in the decisions or activities of newspapers or regulators. Newspapers either self-regulate or are regulated by independent regulators; which include IPSO and IMPRESS. These regulators issue codes of conduct which set out the rules that newspapers and magazines have agreed to follow, including on reporting suicide.

IPSO has also produced guidance for journalists on reporting suicide, including signposting to sources of support by providing the contact details for The Samaritans, PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, or other relevant organisations, in any articles reporting on a suicide.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
2nd Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when Huawei was first given access to the UK’s telecommunications infrastructure; what assessment was made of any security, defence and human rights implications of that decision at that time; whether Parliament was consulted; and which Ministers had to approve that access.

The details of Huawei’s entry into the UK market and associated decision making were subject of an inquiry by the Intelligence and Security Committee into ‘Foreign involvement in the Critical National Infrastructure - The implications for national security’. The findings of which were published in June 2013 followed by the government response in July 2013.


The government response accepted the Committee’s conclusion that the processes of considering national security issues at the time in 2003-06 were insufficiently robust and that Ministers should have been informed.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 30 June (HL3582), whether they will now answer the question put, namely, who gave the advice on behalf of Public Health England about permitting the football match between Liverpool and Atlético Madrid on 11 March; and which Ministers were involved in assessing that advice.

The decisions regarding mass events and wider measures were taken in line with public health guidance at COBR. DCMS Ministers discussed mass events with the Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Chief Medical Officer in advance of these meetings.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made in relation to their decision to award contracts to Huawei and other companies of the implications of the government of China's National Intelligence Law requiring Chinese organisations and citizens to support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work.

Last year, the Government carried out a comprehensive, evidence-based, review of the telecoms supply chain, supported by security analysis from our world-leading cybersecurity experts. This led to our decision, announced on 28 January, that high risk vendors should be excluded from those parts of the 5G and full fibre networks that are critical to security (“the core”), and their presence in the rest of the UK’s networks should be limited to 35 per cent, with further restrictions in sensitive geographic locations.

In making this decision, the Government took into account the full range of issues and risks. This included consideration of the fact that Huawei is a Chinese company that is subject to China’s national intelligence law. The controls we have set out on high risk vendors constitute some of the toughest security measures in the telecoms sector in the world.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the total number of students from China currently studying in the UK; which universities in the UK have more than 10 per cent of students originating from China; and what estimate they have made of the total amount of money raised annually by universities from students from China.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) collects and publishes data on students enrolled in higher education. Latest statistics refer to the academic year 2019/20.

Counts of student enrolments at UK higher education providers are available by level of study and country of domicile for the academic years 2014/15 to 2019/20 in Table 28 of HESA’s Higher Education Student Data pages, available here: https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis/students/table-28.

In the academic year 2019/20, there were 141,870 students enrolled at UK higher education providers who were domiciled in China prior to study.

Appended to this answer is a table listing higher education providers where 10% or more of their student body was domiciled in China prior to study in the academic year 2019/20.

Financial information available from HESA is not collected for specific countries of origin, so cannot be provided.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many students from African countries are enrolled to study in UK universities.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) collects and publishes data on students enrolled in higher education. Latest statistics refer to the academic year 2019/20.

Counts of student enrolments at UK Higher Education Providers (HEPs) are available by level of study and region of domicile for the academic years 2014/15 to 2019/20 in Table 28 of HESA’s Higher Education Student Data pages: https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis/students/table-28.

In the academic year 2019/20, there were 33,290 undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled at UK HEPs who were domiciled in Africa prior to study.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
15th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government which higher education institutions have sought to amend their Royal Charters in each of the past three years; which changes were proposed in each case; and why those institutions made any such proposals.

Requests by chartered higher education providers for amendments to their governance arrangements are received and co-ordinated by the Privy Council Office.

The Privy Council Office consults the advisers to the Privy Council, including the Department for Education, in reviewing these requests, in order to gain the necessary advice to inform the Privy Council’s recommendation to Her Majesty on whether Her approval may be given to the chartered bodies’ proposals.

The Privy Council Office records requests it has received, but does not separately identify the changes proposed and the reasons for the request. Each case is treated on its own merits and case papers filed on a unique basis. The Privy Council Office and the department have carried out a preliminary co-ordinated scoping of both of their records, and this has revealed about 40 instances where a case was opened for a chartered body seeking to amend its governance arrangements during the period 2018-20.

To answer the questions raised more fully would take very considerable time and resource to achieve, as the needed information is not readily available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

However, all higher education provider chartered body amendments which have been approved by Her Majesty in Council can be found at: https://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk/orders/.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
8th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to facilitate access to education for the children of people entering the UK under the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa scheme; what assessment they have made of (1) the scale of demand for school places for these children, and (2) where such demand will arise; and what discussions they have had with (a) Local Education Authorities, and (b) Regional Schools Commissioners, about ensuring that plans are in place to meet this demand.

The government’s estimate of the number of British National (Overseas) citizens that may migrate to the UK was set out in an Impact Assessment published on 22 October, available here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1147/impacts/2020/70. The dependants of British National (Overseas) citizens from Hong Kong choosing to settle in the UK have a right to attend school in the UK. Local authorities hold the statutory duty to provide sufficient school places.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have written to all local authorities in England to update them on the new immigration route for BN(O) citizens and will be communicating further with those areas which may see higher numbers arriving to support their planning.

The department is fully involved in planning and communications with local authorities, including Regional Schools Commissioners. We are using data from the 2020 Spring School Census and the 2011 National Census to inform planning and are working with Home Office to monitor BN(O) and BN(O) dependant arrivals.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many branches of the Confucius Institute are active in universities in England; and what plans they have to determine how many universities in England give financial support to branches of the Confucius Institute.

A number of UK higher education providers host Confucius Institutes. As autonomous, independent organisations, they bear the responsibility of ensuring that their partnerships are managed appropriately, with the right due diligence. The Department for Education does not collate information on the funding arrangements for Confucius Institutes, but continues to support the higher education sector to promote mutually beneficial international partnerships and UK values. We encourage providers to contact the department if they have any concerns regarding their international collaborations.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
9th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to (1) maintain the total prohibition on the use of asbestos, and (2) rule out any instance of permitting products containing up to one per cent of asbestos as per regulations in the United States, after December 2020.

At the end of the transition period, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (as amended by the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020) will convert the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation into domestic law. All existing EU REACH restrictions will be carried over to UK REACH at that point, including those relating to asbestos.

The Government has no plans to revise these restrictions or alter the way asbestos is regulated in the UK.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
13th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Sugg on 10 June (HL6272) and following the UK Deputy Ambassador to Eritrea’s statement on 22 June that health and safety conditions on roadbuilding projects in that country would deteriorate if the UK and EU withdraws support, what assessment they have made of the working conditions of those projects; and what steps they are taking ensure that health and safety standards are maintained.

The UK’s support for the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa projects in Eritrea on the main arterial roads was conditional on the EU working with the UN to monitor the treatment of workers implementing the project. We pressed the EU to ensure enhanced safeguards were in place and they have confirmed that the project implementer (UNOPS) will monitor whether workers are receiving an appropriate salary, and that basic health and safety standards are applied. This is alongside our continuing efforts to encourage reform of the Eritrean national service system.

30th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the health and safety standards on roadbuilding projects funded by the EU Trust Fund for Africa.

The UK exercises oversight of UK funding directed through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa through the Fund’s governance mechanisms. Individual projects such as roadbuilding are assessed for project and contextual risks and in relation to essential standards, including those for health and safety.

30th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government which UK Government funded projects in Sudan, if any, have been cancelled as a result of prioritising COVID-19 related programmes.

The UK has not cancelled any programmes in Sudan as a result of COVID-19. We are committed to supporting the Sudanese response to the COVID-19 pandemic and delivering vital humanitarian assistance to those most in need. The UK is committed to supporting Sudan’s transition to a stable, prosperous democracy.

9th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the humanitarian situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea following reports by the United Nations of food shortages and malnutrition; what steps they are taking to provide humanitarian assistance which reaches those in urgent need; and what discussions they have had with the government of that country to urge it to use its resources to prioritise the feeding of its people.

We assess that North Korea’s humanitarian need is likely increasing as a result of the country’s border lockdown in response to COVID-19. The lockdown has prevented most aid shipments from entering the country since January and restrictions on internal movement, including for UN agencies and NGOs, has severely impacted the distribution of aid and support. The UN estimates that 10.1 million people suffer from food insecurity and are in urgent need of food assistance.

DFID is providing multilateral funds to the UN and other international organisations providing humanitarian assistance in North Korea, including the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) in response to COVID-19. As a country of concern in the GHRP, North Korea is receiving funds from this global appeal. We continue to make clear to the North Korean government that international support is available, and urge them to restore international access and monitoring for humanitarian assistance. The UK has also repeatedly called on North Korea to prioritise the well-being of its people over the development of illegal weapons programmes, through our bilateral relationship and in multilateral fora.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the killing of Uwavera Omozuwa, in a church in Benin City, Nigeria; and how UK Aid to Nigeria is used to combat gender-based violence in that country.

The High Commission in Abuja is tracking closely developments around the deplorable killing of Uwavera Omozuwa last month in a church in Benin City. The High Commissioner has spoken out against her killing and all gender-based violence (GBV), calling for those responsible to face justice.

GBV is an endemic issue in Nigeria and poses ongoing challenges to changing behaviour and ensuring equality and equity for women, girls, men, and boys. DFID Nigeria is committed to empowering women and protecting the most vulnerable. We directly support systems and interventions to mitigate and respond to GBV in the conflict-affected North East through provision of emergency medical care and in the case-management, legal counselling and psycho-social support for survivors of GBV through our humanitarian programme.

Across DFID Nigeria, we pursue DFID’s Strategic Vision for Women and Girls. We promote women’s rights and gender equality through multiple sectors: increasing women’s economic empowerment through dedicated livelihoods programmes; ensuring gender sensitivity of government social protection programmes; supporting women’s participation and representation in politics and civil society through governance programmes; and keeping girls safe in schools through our education programmes.

2nd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by The World Bank Group Capture of Foreign Aid: Evidence from Offshore Bank Accounts, published in February, in particular its finding that disbursements of aid to 22 of the most aid-dependent countries coincided with significant increases in the value of bank deposits in tax havens.

We do not tolerate any misuse of UK aid and have robust systems in place to protect our investments. The Government welcomes research in international development, which can help to inform this. The World Bank is a key partner to the Government in international efforts to tackle corruption and has been assessed by the Government and other parties as having robust procedures to combat fraud and corruption in the use of its funds.

25th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Sugg on 18 February (HL1300), which consultancies were used to help deliver the UK–Africa Investment Summit 2020; and how much those consultancies were paid.

The government contracted a range of companies to provide services including production, and the design and running of pre-events, to support the delivery of the UK-Africa Investment Summit. These contracts are ongoing, and it is the government’s intention to provide further details in due course.

11th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees that (1) fighting in Sudan’s West Darfur State has displaced an estimated 46,000 people inside that country and caused more than 14,000 to flee into Chad since December, (2) the majority of those displaced are women and young children, (3) villages and homes have been burnt, and (4) a further 30,000 are estimated to be displaced in the coming weeks; and what action they are taking to bring to justice those who are responsible.

We are deeply concerned by the recent violence in West Darfur, and subsequent dispersal of a large number of people to nearby el Geneina town and Eastern Chad. Many of those displaced are believed to be women and children. Recent violence has left substantial damage, including the large scale burning of houses. The situation is now calm but remains fragile.

In response international organisations have channelled funds to support those displaced, including from the Sudan Humanitarian Fund (to which the UK is the largest bilateral donor). The UK welcomes the establishment of a committee for reconciliation and to investigate those responsible for this violence. The UK is strongly committed to respect for human rights and accountability, and continues to encourage all parties to progress the peace talks.

5th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much UK aid has been provided to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in each of the past 10 years; how many Department for International Development employees work exclusively on the Democratic Republic of the Congo; what that aid has been used for; and what assessment they have made of the effect such aid has had on preventing corruption and building a rules-based society.

The UK is a longstanding development partner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Over the last 10 years (2009-2018) the DRC has received approximately £1.65 billion in UK bilateral Overseas Development Assistance. 56 people are currently employed by the Department for International Development to work exclusively on the DRC. UK Aid supports millions of Congolese in need through improved access to clean water, health care and education- providing lifesaving humanitarian assistance, by tackling outbreaks and global health emergencies such as Ebola, Measles and Cholera. We also contribute to creating peace and stability by tackling the underlying drivers of conflict, creating access to sustainable jobs and improved incomes. UK Aid is tackling corruption, strengthening accountability and contributing to rules-based society, including through both our public financial management and elections programme. The effectiveness of DFID programmes is measured against expected results, and the value for money provided. Individual programme performance is assessed annually and can be viewed on DFID’s development tracker.

4th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) attacks on Christian Rohingya refugee families by other refugees in Bangladesh, in particular reports of such attacks in the Kutupalong Refugee Camp on 27 January; and (2) what steps they are taking to ensure the safety of refugees around the world who are from religious minority groups.

We are aware of reports of attacks on Christian Rohingya refugee families in Kutupalong, Bangladesh, and are monitoring the situation closely. The UK government, working through the main agencies responsible for protection and safety, is committed to improving the safety of all the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. DFID is a major supporter of the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR). UNHCR works to provide international protection and humanitarian assistance; and to seek permanent solutions for all refugees, returnees, stateless people and, in some instances, internally displaced people. This includes refugees from religious minority groups. UNHCR plays a critical role in ensuring that those persecuted because of their religion have protection in the country they have fled to. DFID works with UNHCR and all its humanitarian partners, including faith-based humanitarian organisations to ensure aid is given to those most vulnerable and most in need of assistance, in line with the humanitarian principles. This includes members of religious minority groups, who are often among those most in need of protection and assistance when assessed by our humanitarian partners.

4th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any consultancies were used to help deliver the UK–Africa Investment Summit 2020; and if so, why.

The production aspects of the UK-Africa Investment Summit were contracted out to specialist event companies, as is normal government practice. We also used contractors to design and run the series of pre-events, to undertake analysis of trade and investment trends, and to assess the Summit's impact. These organisations complemented the large cross-government team of policy officials who delivered the Summit.

4th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much UK aid has been spent via the European Development Fund (EDF) in Africa in each of the past ten years; how much will be spent via the EDF in the next financial year; whether the spending priorities for the EDF will be reassessed; who will determine any such future priorities; and on what basis.

The European Development Fund’s (EDF) bilateral country allocations to Sub-Saharan Africa have varied over time, but historically have been at least 80% per year, with additional EDF funding to Africa going through regional components, trust funds and multilateral partners. There are no plans to reassess the EDF spending for 2020 as the instrument comes to an end in December 2020. Further information on the EDF and allocations of funding can be found at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/EPRS/EPRS-IDA-542140-European-Development-Fund-FINAL.pdf

Between the financial years 2009/10 and 2019/20 the UK contributed £4.1bn to the EDF. We estimate that at least £3.3bn has been used for allocations to Sub-Saharan Africa at country and regional levels. Full details of our annual contributions to the EDF can be found at: https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/projects/GB-1-200236

The Withdrawal Agreement sets out that the UK will honour commitments made to the EU budget during the period of our membership up to December 2020. The UK will fund all programmes approved during the current EU Multiannual Financial Framework (2014-2020), which includes obligations to the current, and previous, European Development Funds. For financial year 2020/21, we estimate that at least £516m of DFID’s EDF payments will be spent in Sub-Saharan Africa, though fluctuations may result from the rate of EDF programme delivery and exchange rate fluctuations over the coming year.

28th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much development aid has been given to Nigeria in each of the last ten years.

The total UK bilateral Official Development Assistance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria for each of the previous ten years is detailed below:

Year

£ thousands

2009

121,277

2010

171,335

2011

186,428

2012

197,313

2013

248,734

2014

236,639

2015

262,685

2016

319,583

2017

327,199

2018

296,819

Source: Statistics on International Development 2018. Additional Table 4A. Published 19 September 2019. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/statistics-on-international-development-final-uk-aid-spend-2018

28th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much of the UK's development aid to Nigeria is used to (1) promote community cohesion, (2) protect those at risk of attack by jihadists, and (3) bring to justice those responsible for any atrocities and crimes against humanity.

The UK’s development assistance to Nigeria seeks to address some of the root causes of conflict throughout the country (and particularly in the North East) and help build stability in the longer term. In particular, the UK is promoting community cohesion in North East Nigeria through a range of interventions from £3m in 2019/20 to improve relationships between communities and security forces to both build trust and ensure the protection of civilians in target communities in Borno State, North East Nigeria; £900,000 to build the resilience of women and children survivors of violent extremism and reintegrate them into communities; and £2 million of support for Nigeria’s Defections, Disengagement, Demobilisation, De-radicalisation and Reintegration programme that is managed by the International Organisation for Migration from December 2019 to March 2021.

To protect those at risk of attack as a result of the insecurity, DFID has a £16m two-year programme dedicated to providing support to those affected by the conflict in North East Nigeria, particularly victims of sexual and gender-based violence. DFID works with partners, the UN and NGOs to save lives, strengthen resilience, and protect civilians from attacks and violations of international law. To improve the effectiveness of security responses and the protection of civilians in Borno state, the UK is providing up to £800,000 from October 2019 to March 2021.

We are careful to ensure that our ongoing work in a complex environment to bring potential perpetrators to justice is compliant with International Human Rights Law.

25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the estimate by US Customs and Border Protection that 85 per cent of China’s manufactured cotton comes from the Xinjiang region; and what plans they have to introduce restrictions on imports of cotton to prevent the import of goods sent from Uighur internment camps in the Xinjiang region.

HM Government has serious concerns about the situation in Xinjiang, with reports of the use of forced labour. It has always been the case that where we have concerns, we raise them – as we did on this issue at the UN Human Rights Council, most recently in February.

We advise businesses with supply chain links in Xinjiang to conduct appropriate due diligence to satisfy themselves that their activities do not support, and are not seen to support, any violations or abuses of rights and responsibilities.

My Rt Hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary announced a review of export controls on 12th January, but import controls were not included at this time.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
14th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks made by Viscount Younger of Leckie on 7 December 2020 (HL Deb, col 1085), what plans they have to enter free trade negotiations with the government of China in the future; and what human rights due diligence they will employ during any such negotiations to ensure that the UK does not support the exploitation of Uighur Muslims in China.

HM Government has no plans at present to negotiate a free trade agreement with China.

The United Kingdom has long supported the promotion of our values globally and has consistently voiced concern at the situation in Xinjiang. On 12th January, the Foreign Secretary announced a series of measures to help ensure that no British businesses will profit from or contribute to violations against the Uyghurs or other minorities. These measures send a clear message to China that there are economic and reputation costs for what it is doing in Xinjiang.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce export licensing controls for equipment used for the removal, freezing, or transportation, of organs to countries where there have been credible reports of forced organ harvesting.

My Rt Hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary’s statement of 12 January 2021 on the situation in Xinjiang committed HM Government to a review of export controls as they apply specifically geographically to the situation in Xinjiang, to make sure that we are doing everything that we can to prevent the export of any goods that could directly or indirectly contribute to human rights violations in that region.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
17th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to undertake trade with a state if a court has predetermined that a genocide is underway; and what assessment they have made of the impact on the UK’s ability to undertake international trade of amendments to the Trade Bill relating to trade agreements with states accused of committing genocide.

The United Kingdom have long promoted our values globally. We are clear that more trade does not have to come at the expense of our values.

Our experience is that political freedom and the rule of law are vital underpinnings for both prosperity and stability and that, by having strong economic relationships with partners, we are able to have open discussions on a range of issues. Despite our varying approach to agreements with partners, we will always have open discussions on a range of issues, including rights and responsibilities.

Clause 2 of the Trade Bill allows HM Government to implement those trade agreements the EU including the United Kingdom had with third countries, prior to the United Kingdom leaving the EU. The list of countries in scope can be found at: gov.uk/guidance/uk-trade-agreements-with-non-eu-countries

The Trade Bill has no provisions to implement a free trade agreement with those countries, such as China, who did not have a free trade agreement with the EU prior to 31st January 2020.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
17th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the government of the United States’ decision to introduce restrictions on (1) Changji Esquel Textile Co. Ltd, (2) Hefei Bitland Information Technology Co. Ltd, (3) Hefei Meiling Co. Ltd, (4) Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories Co. Ltd, (5) Hetian Taida Apparel Co. Ltd, (6) KTK Group, Nanjing Synergy Textiles Co. Ltd, and (7) Nanchang O-Film Tech, Tanyuan Technology Co. Ltd; whether they have imposed similar restrictions; and if not, why not.

HM Government has repeatedly condemned the egregious violations being perpetrated against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. Most recently, on 6th October, we issued a joint statement with 38 other countries at the UN General Assembly Third Committee.

The United States’ Export Administration Regulations contain a list of foreign entities, including businesses, that are subject to specific license requirements (the ‘Entity List’). A license must be obtained before exporting, re-exporting or transferring (in-country) an item to a listed entity. The United Kingdom has no equivalent of the US Entity List.

However, large businesses operating in the United Kingdom are required, under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, to report on how they are tackling forced labour in their operations and supply chains.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
7th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in developing a cross-departmental human rights threshold for inclusion in any (1) current and forthcoming trade and telecommunications agreements, and (2) other legislation.

HM Government has a strong history of promoting our values globally. While our approach to agreements will vary between partners, our strong economic relationships allow us to have open discussions on a range of difficult issues, including rights and responsibilities.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
1st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take through the implementation of Project Defend to reduce the UK’s reliance on imports from authoritarian states and to increase national resilience.

Project DEFEND is working to help Britain become more resilient and ensure that more diverse supply chains are put in place to allow the continued flow of essential items and avoid shortages in future.

We are analysing critical supply chains and identifying countries with a high level of supply chain influence, in order that we can help strengthen Britain’s supply chain resilience. Our approach continues to underline our international leadership in promoting free trade, and our belief in the benefits that free trade brings.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Henry Jackson Society?Breaking the China Supply Chain: How the ‘Five Eyes’ Can Decouple From Strategic Dependency, published on 14 May, which states that the UK is strategically dependent on China for 229 categories of goods, 57 of which are used in critical national infrastructure

HM Government is protecting our national security while ensuring the United Kingdom remains a global champion of free trade and an attractive destination for international investment.

My Department is working with other departments and our counterparts overseas to ensure the continued flow of critical equipment and supplies through this pandemic, as well as supporting trading businesses as the economy recovers. This includes diversifying the import and export markets for British businesses, which will allow them to build resilience into their supply chains.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans are in place to implement the International Maritime Organisation’s Recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, issued on 6 May, to ensure the continued free movement of seafarers; and what steps they are taking to ensure the swift return to the UK of UK seafarers whose contracts of employment have expired and are now stranded on ships around the world.

The Government welcomes the framework that was developed by the International Chamber of Shipping and other organisations, which has been supported and circulated by the International Maritime Organisation. The Department wrote to the International Maritime Organisation, the International Labour Organisation and the World Health Organisation on 23 March 2020, confirming that the UK will continue to meet its international obligations related to the transit and transfer of seafarers and highlighted that the UK is fully committed to the welfare of all seafarers regardless of their nationality.

The Government is currently considering the framework in more detail to see what more can be done to further facilitate crew changes in UK and we will do this work as quickly as we can, as we are very keen to see a resolution, and support the sector.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking in response to the UK Chamber of Shipping’s request that they sign up to a global initiative to repatriate seafarers stranded across the world.

The Government understands the concerns that have been raised by the UK Chamber of Shipping in relation to crew changes and ensuring that seafarers who have completed their contracts can return home. We acknowledge their request for the UK to sign up to the initiative developed by the International Chamber of Shipping and other organisations, which has been supported and circulated by the International Maritime Organisation.The Government is currently considering the framework in more detail to see what more can be done to further facilitate crew changes in UK and we will do this work as quickly as we can, as we are very keen to see a resolution, and support the sector.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that up to 2,000 UK seafarers have been stranded on ships.  [T]

The Government reaffirmed its commitment to welfare for all seafarers to the ILO and IMO at the start of this crisis, which we will continue to uphold.

According to DfT data, the number of British crew members currently working on cruise vessels around the globe is closer to 1,400 rather than 2,000.

We recognise this is a worrying time for British crew on board cruise ships around the world. It is primarily the responsibility of their employers – the cruise ship operators – to ensure the welfare and safety of their staff. However, the Government continues to monitor the welfare of all UK seafarers and is working to support employers in their repatriation efforts for all non-essential staff.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
25th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to restore passenger services on the Hellifield railway line from Clitheroe.

The Government has committed £500m to reopen routes and stations and has offered funding to develop ideas for this. We welcome the funding bid from the local MP, Nigel Evans, to explore the case for passenger services north of Clitheroe.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
9th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that Transpennine Express have cancelled up to 40 per cent of trains on some routes; what are the reasons for those reported cancellations; how long they estimate any cancellations to last; what discussions they have had with Transpennine Express about the cancellations; and what was the outcome of any such discussions.

The December timetable was designed to be transformative for customers travelling on its three new fleets of trains. The full December timetable included a new direct route from Liverpool to Glasgow, the extension of the service from Newcastle to Edinburgh and a new service from Middlesbrough to Redcar.

Due to the late delivery and technical issues with its new trains which impacted on driver training and availability of crews, customers of TransPennine Express (TPE) experienced an unacceptable increase in disruption. To provide a more stable service, TPE has introduced temporary timetable changes between Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh until the end of January to allow it to recover. The Rail North Partnership representing the DfT and Transport for the North continues to challenge TPE robustly and hold the operator to account on its contractual obligations. Only last week, my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Transport called in executives from TPE and other industry bodies to reinforce this point. If appropriate, we will take action under the terms set out in the Franchise Agreement.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they take to ensure that the investment strategies of pension funds and other institutional investors take into account (1) crimes against humanity, and (2) genocide, as social risk factors.

The Government has taken action to ensure that environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors are taken into account by institutional investors.

2018 changes to the Occupational Pension Schemes (Investment) Regulations require occupational pension schemes to have policies on financially material ESG factors and on stewardship of their investments. Trustees are also required to report annually on how these policies have been implemented. These policies may include considerations such as those set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and in relation to issues such as crimes against humanity and genocide.

There are also similar expectations on providers of contract-based pensions in respect of their pension investments. The Independent Governance Committees (IGCs) of these firms are expected to consider and report on their firm’s policies on ESG issues and stewardship for the products that the IGCs oversee.

The importance and growth of investing in line with ESG considerations is a focus area of the Asset Management Taskforce – a regular forum chaired by the Economic Secretary to the Treasury bringing together Government, industry, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and other stakeholders. On 24 November 2020, the Asset Management Taskforce published “Investing With Purpose: placing stewardship at the heart of sustainable growth”. This report’s clear recommendations, which apply across the investment chain, will further enhance the UK’s stewardship regime aim to ensure that asset managers are focused on delivering long-term, sustainable benefits for investors, the economy, the environment and society.

The UK Stewardship Code, which was strengthened in 2020, also sets out at Principle 7 the expectation that its investor signatories systematically integrate material social issues into stewardship and investment. Stewardship by asset owners and asset managers involves making informed decisions about where to invest, and proactive oversight of assets once invested. The FCA’s disclosure of commitment rule to the Stewardship Code, as well as rules promoting disclosure of asset managers’ engagement and investment strategies under Revised Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD II), holds asset managers accountable and promotes the importance of stewardship. Consistent with the FCA’s objective to make relevant markets function well, stewardship activities improve market quality and integrity, and help create sustainable, long-term value for clients and beneficiaries, while having wider economic, environmental and societal benefits.

The Government would also expect institutional investors to be monitoring risks to their investments posed by breaches of international human rights law.

We recognise that some investors have not focused on social factors as much as environmental factors such as climate change. The Department for Work and Pensions has therefore written to 40 large schemes to understand their current practices. It also intends to seek views on whether occupational pension schemes’ policies and practices on social risk factors are sufficiently robust and what the Government could do to ensure that trustees are able to meet their legal obligations in this respect.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they take to ensure that pension funds and other institutional investors comply with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

The Government has taken action to ensure that environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors are taken into account by institutional investors.

2018 changes to the Occupational Pension Schemes (Investment) Regulations require occupational pension schemes to have policies on financially material ESG factors and on stewardship of their investments. Trustees are also required to report annually on how these policies have been implemented. These policies may include considerations such as those set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and in relation to issues such as crimes against humanity and genocide.

There are also similar expectations on providers of contract-based pensions in respect of their pension investments. The Independent Governance Committees (IGCs) of these firms are expected to consider and report on their firm’s policies on ESG issues and stewardship for the products that the IGCs oversee.

The importance and growth of investing in line with ESG considerations is a focus area of the Asset Management Taskforce – a regular forum chaired by the Economic Secretary to the Treasury bringing together Government, industry, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and other stakeholders. On 24 November 2020, the Asset Management Taskforce published “Investing With Purpose: placing stewardship at the heart of sustainable growth”. This report’s clear recommendations, which apply across the investment chain, will further enhance the UK’s stewardship regime aim to ensure that asset managers are focused on delivering long-term, sustainable benefits for investors, the economy, the environment and society.

The UK Stewardship Code, which was strengthened in 2020, also sets out at Principle 7 the expectation that its investor signatories systematically integrate material social issues into stewardship and investment. Stewardship by asset owners and asset managers involves making informed decisions about where to invest, and proactive oversight of assets once invested. The FCA’s disclosure of commitment rule to the Stewardship Code, as well as rules promoting disclosure of asset managers’ engagement and investment strategies under Revised Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD II), holds asset managers accountable and promotes the importance of stewardship. Consistent with the FCA’s objective to make relevant markets function well, stewardship activities improve market quality and integrity, and help create sustainable, long-term value for clients and beneficiaries, while having wider economic, environmental and societal benefits.

The Government would also expect institutional investors to be monitoring risks to their investments posed by breaches of international human rights law.

We recognise that some investors have not focused on social factors as much as environmental factors such as climate change. The Department for Work and Pensions has therefore written to 40 large schemes to understand their current practices. It also intends to seek views on whether occupational pension schemes’ policies and practices on social risk factors are sufficiently robust and what the Government could do to ensure that trustees are able to meet their legal obligations in this respect.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
10th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Oxford University Disability Law and Policy Project and the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights An Affront to Dignity, Inclusion and Equality, published on 2 July, in particular its recommendations (1) that all legislation passed during the COVID-19 pandemic should be reviewed to ensure that the duties under the Equality Act 2010 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are met, and (2) that a COVID-19 disability inclusive response and recovery group should be established to ensure that disabled people are central in the decision making relating to economic and social recovery following the pandemic.

The Government notes the recommendations in the report by Oxford University on “An Affront to Dignity, Inclusion and Equality”.

The Cabinet Office Disability Unit continues to work with disability stakeholders and across Government Departments to ensure that the needs of disabled people are considered in the UK Government’s response to COVID-19.

We are clear that consideration of equality impacts must be integral in all key policy decisions. All equality and discrimination laws and obligations continue to apply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government remains committed to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and to the progressive realisation of the rights for disabled people that it sets out.

The National Strategy for Disabled People is a key manifesto commitment for this Government and its delivery remains important for ministers, including No. 10. Its significance is even greater, as we re-build the UK’s economy and society following the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now focusing on meaningful engagement with stakeholders, strengthening our evidence base and keeping momentum to deliver the high ambition strategy that the Prime Minister has called for.

Baroness Stedman-Scott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many COVID-19 test kits manufactured in China have been purchased for use in the UK; what those kits have cost; and what capacity there is in the UK for the production of such kits.

As of 14 May 2021, more than 1 billion self-test and assisted lateral flow devices (LFDs) manufactured in China have been purchased for use in the United Kingdom. We are unable to provide the cost of these kits as this information is commercially sensitive. A gradual increase in the proportion of UK-produced self-test LFDs is anticipated by the summer.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much public money has been paid in the last two years to companies based in China manufacturing face masks and other personal protective equipment; and to provide a list of those companies.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much public money has been spent over the past two years on the purchase of (1) face masks, and (2) other personal protective equipment, manufactured in China.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many anti-depressants have been dispensed by the NHS in each of the past ten years; and what was the total cost to the NHS.

