Lord Balfe Portrait

Lord Balfe

Conservative - Life peer

International Relations and Defence Committee
27th Jun 2017 - 12th Jun 2018
EU External Affairs Sub-Committee
12th Jun 2015 - 27th Apr 2017


Scheduled Event
Tuesday 29th June 2021
Oral questions - Main Chamber
Reduction of waiting lists for hospital treatment to March 2020 levels, and regular publication of data on waiting times
View calendar
Division Votes
Thursday 10th June 2021
Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021
voted No - in line with the party majority
One of 189 Conservative No votes vs 0 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 104 Noes - 241
Speeches
Thursday 17th June 2021
Covid-19: Care Homes

I think the question the public want the answer to is why so many people died in care homes. Will …

Written Answers
Thursday 17th June 2021
Travel: Coronavirus
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the difference in the cost of COVID-19 tests for …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
Thursday 16th January 2020
Pensions (Amendment) Bill [HL] 2019-21
A Bill to amend the Pensions Act 2004 and the Companies Act 2006 to remove the cap on compensation payments …
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
None available

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Lord Balfe has voted in 162 divisions, and 9 times against the majority of their Party.

23 Feb 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Lord Balfe voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 33 Conservative Aye votes vs 188 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 367 Noes - 214
2 Feb 2021 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Lord Balfe voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 40 Conservative Aye votes vs 165 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 359 Noes - 188
7 Dec 2020 - Conduct Committee Report - View Vote Context
Lord Balfe voted No - against a party majority and against the House
One of 12 Conservative No votes vs 147 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 408 Noes - 24
7 Dec 2020 - Trade Bill - View Vote Context
Lord Balfe voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 16 Conservative Aye votes vs 143 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 287 Noes - 161
1 Dec 2020 - Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 - View Vote Context
Lord Balfe voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 27 Conservative Aye votes vs 178 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 64 Noes - 246
9 Nov 2020 - United Kingdom Internal Market Bill - View Vote Context
Lord Balfe voted No - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 44 Conservative No votes vs 147 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 165 Noes - 433
9 Nov 2020 - United Kingdom Internal Market Bill - View Vote Context
Lord Balfe voted No - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 38 Conservative No votes vs 134 Conservative Aye votes
Tally: Ayes - 148 Noes - 407
20 Oct 2020 - United Kingdom Internal Market Bill - View Vote Context
Lord Balfe voted Aye - against a party majority and in line with the House
One of 39 Conservative Aye votes vs 158 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 395 Noes - 169
23 Jun 2020 - Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill - View Vote Context
Lord Balfe voted Aye - against a party majority and against the House
One of 3 Conservative Aye votes vs 183 Conservative No votes
Tally: Ayes - 136 Noes - 220
View All Lord Balfe Division Votes

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 Bethell (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
(53 debate interactions)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative)
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
(22 debate interactions)
Baroness Williams of Trafford (Conservative)
Minister of State (Home Office)
(17 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Department of Health and Social Care
(45 debate contributions)
Home Office
(30 debate contributions)
Cabinet Office
(13 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Lord Balfe's debates

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Lord Balfe, 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 Balfe has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Lord Balfe has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

3 Bills introduced by Lord Balfe


A Bill to amend the Pensions Act 2004 and the Companies Act 2006 to remove the cap on compensation payments under the Pension Protection Fund and to require the approval of pension scheme trustees and the Pensions Regulator for the distribution of dividends.


Last Event - 1st Reading (Lords)
Thursday 16th January 2020
(Read Debate)

A Bill to make provision about the holding of referenda in relation to voting systems in local government elections.


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

A Bill to make provision to allow European Union citizens who are resident in the United Kingdom to vote in parliamentary elections and to become members of Parliament; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Lords
Thursday 4th June 2015

Lord Balfe has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


56 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
2 Other Department Questions
13th May 2021
To ask the Senior Deputy Speaker on how many occasions this year the office allocated to the House of Lords in the European Parliament building in Brussels has been visited by a member of House staff; and what plans there are for using that office in the near future.

On 31 January 2020, the date the United Kingdom ceased to be a Member State of the European Union, the UK Parliament ceased to be an EU ‘national Parliament’, except for certain limited purposes set out in Article 128(2) of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement.

Up until this point designated staff of the House of Lords and House of Commons, as representatives of an EU ‘national Parliament’, were granted access to the European Parliament, along with office accommodation and other benefits. As the noble Lord points out, Norway has since 2012 been the only non-EU Member State to be granted comparable access thus far.

Despite the UK’s changed status after 31 January 2020, the European Parliament continued to afford access to House staff for the duration of the transition period, and on 22 December 2020 the Secretary General of the European Parliament offered “continued hosting” for the two Houses’ representatives after the end of the transition period, subject to “appropriate practical arrangements in the light of the evolving relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom”.

To date, no such practical arrangements have been required, given the guidance agreed by the House of Lords Commission in March 2020, which strongly discouraged overseas travel. Since that date there has been no committee or staff travel to Brussels, and the House’s representative has therefore undertaken the role remotely, using digital tools.

The House of Lords Commission continues to review the guidance on overseas travel, taking account of Government advice and the wider public health situation, and decisions on staff travel to Brussels will be taken as and when the guidance is updated.

13th May 2021
To ask the Senior Deputy Speaker what assessment he has made of the value to the House of Lords of the office space in the European Parliament building set aside for House staff; whether he is aware that the UK and Norway are the only two countries that are not members of the EU that are afforded such accommodation; what plans there are to post a member of House staff to Brussels on a permanent basis; and if there are no such plans, whether he intends to inform the European Parliament that the office is no longer required.