The annual number of anti-depressants that have been prescribed and dispensed in England in the community between 2011-November 2020, the latest data available, is provided in the following table. Information is not held for items dispensed in secondary care. The total cost of prescription items between this period was £2,543,305,593.92

Calendar year

Number of prescription items

2011

46,677,813

2012

50,167,201

2013

53,326,550

2014

57,149,109

2015

61,021,662

2016

64,703,639

2017

67,530,457

2018

70,873,979

2019

74,814,619

January - November 2020

71,801,824

Note:

The data provided for the years 2011-2013 was supplied from NHS Digital whilst the data provided for the years 2014-2020 was supplied from the NHS Business Services Authority. Any data prior to 2014 may classify many products in different ways due to a significant reclassification of products.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many anti-depressants have been dispensed to (1) people under 18 years old, and (2) primary school children in each of the past ten years; and what was the total cost to the NHS.

Information prior to 2015 is not held. The following tables show the number of antidepressant products that were prescribed to under 18 year olds and the subsequent subset of those aged 5 to 11 years old in England on a National Health Service prescription, dispensed in the community in England between April 2015, the earliest age-based data held, and November 2020, the latest data available. Information relating to items dispensed in secondary care is not collected centrally.

Number of antidepressant items prescribed and dispensed in the community in England to patients aged under 18 years old.

Calendar year

Number of prescription items

2015 (Nine months from April)

233,094

2016

329,954

2017

342,997

2018

361,436

2019

379,134

2020 (11 months up to November)

358,835

Number of antidepressant items prescribed and dispensed in the community in England to patients aged 5 to 11 years old.

Calendar year

Number of prescription items

2015 (Nine months from April)

9,336

2016

12,988

2017

13,647

2018

14,274

2019

14,529

2020 (11 months up to November)

14,187

The total cost of prescription items prescribed and dispensed in the community in England to patients aged under 18 years old, including patients in the 5 to 11 years old age group between April 2015 and November 2020 was £9,110,589.79.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Bethell on 6 January (HL10942 and HL10943), whether those purchases had a combined value of half a billion pounds; and why “Details of such decisions on individual contracts is regarded as commercially sensitive information” remain secret once the purchases have been made; whether they will place in the public domain details of (1) how, (2) why, and (3) by whom, these companies were selected; and if not, why not.

Two contracts have been awarded to PPE Medpro by the Department with a total value of £202 million and seven contracts have been awarded to Purple Surgical by the Department with a total value of £226 million. Information concerning whether any of the personal protective equipment (PPE) has not met the required quality standards or a particular specification, whose fault that is and what should be done about it are regarded as commercially confidential information as this process involves negotiations with the supplier where we may seek a refund or other redress as per the contract terms in these contracts.

In terms of how these suppliers were selected, the Government issued a public call to action to support the increased requirements of PPE. The aim was to reach suppliers who had experience of supplying PPE and also those who had no prior experience but who had access to sources of PPE through their business contacts. This resulted in over 15,000 suppliers offering their help and support, including PPE Medpro and Purple Surgical.

All suppliers were evaluated by Departmental officials on their financial standing, compliance with minimum product specifications and ability to perform the contract. All contracts were awarded by the appropriate accounting officer in line with Departmental policy and procedures.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government which contracts they awarded to Ayanda Capital for the provision of personal protection equipment; what was the total value of such contracts; and what value of equipment supplied under such contracts were designated as (1) unfit for use in the NHS, (2) fit for clinical use only, (3) suitable for supply or sale to departments other than the Department of Health and Social Care, (4) suitable for sale or supply to third countries, and (5) required to be destroyed.

One contract has been awarded to Ayanda Capital by the Department with a value of £252 million. The Contract Award Notice and the contract has been published online at the Government’s Contracts Finder service which contains details of the value of each contract and the types of personal protective equipment (PPE) which have been ordered against each contract.

Delivery is progressing for all the PPE items. All items of PPE undergo a rigorous technical assurance process before they can be released for use at which point decisions will be made about which healthcare setting they are suitable for or whether alternative settings need to be considered. Details of such decisions on individual contracts is regarded as commercially sensitive information as the Department may have to negotiate contract variations, which could include a refund or other form or redress against the supplier.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government which contracts they awarded to Purple Surgical for the provision of personal protection equipment; what was the total value of such contracts; and what value of equipment supplied under such contracts were designated as (1) unfit for use in the NHS, (2) fit for clinical use only, (3) suitable for supply or sale to departments other than the Department of Health and Social Care, (4) suitable for sale or supply to third countries, and (5) required to be destroyed.

Seven contracts have been awarded to Purple Surgical by the Department with a value of £226 million. Contract Award Notices and the contracts themselves have been published online at the Government’s Contracts Finder service which contain details of the value of each contract and the types of personal protective equipment (PPE) which have been ordered against each contract.

Delivery is progressing for all these PPE items. All items of PPE undergo a rigorous technical assurance process before they can be released for use at which point decisions will be made about which healthcare setting they are suitable for or whether alternative settings need to be considered. Details of such decisions on individual contracts is regarded as commercially sensitive information as the Department may have to negotiate contract variations, which could include a refund or other form or redress against the supplier.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government which contracts they awarded to PPE Medpro for the provision of personal protection equipment; what was the total value of such contracts; and what value of equipment supplied under such contracts were designated as (1) unfit for use in the NHS, (2) fit for clinical use only, (3) suitable for supply or sale to departments other than the Department of Health and Social Care, (4) suitable for sale or supply to third countries, and (5) required to be destroyed.

Two contracts have been awarded to PPE Medpro by the Department with a total value of £202 million. Contract Award Notices and the contracts themselves have been published online at the Government’s Contracts Finder service which contain details of the value of each contract and the types of personal protective equipment (PPE) which have been ordered against each contract.

Delivery is progressing for all these PPE items. All items of PPE undergo a rigorous technical assurance process before they can be released for use at which point decisions will be made about which healthcare setting they are suitable for or whether alternative settings need to be considered. Details of such decisions on individual contracts is regarded as commercially sensitive information as the Department may have to negotiate contract variations, which could include a refund or other form or redress against the supplier.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government which contracts they awarded to PestFix for the provision of personal protection equipment; what was the total value of such contracts; and what value of equipment supplied under such contracts was designated as (1) unfit for use in the NHS, (2) fit for clinical use only, (3) suitable for supply or sale to departments other than the Department of Health and Social Care, (4) suitable for sale or supply to third countries, and (5) required to be destroyed.

Seven contracts have been awarded to Pestfix by the Department with a total value of £348 million. Contract Award Notices and the contracts themselves have been published online at the Government’s Contracts Finder service which contain details of the value of each contract and the types of personal protective equipment (PPE) which have been ordered against each contract.

Delivery is progressing for all these PPE items. All items of PPE undergo a rigorous technical assurance process before they can be released for use at which point decisions will be made about which healthcare setting they are suitable for or whether alternative settings need to be considered. Details of such decisions on individual contracts is regarded as commercially sensitive information as the Department may have to negotiate contract variations, which could include a refund or other form or redress against the supplier.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 2 November (HL9267), which supplier contracted by the Department of Health and Social Care supplied the central distribution warehouse for personal protective equipment (PPE) in Daventry with PPE masks produced by Medwell Medical Products.

Investigation of stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) received from suppliers at the central distribution warehouse in Daventry show a record of receiving PPE masks produced by Medwell Medical Products.

The masks produced by Medwell Medical Products are marked as part of a donation from ‘Mail Force Charity’, a charity supported by the Daily Mail newspaper to solicit donations from the public to be used to purchase PPE from a variety of sources. These masks were procured through an intermediary who Mail Force had no direct dealings with. Of the 22 million masks supplied by the Mail Force Charity, only a small fraction of these were associated with Medwell.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 2 November (HL9267), how many personal protective equipment (PPE) masks held at the central distribution warehouse for PPE in Daventry were produced by Medwell Medical Products.

Investigation of stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) received from suppliers at the central distribution warehouse in Daventry show a record of receiving PPE masks produced by Medwell Medical Products.

The masks produced by Medwell Medical Products are marked as part of a donation from ‘Mail Force Charity’, a charity supported by the Daily Mail newspaper to solicit donations from the public to be used to purchase PPE from a variety of sources. These masks were procured through an intermediary who Mail Force had no direct dealings with. Of the 22 million masks supplied by the Mail Force Charity, only a small fraction of these were associated with Medwell.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 2 November (HL9267), how much they paid the supplier of the personal protective equipment (PPE) masks produced by Medwell Medical Products which were held at the central distribution warehouse for PPE in Daventry.

Investigation of stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) received from suppliers at the central distribution warehouse in Daventry show a record of receiving PPE masks produced by Medwell Medical Products.

The masks produced by Medwell Medical Products are marked as part of a donation from ‘Mail Force Charity’, a charity supported by the Daily Mail newspaper to solicit donations from the public to be used to purchase PPE from a variety of sources. These masks were procured through an intermediary who Mail Force had no direct dealings with. Of the 22 million masks supplied by the Mail Force Charity, only a small fraction of these were associated with Medwell.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address the sale of fake COVID-19 vaccines; and what assessment they have made of the remarks by the director general of the National Crime Agency’s National Economic Crime Centre suggesting that vaccine fraud is an "emerging threat" for the UK.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the United Kingdom’s regulator charged with the regulation of medicines for human use, which includes vaccines and medical devices.

The MHRA’s first priority is the protection of public health and any medicinal product or vaccine offered for sale which does not hold the appropriate authorisation will be investigated as a potential breach of the Human Medicines Regulations and a clear threat to health and safety of UK citizens.

Officials at the MHRA are actively assessing the nature and extent of such a threat and are working with partners in UK and elsewhere across the globe to provide an appropriate and effective response.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the Royal College of Psychologists about the number of people experiencing severe mental illness during the COVID-19 pandemic and the funding of mental health services.

We have brought forward our Wellbeing and Mental Health Support Plan for COVID-19, backed by £50 million, to set out the support available for people in the context of a second wave and the winter months. This plan sets out the steps we have taken to strengthen the support available for people who are struggling, including for people with severe mental illness.

This includes the announcement that the National Health Service will receive approximately an additional £500 million next year, to address waiting times for mental health services, give more people the mental health support they need, and invest in the NHS workforce.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of recent remarks by Professor Dame Sally Davies about (1) the correlation between obesity and the UK’s COVID-19 mortality rate, and (2) the ‘structural environment’ contributing to obesity in the UK.

There is consistent evidence that people who are overweight or living with obesity who contract COVID-19 are more likely to be admitted to hospital, admitted to an intensive care unit and to die from COVID-19 compared to those of a healthy body weight status.

We published Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives in July. Our strategy is designed to reshape the food environment by providing people with a healthier choice and encouraging them to take it. A copy is attached.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 5 November (HL9501), what assessment they have made of The Sunday Times insight investigation, published on 25 October, that alleged that elderly people were denied treatment to stop the NHS being overrun.

Claims that frail and elderly patients were denied care are categorically untrue.

Over two thirds of inpatients were aged over 65 years old. The National Health Service repeatedly instructed staff that no patient who could benefit from treatment should be denied it and even at the height of the pandemic there was no shortage of ventilators and intensive care.

Thanks to the hard work of NHS staff and care workers and the response of the public to public health measures we have protected our most vulnerable patients throughout the pandemic. For example, from the start of the pandemic we have done everything we can to ensure care home residents and staff are protected, including testing all residents and staff, ring-fencing £1.1 billion for infection control and making a further £4.6 billion available to councils to address pressures caused by the pandemic, including in adult social care.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they hold details of organ transplant patients who travelled to China for their transplant since 2015.

The National Transplant Registry captures annual follow-up on all patients who receive a transplant in the United Kingdom, together with a minimal dataset on those who are transplanted outside the UK and return for follow-up care. Such transplant recipients may, or may not, become apparent to the National Health Service, depending on whether they sought follow-up NHS treatment.

Data from NHS Blood and Transplant shows that 48 solid organ transplants have been performed overseas in UK residents from 2015 to 2019. Of the 48 transplants, two were reported to have been in China, one in 2015 and one in 2017. No data is recorded for patients going overseas for a transplant and not subsequently returning or for patients returning to the UK with no need for clinical follow-up and or treatment.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish (1) the number, and (2) the transplant details, of organ transplant patients who travelled to China for their transplant since 2015.

The National Transplant Registry captures annual follow-up on all patients who receive a transplant in the United Kingdom, together with a minimal dataset on those who are transplanted outside the UK and return for follow-up care. Such transplant recipients may, or may not, become apparent to the National Health Service, depending on whether they sought follow-up NHS treatment.

Data from NHS Blood and Transplant shows that 48 solid organ transplants have been performed overseas in UK residents from 2015 to 2019. Of the 48 transplants, two were reported to have been in China, one in 2015 and one in 2017. No data is recorded for patients going overseas for a transplant and not subsequently returning or for patients returning to the UK with no need for clinical follow-up and or treatment.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish the number of organ transplant patients who received their transplant overseas since 2015.

The National Transplant Registry captures annual follow-up on all patients who receive a transplant in the United Kingdom, together with a minimal dataset on those who are transplanted outside the UK and return for follow-up care. Such transplant recipients may, or may not, become apparent to the National Health Service, depending on whether they sought follow-up NHS treatment.

Data from NHS Blood and Transplant shows that 48 solid organ transplants have been performed overseas in UK residents from 2015 to 2019. Of the 48 transplants, two were reported to have been in China, one in 2015 and one in 2017. No data is recorded for patients going overseas for a transplant and not subsequently returning or for patients returning to the UK with no need for clinical follow-up and or treatment.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many COVID-19 patients have been admitted to hospitals in Liverpool in the last two weeks for which figures are available; whether such admissions have increased or plateaued; and how many patients due to receive treatment in these hospitals for other conditions have now had this treatment cancelled.

Data is not available in the format requested.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether hospitals in England used the triage tool to assess whether to admit elderly patients to intensive care between March and August; if so, whether age was the only criteria used to make such assessments; what assessment they have made of the impact of that system on the provision of care to all those that needed it; and who (1) devised, and (2) authorised, that tool.

Claims that frail and elderly patients were denied care in wave one of the coronavirus pandemic, in part because of a triage tool which was developed for use if the National Health Service was overwhelmed, are categorically untrue. Guidance to help clinicians make rational, evidence-based decisions in the event of intensive care units being overwhelmed was commissioned by the NHS England National Medical Director and the four United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers but work was halted when it became clear the NHS would not be overwhelmed.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they used the services of ADM Group to procure personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic; if so, (1) what equipment they purchased, and (2) how much that equipment cost; and whether any such equipment was procured by that company from Hubei Haixin Protective Products Group Co., Ltd.

The Department holds no contract with ADM Group for the supply of personal protective equipment.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government which contracts they awarded to Medwell Medical Products for the provision of personal protection equipment; what was the value of each such contract; and what was supplied.

The Department does not hold a direct contract with Medwell Medical Products for the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). Investigation of stocks of PPE received from suppliers at the central distribution warehouse for PPE in Daventry show a record of receiving PPE masks produced by Medwell Medical Products.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government which companies that have been awarded contracts to supply personal protective equipment to the NHS have sourced stock from Medwell Medical Products.

The Department does not hold a direct contract with Medwell Medical Products for the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). Investigation of stocks of PPE received from suppliers at the central distribution warehouse for PPE in Daventry show a record of receiving PPE masks produced by Medwell Medical Products.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they awarded any contracts for the provision of personal protective equipment to Hubei Haixin Protective Products Group Co., Ltd; if so, what plans they have to publish the details of those contracts; what was each contract's value; and what was supplied.

The Department has no contract with Hubei Haixin Protective Products Group Co. Investigation of stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) received from suppliers at the central distribution warehouse for PPE in Daventry show no record of items referring to this name.

NHS Supply Chain, which has its own framework contracts for the supply of PPE into the National Health Service, reports that it holds no contracts with Hubei Haixin Protective Products Group Co Ltd and that its records show that this company is not used by its existing suppliers.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government which companies that have been awarded contracts to supply personal protective equipment to the NHS have sourced stock from Hubei Haixin Protective Products Co., Ltd.

The Department has no contract with Hubei Haixin Protective Products Group Co. Investigation of stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) received from suppliers at the central distribution warehouse for PPE in Daventry show no record of items referring to this name.

NHS Supply Chain, which has its own framework contracts for the supply of PPE into the National Health Service, reports that it holds no contracts with Hubei Haixin Protective Products Group Co Ltd and that its records show that this company is not used by its existing suppliers.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any personal protective equipment that was manufactured by Hubei Haixin Protective Products Group Co., Ltd has been bought by the NHS; and if so, how much (1) that equipment has cost in total, and (2) they have bought, to date.

The Department has no contract with Hubei Haixin Protective Products Group Co. Investigation of stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) received from suppliers at the central distribution warehouse for PPE in Daventry show no record of items referring to this name.

NHS Supply Chain, which has its own framework contracts for the supply of PPE into the National Health Service, reports that it holds no contracts with Hubei Haixin Protective Products Group Co Ltd and that its records show that this company is not used by its existing suppliers.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what the process is for determining a change in the local COVID-19 alert level; and why the Liverpool City Region is subject to a higher alert level than other cities facing similar levels of cases.

In reviewing alert levels, the Government takes into consideration all the available data for the local situation, including incidence, test positivity and growth rate amongst other factors, to reduce the spread of the virus and bring ‘R’ back below 1.

Decisions on the response to suppress the virus in places at local COVID alert level very high, including Liverpool, were made in consultation with local authorities and directors of public health to ensure that the measures are relevant to that area’s economic, social and public health situation.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the letter sent by the Leader of Newcastle City Council, the Leader of Leeds City Council, the Leader of Manchester City Council and the Mayor of Liverpool to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on 6 October; and in particular, the concerns expressed about the (1) efficacy, and (2) clarity, of restrictions introduced to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department responded to the letter on 23 November 2020.

As the pandemic has progressed, we have gained a better understanding of the virus and how it spreads. When reviewing the efficacy of restrictions, the Government assess a range of indicators which currently includes:

- Case detection rates in all age groups;

- Case detection rates in the over 60 year olds;

- The rate at which cases are rising or falling;

- Positivity rate or the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken in the general population; and

- Pressure on the National Health Service, including current and projected occupancy, admissions, staff absences.

These indicators are under constant review, regardless of the level of restrictions. Since March 2020, the Government has put in place national restrictions which have led to reduced case rates and hospital admissions.

The Government endeavours to communicate changes to restrictions clearly through the media. Additionally, the Contain framework sets out how national and local partners work with the public at a local level to prevent, contain and manage outbreaks, including through communication. Contain facilitates engagement with local authorities through regional partnership teams, including the Department, Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England, ensuring local stakeholder views are part of the decision-making process.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision for inspectors from the Care Quality Commission to be permitted to visit care homes without having undergone a COVID-19 test; and what evidence they have that this does not pose a risk to the residents of those homes.

Our first priority continues to be to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in care homes and prevent future outbreaks, and to ensure the health and safety of both care workers and residents. To help reduce the risk of transmission, we have provided the Care Quality Commission (CQC) with test kits so CQC inspectors can undertake weekly polymerase chain reaction asymptomatic testing.

Regular testing will help identify positive cases in the CQC’s inspectors without symptoms and enable action to be taken to limit the spread of the virus, supporting the CQC to continue their vital work in ensuring services meet fundamental standards of quality and safety. As with all testing policies, this remains under review.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the findings of Amnesty International's report As if expendable: the UK Government's failure to protect older people in care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, published on 4 October.

Since the start of this pandemic we have been working closely with the sector and public health experts to put in place guidance and support for adult social care. We have taken steps to ensure residents and staff are protected, including testing all residents and staff, providing 208 million items of personal protective equipment, ring-fencing £1.1 billion to prevent infections in care homes and making a further £3.7 billion available to councils to address pressures caused by the pandemic – including in adult social care.

Residents’ individual circumstances must be considered in any decisions, ensuring that their human rights, personal choices, safety and dignity are upheld. Early in the pandemic, we outlined the importance of this through the Adult Social Care Ethical Framework.

We keep our policies under continuous review based on the emerging international and domestic evidence and will consider Amnesty’s report as part of this. On 18 September, we published our Adult Social Care Winter Plan which included several additional measures to support care homes during the pandemic.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to respond to the open letter from the leaders and chief executives of Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds city councils to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care which raised concerns that local restrictions put in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic pose a "huge, disproportionate” economic impact; and if so, when they intend to respond.

Evidence indicated that reduced operating hours allowed businesses to trade for the majority of the evening while also controlling transmission rates. This aimed to minimise damage to the economy and society, jobs and livelihoods and safeguard education in schools, colleges and universities.

COVID‑19 support is available to employers and the self-employed, including sole traders and limited company directors and includes loans, tax relief and cash grants, whether a business is open or closed.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 28 September (HL8106), how they will ensure that people will "limit social contact as much as possible” given that rules permit drinking in public houses with different groups of up to five others at different times.

From Monday 28 September, we increased the number of COVID-19 secure guidelines that have been placed into law and expanded the range of settings in which these laws will apply. The new ‘rule of six’ simplifies and strengthens the rules on social gatherings, making them easier to understand and easier for the police to enforce. Businesses will be legally obliged to prevent people mixing in groups larger than six, take appropriate measures to prevent mingling and to comply with the COVID-19 secure guidance already in place. Therefore, if venues are not COVID-19 secure then they could be liable for fines or closures.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reasons why (1) the Scottish Government, and (2) the Welsh Government, have excluded children under the age of twelve from the rules which prevent groups of more than six gathering socially during the COVID-19 test; and what plans they have, if any, to exclude such children in England from those rules for (1) family visits,and (2) support from grandparents.

Health is a devolved matter and each administration has the discretion and flexibility to find the right balance between managing risks and relaxing measures.

The Government is keeping its social distancing measures under continual review. The Government will only make changes when we are confident, we can do so safely. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care keeps the restrictions and requirements under constant consideration, to ensure the measures continue to be both proportionate and necessary

The new limit from 14 September does not prevent anyone from seeing their grandparents, but those who live in larger households will need to think carefully about how to organise their social interactions to remain within the law. We know this is difficult, but we know people will understand the need to take those steps which are necessary to keep their loved ones safe. These rules have been simplified and strengthened so they are easier to understand, and so the police can identify and disperse illegal gatherings. We are also acting now to get the virus under control and, if we achieve that, we may be able to make changes and potentially lift the restrictions.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what scientific advice was used to inform the rules which prevent groups of more than six people gathering socially; and what if anything that advice said about the risk of grandparents meeting with families consisting of six people or more.

As the Prime Minister set out, if we are to beat the virus then everyone, at all times, needs to limit social contact as much as possible. We are seeing daily case numbers rise rapidly and across the country, which is why the Government, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser jointly agreed the changes we announced.

The rules have been simplified and strengthened so they are easier to understand, and so the police can identify and disperse illegal gatherings. We are also acting now to get the virus under control and, if we achieve that, we may be able to make changes and potentially lift the restrictions.

The new limit from 14 September does not prevent anyone from seeing their grandparents, but those who live in larger households will need to think carefully about how to organise their social interactions to remain within the law. We know this is difficult, but we know people will understand the need to take those steps which are necessary to keep their loved ones safe.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 4 February 2008 (HL Deb, col 904), what conclusions were reached by the review of practices in informing donor-conceived children of the fact of their donor conception; what changes in the law were consequently made to ensure that donor-conceived children are informed of their donor conception; and how has this been further implemented by subsequent administrations.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics undertook a comprehensive review of donor conception. Donor conception: ethical aspects of information sharing was published on 17 April 2013 and a copy is attached.

One of the report’s key recommendations was that “The state does not, and should not, have a role in informing donor-conceived people of the circumstances of their conception, for example through entries on birth certificates.”

In the light of this review and the report’s clear recommendation, the Government took the view that no further legislative action was appropriate in this area. The Government encourages the parents of donor conceived children to be open with them about their genetic heritage. This has remained Government policy through successive administrations.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the study Does Euthanasia Have a Dampening Effect on Suicide Rates? Recent Experiences from the Netherlands, published in the Journal of Ethics in Mental Health on 28 December 2017, (2) the study How does legalization of physician-assisted suicide affect rates of suicide?, published in the Southern Medical Journal in October 2015, and (3) the relationship between the legalisation of assisted suicide and the rate of suicide in the general population; and what plans they have to reflect the outcome of any such assessments in the suicide prevention strategy for England.

The Government has made no formal assessment of these studies and the Department has not made an assessment of the relationship between the legalisation of assisted suicide and the rate of suicide in the general population.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 22 July (HL6754), whether any agencies or other departments, including, but not limited to, the Armed Forces and security services, have undertaken any assessment of the recent statements made by Dr Li-Meng Yan about (1) the origins of COVID-19, and (2) the response of the World Health Organisation; if not, why not; and whether they intend to call for an independent inquiry to be conducted into the conduct of the World Health Organisation on this issue.

The United Kingdom believes that the World Health Organization (WHO) has an important role to play in leading the health response to COVID-19 and in longer-term leadership in global health including preparedness. We also want to see the WHO continue to learn lessons on how to improve its response to global health emergencies and as such would expect a full review of all elements of their response once they are out of response mode, as has occurred after previous Public Health Emergencies of International Concern. The WHO has confirmed a review will take place and we will continue to work closely with them and other international partners to ensure this is wide-ranging and robust.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the reply by Lord Bethell on 24 July (HL Deb, cols 2475–98), whether they will now answer the question put by Lord Alton of Liverpool about the pausing of lockdown easements in Blackburn; what assessment they have made of the number of COVID-19 infections there; what progress they have made in containing the increase in such cases; and what criteria will be used to resume the easement of lockdown. [T]

Effective local management of outbreaks is the first line of protection against a second wave that might overwhelm the National Health Service.

In this case, Blackburn suffered the highest incidence rates of all districts in Lancashire for three consecutive weeks between 13 July and 2 August. Incidents rates per 100,000 population rose from 83.25 and peaked at 91.98 before falling to 74.53 by 2 August once local resources were augmented with national support.

When considering whether an area can come out of a localised lockdown, there will need to be a reduction in cases consistent with the surrounding areas and a significantly diminished risk of further growth. We are keeping these restrictions under review and they will be removed when they are no longer proportionate or necessary. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis with involvement of the scientific community and local leaders.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have received (1) from the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests on behalf of families affected by Primados, and (2) following the report of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review First do no harm, published on 8 July; and when they intend to respond to any such representations.

On behalf of affected families, the Chair of the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests (HPTs) attended every meeting of the Commission on Human Medicines’ Expert Working Group on HPTs and was invited to discuss their draft recommendations and give a statement to the Commission on the draft report of the Group. In addition, 13 affected families gave their personal experiences with Primodos to the Expert Working Group. Since publication of the report of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, we have received a letter from the Chair of the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests and will be responding shortly.

The Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review published its report on 8 July and all of its recommendations will be considered carefully. The Government will provide an update in due course.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the statement by Lord Bethell on 15 July (HL Deb, col 1738) that “the Primodos case is subject to legal dispute, so I cannot comment on it from the Dispatch Box”, which aspects of that legal dispute prevent an independent re-examination of the contested conclusions of the report by the Expert Working Group of the UK’s Commission on Human Medicines Report of the Commission on Human Medicines’ Expert Working Group on Hormone Pregnancy Tests, published on 15 November 2017.

The Commission on Human Medicines Expert Working Group on Hormone Pregnancy Tests was an independent group convened to conduct a scientific review of the evidence for an association between the use of hormone pregnancy tests and adverse outcomes of pregnancy.

The report and all the evidence that was reviewed by the Group has been publicly available since November 2017. We cannot discuss specific issues regarding the litigation, but this does not prevent any re-examination of the report or evidence. Any relevant new evidence would be reviewed as it becomes available.

We are carefully considering the recommendations of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review and will respond in due course.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic more than 4,000 people were discharged from hospital into care homes without being tested for the virus.

Throughout our COVID-19 response we have worked with the care sector and public health experts to put in place measures to reduce transmission and save lives. It has been our priority to ensure that everyone is discharged safely from hospital and to the most appropriate available place. Wherever possible, people who are clinically ready should be supported to return to their place of residence, where assessment of longer-term needs will take place. This approach follows the ‘Discharge to Assess’ model, to support timely and appropriate discharge from hospital.

The Hospital Discharge Service and staff should clarify with care homes the COVID-19 status of an individual and any COVID-19 symptoms, during the process of transfer from a hospital to the care home. As testing capacity was being built priority for testing was given to the most clinically vulnerable patients:

- all patients in critical care for pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or flu like illness;

- all other patients requiring admission to hospital for pneumonia, ARDS or flu like illness; and

- where an outbreak has occurred in a residential or care setting, for example long-term care facility or prisons.

As set out in the Adult Social Care Action Plan on 15 April, all patients are now required to be tested prior to discharge to a care home.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statements made by Dr. Li-Meng Yan about (1) the origins of COVID-19, and (2) the response of the World Health Organisation. [T]

Public Health England has not made an assessment of the statements made by Dr Li-Meng Yan.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports (1) that care home managers have not followed COVID-19 safety procedures, (2) that care home staff and residents had concerns about exposure to COVID-19 which warranted investigation by the Care Quality Commission, and (3) that care home providers may be subject to compensation claims for alleged negligence of resident and staff safety.

Many care homes have been doing an excellent job of keeping people safe.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) reduced the number of physical inspections it conducted during the crisis in order to limit the number of people going in and out of care homes. It did continue to inspect a small number of settings where serious concerns have been identified. Some of these were linked directly to concerns raised with the CQC from staff and members of the public.

Furthermore, during this crisis, Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors have contacted more than 80% of all providers – over 20,000 care providers – to offer support, advice and guidance, including help accessing personal protective equipment and advice on infection control.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans are in place (1) to acquire, (2) to stock, and (3) to distribute, gowns, masks, eye protection, gloves and other personal protective equipment, which is sufficiently adequate to protect clinical and care workers in the NHS and care sector in preparation for a potential second wave of COVID-19; and where any such plans are published.

We are working to expand the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) from overseas and improve domestic manufacturing capability. We are expanding and improving the logistics network for delivering to the front line.

Since 25 February we have delivered over 2.2 billion items of PPE across the health and social care system within England, plus tens of millions more will have been distributed by the devolved administrations. Almost 28 billion items of PPE have been ordered from United Kingdom-based manufacturers and international partners to provide a continuous supply in the coming months.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many batches of surgical face masks delivered to care homes and GPs during the COVID-19 pandemic were recalled because they were faulty; what assessment they have made of reports that some of those masks were out of date by seven years but were still used; where any such masks were sourced; and at what cost.

Two important customer alerts were issued on 22 May and 26 June regarding a product fault with Type IIR facemasks, sourced from Cardinal Health. The Cardinal Health Type IIR facemasks were subject to a formal shelf life extension process that enabled their shelf life to be extended and so were not out of date. The cost of these masks cannot be released due to commercial sensitivity.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
1st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of analysis by the Office for National Statistics which, after comparing death certificates from 2 March to 15 May with data from the 2011 census, found that of all COVID-19 related deaths (1) 30.3 per cent were among people who said their daily activities were “limited a lot” because of a health problem or disability, and (2) 28.9 per cent were among those whose activities were “limited a little”; and what assessment they have made of the implications of those statistics on the future conduct of public policy.

We know that many people with long standing, limiting illnesses or health conditions are at higher risk of poorer outcomes from COVID-19.

The Office for National Statistics has undertaken provisional analysis of data comparing the risk of death involving COVID-19 according to a person’s disability status, as recorded in the 2011 Census for the period 2 March to 15 May 2020. This data suggests that, after adjusting for region, population density, socio-demographic and household characteristics, the relative difference in mortality rates between those ‘limited a lot’ by a health condition and those not disabled was 2.4 times higher for females and 1.9 times higher for males.

We continue to review all available evidence regarding the impact of COVID-19 for disabled people and we are commissioning new research to better understand the specific impact. This evidence will inform policy development going forwards.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to modify the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards in order for relatives of residents in care homes to be able to move to their family homes residents of such homes who are currently not allowed to legally leave care homes.[T]

Emergency guidance issued at the beginning of the pandemic and the Codes of Practice for the Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards offer guidance to individuals trying to determine and make decisions in the best interests of a person who lacks capacity to make a particular decision, including on where to live.

Those making best interests decisions should seek consent on all aspects of care and treatment to which the person can consent. They should consider the person’s wishes and feelings, as well as their beliefs and values that would be likely to influence their decision. They should also consider the views of the person’s family members and those interested in the person’s welfare. This approach applies to decisions about residence too.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the remarks made by the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP on 12 June that “whilst the impact of such discharges meant the NHS was never short of beds or ventilators, it seems extraordinary that no one appeared to consider the clinical risk to care homes despite widespread knowledge that the virus could be carried asymptomatically.”

Throughout our coronavirus response we have kept our policies under continuous review based on the emerging international and domestic evidence and have worked tirelessly with the care sector and public health experts to reduce transmission and save lives.