On 31 January 2020, the date the United Kingdom ceased to be a Member State of the European Union, the UK Parliament ceased to be an EU ‘national Parliament’, except for certain limited purposes set out in Article 128(2) of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement.

Up until this point designated staff of the House of Lords and House of Commons, as representatives of an EU ‘national Parliament’, were granted access to the European Parliament, along with office accommodation and other benefits. As the noble Lord points out, Norway has since 2012 been the only non-EU Member State to be granted comparable access thus far.

Despite the UK’s changed status after 31 January 2020, the European Parliament continued to afford access to House staff for the duration of the transition period, and on 22 December 2020 the Secretary General of the European Parliament offered “continued hosting” for the two Houses’ representatives after the end of the transition period, subject to “appropriate practical arrangements in the light of the evolving relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom”.

To date, no such practical arrangements have been required, given the guidance agreed by the House of Lords Commission in March 2020, which strongly discouraged overseas travel. Since that date there has been no committee or staff travel to Brussels, and the House’s representative has therefore undertaken the role remotely, using digital tools.

The House of Lords Commission continues to review the guidance on overseas travel, taking account of Government advice and the wider public health situation, and decisions on staff travel to Brussels will be taken as and when the guidance is updated.

5th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the average age of people who have had COVID-19 cited as a contributory cause of death in the last four weeks; how many such people were (1) 0–18, (2) 19–30, (3) 31–40, (4) 41–50, (5) 51–60, (6) 61–70, (7) 71–80, (8) 81–90, and (9) over 90, years old at the time of death; and in each cohort how many such deaths occurred in people with underlying health conditions.

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

14 January 2021

Dear Lord Balfe,

As National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, I am responding to your Parliamentary Question asking what is the average age of people who have had COVID-19 cited as a contributory cause of death in the last four weeks; how many such people were (1) 0-18, (2) 19-30, (3) 31-40, (4) 41-50, (5) 51-60, (6) 61-70, (7) 71-80, (8) 81-90, and (9) over 90, years old at the time of death; and in each cohort how many such deaths occurred in people with underlying health conditions (HL11720).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is responsible for publishing numbers of deaths registered in England and Wales. Information on deaths involving COVID-19 and pre-existing health conditions was published in July[1]. As part of deaths registered weekly in England and Wales[2], the ONS produces the number of deaths involving COVID-19 by age group. Table 1 provides the number of deaths involving COVID-19 by age group in the last four weeks.

Table 2 is the mean and median age at death of those whose death involves COVID-19 and for all deaths in the last 4 weeks.

Table 3 shows deaths involving COVID-19 where there is no pre-existing condition against total COVID-19 deaths for that age cohort. Data is available from March 2020 to June 2020, however we will be resuming publication of this data within the next 6 weeks.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Sir Ian Diamond

Table 1: Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales involving COVID-19 by age group, Week ending 4 December to Week ending 25 December 2020[3],[4],[5],[6],[7]

Week number

49

50

51

52

Week ended

04-Dec-20

11-Dec-20

18-Dec-20

25-Dec-20

Deaths by age group

0

0

0

0

1-4

0

0

0

0

5-9

0

0

0

0

10-14

0

1

0

0

15-19

0

1

0

0

20-24

1

0

1

0

25-29

3

3

0

1

30-34

3

1

1

3

35-39

9

7

6

5

40-44

12

11

10

12

45-49

21

19

25

21

50-54

41

37

43

41

55-59

62

65

75

63

60-64

105

126

119

107

65-69

170

154

177

160

70-74

288

258

252

275

75-79

414

400

388

397

80-84

509

492

544

583

85-89

598

570

609

605

90+

599

611

736

639

Source: ONS

Table 2: Average age of deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, Week ending 4 December to Week ending 25 December 20203,4,5,6,7

Week number

49

50

51

52

Week ended

04-Dec-20

11-Dec-20

18-Dec-20

25-Dec-20

All deaths

Median age

81

81

82

82

Mean age

78

78

79

79

Deaths involving COVID-19

Median age

83

83

83

83

Mean age

81

81

81

81

Source: ONS

Table 3: Number of deaths involving COVID-19, by age group and whether a pre-existing condition was present, England and Wales, deaths occurring between March and June 2020[8],[9],[10],[11],[12]

Age

All deaths involving COVID-19

COVID-19 deaths with pre-existing condition

COVID-19 deaths with no pre-existing condition

0-44

542

441

101

45-49

457

366

91

50-54

847

724

123

55-59

1,453

1,226

227

60-64

2,065

1,835

230

65-69

2,791

2,498

293

70-74

4,627

4,220

407

75-79

6,693

6,174

519

80-84

9,588

8,889

699

85-89

10,327

9,525

802

90+

10,945

9,961

984

[1]https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsinvolvingcovid19englandandwales/deathsoccurringinjune2020

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

[3] Deaths where COVID-19 (ICD10 codes U07.1 and U07.2) are mentioned anywhere on the death certificate

[4] For deaths registered from 1st January 2020, cause of death is coded to the ICD-10 classification using MUSE 5.5 software. Previous years were coded to IRIS 4.2.3, further information about the change in software is available.

[5] Does not include deaths where age is either missing or not yet fully coded.

[6] Does not include deaths of those resident outside England and Wales or those records where the place of residence is either missing or not yet fully coded.

[7] These figures represent death registrations, there can be a delay between the date a death occurred and the date a death was registered. More information can be found in our impact of registration delays release.

[8] Figures include deaths of non-residents

[9] Figures are provisional

[10] Based on deaths involving COVID-19 (ICD-10 codes U07.1 and U07.2) rather than deaths where COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death

[11] Deaths occurring between March and June 2020 rather than deaths registered between March and June 2020

[12] Including deaths registered up until 4 July 2020.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish their plans and preparations for any peak in COVID-19 infections during the winter period, including for any reasonable worst-case scenario.

Our collective understanding of the virus, and how it spreads, has vastly improved since the initial wave of infections. As a responsible government, we have been planning and continue to prepare for a wide range of scenarios, including the reasonable worst case scenario. In the coming months, we will continue to assess what the UK can learn from other nations, and carry out a series of exercises, to test the Government’s winter plans, including for a reasonable worst case scenario and to ensure effective coordination between departments and with the devolved administrations.

In May, we published the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy. This was updated in July, including details on planning for the winter. Our planning assumptions and guidance are kept under review and amended as the scientific and medical advice develops.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the independent evaluation of the Union Learning Fund by Exeter University, Union Learning Survey 2018 Results, published in September 2018, whether the Department for Education undertook a further assessment of the Union Learning Fund; and if so, whether (1) that assessment demonstrated a decline in outcomes, and (2) they plan to publish the findings of the assessment.

The department did not undertake a further formal evaluation of the Union Learning Fund following the evaluation by Exeter University.

As part of the Spending Review process, the Department has assessed its priorities across all its objectives, including considering the evidence from the Unionlearn evaluation. The decision to discontinue funding for Unionlearn beyond this financial year reflects the consolidation of investment to support retraining in major new programmes, including the National Skills Fund, which support progression to higher levels of attainment.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to allocate a proportion of the National Skills Fund to projects that aim to directly engage learners in the workplace, replacing the current work undertaken by Union Learn, following the decision to cease funding for the Union Learning Fund.

The government has taken the decision not to continue to provide grant funding to Unionlearn in the next financial year. This decision should not be seen in isolation but as part of the department’s overall plans for improving the skills offer.

This was a difficult decision. However, we need to prioritise how we use our resources in these challenging times and have decided to concentrate on a number of major investments in further education. The government has announced it will introduce a £2.5 billion National Skills Fund to help adults get the skills they need. My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, as part of his Lifetime Skills Guarantee, recently announced that for adults, who do not currently have a level 3 qualification, we will be fully funding their first full level 3, focusing on the valuable courses that will help them get ahead in the labour market. The offer will be funded from the National Skills Fund and offered from April 2021.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, also recently announced digital bootcamps to support local regions and employers to fill in-demand vacancies by providing valuable skills. Adults in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, and Liverpool City Region can now register their interest to take part in the digital bootcamps. In early 2021, the digital bootcamps will also be available in Leeds City Region, Heart of the South West, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. We are planning to expand the bootcamps to more of the country from Spring 2021 and we want to extend this model to include other technical skills training.

Further plans for the National Skills Fund will be announced in due course.

Alongside the National Skills Fund, the department has been working to provide further support in response to the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. In his Summer Economic Update, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced investment of over £500 million to deliver a package of support for people to access the training and develop the skills they will need to go on to high-quality, secure and fulfilling employment. The Skills Recovery Package included:

  • Apprenticeships: A new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire who is aged 24 or below and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire who is aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021.
  • Traineeships: £111 million to triple the scale and reform traineeships for those aged 16 - 24 (25 with an Education, Health and Care plan), with additional funding available to providers in 2020-21 to support 30,000 new places. We have also introduced, for the first time, payments of £1,000 per trainee for employers who offer new or additional work placements (up to 10 trainees).
  • Careers information, advice and guidance: £32 million over two years to help 269,000 more people of all ages receive advice from the National Careers Service.
  • Sector-based work academy programme (SWAP): £17 million to triple the number of SWAP placements in 2020/21, enough funding to support an extra 40,000 job seekers with additional training opportunities and the chance of a job.

In addition, the recently announced expansion of The Skills Toolkit means that people can now choose from over 70 courses, covering digital, adult numeracy, employability and work readiness skills, which have been identified as the skills employers need the most. These courses will help people stay in work or take up new jobs and opportunities.

The government appreciates the importance of adult education to improving people’s life chances. We will continue to explore options within adult education to aid the post COVID-19 recovery.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they consulted with (1) training providers, (2) Sector Skill Councils, and (3) further education organisations, prior to terminating the Union Learning Fund.

The government did not consult with any outside bodies prior to making the decision not to continue to provide funding for the Union Learning Fund after 31 March 2021.

We have made no commitment to funding beyond this date and have always been clear any future funding would depend on the Government’s Spending Review. The decision to cease funding after April 2021 has been communicated at this stage in the Spending Review process in order to give a greater period of notice.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they consulted with (1) employers, and (2) business and trade representative bodies, prior to terminating the Union Learning Fund.

The government did not consult with any outside bodies prior to making the decision not to continue to provide funding for the Union Learning Fund after 31 March 2021.

We have made no commitment to funding beyond this date and have always been clear any future funding would depend on the Government’s Spending Review. The decision to cease funding after April 2021 has been communicated at this stage in the Spending Review process in order to give a greater period of notice.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they consulted with (1) the Trades Union Congress, and (2) individual trade unions, prior to terminating the Union Learning Fund.

The government did not consult with any outside bodies prior to making the decision not to continue to provide funding for the Union Learning Fund after 31 March 2021.

We have made no commitment to funding beyond this date and have always been clear any future funding would depend on the Government’s Spending Review. The decision to cease funding after April 2021 has been communicated at this stage in the Spending Review process in order to give a greater period of notice.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
13th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to appoint trade envoys for (1) Mongolia, (2) Uzbekistan, (3) Kazakhstan, (4) Kyrgyzstan, (5) Tajikistan, and (6) Afghanistan; if so, when those envoys will be appointed; and what is the process by which they (a) select, and (b) appoint, such envoys.