On 15 April, we published COVID-19: Our Action Plan for Adult Social Care. This set out that all patients are required to be tested prior to discharge to a care home. A copy is attached.

Patients are discharged when it is clinically safe and they no longer need acute care. Wherever possible, people who are clinically ready should be supported to return to their place of residence, where assessment of longer-term needs will take place. This approach follows the ‘discharge to assess’ model, to support timely and appropriate discharge from hospital.

As our understanding of the virus has changes throughout the course of the pandemic, we have continued to develop our policy. Our current policy is that due to evidence of asymptomatic spread, during periods of sustained transmission we recommend that all residents being discharged from hospital or interim care facilities to the care home and new residents admitted from the community should be isolated for 14 days within their own room. For care home residents, around 70% of people living in care homes for the over 65s have dementia. It is important they return to their familiar environments when they are clinically ready, with the personalised support and daily activities in place that help them to live well with dementia. This can be better achieved in their care home, rather than the hospital.

We have made £1.3 billion funding available via the National Health Service to help patients who no longer need urgent treatment to get home from hospital safely and quickly. We have also made £3.2 billion available to local authorities so they can address pressures on local services caused by the pandemic, including in adult social care. On 13 May we announced an additional £600 million to support care home providers through a new Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the antihelmintic drug, Niclosamide, as a potential treatment for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19; and what assessment they have made of trials undertaken in South Korea on the use of Niclosamide to treat COVID-19.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has not received any applications for the use of niclosamide as a treatment for COVID-19 and has not undertaken any assessment of the trials in South Korea.

Currently, there are no ongoing clinical trials in the United Kingdom involving niclosamide for the treatment of COVID-19. However, there are three worldwide trials regarding this treatment listed on the United States National Library of Medicine, in the United States, France and Egypt, though none of these are recruiting currently.

The MHRA is working closely with the Department and the office of the Chief Medical Officer to prioritise potential treatments for COVID-19. The MHRA will consider any application made by a sponsor or potential marketing authorisation holder to run a clinical trial.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to answer the Topical Question for Written Answer tabled on 28 April (HL 3582), namely, what scientific advice was sought from Public Health England before the football match between Liverpool and Atlético Madrid on 11 March was permitted to take place; what assessment was made of permitting people to come together for a public event during a period in which Spain had placed its population in partial lockdown; who gave the advice on behalf of Public Health England; and which Ministers were involved in assessing that advice.

I replied to the noble Lord’s question of 28 April on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on 30 June. I understand that they are responding directly on the points the noble Lord raised.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the analysis published by the Local Government Association on 4 June that adult social care providers may face £6.6 billion in extra costs by the end of September as a result of COVID-19; and how they expect those costs to be met.

We recognise that COVID-19 is imposing significant pressures on the social care sector. We have now made £3.2 billion available to local authorities so they can address pressures on local services caused by the pandemic, including in adult social care.

On 15 May we published details of an additional £600 million Infection Control Fund for Adult Social Care. This funding is to support adult social care providers in England reduce the rate of transmission in and between care homes and to support workforce resilience.

This funding is part of the Government’s commitment to ensure the health and social care system have all the resources they need during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Government will continue to monitor pressures in the National Health Service and local government and will keep future funding under review.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by Age UK that (1) some residents of care homes are being asked to pay more than £100 a week in extra fees to cover the costs of COVID-19, and (2) the inability of residents to meet these costs could precipitate closures of care homes leaving residents homeless.

When choosing to charge, a local authority must not charge more than the cost that it incurs in meeting the assessed needs of the person. A local authority must also regularly reassess a person’s ability to meet the cost of any charges to take account of any changes to their resources.

We know the social care sector is under pressure due to growing demand from both older people and those of working age. We are providing councils with a £1 billion grant for adults and children’s social care on top of maintaining £2.5 billion of existing social care grants for 2020/21. We have provided £3.2 billion to local authorities to help with COVID-19 pressures, and a £600 million Infection Control Fund for care homes, 75% of which must be distributed on a 'per bed' basis, including to social care providers with whom the local authority does not have existing contracts.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they took in response to the information published by Public Health England in February advising that (1) people should not be discharged from hospitals into care homes if there was risk of COVID-19 transmission, (2) it was not safe to discharge untested individuals to care homes from hospitals where there was between five and 25 cases, and (3) there should be no discharges to care or residential homes.

The scenario set out in Public Health England’s (PHE) National Infection Service document, issued on 24 February, related to hospital-acquired COVID-19 outbreaks during the containment phase of COVID-19, prior to 12 March, when there was no sustained community transmission in the United Kingdom. There was no evidence of recorded cases of hospital-acquired COVID-19 outbreaks during the COVID-19 containment phase and before 19 March when the COVID-19 hospital discharge service requirements were published.

On 12 March the Government announced that we were moving our COVID-19 response from the ‘contain’ to ‘delay’ phase. On 13 March PHE published new guidance to care homes. We subsequently published the COVID-19 hospital discharge service requirements on 19 March.

Since the start of the outbreak we have been working closely with the sector and public health experts to ensure we have the right guidance and support in place for care homes.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the letter sent to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care by Cathy Gardner questioning the legality of discharging patients with COVID-19 into care homes, including the one in which her father died on 3 April, and calling for a retraction of the statement that a “protective ring had been thrown around care homes”; when they intend to respond; and what advice they have (1) sought, and (2) been given, by Government law officers in response to that correspondence.

The Government does not comment on litigation matters.

Every death from this virus is a tragedy. It is our priority to ensure that everyone is discharged safely from hospital and to the most appropriate available place. Patients are discharged when it is clinically safe and they no longer need acute care.

We have provided extensive support and guidance to care homes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also provided local authorities with £3.2 billion to help them deal with the impacts of COVID-19, as well as £1.3 billion via the National Health Service to enhance the NHS discharge process. On 13 May, we announced an additional new £600 million Infection Control Fund for care homes to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that people with COVID-19 have died alone and been left for up to two weeks before being discovered; and what steps they are taking to ensure that isolated people without family or other support systems can be better (1) safeguarded, and (2) supported, during the COVID-19 pandemic. [T]

We recognise how difficult the past months have been for people who are socially isolated and any death is a tragedy.

Local safeguarding partnerships have been ensuring that people with care and support needs are being safeguarded throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, including working with the shielding population to ensure they are well-supported. We are also aware of good practice through community-led social work and support networks which have ensured people stay connected and any concerns or support needs are identified more quickly.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish their response to the letters sent by the National Care Forum on (1) 26 March, and (2) 10 April which (a) stated that care homes were “being pressured into taking hospital discharge patients who had not been tested for the virus, even though they were exhibiting symptoms”, and (b) called for discharged patients to be tested or risk litigation over the “avoidable deaths” of residents who subsequently became infected.

The Department does not have record of the correspondence from the National Care Forum.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the remarks of the President of the Association of Directors of Social Services, that the recently published minutes of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies appear "to reinforce the impression that social care has been an afterthought – a secondary consideration after the NHS" and that "this cannot continue".

Throughout this pandemic, we have been determined to give both the National Health Service and social care everything they need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In February 2020, the first guidance for the social care sector was published. In March, we announced £1.6 billion funding for local government and £1.3 billion to go to the NHS and social care for discharge support. In April, we announced a further £1.6 billion for local government and our COVID-19: Our Action Plan for Adult Social Care. A copy of the Action Plan is attached.

On 15 May, the Government published the Care Home Support package and an additional £600 million Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund. This represents the next phase of our response for care homes.

We continue to work tirelessly with the care sector and public health experts to explore all measures possible to reduce transmission and save lives.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether patients were discharged to care homes by NHS hospitals in the 30 days before ministers introduced routine COVID-19 testing; if so, why; and what assessment was made of the preparedness of the social care sector for the arrival of such patients.

It has always been our priority to ensure that everyone is discharged safely from hospital and to the most appropriate available place. On 19 March we published the COVID-19 Hospital Discharge Service Requirements to support the safe and rapid discharge of patients who no longer need acute care. This specified that, wherever possible, people who are clinically ready should be supported to return to their place of residence (this could be a care home), where assessment of longer-term needs will take place. This follows the ‘Discharge to Assess’ model. Where a patient had been tested for COVID-19, we specified that results – whether negative or positive – should be included in a patient’s discharge documents.

To support the sector, this guidance also sets out the steps that care providers should be taking, and we provided £1.3 billion to support the process. We have provided advice to care homes throughout the pandemic in response to the latest conditions and emerging evidence and data.

On 2 April we published our Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home guidance. This set out further advice on infection control procedures for care homes e.g. limiting visits to essential visits only unless exceptional circumstances and providing advice on isolation, decontamination, cleaning and protective measures for staff. We recommended that all symptomatic residents in care homes should be immediately isolated for 14 days from the onset of symptoms, including patients discharged from hospital.

On 15 April we published our Adult Social Care Plan which included a commitment to all patients being tested prior to discharge to a care home. A copy of COVID-19: Our Action Plan for Adult Social Care is attached.

Copies of the COVID-19 Hospital Discharge Service Requirements and Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home are attached.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the remarks by Professor Neil Ferguson, Imperial College, London, that (1) he was “shocked about how badly European – or countries around the world – have protected care home populations” from COVID-19, (2) “infections in care homes and hospitals spill back into the community”, and (3) “the level of transmission and number of cases will remain relatively flat between now and September, short of very big policy changes or behaviour changes in the community”.

Our number one priority for adult social care is for everyone who relies on care to get the care they need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The steps we have taken have been designed with care users in mind, to ensure that individuals are treated with dignity and respect and that their particular needs are addressed.

Since the start of this pandemic we have been working closely with the sector and public health experts to put in place guidance and support for adult social care to respond to the pandemic. This includes updated guidance for care homes published on 19 June. This guidance provides advice to care homes on infection control procedures to limit the spread of the virus in care homes, protective measures for staff and minimising workforce transmission. A copy of Admission and Care of Residents in a Care Home during COVID-19 is attached.

Our help to care homes, which includes financial support, infection control training and supplies of personal protective equipment, has meant that nearly 60% of England’s care homes have had no outbreak at all.

As the Chief Medical Office has made clear, the rate of transmission and the number of cases of COVID-19 that we will see in the coming weeks and months will depend of how well we all follow social distancing guidance. The work of NHS Test and Trace and public health teams across the country will allow us to keep on top of any local outbreaks and keep the number of cases of COVID-19 low.

We are continuing to seek further evidence as domestic and international experience accrues and is published, and we are working tirelessly with the care sector and public health experts to explore all measures possible to reduce transmission and save lives.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports by the Care Quality Commission that there were 386 deaths linked to learning disabilities and autism between 10 April and 15 May, representing a 134 per cent rise compared with the same period in 2019.

We have commissioned Public Health England to undertake a detailed analysis of the numbers of deaths of people with a learning disability. This will draw on data published by NHS England and by the Care Quality Commission to assess the impact of COVID-19 on this group of people.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they took in response to the advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies following its meeting on 10 March to ensure that “special policy consideration be given to care homes and various types of retirement communities” and that a specific action plan for social care was in place by mid-April.; to what timescale they implemented their response; and what assessment they have made of the length of time taken to respond to that recommendation.

Since the start of this outbreak we have been working closely with the sector and public health experts to put in place guidance and support for adult social care based on the latest domestic and international evidence, including that brought together by Public Health England and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, and drawing on the insights of care providers

In February, the first guidance for the sector was published. In March we announced £1.6 billion funding for local government and £1.3 billion to go to the National Health Service and social care for discharge support. In April we announced a further £1.6 billion for local government and published our detailed Adult Social Care Action Plan on 15 April. In May we announced an additional £600 million to support care home providers through a new Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund and our care home support package,

Alongside the care home support package, we have also published detailed guidance for home care providers to support them to deliver care safely and effectively during the pandemic. This will be relevant to retirement community settings where care is provided.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much in total of the Infection Control Fund has been used by care homes to provide personal protective equipment for staff; what steps have been taken to ensure expeditious testing for care home staff and residents before 6 June; how many such staff and residents are yet to be tested; and why.

We have now made £3.2 billion available to local authorities so they can address pressures on local services caused by the pandemic, including in adult social care.

On 15 May we published details of an additional £600 million Infection Control Fund for Adult Social Care. This funding is to support adult social care providers in England reduce the rate of transmission in and between care homes and to support workforce resilience. As part of the grant conditions, local authorities have been asked to report later this month on the measures taken, such as steps taken to isolate residents within care homes and support staff who are self-isolating.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what assessment they have made of the number of COVID-19 related deaths in care homes in England and Wales between 10 April and 29 May as documented by the Office of National Statistics; (2) what assessment they have made of the statistics published by the Data Analysis Bureau and Person Centred Software that, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 15 per cent of care home staff have been tested and 62 per cent of care homes have not had any staff receive tests; and (3) what plans they have to review their statement on 15 May that they would ensure the testing of residents and employees at all care homes in England by the beginning of June.

To provide a more comprehensive response to a number of outstanding Written Questions, this has been answered by an information factsheet Testing – note for House of Lords which is attached, due to the size of the data. A copy has also been placed in the Library

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statistics published by the Data Analysis Bureau that 15 per cent of 12,407 care home workers from 650 care homes across England, Wales and Scotland have been tested for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, and that 6 per cent of those tested were tested between 20 and 27 May.

Test kits have been offered to every care home for over-65s or those with dementia in England, reaching the testing target for 6 June. All remaining adult care homes are eligible to access testing through the whole care home portal. We have the capacity to send out over 50,000 test kits a day.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the deaths of 20 residents at the Paisley Care Home in Liverpool from suspected COVID-19; and what measures are in place (1) to prevent the spread of that virus, and (2) to ensure the safety of residents and staff, in care homes.

The safety of residents and staff is a priority. It is the responsibility of the local authority, supported by Public Health England and NHS England to manage outbreaks in the first instance. Every death from this virus is a tragedy and we are working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this outbreak.

We have published a range of guidance for care homes on how to continue giving care during the COVID-19 outbreak.

This includes the Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home guidance. This guidance sets out infection control and cohorting advice to care homes, which providers should follow to ensure that they have the confidence to receive and support residents. A copy of the guidance is attached.

On 15 May 2020 we published a care home support package which outlines?the next phase of our response for care homes, including measures on infection prevention control, comprehensive testing and clinical support.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for reform of the World Health Organisation; and what steps they intend to take to ensure the organisation commissions an independent inquiry into the genesis of COVID-19.

We believe the World Health Organization has an important role to play in leading the global health response. The United Kingdom has long been an advocate of reform in the WHO to ensure it is flexible and responsive, and we will continue to be so. We also want to see the WHO continue to learn lessons on how to improve its response to global health emergencies and as such would expect a full review of all elements of their response once they are out of response mode, as has occurred after previous Public Health Emergencies of International Concern. The Secretary of State raised this point in the United Kingdom national address for the World Health Assembly on 18 May 2020 and we were pleased to co-sponsor the COVID-19 resolution, which was an important step forward on the review as well as other areas of collaboration. The UK intends to engage constructively with a future review, including working with other Governments.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the comments by the National Care Association that care homes have felt “completely abandoned” during the COVID-19 pandemic and that prioritising the NHS without adequately protecting elderly people in care may have been “wrong”.

The safety of residents and staff is always a priority. We have provided extensive support and guidance to care homes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are working closely with local authorities, the care sector and NHS England to ensure everyone has access to the right care, in the most appropriate setting for their needs.

We are determined to give both the care sector and the National Health Service everything they need to respond to this pandemic. On 15?May 2020 we published a care home support package which outlines?the next phase of our response for care homes,?using the latest scientific evidence and drawing on the insights of care providers. To support this, on 13 May we announced an additional £600 million to support care home providers through a new Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund.

This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we will continue to review our guidance and national support in line with the latest scientific advice and engage with stakeholders to ensure we address the majority of their concerns.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the laboratories involved in the development of COVID-19 vaccines are evaluating the (1) use, and (2) potential effects, of those vaccines in trials with (a) older people, and (b) people with disabilities.

Vaccine development involves evaluating the quality, safety and efficacy in a series of carefully planned clinical trials. The Government is backing two promising United Kingdom COVID-19 vaccine candidates at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. Vaccine development is in the early stages but progressing rapidly. During clinical trials, both Oxford and Imperial plan to evaluate the safety and efficacy of their vaccines in older people. While there are no plans to specifically recruit those with disabilities, in both cases those with disabilities are eligible and welcome to take part in clinical trials subject to specific exclusion criteria which apply to all volunteers to ensure the safety of participants.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they made of the report by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services Ensuring DASS and their partner decision makers have the critical and most up to date information and data on needs and capacity to plan for and make timely and rational decisions about the reprioritisation of services in response to a future flu pandemic and Identifying People who are Vulnerable in a Flu Pandemic Crisis, published in March 2018, which stated that (1) demand for personal protection equipment “could rapidly outstrip supply”, (2) advice on controlling cross infection will be required, and (3) they should “provide support with systems to collate data on suitable volunteers…as this was an area of weakness identified”, in the event of a pandemic; and what steps they took in response to that report.

The Government has made no specific assessment of the report by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Service’s (ADASS) report of 2018, but the Department engages and considers views of ADASS as a key partner organisation. Since the start of the pandemic we have worked closely with the adult social care sector and public health experts to provide guidance and support, including on controlling infection.

On 2 April we published Admission and Care of Residents in a Care Home during COVID-19, which was updated on 19 June. We set out our plans to support the care sector in using and accessing personal protective equipment (PPE) in Covid-19: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Plan on 10 April. On 15 April we published our COVID-19: Our Action Plan for Adult Social Care which included strengthened advice around isolation and introduced testing for all patients prior to discharge from hospital to a care home. Copies are attached. On 15 May, the Government announced a support package for care homes backed by a £600 million Infection Control Fund for care homes to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

To support the health and social care sectors to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have launched the National Health Service Volunteer Responders programme, developed by NHS England in partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service. It is up to individual social care providers to decide whether to use volunteers. We do not collect data nationally on how many volunteers are operating in the social care sector.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Equality and Human Rights Commission about whether human rights laws have been breached by hospitals that discharged older patients that were potentially infected with COVID-19 into care homes.

The Department has not had discussions with the Equality and Human Rights Commission on discharge policy. Providers of care homes in England are required to register with the Care Quality Commission and adhere to the ‘fundamental standards’, such as the duty to provide care in a safe way and treat residents with dignity and respect, as set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

Health and care settings must always seek to fully protect the rights of their residents. The safety of residents and staff is always a priority and patients should not be discharged from hospital unless it is clinically safe to do so. On 15 April, in our Adult Social Care Action Plan, we introduced a policy of testing all residents prior to discharge to a care home.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
14th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the comments by the UN Human Rights Commissioner about the operation of care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic; what assessment they have made of reports of care home staff (1) abandoning care homes, (2) leaving residents to die alone, (3) failing to make adequate preparations, and (4) failing to provide guidance and personal protection equipment; what assessment they have made, in assessing such reports, of the human rights of patients and staff in care homes; and what plans they have to support the call for a UN convention on the rights of the elderly.

The Government is aware of comments on care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic made by the UN Special Rapporteurs and the UN Independent Expert.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is not aware of any specific reports of care home staff abandoning care homes or specific cases where residents have been left to die alone. The CQC (Registration) Regulations 2009 set out requirements for incidents and events that must be reported to the CQC, which covers deaths and serious injuries, abuse, incidents reported to the police and events that prevent a service from being carried on safely and in a way that meets legal requirements.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, each care provider was responsible for sourcing their own personal protective equipment (PPE) from wholesalers and distribution centres. While this was effective and appropriate before the outbreak, it became clear that this fragmented system would be slow to get PPE where it needed to be. To address this, the United Kingdom Government stepped in to support the supply and distribution of PPE to the care sector. We have focused on ensuring that there is an emergency supply in place, while building a longer-term solution for distribution to the sector.

We are supportive, in principle, of a multilateral instrument dedicated to the rights of older persons and welcome the work of the UN Open Ended Working Group on Ageing and its focus on substance to help deepen our understanding of the important issues, before we consider what might be the most appropriate solutions.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that care home operators have complained that COVID-19 testing in care homes has been a “complete system failure”; what steps they are taking in response to such reports; what assessment they have made of reports that Public Health England, the Care Quality Commission and the Department of Health and Social Care have stated that each are not responsible for the testing programme and referred care home operators to another of those organisations; and what plans they have to clarify (1) the operation of, and (2) who has responsibility for, the testing programme.

If a care home suspects a resident has symptoms, the care home manager should contact their local Public Health England Health Protection Team (HPT). The HPT will arrange for testing of all symptomatic residents and provide tailored infection control advice.

For subsequent testing, including ‘whole home testing’, the Department is responsible and testing kits will be delivered directly to care homes by courier or via a mobile testing unit. Kits are requested by care home managers or Local Directors of Public Health via the new online portal. They will provide testing for all residents and asymptomatic staff.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many (1) residents, and (2) workers, in care homes have been offered COVID-19 tests; how many have been carried out; and what estimate they have made of the time it will take for all residents and employees in care homes to be offered tests.

Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 125,000 workers in care settings and over 118,000 care home residents have been tested through Departmental and Public Health England testing routes. On Monday 11 May we launched the ‘whole home’ testing portal. As of 19 May, around 170,000 tests have been delivered to 1,243 care homes using the whole care home portal as part of this programme. We will make testing available for every resident and member of staff in care homes for older people in England between now and early June.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reported complaint made by the chairman of the trustees of the Fairfield Residential Home in Oxford, that COVID-19 testing swabs were not delivered and that symptomatic carers who are self-isolating have to make an 120 mile journey in order to be tested.

The Department recognises that this occurred due to an error which has since been rectified. All failed deliveries were replaced and we now have more than 500 test sites around the United Kingdom with the median distance people travel to sites at just 3.3 miles.

The adult social care sector has been, and continues to be, one of our highest priorities for the rollout of testing, and care homes have been one of the first groups to be given access to repeat asymptomatic testing.

Asymptomatic testing in care homes testing has not stopped, while any care home resident or member of staff with symptoms will continue to be able to immediately access a free test.

We are issuing more than 120,000 tests a day to care homes across the country prioritising high priority outbreak areas.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether (1) Public Health England, (2) the Care Quality Commission, or (3) the Department of Health and Social Care, has had responsibility for carrying out COVID-19 tests in care homes; who is currently responsible for such testing; and what steps they are taking to ensure clarity about such testing for care home operators.

To provide a more comprehensive response to a number of outstanding Written Questions, this has been answered by an information factsheet Testing – note for House of Lords which is attached, due to the size of the data. A copy has also been placed in the Library.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that hospitals discharged patients with COVID-19 to care homes without alerting those care homes to such patient’s suspected or confirmed diagnosis; whether they expect the Care Quality Commission to publish a report on any such instances; if so, (1) when they estimate that report will be published, and (2) whether the findings will be presented to Parliament; and what assessment they have made of the risk of legal proceedings being brought against any hospital found to have acted in such a way.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is aware of a small number of cases where care homes have told them that a patient’s positive COVID-19 status was known to the hospital but not disclosed at the point of discharge. The CQC is currently assessing whether there have been any breaches of regulation on the part of the hospital. Once all the relevant information has been reviewed, the CQC will assess what action might be appropriate, if any. Any enforcement action taken by the CQC would be made public. Due to the very small number of cases the CQC has been made aware of and is reviewing, it would be unlikely that this information would form the basis of a standalone report. If the CQC receives further information on this issue, it may seek to publish a report in the future.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the remarks by the National Statistician that the R rate of COVID-19 infections “is driven by the epidemic in care homes; and (2) reports by Care England that the levels of COVID-19 infections among hospital and care home staff may be five times higher than those in the wider population; and what steps they are taking in response.

Individual modelling groups use a range of data to estimate R including epidemiological data such as hospital admissions, intensive care unit admissions and deaths. R is an average value that can vary in different parts of the country, communities, and subsections of the population. It cannot be measured directly so there is always some uncertainty around its exact value.

We know that care providers across the country have been doing their utmost to keep those they look after safe and well in the most challenging circumstances. On 13 May we announced an additional £600 million to support providers through a new Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund.

The Government has also made £3.2 billion available to help local authorities deal with the immediate impacts of COVID-19, and £1.3 billion of additional funding to enhance the National Health Service discharge process, getting patients who no longer need urgent treatment home from hospitals safely and quickly.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes on the level of COVID-19 cases in the wider community; what plans they have to prevent carers from visiting multiple care facilities; and what steps they are taking to ensure the adequate care of care home residents while ensuring that infected staff are properly isolated.

There is little evidence to suggest a substantial transmission of infection from care homes into the wider community, but our work to reduce transmission within care homes will reduce any risk further. On 13 May we announced an additional £600 million to support providers through a new Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund. The Fund sets out the measures providers can take to support the workforce to minimise the spread of infection, including ensuring staff can self-isolate, reduce their hours, or reduce the number of establishments they work at, without experiencing any loss of income. Expanding and retaining the social care workforce is also key to enabling care providers to continue to provide care and support to their residents, and we have launched a national recruitment campaign for England to support this.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Reuters Special Report In shielding its hospitals from COVID-19, Britain left many of the weakest exposed, published on 5 May. [T]

Social care has been at the frontline of our response to COVID-19, with social care providers looking after many of the most vulnerable in society. The Government’s number one priority for adult social care is to ensure that everyone who relies on care gets the care and support they need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 13 May we announced an additional £600 million for an Infection Control Fund for Adult Social Care. This funding is to support adult social care providers in England reduce the rate of transmission in and between care homes and to support workforce resilience. Furthermore, on 15 May, the Government published a Care Home Support Plan in an online only format on GOV.UK. This is the next phase of our response for care homes, using the latest domestic and international evidence brought together by Public Health England, and drawing on the insights of care providers.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what policy objectives they intend to set for their participation in the 73rd Session of the World Health Organisation’s World Health Assembly due to be held from 17 to 21 May; what plans they have to raise the case for a formal international investigation of the government of China’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan at that Assembly; and what discussions they intend to have with other governments, in advance of the Assembly, about conducting such an investigation.

The United Kingdom participated fully in the 73rd World Health Assembly which we saw as an important opportunity to further international collaboration on COVID-19. We believe the World Health Organization (WHO) has an important role to play in leading the global health response. We want to see the WHO continue to learn lessons on how to improve its response to global health emergencies and as such would expect a full review of all elements of their response once they are out of response mode, as has occurred after previous Public Health Emergencies of International Concern. The Secretary of State raised this point in the United Kingdom national address and we were pleased to co-sponsor the COVID-19 resolution, which was an important step forward on the review as well as other areas of collaboration. The UK intends to engage constructively with a future review, including working with other Governments.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that people with irregular migration status in the UK are informed about (1) free access to NHS treatment for COVID-19, (2) treatment for COVID-19, and (3) treatment for underlying medical conditions if hospitalised from COVID-19 related complications.

Regulations came into force on 29 January 2020 to add Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) (now known as COVID-19) to Schedule 1 of the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2015. This means there can be no charge made to an overseas visitor for the diagnosis, or, if positive, treatment, of COVID-19. The exemption from charge does not extend to any pre-existing conditions, unless separately exempt under the Regulations.

This message has been disseminated to National Health Service staff, the public and organisations representing vulnerable migrant groups. It has also been published in 40 languages on Public Health England’s Migrant Health Guide.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to protect public health in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government takes the welfare of all citizens seriously and we are working hard to ensure people get the support they need to look after themselves and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes enabling all communities to take the necessary measures to reduce the spread of the virus.

The Minister of State for Home Affairs and Housing, Communities and Local Government (Lord Greenhalgh) wrote to councils outlining their responsibility to support all communities, including Gypsy and Traveller communities, and to ensure they have access to water, sanitation and waste collections.

COVID-19 health guidance for members of Gypsy, Traveller and Boater communities is currently in development for dissemination in a range of formats.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have written to general practice reminding them of the importance of continuing to deliver appropriate care to their local population and the requirements on registration of patients, including those with no fixed address.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken in response to the concerns raised by the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons on 27 March about the protection of older people who are at the highest risk of COVID-19; and what consideration they have given to her recommendation to develop triage protocols to “ensure that decisions on whether to allocate medical resource are made on the basis of medical needs, the best scientific evidence available and not on non-medical criteria such as age or disability”, and to “ensure that essential support services at home in the communities can continue without putting older persons and their care providers at risk”.

On 7 April 2020, NHS England published a letter outlining the importance of maintaining standards and quality of care in pressurised circumstances. This letter emphasised the NHS Constitution which is based on the principle of equity of access for those who could benefit from treatment escalation.

The evidence is clear that people who are over the age of 70 are at increased clinical risk of having severe cases of COVID-19. The Government recognises that social distancing and self-isolation are likely to increase the risk of loneliness and mental health issues for everyone, but particularly for vulnerable groups including those with pre-existing conditions and those shielding. The Government has provided guidance to support people both medically and socially, who on the basis of their condition and not their age, are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. This is available in an online only format on GOV.UK. Furthermore, on 22 April the Government launched a new major plan to tackle loneliness which include a £5 million boost for national loneliness organisations.

It is important that people continue to receive support services in the community. The Government has made £3.2 billion available to help local authorities deal with the immediate impacts of COVID-19, and £1.3 billion of additional funding to enhance the National Health Service discharge process, getting patients who no longer need urgent treatment home from hospitals safely and quickly.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government why their guidance Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home, published on 2 April, and the supplementary guidance, published on 17 April, differs from World Health Organisation guidance for-long term care facilities; and what assessment they have made of the compatibility of that guidance with their obligations under the 2009 UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Department, NHS England, Public Health England (PHE) and the Care Quality Commission co-published Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home guidance on 2 April 2020, followed by the publication of PHE guidance How to work safely in care homes on 17 April 2020.

Residential care settings must always seek to fully protect the rights of disabled people now and throughout the course of this global pandemic. No changes have been made to the human rights protections in the Mental Health Act 1983 or as a result of the Care Act 2014 easements. The Adult Social Care Action Plan, published on 15 April 2020, includes information on supporting people to maintain their independence and responding to individual needs.

This is an unprecedented global pandemic. We are constantly reviewing our guidance in line with policy changes based at all times on the best scientific advice.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government why their Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home guidance, published on 2 April, does not include guidance for care homes on (1) the provision of infection prevention and control (IPC) focal points to lead and coordinate IPC activities, (2) the provision of clear information to residents in an understandable format and language, (3) the steps staff should take in relation to physical distancing, and (4) what staff should require of residents.

Since the guidance published on 2 April we have set out a comprehensive action plan, last updated on 16 April, to support the adult social care sector in England throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Our plan sets out the actions the Government is taking to help minimise the spread of infection within all care settings. Local health protection teams have been working hard to support care homes in outbreak management providing help with testing and isolation, and infection control advice. We will continue to work closely with key stakeholders and keep our policies under review as the pandemic goes on.

We will continue to update our guidance based on stakeholder feedback, including changes to text to make content easier to read. The Accessible Information Standard is a requirement for organisations that provide National Health Service care or publicly-funded adult social care. It ensures that people with a disability, impairment or sensory loss are provided with information they can easily read or understand, with support, so they can communicate effectively with services.

We recognise the importance of care home staff, and the vital role they have to play in the United Kingdom’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 17 April Public Health England published guidance COVID19: How to Work Safely in Care Homes. This includes advice on what measures to take in relation to physical distancing in various scenarios. A copy of this guidance is attached.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government why their Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home guidance, published on 2 April, does not recommend that a resident should be isolated until they have had two negative laboratory tests for COVID-19 taken at least 24 hours apart after the resident’s symptoms have resolved; why that guidance does not require the use of eye protection when staff are working within two 2 metres of a resident; and why that guidance does not specify what personal protection equipment should be worn by cleaners in care homes.

The Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home guidance advised a 14-day isolation period over testing, based on the evidence available at the time of publication. The duration was chosen as a pre-cautionary measure and was informed by the recommendation of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group and multiple Government advisory groups.

Care home staff are advised to wear eye protection if a two-metre distance cannot be maintained and there is needed for certain tasks where there is risk of droplets or secretions from the resident’s mouth, nose, lungs or from body fluids reaching the eyes, for example prolonged tasks near residents who are repeatedly coughing or who may be vomiting.

Eye protection is not required when care home workers are not within two metres of someone with a cough. This advice applies to all care home staff, including cleaners.

Care home staff working in communal areas with residents but with no direct contact with residents although potentially within two metres of residents, do not need to wear eye protection.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the evidence base behind the suggestion, set out in their Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home guidance, published on 2 April, to use disinfectant of 1000ppm chlorine when cleaning car homes; what assessment they have made of whether such disinfectant is sufficient to kill COVID-19 on surfaces; and why that guidance does not include specific guidelines to ensure that laundry is washed in a washing machine with water at 60-90°C with laundry detergent, in accordance with the World Health Organisation guidelines.