My noble Friend Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne was appointed Trade Envoy in July 2017 to Kazakhstan and in October 2020 the Hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham, Daniel Kawczynski, was appointed Trade Envoy to Mongolia. There are no plans to appoint a Trade Envoy to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan or Afghanistan.

My Rt Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoys are drawn from both Houses and across the political spectrum. They are chosen based on relevant skills and experience required to undertake the role. This experience can be related to their assigned market or UK industry knowledge, or their Government-to-Government experience, as well as willingness and an ability to undertake some international travel. Trade Envoys are appointed by the Prime Minister, usually following a recommendation by my Rt Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Grimstone of Boscobel on 23 February (HL13226), whether they will now answer the question put, namely, why they have appointed a Trade Envoy for Taiwan; and why they have not appointed a Trade Envoy for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Trade Envoys engage with emerging and developing markets where substantial trade and investment opportunities have been identified by the UK Government. The appointment by the Prime Minister in January 2016 of a Trade Envoy to Taiwan was based on feedback received from the British Trade Office there and underlined the growing importance of the UK-Taiwan trade and investment relationship.

Taiwan offers opportunities for UK businesses in a number of sectors, which was highlighted during last autumn’s UK-Taiwan trade talks, including education, science and innovation. Further proof of this is the number of UK firms that are present in Taiwan.

We are constantly reviewing suitable markets to identify where the appointment of a Trade Envoy can be of greatest benefit to the trade and investment aims of the UK, with the Prime Minister making the final decision. There are no plans to appoint a Trade Envoy to the northern part of Cyprus.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
10th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Grimstone of Boscobel on 8 February (HL12500), what criteria they use to determine which countries have a Trade Envoy appointed to them.

Prime Minister’s Trade Envoys are drawn from both Houses and across the political spectrum. They are chosen based on relevant skills and experience required to undertake the role. This experience can be related to their assigned market or UK industry knowledge, or their Government-to-Government experience, as well as willingness and an ability to undertake some international travel.

With regard to the criteria used to determine which countries are added to the programme, I refer my noble Friend to the answer I gave to the noble Lord, Viscount Waverley, on 16 February 2021, UIN: HL13033.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
10th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Grimstone of Boscobel on 8 February (HL12500), what consideration is given to the political affiliation of Trade Envoys before they are appointed.

Prime Minister’s Trade Envoys are drawn from both Houses and across the political spectrum. They are chosen based on relevant skills and experience required to undertake the role. This experience can be related to their assigned market or UK industry knowledge, or their Government-to-Government experience, as well as willingness and an ability to undertake some international travel.

With regard to the criteria used to determine which countries are added to the programme, I refer my noble Friend to the answer I gave to the noble Lord, Viscount Waverley, on 16 February 2021, UIN: HL13033.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
10th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Grimstone of Boscobel on 8 February (HL12500), why they have appointed a Trade Envoy for Taiwan; and why they have not appointed a Trade Envoy for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Prime Minister’s Trade Envoys are drawn from both Houses and across the political spectrum. They are chosen based on relevant skills and experience required to undertake the role. This experience can be related to their assigned market or UK industry knowledge, or their Government-to-Government experience, as well as willingness and an ability to undertake some international travel.

With regard to the criteria used to determine which countries are added to the programme, I refer my noble Friend to the answer I gave to the noble Lord, Viscount Waverley, on 16 February 2021, UIN: HL13033.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
10th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Grimstone of Boscobel on 8 February (HL12500), what (1) financial, (2) administrative, (3) Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and (4) other Government department or agency, support is given to Trade Envoys.

The Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy programme is financially supported and managed solely by the Department for International Trade (DIT). The Department meets all travel and subsistence costs associated with the role, as well as any other incidental costs incurred by Trade Envoys to fulfil their duties. All costs incurred are subject to the Department’s guidelines, which apply to the programme’s use of public funds.

Trade Envoys work closely with colleagues in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and HM Trade Commissioners, who provide market and business intelligence and logistical support when visits are made. Trade Envoys are deployed where they can add the most value, which includes supporting Her Majesty’s Government’s wider overseas objectives when appropriate.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
8th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the difference in the cost of COVID-19 tests for travellers (1) entering, and (2) leaving, the UK.

It is a matter for each country to decide on appropriate health measures and how Covid-19 tests are provided. We recognise that the cost of tests can be high. The Government is working with the travel industry and private testing providers to see how we can further reduce costs for the British public while ensuring travel is as safe as possible.

The price of tests has reduced significantly in recent weeks, bringing the UK in line with other countries, and some providers are offering testing packages for arrivals countries on the green list starting at £43. The Government is considering a range of options to lower the cost of testing, including cheaper tests being used when passengers return home.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a negative result to a COVID-19 lateral flow test undertaken by the NHS presented to Border Force is sufficient evidence that the bearer is (1) not infected, and (2) eligible to travel.

The Government has always been clear that NHS Test and Trace tests should not be used for the purposes of international travel. This is to safeguard testing capacity.

NHS Test and Trace tests may not be used for the Test to Release for International Travel scheme. Travellers must use a test from a private testing provider on the gov.uk private providers list. NHS Test and Trace is not on this list, and for this reason, does not meet the minimum standards required to legally release a traveller from self-isolation upon providing a negative result.

NHS Test and Trace does not provide a result notification in a format that would be acceptable to meet the new pre-departure testing requirements, and as such, will not be accepted for travel to England.

Lateral Flow Tests may meet the minimum standards of more than 80% sensitivity and more than 97% specificity for the pre-departure testing regime, depending on the individual test product. The test must be provided by a testing provider which can meets these minimum standards, as well as the standards regarding the result notification requirements.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
27th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 27 April (HL15033), when they expect the assessment of National Health Service waiting times in England to be completed; and whether the assessment will be published promptly following its completion.

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 what assessment they have made of the (1) accuracy, and (2) usefulness, of lateral flow tests, following reports that the rate of false positives returned by these tests has increased as the prevalence of COVID-19 has fallen.

New analysis of community testing data shows lateral flow device (LFD) tests to have a specificity of at least 99.9%. For every 1,000 LFD tests carried out, there is less than one false positive result. Rapid testing using LFDs detects cases quickly in under 30 minutes, meaning positive cases can isolate immediately, breaking chains of transmission.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of when NHS England's waiting times will return to those recorded in February 2020 (1) for all operations and procedures, and (2) for patients waiting for more than a year for non-urgent operations and procedures.

The Department is currently making an assessment of National Health Service waiting times in England, including the capacity to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 29 March (HL13356), what are the other two stages of the three-stage assessment process to attain full UKAS accreditation.

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)
25th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by the Minister of State for Care on 24 March (HCWS877), what functions are covered by the term "speciality and associate specialist doctors"; which of these functions had vacancies to improve the (1) recruitment, and (2) percentage of doctors in these posts; what are the "contractual changes" that will deliver improvements to NHS services; and what is the expected percentage increase of the cost of the Speciality and Associate Doctors' Contract Agreement from its implementation to the end of its first full year in operation.

The term ‘specialty and associate specialist’ refers to doctors employed on a number of different medical contracts. They generally require at least four years full time post-graduate training at least two of which must be in a specialty training programme. This group of staff are employed across all specialties and routinely carry out a range of medical functions appropriate to their level of expertise.

We do not collect data on vacancies for doctors by grade. The pay and contract reform agreement delivers a number of changes which will contribute to the improvement of NHS services - for example, reducing the hours paid at enhanced rates will improve flexible service provision and introducing a new senior grade will enable employers to achieve the best skill mix for multi-disciplinary teams. The total cost of the agreement will depend on the number of doctors opting to transfer to the new contracts. In the first year of operation we expect an average cost of 3% per full time equivalent for those who transfer to the new terms and conditions.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that questions for written answer from members of the House of Lords that are allocated to the Department for Health and Social Care are answered on time; and what plans they have to recruit more staff for that purpose.

The Department has received an unprecedented number of Written Questions since March 2020. We are working hard to improve our response rate through an iterative written questions recovery plan and performance is now improving at a steady rate. The core Department has increased by a further 400 posts since December 2020, to support the COVID-19 response across all areas.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 8 February (HL12760), what is the weekly number of tests able to be carried out by NHS Test and Trace; what is the estimated number of tests required for the Test to Release for International Travel scheme; and how testing as part of that scheme helps to "safeguard testing capacity”.

Since 15 February, NHS Test and Trace has had the capacity to deliver around 750,000 polymerase chain reaction tests every day. According to Passenger Locator Form data, 61,193 individuals opted-in to Test to Release during the week 15 to 21 February. Testing for Test to Release is delivered only by private testing providers that meet a specific set of minimum standards, therefore the number of individuals that choose to opt-in to Test to Release does not impact on NHS Test and Trace’s ability to deliver tests.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 8 February (HL12760), why NHS Test and Trace tests do “not meet the minimum standards required to legally release a traveller from self-isolation upon providing a negative result”; and on what basis they are using lateral flow tests as part of the Test to Release International Travel scheme.

NHS Test and Trace tests are not being used for the Test to Release scheme as this is an optional scheme for international arrivals from non ‘red list’ countries to allow them to shorten their isolation period. NHS Test and Trace testing is for people who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who are clinically advised to take a COVID-19 test. Testing for Test to Release must be a polymerase chain reaction test purchased from a private testing provider.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 8 February (HL12760), what plans they have to change the format of NHS Test and Trace to allow it to “provide a result notification in a format that would be acceptable to meet the new pre-departure testing requirements”.

There are no plans to do so. NHS Test and Trace testing is for those with symptoms of COVID-19 or who are clinically advised to take a test and are not to be used for international travel.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 8 February (HL12760), what plans, if any, they have to make tests carried out by NHS Test and Trace acceptable for the Test to Release for International Travel scheme; and what assessment they have made of the ability of the private sector to provide COVID-19 tests for that scheme.

NHS Test and Trace testing is not being used for the Test to Release scheme as this is an optional scheme for international arrivals from non ‘red list’ countries to allow them to shorten their isolation period. The private sector has successfully delivered tests for this scheme since its introduction on 15 December 2020.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 8 February (HL12760), whether there are any (1) financial, or (2) other, arrangements for private providers to be admitted to their list of COVID-19 test providers; how companies are admitted to that list; and what ongoing inspection takes place to ensure that they meet appropriate standards.

There are no financial or other arrangements for private providers to be added the list of providers. Any provider may submit a self-declaration stating that their full end-to-end process meets the minimum standards set out in legislation. Following the review of these self-declarations by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), the provider may be added to the list of private testing providers, subject to their meeting the minimum standards. This is the first stage of a three-stage assessment process in order to attain full UKAS accreditation.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
26th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 23 November (HL9107), who is responsible for the provision of face to face appointments in each of the seven NHS regions.

General practitioners (GPs) are independent contractors who are contracted by NHS England and NHS Improvement and/or clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to provide primary medical services. In designing services contractors are required to take into account the reasonable needs of their local population, including the types of appointments that are offered. NHS England and NHS Improvement are responsible for the provision of primary medical services in England. As such, it is for NHS England and NHS Improvement to ensure that patients in all areas have access to GP services.