The Department, NHS England, Public Health England (PHE) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) co-published Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home guidance on 2 April 2020, followed by the publication of PHE guidance COVID 19: How to work safely in care homes on 17 April 2020. A copy of PHE’s guidance is attached.

The guidance on disinfection in Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home of 2 April 2020 is consistent with the World Health Organization’s advice on disinfection.

The use of 0.1% sodium hypochlorite, which is the same as 1,000 parts per million chlorine, has been deduced from studies conducted on SARS-CoV and other coronaviruses, including the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s Interim guidance for environmental cleaning in nonhealthcare facilities exposed to SARS-CoV-2.

With reference to washing of laundry, the Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home guidance states that care homes are expected to follow the advice in Health Technical Memorandum 01-04: Decontamination of linen for health and social care (2016). The Memorandum states that enhanced processing should be used when there is the possibility of infectious linen or clothing being generated. The enhanced process should be performed in a machine as for the standard process but using a cycle with a minimum temperature of 60ºC, or the highest temperature suitable for heat-sensitive items.

This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we have taken the right steps at the right time to combat it, guided at all times by the best scientific advice. We are constantly reviewing our guidance in line with policy changes based at all times on the best scientific advice.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government why their Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home guidance, published on 2 April, does not (1) acknowledge the risk of anxiety, anger and stress on residents, (2) place a duty on care homes to provide practical and emotional support and to work with residents’ families and health care providers, and (3) consider any spiritual or pastoral support residents may request.

The Department, NHS England, Public Health England and the Care Quality Commission co-published Admission and Care of Residents during COVID-19 Incident in a Care Home guidance on 2 April 2020. A copy of the guidance is attached.

The guidance sets out infection control and cohorting advice to care homes, which providers should follow to ensure that they have the confidence to receive and support residents. With the needs of residents in mind, it asks care homes to facilitate remote visiting from family, friends and others, via phone, video, and using plastic or glass barriers.

All our guidance is designed with care users in mind, to ensure that individuals are treated with dignity and respect and that their particular needs are addressed. The Adult Social Care Action Plan published on 15 April includes information on supporting people to maintain their independence and responding to individual needs.

Together with the Chief Social Worker, the Department has developed an ethical framework to provide support to ongoing response planning and decision-making to ensure that thorough consideration is given to a core set of ethical values and principles when organising and delivering social care for adults. The framework emphasises that equal concern and respect should be given to all individuals, their families and carers, and communities, as well as the professionals and volunteers that we will be relying on to ensure the delivery of our services and ambitions.

We have not changed relevant duties for regulated providers (including care homes), contained in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014, including the fundamental standards which include provisions about person-centred care (regulation 9) and dignity and respect (regulation 10).

We know that care home residents, particularly those with cognitive and intellectual impairments such as dementia or a learning disability and autistic people, are likely to experience particular difficulties during the pandemic. This could include difficulty understanding and following advice on social distancing, and increased anxiety. Our social care workforce, including new recruits, will need to be trained to respond to these conditions appropriately. We will support providers to embed this in their training in relation to their role, whether they require basic awareness training or more specialist knowledge and skills.

Officials and Ministers are speaking to users of adult social care, and groups that represent them, frequently, to ensure that the Government’s adult social care COVID-19 response reflects their needs. The Government has produced a number of pieces of guidance to support people during the COVID-19 pandemic, including people with dementia and their carers. We are constantly reviewing our guidance in line with the views of users and policy changes, based at all times on the best scientific advice.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what scientific advice was sought from Public Health England before the football match between Liverpool and Atlético Madrid on 11 March was permitted to take place; what assessment was made of permitting people to come together for a public event during a period in which Spain had placed its population in partial lockdown; who gave the advice on behalf of Public Health England; and which Ministers were involved in assessing that advice. [T]

I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has advised that a number of sports and other events took place in the period before the Prime Minister announced the lockdown on 23 March. It was absolutely appropriate for them to do so as it was in line with the public health guidance at the time, and indeed, in line with wider activity in the economy and society more generally. It was also in line with the Government’s border and travel policy.

It is the Government’s absolute priority to protect people's health and our advice to the public is based on direct, continuous consultation with scientific and medical experts. There are many factors that could influence the number of cases in a particular area, including population density, age, general health, and the position of an area on the pandemic curve.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the application developed by Doctors Association UK about problems with personal protection equipment (PPE); and (2) reports that PPE is being shipped from the UK to Germany, Spain, and Italy, because UK companies claim that offers of help have not been pursued.

We are working around the clock to give the social care sector and wider National Health Service the equipment and support they need to tackle this outbreak.

Sourcing sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment is a challenge that many countries are facing. We are working to expand supply from overseas, improve domestic manufacturing capability and expand and improve the logistics network for delivering to the front line.

The full weight of the Government is behind this effort and we are working closely with industry, social care providers, the NHS, and the army to ensure the right equipment continues to be delivered.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 21 April (HL2602), why they have not been in contact with the National Cancer Institute Pascale Foundation or the Colli Hospital in Italy to assess the potential outcomes of the use of Tocilizumab to treat patients with COVID-19 related pneumonia; how they are monitoring “the results of trials of experimental therapies for COVID-19 from around the world”; what discussions they plan to have with the National Cancer Institute Pascale Foundation, and the Colli Hospital in Italy as part of that monitoring; whether the United Kingdom Therapeutics Task Force will report on its findings of its assessment of tocilizumab; and if so, when.

Tocilizumab has begun evaluation in the United Kingdom as part of the RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP studies. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is in regular contact with sponsors and trial investigators to review clinical trials, offer scientific and regulatory advice on clinical trials and encourage early submission of emerging data though facilitated licensing routes. Emerging results from global trials will be taken into consideration by the MHRA during authorisation of UK clinical trials and to inform any amendments needed to ongoing trials.

The Government recognises the importance of collaborating effectively to combat COVID-19, and the UK is meeting regularly with other countries both bilaterally and multilaterally to share information on a variety of subjects including clinical trials. Working with partners across the health and care system, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is supporting the identification, prioritisation and delivery of high quality COVID-19 research, a key element of the Government’s overall response. As part of this work, the NIHR Innovation Observatory is monitoring the progress of trials taking place across the world.

The Therapeutics Taskforce has not been in direct contact with the National Cancer Institute Pascale Foundation or the Colli Hospital in Italy.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what the term “let it run hot” means in relation to COVID-19; and what plans they have to publish the evidence base for behind the use of that phrase.

We are not aware of the use of the term 'let it run hot' being used in relation to COVID-19 by the Department.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many COVID-19 tests are currently taking place each day; what estimate they have made of the number of daily tests that would need to occur before an end to lockdown may be safely considered; and what measures they are putting in place to increase capacity and training of those capable of undertaking and evaluating the tests.

The Government is rapidly scaling up the national effort to boost testing capacity for COVID-19 to protect the vulnerable, support the National Health Service, and ultimately save lives. Further details of this work can be found in the Government’s Testing Strategy titled Coronavirus (COVID-19): scaling up our testing programmes, published on 4 April, which is attached.

There are a number of factors to consider in relation to easing of the present restrictions, with testing being just one. Consequently, the Department has not set a threshold on the number of tests necessary to end the current restrictions. The Government will continue to review advice on how testing, along with other efforts, can inform future measures to tackle the virus and how we can ease restrictions whilst keeping people safer.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that letters have been circulated by GP surgeries to residents in care homes in the East of England stating that residents are “unlikely to benefit from mechanical ventilation” and will not be offered the treatment in hospital if admitted with COVID-19; whether any such letters have been circulated elsewhere; and on what authority and basis such guidance was issued. [T]

We are aware of reports of people in care homes being told by general practitioner (GP) surgeries that they are unlikely to be prioritised for mechanical ventilation if they contract COVID-19, because they could be too ‘frail’. This stemmed from recent National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance on prioritising critical care. NICE was forced to revise the guidance, which included use of the clinical frailty scale (CFS), following allegations it discriminated against people with learning and other disabilities. The guidance was revised on 25 March 2020 and now states: “The Clinical Frailty Score should not be used in younger people, people with stable long-term disabilities (for example, cerebral palsy), learning disability or autism. An individualised assessment is recommended in all cases where the CFS is not appropriate.”

A letter was sent on 3 April 2020 to primary care, acute trusts and community trusts from the National Director of Mental Health, National Clinical Director (for Learning Disability and Autism) and the Medical Director for Primary Care to the NHS on the appropriate use of Do not Resuscitate forms and clinical frailty assessments (which can be used to assess whether critical care is appropriate for a patient) following recent reports on inappropriate use. A copy of the letter is attached.

Furthermore, a letter to the system from Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer, and Steve Powis, National Medical Director at NHS England and NHS Improvement was sent out on 7 April 2020, addressing concerns recently raised regarding the use of DNR forms and supporting best practice in the application of advance care plans. A copy of the letter is attached.

Finally, NHS England and NHS Improvement have produced a GP Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for managing COVID-19 in general practice, published on 6 April. This includes a COVID-19 advance care plan template, guidance notes for completing an advance care plan and states that “Advance care plans should be made on an individual basis. It is not acceptable for advance care plans, with or without Do Not Attempt Resuscitation forms, to be applied to groups of patients”. A copy of the SOP is attached.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether those who were detained under section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983 but have since been released will continue to be legally entitled to the provision of after-care by social services under section 117 of that Act, following the enactment of the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 does not provide for any changes to legal entitlements for aftercare services under section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish guidance for local authorities on (1) treatment, (2) care, and (3) funding for people with dementia, during the COVID-19 pandemic; when any such guidance will be published; and what assessment they have made of the number of patients with dementia in care homes without staff who have had dementia training.

The Government has announced £1.6 billion of additional funding to support local authorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic across all service areas.

The Department of Health and Social Care is working closely with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, local authorities and providers to make sure the adult social care sector is ready. New adult social care guidance is available online and covers provision of residential care, supported living and home care.

Guidance for other sectors is being produced and updated regularly and the Government is also finalising COVID-19 related guidance for care homes including those housing individuals with dementia, which will be published shortly.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford on 20 January (HL277) and Lord Bethell on 5 March (HL1701) and 18 March (HL2406), what outcomes the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority consider to be adverse following mitochondrial donation treatment; whether such outcomes include (1) implantation failure, (2) spontaneous miscarriage, and (3) the termination of a pregnancy following the detection of unanticipated abnormalities; and what assessment they have made of the reason for the lack of live births pursuant to the application of such treatments.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) have advised that this information is set out in its Code of Practice at section 33.35, which states:

“If a centre becomes aware that a child born following mitochondrial donation has been born with a mitochondrial disease, birth defect, or genetic abnormality, or if there has been some other adverse outcome (including but not limited to failed or no embryo development, miscarriage or premature birth) following treatment involving mitochondrial donation, the centre must regard this as an adverse incident and report this to the HFEA in line with the requirements on adverse incidents set out in guidance note 27. This is to capture information about any abnormalities that may occur as a result of carrying out the MST (maternal spindle transfer) or PNT (pro-nuclear transfer) treatment, to inform any regulatory or licensing action that the HFEA may wish to take and to inform the scientific sector.”

The HFEA has made no assessment of the efficacy of mitochondrial treatment to date as the number of treatments is so low, at this stage.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports about the success of using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, following a study carried out by Professor Raoult, director of the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire de Marseille.

The Department is considering carefully all available evidence around the potential of different medicines for use in treating COVID-19. Clinical trials are ongoing and being developed to assess the benefits of a number of different medicines in treating COVID-19.

Hydroxychloroquine is not currently licensed to treat COVID-19 related symptoms or prevent infection. Clinical trials are being established to test hydroxychloroquine as an agent in the treatment of COVID-19. These clinical trials are still not completed, so no conclusions have yet been reached on the safety and effectiveness of this medicine to treat or prevent COVID-19.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following their decision to ban the parallel export of drugs used to treat malaria and HIV, whether UK stocks of such medicines are being trialled for use on patients with COVID-19; and if so, what (1) clinical evidence has been gathered, and (2) conclusions have been reached, about the efficacy of such treatment.

United Kingdom stocks of medicines to treat malaria and HIV are being trialled for use on patients with COVID-19.

There are suggestions in the Chinese and French literature that both lopinavir/ritonavir and chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine may be beneficial. However, these data are not conclusive, because the studies done are too small, thus the findings, whilst promising, may ultimately be wrong.

The UK will evaluate both these treatments in two large randomised trials, one of which is already underway and the other of which is expected to begin recruitment next week.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 16 March (HL2026), whether they will now answer the question put, namely, whether the current provision of specialised ventilation care will be capable of meeting the needs of those affected by an epidemic.

We have significantly increased our ventilator capacity. To date, there are more than 8,000 ventilators in hospitals across the United Kingdom, with thousands more expected to come into use in the coming weeks and months and, of course, we will continue to order more. This is alongside work being done on the Prime Minister’s ventilator challenge.

Ventilators are being procured from existing worldwide stocks. Ventilators will be delivered to National Health Service trusts as soon as stock has arrived in the UK. In addition, ventilators will be available in the private hospitals that we have just contracted as additional capacity.

It is not yet clear precisely how quickly the number of cases requiring ventilation will increase, hence the efforts to increase capacity rapidly. Ventilator demand modelling continues to evolve and at present sufficient capacity exists. The supply and demand of ventilators is under constant review.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what response there has been to the Prime Minister's request for manufacturers to develop ventilators for the NHS; and how many they expect to be produced.

Work preparing the National Health Service has been ongoing and we have already nearly doubled ventilator capacity. New and existing suppliers are being asked to build as many as they can. The Prime Minister has issued a call to United Kingdom industry to produce additional ventilators and the Department asked appropriate potential manufacturers on 13 March to come forward with proposals for new ventilation machines. Around a dozen potential prototypes have now been presented to the Department which we are currently pursuing.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how confident they are that those who have recovered from COVID-19 do not continue to be carriers of the virus; and whether swab tests will be repeated for recovered patients to ensure that such tests remain negative.

COVID-19 is not known to cause latent infections (becoming dormant in the body after infection and reactivate later on) or to cause persistent infection (continuous infection).

Public Health England is in the process of producing guidance for the conditions of discharge of infected patients from hospitals.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that one of the people in the Lombardy cluster may have become infected with COVID-19 after contact with a person who tested negative for COVID-19.

Assessment of the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 cases suggests that, similar to SARS-CoV, patients will not be infectious until the onset of symptoms. In most cases, individuals are usually considered infectious while they have symptoms. How infectious individuals are depends on the severity of their symptoms and stage of their illness. Further study is required to determine the actual occurrence and impact of asymptomatic transmission.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review internal advice on personal protective equipment given to NHS doctors; and what steps they are taking to ensure that medical staff swabbing patients for COVID-19 have filtering facepiece 3 respirators.

To provide a more comprehensive response to a number of outstanding Written Questions, this has been answered by an information factsheet PPE - note for House of Lords which is attached, due to the size of the data. A copy has also been placed in the Library.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) current availability of ventilators in NHS intensive care units, and (2) production capacity, to supply further ventilators in line with the planned increase in their use.

The National Health Service has world-renowned critical care facilities which includes access to around 5,000 adult and 900 paediatric critical care ventilators, with further ventilators available outside of critical care facilities.

Work preparing the NHS has been ongoing and we have already nearly doubled ventilator capacity. New and existing suppliers are being asked to build as many as they can. The Prime Minister has issued a call to United Kingdom industry to produce additional ventilators and the Department asked appropriate potential manufacturers on 13 March to come forward with proposals for new ventilation machines. Around a dozen potential prototypes have now been presented to the Department which we are currently pursuing.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the benefits of the use of Tocilizumab in the treatment of severe cases of interstitial pneumonia linked to COVID-19 in China and Italy; and what plans they have to make that drug available on the NHS.

The Department is considering carefully all available evidence around the potential of different medicines for use in treating COVID-19. Clinical trials are being developed to assess the benefits of a number of different medicines in treating COVID-19. Further medicines may be trialled should evidence indicate to the Department that this would be an appropriate course of action. The Department, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, Public Health England and the National Health Service are working together to ensure that trials can begin as soon as possible. The first trial in the United Kingdom for hospitalised patients should begin later this week.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) the National Cancer Institute Pascale Foundation, and (2) the Colli Hospital, in Italy about the results those institutions saw from using Tocilizumab to treat patients with severe pneumonia linked to COVID-19.

The Department has not been in direct contact with the National Cancer Institute Pascale Foundation or the Colli Hospital in Italy regarding the experimental use of tocilizumab. However, the United Kingdom Therapeutics Task Force has independently assessed tocilizumab as having potential, and it is expected to begin evaluation in the UK imminently as part of the RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP studies. UK patients will be able to access tocilizumab as part of this trial. The Department will continue to monitor the results of trials of experimental therapies for COVID-19 from around the world.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 10 March (HL1839), what assessment they have made of the report by the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies China and Viruses: The Case of Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, published on 29 January.

The Government is aware of this report by the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies.

Research into COVID-19’s origins is ongoing, and the United Kingdom is working with the international scientific community to determine the source of the outbreak.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the average number of embryos used to save a life using mitochondrial replacement techniques; and how many such embryos they estimate are subsequently transferred to a woman.

The purpose of mitochondrial donation treatment is to prevent the transfer of serious mitochondrial disease passing from mother to child. The treatment is used to ensure that the embryos created do not carry mitochondrial mutations that would otherwise result in serious genetic diseases.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has to date licensed 17 patients as eligible for mitochondrial donation treatment in the United Kingdom. To protect patient confidentiality, information on the number of patients that have begun treatment cannot be disclosed. It is therefore not possible to provide the information requested.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 5 March (HL1700), what were the mitochondrial DNA mutations in each of the 17 applications considered by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority that have now been approved; and on what dates each application was (1) made, and (2) approved.

The following table shows the gene affected and the mutation in each application, the dates each application was made and approved by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) Statutory Approvals Committee.

HFEA Application reference

Gene affected by mutation

Mutation

Date received

Date approved by the HFEA Statutory Approvals Committee

M0001

MT-TK

Details omitted to protect patient identity

28 June 2017

31 August 2017

M0002

MT-TK

Details omitted to protect patient identity

4 September 2017

26 October 2017

M0007

MT-ND1

m.3460 G>A

13 March 2018

24 May 2018

M0003

MT-TL1

Details omitted to protect patient identity

25 September 2017

26 July 2018

M0005

MT-TL1

m.3243 A>G

5 December 2017

26 July 2018

M0008

MT-TL1

m.3243 A>G

15 March 2018

26 July 2018

M0004

MT-TK

Details omitted to protect patient identity

4 December 2017

30 August 2018

M0006

MT-TS1

Details omitted to protect patient identity

9 January 2018

30 August 2018

M0009

MT-TI

m.4300 A>G

28 June 2018

27 September 2018

M0010

MT-TI

m.4300 A>G

11 July 2018

27 September 2018

M0013

MT-ND4

m.11778 G>A

14 July 2018

25 October 2018

M0012

MT-ND1

m.3460 G>A

13 July 2018

25 October 2018

M0014

MT-ND4

m.11778 G>A

23 November 2018

31 January 2019

M0015

MT-ND4

m.11778 G>A

23 November 2018

31 January 2019

M0011

MT-ND4

m.11778 G>A

12 July 2018

29 August 2019

M0016

MT-TK

m.8344 A>G

5 July 2019

26 September 2019

M0017

MT-ND4

m.11778 G>A

22 August 2019

31 October 2019

Source:

HFEA

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 5 March (HL1701), why they stated that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has no role in the follow-up of patients pursuant to mitochondrial donation treatment if it provides contact details on its website for further discussion of this; what recommendations the Scientific review of the safety and efficacy of methods to avoid mitochondrial disease through assisted conception: 2016 update, published in November 2016, made in regard to rigorous long-term follow-up of children born as a result of such techniques; and what assessment they have made of the statement on the HFEA website that those engaging in follow-up to such treatment will be “helping many people affected by mitochondrial disease, now and in the future”.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has no statutory role in following up the clinical outcomes of patients born after mitochondrial donation treatment. However, the HFEA Code of Practice requires any clinic licensed to offer such treatment to have a documented process to enable follow-up, where patients have consented to this. Clinics are also required to report any adverse outcomes following mitochondrial donation treatment to the HFEA.

The statement on the HFEA website is addressed to potential patients and explains that follow-up is useful, as doctors want to understand as much as possible about how mitochondrial donation affects children and future generations. This will ensure that children born following mitochondrial donation get the best possible care in the future, as well as contributing to continued understanding of mitochondrial disease. The Government has not made a specific assessment of this statement.

The 2016 update recommended follow-up of children born as a result of mitochondrial donation in order to gather information about safety and efficacy.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
10th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord O'Shaughnessy on 24 October 2017 (HL1882) and by Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford on both 9 January 2020 (HL275) and 11 February 2020 (HL1237), why the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) does not hold information on which methods of freezing are used; from which data the HFEA came to the conclusion that there has been no effective difference between vitrification and slow freezing methods over the last five years; and what assessment they have made of the importance of any (1) clinical, and (2) other, follow up for informing prospective patients.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is required under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 to keep a register recording identifiable information on patients, the treatments they undergo and their outcomes. This information does not include the method used to freeze sperm, eggs or embryos.

The HFEA has not said that there has been no effective difference between methods of freezing over the last five years. The HFEA’s published information on annual fertility trends shows an increase in success rates using frozen embryos and frozen eggs over time.

The HFEA does not carry out follow up work with patients. Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, applications can be made to use HFEA data for research studies.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking (1) to purchase or manufacture, and (2) to distribute sufficient, (a) clinical respiratory face masks, (b) goggles, and (c) protective clothing for health workers dealing with a potential COVID-19 epidemic in the UK; and what training NHS and emergency service workers will receive in using such equipment.

The Chancellor has set out a £12 billion package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, individuals and businesses through the economic disruption caused by COVID-19.

General practitioner surgeries and the National Health Service should continue to use their current procedures for ordering, supplying and procuring personal protective equipment and use their usual contracted routes should any escalation be needed.

We practise and prepare our response to disease outbreaks and follow tried and tested procedures, following the highest safety standards possible for the protection of NHS staff, patients and the public. Specific guidance on handling people with COVID-19 has been shared with NHS staff. Public Health England has also published online guidance for first responders and others who may have close contact with people with potential COVID-19.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they expect 20 per cent of those infected with COVID-19 in the UK to require hospital treatment, as was the case in Wuhan.

The United Kingdom Government and devolved administrations, including the health and social care system, have planned extensively over the years for an event like this. The UK is therefore well prepared to respond in a way that offers substantial protection to the public. The Government’s action plan Coronavirus: action plan A guide to what you can expect across the UK sets out what we are planning to do next, depending upon the course the current coronavirus outbreak takes. A copy of the action plan is attached.

Among those who become infected, some will exhibit no symptoms. Early data suggest that of those who develop an illness, the great majority will have a mild-to-moderate, but self-limiting illness – similar to seasonal flu. It is, however, also clear that a minority of people who get COVID-19 will develop complications severe enough to require hospital care, most often pneumonia, in some instances leading to death.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to establish centres for specialised ventilation care for people in stage 3 of COVID-19; and what assessment they have made of whether current provision would be capable of meeting the needs of those affected by an epidemic.

Highly specialised beds will only be needed by a minority of affected patients. As the Chief Medical Officer has said, we are working through our clear action plan to make sure we can flex services to respond to extra demand. NHS England and NHS Improvement are working closely with providers across the country to support this.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) report by the World Health Organization Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report, published on 1 March, in particular the mortality rate from COVID-19 in Hubei province, and (2) the remarks by Brendan Wren, Professor of Vaccinology at the London School of Tropical Medicine that the difference in the mortality rate in Hubei province compared to other areas is a due to a higher viral load, or because the original source of COVID-19 in Wuhan may still be actively transmitting.

The Government is being advised by the Scientific Advisory Group For Emergencies, known as SAGE. SAGE and its sub groups have, and will continue to, monitor all relevant epidemiological literature, including the World Health Organization’s Situation Reports. Estimates of mortality rates in different regions vary, so it is right that we are considering this information in the round.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) number, and (2) location, of microbiology laboratories in China that handle advanced viruses such as the Wuhan coronavirus; and what assessment they have made of the role any such laboratories may have had in the initial spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.

We do not hold this information.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Health and Social Care on 15 April 2019 (241389), what explanation the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority provided for why no more than five patients at risk of producing a child with mitochondrial pathologies had undergone treatment by 20 January 2020, given 14 applications had been approved; and for the application that was not approved (1) what were the reasons for that refusal, and (2) what was the subsequent fate of that application.

It is the responsibility of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to decide on individual applications for mitochondrial donation that meet the statutory test laid out in the relevant regulations. Decisions on when to begin treatment are a clinical decision and not a matter for the HFEA.

As of 25 February 2020, there have been 17 applications considered by the HFEA all of which have now been approved.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford on 20 January (HL277), how many spontaneous miscarriages have been recorded pursuant to clinical application in the UK of (1) pronuclear transfer, and (2) spindle-chromosomal complex transfer; and what role the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has played in (a) the follow-up of patients, and (b) the review of such licensed activity.

There have been no miscarriages recorded pursuant to clinical application in the United Kingdom of pronuclear transfer and spindle-chromosomal complex transfer.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has no role in the follow-up of patients. The HFEA inspects clinics periodically and reviews licensed activity in accordance with the relevant legislation and its Code of Practice.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report to the United Nations Human Rights Council by the special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, published on 17 December 2019; and what steps they intend to take in response to that report.

We are aware of the report and note the recommendations.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord O'Shaughnessy on 24 October 2017 (HL1882), whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority now holds information on methods of freezing; if not, why not; and if so, how many human embryos were (1) transferred to uteri to establish pregnancies, (2) destroyed, and (3) allocated for destruction but have not yet been destroyed, following (a) vitrification, and (b) slow freezing methods, in each of the last five years for which figures are available.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that it does not hold information on which methods of freezing are used.

The HFEA is required under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 to keep a register recording identifiable information on patients, the treatments they undergo and their outcomes. This information does not include the method used to freeze sperm, eggs or embryos.

3rd Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people who have flown to the UK from Wuhan, China, since the outbreak of the coronavirus was announced have been contacted; how many of those have been tested for coronavirus; what steps they are taking to (1) identify, and (2) locate, those yet to be tested; and what assessment they have made of the statement by the Chief Medical Officer for England on 24 January that there is a “fair chance” that the UK will see cases of that virus.

On direct flights from Wuhan into the United Kingdom, 1,466 passengers and 95 staff arrived between 10 and 24 January. Of these, 162 of the passengers have already left the UK, 53 of the crew have already left the UK and all of the remaining passengers (1,304) are now outside of the incubation period.

As of 5 February, a total of 468 UK tests have concluded, of which 466 were confirmed negative and two positive. Information is published daily online on the Coronavirus: latest information and advice page on the Government website.

Posters and leaflets with health advice has been made available in all UK international airports, Eurostar terminals and Dover. As of 5 February, the two patients who tested positive are receiving specialist National Health Service care and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus.

The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread. We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organization and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities.

3rd Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of Imperial College London's estimate that 3,301 passengers have left Wuhan airport every day going to 20 international destinations over the last two months.

On direct flights from Wuhan into the United Kingdom, 1,466 passengers and 95 staff arrived between 10 and 24 January. Of these, 162 of the passengers have already left the UK, 53 of the crew have already left the UK and all of the remaining passengers (1,304) are now outside of the incubation period.

As of 5 February, a total of 468 UK tests have concluded, of which 466 were confirmed negative and two positive. Information is published daily online on the Coronavirus: latest information and advice page on the Government website.

Posters and leaflets with health advice has been made available in all UK international airports, Eurostar terminals and Dover. As of 5 February, the two patients who tested positive are receiving specialist National Health Service care and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus.

The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread. We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organization and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities.

30th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Prior of Brampton on 22 November 2016 (HL3075), how many human embryos were deliberately destroyed in each of the last 12 months for which figures are available; how many human embryos were transferred to uteri in order to establish pregnancies; and what are the cumulative figures for both circumstances since such procedures were made legal.

The information requested is shown in the following tables. The following table provides the figures for each of the last 12 months, 1 January 2018 – 31 December 2018. The data is as shown on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s (HFEA) register database on 5 February 2020. This is a live database so these figures reflect the data on this day.

Year

Month

Total destroyed /discarded

Total embryos transferred

2018

January

13,283

5,398

February

15,193

7,352

March

16,257

7,360

April

15,150

6,728

May

15,300

6,735

June

15,520

6,263

July

15,236

6,598

August

15,057

6,779

September

13,485

6,187

October

16,087

7,002

November

16,029

7,637

December

10,597

4,734

Total

177,194

78,773

Source:

Source: HFEA

The following table provides the cumulative figures for both circumstances since 1 August 1991.

1 August 1991 – 31 December 2018

Total number of embryos discarded/destroyed

2,931,824

Total number of embryos transferred

1,979,831

Source: HFEA

29th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people have entered the UK from Wuhan during the last month; how those people are being tracked; how universities have been involved in assisting students returning from affected areas; whether British citizens now being quarantined on return from affected areas are being treated differently to those who had returned to the UK during the preceding month; and whether they have asked the World Health Organisation to declare the spread of the coronavirus as a global health emergency.

1,466 passengers and 95 staff arrived into the United Kingdom on direct flights from Wuhan between 10 January and 24 January when direct flights ceased.

British citizens repatriated from Wuhan have been put into supported isolation for any medical needs that they may have and to protect the public.

Asymptomatic passengers have been transferred to a National Health Service accommodation facility to spend at least 14 days in supported isolation. If any passengers develop symptoms, they will be assessed and transferred to appropriate NHS care facilities nearby.

The World Health Organization has declared a Public Health Emergency of International Conern in response to the novel coronavirus as the outbreak continues to spread outside China.

13th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the NHS has paid out, in total, for clinical negligence claims in each of the last ten years for which figures are available; what were the five main reasons for such claims; and what strategy the NHS has for reducing the number of such claims.

NHS Resolution handles clinical negligence claims on behalf of National Health Service organisations and independent sector providers of NHS care in England.

The amount the NHS has paid out, in total, for clinical negligence claims in each of the last 10 financial years for which figures are available is shown in the following table.

Financial Year

Total Paid £’000

2009/10

786,991

2010/11

863,398

2011/12

1,277,372

2012/13

1,258,881

2013/14

1,192,540

2014/15

1,169,587

2015/16

1,488,455

2016/17

1,707,167

2017/18

2,227,542

2018/19

2,359,866

The five main reasons for the above claims by frequency are:

- Failed / Delay to Treatment;

- Failed / Delay to Diagnosis;

- Intra-Operative Problems;

- Inappropriate Treatment; and

- Inadequate Nursing Care.

Our ambition is for the NHS to be the safest healthcare system in the world. We have thoroughly overhauled the infrastructure underpinning healthcare quality and safety in the last decade to minimise harm. The NHS Patient Safety Strategy: Safer culture, safer systems, safer patients, published in July 2019, and Safer Maternity Care: The NHS Maternity Safety Strategy – Progress and Next Steps, published in November 2017, set out the comprehensive approach to continuously improve safety. Copies of the strategies are attached.

The NHS Resolution five-year strategy Delivering fair resolution and learning from harm, published in 2017, describes how the organisation is contributing to improved safety and tackling clinical negligence costs. NHS Resolution is committed to learning from claims and is working directly with trusts to share learning and best practice across the NHS to drive safety improvement. This will help to minimise the potential of clinical errors that could lead to harm and possible future claims. A copy of the strategy is attached.

The Department is also working intensively with the Ministry of Justice, other Government Departments and NHS Resolution to tackle the continued year-on-year-rises in clinical negligence costs which are eating progressively into resources available for front-line care. While there are no simple solutions and the work is still ongoing, good progress has been made in developing our understanding of all the drivers of cost and exploring ways forward.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will respond to the freedom of information request, made by Marie Lyon, Chair of the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests on 13 November 2019, seeking access to data held by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency before 27 February 2020; and if not, why not.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency aims to reply to all freedom of information requests within the 20 working-day statutory deadline set out in the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In circumstances where we need to consider whether the public interest in releasing the information is outweighed by the public interest in not giving the information (the ‘public interest test’) the Act allows us to extend the deadline for reply beyond the usual 20 working days. This was applied to Mrs Lyon’s request and we responded by the revised deadline of 13 January.