On 14 September, NHS England and NHS Improvement wrote to GPs and their commissioners reiterating the importance of providing face to face appointments for those who need them and shared a communications toolkit designed to support clear communication with patients about how they can access the right type of appointment.

Local commissioners, NHS England and NHS Improvement regional teams or CCGs with delegated responsibility, are responsible for ensuring general practice providers meet their responsibilities under their contracts.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to increase the capacity of the Department of Health and Social Care to provide answers to Questions for Written Answer on time.

Prior to the pandemic, the Department employed approximately 1,500 people. In the last eight months that has grown to approximately 2,900 staff in the core Department. The Parliamentary Questions team has doubled in size. We have created and put into action an iterative written questions recovery plan, the objectives of which are to increase the number of questions answered on time, to clear the backlog of overdue questions and to ensure high-quality answers.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their letter sent to GPs and Clinical Commissioning Groups on 14 September about the importance of providing face to face appointments, what steps they are taking to ensure that such appointments are made available at GP surgeries.

Following NHS England and NHS Improvement’s letter to general practitioner practices and clinical commissioning groups of the 31 August 2020, it has been working with the seven NHS England and NHS Improvement regions to investigate and resolve reports of poor face to face provision, patient complaints and poor practice communications on accessing services.

NHS England and NHS Improvement regions are also reviewing local readiness for winter plans that include access to general practice services and provision of face to face appointments, so that any local risks are identified early and addressed.

NHS England and NHS Improvement continue national and regional campaigns to urge the public to come forward with any health concerns and to reassure them that the National Health Service is open.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the statement made by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer on 11 October that "we are at a tipping points similar to where we were in March", and (2) the efficacy of the measures they have taken since then to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government welcomes the honest and impartial view of senior medical and scientific advisers. Throughout this crisis, they, and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, have provided robust scientific evidence and advice to guide decisions regarding the measures taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government has also undertaken significant wider analysis and evaluation to inform decisions. This analysis includes consideration of economic impacts, the level of compliance with measures, amount of enforcement needed and impacts felt by local authorities.

The measures taken have been effective at slowing the virus while balancing the need to protect the economy. Ahead of what will be a challenging winter, the Government will continue to take swift action to combat the spread of the virus.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to cooperate with the European Medicines Agency's Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee from 1 January 2021; whether this cooperation will include (1) participating in the Committee's reviews, and (2) accepting the Committee's findings; and if so, what level of participation in the decision making process they foresee.

The United Kingdom published its approach to the Future Relationship with the European Union in February 2020. The approach set outs the UK’s commitments to facilitating trade in medicinal products and supporting high levels of patient safety.

After the transition period, we will ensure patients in the UK are not disadvantaged and continue to be able to access the best and most innovative medicines that are safe. We want patients to be reassured that their safety will be protected through the strongest regulatory framework.

From January 2021, the safety issues that are considered by the European Medicines Agency’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC), and the outcomes of the PRAC discussions, which are made publicly available, will be closely monitored and, where appropriate, we will take into account the decisions of the PRAC with regards to safety measures that are implemented for the UK.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the European Medicines Agency's Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee's recommendation to revoke the marketing authorisation of ulipristal acetate as a treatment for uterine fibroids; and whether they intend to implement the same revocation in the UK.

Medicines containing ulipristal acetate for the treatment of uterine fibroids were recalled from the United Kingdom market in March 2020 and no woman should have been treated with these medicines since then.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has assessed the data underpinning the European Union Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee's (PRAC) recommendation to revoke the marketing authorisations for ulipristal acetate 5mg for uterine fibroids. Independent advice was sought from the Commission on Human Medicines Expert Advisory Group on Medicines for Women’s Health in May 2020 and UK comments on the EU assessment reports were fed into the EU review.

The EU review for ulipristal acetate 5mg is ongoing pending a final opinion expected in October 2020 from the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use on the PRAC’s recommendation, and a decision from the European Commission within three months of the Committee for Medicinal Products Opinion. The MHRA intends to act in accordance with the outcome of the EU review.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of their relationship with the European Medicines Authority on the time taken to find a new manufacturer for the drug Camcolit; and what plans they have, if any, to change that relationship.

No such assessment and no plans have been made. Camcolit (lithium carbonate) is not being discontinued and so work to find a new manufacturer has not been undertaken.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that, following its acquisition by a Swiss private equity firm, Essential Pharma has increased the price of one of its branded lithium carbonate tablets from £3.22 to £87.00 a packet, and withdrawn its other brand of lithium carbonate tablet; what estimate they have made of the time it would take to obtain a marketing authorisation for a replacement; and what plans they have to speed up that process.

Camcolit 250 tablets - branded lithium 250 milligram (mg) tablets - were discontinued in 2015. The generic list price of lithium carbonate 250 mg tablets manufactured by Essential Pharma has been £87 since 2016. While there are no controls on prices of generic medicines, we rely on competition to drive prices down which has led to some of the lowest prices in Europe. Where we have seen some very large price increases, the Department has brought the issue to the attention of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The CMA is considering the case of lithium pricing.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is responsible for licensing of medicines. Its evaluation of a submitted application which meets the necessary standards of quality, safety and efficacy through to determination, would normally be within the statutory time frame of 210 days following receipt of a valid application. This excludes clock-stop periods when time is taken by the applicant to provide further information or generate the necessary data and update their dossier in response to questions raised during the assessment of the application. The MHRA has expedited processes to ensure that marketing authorisation applications are evaluated as rapidly as possible if necessary, to meet a public health need.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review their powers to deal with pharmaceutical companies that make significant increases to the cost of their drugs.