8th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of the United States' State Department about its "announcement of visa restrictions on those undermining the peaceful resolution of the crisis in the anglophone regions of Cameroon”, published on 7 June; and what plans they have to take similar action.

The UK Government has discussed with the US Government their decision to introduce visa restrictions with regards to the North-West South-West crisis in Cameroon, and we will monitor the impact of this announcement.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with the government of France about the co-ordination of European, USA and UK action against those undermining the peaceful resolution of the crisis in the anglophone regions of Cameroon.

The UK Government works with international partners, including the French Government, to raise the North-West South-West crisis in Cameroon within multilateral fora. During a visit to Cameroon in March 2021 the Minister for Africa discussed the crisis with representatives from the French, US and Swiss Embassies.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have had any discussions with the government of Nigeria about that government's decision to ban Twitter; if so, what response they have received; and if not, whether they plan to do so.

We are concerned by the Nigerian Government's suspension of Twitter in Nigeria. Our High Commission in Abuja and likeminded countries issued a statement supporting freedom of expression and representatives met the Nigerian Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, to discuss the suspension and statement.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to begin negotiations with representatives of the National Unity Government (NUG) in Myanmar with a view to giving it official recognition; how they intend to respond to the request sent by the NUG to the Prime Minister requesting (1) engagement with the NUG as the representative of Myanmar, (2) aid to assist in that country, and (3) intensifying financial and diplomatic pressure on the current government; and what plans they have to raise the issues in Myanmar at the G7 Summit.

We are clear in our condemnation of the coup and stand in solidarity with those calling for a return to democracy. We welcome the formation of the NUG to push for an inclusive, democratic future for Myanmar. They are an important voice for many in Myanmar. On 9 April, the UK convened an Arria-formula meeting at the UN Security Council to discuss the issue of Myanmar and invited Daw Zing Mar Aung, from the NUG, to address participants. On 20 April, the Minister for Asia met with Dr Sasa, a key figure in the NUG, and reiterated the UK's support for their ambitions for a federal democracy.

The UK is one of the largest humanitarian donors in Myanmar. UK aid provides life-saving humanitarian assistance to conflict affected and displaced people in Myanmar. We have carried out a review of our aid programme in Myanmar to ensure that we focus on the most vulnerable people. We are closely monitoring the ongoing impacts of the military coup with our partners, including ethnic civil society organisations, so that our support continues to reach those most in need and can respond to new needs. On 17 May, the UK imposed sanctions on Myanmar Gems Enterprise, a State Owned Enterprise responsible for all gems activity in Myanmar, a key source of revenue for the military. We have also sanctioned Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC), the two largest military conglomerates. These sanctions directly target the military's financial interests. Working with partners, including the US and Canada, we have sanctioned 9 military officers, including the Commander-in-Chief, for their role in the coup.

We have also welcomed the Five Point Consensus on Myanmar and ASEAN's unique role in addressing the crisis and supported ASEAN's call for an end to violence, for restraint, and for a peaceful resolution, in line with the purpose and principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter. As was made clear in the communique after the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting on 5 May the military must implement this plan without delay.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of allegations of (1) incommunicado detention, (2) arbitrary arrest and detention, (3) inhumane prison conditions, (4) indefinite military service, and (5) human rights violations, in the Tigray region of Ethiopia by the government of Eritrea; and what assessment they have made of the undermining of (a) freedom of expression, (b) freedom of opinion, (c) freedom of association, (d) freedom of religious belief, and (e) rule of law, in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

We have consistently made clear our concerns about the human rights situation in Ethiopia, particularly in Tigray, both publicly and in direct discussions with the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea. We continue to call for an end to the conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure the UN Security Council supports the work of Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea; and what assessment they have made of the recommendations in his report Tigray Situation Update, published on 3 June.

We note and welcome the recommendations made by the UN Special Rapporteur in his report on the situation in Eritrea. We fully support all efforts to fulfil his mandate as stated by the UK's Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, at the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to raise the issue of access to Eritrea for the UN Special Rapporteur at the UN Human Rights Council; whether this issue has been raised by the British Ambassador to Eritrea; and if so, what response they received.

We are concerned and disappointed that the UN Special Rapporteur continues to be denied access to Eritrea. We have raised this issue at the UN Human Rights Council and directly with the Government of Eritrea, and will continue to press for the Special Rapporteur to be given the access that they need.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases Our open letter on the UK cuts: A tragic blow for ‘global Britain’ and the world’s most vulnerable people, published on 29 April; and in particular its findings that (1) most of the 770 million medicines donated by pharmaceutical companies will not be delivered, and (2) 180,000 disability preventing surgical operations will not now go ahead, because of cuts in Overseas Development Assistance.

The seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to make tough but necessary decisions, including exiting from some programmes such as Accelerating the Sustainable Control and Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) programme. The UK has made a significant contribution to global efforts to protect hundreds of millions of people from NTDs. Our programmes have delivered NTD treatment, care, and strengthened health systems to deliver these services going forward. We are currently working with partners, drug companies, donors, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to mitigate impacts, and to exit the programme as responsibly as possible within financial constraints. We continue to distribute drugs to fight NTDs, and perform surgeries in the most urgent cases.

Global health remains a top priority for UK ODA, and we will continue to be a major contributor in leading international action to strengthen global health security, and help build more resilient health systems. Departmental cross-government allocations of ODA spend for 2021/22 were laid out in a Written Ministerial Statement in Parliament on 21 April, and the Foreign Secretary has highlighted that the FCDO will spend £1,305 million on global health, which means we will remain among the most generous international donors.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether cuts in Overseas Development Assistance will compromise their ability to support the eradication of malaria.

The seismic impact of the pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to make tough but necessary decisions, including reducing our malaria spend. Although we are moving away from a fixed spending target, we will continue to be a major donor to malaria, as part of our wider ambition to end the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children.

The UK has made a significant contribution to global efforts to drive down malaria cases and deaths, and lay the foundations for eradication. We are proud of what the UK and partners have done to address the burden of malaria in developing countries. The UK remains committed to a high level of funding for malaria, including our sizeable £1.4 billion commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. We will also continue to invest in health systems strengthening and universal health coverage, which are vital for continued progress on malaria and for addressing other health needs broadly and sustainably. Global health remains a top priority for UK ODA. We will continue to be a major contributor in leading international action to strengthen global health security through our support to the WHO and multilateral global funds such as Gavi and bilateral support for health programmes within countries.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will raise the public execution of a North Korean citizen in Wonsan on 25 April who was found to have smuggled CDs and USBs (1) at the next meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, and (2) with the Ambassador of North Korea to the United Kingdom.

We are aware of recent reports of a public execution in DPRK of an individual charged with distributing smuggled CDs and USBs. Due to the closed nature of the regime in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, we cannot verify the accuracy of these reports. The UK, working with partners, ensures that annual UN resolutions consistently call on the DPRK to end its use of the death penalty and adhere to international standards on judicial procedures. We also continue to raise our concerns directly with the North Korean Government, including with the DPRK's Ambassador in London.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will support the call of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, for a diplomatic boycott on the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

No decisions have yet been made about Her Majesty's Government attendance at the Beijing Olympics in 2022.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to table a resolution at the UN Security Council on 19 June about the use of systematic rape and sexual violence against the women and girls of Tigray and demanding that those responsible are brought to justice.

We have spoken about the situation in Tigray in the five 'AOB' discussions on that subject at the UN Security Council and did so again in the 25 March debate on Protection of Civilians, where I as the Minister responsible for Human Rights, raised again continued atrocities inflicted upon the people of Tigray, including endemic sexual violence. In the Security Council Press Statement of 22 April, the members of the Security Council 'expressed their deep concern about allegations of human rights violations and abuses, including reports of sexual violence against women and girls in the Tigray region and called for investigations to find those responsible and bring them to justice'. We will continue to support discussion in the UN on this pressing matter. However, we do not plan to table a specific resolution on Tigray on 19 June.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the assessment of the EU foreign service, reported on 17 May, that the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia's Tigray region “is worse than ever since the conflict began last November”; that 5.2 million people are in need of “emergency food assistance” to avoid starvation; and that “blocking humanitarian aid as a weapon of war is a grave violation of international humanitarian law”.

The UK shares the concerns raised by the EU. The UK has been consistent in calling for the protection of civilians in Ethiopia, unfettered humanitarian access, and respect for human rights. Currently 5.2 million are in need of food aid. We are deeply concerned about the impact of the conflict on food security and nutrition in Tigray, including reports of people dying from hunger. We are also extremely concerned about the use of hunger and food insecurity as methods of war. We have raised these points with the Government in Addis Ababa consistently and at the highest levels, most recently during the visit of the Special Envoy for Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs from 19-25 May.

UK-funded aid agencies in Tigray are delivering support in challenging circumstances, including food, shelter, water and healthcare. Teams from the British Embassy in Addis Ababa visited Tigray from 4-5 March, 4-7 April and the week of 19 April and met with humanitarian agencies working in the region. To date the UK has provided £22 million of badly needed support to people in Tigray. We continue to call for unfettered humanitarian access.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of allegations reported in the Europe External Africa Report on Tigray, published on 19 May, that killings, abductions, and rape are still occurring in Tigray, and that soldiers “are raping and destroying women to ensure that they cannot raise a community in the future. They are using rape and food as weapons of war."

The UK has led calls on the parties to the Tigray conflict to place the survival and welfare of the affected people above political and military goals. We are deeply concerned about the impact of the conflict on food security and nutrition in Tigray, including reports of people dying from hunger. We have raised the points with the Government in Addis Ababa consistently and at the highest levels, most recently during the visit of the Special Envoy for Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs from 19-25 May. To date the UK has provided £22 million of badly needed support to people in Tigray.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of allegations reported in the Europe External Africa Report on Tigray, published on 19 May, that internationally banned chemical weapons have been used in the villages of Tigray; and what steps they are taking (1) to verify these reports, and (2), if confirmed, to hold those responsible to account.

The UK is appalled by reports of atrocities in Tigray and is aware of recent reports that civilians have again been victims of indiscriminate shelling. It is clear that the conflict in Tigray is being conducted with little regard for civilian welfare and as a consequence reports of civilian casualties are all too common.

Ethiopia is a state party of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and has not declared any Chemical Weapons programme. The Government of Ethiopia has denied that Chemical Weapons have been used. We are working to establish the facts. Access to the affected areas, and to verified information, remains difficult. We have consistently called for access for independent human rights investigators and will continue to do so.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the progress towards ensuring that all commitments entered into in the peace deal signed in South Sudan in 2018 are fully implemented; and which commitments are still to be put into effect.

Implementation of the 2018 Peace Agreement remains behind schedule, with continued delays to key tasks such as the unification of armed forces and transitional justice. As the country's best chance for achieving sustainable peace, the UK is at the forefront of international efforts to pressure South Sudan's leaders to meet their 2018 commitments in full, including during my last visit in October 2020 and the UK Special Envoy's visit in early May.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the likely impact of their cuts to financial support for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh; and by what percentage has the amount been cut from the support given in the previous two years.

The UK remains a leading donor to the Rohingya response in Bangladesh despite the financial pressures. At the launch of the Joint Response Plan on 18 May, we announced £27.6 million in new funding to the Rohingya response in Bangladesh, bringing our total contribution over £320 million since the crisis started in 2017. This financial contribution will continue to deliver lifesaving aid, including food assistance, health services, water and sanitation, camp management, shelter, cooking gas, and protection for survivors of gender-based violence. We have prioritised this assistance and the consolidation of the provision of services to achieve better effectiveness, impact, and value for taxpayers' money. In addition to bilateral funding, the UK is providing support to the Rohingya refugee response through global funds such as the Global Partnership for Education, Education Cannot Wait, Central Emergency Response Fund and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. UK funds also support the Rohingya through the UN agencies and the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) peacebuilding programmes, and (2) other peacebuilding initiatives, they intend to continue funding in South Sudan.

As the country's best chance for achieving sustainable peace, the UK is at the forefront of international efforts to pressure South Sudan's leaders to fully implement the 2018 peace deal, including during my last visit in October 2020 and UK Special Envoy's visit in early May. More broadly, the UK supports a number of peacebuilding initiatives at a grassroots level via the UK Peacebuilding Opportunities Fund and the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan, to which the UK contributed £57.9m and up to nine military staff officers in 2020-21.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of who is responsible for the attack on the village of Dungob Alei in South Sudan on 16 May.

The UK condemns the attack on the village of Dungob Alei on 16 May, for which the perpetrators have not been identified, but it follows a series violent clashes between the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka ethnic groups. We continue to press the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to resolve the status of Abyei and we support the role played by the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Abyei (UNISFA).

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the safety of ethnic minorities in refugee displacement camps in South Sudan following the withdrawal of peacekeepers from that country.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) continues to play a vital role in the protection of civilians across South Sudan, including minority groups, and there have been no recent changes to the mission's focus or numbers of peacekeepers authorised to be in country. The mission's mandate was renewed in March, with UK support, for another year.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce remittance costs; whether they intend to raise the issue of remittance costs at the upcoming G7 Summit in June; and what plans they have to mark International Day of Family Remittances on 16 June.

The Call to Action has raised awareness of the potentially devastating impact of COVID-19 on remittances. Over 40 countries took actions to improve access to remittances and financial services. Some remittance companies waived their transfer fees and offered incentives to senders and receivers of remittances. Two Call to Action Partners (United Nations Capital Development Fund and World Bank) are writing a stocktake report that will analyse key factors and measures taken that have contributed to changes in remittances flows since the start of COVID-19. The report will be published and made public in June.

The UK and Swiss Governments will build on the Call to Action coalition, including creating a "Peer-to-Peer Learning platform". This will facilitate learning between remitting countries and key stakeholders.

The Call to Action monitors developments at national levels through the World Bank and updates a tracker on the Call to Action website: https://www.knomad.org/covid-19- remittances-call-to-action/#actions.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 15 February (HL12985), what developments have been made following the call to action 'Remittances in Crisis: How to Keep them Flowing', which the UK co-launched with Switzerland in May 2020; and how do they intend to measure progress.

The Call to Action has achieved its key objective of raising awareness on the potentially devastating impact of COVID-19 on remittances. Over 40 countries took actions to improve access to remittances and financial services. Remittance companies also responded by waiving their transfer fees and offering incentives to senders and receivers of remittances. A stocktake report is currently being written to understand the key factors and measures taken that have contributed to changes in remittances flows since the start of COVID-19. The UK and Swiss Governments are leveraging the unique composition and convening power of the Call to Action coalition to transition it to a "Peerto-Peer Learning platform", which will facilitate dialogue, share experiences and best practices, and facilitate learning between remitting countries and key stakeholders.

The Call to Action monitors developments at national levels through the World Bank and updates a tracker on the Call to Action website.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) reports of soldiers systematically killing men in Ethiopia, as reported in The Times on 8 May, and (2) whether such soldiers are operating on behalf of the Eritrean military.

We are deeply concerned at human rights abuses and violations in Ethiopia's Tigray region, including of Eritrea's significant role in them. We condemn violations as consistent with an apparent policy of collective punishment of Tigrayans. There are numerous shocking reports of atrocities committed by Eritrean forces in Tigray, and their continued presence is fueling insecurity. These forces must leave Ethiopia immediately. The Minister for Africa made this clear to the Eritrean Ambassador on 16 March, and we set this out in our joint statement with the G7 on 2 April and a G7 Communiqué on 5 May. Our Ambassador in Addis Ababa met with the Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian National Defence Force in the week of 26 April and pressed this point.

We are closely monitoring the situation and are clear that their withdrawal must be swift, unconditional and verifiable. However, despite Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy's commitment that Eritrean troops would withdraw from Tigray we are yet to see any evidence that this is happening. We continue to press hard for this commitment to be delivered.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they undertook, if any, in response to the report by Hogan Lovells Crimes against humanity: An independent legal opinion on the findings of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, published on 18 June 2014; and what assessment they have made of whether their response to that report met their duties under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

We noted the Hogan Lovells report of 18 June 2014. The UK is fully committed to honouring its legal obligations under the Genocide Convention. The Government's longstanding policy is that any judgment on whether genocide has occurred is a matter for competent courts. These include international courts, such as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, and national criminal courts that meet international standards of due process. Our approach is to seek an end to all violations of international law, and to prevent their further escalation, irrespective of whether these violations fit the definition of specific international crimes.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the treatment of non-religious people globally and, in particular, in countries where the human rights of non-religious people are not being upheld.

Members of non-religious communities continue to be victims of harassment and persecution, despite progress over recent years with the promotion of freedom of religion or belief for all. The UK Government remains deeply concerned about the severity and scale of violations and abuses of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) for all in many parts of the world. Protecting freedom of religion or belief for all faiths, and none, remains a priority for the UK Government. As the Minister responsible for Human Rights, I underlined these points at the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist’ Group Annual General Meeting on 24 May.

I also work closely with the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for FoRB, Fiona Bruce MP. In addition to championing FoRB, Mrs Bruce represents the UK at meetings of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance to advocate for the rights of individuals being discriminated against or persecuted on the basis of their faith or belief, including members of non-religious communities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office staff were based in (1) Hong Kong, and (2) China, in (a) 2018, (b) 2019, (c) 2020 and (d) 2021.

We have interpreted the question to mean how many staff were employed by the then Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Department for International Development (DfID) in China and Hong Kong in each of the financial years, (a) 2018, (b) 2019 and (c) 2020 and as Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in 2021. All the figures shown are based on the headcount as at 31 March in each year. They include both UK Based Staff and Country Based Staff.

The figures below cover our Embassies and Consulates in Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Wuhan. And our Consulate General in Hong Kong.

China and Hong Kong staff numbers 2018 to 2020 as Legacy departments. Then as FCDO in 2021.

China

Hong Kong

Year

FCO

DfID

FCO

DfID

2018

230-259

12

60-69

0

2019

240-269

10

50-59

0

2020

250-279

11

50-59

0

China

Hong Kong

Year

FCDO

FCDO

2021

260 - 289

40 -49

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of the murder and abduction of Christians in Nigeria; and what discussions they have had with the government of Nigeria about these reports.

The Government condemns violence against civilians of all religions in Nigeria. In the North East, terrorist groups including Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa, have abducted and killed individuals from Christian and Muslim communities. These groups target all those who do not subscribe to their extremist views. We are deeply concerned for the welfare of those still held in captivity by these groups. The UK Government is providing a comprehensive package of humanitarian and stabilisation assistance to support communities affected by the conflict. We are also concerned by recent criminal attacks on schools in Northern Nigeria, which have targeted students of all religions. We continue to raise these cases with the Nigerian Government.

Intercommunal violence also has a devastating impact on affected communities. The underlying drivers of violence are complex, and frequently relate to competition over resources and increasing criminality. The Minister for Africa visited Nigeria in April and discussed increasing insecurity across the country with the President’s Chief of Staff, Foreign Minister and community leaders. We continue to encourage the Nigerian Government to take urgent action to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of violence.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of targeted killings of Ethiopian Orthodox priests in Tigray; and what action they are taking as a result.

As the Minister of State responsible for human rights issues for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, I tweeted on 11 May to express my deep sadness at the reported murder of priests in Tigray. This is one of a deluge of horrifying reports of atrocities coming out of Tigray. Civilians must be protected and the violence must stop.

The G7, under the UK Presidency, issued a statement on 2 April and a Communiqué on 5 May condemning human rights violations and abuses. The UK also condemned in the strongest terms the reported killings of civilians via a joint statement on Ethiopia with 41 other countries at the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council. We support the UN's call for a "zero tolerance" policy and welcome the UN Security Council's 22 April Press Statement expressing their deep concern about allegations of human rights violations and abuses in the Tigray region. The UK will support the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure that their joint investigations with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission into atrocities in Tigray are independent, transparent and impartial and that those responsible for these human rights abuses are held to account. The Foreign Secretary, Minister for Africa and our Ambassador in Addis continue to raise human rights issues in their discussions with the Ethiopian government.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative in relation to the situation in Tigray; and what steps they are taking in response to any such assessment.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. The Minister will write directly to the Member with a response shortly.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of the use of rape and sexual violence against women in Tigray in regard to indicator 7.9 of the UN Framework for Analysis of Atrocity Crimes.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. The Minister will write directly to the Member with a response shortly.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of attacks by militias from Fulani backgrounds on places of worship in (1) the Middle Belt, and (2) northern states, of Nigeria; and how this compares to the (a) number, and (b) impact, of attacks by Boko Haram on places of worship in Nigeria.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. The Minister will write directly to the Member with a response shortly.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of the use of rape and sexual violence against women in Tigray; and what representations have they made to the government of Ethiopia regarding these reports.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. The Minister will write directly to the Member with a response shortly.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reported attack by militias from Fulani backgrounds on a Baptist church in Chikun, Nigeria on 25 April; what representations have they made to the government of Nigeria regarding attacks on places of worship; and what projects do they currently support in Nigeria that aim to assist places of worship introduce safety measures to protect worshipers from possible attacks.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. The Minister will write directly to the Member with a response shortly.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much funding they have allocated to the Great Britain China Centre over the last 30 years; how that organisation relates to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; what assessment they have made of its contribution to diplomatic relations with the government of China; and what steps they take to ensure that human rights and other ethical considerations are taken into account when developing business links with China.

The Great Britain China Centre (GBCC) is an arms-length body of the FCDO which currently receives £500K per annum in funding. The Statistics on International Development (SID) provides an overview of official UK spend, dating back to 2009. The 2019 data was published on GOV.UK on 24 September and can be viewed through the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/statistics-on-international-development-final-uk-aid-spend-2019). The GBCC supports UK objectives in China, including facilitating dialogues on issues of shared importance, and delivering projects on rule of law and judicial cooperation. The 2019 triennial tailored review of the GBCC concluded that it plays a key role in developing relationships and promoting understanding between the UK and China and has a disproportionate impact on UK-China relations relative to the funding it receives. The GBCC's mandate does not include developing business links with China.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much development funding they have provided to China in each of the past 15 years; and what the funding was used for.

Details of UK bilateral Official Development Assistance (ODA) to China between 2009 to 2019 can be found in table A4b of the Statistics on International Development (SID), published on the gov.uk website at

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/920048/Table-A4b.ods. Please note in line with SID revision policy there has been a minor revision to the 2019 SID dataset. A data processing error in reporting meant that the published 2019 figure of UK ODA spend in China was £500,000 lower than the actual spend [as the Grant in Aid ODA for the Great Britain-China Centre (GBCC) was mistakenly attributed to 'developing countries unspecified']. This revision does not affect the headline ODA figure which was £68 million UK bilateral ODA to China in 2019.

Further details on the programmes that underpin the figures in table A4b, including project titles and descriptions, can be found in the ODA activity level datasets published on gov.uk:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/921034/Data_Underlying_SID_2019.ods (for 2017-2019) and

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/695435/data-underlying-the-sid2017-revision-March.ods (for 2009 - 2016).

UK historical ODA spending is collected and published by the OECD. Information on UK ODA spend from 2005 to 2008 can be found online at https://stats.oecd.org/qwids/#?x=2&y=6&f=3:51,4:1,1:23,5:3,7:1&q=3:51+4:1+1:23+5:3+7:1+2:36+6:2005,2006,2007,2008.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the Great Britain China Centre Reports and Accounts, published on 31 March 2019, how much funding they have provided through the Prosperity Fund to resource projects seeking to enable "fairer market access and advancing economic reform to support China’s prosperity”; what assessment they have made of the outcome of any such projects; what due diligence they undertake into the companies which participate in those programmes; and what assessment they have made of whether those companies have any links to forced labour supply chains.

The China Business Environment programme, funded through the former UK cross-government Prosperity Fund (PF), supports work in protecting intellectual property, improving international standards, the investment environment, commercial dispute resolution and anti-money laundering initiatives. It is designed to contribute to a fairer, more transparent and predictable business environment for all business in China, including international and UK companies.

In 2020, the programme supported business environment reform in China by contributing to 3 major legal and regulatory changes; including on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), anti-monopoly measures and strengthening China's legal regime on 'force majeure'. A full assessment of the China Business Environment programme can be found in the 2019 Annual Review online via https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/china-prosperity-fund-programme.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that officials in Germany have declined to recognise the status of British National (Overseas) passport holders; and what steps they intend to take to ensure the status of the passport is recognised by (1) the authorities in Germany, and (2) the authorities in other countries.

We are aware that the Hong Kong SAR Government recently wrote to several foreign Consulates urging them not to accept BN(O) passports for visa applications. The Hong Kong Government has no authority to dictate which passports foreign governments recognise as valid. We will continue to issue BN(O) passports, which remain valid travel documents. We are in contact with relevant Government authorities, including the German authorities, on this issue.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the recent violence in Darfur, and (2) any relationship between a reduction in international aid for people in Darfur and the risk of violence and instability in that region.

The UK is deeply concerned by recent violence in Geneina, West Darfur where at least 144 people have been killed and 232 injured since 3 April. More than 300,000 people have been displaced in Darfur due to conflict in 2021. There are many drivers of violence and instability in Darfur but tackling the root causes of conflict is essential if lasting peace and security is to become a reality. We therefore continue to encourage the Government of Sudan to implement swiftly their National Plan for Civilian Protection and the Juba Peace Agreement, particularly provisions relating to security arrangements. The UK remains one of the leading donors to Sudan, including on peace, open societies, humanitarian and economic support.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of UK aid to the Tigray region is being distributed in Sudan.

The conflict in Tigray has had significant consequences and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, as well as impacting those that were already in need of humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia and Sudan. Over 62,000 people have crossed from Ethiopia to Sudan as a result of the conflict (an additional 7,179 people have arrived in Blue Nile State as the result of separate conflict in the Benishangul Gurmuz region of Ethiopia).

During his visit to Khartoum in January, the Foreign Secretary commended Sudan's leaders for their efforts to press for a peaceful resolution to the situation and support to refugees entering Sudan from Ethiopia. The UK has provided £6.1 million in funding to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Danish Refugee Council to address urgent needs arising from the Tigray crisis in Sudan. This additional funding is separate to the £15.4 million support specifically provided to help those affected by the conflict who are in Ethiopia.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of people at risk of (1) famine, or (2) severe food insecurity, in South Sudan in the next 12 months.

The UK uses analysis published by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) to assess levels of food security in South Sudan. The latest IPC report for South Sudan was published in December 2020 and projected that from April-July 2021, 7.2 million people (ca. 60 per cent of population) will experience high levels of acute food insecurity. Of these, an estimated 108,000 people are projected to face catastrophic famine-like conditions. Data collection to inform analysis beyond July 2021 is currently underway.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement received by Aid to the Church in Need from members of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's National Episcopal Conference of the Congo that alleged attacks on civilians by the Allied Democratic Forces in North Kivu and Ituri have led to (1) the displacement of three million civilians, (2) deaths, and (3) the forced conversion of civilians to Islam.

The UK is deeply concerned about violence against civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including in North Kivu and Ituri. Last week the British Embassy Kinshasa issued a joint statement with international partners condemning the attacks perpetrated by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in Beni, North Kivu. We are saddened that violence has displaced over 100,000 this year, and that armed groups continue to forcibly recruit civilians.

The UK is committed to building stability in eastern DRC, reducing violence, and providing support to victims through our humanitarian and stability programmes. In 2020/21 we provided approximately £52 million and three military staff officers to support the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO. We are committed to ensuring that MONUSCO effectively protects civilians and tackles the ADF. That is why we supported mandating MONUSCO to reinforce its troops in Beni during the Mission's last mandate renewal. We continue to urge the DRC Government and the UN to work together to better protect civilians. The Minister for Africa discussed this with President Tshisekedi during his visit to DRC in November 2020 and again during a telephone call in March this year.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the annual UK financial contribution to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCU); and what assessment they have made of the statement received by Aid to the Church in Need from members of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's National Episcopal Conference of the Congo on 13 April that attacks on civilians are occurring “a few metres” from MONUSCU troops.

The UK is deeply concerned about violence against civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including in North Kivu and Ituri. Last week the British Embassy Kinshasa issued a joint statement with international partners condemning the attacks perpetrated by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in Beni, North Kivu. We are saddened that violence has displaced over 100,000 this year, and that armed groups continue to forcibly recruit civilians.

The UK is committed to building stability in eastern DRC, reducing violence, and providing support to victims through our humanitarian and stability programmes. In 2020/21 we provided approximately £52 million and three military staff officers to support the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO. We are committed to ensuring that MONUSCO effectively protects civilians and tackles the ADF. That is why we supported mandating MONUSCO to reinforce its troops in Beni during the Mission's last mandate renewal. We continue to urge the DRC Government and the UN to work together to better protect civilians. The Minister for Africa discussed this with President Tshisekedi during his visit to DRC in November 2020 and again during a telephone call in March this year.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the influence and role of the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (1) in the Horn of Africa, and (2) in brokering a peace agreement between the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea; and what discussions they have with the government of (a) Saudi Arabia, and (b) the United Arab Emirates, about the conflict in Tigray.

The Governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have a clear interest in the security and prosperity of the Horn of Africa, and were prominent in brokering the 2018 peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. We have regular discussions, with both the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, on our shared interests in stability in Ethiopia and ending the conflict in Tigray. Most recently my Rt Hon. Friend the Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa discussed the situation in Ethiopia, including efforts to resolve the border dispute with Sudan, with Emirati counterparts on his visit to the region of 28-29 March. Last month I also spoke with the UAE Minister of State Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan Al Nahyan about stability in the Horn of Africa, an issue we will discuss again in the coming weeks.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to monitor the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from the Trigray region following the announcement by the prime minister of Ethiopia in March.

Eritrea's role in the conflict is particularly concerning; there are numerous reports of atrocities involving Eritrean forces, and the presence of Eritrean forces is fuelling insecurity. These forces must leave Ethiopia immediately, in line with the commitment made by Prime Minister Abiy in his announcement on 26 March of their withdrawal. We are clear that their withdrawal must be swift, unconditional and verifiable. We have yet to see any evidence that Eritrean forces are leaving Tigray.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) dispute between the governments of Sudan and Ethiopia over the al-Fashaga territory, and (2) involvement of the government of (a) Eritrea, and (b) Egypt, in that dispute.

We are concerned about the increase of tensions on the Sudanese Ethiopian border in the al-Fashaga territory and have stressed the need for de-escalation on both sides. We are also concerned by the numbers of people displaced and the impact this will have in the region.

We have been in discussions with Eritrea and Sudan regarding their shared border, along with a range of partners who also have shared interests in stability in Ethiopia and the wider Horn of Africa. We are encouraging all parties to de-escalate and engage in a political process. Neither party to the dispute has raised concerns with us about the involvement of third countries.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the current situation in Tigray; and what reports they have received about (1) human rights atrocities, (2) levels of starvation, (3) the number of displaced people and refugees, and (4) fighting, in that region.

The humanitarian situation in Tigray is dire, basic services have collapsed and the humanitarian response is hampered by poor security and access. There are credible reports of atrocities committed by all parties to the conflict, including harrowing reports of mass killings and rape. A joint humanitarian and political team from the British Embassy in Addis Ababa visited Tigray on on 4-5 March and 4-7 April. They met with the provisional administration of Tigray, the Mayor of Mekelle, the Interim Head of Administration in Shire and with humanitarian agencies working in the region. They spoke directly to people displaced by violence and heard harrowing accounts of human rights violations. The team also saw UKAid work in action and learned of the challenges across Tigray.

We will hold Prime Minister Abiy to his statement on 23 March that the perpetrators of human rights atrocities should face justice - whoever they are. Further atrocities including sexual and gender-based violence must stop and an independent investigation of those that have occurred must take place. The UK will support the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights' planned investigations.

Since the conflict started, the UK has consistently called for an end to fighting, and for all parties to the conflict to prioritise the protection of civilians. The conflict in Tigray has had significant consequences and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, over 70,000 moving into Sudan, as well as impacting those that were already in need of humanitarian assistance. Currently 4.5 million are in need of food aid. I made clear the dire humanitarian situation in the UNSC Open Debate on Conflict and Food Security on 11 March. To date the UK has provided £19 million of badly needed support to people in Tigray -to deliver critical food aid, safe drinking water, sanitation and nutritional supplies and medical care. We continue to call for a de-escalation and a long-term political solution. A sustainable political solution is required to resolve the crisis.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the visits by representatives of the (1) government of the United States, and (2) European Union, to Ethiopia, what steps they are taking to co-ordinate international efforts to end the war in that country.