Prices of branded medicines are controlled through the 2019 Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access and equivalent statutory scheme. There are no controls on prices of generic medicines. Instead, we rely on competition to drive prices down which has led to some of the lowest prices in Europe. In some instances, where there is no competition, some very large price increases have been observed. The Competition and Markets Authority has a number of live investigations into excessive prices of generic medicines.

The Department also has powers in the National Health Service Act 2006 to control the prices of NHS medicines. Those powers were updated in 2017 in respect of generic medicines and data provision. The Department has been considering proposals for ways to address high prices of generic medicines, on which it expects to consult.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
3rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on public confidence in the safety of returning to work and schools of the forecasted number of deaths resulting from a reasonable worst-case scenario in a resurgence of COVID-19 during the winter being double that that has already occurred.

The Government has undertaken no specific assessment. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies reviewed a paper on direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 on excess deaths and morbidity in July, which provides a scenario-based estimate for additional deaths that may result from the changes necessary to routine care during the first six months of the pandemic. A copy of the paper is attached.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ensure that medical professionals received guidance on how (1) to differentiate between, and (2) to treat, patients with varying severity levels of COVID-19 infections.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, NHS England and NHS Improvement have published a comprehensive range of online only guides for use by clinical staff and National Health Service managers to support the management of patients.

Clinical guide for the management of emergency department patients during the coronavirus pandemic, published on 17 March, sets out the categories of acute patients to consider for obligatory inpatient emergency admissions, as well as a flowchart for emergency department attendances and key steps in optimising the acute care pathways for all patient groups.

Reference guide for emergency medicine, published on 22 April, includes an algorithm agreed with the British Society of Thoracic Imaging that focuses on disease severity and differentiation from other diseases.

Guidance for the role and use of non-invasive respiratory support in adult patients with COVID19 (confirmed or suspected), published on 6 April, should be used to guide clinicians on the appropriate use of continuous positive airway pressure, non-invasive ventilation, and high flow nasal oxygen in patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. It is designed to provide a useful aid to use alongside clinical judgement and can be adjusted to suit individual clinical environments.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of potential additional deaths during any reasonable worst case scenario of a peak in COVID-19 infections during the winter period resulting from continued disruption of routine treatment for non-COVID-19 patients.

The Government has undertaken no specific assessment. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies reviewed a paper on direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 on excess deaths and morbidity in July, which provides a scenario-based estimate for additional deaths that may result from the changes necessary to routine care during the first six months of the pandemic. A copy of the paper is attached.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to give the same, or higher priority, to deaths resulting from cancer as those related to COVID-19.

Cancer is a priority for this Government and survival rates are at a record high. Over the past decade, rates of survival from cancer have increased year-on-year.

In October 2018 the Government announced a package of measures that will be rolled out across the country with the aim of seeing three quarters of all cancers detected at an early stage by 2028 (currently just over half). This is part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which also included commitments on radiotherapy, personalised care interventions and screening, among others.

During the COVID-19 crisis, urgent and essential cancer treatments continued. Some cancer diagnostics and treatments were rescheduled to protect vulnerable patients from having to attend hospitals. These were all clinical decisions made with the patient and the recovery and restoration of cancer services to pre-pandemic levels is well underway.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
29th Jul 2020
To ask the Leader of the House, further to her answer on 22 July (HL Deb cols 2227–8), what plans she has to initiate a discussion in the House of Lords Commission on the establishment of a select committee with backbench representation to (1) consider, and (2) report to the House on, the allowance system.

I have no plans to initiate a discussion on this matter.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal
12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment (1) they, and (2) NHS England, have made of the availability of non-COVID-19 related urgent care services; what steps they are taking to ensure that such services are resumed; and when can patients expect face-to-face appointments to resume. [T]

We have continued to deliver the most urgent treatments, such as emergency and urgent cancer care, throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

With evidence suggesting that we are passing the peak of this wave of COVID-19, and with the National Health Service well-placed to provide world-leading care for those who do still have the virus, we are bringing back non-urgent services that had been temporarily suspended. We will work on the principle that the most urgent treatments, including mental health support, should be brought back first and this will be driven by local demands on the system. The approach will be flexed at local level according to capacity and demand in different parts of the country, and will be gradual, over weeks.

In the absence of face-to-face appointments, primary and secondary care clinicians have been asked to stratify and proactively contact their high-risk patients to educate on specific symptoms and circumstances needing urgent hospital care and ensure appropriate ongoing care plans are delivered.

Doctors will always have the safety of patients at the centre of any decisions they make.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
20th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the apparent change in policy towards the Nord Stream 2 pipeline announced by the US Secretary of State and the Russian Foreign Minister on 20 May; and further to that announcement, whether they plan to reassess UK policy on the pipeline.

The UK remains concerned about the impact Nord Stream 2 will have on European energy security and particularly on the interests of Ukraine. Our focus continues to be supporting resilient European energy markets, including measures that diversify energy supply.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of why the most recent attempt to reach a settlement in Cyprus was unsuccessful; what plans they have to push for a settlement based on the equal rights for both parts of the island; and what preparations to pursue such an equal settlement they have made for the United Nations talks to be held in Geneva on 27 April.

In 2017, the two Cypriot Leaders, supported by the UN Secretary-General who played an important role, came closer than ever before to reaching a settlement. Unfortunately, this did not prove possible, which led the UN Secretary-General to close the Conference.