The G7, under the UK Presidency, issued a joint statement on 2 April that expressed our strong concerns about recent reports on human rights violations and abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law in Tigray. We jointly called for the end of violence and the establishment of a clear inclusive political process that is acceptable to all Ethiopians, including those in Tigray and which leads to credible elections and a wider national reconciliation process. We are in close and regular contact with international partners, including the US and EU, about the situation in Ethiopia.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of mass killings in Tigray on 5 January; and what steps they are taking to ensure that evidence of human rights atrocities are systematically collected and used to identify and prosecute those responsible for such crimes.

We are deeply concerned at the mounting evidence of human rights abuses and violations in Ethiopia's Tigray region. Since the conflict started the UK has consistently called for independent, international investigations into atrocities reported in Tigray, and for the Government of Ethiopia to ensure full access for human rights organisations. We will hold Prime Minister Abiy to his statement on 23 March that the perpetrators of human rights atrocities should face justice - whoever they are. Further atrocities including sexual and gender-based violence must stop and an independent investigation of those that have occurred must take place. The UK will support the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights' planned investigations.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about (1) the death sentence imposed on Sajjad Masih Gill, and (2) the use of the death sentence in Pakistan; and what response they have received (a) on this case, and (b) on the use of the death sentence.

It is the UK's longstanding policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. We are concerned about the case of Sajjad Masih Gill, who was sentenced to death in March 2021, after being convicted for blasphemy.

We do not comment on our handling of individual cases but regularly raise our concerns about blasphemy laws at a senior level with the Government of Pakistan. On 23 March, I discussed Freedom of Religion or Belief with Pakistan's Special Representative for Religious Harmony, Tahir Ashrafi. On 20 February, I also raised our concerns about the protection of minority religious communities, including the use of blasphemy laws, with Pakistan's Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of (1) Australia, and (2) the United States, about the situation in Myanmar; and what plans they have to replicate the special measures introduced by those countries for Myanmar citizens unable to return to their country safely.

The UK is leading a strong and coordinated international response to the coup. We continue to engage closely with partners on a range of issues. We welcome the US announcement on Temporary Protected Status for Myanmar nationals in the country. Australia has not yet introduced special measures for Myanmar Nationals. We are continuing to explore the options for supporting Myanmar Nationals in the UK who could be in danger if they return.

The majority of Myanmar nationals present within the UK have already utilised the switching provisions within our immigration system to continue their regularised stay.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they plan to make at the UN Human Rights Council regarding alleged violations of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the government of China, in connection with restrictions on (1) BBC broadcasts, (2) media freedom, and (3) freedom of speech, in (a) China, and (b) Hong Kong.

The UK continues to take a leading international role in holding China to account for its human rights violations, including by leading the first statement at the UN Human Rights Council on Xinjiang and Hong Kong. On 22 February, the Foreign Secretary delivered a ministerial statement at the Human Rights Council where he expressed our deep concerns about the situation in Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong. We continue to urge the Chinese authorities to allow journalists to practice their profession without fear or arrest, harassment or reprisal, and to end extensive censorship and control over the media and wider freedom of expression. In Hong Kong, rights and freedoms, including the right to freedom of speech, are expressly guaranteed in the Joint Declaration, and must be upheld.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of the public executions in Pyongyang on 2 March of people charged with illegally distributing entertainment media; what representations they have made to the government of North Korea about such reports; and what plans they have to raise these reports at the next meeting of the UN Human Rights Council.

We are aware of recent reports of public executions in Pyongyang of individuals charged with distributing illegal entertainment media. Due to the closed nature of the regime in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, we cannot verify the accuracy of these reports. The UK, working with partners, ensures that annual UN resolutions consistently call on the DPRK to end its use of the death penalty and adhere to international standards on judicial procedures. We also continue to raise our concerns directly with the DPRK Government, including with the DPRK's Ambassador in London.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of damage caused to the Ahmadiyya Mosque in Garmolavirkan, Punjab, by a police raid on 17 March; whether they have had discussions with the government of Pakistan about these reports; and if so, what response they have received.

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

We are aware of reports that police in Pakistan damaged an Ahmadiyya Muslim Mosque in Garmola Virkan, Punjab.

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, I raised the need to promote respect for all religions with Pakistan's Special Representative for Religious Harmony, Tahir Ashrafi, on 23 March 2021. I 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.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision by the government of the United States of America to impose sanctions on officials of the governments of China and Hong Kong whose actions they deem to have "reduced Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy"; and what plans they have to impose similar sanctions on these officials.

The UK is deeply concerned about the situation in Hong Kong and the erosion of rights and freedoms and the high degree of autonomy enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The UK has already taken a number of actions in response to developments in Hong Kong. These include introducing a new bespoke immigration path for British Nationals (Overseas) (BNOs), suspending our extradition treaty with Hong Kong indefinitely, and extending our arms embargo on mainland China to Hong Kong.

We will continue to consider designations under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations. It is not appropriate to speculate who may be designated under the sanctions regime in the future. We will continue to stand up for the people of Hong Kong as befits our historic commitment to them, to call out the violation of their rights and freedoms.

We will also continue to engage and coordinate our actions with our international partners to hold China to their international obligations freely assumed under international law.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision of the government of the United States of America to impose sanctions on (1) 14 vice chairs of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, and (2) officials in (a) the National Security Division of the Hong Kong Police Force, (b) the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, and (c) the Office for Safeguarding National Security; and what plans they have to impose sanctions on overseas financial institutions that knowingly conduct significant transactions with these individuals.

The UK is deeply concerned about the situation in Hong Kong and the erosion of rights and freedoms and the high degree of autonomy enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The UK has already taken a number of actions in response to developments in Hong Kong. These include introducing a new bespoke immigration path for British Nationals (Overseas) (BNOs), suspending our extradition treaty with Hong Kong indefinitely, and extending our arms embargo on mainland China to Hong Kong.

We will continue to consider designations under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations. It is not appropriate to speculate who may be designated under the sanctions regime in the future. We will continue to stand up for the people of Hong Kong as befits our historic commitment to them, to call out the violation of their rights and freedoms.

We will also continue to engage and coordinate our actions with our international partners to hold China to their international obligations freely assumed under international law.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about reports that extremist ideology has been taught in schools in that country.

I recognise the concerns raised by minority groups in Pakistan that the introduction of a single curriculum may be used to marginalise some communities. Through our representation, the UK has made clear that there is a need for an inclusive curriculum, one that encompasses the rich diversity of Pakistan's communities and traditions. We are engaging with the Provincial and Federal Governments to ensure that the new curriculum promotes diversity and inclusion. Through our diplomatic network in Pakistan we have also engaged with young people to discuss the promotion of intolerance and inclusiveness. I will continue to scrutinise UK-funded education programmes in Pakistan to ensure they promote inclusive education.

I discussed the need for inclusive and tolerant education when I met with Pakistan's Minister for Education, Mr Shafqat Mahmood on 1 October 2020, and with the Governor of Punjab, Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, on 8 September 2020. I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan's Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, on 20 February 2021, and with Pakistan's Advisor to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior, Shahzad Akbar, on 7 December 2020.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to adopt the target set by the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, to spend 50 per cent of their aid budget in countries affected by conflict.

In November 2020 the Foreign Secretary announced a new strategic framework for how the UK's Official Development Assistance will be spent in 2021. The framework sharpens our focus on the seven global challenges where the UK can make the most difference including: climate and biodiversity; Covid and global health security; girls' education; science and research; open societies and conflict; humanitarian assistance; and trade. This year, the Foreign Secretary will lead a cross-departmental review on a new development strategy to ensure close alignment of UK aid with the objectives to be set out in the Integrated Review.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to provide relief for civil society in those countries affected by conflict where the UK has sought to bring an end to violence.

The FCDO works closely with civil society partners in countries affected by conflict, on conflict prevention and resolution and related issues including humanitarian relief.

This year we will establish a new conflict centre within the FCDO and prioritise the resources of the cross-government Conflict, Stability and Security Fund on the foundational link between stability, resilience and security, and work with governments and civil society in regions that are of greatest priority to the UK. This activity will be supported by funding of £874 million for 2021-22. We will continue to work with civil society to increase our impact on conflict in priority regions, and to ensure support is directed to help the most vulnerable.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that Kavita Kumari was (1) abducted at gunpoint, and (2) forcibly converted, in Kandhkot, Sindh when she was 13 years old.

The UK Government strongly condemns the forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls in Pakistan. The FCDO does not comment on individual cases.

Pakistan remains a FCDO Human Rights Priority Country. We regularly raise our concerns on these issues with the Government of Pakistan. Most recently, I raised our human rights concerns, including Freedom of Religion or Belief, with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, on 20 February 2021. I also raised the human rights situation in Pakistan with the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior, Shahzad Akbar, on 7 December 2020.

Through the UK's development support, we have worked with the Government of Pakistan to strengthen and improve Pakistan's police and judicial systems.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the custodian of Bharchundi Shareef Dargah, Mian Mithu, has been responsible for forcibly converting underage Hindu girls in Sindh, including Kavita Kumari.

The UK Government strongly condemns the forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls in Pakistan. The FCDO does not comment on individual cases.

Pakistan remains a FCDO Human Rights Priority Country. We regularly raise our concerns on these issues with the Government of Pakistan. Most recently, I raised our human rights concerns, including Freedom of Religion or Belief, with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, on 20 February 2021. I also raised the human rights situation in Pakistan with the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior, Shahzad Akbar, on 7 December 2020.

Through the UK's development support, we have worked with the Government of Pakistan to strengthen and improve Pakistan's police and judicial systems.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of Hindu girls who have been forcibly (1) converted, and (2) married, at the Bharchundi Shareef Dargah.

The UK Government strongly condemns the forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls in Pakistan. The FCDO does not comment on individual cases.

Pakistan remains a FCDO Human Rights Priority Country. We regularly raise our concerns on these issues with the Government of Pakistan. Most recently, I raised our human rights concerns, including Freedom of Religion or Belief, with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, on 20 February 2021. I also raised the human rights situation in Pakistan with the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior, Shahzad Akbar, on 7 December 2020.

Through the UK's development support, we have worked with the Government of Pakistan to strengthen and improve Pakistan's police and judicial systems.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of mass killings of civilians in the Oromia region of Ethiopia; and what steps they are taking in response.

We are deeply concerned by the violent clashes in recent months in the Oromia region of Ethiopia with reports of mass killings. We are also extremely concerned by recent reports of killings of Amharan civilians, including women and children in Horoguduru in Western Oromia. Leaders on all sides must be clear that ethnic-based violence and discrimination will not be tolerated, and must stress to all those under their control the importance of respecting human rights and avoiding civilian loss of life at all costs. The Foreign Secretary underlined the need for all Ethiopians to be respected and not be subject to violence and discrimination during his visit to Ethiopia on 22 January. When the Minister for Africa visited Ethiopia from 27-29 July 2020, he discussed ethnic tensions with the Ethiopian President and senior Ministers, as well as the President of Oromia. We continue to monitor the human rights situation in Ethiopia closely.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy The Uyghur Genocide: An Examination of China’s Breaches of the 1948 Genocide Convention, published on 8 March; and what plans they have to discuss its findings with the authors of that report.

The Government has noted the findings of the report. We will continue to engage with a wide range of experts and review all available evidence to inform our understanding of the situation in Xinjiang and to guide policy development. The Government remains deeply concerned by the human rights violations occurring in the region and continues to play a leading role in holding China to account, including at the UN.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for establishing an UN independent investigative mechanism to investigate the situation of Uighurs in China.

It is vitally important that China grants unfettered access to Xinjiang for the UN Human Rights Commissioner or another independent fact finding body, without further delay. The Foreign Secretary made the UK position on this issue clear in a high level intervention at the Human Rights Council on 22 February.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking in response to the remarks by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator on 4 March that (1) “a campaign of destruction” is taking place in Tigray, (2) that at least 4.5 million people need humanitarian assistance, and (3) that Eritrean forces should leave Tigray forthwith.

The UK shares the concerns outlined by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator in his statement of 4 March on the humanitarian situation in Tigray. The UK has been consistent in calling for free and unfettered humanitarian access to 4.5 million people in need. We have made clear our position that Eritrean forces should withdraw. The Foreign Secretary raised the need for humanitarian access to Tigray with Prime Minister Abiy during his recent visit to Ethiopia and pressed for a political dialogue to bring lasting peace to the region. The Minister for Africa re-enforced the urgency of the need for humanitarian access when he spoke with the Ethiopian Ambassador on 24 February.

The UK is working closely with humanitarian and development agencies to make sure aid reaches civilians affected by the fighting. UK-funded aid agencies in Tigray are delivering support in challenging circumstances, including food, shelter, water and healthcare. A joint humanitarian and political team from the British Embassy in Addis Ababa visited Mekelle on 5 March. They met with the provisional administration of Tigray, mayor of Mekelle, humanitarian agencies and people displaced by violence. They heard harrowing accounts of human rights violations, the challenges of aid delivery and how some of the £11.4 million of UK Aid is helping to support those affected by the Tigray conflict. The Government of Ethiopia must act now to protect its people.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Human Rights Watch Ethiopia: Eritrean Forces Massacre Tigray Civilians, published on 5 March; and what steps they are taking to hold those responsible for reported mass killings in Axum to account.

I refer the noble Lord to my response to his Oral question (volume 810, column 1468) answered on 9 March 2021. On 26 February the Minister for Africa stated that we are deeply saddened and concerned by the reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on the human rights violations of civilians in Axum, Ethiopia. These require a serious and urgent response from the Government of Ethiopia. We continue to call for independent, international investigations into these and other crimes reported in Tigray, and for the Government of Ethiopia to ensure full access for human rights organisations. We have made this clear to the Government of Ethiopia. The Minister for Africa also pressed the need for the immediate withdrawal by Eritrean troops from Tigray and raised our concerns about human rights abuses in Tigray when he met the Eritrean Ambassador to the UK this week.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much Official Development Assistance has been provided to Pakistan in each of the past ten years; and what proportion of that funding was awarded to educational projects in each of those years.

The UK Government has spent £3,068,877,909 on Official Development Assistance in Pakistan in the last 10 years. On average, 28% of this has been spent on educational projects.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many doses of COVID-19 vaccines they intend to provide to the government of Pakistan; in providing any such vaccines, what account they will take of reports of inequalities affecting minority communities in that country; and what action the UK High Commissioner to Pakistan will take to ensure the fair operation of the COVAX initiative.

The UK is supporting the equitable rollout of vaccines in Pakistan and around the world through COVAX, an international alliance co-led by the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and World Health Organization. We are one of the world's largest donors to COVAX, contributing £548 million to date. Decisions about the global rollout of the vaccine are for COVAX, which is committed to prioritising distribution where it will have most impact. We understand that COVAX plans to provide around 90 million vaccine doses to Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan is finalising its vaccination roll out plan for refugees in close consultation with UNHCR and other stakeholders. We are in close contact with the Pakistani authorities to support this effort.

The UK is providing an additional £4.67 million through the World Health Organisation to support Pakistan's COVID-19 Preparedness and Response plan. This will help provide medical assistance to the seriously ill, infection prevention and control, and increased testing capacity. We will continue to ensure that our programme of COVID-19 assistance to Pakistan helps those at risk and reaches the most vulnerable, including minority communities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the government of the United States' Secretary of State on 2 March about the violence in Tigray; and what steps they taking to ensure that (1) those responsible for any violence in Tigray are brought to justice, and (2) reported atrocities are brought before the UN Security Council as soon as possible.

The UK shares the concerns outlined by US Secretary of State Blinken in his statements of 27 February and 2 March on the reported atrocities in Ethiopia's Tigray region. The Foreign Secretary discussed the conflict in Tigray with Secretary Blinken on 25 February. The situation in Ethiopia was discussed at a closed session of the UN Security Council on 4 March. The UK has been consistent, alongside the UN and international partners including the US, in calling for the protection of civilians in Ethiopia, respect for human rights and the withdrawal of Eritrean forces. The Foreign Secretary raised the need for independent, international, investigations into allegations of human right abuses and violations when he met with Prime Minister Abiy during his visit to Ethiopia on 22 January.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the United States Secretary of State Atrocities in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region, published on 27 February; and what discussions they have had with the government of the United States about the imposition of sanctions on Eritrea until its troops have left Ethiopia.

The UK shares the concerns outlined by US Secretary of State Blinken in his statements of 27 February and 2 March on the reported atrocities in Ethiopia's Tigray region. The Foreign Secretary discussed the conflict in Tigray with Secretary Blinken on 25 February. The situation in Ethiopia was discussed at a closed session of the UN Security Council on 4 March. The UK has been consistent, alongside the UN and international partners including the US, in calling for the protection of civilians in Ethiopia, respect for human rights and the withdrawal of Eritrean forces. The Foreign Secretary raised the need for independent, international, investigations into allegations of human right abuses and violations when he met with Prime Minister Abiy during his visit to Ethiopia on 22 January.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of China about (1) the BBC report on the treatment of Uighur women in Xianjiang who said they had been subject to sexual violence in re-education camps, published on 2 February, and (2) its decision to ban BBC World News broadcasts; and what plans they have to raise these issues as a breach of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the UN Human Rights Council.

As Minister Adams said in the House of Commons on 4 February, the BBC report of 3 February includes deeply distressing testimony of the rape, torture and dehumanisation of Uyghur women in Xinjiang detention centres. It is a further, compelling addition to the growing body of evidence of the gross human rights violations being perpetrated against Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang. The Government has raised the specific allegations in the BBC report with the Chinese Embassy in London. The Government has also raised China's decision to ban BBC World News in mainland China - an unacceptable curtailing of media freedom - directly with the Chinese authorities.

We continue to play a leading role in holding China to account for human rights violations, working closely with international partners, including at the UN. On 22 February, during his high level statement to the Human Rights Council, the Foreign Secretary underlined the need for urgent and unfettered access to Xinjiang for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights or another independent fact-finding expert.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their announcement on 12 January about the introduction of measures to help ensure that UK organisations are not complicit in, nor profiting from, human rights violations in Xinjiang, what progress they have made in (1) seeking to amend the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to introduce financial penalties for organisations which do not publish annual modern slavery statements, and (2) ensuring that UK organisations are not complicit in, nor profiting from, the human rights violations in Xinjiang, in particular within the cotton industry.

The implementation of the measures announced by the Foreign Secretary on 12 January in respect of Xinjiang is underway. Her Majesty's Government's Overseas Business Risk guidance was updated on the day of the announcement, providing detailed written guidance to UK businesses investing in, or with supply chains in, Xinjiang. The Government has also launched a programme of proactive engagement with UK organisations to support them in ensuring they are not contributing to human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The review of export controls as they apply to Xinjiang is in progress, and Parliament will be updated once it has been completed. The introduction of financial penalties under the Modern Slavery Act will require primary legislation, which will be introduced when parliamentary time allows.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria they use to assess whether to impose global human rights sanctions under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018; why they (1) have imposed such sanctions on the government of Myanmar, and (2) have not imposed such sanctions on the government of China; and what plans they have to write to the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee setting out the background of each statutory instrument which imposes, or amends, sanctions when they are laid before Parliament, as requested in the letter from that Committee to the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs on 9 September 2020.

The Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 set out the designation criteria that Ministers must be satisfied are met prior to making a designation. In addition, Her Majesty's Government has published a policy note setting out factors relevant to whether a person may be designated under these regulations.

In July 2020, the Commander in Chief and Deputy Commander in Chief of the Tatmadaw were designated under the Global Human Rights sanctions regime for their involvement in the systematic and brutal violence against the Rohingya people and other ethnic minorities in Myanmar, in which 700,000 Rohingya were forcibly displaced with tens of thousands killed, tortured and subject to sexual violence.

The government remains gravely concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang. On 12 January the Foreign Secretary announced robust, targeted measures to help ensure that British organisations, whether public or private sector, are not complicit in, nor profiting from, the human rights violations in Xinjiang. We also continue to play a leading role in holding China to account for its human rights violations in the region, working closely with international partners, including at the UN. We will keep all evidence and potential listings under close review.

Her Majesty's Government publishes explanatory memoranda and other detailed statutory reports to provide background to each statutory instrument laid under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the motions passed by the Canadian House of Commons on 22 February and Dutch Parliament on 25 February to declare that the treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang amounts to a genocide; and what plans they have to make such a determination

We have taken note of the motions passed by the Canadian House of Commons and the House of Representatives of the Netherlands relating to Xinjiang. The Government remains gravely concerned about the human rights situation in the region. We continue to play a leading role in holding China to account, working closely with international partners, including Canada and the Netherlands.

It is the long-standing policy of the British Government that any judgment as to whether genocide has occurred is a matter for a competent court, rather than for governments or non-judicial bodies.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International of atrocities in Tigray; what steps they are taking in response to the report by Amnesty International Ethiopia: The massacre in Axum, published on 26 February, which asserts that mass killings of civilians in Axum may amount to crimes against humanity; and what steps they are taking (1) to collect evidence of any such crimes, and (2) to bring those responsible to justice.

On 26 February the Minister for Africa stated that we are deeply saddened by the reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on the human rights violations of civilians in Axum, Ethiopia. While the Government of Ethiopia have said that the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission will lead an independent investigation with support from the UN, we will continue to call for independent, international investigations into these and other crimes reported in Tigray, and for the Government of Ethiopia to ensure full access for human rights organisations.

In a joint statement on Ethiopia with 41 other countries at the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council, we condemned in the strongest terms the reported killings of civilians. We have raised our concerns with Ethiopian Ministers, making clear the overriding need to protect civilians and adhere to international law and to international human rights law. The Minister for Africa re-enforced the urgency of the need for humanitarian access when he spoke with the Ethiopian Ambassador on 24 February.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they changed their engagement with (1) the government of North Korea, and (2) the UN in relation to North Korea, following the report by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, published on 7 February 2014.

The UK has deep concerns about the appalling human rights situation in the DPRK including as documented in the 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry Report, and has responded to recommendations made by that report. Since the Report's publication, we have maintained a high level of engagement at the UN on the situation and we continue to press for annual debate on the DPRK's human rights issues in the UN Security Council. We continue to raise our concerns directly with the DPRK government, including with the DPRK's Ambassador in London. We also support the annual Human Rights Council resolution on human rights in North Korea which stresses the importance of following up recommendations from the Report and provides the basis for further work on a credible framework for accountability for human rights violations in the country.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are their priorities in relation to North Korea.

Working to support our allies and partners, the UK is committed to securing a peaceful settlement on the Korean Peninsula, and to achieving the complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's illegal nuclear and weapons programmes. We are committed to upholding the rules-based international system and securing an end to all other illegal activities by the regime. Underlining the UK's position as a force for good, we stand up for the victims of human rights violations by the regime and are focused on the humanitarian situation following over a year of Covid-related restrictions. Following the imposition of Covid restrictions we had to withdraw all diplomatic staff from our Embassy in Pyongyang on 27 May 2020, but look forward to re-opening the Embassy as soon as it is possible and safe to do so.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have implemented any of the recommendations made in the report by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, published on 7 February 2014; and if so, which.

The UK has deep concerns about the appalling human rights situation in the DPRK including as documented in the 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry Report, and has responded to recommendations made by that report. Since the Report's publication, we have maintained a high level of engagement at the UN on the situation and we continue to press for annual debate on the DPRK's human rights issues in the UN Security Council. We continue to raise our concerns directly with the DPRK government. We also support the annual Human Rights Council resolution on human rights in North Korea which stresses the importance of following up recommendations from the Report and provides the basis for further work on a credible framework for accountability for human rights violations in the country.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, published on 7 February 2014; and what steps they (1) have taken and (2) are taking, to address human rights abuses in North Korea.

The UK has deep concerns about the appalling human rights situation in the DPRK including as documented in the 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry Report, and has responded to recommendations made by that report. Since the Report's publication, we have maintained a high level of engagement at the UN on the situation and we continue to press for annual debate on the DPRK's human rights issues in the UN Security Council. We continue to raise our concerns directly with the DPRK government. We also support the annual Human Rights Council resolution on human rights in North Korea which stresses the importance of following up recommendations from the Report and provides the basis for further work on a credible framework for accountability for human rights violations in the country.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to hold to account those responsible for crimes against humanity in North Korea; what consideration they have given to referring reports of such crimes to the International Criminal Court; and what plans they have to review the efficacy of the mechanisms in place to ensure that such accountability is upheld.

The UK is clear there must be no impunity for the most serious international crimes. The international community has a responsibility to respond to human rights violations in North Korea and the UK continues to press for annual debate in the UN Security Council on the DPRK human rights issues. North Korea is not a State Party to the International Criminal Court (ICC), so a referral of the situation in the DPRK could be made only by the UN Security Council in this instance. We welcome and support the annual Human Rights Council resolution on human rights in North Korea which stresses the importance of following up recommendations from the 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry Report on Human Rights in the DPRK, and provides the basis for further work on a credible framework for accountability for human rights violations in the country.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that North Korea has been operating a fraudulent scheme to force people held in prison camps to produce coal and other goods for export; and what assessment they have made of the report by The Citizen’s Alliance for North Korea Human Rights Blood Coal Exports from North Korea, published on 24 February, that political prisoners, including children, are enslaved in coal production to enable the development of North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programme.

The UK remains deeply concerned about the appalling human rights situation in the DPRK and is aware of reports that people held in prison camps are enslaved in coal production and other goods for export. The UK is unable to verify these reports, but we are clear that the DPRK must address the many reports of continued and wide-spread human rights violations in the country, including the arbitrary detention of its citizens. That is why in July 2020, the UK designated two DPRK entities through the Global Human Rights sanctions regime, including the Ministry of State Security Bureau 7 and Ministry of People's Security Correctional Bureau.

The UK continues to call for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea and remains committed to upholding sanctions on North Korea, working with international partners to curtail North Korea's nuclear and missile capability. UN Security Council Resolution 2371, passed in August 2017, banned all North Korean coal exports. The UK continues to raise with the other members of the UN Security Council our concerns about North Korea's evasion of UN sanctions and the illicit maritime export of commodities, including coal.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that prisoners from North Korea’s Camp 18 in Bukchang produce at least 8 million tonnes of coal annually; and what assessment they have made of whether exports of North Korean coal are in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 2375 (2017).

The UK is aware of concerning reports that people held in prison camps are enslaved in coal production. The UK is unable to verify these reports, but we continue to call on the North Korean government to acknowledge and address the many reports of serious and wide-ranging human rights violations in the country, including the arbitrary detention of its citizens, and to allow UN human rights mechanisms unhindered access to the country.

UN Security Council Resolution 2371, passed in August 2017, banned all North Korean coal exports. The UK continues to raise with the other members of the UN Security Council our concerns about North Korea's evasion of UN sanctions and the illicit maritime export of commodities, including coal.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to raise the implementation of the recommendations in the report by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea published on 7 February 2014, at the UN Human Rights Council; and in particular, the recommendation that the situation in North Korea should be referred to the International Criminal Court.

The UK is clear there must be no impunity for the most serious international crimes. We welcome and support the Human Rights Council resolution on human rights in North Korea which stresses the importance of following up recommendations from the UN Commission of Inquiry Report on Human Rights in the DPRK, and provides the basis for further work on a credible framework for accountability for human rights violations in the country. North Korea is not a State Party to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and so a referral of the situation in the DPRK could be made only by the UN Security Council in this instance. The international community has a responsibility to respond to human rights violations in North Korea and the UK continues to press annual debate on the DPRK's human rights issues in the UN Security Council.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that workers in North Korea have been sent to Russia to provide overseas labour contrary to the sanctions imposed under UN Security Council Resolution 2375 (2017); what assessment they have made of how such workers are selected; and what plans they have to raise this issue at the UN Security Council.

The UK government has been very clear that international law must be upheld, and that UN sanctions put in place to combat North Korea's illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes must be fully enforced. The UN Panel of Experts have reported that North Korean overseas workers continue to be present in member states despite the passing of the repatriation deadline in December 2019. We fully agree with the panel's assessment and continue to raise our concerns with the members of the Security Council in New York, including Russia, most recently on 24 February. The UK has not made an independent assessment of how such workers are selected. The UK calls for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the government of North Korea has ordered the capacity of its prison camps to be expanded.

The UK is deeply concerned about the appalling human rights situation in the DPRK. We are aware of reports that the North Korean government has ordered the expansion of political prison camps in the country. We are unable to verify this activity but the UK remains clear that the DPRK must address the many reports of serious and wide-ranging human rights violations in North Korea, including the arbitrary detention of its citizens. That is why in July 2020, the UK designated two DPRK entities through the Global Human Rights (GHR) sanctions regime, including the Ministry of State Security Bureau 7 and Ministry of People's Security Correctional Bureau, which together are responsible for the country's notorious prison camp system. The UK continues to urge improvements in the DPRK human rights situation, and regularly raises these concerns, including on prison camps, in international fora and directly with the DPRK authorities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, what assessment they have made of the decision by the EU to suspend budget support to the government of Ethiopia whilst humanitarian aid workers are unable to access Tigray; and in view of any such assessment, what plans they have to suspend the provision of Official Development Assistance to that government.

We note and understand the decision by the EU to suspend budget support. The UK does not provide general budget support to the Government of Ethiopia. UK Overseas Development Assistance provided to the Government of Ethiopia in the form of financial aid supports the delivery of specific development results; and we track results to ensure our programmes are delivering these life-changing results for Ethiopians in desperate need. UK bilateral ODA spend for Ethiopia in 20/21 is £237m. We work closely with the Government of Ethiopia to ensure and monitor that aid is provided impartially and serves to improve the conditions of intended beneficiaries. We are keeping the provision of aid to Ethiopia under constant review.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to promote the participation of the government of Ethiopia and the Tigray state authorities in peace talks.

We have, and will continue to advocate that a political process is essential to bring a full end to fighting and a sustainable settlement for Tigray. We have consistently urged all parties to end the conflict, prioritise the protection of civilians and allow unfettered humanitarian access. The Foreign Secretary raised these points when he met with Prime Minister Abiy on 22 January and also pressed for a political dialogue to bring a lasting peace to Tigray. The Minister for Africa also pressed for political dialogue to end the conflict when he spoke with the Ethiopian Ambassador on 24 February.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reports that the government of Ethiopia has transferred military equipment and money to the government of Eritrea in exchange for the engagement of Eritrean soldiers in Tigray.

We are concerned by involvement of Eritrean forces in hostilities throughout the Tigray region of Ethiopia and the growing weight of credible evidence of their involvement in human rights violations. The Minister for Africa has called for their immediate withdrawal, as they are fuelling the conflict. However, we are unable to verify reports that this includes the transfer of military equipment and money by the Government of Ethiopia to the Government of Eritrea. We have raised our concerns with Ministers in both governments, making clear the overriding need to protect civilians and adhere to international law and international human rights law.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports (1) that refugee camps in Tigray have been destroyed, (2) that Eritrean refugees are missing as a result, and (3) that Eritrean refugees have been forcibly repatriated to Eritrea.

The UK condemns the destruction of the Hitsats and Shimbella refugee camps in Tigray and calls for urgent assistance to those refugees displaced as a result. We are also concerned at reports that Eritrean troops entered Ethiopian refugee camps in Tigray and forced a number of refugees to return to Eritrea. If proven, this would be a serious violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Alleged violations of international law must be investigated as a means to promote respect for legal instruments and to prevent future violations, including as necessary through international criminal tribunals.

The British Ambassador in Eritrea raised these questions with the Eritrean Foreign Minister in December 2020, who denied that Eritrean forces had forcibly returned Eritrean refugees to Eritrea. We are extremely concerned that humanitarian agencies, including the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), do not have access to refugee camps in Tigray, meaning our understanding of the humanitarian and protection context in camps and refugee hosting areas is limited. It is the responsibility of the host state to ensure refugees are protected and are not subjected to forcible return. This was acknowledged by the Government of Ethiopia when we raised the matter.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government which countries require their nationals to seek domestic approval before they can apply for Chevening and Commonwealth scholarships.

There are no arrangements in place with foreign governments which require candidates to seek approval to apply for Chevening scholarships. Nominations for some of the awards that the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission (CSC) funds are made by national agencies. In most cases these are government departments, which ensures that national development priorities are reflected in the candidate selection. Final decisions for all scholarship awards are made by the CSC Commissioners.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many students from African countries attending UK universities receive scholarships other than Chevening or Commonwealth scholarships.

Students from Africa can seek funding to support study at UK universities through a number of routes, including scholarships offered by charities, private organisations and the universities themselves. We do not hold data on the number of scholarships offered through other organisations, however, Chevening and the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission are currently funding 484 and 488 scholars from Africa respectively.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the remarks by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, about the obligations under international law of the Myanmar security force to not use excessive force, and that they risk being prosecuted if they do so, and (2) whether members of the Myanmar security forces will be prosecuted.

We share the UN Special Rapporteur's concerns about the worrying reports of violence against protestors in Myanmar. The Minister of State for Asia spoke to the Special Rapporteur shortly before the coup and reiterated our deep concern at human rights violations by the military. We have been clear that the state of emergency, and all restrictions on rights and freedoms, should be lifted immediately. The people's right to a peaceful protest should be respected. The coup must end. We urge the military to exercise utmost restraint and respect human rights and international law. The military must be held accountable for their actions. We will continue to explore all options for doing this.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the President of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society that 80 per cent of Tigray is currently unreachable for aid access and that people are at risk of starvation.

We note recent assessments that there are still significant restrictions to access in Tigray and are concerned about the impact of the conflict on food security and nutrition in the region. The Foreign Secretary raised the need for humanitarian access to Tigray with President Abiy during his recent visit to Ethiopia and pressed for a political dialogue to bring lasting peace to the region. In this context we welcome the recent visits to Ethiopia by senior UN officials and hope that they will deliver a sustained step-change in humanitarian access. The UK is working closely with humanitarian and development agencies, including the Ethiopian Red Cross, to make sure aid reaches civilians affected by the fighting. UK-funded aid agencies in Tigray are working hard to deliver support in challenging circumstances, including food, shelter, water and healthcare. The Foreign Secretary visited Gondar, in the neighbouring Amhara region on 22 January and saw first-hand how £11m of UK Aid is supporting the World Food Programme and NGOs to ensure the delivery of aid to those affected by the conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that (1) the number of people trying to leave North Korea over the border rivers of Yalu and Tumen has risen since the beginning of January, and (2) many would-be defectors have been shot and killed by border guards.

We are not aware of recent specific reports concerning North Koreans attempting to leave the country over the Yalu and Tumen rivers. We will continue to monitor the situation. We remain concerned about the humanitarian situation in North Korea, following a year of lockdown, and continue to call on North Korea to restore international access for humanitarian assistance.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of the United States about the previous US administration’s determination that China has committed genocide in its repression of Uighurs and other minority groups; and what plans they have to make a similar determination.

In a call on 27 January 2021, the Foreign Secretary and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed cooperation to hold China to its international commitments. The government remains gravely concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang. We regularly discuss these concerns and related questions of policy with the US. The UK plays a leading role in holding China to account for its human rights violations in the region, working closely with international partners, including the US.

It is the long-standing policy of the British Government that any judgment as to whether genocide has occurred is a matter for a competent court, rather than for governments or non-judicial bodies. Competent courts include international courts, such as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, and national criminal courts that meet international standards of due process.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the legal opinion by Alison Macdonald QC, Jackie McArthur, Naomi Hart and Lorraine Aboagye on International criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uyghur population in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, published on 26 January.

The Government has taken careful note of the recently published legal opinion by Alison Macdonald QC et al. Our deep concern about the serious and widespread human rights violations in Xinjiang is a matter of record. The UK has led international efforts to hold China to account, and on 12 January the Foreign Secretary announced a package of measures to help ensure that British organisations, whether public or private sector, are not complicit in, nor profiting from, the human rights violations in Xinjiang.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Burma Campaign's "Dirty List"; and what plans they have to impose sanctions on any firm which supports Myanmar's military.

The military's influence is pervasive across Myanmar's economy. Burma Campaign's "Dirty List" is one valuable input into our thinking on the military economy. We are clear that Myanmar needs responsible investors. Her Majesty's Government works closely with UK businesses to ensure that they conduct thorough due diligence to try and avoid exposure to military businesses. Between 2018 and 2020 the UK imposed targeted sanctions on 16 individuals responsible for human rights violations in Myanmar. We played a leading role in securing EU sanctions on 14 individuals. These have all been transitioned into UK law. In July 2020, we sanctioned the Commander-in-Chief and his Deputy, in our first tranche of designations under the Global Human Rights Sanctions regime. We have now sanctioned all six individuals named in the UN Fact Finding Mission Report.

We are working closely with international partners to ensure a coordinated and impactful response to the coup of 1 February. The UK will consider all the tools at its disposal, including sanctions.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of the United States about parity of treatment between British National (Overseas) passport holders and full British citizens for visa purposes; and what plans they have to seek such parity with other governments.

We remain in regular contact with our close partners, including the US, on Hong Kong and are pleased to see the steps they have taken to put in place measures in support of people of Hong Kong.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what advice they provide to people in Hong Kong who only hold a British National (Overseas) passport who wish to travel to the UK.

The vast majority of BN(O) passport holders will have another passport, such as the Hong Kong SAR passport which they can use to travel on. We have not been made aware of anyone who has been unable to travel.

We understand there may be a very small number of individuals who may only hold the BN(O) document and we are working with the Home Office to explore options for this group.

We look forward to welcoming those who wish to settle here.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of people in Saudi Arabia receiving repeated public lashings for asserting their atheism; and whether they consider that such punishments contravene the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The UK strongly supports the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), which is restricted in Saudi Arabia. Ministers and our Ambassador in Saudi Arabia regularly raise and discuss freedom of religion or belief. Whilst Saudi Arabia ended flogging as a form of corporal punishment in 2020, this change does not apply to some Hudud crimes, for which the Quran prescribes punishments.The UK will encourage further human rights reform in Saudi Arabia.

On 20 December 2020, the Prime Minister reaffirmed his commitment to FoRB by appointing Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, as his Special Envoy for FoRB. Mrs Bruce will work with ministers, officials and others to deliver the Government's goal of seeing everyone, everywhere able to have and practise a faith, belief, or not to do so, in accordance with their conscience.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it remains their policy that the determination of genocide is a matter for international judicial systems.

Genocide is an international crime with a strict legal meaning. It is the policy of the UK Government that any judgment on whether genocide has occurred is a matter for competent courts, rather than for governments or other nonjudicial bodies. Competent courts include international courts, such as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, and national criminal courts that meet international standards of due process.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) practical, and (2) political, implications of the announcement that the governments of China and Hong Kong will not recognise British National (Overseas) passports as valid travel documents.

We are disappointed but not surprised by the Chinese decision not to recognise British National (Overseas) passports. However, whatever obstacles China puts in the way of BN(O)s leaving Hong Kong, we will do all we can to enable them to come to live, work and study in the UK. BN(O)s and their families will be able to use documentation other than BN(O) passports to take up this visa. We look forward to welcoming those who wish to settle here.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have raised the caning of women for breaking dress codes with the governments of (1) Sudan, (2) Saudi Arabia, and (3) Iran; and, if so, what responses they have received from those governments.

Respect for human rights and democratic freedoms underpins the UK's foreign policy. Our Annual Human Rights Report sets out in detail the UK's approach to human rights priority countries, and the work we have undertaken to promote and protect human rights around world. The UK Government has designated 30 countries as Human Rights Priority Countries, these include Sudan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

UK Ministers and officials consistently raise a range of human rights issues with their counterparts. The UK welcomes the steps taken by the transitional Government of Sudan in this area, including the repeal of the public order law in 2019, removing corporal punishment for the violation of dress codes.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that two gay men have been subjected to public beatings by the religious police in Indonesia; when they last raised the use of public beatings with the government of Indonesia; and what response they received.

The UK opposes all forms of discrimination and is committed to protecting the rights and freedoms of LGBT people around the world. We regularly press legislators and the Indonesian Government not to discriminate against minority groups, including the LGBT community. We urge Indonesia to adhere to its founding principles by ensuring that its laws, both at national and local level, are non-discriminatory and celebrate the diversity and tolerance of its people.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of damage and looting as a result of a military offensive by the government of Ethiopia in the diocese of Adigrat in Tigray.

We are saddened by further reports from Tigray of attacks on places of worship as well as reports of damage and looting in the diocese of Adigrat. An ongoing lack of access to the Tigray region means that it remains difficult to confirm these reports. We will continue to work with partners to seek further information. We continue to urge all parties to allow unfettered humanitarian access, a point the Foreign Secretary discussed with Prime Minister Abiy during his visit on 22 January.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the remarks made by Anthony Blinken, the nominee for Secretary of State of the United States of America, on 19 January that the USA should “take in some of those fleeing Hong Kong, fleeing the repression, for standing up for their democratic rights”; and what plans they have to coordinate an international strategy in support of the people of Hong Kong.

The UK is in close touch with all our international partners, including the US, on developments in Hong Kong. We will continue to engage and coordinate our actions with our international partners, as befits our historic commitment to the people of Hong Kong, to call out the violation of their rights and freedoms, and to hold China to its international obligations.

The UK has taken a number of measures in response to the introduction of the National Security Law. These include a new immigration path for British Nationals (Overseas) passport holders BN(O)s, suspending our extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and extending our arms embargo on mainland China to Hong Kong.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by Oxfam The Inequality Virus, published on 25 January, what assessment they have made of the implications for UK public policy of the finding that the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to increase economic inequality in almost every country.

The impacts of COVID-19 are widespread and severe and are deepening inequalities. COVID-19 is likely to have resulted in over 140 million additional people living in extreme poverty in 2020 - around 2% of the global population - and many more will have temporarily fallen below the poverty line.

The UK is at the forefront of the international response, committing up to £1.3 billion of new ODA funding to counter the health, economic, and humanitarian impacts of COVID-19, including mobilising COVAX to provide vaccines to low and middle-income countries. We have reprogrammed over 300 existing programmes to respond to the challenges created by COVID-19 and supported the multilateral development banks to make over $200 billion available to developing countries.

We will use our G7 and COP26 Presidencies this year to drive a green, fair and inclusive economic recovery and help countries to build back better from COVID-19.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the European Parliament's (1) adoption of an urgent resolution on 'the crackdown on the democratic opposition in Hong Kong’, and (2) call for sanctions to be imposed on senior officials from Hong Kong and China under the EU human rights global sanction regime.

The European Parliament passed a resolution on 21 January on the mass arrests earlier that month. On 6 January, the Foreign Secretary issued a statement on those arrests, condemning the mass arrest of politicians and activists in Hong Kong as a grievous attack on Hong Kong's rights and freedoms as protected under the Joint Declaration.

We will continue to engage and coordinate our actions with our international partners as befits our historic commitment to the people of Hong Kong, to call out the violation of their rights and freedoms, and to hold China to their international obligations freely assumed under international law.

The UK is no longer part of the EU and has developed an independent sanctions regime. We will not speculate on who may be designated under the UK sanctions regime in the future.

The UK has taken a number of measures already in response to developments in Hong Kong. These include introducing a new immigration path for British Nationals (Overseas) passport holders - BN(O)s, suspending our extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and extending our arms embargo on mainland China to Hong Kong.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reported (1) abduction, and (2) forced marriage, of Farah Shaheen in Pakistan; what assessment they have made of the number of similar cases in that country; how, and with whom, they raise cases of (a) abduction, (b) forced marriage, and (c) forced conversion, in Pakistan; when they last raised those issues with the government of Pakistan; and what response they received.

Pakistan remains a FCDO Human Rights Priority Country. The UK Government strongly condemns the forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls from religious minorities in Pakistan. NGOs assess that there may be around 1000 cases a year of forced conversion and child marriage, affecting girls from minority communities. The FCDO does not comment on individual cases. We regularly raise our concerns on these issues with the Government of Pakistan. Most recently, I raised the human rights situation in Pakistan with the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister to the Interior, Shahzad Akbar, on 7 December. I raised our human rights concerns, including Freedom of Religion or Belief, with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, on 16 November 2020. I also raised our concerns about child, early and forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls from minority religious communities, with Dr Mazari on 19 October.

Through the UK's development support, we are working with the Government of Pakistan to strengthen and improve Pakistan's police and judicial systems. The UK's Strengthening Rule of Law in Pakistan programme aims to increase public confidence and trust in the Rule of Law. It focuses on delivering outputs that improve the justice system for victims, witnesses and offenders, including vulnerable women and girls.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the estimate by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that more than 58,000 refugees have fled into neighbouring countries to escape the conflict in Tigray; and what estimate they have made of the percentage of the 79.5 million people estimated by the UNHCR to be currently displaced worldwide who are so displaced as a consequence of conflict.

It is clear that the conflict in Tigray has had significant consequences and has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, internally and externally, as well as adversely impacting upon those that were already in need of humanitarian assistance. We are concerned by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates on the numbers of people displaced, and as of 19 January, 59,280 people have sought refuge in Sudan. We are extremely concerned that humanitarian agencies, including the UNHCR, still do not have access to refugee camps in northern Tigray, who have been without aid for many weeks. The Foreign Secretary visited Gondar on 22 January and saw first-hand how £11 million of UK Aid is supporting the World Food Programme and NGOs to ensure the delivery of aid to those affected by the conflict. The UK continues to call for sustained, free and unfettered access to enable the delivery of much needed humanitarian assistance.

The UN estimates that up to 1.3 million additional people affected by the conflict in Tigray need humanitarian assistance, on top of an existing humanitarian caseload of one million people in the region. We are concerned about the impact of the conflict and displacement on food security and nutrition in Tigray. Displaced persons, including refugees, are amongst the most vulnerable. At the end of 2019 there were 79.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, and violence. These include some 26 million refugees who have crossed a border to seek protection, and around 45.7 million people who have been forced to flee their homes but remain internally displaced in their own country.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement from the UNHCR on 19 January concerning the impact of the conflict in Tigray on Eritrean refugee camps in the region.

We note the statement from the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on 19 January, and welcome the news that they have regained access to the Mai Aini and Adi Harush refugee camps in Tigray. It is clear that the conflict in Tigray has had significant consequences and has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, internally and externally, as well as adversely impacting upon those that were already in need of humanitarian assistance. We have raised our concerns with Ministers in both the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments, making clear the overriding need to protect civilians and adhere to international law and international human rights law.

UK-funded aid agencies in Tigray are working hard to deliver support in challenging circumstances, including shelter, water and healthcare We continue to work with the UN to promote and monitor access and the delivery of humanitarian support to all those who need it, including to civilians in contested areas. The UK continues to press, at the highest levels, for sustained, free and unfettered humanitarian access across Tigray, so that the UNHCR can uphold its mandate towards refugees.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the damage to cultural monuments and artefacts caused by the conflict in Tigray; and whether they intend to ask UNESCO for its response to any such assessment.

We are concerned by further reports from Tigray of attacks on places of worship as well as damage to cultural monuments and artefacts. An ongoing lack of access to the Tigray region means that it remains difficult to confirm these reports. We will continue to work with partners to seek further information. We continue to urge all parties to allow unfettered humanitarian access, a point the Foreign Secretary discussed with Prime Minister Abiy during his visit on 22 January.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made, if any, to the government of Nigeria about the condition and wellbeing of Leah Sharibu.

The Government condemns the appalling abduction of the Dapchi school girls in 2018 and the ongoing captivity of Leah Sharibu by Islamic State West Africa (ISWA). We remain deeply concerned for the welfare of Leah and all those held by terrorist groups in Nigeria. Following the attack, the then Foreign Secretary spoke to the Nigerian Vice President to express condolences and discuss UK assistance. We have repeatedly called for the release of all those abducted by Boko Haram and ISWA, including Leah Sharibu, and remain committed to supporting the Nigerian Government to secure their release. The Nigerian Government has provided assurances that they are doing all they can to secure the release of Leah and all other abductees held by terrorist groups in Nigeria. President Buhari issued a statement in February 2020, reiterating his Government's commitment to securing the release of all children and captives of terrorists and to bringing Leah home safely. We will continue to engage with the Nigerian Government in support of urgent action to secure the return of Leah Sharibu and all abductees. The Government is committed to helping Nigeria tackle the threat posed by the terrorist groups in North East Nigeria. We are providing a comprehensive package of humanitarian and stabilisation assistance to Nigeria to help tackle the threat and support affected communities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that three senior members of the Tigray People's Liberation Front, including the former Ethiopian Foreign Minister, have been killed by the Ethiopian military on 13 January; and what representations they have made to the government of Ethiopia about those deaths.

We are aware of reports that senior members of the Tigray People's Liberation Front, including the former Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin (who served as Foreign Minister 1991 to 2010), were killed on 13 January by Ethiopian Security Forces. Our Embassy in Addis Ababa continues to try and corroborate and verify reporting from the Tigray region but significant barriers remain, such as continued insecurity and limitations on communications in the region.

We have consistently underlined the overriding need to protect civilians and adhere to international law and international human rights law. We continue to call for independent, international, investigations into allegations of human right abuses and violations. We have been clear that perpetrators of those incidents that are proven must be held to account, whoever they may be. We will continue to make these points in upcoming conversations with the Government of Ethiopia.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that eye witness statements are taken from refugees from Tigray about reports of war crimes and crimes against humanity in that region; how they intend to preserve any such evidence; and what plans they have to put judicial mechanisms in place to bring those responsible to justice.

Access to Tigray for Human Rights and humanitarian staff remains limited. We support the call made by the UN High Commission for Refugees for independent human rights monitors to be given access to Tigray to verify allegations that have been made against all parties to the conflict, and to help ensure accountability. We will continue to make this point in upcoming conversations with the Government of Ethiopia. We are also calling for unimpeded access for humanitarian organisations to reach those most directly affected by the fighting.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the World Food programme about the humanitarian requirements of people displaced by conflict in Tigray; and what estimate they have made of the number of people who have been so displaced.

It is clear that the conflict in Tigray has had significant consequences for hundreds of thousands of people, displacing them internally and externally, and adversely impacting those that were already in need of humanitarian assistance. We are in close contact with UK-funded humanitarian agencies in Ethiopia, including the UN's World Food Programme, to understand humanitarian needs and what programme adaptations are required, as well as monitoring the regional situation. Partners highlight priority needs as food security and nutrition, health and water, shelter and protection. On his visit to Amhara the Foreign Secretary met with staff from the World Food Programme at a logistics centre which serves the response in Tigray. He heard first hand about the challenges of aid delivery in conflict affected areas. In recent days there has been an improvement in delivery of in-kind assistance to Tigray but physical access for humanitarian personnel remains very challenging with some areas effectively out of bounds.

The UN estimates that up to 1.3 million additional people affected by the conflict in Tigray need humanitarian assistance, on top of an existing humanitarian caseload of one million people in the region. We are concerned about the impact of the conflict and displacement on food security and nutrition in Tigray. Displaced persons, including refugees, are amongst the most vulnerable

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of a mass killing on 15 December 2020 at the Mariam of Zion church in Aksum, Ethiopia.

We are shocked and saddened by further reports from Tigray of massacres of civilians, sexual violence, and attacks on humanitarian facilities and places of worship. An ongoing lack of access to the Tigray region for humanitarian agencies, means that it remains difficult to fully corroborate these reports, but we will continue to try to do so. We have however made clear our concerns with Ethiopian Ministers, and underlined the overriding need to protect civilians and adhere to international law and international human rights law. We continue to call for independent, international, investigations into allegations of human right abuses and violations, and that the perpetrators of those incidents that are proven are held to account, whoever they may be. The UK continues to call for sustained, free and unfettered humanitarian access across Tigray

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the obligation contained in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to enact legislation that gives effect to that Convention and to provide effective penalties for persons guilty of genocide; what legislative measures, if any, they have taken to meet that obligation; and whether they consider trade sanctions an effective penalty against states accused of genocide.

As a party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the UK is fully committed to the prevention and punishment of genocide under the convention. The UK has enacted legislation to give effect to the convention. In particular, the International Criminal Court Act 2001 provides that it is an offence for a person to commit genocide, in the UK, or for a UK national or resident to commit genocide anywhere in the world.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to end the forced repatriation of refugees to Eritrea from refugee camps in Tigray; and what assessment they have made of (1) reports of armed attacks on those refugee camps; and (2) of the humanitarian needs of the refugees in those camps.

We are concerned at reports that Eritrean troops have entered Ethiopian refugee camps in Tigray and forced a number of refugees to return to Eritrea. Due to the lack of access to northern refugee camps in Tigray for humanitarian agencies, including the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), it has not yet been possible to fully corroborate these reports. We have however, raised our concerns with Ministers in both governments, making clear the overriding need to protect civilians and adhere to international law and international human rights law. We continue to call for independent, international, investigations into allegations of human right abuses and violations, and that the perpetrators of those incidents that are proven are held to account, whoever they may be.

The UK continues to call for sustained, free and unfettered humanitarian access across Tigray, so that the UNHCR can uphold its mandate towards refugees. It is the responsibility of the host state to ensure refugees are protected and are not subjected to forcible return.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of recent killings of Hazaras in the Baluchistan province of Pakistan; and what discussions they have had with the government of Pakistan about these deaths.

The UK condemns the 3 January attack claimed by Islamic State Khorasan Province targeting and killing 11 Hazara Shia miners in Balochistan. I issued a tweet to condemn the attack and sending my condolences to families grieving their loved ones. The UK and Pakistan have a shared interest in the battle against terrorism. We are committed to working together to combat the terrorist threat and the extremism that sustains it, in a human rights compliant manner. We remain deeply concerned by reports of discrimination and violence against religious minorities in Pakistan. We regularly raise our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief with the Government of Pakistan. Most recently, I raised concerns on 16 November with Pakistan's Human Rights Minister and on 7 December with Pakistan's Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for the Interior, Shahzad Akbar.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Genocide Watch Nigeria is a Killing Field of Defenseless Christians, published on 13 April 2020, which states that “over 11,500 Christians have been murdered since June 2015”; and what action they have taken (1) to verify the reported figures, or (2) to seek independent verification.

We are aware of the report from Genocide Watch Nigeria and Intersociety. While we cannot investigate the figures in each individual report, we routinely engage with a range of academics, NGOs, affected communities and other experts, and in particular make use of the data collected by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), to verify the facts on the ground (including shocking reports of killings) and to inform our understanding of developments and trajectories. The Government condemns all violence against civilians in Nigeria, irrespective of their religion.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Intersociety 2,200 Nigerian Christians hacked to death in 2020 and 34,400 since 2009, published on 16 December 2020; and what action they have taken (1) to verify the reported figures, or (2) to seek independent verification.

We are aware of the report from Genocide Watch Nigeria and Intersociety. While we cannot investigate the figures in each individual report, we routinely engage with a range of academics, NGOs, affected communities and other experts, and in particular make use of the data collected by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), to verify the facts on the ground (including shocking reports of killings) and to inform our understanding of developments and trajectories. The Government condemns all violence against civilians in Nigeria, irrespective of their religion.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria about reported killings of Christians in that country; and when any such representations were last made.

As set out in answer HL9271, the UK Government condemns all violence against civilians in Nigeria. We continue to encourage the Nigerian Government to take urgent action to protect those at risk of violence, to bring perpetrators to justice, and to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of violence and meet the needs of all communities. The Minister for Africa has discussed the impact of violence in Nigeria with President Buhari's Chief of Staff. Our High Commissioner visited Kaduna State in December 2020 and met a range of interlocutors, including Christian and Muslim leaders, who recognised the causes of the intercommunal violence are complex and relate frequently to criminality, competition for resources and failures of governance. We will continue to engage with the federal and state authorities to stress the importance of transparent investigations when attacks occur that respect human rights and the rule of law.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 29 December (HL11518), whether they will now answer the question put, namely what steps they have taken in response to reports that Tigrayans have been removed from their jobs at the UN; and to reports that the government of Ethiopia is preventing aid reaching Ethiopians.

We are working closely with our partners and UN agencies to ensure that all staff can continue to work. We continue to call for unfettered humanitarian access for the UN and other humanitarian actors to Tigray and other impacted areas.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 29 December (HL11518), whether they will now answer the question put, namely what steps they have taken in response to the statement by the government of Ethiopia that (1) its military shot at a UN convoy, and (2) it wants the UN to travel in armed convoy.

We were concerned to learn that UN staff conducting an assessment mission to Tigray were shot at and briefly detained. Humanitarian agencies must be able to deliver aid to people affected by the fighting in Ethiopia in line with international humanitarian principles. We note that guidance on the use of armed escorts in Tigray has now been developed by the UN humanitarian country team, and we continue to press for full and unfettered humanitarian access to Tigray and other impacted areas.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether humanitarian corridors are being established in Tigray as part of the UN operation in that region; whether any such corridors will conform to the principles of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; whether such corridors will be supervised by the government of Ethiopia in a way that does not compromise the neutrality of the operation; and whether access will be allowed to all areas, including those now under Tigrayan control.

The UK has been at the forefront, liaising closely with the UN and partners, in calling for sustained, free and unfettered humanitarian access across Tigray, in line with the guiding principles laid down by UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The UK worked with the UN to develop these guidelines and they have been shared with the Government of Ethiopia.

The mission must be able to work without hindrance and in turn it must facilitate the timely supply of humanitarian support to those who need it including to civilians in contested areas. We continue to work with the UN to monitor access and humanitarian delivery and the extent to which the UN's guiding principles are adhered to.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the use of 'quiet' diplomacy to resolve the conflict in Tigray; and what plans they have to withhold aid to Ethiopia until the impact of the conflict on human rights can be assessed.

Her Majesty's Government has maintained a dialogue with the Government of Ethiopia throughout the current situation in Tigray. We have made clear the expectations of the international community on the protection of civilians and the importance of independent human rights investigations, advocated for unfettered and free humanitarian access, and called for a political solution.

Withholding funding for basic services (health and the Covid-19 response, nutrition, education, food security and water) would have a significant impact on the most vulnerable. We remain committed to the development of Ethiopia and its people, but we will continue to review our support in light of changing circumstances.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made representations to the government of Ethiopia to accept the role of the African Union’s former presidents in mediating an end to the conflict in Tigray; and if so, what response they have received.

The UK has welcomed the offers of mediation by the African Union (AU) and President Ramaphosa and the efforts to date of the AU's three distinguished Special Envoys. Prime Minister Abiy met with the three AU Envoys on Friday 27 November 2020 and we continue to encourage the Ethiopian Government to maintain engagement with the AU and the Special Envoys, and continue to call for a cessation of violence

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports from UN refugee camps in Tigray region that Eritrean refugees are being forcibly returned to Eritrea; whether they have raised concerns with the government of Eritrea about such reports; and what steps they are taking to uphold the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' mandate to protect any refugees in its care.

We are extremely concerned that humanitarian agencies, including the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), do not have access to refugee camps in Tigray. The UNHCR has, as a result, been unable to corroborate reports of the abduction and forced return of Eritrean refugees. The UK continues to call for sustained, free and unfettered humanitarian access across Tigray, so that the UNHCR can uphold its mandate towards refugees.

The British Ambassador in Eritrea and our international partners continue to raise these questions with the Government of Eritrea who have denied that Eritrean forces have forcibly returned Eritrean refugees to Eritrea.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that Uighur forced labour is being used in Xinjiang for the production of cotton for garments sold internationally; and what action they intend to take for breaches of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

The Government takes all allegations of modern slavery and forced labour extremely seriously, including the growing reports of forced labour in Xinjiang. We have repeatedly urged businesses involved in investing in Xinjiang, or with parts of their supply chains in the region, to conduct appropriate due diligence to satisfy themselves that their activities do not support any human rights violations or abuses.

Under the Modern Slavery Act, the UK is the first country in the world to require businesses to report on the action they are taking to tackle and prevent modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. Following an independent review, the Home Office announced plans in September to strengthen the Act and the transparency in thousands of business and public body supply chains. These measures will require legislative change and will be introduced as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports (1) that the Eritrean military is fighting in Tigray, (2) that people have been abducted and returned to Ethiopia, and (3) of the seizure of Tigrayan land by (a) the government of Eritrea, and (b) the Amhara regional government; and what assessment hey have made of the impact of any such actions on the long-term stability of Ethiopia.

The British Ambassador in Eritrea raised questions of Eritrean involvement with the Eritrean Foreign Minister on 2 December, who stated that there are no Ethiopian refugees in Eritrea, denied that Eritrea is involved militarily in the conflict, and categorically denied that Eritrean forces had forcibly returned Eritrean refugees to Eritrea. We are, however, concerned to note mounting but unconfirmed evidence since then of Eritrean involvement.

We are extremely concerned that humanitarian agencies, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), do not have access to refugee camps in Tigray, meaning our understanding of the humanitarian and protection context in camps and refugee hosting areas is limited. It is the responsibility of the host state to ensure refugees are protected and are not subjected to forcible return. This was acknowledged by the Government of Ethiopia when we raised the matter.

The UK is concerned by reports of ethnically-motivated attacks within Tigray and elsewhere in Ethiopia, and about the risk these events pose to Ethiopia's overall political stability and democratic transition, of which the UK has been supportive. In the Minister for Africa's statement of 17 December he called for the independent investigation of alleged violations of human rights.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken in response (1) to the statement by the government of Ethiopia that (a) its military shot at a UN convoy, and (b) it wants the UN to travel in armed convoy; (2) to reports that Tigrayans have been removed from their jobs at the UN; and (3) to reports that the government of Ethiopia is preventing aid reaching Ethiopians.

The Minister for Africa urged all parties on 11 December to recognise that humanitarian workers must be protected from attack and are not a target. We have been consistent in our request to the parties that humanitarian actors be granted free and unfettered access in the Tigray region, most recently by the UK Special Envoy on Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs in his meetings with the Government of Ethiopia on 15 December. We will continue to work constructively with the Ethiopian authorities, the UN and others to this end.

In the week commencing 14 December, the World Food Programme was able to deliver 18 trucks of food assistance to Adi Harush and Mai Ayni Refugee Camps, without a Government of Ethiopia security escort. Humanitarian agencies including UK funded partners in Tigray are working hard in extremely challenging circumstances to deliver assistance to those in need. Urgent access is still required so that humanitarian support can be provided and delivery of essential services can resume immediately.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to establish what has happened to the students kidnapped by Boko Haram in Katsina on 11 December; what assistance they are giving to the government of Nigeria in securing the release of those students; what assessment they have made of (1) the statement by Abubakar Shekau claiming responsibility for the kidnappings, and (2) the impact of jihadist ideology on violence in northern Nigeria.

The UK Government was deeply concerned about the abduction of Nigerian schoolboys from their school in Kankara, Katsina State, North West Nigeria on 11 December. We welcome the news that they were released on 17 December. Following the attack, the Minister for Africa publicly stressed that schoolchildren need to be protected and subsequently welcomed their release. The UK Deputy National Security Advisor discussed the kidnap with the President's Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, on 15 December.

We are aware that Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. We are also aware that Boko Haram have previously claimed responsibility for attacks they have not directly conducted. For over a decade, terrorist groups, including Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa, have caused immense suffering to local communities, predominantly in North East Nigeria and the wider Lake Chad Basin region. We continue to monitor developments closely, and to support Nigeria to tackle the terrorist threat. We are also providing a comprehensive package of stabilisation and humanitarian assistance to support affected communities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that two men were beheaded in the Nagorno-Karabakh region by men in the uniform of Azerbaijani armed forces; and what steps they intend to take (1) to investigate these reports, and (2) to refer this case to the International Criminal Court.

The UK Government is aware of videos that purport to show appalling acts of violence including beheadings during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Where it is possible to verify the footage and reports, we raise our concerns with the relevant Governments. It is for those Governments to ensure that their armed forces do not commit war crimes and to investigate any allegations. Any decision to make a referral to the International Criminal Court must be made on the basis of what will be the most effective means to bring perpetrators of atrocities and those who have assisted them to account. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas has raised allegations of war crimes with both Governments and urged that they be thoroughly investigated.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Algeria about the treatment of Ahmadis in that country; and if they have not made any such representations, what plans they have to do so.

The UK is committed to defending Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) for all, and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities. Promoting the right to FoRB is one of the UK's longstanding human rights policy priorities. Her Majesty's Government is concerned about the treatment of religious minorities in Algeria, including the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. Our Embassy in Algiers is in regular contact with minority religious groups, and has contacted local Ahmadi representatives to understand their concerns and how best to support them. We continue to raise the difficulties encountered by minority religious groups in freely practicing their faith at senior official and ministerial level. Most recently Her Majesty's Ambassador raised Freedom of Religion or Belief with the Minister of Interior in November 2020.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the letter sent by UN Human Rights special rapporteurs to the government of Iran on 3 September about the alleged extrajudicial mass executions of political dissidents in 1988 in Iran; and what plans they have to support the call for an international investigation into reports of such executions in prisons perpetrated by that government.

We read the letter of 3 September with deep concern. The UK Government opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and takes any allegations of extrajudicial killings seriously. We strongly support the work done by the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, and have always been clear that Iran must uphold its international legal obligations, including conducting thorough and independent investigations into suspected human rights violations.