A Cyprus Settlement is in the best interests of the Cypriot communities and the wider region. The Foreign Secretary has therefore been actively engaged in support of UN efforts to find a Cyprus solution and will represent the UK as a Guarantor Power at the UN-led informal five-party talks from 27-29 April.

Ahead of talks, the Foreign Secretary spoke to the Cypriot FM on 22 March and the Turkish Foreign Minister on 23 March. The Foreign Secretary visited the island on 4 February and met President Anastasiades, Turkish Cypriot leader Tatar and the UN. The Foreign Secretary also met the Greek Foreign Minister on 2 February. The UK is urging all sides to approach the UN talks in a spirit of flexibility and compromise. During the Minister for the Americas and European Neighbourhood's visit to Cyprus (7-9 April), she reiterated this message and the UK's support for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus issue.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support the UN-led settlement talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders; and what assessment they have made of the impact of the UK's departure from the EU on their role in those talks.

A Cyprus Settlement remains key to resolving wider tensions in the region. We are supportive of the UN Secretary General's efforts and the proposal of the informal meeting between the parties ("5+UN"). The UK is actively engaging with the parties ahead of the 5+UN meeting to urge them to approach the meeting in the spirit of flexibility and compromise. The Foreign Secretary delivered this message to both the Greek Cypriot leader and the Turkish Cypriot leader during his visit to Cyprus on 4 February, as well as in phone calls with the Turkish Foreign Minister and Greek Foreign Minister.

Talks to reunite Cyprus are led by the Leaders of the two communities on-island and facilitated by the UN. The UK's role as a Guarantor Power under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee is unrelated to our membership of the European Union.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the proposal by the UN Secretary General to expand negotiations relating to the future of Cyprus to include the government of (1) Greece, (2) Turkey, (3) the Republic of Cyprus, and (4) the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, alongside the UK and UN; whether they support such a proposal; if not, why not; and what discussions they have had with the government of (1) Greece, and (2) Turkey, about participating in such negotiations.

The UK remains a strong supporter of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus issue, based on the internationally accepted model of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation as set out in relevant Security Council Resolutions. To that end, we welcome the UN Secretary General's ongoing commitment to work with the parties to conduct in-depth consultations and we look forward to the possibility of an informal meeting hosted by the UN which includes the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders, and the Guarantor Powers, Greece, Turkey and the UK.

We are engaging all parties regularly. The Foreign Secretary met with Greek Foreign Minister Dendias on 2 February, spoke to Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu on 3 February, and travelled to Cyprus on 4 February, to urge all sides to engage constructively ahead of the talks and to demonstrate flexibility in their approach so the Settlement process can progress.

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 (1) the UN’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) the decision by the UN to designate 2021 as the International year of Fruits and Vegetables.

The UN has responded to the COVID-19 crisis across three pillars: responding to the health crisis, safeguarding lives and livelihoods, and building back better. The UN has adapted and enhanced their programmes across each of these pillars, including their 'Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan' and 'Global Humanitarian Response Plan', which promote a coordinated UN response. UK investment and relationships with the UN - with an additional £145 million to UN appeals including £75 million to the WHO - have galvanised a stronger global response. The UN will continue to be a key ally in our efforts to build back better.

The 194 members of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation agreed to propose 2021 as the International Year of Fruit and Vegetables in July 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Our assessment is that it will help to raise the importance of fruit and vegetables for a healthy diet.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government to list, by airline, how many repatriation flights they have provided since 1 February for British citizens stranded due to COVID-19; and how many such citizens remain abroad waiting for flights. [T]

The welfare of British nationals remains our top priority, and we remain committed to ensuring that British travellers around the globe are able to return home. Since the outbreak in Wuhan, we estimate that over 1.3 million people have returned to the UK via commercial routes - the majority supported by our work with airlines and foreign governments to keep vital routes open. We have now brought back more than 22,500 people on 108 flights organised by the Foreign Office from 22 different countries and territories. We have worked with the following airlines to provide these flights: British Airways, Biman, Cathay Pacific, EgyptAir, LATAM, PAL, Qatar Airways, Titan, TUI, Virgin Atlantic, Viva, Vueling.

We are aware that there are tens of thousands of British nationals remaining overseas and our effort is focused on supporting their return as quickly and safely as possible. Over the next week we will return thousands more Brits on 10s of charter flights from India, Nigeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Colombia, Guyana, Honduras, Ghana, Pakistan, Nigeria, and New Zealand.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of any reputational damage to the UK caused by parliamentarians they appoint to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe joining political groupings which include parliamentarians with extremist views.

All members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe are elected or appointed from the members of their national parliaments. Membership of the political groupings within the Parliamentary Assembly is a matter for the political groups themselves.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision by the European Conservatives Group of members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to invite members of the Alternative für Deutschland group to join its parliamentary grouping.

Members of the UK delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe are independent parliamentarians. Membership of the political groupings within the Parliamentary Assembly is a matter for the political groups themselves.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Prime Minister's statement on 22 September that the enforcement of the COVID-19 restrictions will include “a greater police presence on our streets, and the option to draw on military support where required to free up the police” (HC Deb, col 798), whether police and army leave will be cancelled for the Christmas and new year period for this purpose.

Decisions on the deployment of officers and use of police resources is a matter for individual forces. However, we have been working alongside policing partners throughout this emergency to ensure they have the resources required to be able to effectively respond and enforce the COVID measures in place. This work continues and includes consideration of how we could free up more police officers in the future if it is needed. This includes considering the option of using military support to backfill certain non-public facing police roles.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
24th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the event that the military is used to support the enforcement of new COVID-19 restrictions, whether military personnel will be empowered to issue fines for breaches.

There are no plans for military personnel to be empowered to issue fines.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)