We regularly raise human rights with the Iranians at all levels and we continue to take action with the international community to press Iran to improve its poor record. Furthermore, we urge Iran to allow the Special Rapporteur access to the country, so that he can conduct research and investigations into human rights concerns reported there, including the 1988 incident.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of Kameel Ahmady being sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran on 13 December; and what assessment they have made of the impact of his research on (1) female genital mutilation, and (2) child marriage, on his conviction.

We are urgently seeking more information from the Iranian Government about reports that Kameel Ahmady, a dual British national, has been sentenced. We do not have sight of the Iranian judicial process or what formal charges have been brought against him. We remain deeply concerned about all our dual British nationals detained in Iran.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take in response to the statement by UN Special Rapporteurs on the execution of Ruhollah Zam, published on 14 December; what assessment they have made of that statement calling his conviction, treatment in detention and execution a "serious violation of Iran’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights"; and what assessment they have made of the human rights situation in Iran.

As we said on 13 December, we are appalled by the execution of Iranian journalist Ruhollah Zam. The UK Government opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, as a matter of principle. We assess that Iran's human rights situation has worsened over the course of this year. It's record remains of serious concern to the UK and the FCDO has designated Iran as one of its Human Rights Priority Countries.

We regularly raise human rights with the Iranians at all levels and we continue to take action with the international community to press Iran to improve its poor record.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports (1) that UN workers were shot at by Ethiopian forces in Tigray, and (2) that the provision of humanitarian aid to areas of Tigray that are not controlled by the government of Ethiopia has been blocked; and what steps they intend to take in response to the statement by the International Committee for the Red Cross on 8 December that the city of Mekele is “basically today without medical care".

We are deeply concerned by the reports of UN workers being shot at by Ethiopian forces in Tigray. The UK has been consistent in our request that humanitarian actors be granted free and unfettered access in Tigray and we will continue to work constructively with the Ethiopian authorities, the UN and others to this end. Ongoing impediments to access faced by relief actors puts civilians at risk in Tigray. The Minister for Africa reiterated this in his tweet of 9 December.

The UK is a major and longstanding humanitarian donor to Ethiopia. UK support has benefitted millions of Ethiopians; has saved lives, promoted dignity and supported poverty alleviation efforts. It is important that we can continue to support the people of Ethiopia including those impacted by the violence in Tigray. Humanitarian agencies including UK funded partners in Tigray are working hard in extremely challenging circumstances to deliver assistance to refugees and host communities including shelter; health; water, sanitation and hygiene; nutrition and protection support. Urgent access is required so that humanitarian support can be provided and delivery of essential services can resume immediately. We welcome the news of the International Committee for the Red Cross convoy reaching Mekele over the weekend of 12 and 13 December.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the remarks by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 9 December about the situation in Ethiopia; what steps they intend to take (1) to implement independent monitoring, (2) to protect human rights, and (3) to hold those responsible for human rights violations to account, in that country.

We share the concerns about the situation in Ethiopia expressed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in her statement of 9 December. The UK has, alongside international partners, called on all sides to ensure the protection of civilians and to respect human rights. There must also be accountability for any human rights abuses and violations. We welcome the call by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission for the independent investigation of human rights violations. We are tracking the situation and continue to raise the importance of respect for human rights with the Government of Ethiopia and leaders on both sides, while pressing for an early political solution.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance they have given to the government of Pakistan (1) to expedite prosecutions of those responsible for, and (2) to secure redress for those affected by, forced marriages and conversions.

The UK Government strongly condemns the forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls from religious minorities in Pakistan. We regularly raise our concerns on these issues with the Government of Pakistan. Most recently, I raised our human rights concerns, including Freedom of Religion or Belief, with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights on 16 November. In addition, I raised our concerns about child, early and forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls from minority religious communities, with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights on 19 October.

Through the UK's development support, we are working with the Government of Pakistan to strengthen and improve Pakistan's police and judicial systems. The UK's Strengthening Rule of Law in Pakistan programme aims to increase public confidence and trust in the Rule of Law. It focuses on delivering outputs that improve the justice system for victims, witnesses and offenders, including vulnerable women and girls.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about its publication Policy Brief by National Commission on the Rights of the Child on Forced Conversion with Recommendations after Analysis of Arzoo Case, published on 7 December; and what steps they are taking to prevent the practices analysed in the publication.

We welcome the policy brief by Pakistan's National Commission on the Rights of the Child on forced conversions published on 7 December. The UK Government strongly condemns the forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls from religious minorities in Pakistan. We regularly raise our concerns on these issues with the Government of Pakistan. Most recently, I raised our human rights concerns, including Freedom of Religion or Belief, with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights on 16 November. In addition, I raised our concerns about child, early and forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls from minority religious communities, with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights on 19 October.

Through the UK's development support, we are encouraging policy reform at federal and provincial level to strengthen child protection laws in order to prevent child marriage. In addition, the UK's Strengthening Rule of Law in Pakistan programme aims to increase public confidence and trust in the Rule of Law. It focuses on delivering outputs that improve the justice system for victims, witnesses and offenders, including vulnerable women and girls.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that HSBC has frozen the bank accounts of (1) the Good Neighbourhood North District Church in Hong Kong, and (2) its pastor and his wife; and what assessment they have made of whether such action has been taken because of that Church’s links with pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong.

We are in close contact with a wide range of businesses in Hong Kong, but it is for businesses themselves to make their own judgement calls. We are concerned that a number of recent decisions by the authorities in Hong Kong are further evidence of a determined campaign to stifle opposition and silence dissent. As a signatory to the Sino-British Joint Declaration, China must abide by the legally binding commitments it made to uphold fundamental rights and freedoms, and respect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years from 1997. The UK will continue to pursue an approach in Hong Kong that is rooted in our values, defends the rights of the people of Hong Kong and respects the provisions of the Joint Declaration.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of arrests by Faylaq Al-Sham of people in Yazidi villages near Afrin in northwest Syria on 4 December; what assessment they have made of the wellbeing of those who have been arrested; and what representations they have made to the government of Turkey about (1) the release of any such people, and (2) the protection of Yazidis in Afrin.

We are aware of reports of arrests near Afrin in north-west Syria. Ministers and officials regularly discuss the situation in Syria with the Government of Turkey. In those discussions we make clear the importance of all parties to the Syrian conflict abiding by their obligations under international law. We have not raised the specific report of arrests near Afrin or made any assessment of the welfare of those detained.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the re-designation of Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern by the government of the United States; and whether they intend to take similar steps.

The decision by the US to designate Nigeria as a "Country of Particular Concern for Religious Freedom" is a matter for the Governments of Nigeria and the US.

The UK is committed to promoting and protecting the right to freedom of religion or belief around the world. We are a strong voice internationally in defence of this fundamental right and promoting respect between communities of different religions and those of no religion. Nigeria is a secular state and the right to freedom of religion or belief is protected by the constitution. In Nigeria we engage with a range of faith-based communities and support inter-faith peacebuilding and dialogue. We continue to encourage the Nigerian Government to take urgent action to protect those at risk of violence, to bring perpetrators to justice, and to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of violence and meet the needs of all communities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Ethiopia about reports that it has refused the offer of international co-operation in investigating the Mai Kadra massacre; if they have, what response they received; and, if not, whether they intend to make representations.

The Government of Ethiopia indicated on 8 December that it would conduct the initial investigation into the reported killing of civilians on 9 November in Mai Kadra. Since 8 December, we have spoken with representatives of the Government of Ethiopia about the nature of that investigation and to make clear that HMG supports the call by the Ethiopian Commission for Human Rights for the independent investigation of human rights abuses and violations.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the EU is considering withholding aid from the government of Ethiopia until the impact of the conflict in Tigray on human rights in the region can be assessed; how much UK aid was given to Ethiopia (1) last year, and (2) over the past decade; and what plans they have, if any, to use UK funding to the government of Ethiopia as leverage to help end the conflict in Tigray.

The UK is engaging with partners, including the EU, on the implications of the current situation in Tigray on development and humanitarian assistance, which plays a vital role in supporting the provision of basic services and lifesaving support across the whole country. Ethiopia is the UK's largest bilateral aid programme, reaching millions of poor people while supporting UK interests. In Financial Year 2019/2020 the UK delivered £292 million in bilateral aid, and about £3 billion over the last ten years.

We do not provide direct budget support to Ethiopia. Evidence from Ethiopia and other contexts suggests that withholding finance is not an effective lever. Withholding funding for basic services and lifesaving support would harm the most vulnerable poor people. We remain committed to the development of Ethiopia and its people, and a peaceful resolution to the conflict. We continually review our support in light of changing circumstances.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) reports from UN refugee camps in Tigray of the forcible return of Eritrean refugees to Eritrea, and (2) whether any such refugees are at risk of (a) torture, and (b) imprisonment, in Eritrea; whether they have raised this matter with the government of Eritrea; and, if so, what response they have received.

We are extremely concerned that humanitarian agencies, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), do not have access to refugee camps in Tigray. UNHCR has, as a result, been unable to corroborate reports of abduction and forced return of Eritrean refugees, meaning our understanding of the humanitarian and protection context in camps and refugee hosting areas is limited. The UK continues to call for immediate, free and unfettered humanitarian access across Tigray in line with the guiding principles laid down by UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), so that UNHCR can uphold its mandate towards refugees. It is the responsibility of the host state to ensure refugees are protected and are not subjected to forcible return.

The British Ambassador in Eritrea raised these questions with the Eritrean Foreign Minister on 2 December, who denied that Eritrea is involved militarily in the conflict and categorically denied that Eritrean forces had forcibly returned Eritrean refugees to Eritrea. He also stated that there are no Ethiopian refugees in Eritrea.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ask the government of Ethiopia (1) to establish a humanitarian corridor into the Tigray region, and (2) to ensure that any such corridor is supervised in conformity with the neutrality principles laid down by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; and what plans they have to seek access for UK diplomats to all areas affected by the conflict in that region to collect any evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The UK has been at the forefront, liaising closely with the United Nations (UN) and partners, in calling for immediate, free and unfettered humanitarian access across Tigray, in line with the guiding principles laid down by UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The UK worked with the UN to develop these guidelines and they have been shared with the Government of Ethiopia. We are extremely concerned that humanitarian agencies, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), do not have access to refugee camps in Tigray. This means we lack an understanding of the humanitarian and protection context in camps and refugee hosting areas.

We are encouraged that a UN assessment mission was able to access Tigray on 7 December. The mission must be able to work without hindrance and in turn it must facilitate the timely supply of humanitarian support to those who need it including to civilians in contested areas. We will work with the UN to monitor access and humanitarian delivery and the degree to which the UN's guiding principles are adhered to. The UK has, alongside international partners, called on all sides to ensure the protection of civilians and for respect for human rights. We welcome the appeal made by the Ethiopian Commission for Human Rights for an independent investigation into human rights violations.

1st Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports (1) that Muslim and Christian minorities are being persecuted in India, and (2) that such persecution has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic following accusations that those minorities had spread COVID-19; and what discussions they have had with the government of India about (a) the reported marginalisation of the Dalit community, in particular Dalit sanitation workers, and (b) the level of poverty among religious minority groups in that country.

The UK continuously assesses the human rights situation in India. We oppose discrimination against minorities because of caste, religion or belief. I speak regularly to my opposite number in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi and the Indian High Commissioner in the UK, and raise concerns where we have them.

The British High Commission in New Delhi regularly meets minority representatives and runs projects promoting minority rights. In 2016-18, we funded a project in Uttar Pradesh empowering 400 Dalit human rights defenders to challenge discrimination and violence against Dalit women. Over the last 3 years, we have worked with local NGOs to bring together young people of diverse faiths to work together on social action projects to promote a culture of inter-faith tolerance.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that (1) South Sudan diplomats have been expelled from Addis Ababa, and (2) Ethiopian diplomats have been expelled from Juba; what assessment they have made of how those expulsions relate to military action in Tigray; and what discussions they have had with the government (a) of South Sudan, and (b) of Ethiopia, following those expulsions.

Reports of diplomatic expulsions by Ethiopia and South Sudan have been categorically denied by both governments. We are not aware of any such actions being taken by either country.

We are in touch with a range of partners to encourage Ethiopia to de-escalate and engage in a political process. We will continue to do so alongside South Sudan who have a shared interest in stability in Ethiopia.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Ethiopia about (1) reports of atrocities against Tigrayans, and (2) ensuring that civilians are protected.

The UK is concerned by the violence between federal and regional forces in the Tigray region and the risk it poses to civilians, and by reports of ethnically-motivated attacks both within Tigray and elsewhere in Ethiopia. We are gravely concerned over allegations of atrocities and violations; we call for transparency and accountability to be delivered for such incidents. We have repeatedly called for civilians to be protected, including in conversations with both parties to the conflict. The UK's longstanding position is that determining whether a situation amounts to genocide is an issue for competent national and international courts, not governments: our focus is on seeing an end to violence. We will continue to track the situation and to raise with the Government of Ethiopia and regional leaders these concerns, our concerns about civilian deaths and casualties, and the importance of respect for human rights.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk of genocide against Tigrayans.

The UK is concerned by the violence between federal and regional forces in the Tigray region and the risk it poses to civilians, and by reports of ethnically-motivated attacks both within Tigray and elsewhere in Ethiopia. We are gravely concerned over allegations of atrocities and violations; we call for transparency and accountability to be delivered for such incidents. We have repeatedly called for civilians to be protected, including in conversations with both parties to the conflict. The UK's longstanding position is that determining whether a situation amounts to genocide is an issue for competent national and international courts, not governments: our focus is on seeing an end to violence. We will continue to track the situation and to raise with the Government of Ethiopia and regional leaders these concerns, our concerns about civilian deaths and casualties, and the importance of respect for human rights.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that Nigerian farm workers were killed in an attack by non-state armed groups in Koshobe, Borno State, on 28 November; what assessment they have made of the reasons for that attack; which organisation they believe to be responsible for that attack; and what discussions they have had with (1) the government of Nigeria, and (2) the International Criminal Court, about bringing those responsible to justice.

The Government condemns the appalling terrorist attack on Nigerian civilians in Borno State on 28 November in which many were killed and others wounded or abducted. Our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those affected. On 30 November, the Foreign Secretary publicly expressed his condolences, and the Minister for Africa called for the immediate release of all those abducted. The UK led international condemnation at the UN following this attack, and was penholder of a UN Security Council press statement.

We are aware that Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the attack. We call on the Nigerian authorities to investigate and hold those responsible to account. In line with international law, states retain the primary responsibility to prosecute crimes within their national jurisdiction. The International Criminal Court is a court of last resort. Terrorist groups, including Boko Haram, have caused immense suffering to communities in North East Nigeria. We continue to provide a comprehensive package of support, including humanitarian assistance to meet lifesaving needs.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 24 November (HL10150) whether they will answer the entirety of the question put, namely what assessment they have made of reports that more than 70 export licences have been issued by the UK for military products sold to Turkey containing white phosphorous over the last two decades.

Licensing records dating back to 2000 show that the UK has granted a small number of export licences for Turkey for products which it has not be possible to discount they may contain white phosphorus. Each licence application is carefully assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, based on the most up-to-date information and analysis available, including reports from NGOs and in the media. These Criteria provide a thorough risk assessment framework and require the Government to think hard about the impact of providing equipment and its capabilities.

White phosphorus is commonly used in smoke grenades as well as in decoy and countermeasure equipment, for example to protect aircraft against attack, and in signalling flares. These products are in use across NATO armed forces, including British forces, but they must be used in accordance with international humanitarian law. White phosphorus is not a prohibited substance.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Baroness Sugg on 24 November (HC Deb, cols 134–9), why the UN Security Council meeting to consider the conflict in Tigray due to occur on 24 November was cancelled and rescheduled for later that day; what was the outcome of that meeting; and what assessment they have made of reports that people were killed and injured as a result of an attack on the camp for Eritrean refugees in Adi Harush.

On 24 November, the UN Security Council discussed the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region in closed consultations. The UK continues to support mediation efforts, and call for de-escalation of the conflict and a political solution. We are concerned by many reports, including those in Adi Harush, that civilians have been impacted by this conflict. We have been consistent in our message that civilians must be protected and humanitarian access to be granted. On 25 November, the Foreign Secretary expressed this to Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister in person.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong 1 January to 30 June 2020, published on 23 November, and the three breaches of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration by the government of China, what steps they are taking to work with international partners to implement coordinated sanctions against those responsible for such breaches.

We continue to bring together our international partners to stand up for the people of Hong Kong, to call out the violation of their freedoms, and to hold China to their international obligations. As the Foreign Secretary made clear in his foreword to the Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong, the international community has been vocal in setting out its concerns about Hong Kong. On 6 October at the UN General Assembly Third Committee, the UK worked with 38 countries to issue a statement urging the relevant authorities to guarantee the rights protected under the Sino-British Joint Declaration. On 18 November, the Foreign Secretary released a statement with his Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and US counterparts, urging the Chinese central authorities to re-consider their actions against Hong Kong's elected legislature.

On 6 July, the Government established the Global Human Rights ('Magnitsky') sanctions regime. It would not be appropriate to speculate who may be designated as to do so could risk the impact of future designations. To list someone under this regime involves building an evidence base to identify accurately and responsibly those involved, and that can be a long and complex process.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports (1) that aid supplied to Cameroon to fight Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa in Cameroon’s Far North has been diverted to the Anglophone regions, and (2) that attempts to tackle extremist terrorist groups in the Far North are now subsequently undersupplied.

We are aware of recent reports that the Government of Cameroon is diverting resources from efforts to tackle terrorism in the Far North region to the North-West and South-West (Anglophone) regions, and reports that this is having an impact on the government's counter-terrorism efforts. We recognise that the Cameroonian authorities have two important security challenges to manage and we understand that some resources were reassigned in 2018.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that factories in China have used forced labour from North Korean workers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for export to countries including the UK; what assessment they carried out of factory conditions in China before they purchased PPE produced in that country; what was the total value of the PPE they purchased from companies that manufacture PPE in China; and which companies acted as intermediaries for such purchases.

We are concerned by reports that Chinese factories have used North Korean overseas workers to produce PPE. The Department of Health and Social Care will investigate the supplier concerned. The UK urges all countries, including China, to meet their obligations under UN Security Resolution 2397 to repatriate North Korean workers, who are sent overseas in large numbers to earn money for the North Korean regime.

We take all allegations of modern slavery and forced labour extremely seriously. We expect suppliers to follow the highest legal and ethical standards and to carry out proper due diligence for all government contracts. We publish all contracts for transparency and regret the delay in the publication of some but all will be published as soon as possible. Information is already available online on Contracts Finder on the Gov.uk website. We have been working tirelessly to deliver PPE to protect our health and social care staff on the frontline, with over 5.1 billion PPE items delivered so far.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that Cui Haoxin was arrested in China for speaking out against the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang; what representations they have made to the government of China (1) about his case, and (2) about freedom of speech and media freedom in China.

We are concerned at reports of the detention of Cui Haoxin. Although we have not raised this specific case with the Chinese authorities, we oppose all efforts to curtail freedom of expression or freedom of speech, whether in China or elsewhere. We have consistently raised media freedoms with the Chinese authorities and will always defend the right of journalists to do their job.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to reports (1) that military equipment has been diverted from Cameroon's Far North to the Anglophone regions, and (2) that the Cameroonian military has been implicated in human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings in the Anglophone regions, what discussions they have had with the Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group about its contract to provide maintenance, technical support and training to the Cameroon Air Force's fleet of C-130 Hercules aircraft.

The UK Government is deeply concerned about reports of human rights abuses and violations by both armed separatists and security forces in the North-West and South-West (Anglophone) regions. 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.

Since Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group was awarded a contract in 2019 to provide maintenance, technical support and training to the Cameroon Air Force's fleet of C-130 Hercules aircraft, a representative of the British High Commission in Cameroon has discussed the contract with the company, as part of our support to British businesses overseas

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Egypt about (1) its decision not to hold an inquiry into the alleged torture and subsequent death of Giulio Regeni, (2) reports that it did not comply with requests for information concerning those suspected of his murder from the Italian judicial authorities, and (3) its human rights record and the importance of upholding the rule of law.

We have the deepest sympathy for Giulio Regeni's family and their quest for justice for his appalling murder. As Mr Regeni was an Italian citizen, the Italian Government is taking the lead role on his case. We continue to follow the investigation into his death and to work closely with the Italian Government. We last discussed this at an official level with the Italian authorities on 23 November. We have also raised with the Egyptian authorities at a senior level the need for a transparent and impartial investigation, in full co-operation with Italy, so that Mr Regeni's killers can be brought to justice.

We regularly raise our human rights concerns with the Egyptian authorities in London and in Cairo. A recent example was the Foreign Secretary's call with his Egyptian counterpart on 19 November.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about the case of Maira Shahbaz; and what assessment they have made of calls for her to be granted asylum in the UK.

The UK Government strongly condemns the forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls from religious minorities in Pakistan. We are closely monitoring Maira Shahbaz's case. We regularly raise our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief, women and girls' rights and gender equality with the Government of Pakistan at a senior level. On 19 October, I raised our concerns about child, early and forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari. In addition, I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief with Dr Mazari on 16 November. The British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Dr Christian Turner CMG, raised our concerns about the case of Maira Shahbaz with the Governor of Punjab, Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, on 16 November. We will not comment on an individual case regarding immigration.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the conflict in the Horn of Africa; what estimate they have made of the number of refugees resulting from such a conflict; and what steps they are taking to bring any such conflict to an end.

The UK is concerned by the ongoing violence between federal and regional forces in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and the risk it poses to civilians, and by reports of ethnically-motivated attacks. We are gravely concerned at Amnesty International's report of killings of civilians on 9 November; we call for transparency and accountability to be delivered for such incidents.

The UN preparedness response plan estimates that 1.98 million people could be affected by violence in Tigray and neighbouring states. This number includes a caseload of 885,000 people that already rely on humanitarian support plus a further, additional caseload of 1.1 million people that are likely to be exposed to violence many of whom may be displaced from their homes and communities. Ethiopia hosts almost 800,000 refugees primarily from the neighbouring states of South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea. We are contributing to UN-led preparedness planning efforts for Tigray and calling for unrestricted humanitarian access and the protection of civilians. In Sudan, flexible UK funding to the UN's World Food Programme and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is already helping new refugees from Ethiopia to receive emergency assistance, including shelter and food.

The Foreign Secretary called Prime Minister Abiy on 10 November to raise our concerns and stress the urgent need to prioritise the protection of civilian lives, restore services (including banks and telecommunications) and enable humanitarian access. He also urged for a de-escalation of violence and called for moves to political dialogue. We will follow the situation, raise our concerns at the deaths of civilians, and raise the importance of respect for human rights in meetings with the Government of Ethiopia and regional leaders.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what information they have about (1) missile attacks on Asmara, and (2) the presence of Ethiopian troops on Eritrean territory; and what assessment they have made of the impact of the movement of Ethiopian soldiers from Somalia for the containment of al-Shabaab.

Explosions were reported in Asmara on 14 November as a result of rockets launched from the ongoing military conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia. They all missed their intended targets and only minor injuries were reported. There has been no direct response from the local authorities. The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) have taken responsibility, claiming it was in retaliation for attacks by Eritrean forces on Tigray. Eritrea denies any involvement in the fighting. We continue to track the situation, raise our concerns at the deaths of civilians, and raise the importance of respect for human rights in meetings with regional leaders.

Ethiopian troops are an important part of international efforts to tackle Al Shabaab, in particular through their contribution (alongside four other regional states) to the African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM. In our approach to the conflict in Tigray we will continue to underline the need to ensure that spill-over from the conflict does not affect regional stability.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the government of Azerbaijan has taken steps to erase its Armenian cultural heritage by destroying churches, cross-stones, and tombstones in Nakhichevan; what assessment they have made of implications of that erasure on the current situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region; and what representations they intend to make to the government of Azerbaijan about the reported destruction of such cultural and religious sites.

The protection of cultural heritage affected by conflict and the prevention of acts of destruction is a priority for this Government. While we have not made an assessment of allegations relating to Armenian historical structures in Nakhichevan or the implications of this on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, we raised the importance of ensuring protection of cultural heritage in a meeting on 17 November between the British Ambassador to Azerbaijan and representatives of the Presidential Administration. We will continue to raise the importance of protecting cultural heritage with the Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan in the coming months.

10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the effectiveness of the Nigeria: Countering Organised Crime and Corruption programme in reducing kidnappings and abductions, and (2) how the programme has been used to assist abducted girls, including Leah Sharibu, subjected to sexual violence.

The Countering Organised Crime and Corruption programme in Nigeria provides mentoring and capacity building for units of the Nigerian Police Force to improve border security and anti-kidnap capacity, and respond to organised crime groups in Nigeria. The anti-kidnap capacity building features training for Anti-Kidnap Senior Investigation Officers that meets international standards and embeds human rights compliance including on digital forensics handling to enhance evidence collection and negotiation skills for female officers. This helps anti-kidnap coordination units reduce the harm to kidnap victims by seeking to reduce the longevity of capture and hold those responsible to account. The programme also provides mentoring to officers of the Nigerian National Agency for the Prohibition in Trafficking of Persons to help them counter the trafficking of women and girls. Kidnappings have increased in recent years in Nigeria so this work remains vital in helping to tackle the threat. Effectively tackling and reducing organised crime in Nigeria, including kidnaps, will improve domestic and international confidence, and support increased trade and investment in Nigeria, improving Nigeria's potential to achieve long-term sustainable economic growth.

This specific programme is designed to help counter criminal, rather than terrorist, activity. The Government has offered and provided separate support in response to the abduction of people by terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), including Leah Sharibu. Following the attack on Leah's school in Dapchi, the then Foreign Secretary spoke to the Nigerian Vice President to offer UK assistance in the recovery of the missing girls. The UK Government has repeatedly called for the release of all those abducted by Boko Haram and ISWA, including Leah Sharibu, and remains committed to supporting the Nigerian Government to secure their release. The Prime Minister's former Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief met Leah's mother in February and reaffirmed the UK Government's support to Nigerian Government efforts to tackle terrorism. In March, the Minister for Africa reiterated to Parliament the UK Government's condemnation of all attacks by terrorist groups in North East Nigeria. We will continue to engage with the Government of Nigeria in support of urgent action to secure the return of Leah Sharibu and all abductees.

10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Nigeria: Countering Organised Crime and Corruption programme in reducing cocaine trafficking and organised crime in Nigeria; and what assessment they have made of Nigeria remaining in the top five source countries for victims of modern slavery and human trafficking to the UK.

The Countering Organised Crime and Corruption programme in Nigeria, led by the National Crime Agency, provides mentoring and capacity-building for units of the Nigerian Police Force to improve border security and anti-kidnap capacity and respond to organised crime groups in Nigeria. The includes mentoring to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency on countering narcotics trafficking. This has helped lead to the seizure of 101 kilos of cocaine by the Nigerian authorities in the past three years from Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.

The Government condemns all incidents of modern slavery. In 2017, at the UN General Assembly, the then Prime Minister was joined by other world leaders to launch the Call to Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. Since then, the Government has remained focused on implementing the Call to Action and encouraging member states to devise national action plans and deliver on their own commitments. Nigeria is no longer in the top 5 source countries for victims of modern slavery and human trafficking to the UK, and was ranked 9th in 2019 with 259 individuals referred to the UK National Referral Mechanism. Tackling modern slavery in countries in which we see high numbers trafficked to the UK, including Nigeria, remains a priority. To help tackle the issue, at the UN General Assembly in 2018, the UK co-hosted a modern slavery event with countries including Nigeria. The event incorporated private sector participants who emphasised the critical role of businesses in eliminating modern slavery from supply chains. We run the Stamping Out Slavery in Nigeria programme, which aims to strengthen victim support systems, raise awareness of the dangers of modern slavery, address the social norms that facilitate it and strengthen the coalition of actors tackling modern slavery. Additionally, through the UK's Modern Slavery Fund, we are providing £5 million to a programme in Nigeria to help stop people falling into slavery, catch offenders and support victims.

10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 9 November (HL9502), what response they have received, if any, to representations made to the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to request the govrnment of Turkey to launch an investigation on the use of violence against civilian populations; and what assessment they have made of reports that more than 70 export licences have been issued by the UK for military products sold to Turkey containing white phosphorous over the last two decades.

We have encouraged the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria (COI) to investigate all alleged violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law in Syria. We have not made specific representations to the COI to request Turkey launch investigations, as the COI had already called for this. We have therefore not received a response. We take our arms exports obligations very seriously and keep all our defence exports under careful and continual review. If licences are no longer consistent with the Consolidated Criteria they will be revoked. We have continued to make clear that any targeting of civilians is against International Humanitarian Law, but white phosphorus is a legitimate obscurant.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking in response to the beheadings of people in Mozambique by Islamic State.

The UK is appalled by reports of beheadings of civilians in Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique, and remains deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation there. On 10 November, the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for Africa publicly condemned the recent attacks. The British High Commissioner to Maputo also spoke out publicly.

We are working with the Government of Mozambique to address the root drivers of conflict and instability in northern Mozambique, including through engagement with the Government of Mozambique's regional development authority in Cabo Delgado, and by providing targeted technical assistance under the framework of a Defence Memorandum of Understanding. The Minister for Africa spoke to Foreign Minister Macamo on 23 July, noting Mozambique's efforts to address the causes of instability through the creation of the Integrated Department for the Development of Northern Mozambique (ADIN), and to encourage a holistic approach to tackling the insurgency.

9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what assessment they have made of the humanitarian situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) what plans they have to offer humanitarian assistance to the government of North Korea; and (3) what discussions they have had with others in the international community about offering humanitarian assistance.

An assessment of the humanitarian situation in North Korea was completed in September 2020. It concluded that North Korea's humanitarian need is likely increasing as a result of the country's border lockdown in response to COVID-19 and abnormally high cumulative rainfall in the monsoon period. The United Kingdom provides multilateral funds to the UN and other international organisations providing humanitarian assistance in North Korea, including the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) in response to COVID-19. As a country of concern in the GHRP, North Korea is receiving funds from this global appeal. North Korea is also one of the countries eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX initiative to which the United Kingdom has committed up to £500 million.

We keep the humanitarian situation in North Korea under constant review, including through ongoing discussions with international organisations operational in country. We continue to make clear to the North Korean government that international support is available, and urge them to restore international access and monitoring for humanitarian assistance. The UK has also repeatedly called on North Korea to prioritise the well-being of its people over the development of illegal weapons programmes, through our bilateral relationship and in multilateral fora.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the Nigeria Countering Organised Crime and Corruption programme, (2) how much the programme cost, and (3) what indicators have been used to assess its success or failure.

The UK is committed to tackling organised crime and corruption around the world. As part of this work, the UK Government, through the National Crime Agency, delivers a Countering Organised Crime and Corruption programme in Nigeria. The programme provides mentoring and capacity building for units of the Nigerian Police Force to improve border security and anti-kidnap capacity, and to respond to organised crime groups in Nigeria. The programme budget was £3.1 million for 2019/20.

The Nigeria Countering Organised Crime and Corruption programme is evaluated each year. External consultants have been used to evaluate the programme in some years. It was given a grade A rating for meeting expectations in 2019/20. It was also assessed that the programme represents good value for money and that the project successfully integrates gender and equality issues into delivery. All UK programmes are provided in adherence with the UK Government's Overseas Security and Justice Assistance guidance. We will continue to support police reform in Nigeria, working with the Nigerian Government and international and civil society partners to improve its transparency and accountability, in line with its human rights obligations.

9th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what capacity building of Anti-Kidnap Coordination Units took place as a result of the Nigeria Countering Organised Crime and Corruption programme; how was this capacity built; and how the programme continues to be used in achieving its declared objectives of increasing public confidence in Nigeria’s law enforcement capabilities, and reducing harm to hostages and victims

The Countering Organised Crime and Corruption programme in Nigeria provides mentoring and capacity building for units of the Nigerian Police Force to improve border security and anti-kidnap capacity, and respond to organised crime groups in Nigeria. The anti-kidnap capacity building features training for Anti-Kidnap Senior Investigation Officers that meets international standards and embeds human rights compliance including on digital forensics handling to enhance evidence collection and negotiation skills for female officers. This helps anti-kidnap coordination units reduce the harm to kidnap victims by seeking to reduce the longevity of capture and hold those responsible to account. The programme also provides mentoring to officers of the Nigerian National Agency for the Prohibition in Trafficking of Persons to help them counter the trafficking of women and girls. Kidnappings have increased in recent years in Nigeria so this work remains vital in helping to tackle the threat. Effectively tackling and reducing organised crime in Nigeria, including kidnaps, will improve domestic and international confidence, and support incr